How NOT to approach online JV partners and bloggers

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how not to approach JVs

I’ve been getting more and more e-mail from people I don’t know asking for things.

But, I just have to share this one with you. It’s from someone I’ve never heard of who wants to JV or joint-venture with me, translation, get access to you, my amazing family of readers:

Hello Jonathan Fields,

I came across your site while browsing the articles at [site I’ve never heard of].com. You’ve got a terrific website and I especially like your article “[article I never wrote]

My name is [person I don’t know] and our firm [company I’ve never heard of] developed and distributes a product called [product I’ve never heard of]. It’s the only product of its type [meaning, there’s likely no market for it]… supplying [silly generic benefit].

We primarily market our product through our Joint Venture partners who mail their email lists to point their list-members to the sales page for [product I have no faith in] and in exchange receive 30% [which is at least 20% below the standard IM JV split] of all revenues generated.

To see the [now annoyingly unwanted product] sales page: [website I don’t want to visit]

We work with some great sites [hahahaha, really?] and I’d like you to consider inviting your list-members to consider our product.

[Product I don’t believe in] looks to me like it may be a nice compliment to your offerings. I looked through your site and didn’t see any offerings on the mental/emotional side of entrepreneurship [oh, so you missed all those articles I poured my heart in writing on this topic]… I may have missed it [ya think?].

This is the digital age. It’s really easy to find out about me, what I write and don’t write about.

When you want to approach anyone with an online presence without an introduction:

  • Do your homework first – at least read a few posts on their blog, scan the archives to see what they write about and do a quick google search on them and read any interviews you can find, then
  • Join in the conversation – Let them know who you are, let them know you care, let them know you want to give to, not just take from the conversation

Then, over time, if you want to approach them to JV or for any other “favor,” you’ll be a known entity. It may still be unsolicited, but it will be viewed with a much friendlier eye.

Do it in a way that shows you really want to work with them, as an individual.

And, even if you ignore all this advice, don’t lie.

Don’t pretend you know someone or someone’s work when you haven’t lifted a finger to learn about them. Because, if you do and you guess wrong, like the person above did, you’ll not only be viewed as a spammer, but a lier.

The rules have changed. The game has changed…at least with the web-crowd.

I’m not an A-list blogger, just an average online Joe and I get e-mails like this on a regular basis. Can you imagine how many the big people with the big lists get?

Fact is, you can now know the people you want to approach on a level that that was impossible just a few years ago, BEFORE you approach them. You can build trust, conversation and relationships in anticipation of a future request, JV or project.

Do the work, be honest, participate in the conversation and doors will open like never before.

Break the rules and doors will not only close, but people will spread the word.

So, what do you think?

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31 responses

31 responses to “How NOT to approach online JV partners and bloggers”

  1. Kivi Miller says:

    Here, here! I’m starting to feel like the pitches that have just a tiny bit of personalization (like mentioning a post or two) are even worse than the ones that don’t. It’s like they know they are supposed to sound personal and authentic, but they aren’t willing to *really* do their homework. That feels even more insulting than the pitches I get from the truly clueless.

  2. […] How NOT to approach JV partners and bloggers […]

  3. Lara Kretler says:

    Great points! You are so right, especially about “Do the work, be honest, participate in the conversation and doors will open like never before.” I’ve been immersing myself into the social media community in the past few months or so and have felt so welcomed. Why stand on the banks and try to cast a line into the pond when instead you can dive in, swim with and develop friendships with fish? You’ll feel better about what you’re doing and they’ll certainly feel better about you. To quote Brutus the shark in Finding Nemo: fish are friends, not food!

  4. Great post. I’m sharing it on PitchEngine where we’re having similar dialog regarding PR and social media. We’d love to have you input!

  5. I completely agree, Jonathan! Matter of fact, that’s exactly why just this week I wrote a how-to guide on approaching people you don’t know via email. I’m not trying to market myself here, but I really do think this is EXACTLY what you’re talking about. (I’d welcome any pointers you have on how I should be approaching this differently)

    How to Reach Out (to bloggers, etc) via Email without being a Jerk

    I’m still sad not to meet you at SOB Con (hope you’re feeling better!), but I’ll keep enjoying your writing until our next chance to get together!

  6. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Kivi – I actually don’t mind when someone adds in a personal line or two…as long as it’s relevant to the conversation, instead of just saying, “hey, I just read the headline of your last post, see, really!”

    @ Lara – It’s like Seth says, it’s about engagemenent, conversation and permission. Come play for a while, first, then talk turkey.

    @ Jason – cool, will try to jump over in a bit.

  7. Troy says:

    While I’ve never had the “privilege” of being contacted by a company to shill for their products/services, I don’t understand how these individuals don’t understand the connection most blog owners (esp. the ‘indies’) have to their audience. To jeopardize that connection to make a few extra bucks just isn’t worth it.

    On another note (and I just couldn’t help myself) I think you mean “liar” instead of “lier” (…a spammer, but a lier). A “lier” is ‘a person or thing that lies, as in wait or in ambush’. And a “liar” is ‘a person who tells lies’.

    But, I guess in this situation, both definitions are equally valid 🙂

  8. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Jared – nice article on things to think about when contacting bloggers

    @ Troy – It is funny how protective of our readers we get. Good catch on the liar, lier thing, but now I think I actually like both definitions, so I’ll leave it for now! 😉

  9. That email cracks me UP.

    I have to say that I completely RESPECT the fact that you don’t blitz us with ‘offers’ for products which give you a split. I also appreciate that you don’t have ads all over your site.

    The only thing you have ever promoted was your seminar which, as a regular reader, I would be interested in because it is YOU. Not something you’re shilling for because you get a cut.

  10. Linda says:

    But you are an A-list blogger to me and most of your readers I suspect.

    Thanks for another excellent post!

    Have a great weekend.


  11. Shama Hyder says:

    1) You are an A-list blogger in my book!

    2) I couldn’t agree more. I get these types of emails all the time. If the person seems some-what genuine, I do my best to reply. Otherwise-I don’t bother. For example, one company had a product that shot (texted) ads into people’s phones as they walked by it. 1) That’s scary and spammish! 2) I serve service businesses…umm-I don’t think so!

  12. Jonathan Fields says:

    Awww, you guys are making me feel all warm and fuzzy!

    @ Hayden – If I truly believe in something, I have no problem sharing it with you guys, But, I also need to believe in the person behind it. There may come a time where I put ads on this site, dunno, but to me ads are also different than a personal endorsement.

    @ Linda – Working my way up the alphabet, but I have along way to go before I get to the “A”s.

    @ Shama – No you! Yeah, with what you do, I bet you get a ton more solicitations like that than me. It’s not that I reject the notion of JVing at all, I think it’s great. But, there’s are way to go about it, at least with bloggers, that gets people on your side, rather than immediately alienates them.

    Have a wonderful weekend all!

  13. Rosa Say says:

    You are right Jonathan; as the “digital age” marches on, our tolerance for those who don’t do their homework decreases, especially as the ease of connecting increases. It is something I remind myself of often these days for better self-coaching in relationship-building too. For instance I am making time for the more active blog commenting I did before my own audience grew, something I used to be far better about engaging in.

    Social media accelerates everything too: I am finding that my new presence on Twitter (just about six weeks now) has added to my inbox spam as well, as people follow the path to the contact info on my blog. It’s sad, and a kind of theft really, of our attention, our good intentions, our time, and our optimism of what the web can best be all about.

  14. Karen Swim says:

    Jonathan, I am an average Jane who also receives these “offers” sometimes even calling me Sir or Mr. There’s no excuse for these types of mistakes in electronic communications. In person, the “do I know you from…” is acceptable but not in an email asking me to partner or give me a job. For pete’s sake actually read my website, blog or infinite number of profiles and then try to pitch me. If you make an attempt to authentically engage it really can pay off.

  15. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Rosa – It’s almost understandable when someone not too immersed in the online word doesn’t rules the rules of engagement, the evolving social ethos, but in this case it was someone who specializes in the online world, so no breaks there.

    @ Karen – simple rules, do your homework, join the conversation, then reach out. It’s not that hard…and it works

  16. Yes, yes, and yes. Oh, and yes.

    I actually had a guy CALL me the other day about a shilling venture. He called me. On my phone. He mentioned my kid’s name on the voice mail. He said he hoped my kid’s glasses were working out.

    I was seriously impressed by that one.

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  19. I think the rules are evolving. You’re always going to get more and less confident people. I don’t mind really. I get so much spam anyway that I don’t waste my energy worrying about such things.

  20. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Naomi – sorry, that was me calling, hoping to give you a new microwave that also does the laundry and decants wine from boxes in exchange for a teeny little trip to come see my new time-share complex in Sunny Idaho, hehehe!

    @ Michael – it’s not so much about how you feel about being approaches as it is about how you might make others feel when approaching them. Always remember, with rare exception we are not our markets.

  21. Tim Brownson says:

    Ah Jonathan that reminds me of the time we were having a beer together in that bar in a big city somewhere.

    You were telling me what a brilliant writer I was and that you couldn’t wait to read my book. Obviously I was delighted to oblige and then you gave me your address to mail it to with the promise that if you liked it you’d review it and if you hated it you’d laugh in my face and use it to wedge an errant door open with.

    Good times my friend, good times. Unfortunately, I lost the address though, so if you want to e-mail it me again that would be great.

    BTW, how are the kids and that crazy uncle/aunt/sister/cousin* of yours?

    *delete where applicable.

  22. […] is so bombarded by people who want his help to, in essence, scam his own readers that he wrote this article.  The following is an example of the lengths folks will go to enroll his assistance. Hello […]

  23. There was a true story of a woman who wrote a letter to a railroad complaining about bedbugs.

    They answered her with a long letter of appreciation for bringing the information to them and apologizing for the terrible inconvenience.

    Attached to the letter was a small note that read,
    “Send this nut the bug letter.”

    I never respond to bug letters like the one you used as an example!

  24. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ Corrine – love that story! 🙂

  25. Walt Goshert says:


    JV Pards for Dummies (Now, including “Killer” A-List, er… Average Joe email template)

    Tim… that’s funny in an off-line kinda way…


  26. […] is so bombarded by people who want his help to, in essence, scam his own readers that he wrote this article.  The following is an example of the lengths folks will go to enroll his assistance. Hello […]

  27. […] is so bombarded by people who want his help to, in essence, scam his own readers that he wrote this article.  The following is an example of the lengths folks will go to enroll his assistance. Hello […]

  28. […] is so bombarded by people who want his help to, in essence, scam his own readers that he wrote this article.  The following is an example of the lengths folks will go to enroll his assistance. Hello […]

  29. I’m all ears on this one. It seems so many out there don’t know how to bring value to the table, only noise. Thanks for the reminder that it’s about joining and adding to the conversation.



  30. AIDEN says:

    Excellent, thanks

  31. Steve Bents says:

    Great Post. I even retweeted. Thanks for the valuable information