Chapter 140: In Which The Universe (And An Internet Marketing Consultant) Show Me That I Am Not Nearly As Witty As I Think I Am

Hey, I’m trying.

The blog is 3 1/2 years old. I started this as a means to explore my creative side and free myself from the fear of failure. I’m happy with what I’ve written. I’ve written all kinds of stuff and stayed true to my goals. Along the way, my posts have been viewed more than 39k times. I laughed, cried, and raged on this blog.

But it’s never the wrong time for a little dose of humility.

During this process, I’ve branched out. Stories about my youngest son, The Goon, have gone viral. I’ve recognized my interest in speaking about the things I write about and have started exploring my options in that arena. I’ve shared blog links with, and been promoted on, other writers’ blogs.

It’s that last item which is the topic of today’s post. For a few years I’ve been reading the delightful Popehat blog religiously. (Pun intended although the blog has nothing to do with religion.) Ken, the Chief Hat and main author, combines a natural wit, writing ability, and legal expertise that always results in posts worth reading. He often writes about free speech issues but also discusses his battles with depression, his role as an adoptive parent, and random humor. He also hates – I mean really hates! – ponies. I don’t know why. And I don’t really care.

Apparently, when a blog reaches a large enough target audience, it also attracts marketers. They often approach Ken with an offer to provide a “guest post” for his blog which is likely to be a poorly written piece of fluff designed to draw attention to whatever external customer the marketer is promoting. Ken, with his wry wit, never misses the opportunity to make blog lemonade from these spam lemons.

Ken lures these spammers in with a slight counter to their proposed post topic. Once they invariably bite, he goes full ridiculous with some anti-pony rant couched in polished prose. They are the perfect trolling victims. No one will ever cry for them. Good stuff. Check it out here.

So last week, when I received an email from a marketing consultant offering an infographic related to the net worth of some Presidential candidates, I was thrilled. If you scan the other 139 posts here, you won’t find anything on politics. Not much on current events (unless it’s related to some interest of mine). I figured this was marketing spam and saw an opportunity to make blog lemonade.

I’ve tried something similar before but this was new. My previous attempt simply made fun of a spam email. This time I’d try luring the marketer in with a variation on her original pitch. Once she responded, I’d slam the trap shut and post the exchange.

Except – she took me seriously. I countered the totally-not-relevant-to-my-blog infographic offer with my own idea to discuss some potential Presidential candidates and issues through my own geekish lens. Superheroes. No way she’d think I was serious, right?

Her response was polite, professional, and showed that she’d really thought through my offer. She gave some feedback and suggestions on how to work their material into my pitch. As I read her response, I realized that actually writing the blog post I had pitched as a ridiculous piece of bait would actually be funnier than the trolling and posting I’d been considering.

Ken at Popehat does it brilliantly. I’m a fan of his writing. But my attempt would have been simply swiping a witty idea. I wasn’t adding anything new or original to it. I’m glad that the exchange didn’t come out the way I thought it would. I would have been the latest in a long line of derivative hacks copying internet humor. Ugh.

So thank you, Marianne from Personal Capital, for the serious response you gave my amateur trolling attempt. You saved me from myself. And I’ve got a few ideas for some more superhero Presidential candidates. I see a Part 2 coming soon!

p.s. Check out yesterday’s Would You Vote For Them? (Superhero Edition) to see how it all turned out!

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