Is there a client you’re trying to land, or even a day job that lets you use your writing skills? It may seem like an obvious rule, but you shouldn’t blog about those places, especially if you’re considering saying something less than pleasant.
There’s the obvious chance that you’ll lose out on the deal to begin with, but many prospective clients will walk away from a writer who has posted unfortunate things about clients in the past — they think ‘that could be my company up there next’ and start looking for another writer.
Yes, Even Anonymously
I’m sure you’re thinking that if you don’t name names, the problem is solved. There’s two approaches to keep names out of it: either you blog under your own name but you don’t use the name of the client you’re hoping to work with, or you write on a blog where your name never appears but you mention the name of the client. It is possible you could be blogging anonymously, as well as not naming names, but for the purpose of this post, I’m assuming that you’re trying to accomplish something specific with your blogging.
But the fact of the matter is that anonymous isn’t nearly as anonymous as you’d like. If someone from the company in question reads a post, he or she will probably be able to figure out what’s going on just from the general details. If you’re writing under your own name, many potential clients will read your blog as a matter of due diligence. If you use the client’s name, it’s relatively easy for the post to be found through a routine Google Search.
I’ve posted a very vague statement about something a client had done to upset me to Twitter (with no names or even much in the way of details). An hour later, I had an email from the client in question in my inbox, asking if I was talking about him. It was a sticky situation, to say the least.
Even If I’m Going to Say Something Nice?
I’m a little wary of even posting nice things about a prospective client — I don’t want to be known as that writer who will suck up just to land a client. If I have something genuinely important that I think is worthwhile to say, I might bring it out here, but if it’s just something run of the mill, I’m far less inclined to bring it up.
There is something worth noting here: one of the easiest ways to get someone’s attention online is to blog about that person. Many technologically-savvy types have Google Alerts set up for their names, so a couple of mentions of them on your blog can create an opportunity for an introduction. But I’d generally restrict that approach to the absolute preliminaries and I’d avoid making a habit of it — after all, if you’ve got a blog, you’ve hopefully got at least a few readers you want to keep entertained. Keep Google Alerts in mind, though: that’s one of the fastest ways for someone to learn you’re writing about them, good or bad.
Image by Flickr user Yohann Aberkane