Every once in a while, I offer help openly — I ask people how they are, what they’re working on and how I can help.

But the problems of doing so, other than adding to my already overflowing inbox, is the lack of direction and worthwhile requests.

People ask me how they can make their posts viral on Medium, how to get better at writing immediately or to like/share/tweet whatever product or service they’re working on, but those aren’t things I can really help with.

You can’t predict virality; if people could, all posts would be viral, not just yours, and if that was the case, would that post still be considered viral? The best way to improve your chances at a viral post is to write higher quality posts and the only way to improve the quality of your writing is to put in the effort.

I really want to help beyond just giving generic advice that you’d find on the internet already anyways. So if you’re asking me to review, tweet, or like your product or service — as much as I’d like to, I can’t endorse something I don’t truly have the time to review and it’s just not fair or respectful to my followers.

I’d like to help those who first help themselves because it at least tells me that they’re putting in the effort and are generally more conscious of what they’re looking for. There’s merit in having strived hard but failing despite your best efforts and I recognize that because I’ve been through it myself, so of course I’d want to help.

Asking is easier than trying, but the value you gain from actually trying will get you closer to what you want to achieve.