How to tell if you’re being spammy

Most authors (and lots of small business owners) spam.

They kind of know they shouldn’t, but they do it anyway because they’re desperate for sales, and they might convince themselves that they’re NOT spamming, so here’s a short guide.

If someone asks for your opinion or advice, or they put out a general call for advice or comments, then you’re not spamming IF:

1. You provide a great, helpful, useful answer without dropping in links to your site or another post you wrote.

That’s it. 

You ARE spamming if:

1. You drop a link to your site, resource, or anything else. It’s OK to mention it briefly by name or say “I just wrote an article about that.” IF they ask for the link, it’s OK to send it.

2. You post a long, self-involved personal story that is only kind of related to the topic. Especially if they didn’t ask for advice or feedback, but just said something… and you turn it around and make it all about yourself and something that happened to you. That’s called hijacking a thread.

It’s what lonely, desperate people do who need validation.

3. You reach out to a BUNCH of indiscriminate strangers and try to get them to buy something. It’s OK to do this, one by one, individually, if you craft really great personalized messages and know who you’re marketing towards. But if you’re just posting and praying that someone, ANYONE buys from you, that’s spamming.

This is DIFFERENT from advertising, which is OK, although you should still be highly targeted and personal.

4. You post or start new threads in other people’s groups too often.

Maybe you’re trying not to spam, so instead you just come up with interesting questions or conversation topics. That’s fine to do, once or twice a month. But if you’re posting on someone else’s group daily, it’s annoying, and you’re taking over important real estate that doesn’t belong to you.

Spamming is what people do when they’re too lazy or cheap to advertise.

What you should be doing instead…

Share your knowledge. Be genuinely and abundantly helpful. Surprise and astound.

Join groups or conversations that have a great number of members who might be interested in your books, business or service.

Without starting too many posts, jump in and offer solid help and advice. After awhile, people will come to know, like and respect you (including the owners of that group, which is SO important). They might want to be your friends. They might check out your profile or website. At least they’ll know who you are and what you do – enough so that they might start referring or talking about you.

It’s OK to let people know who you are and what you do, but don’t sell them on it.

You never want to sell directly to strangers. You want to give them free content that earns their trust and gets them on YOUR list or in YOUR group. Then you can sell to them, and it’s not spammy, because they’ve come to you.

 

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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