To me there is probably no single more distasteful aspect of being a professional blogger than some of the weird proposals I receive in my email. Because naturally, making my living writing online, I would love to (take your pick of any or all of the following): write for you for free, let you publish your canned content on my site, advertise for you for free, highlight your product that no one cares about, tell my readers about a great opportunity that no one cares about, or otherwise just do whatever you—a complete stranger—ask of me because clearly I can’t generate content on my own.
Obviously not everyone is going to end up with an unbelievably entertaining story from every marketing disaster (see: The Bloggess’ recent adventure), but still, I think this recent encounter bears discussing, because I think it happens more often than we maybe realize. I know I only caught on at first completely by accident, and then did some digging.
But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Once upon a time this past July, I got an email from a stranger at the address associated with my personal blog. It read—in its entirety—”Hi Mir really enjoying reading your blog!” I didn’t recognize the signature, but there was a name and a blog there, so I went and looked at the blog, and the (male) writer of my email was supposedly the editor-in-chief of this site, which looked to me like a lot of links about things vaguely writing-related. Okay.
Because I’m me, and I’m a wiseass, I mailed back: “Why thank you! I really like your shoes!” And I figured that was that. But then the first weird thing happened: While I didn’t receive a reply to my response, I received the exact same original email to the address associated with my shopping blog. Huh. So I mailed back, “I’m the same Mir you emailed over at Woulda Coulda Shoulda, and I still like your shoes.” No response.
Two weeks after my original reply, I got back “My pleasure!” as a response on my personal blog address. Two weeks later. Weird, right? And no response on my shopping blog address at all.
I shrugged and moved on with my life.
About a week after that, I received a second email, that read: “By the way Mir, a good friend of mine (and Mommy blogger) wants to interview you for her site. Her name is [redacted] and if you want, I can introduce you to her. Let me know!” I responded saying that was fine. And then I got the same email, again, to my other email address. I ignored it.
Two weeks later, the same damn email, again, to both addresses. This time I responded: “[Redacted], I’m starting to think you’re a bot. You already sent me this email (twice, actually, to both of my blogs) and I already responded saying that was fine. This morning you have once again sent me the same email to both blogs. Perhaps I can send you a nice strong cup of coffee?”
The very next day he responded, copying his friend, saying, “Thanks so much for your patience. I wanted to introduce do you to [redacted]. She’s a Mommy Blogger too and an amazing children’s book author. She will reach out to you from her email. I know she’s been anxious to interview you via email.”
The day after that, I received a list of “interview questions” from the woman in question—all very generic—along with a request that I “take a look at her blog.” I started to have a not-so-warm-and-fuzzy feeling about this whole thing, but I looked at her blog (very similar to the original guy’s site in terms of being little more than a link farm) and emailed back the answers to her interview questions.
I never heard back. At all. No “thank you for your time,” no “I’ve posted the interview,” nothing. I kind of forgot about it, but c’mon, people. Manners! Someone takes the time for you, take the time to say thanks. That’s just rude.
And that would’ve been the end of it—a weird and slightly off-putting encounter—but the events I’ve detailed thus far bring us up to the end of August-ish.
This week, I got an email from the woman who interviewed me. Suddenly everything has become very clear! Her email arrived with the subject line of “Mir, did I tell you?” and the body reads: “Hi Mir, Would you mind doing an interview with me on your blog? We just released my children’s book [redacted]. I’d love to also talk about what it’s like juggling your own business as a mom, being a newly single mother and a children’s book author all at the same time. I know you’re busy so I can even conduct the interview so that all you’ll have to do is just copy & paste it.”
She’s going to conduct an interview with herself and give it to me to be helpful! Isn’t that a nice offer? And this is after wasting my time with a supposed interview that she never thanked me for and never posted.
Well, that well and truly got my hackles up. I went and looked at her site again, and everything—I mean everything—about it started to seem really fishy to me. Even her photo looked weirdly photoshopped. I could find no additional information about her anywhere, except that Googling revealed she conducted a bunch of “interviews” with other mom bloggers who then linked to her site/interview, but (interestingly) none of that interview content was available from the top-level of her site. So basically she was creating hidden content and getting people to link to it to boost her Google Page Rank. Iiiiiiinteresting.
One more thing: I went and looked up her domain registration. Her site (which is her name) is registered to the guy who sent me the first email.
I challenge you to tell me a weirder story.