7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online

by Marian Schembari on August 24, 2011


Pay the toll of the person behind you.

Leave positive notes (à la Operation Beautiful) on public bathroom mirrors or people’s windshields.

Smile at a stranger, high-five a fellow runner, let the mom with threes kids go ahead of you in line.

Good Karma. On the Internets….

Paying it forward. Good karma. I’ve loved the idea of little acts of kindness, but for people who live online like yours truly, we need a solid list of nice things we can do for people around the world. Just because.

1. Donate to a blog. Ever see those sites that ask you to help them pay their hosting fees or buying  project materials by giving a little PayPal love? Well, how many of you actually do that? Today, I want you to give a couple dollars to that blogger you adore. That, or click on an ad, use their Amazon affiliate link, whatever…

2. Give your readers something special. Contests are a great way to do this, but if you don’t have a sponsor or the money to do this, bake your readers some cupcakes or send your top commenters a postcard.

3. Email your favorite blogger. Tell them they’re pretty. Or that you loved their latest post. Or that their about page makes you happy.

4. Any time someone mentions your or your site on their blog, share the post and don’t forget to leave a comment! While this is less a random act of kindness and more a way to thank people for mentioning you, it still bears repeating. Make an effort to comment on any blog that links to you (found through Google Alerts – get on that) to show you appreciate them. End of story.

5. Advertise someone on your site for free. Find a really great Kickstarter project you absolutely LOVE, but don’t have the money to support them? Feature the project on your latest post or create an ad to feature in your sidebar. Do this for charities, companies you love, blogs you read or anything else you want to spread the word about.

6. Send a handwritten thank you note to someone who’s really helped you – either through inspiration, leaving comments or mentorship.

7. Help someone with yard work. No, not real yardwork, this is online karma guys. But remember that post I wrote ages ago about people who saved my ass on Twitter? Pay it forward by doing the same. See someone bitching about their broken WP theme/grainy photo/overbaked cheesecake and you know how to fix it? Go forth and prosper.

What have you done or seen recently that’s been an awesome act of online karma? I only have seven ideas here and we need more! All your ideas will be featured here in the next couple of days…

{Photo credit}

UPDATE 8/27: Reader Ideas

Make Introductions – “I enjoy taking time out to email and tweet and say ‘Hi X, you should meet X because of X’ – I love seeing people who should get to know one another chatting away.” ~Sian Meades

Offer A Service – “If you offer a service, give it away for free to your most frequent comment-leaver, or a have a pay-what-you-can day,especially if your service is on the pricey-but-totally-worth-it side.” ~Kristin Offiler

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  • http://twitter.com/marianschembari/status/106351170485882881 Marian Schembari

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/HZdIn43

  • http://twitter.com/combotronics/status/106351655322255360 Combotronics, Inc.

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/HZdIn43

  • http://twitter.com/KristinOffiler Kristin Offiler

    Marian, I love this post! I think the blogging universe would be a much better place if everyone took the time to be thoughtful and kind to fellow readers and bloggers. Ok, maybe that should go for the entire world, not just the blogging one. But in any event, I love this list you’ve compiled. I adore the idea of advertising for a cause you maybe cannot afford to support at the moment, and sending handwritten thank yous are ALWAYS a good move. I just sent one to my favorite vlogger, DailyGrace (http://www.youtube.com/user/dailygrace) when she got a PO Box and shared the address with viewers. Everyone appreciates a good thank you letter. 

    Another idea: if you offer a service, give it away for free to your most frequent comment-leaver, or a have a pay-what-you-can day,especially if your service is on the pricey-but-totally-worth-it side (I’m thinking specifically of Danielle LaPorte here).

    Thanks for the post, Marian!

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Agreed 100%! I think bloggers are actually an inherently good bunch of people, and I’ve seen so many awesome things happen because of sharing and good online karma.

      You’re so adorable to send a letter to Daily Grace, and I love that you actually DID it! It’s one thing to talk about good karma, it’s another thing to be proactive about it – nicely done!

      And great idea with giving away a service, definitely adding that to the list!

  • http://twitter.com/jesslaw/status/106355487141920769 Jessica Lawlor

    Another awesome post from the lovely Marian! RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/ZsrBarI

  • http://twitter.com/HeathervdH Heather van der Hoop

    I love this post as well! Great ideas, and I love Kristin’s suggestion about the pay-what-you-can day for service deliverers. I look forward to coming back here to see what other ideas your readers come up with!

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Me too! Think it’s a really smart way to pay it forward. Have seen people use that tactic really successful.

  • http://twitter.com/shurleyhall/status/106358830505525248 Sharon Hurley Hall

    RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/txadHa6 – nice idea.

  • http://twitter.com/combotronics/status/106376124652728320 Combotronics, Inc.

    RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/W7NwuV7

  • http://twitter.com/combotronics/status/106376332853784576 Combotronics, Inc.

    via @MarianSchembari from Twitter. Thought this was a great post to share. :) http://t.co/oyy6lHa

  • http://twitter.com/realdelia/status/106384970406301697 Delia Lloyd

    [grt advice vis #blogging ]RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/8xaSh2o

  • http://www.domesticsluttery.com Sian

    THIS POST makes me happy.

    Often Domestic Sluttery does a little ‘blog love’ post – there are so many amazing ones out there, it’s nice to feature them. I send my blogger friends and colleagues job ads ALL THE TIME. Even if I’m looking for work. It takes two seconds and if it’s a role that’s perfect for them they might just find a little bit of paid freelance work. I also enjoy taking time out to email and tweet and say ‘hi X, you should meet X because of X’ – love seeing people who should get to know one another chatting away. I like online karma – I’ve seen it work both ways, I like it the good way.

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Yay! Thanks :)

      A Blog Love post always goes over well as it’s useful for both readers and the people who wrote said posts.

      And sending job ads is brilliant! Love, love, love it.

  • http://twitter.com/alexisgrant/status/106402903035609088 Alexis Grant

    7 ways to pay it forward online, from @MarianSchembari: http://ow.ly/6bzwW

  • http://twitter.com/kristinoffiler/status/106412849710120960 Kristin Offiler

    Good karma is always nice. RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/P0Vzwa7

  • http://twitter.com/pianolessonsmn/status/106433119707607042 Laura’s Music Studio

    RT @alexisgrant: 7 ways to pay it forward online, from @MarianSchembari: http://ow.ly/6bzwW

  • http://twitter.com/social_newbie/status/106436961698455553 Social Newbie

    RT – Super Awesome Post from @MarianSchembari 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/DnWrTTE – [Good Karma is priceless!]

  • http://twitter.com/revengealina/status/106446215511687168 drea jack

    7 ways to pay it forward online, from @MarianSchembari: http://ow.ly/6bzwW

  • http://twitter.com/kathy_crowley/status/106452217892052992 Kathleen Crowley

    RT @realdelia: [grt advice vis #blogging ]RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/Ln938Tr

  • http://twitter.com/kemari/status/106505678440505345 Kemari Howell

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/HZdIn43

  • http://twitter.com/beallison/status/106525705629732864 Benjamin Allison

    New Blog Post 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online – Pay the toll of the person behind you. Leave positive notes (à la Op… http://t.co/yBRRNYR

  • http://twitter.com/geekyshopaholic/status/106557978479566848 Paula

    RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/TWQiGo5

  • http://twitter.com/dbsalk/status/106565220574564352 David S.

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online — Marian Schembari http://ow.ly/6cbvi via @marianschembari

  • Anonymous

    Just took a class on “Raising Happy Kids & Being Happy Yourself” and two of the things that make the biggest difference? Doing things for others and gratitude.  Spot on!

    • http://marianlibrarian.com Marian Schembari

      Love it! And couldn’t agree more.

  • http://twitter.com/marianschembari/status/107310320577548288 Marian Schembari

    I want your good karma ideas!!! http://ow.ly/6edWN

  • http://twitter.com/leslieajoy/status/107511989105991680 Leslie A. Joy

    LOVE: RT @MarianSchembari: I want your good karma ideas!!! http://ow.ly/6edWN

  • http://twitter.com/wai_knot/status/107615923942342658 David Horrocks

    When instore ask 4 boss say he/she due 4 payrise gave #greatservice! “@MarianSchembari: I want your good karma ideas!!! http://t.co/SpL5GSH”

  • http://twitter.com/sweeneysays/status/107745362911047680 Nicole

    Absolutely love this post from the wonderful @MarianSchembari: "7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online" http://t.co/B5GYkG3

  • http://twitter.com/karmictweets/status/107746790077501440 Karmic Tweets

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  • http://twitter.com/oneredwall/status/107811601373085696 Kanriah

    Absolutely love this post from the wonderful @MarianSchembari: "7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online" http://t.co/B5GYkG3

  • http://twitter.com/itallchanges/status/108092422654918656 Cynthia Crowsen

    Make friends and pay it forward. :-) RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/WlJhdy6

  • http://twitter.com/elizabethscraig/status/108199854303477760 Elizabeth S Craig

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online: http://t.co/soB6yIU #writing @MarianSchembari

  • http://twitter.com/heidirubymiller/status/108200888518197248 Heidi Ruby Miller

    @elizabethscraig: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online: http://t.co/LsWwLMD #writing @MarianSchembari – I'm all about the reciprocity!

  • http://twitter.com/frankievalente/status/108201095242842113 Frankie Valente

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online: http://t.co/soB6yIU #writing @MarianSchembari

  • http://twitter.com/lindafausnet/status/108203485119528960 Linda Fausnet

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  • http://twitter.com/gjadoorman/status/108243064803434498 GJA communications

    A good one I just had to share @elizabethscraig 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online: http://t.co/RYujERx #writing #smtalk @MarianSchembari

  • http://twitter.com/linkbuildrocket/status/108395346098532352 Link Building Rocket

    RT @gjadoorman: A good one I just had to share @elizabethscraig 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online: http://t.co/Tv5Viph #writing #smtalk…

  • http://twitter.com/rebeccaawatson/status/116285560682840064 Rebecca A. Watson

    Great ideas! RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/UctjTKJl

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  • http://twitter.com/rosemcgrory/status/116878203976560641 Rose McGrory Ltd

    We love this post – 7 things you can do online to spread a little happiness! http://ow.ly/6wvLY

  • http://twitter.com/gazeleychequers/status/116902951397752833 Pat & Paula

    We love this post – 7 things you can do online to spread a little happiness! http://ow.ly/6wvLY

  • http://twitter.com/coriemichele/status/117597210832670720 corie

    RT @MarianSchembari: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/NsKP1yPL

  • http://twitter.com/chickybus/status/119265978205995008 Lisa E

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/3xeHb9XC RT @MarianSchembari

  • http://twitter.com/skodobah/status/119269931526258688 Julie Rieman Duck

    7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/3xeHb9XC RT @MarianSchembari

  • http://twitter.com/ottsworld/status/119428736767627264 Sherry Ott

    RT @chickybus: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/gisTT3pt RT @MarianSchembari

  • http://twitter.com/joanna_haugen/status/119429308665184256 JoAnna Haugen

    RT @ottsworld: RT @chickybus: 7 Ways to Pay it Forward Online http://t.co/OShdXM9Y RT @MarianSchembari

  • Pam

    Today, I complimented two baby girls.   I told them how beautiful they were in front of their parents.   They must have understood what I was saying because they had a smile from ear to ear.   The parents were so ecstatic and grateful.    This made their day.   I remember being complimented as a little girl and I never forgot how it made me feel all my life.

  • http://www.Makeanddogirl.com Make and Do Girl

    Aw, I love this sentiment. The internet can feel so anonymous. I like that you brought the same ideals I’d like to live up to in the “real world” to the online world. I’m going to bookmark this post so I can refer back to it from time to time when I owe the world some good karma.

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