by Niall Doherty

Note from Niall: While I’m busy frolicking about on the high seas, I’m handing the blog reigns over to my good friend Will Peach to tell you all about his experience taking on the No-Self Promo challenge in February. Once you’re done reading, I highly recommend you go check out the many projects Will’s got going on (like this one). He’s out there making lots of cool shit happen.

Avast!

I’d never really participated in anything with much tenacity before, let alone the Internet challenges of a travelling Irishman. So when I first read through the concept of The Month of No-Self Promo and watched cute little Janet Brent talk about why she was taking part, I was kind of in shock at just how much of a good idea it all seemed.

More surprising though it is that up until then I’d considered myself pretty much apathetic as fuck. Yes, there’d been other similar campaigns that had caught my eye in the past, yet despite all my initial due diligence, they’d always come to the same natural conclusion. The scrap heap.

My lack of effort or enthusiasm? That was the thing that always killed there any chance of being a positive end result.

So what happened with the The Month of No-Self Promo then? Why did I decide to suddenly get involved with something that had no outright benefit for me? The answer is pretty simple. I realized two things. The first; just how much of a little attention-seeking Facebook and Twitter whore I’d become, the second; how I wasn’t getting anywhere being like that.

And so last month, February, taught me a lot of things. One, that I was, to my surprise, diligent enough to see something like this through to the end, and two, that doing it revealed a string of home truths that up until then had been evading me.

No, I’m not talking about a repressed desire for the man behind Disrupting the Rabblement here (that much has never been uncertain), but rather a string of other eye-opening things about my wider general perception of the world and my skinny white ass inside of it. Yes. Deep shit indeed.

So the things I learned most from a month of shutting up about my sarcastic-ass on the Internet? Here they are, summed up, as best I can.

People Are Receptive, No Matter How Much You’re In Awe of Them

With the main principle of The Month of No Promo based on offering no-strings-attached help to people, the whole campaign forced me to get bold with my approaches and shirk any sense of timidity.

Where in the past I might have bulked at approaching Internet gods like Colin Wright, Gary Arndt or Dave Lee (I’m a travel blogger through and through) due to the fear of rejection, after starting the challenge I suddenly felt, knowing I wasn’t asking or wanting anything, like the most courageous man this side of Bear Grylls.

But what also came as more of eye-opener was the fact that all of the people I got in touch with also got back to me. Happy for me to contact them and delighted that I was there to offer them help, throughout the month I forged some really strong relationships as a result.

Relationships, that had it not been for the challenge, I wouldn’t even have thought could have existed.

A Lot of Productive Time is Wasted in Self-Promotion

Aside from making new friends, perhaps the most golden truth to come out of the month (and something I hope everybody eventually picks up on) is that which was most obvious; the amount of time I spent promoting myself beforehand to absolutely no avail.

Being a blogger myself, albeit more familiar with penning travel-related pieces than personal development-themed odes, I’d always thought the quick route to getting attention and traffic was spamming up social media with links back to my own content. Not getting any direct results that way; it never dawned on me to take a different approach. Instead I would always just go at it again, in that same tired vein, harder and faster.

Connecting with others (most only wanted me to share, critique or highlight their projects), naturally led to curiosity on their part. Going one step further and offering to help others, in true Pareto style, caused my own projects to receive greater exposure as a result.

As people I contacted came over to my sites to check my fine self out and help share my work, I learned that giving to others, not asking, is the first crucial step to widening your network and putting yourself out there.

My aggressive link spamming tactics died that month. Let’s hope they never see the light of day again.

Engaging With Others Helps Define Your Own Wants and Needs

Another truth that came out of setting myself the further challenge of contacting five influential people a day, was the way it helped to aid inner reflection. Engaging with the people I selected, with no agenda of my own but to praise the person for the impact they had on me and to offer them help, I began to think carefully as to the reasons why I really wanted to connect with that person in the first place.

Thanks to this, the month became more than just a simple “what can I do for you?” copy-and-paste-email-job. What came instead was a firmer recognition of my own goals and ambitions and a more concrete understanding of why I interacted with certain people in certain ways. Suddenly, I also saw the real value in reaching out to those that inspired me on a regular basis too. It wasn’t to obtain information. It was to figure out what it was that they had that I wanted. Finding those answers, I now feel surer of the direction I’m headed. And no, it’s not to the nearest sex shop, despite what you might believe from reading TravelSexLife.

A Better Feeling of Interconnectedness and Inner Peace

Now this is where my reflection on The Month of No-Self Promo gets a little bit soppy. As I’m generally not that good at writing openly about “emotions”, and it feels kind of straining to do so, I think what I want to say here is best summarized by saying “I felt a lot happier” during the month of February, taking part in this challenge, than what I usually felt before.

Knowing that I was effectively helping people, even with small things, made me realize, as Niall as shown before, that again its the giving (whether monetary or not) that makes us feel happier for longer.

Some People Might Be Suspicious And Scared to Ask for Stuff

The last significant thing I noticed to come out of The Month of No Promo is less about me and more about others.

For some people I approached, no matter how innocently I positioned myself, I was met with a certain degree of suspicion. But where I could hardly blame people for asking themselves the question of “why does this guy want to help me?”, I was, admittedly, a little disheartened by some of the more curt responses I got.

“Nah I’ve got all under control”, one well-known blogging personality responded, feeling the need to reply but not to elaborate or connect on any further level. Other responses surprised me too, like when a number of people thanked me for the offer but passed up actually asking me to do anything with claims that it felt “too awkward”.

I guess, in the end, what all this helped to show is just how diverse people are. Some people completely let go of themselves and let me in to critique things like their scripts, stories and blogs. Others preferred to go it alone.

It’s with the last group that I’d like this reflection to end.

The greatest thing the Month of No-Promo taught me? It’s that we’re stronger as a group rather than as individuals. Looking at the people who did let me in, you can see how much faster and successful they are growing in light of those who didn’t. In helping each other we help ourselves.

That self-promotional little tyke I was before? Well and truly dead.

Turns out those challenges of a travelling Irishman are well worth following after all.

Will Peach is the associate editor of the online travel e-zine Vagabundo Magazine. He’s currently working on a site dedicated to travel interviews and profiles at TraveLinkSites.com and is another happy customer of Niall’s $50 Blogs service.