You live and learn. When your trust is broken, it's time to make some smart blog choices. I have a few tips I feel are very beneficial and I speak from first hand experience. It's happened to me a few times now and perhaps I'm the one who is to give the hard core advice..since I have lived through it more than enough. There are bound to be flare ups on the net. We see them all the time. A few things you may want to know about me before I continue.
I don't just read blogs. I study the blogosphere. I watch who interacts with each other on Twitter, Facebook, and comment sections. I can see who is teaming up on projects, who departs from one another, and I just happen to have some weird knack for sensing when people are not themselves. Yes, just by a few little things they say on Twitter. I don't know..maybe it's some kind of strange blog superpower. So why haven't I been able to harness it into avoiding partnerships with people who betray me? Sigh** We live and learn. It's called Failing Forward, John C Maxwell wrote about it. My husband raves about his book. So we fail, but don't fail and plummet into an abyss of defeat. Fail forward and grow from it.
Google Them. Dealing with people online is a bit different than dealing with them in person. In the blogosphere you can quickly find out who a person has been affiliated with before by using Google. I don't think it's wrong to Google someone who wants to partner with you. I actually highly recommend it. A blogger who is honest won't mind you asking about their former affiliations.
Ask for references. Ask who they have partnered with in the past and let them know you'd like to contact those people about their partnership. Don't just take their word for it when it comes to a reference.
I saw a woman comment one day that she has written reviews for brands before. I went right over to her blog where she had in plain view on her blog that she has written reviews for Disney Films, and a slew of other huge brands. (She even use their logos on her posts) I used her search bar to find the reviews and what I found was astonishing. She had not REALLY "worked" with those brands. She simply wrote her own reviews of their products, and not very good ones I might add. There would be no way I would ever pay her for such low quality work. Why would Disney? She had about 500 Google Friends on her Connect widget so I Googled her. She had participated in some "get followers quick" project and then proceeded to use that count along with her so-called 'brand" portfolio to demand inflated prices for the simplest things right down to tweeting for companies.
And bloggers wonder why companies don't fork out more dough to buy advertising with them.
Butter. Yes, I said butter. These are the people who butter you up. They lather on the "I worship you" mentality. Too much praise is overkill. If you are approached by someone who begins to butter you up, offer to do tons of things for you, practically begs for you to trust them, use caution. In my counseling experience I can tell you that one of the first things you'll notice about a cult is their over kill on praise and instant friendships. The person doesn't know you! Why are they acting like your best friend? Hold back. Don't be quick to be "so happy to have them help".
Use a Contract. I never thought I'd suggest this for just a simple team effort between bloggers, but I really do think it's a must. If you want to run your blog like a business, you need contracts. Even if it's a volunteer effort to build a group blog, I'd ask for your team members to agree to a contract. Did you know there are laws protecting volunteers now? Those laws aren't just to protect the volunteers, but also the organization coordinating their efforts. A contract can be simple, no need to be formal, just a clean cut agreement to not share the group's plans or ideas with anyone. Save it as a pdf, send it and get it back with a date and signature.
Passwords. Keep passwords confidential. If you need to give a password to someone for admin purposes be sure their access to the behind the scenes is limited. If the partnership is broken, change your passwords immediately. Why would someone you barely know be asking for passwords?
Trust doesn't come easy. Don't be so quick to trust someone. Don't allow yourself to be quicker to trust someone of your own religious affiliation either. For some reason when you do that, it makes the heartbreak so much worse for you. Just because someone shares the same religion as you doesn't mean you give up your trust so easily. Be cautious of new connections telling you that you CAN trust them. A few identifiers I have seen in common online and in counseling people who come from abusive situations are the "poor me" stories. If they can get you to feel sorry for them, they share something in "confidence" with you, ask you not to tell others, then something is most likely up. Start sharing secrets and they have a weapon to use on their behalf later to keep you quiet once they betray you. Yes, this happens!
Openly admit your mistakes. When you know you have betrayed someone, it's best to make amends immediately. Learn from your mistakes and make it public. Otherwise it might be made public for you when you're caught. Go to the person you betrayed and apologize. Apologize to your readers and begin anew. But do NOT attempt to cover up your tracks. Let your own fall help someone else. Then begin anew. If in the future, someone wants to Google you, be honest right away. Direct them to your public apology and let them know how long and hard you've been working to rebuild. Everyone can get a second chance, as long as you've been honest about it. Sweep it under the rug and your rug will get lifted eventually. It won't be a pretty sight.
Discretion. It is always best to try and handle things with discretion, but sometimes people work on the sly and try to get away with what they're doing. If there is public record of some of their comments that incriminate them and prove your case then save all links, screenshot all conversations, and protect yourself. If you see this person beginning to betray more people, you may want to offer the other victims some insight and help, just be sure to use discretion.
Blog Ethics. The blogosphere is a whole different type of social situation. Bad news and rumors spread like wild fire and it must be nipped in the bud immediately. People can disagree all they want about breast feeding, religion, or immunizations. Those kinds of discussions can get rather heated, but when it comes to violating trust in an effort to build up your blogs, it becomes a business situation. If the blogger is clearly showing no effort at all to use ethics, dignity, or integrity at all, it's time to get proactive to protect your blog. Watch this great video about Blog With Integrity and take the pledge today.
Trust your gut! You have that inner voice that says, "watch out for this one, something doesn't seem right" Listen to that voice!
Do you have any additional thoughts to share?
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