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Should Webmasters Fake it ’til They Make it?

Some webmasters and bloggers believe that appearances count a lot when you want to win some credibility on the Internet. They claim that if you aren’t that successful yet, you should pretend you are, until everyone believes you. Eventually, actual success will follow. In other words, this is the old “fake it til you make it” scheme applied to Internet marketing.

Should you apply this principle to your activities as a webmaster or blogger? I’m not totally sure that I can give a positive answer to this question. But I’m going to save my objections for last. Now I’m going to show you a few situations when you might consider doing some make-believing, if you really must.

When could you fake it till you make it?

  • Suppose you still don’t have much practical experience in a given subject, but you’re a good researcher and find it easy to compile data about that. So you feel you’re ready to build a great site or blog about the topic and possibly make money from it. The problem: many people hate it when someone without first-hand experience on a field writes about it. What can you do then? Exactly: you’ll fake it till you make it, i. e., you’ll use your research skills as substitutes for experience, at least for the time being.
  • Forum owners often inflate member and post counts as a way to encourage more people to join their forums. The reasoning behind this is that no one will join an empty place, so you play a little trick to get the bandwagon effect to work. Several bloggers inflate subscriber and/or comment numbers for similar reasons.
  • Bloggers and webmasters may avoid the loss of direct ad sales by temporarily filling their own unsold inventory.
  • Some service providers offer their services for free — or for discounted fees — when they are starting out. They ask for testimonials in return. Said testimonials will hopefully generate more business in the future, thus resulting in profit and compensating the initial financial losses.

The biggest disadvantage of faking it till making it

Ethical issues are the number one reason why you should be extremely careful when you pretend to be more successful than you really are.

Do you like to be misled? Of course not. Why should your visitors like it then?

Even if you don’t care much for ethics, keep in mind that you can always be unmasked. I myself have written an article containing basic tips to help people measure a site or blog’s success. Anyone can read that article because it’s available for free. There are certainly other articles like that on the Internet. People are getting smarter and smarter anyway.

Are you willing to risk your reputation just to make some quick money?