Sunday, October 5, 2008

You And Your Online Reputation

One thing that will likely live forever, somewhere on Google's servers, or on the Wayback Machine, is what you write. More importantly, though, is what other people might write about you.

Here's a case in point - photographer Steven E. Frischling, who writes the popular blog "Flying With Fish", markets himself as a corporate and editorial photographer as "FishPhotoWorldwide", and for his wedding business, as "FishPhoto". He's smart - very smart - to seperate out those two business lines. Crazy as it sounds, corporate/commercial clients won't generally hire a photographer for their work that lists "weddings" as something they do. Wrong, I know, but it's a fact of life. Steve has recognized this. He markets himself for weddings internationally using Craigslist in London, Paris, Tokyo, Boston, Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai, and Miami. Each of those links shows you how he's promoted himself there. In fact, the Miami listing offers a 37% discount, and the DC listing offers a 44% discount off his regular rates. By his own account, he's racked up over 850,000 miles since 2005 alone. Clearly, he's been busy.

What reputation does he have on the internet? But, more importantly, is it even accurate?
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Since April of this year, several brides have penned unpleasant listings about him on, here. Are they accurate? Who knows. The Better Business Bureau website has four unresolved complaints against him here. Are those accurate? Again, no one knows. That's a bit of the negative, and people can write, post, complain, and otherwise be critical of you, and with the immediacy of the internet, it's spread everywhere - accurate or not. Now for the positive - Frischling appeared on Good Morning America (here) discussing the thefts at airports, and spends a great deal of time contributing over at a forum I read as well - FlyerTalk - which is the place where hardened travelers discuss all the nuances of travel and how to make it easier. Steve's published almost 1,000 posts there. You can check out his contributions at this link, he's fairly prolific, and he's very active over at, as seen here. So he's got positives, yes, but there are negatives that are still out there. Just as Steve needs to be attentive to them, so too should you be attentive to any that are critical of you.

All of this goes to show that what you write - helpful, critical, or otherwise, is stored in countless server dungeons around the world, and people can find it. Moreover, and more importantly, spending time locating and then correcting incorrect information is critical to maintaining a positive online reputation.

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