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Do You Google Yourself?
by Kathleen Ewing

Google can be used for more than research, hunting for bargains or tracking down ancestors. It is also a valuable tool for writers to check up on themselves periodically. It has nothing to do with ego. If you are serious about your career, keeping track of how and when your presence appears on the internet is just plain common sense. And as you can see from the examples listed below, Google can become a source for recognition, insight and networking, all of which can translate into a broader range of opportunities for you to make more money.

  1. Learn what reviewers are saying about your writing.

A good review can pump you up for that next project you have outlined and are waiting for the inspiration to tackle. Nothing promotes future success like being acknowledged for something you have done.

Bad reviews are inevitable, because not everyone will like your writing style, choice of words or even your subject matter. There are times when you feel compelled to rebut a review that is erroneous, misleading or outright malicious. Always maintain your professional demeanor. What you write in rebuttal will be floating around out there in the Internet ether and a surly, insensitive or profane comment can haunt you forever.

Turn this into an opportunity for yourself. You might diffuse the situation by thanking the reviewer for sharing his or her opposing viewpoint. Consider offering to write something for the reviewer’s readers, taking into account the reviewer’s slant on your previous work.

  1. Find out if someone is using your work without paying you for it.

One of the unfortunate aspects of the Internet is that people believe whatever writings they find on the Web are available for copying, posting and disseminating for free. If you find that someone has “borrowed” one of your articles from a newsletter, website or other legitimate posting, you should immediately inform them that the article is copyrighted and not available without reimbursement to you. Explain that they are welcome to link to the original posting, but request that they remove your piece from their site. At this point, you can also offer to write an article for them…for a fee.

  1. Discover who is using your work as a reference.

One of the more flattering events that can occur is that someone will post a reference to one of your articles, books or personal appearances. You should view this as something more than a flattering event. It is a networking opportunity. Begin by thanking the person for posting the reference. From there, you can direct them to your website. Then you could inform them of other articles, books or personal appearances which you believe might interest them. Finally, ask if you might write something specifically for them or their readers, providing two or three one-sentence ideas.

  1. Learn who shares your name

If you discover that you have a name in common with another established writer, you may want to consider adding a middle name or initial in the future to help distinguish yourself from that person. Or you might choose to launch your writing career under a pseudonym.

I happen to share a name with the owner of a highly respected photographic gallery in Washington, DC. Even though I occasionally write about the arts and the other Kathleen Ewing has written on her topic of expertise, our two areas of professional endeavor are not likely to compete, so I have opted to write under my legal name. If the other person had been a professional writer, in all likelihood I would have launched my freelance career using my maiden name.

Make a habit of Googling your name every month or two just to keep track of what other people are seeing or saying about you. An even better way to stay on top of the news is by setting a Google alert to advise you when your name has appeared somewhere. Go to www.google.com/alerts and type in your name in quotation marks: “Kathleen Ewing”

You will receive an e-mail alert when your name appears in their search. Check it out, then list all the ways you might be able to capitalize on what you have found. And follow up on it. You may be pleasantly surprised by the doors that open for you when you Google yourself.

© Copyright 2009, Kathleen Ewing

Kathleen Ewing is an award-winning freelance writer headquartered in Central Arizonas high country. Among her credits are feature articles for Art Calendar, American Falconry, Bend of the River, TrailBlazer and Hobby Farms magazines. Visit her blog at www.rodeowriter.blogspot.com

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