Want Bloggers to Promote Your Stuff? Do NOT Do This.

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I’ve written about how to pitch a blogger on covering a story, post, product or book.

But, there’s another kind of pitch that’s becoming more and more popular as bloggers explore ways to generate income by promoting or reviewing other peoples’ products—the promotional joint venture or “JV” pitch. The standard JV gives bloggers a 50 to 75% commission on an info-product that is sold through that blogger’s affiliate link.

I don’t do a whole lot of “JV” promotions. Just not my thing.

But, I do get pitched a whole lot…

Which I always think is kind of funny, since I’m a relatively small fish with a community that’s not overly-commercially driven. Still, there’s a way to go about getting bloggers interested…and a way to send us running.

So, let’s start with a recent example of what NOT to do…

I got an e-mail this week from someone who wanted me to promote a product. Here’s the letter:

It’s official.  We’re live in pre-launch.  Buzz is building.

I guarantee if you don’t get started with us, in a short while your inbox will be peppered with other people promoting our product.  I just wanted to give you first dibs.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch the entire video we sent out before the weekend.  But we’ve had a few industry pros check it out, and the verdict?

Well, it’s clear to that this is getting active networkers excited.

Here’s what one big industry leader had to say after taking a look:

“I looked over the site and it’s VERY impressive [person’s name]. I think you’re on to something BIG and very appealing to the online community.  I know there’s a huge void with a lot of people starting online plus the ones already started. You’re right on target with this product…”

———

Right now, it’s still free for top networkers to get instant access to the product and the residual income stream but we will be closing the doors in a few days on this offer…

So it’s kinda time sensitive.

So check out the video now, and prepare to create some passive income.   The conversions and feedback we’re seeing is unreal.

But don’t take our word for it… Check it out for yourself and thank you for joining the buzz: [website address]

Now, here’s the thing, the folks pitching this product could very well be very cool, honest people with a serious solution. But…

They were strangers to me, so their email needed to do an awful lot of heavy lifting.

It needed to:

  • Connect with me,
  • Show why they were reaching out,
  • Show that they knew me, what I write about and my community,
  • Give me a reason to trust them and prove they weren’t scammers,
  • Explain what they were offering and why it was relevant,
  • Prove it had value to me and my community, and
  • Not waste my time.

Unfortunately, each line of the email cut down, rather than built up their arguments in each area.

Let’s go line by line, so you guys can see why and avoid repeating the same missteps. And, no, I’m not naming names. This isn’t about attacking anyone, it’s just so you can understand how to reach out to those whose help you’d like in a believable, ethical and compelling way, and how not to:

It’s official.  We’re live in pre-launch.  Buzz is building.

Funny, I haven’t heard a word about it beyond this email! If it were relevant to my interests, you’d figured I’d have caught wind of the buzz. So, either I’m out of the loop (in which case, why do you want me as a JV) or you’re lying. Where’s the buzz-beef?

I guarantee if you don’t get started with us, in a short while your inbox will be peppered with other people promoting our product.  I just wanted to give you first dibs.

Where do I start? First, don’t ever guarantee something that’s never gonna happen. And, if my inbox really is about to get peppered, that makes me really want to be just another person spamming inboxes with pre-written messages nobody wanted to get in the first place. I don’t want fist dibs, middle dibs or last dibs…though I do have a hankering for Nibs right around now. This makes me feel like just another number, not a valued member of a team. And, again, it wreaks of hype.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to watch the entire video we sent out before the weekend.  But we’ve had a few industry pros check it out, and the verdict?

Here’s what one big industry leader had to say after taking a look:

Um, that must’ve been the video in the first unsolicited/off-target email I deleted last week. Nope, missed it. “Industry pros,” huh? Is that like certified social media gurus? Name names. Who are these big cheeses of which you boast? If they’re so big and so on-board, why aren’t they permitting their names to be used.

“I looked over the site and it’s VERY impressive [name]. I think you’re on to something BIG and very appealing to the online community.  I know there’s a huge void with a lot of people starting online plus the ones already started. You’re right on target with this product…”

I can’t imagine a more generic endorsement…coming from an undisclosed industry pro. Damn, where do I sign? The job of a testimonial is social proof; you gut it’s power by shielding the source then offering up a few whitewashed, non-specific sentences.

Right now, it’s still free for top networkers to get instant access to the product and the residual income stream but we will be closing the doors in a few days on this offer…

So it’s kinda time sensitive.

I’m not a top networker, don’t even know what that is. If there’s a time limit, tell me exactly what it is and why a limit has been put in place. Without that, it reads as a phony scarcity play.

And, wait a minute, two sentences ago, you told me you wanted me to have first dibs. But now you’re saying it’s going to launch any day, sounds like my invite to this party is coming pretty late. I wonder why. Maybe, because nobody else has signed up and now there’s a mad scramble for people to promote? Dunno, but I’m left to wonder.

And, for crying out loud, let me know what the product is. Don’t make we work to find out. There’s a time and a place for teasing, soliciting JV partners ain’t it.

So check out the video now, and prepare to create some passive income.   The conversions and feedback we’re seeing is unreal.

You’re asking me to give up time to watch a video made by people I don’t know in an industry I likely don’t operate in for a product that hasn’t been explained. Um…no! And, again, when it comes to social proof—show, don’t tell. If the feedback is unreal, demonstrate that to me.

I don’t know you, I don’t trust you and so far, you’re not giving me anything to change that.

But don’t take our word for it… Check it out for yourself and thank you for joining the buzz: [website address]

Again, no.

But, just for giggles I clicked over to watch the video (actually I did it because I knew I was going to write this post) and all I found was a guy standing in front of a camera telling me how great his stuff was and confirming it was an industry I don’t participate in (fair disclosure, I didn’t watch to the end, life’s too short).

At first glance, this email might not have seemed so off-putting.

And, I’m confident the people who sent it certainly did not intend it as such. But, when you get solicitations like this every day, you’re looking for reasons to stop reading. It’s just a simple time equation. And, this one was loaded with reason after reason.

Now, let’s take it a step further and look at how this might have been done differently…

The Preliminaries:

  • One – Bloggers are not like ezine list managers or other traditional JV list promotional partners. We pride ourselves in building community and having real conversations with our readers. And, we tend to be very protective of them. So, we want to see that you care not just about making money, but participating in or contributing to the community BEFORE you ever think about approaching us to try to extract money from that community. Long before the email went out, this person might have considered beginning to read my blog to see what I wrote about and get a feel for whether I and my community might have a genuine interest in what they were preparing to launch.
  • Two – When inspired, it might also have been a good idea to drop a comment that contributed in a substantial way to the conversation here and there, chat me and other regular commenters up on twitter, facebook and beyond. That way, over time, I’d know who you were and feel more of a sense of relationship and investment.

The First Contact: Send a short email introducing yourself and share something about the connection we might have and how much you’ve enjoyed the community at the blog. And, don’t say anything that’s not true, it’ll come through.

Now, what I didn’t tell you was the above email did have a preliminary email, but it was equally offputting, all pitch. There was no salutation, meaning it was a mass email and the senders couldn’t even be bothered to type first name custom fields in an effort to give even the perception of personalization. And, the second line was…

“We hand-selected you specifically because of your influence in the ___________ industry. (you’re obviously doing a great job – you’re everywhere!”

Which was an outright lie, I don’t operate in their niche and am definitely not everywhere in it. In fact, I’m nowhere in it.

The Pitch: Now’s the time to be humble, respectful, grateful…and to the point. Something like this:

Dear [blogger’s name],

Just a quick note to say thanks and, if it’s not too much, ask a quick question…

Been reading your blog for about 4 months now and I genuinely appreciate the effort you put in. Makes my life easier (and, I was cracking up reading your recent your post on the proper way to eat a bagel while skiing moguls in Brooklyn. Shared it with everyone I knew).

Okay, so–my question…

As you may already know from my comments, you and I share a mad passion for African spotted frog training. It’s the reason I read your blog. I’ve spent the last 10 years working with African spotted frogs and developed a system to teach them how to lick and stamp envelopes and hop them to the mailbox in half the time it normally takes. Yeah, I know, cool (we actually had a university study done validating the results [link to abstract]).

We’re launching the system commercially as a set of paid streaming videos in 4 weeks, but I’d love to send you a courtesy copy today, so you can evaluate it yourself. And, if you think it’s cool, I’d be incredibly honored if you’d consider joining the launch team (we’re offering a 50% commission) and sharing your honest opinion about the system with your readers when we go live.

If it helps, your friends and leading voices in the post-modern frog training movement, Grizelda MacFestivus and Conan Oh Brian, have also just signed on.

Either way, please know your work is noticed and appreciated.

I look forward to the kindness of your reply.

Your friend,

Kooky Frog Lover

That’s it. No need to be hypey, impersonal or hold back information. No need to tease bloggers, hoping they’ll click through to learn more. And, remember, too, this comes after you’re already very likely on their radar as somebody who contributes regularly to their community.

One final piece of advice. I don’t suggest you target bloggers and social media types for the exclusive purpose of extracting influence or money from them down the road. Connect, first and foremost, because you have a genuine shared interest.

Participate in the community because the conversations matter to you.

And, know, if down the road there may some economic benefit, that’s okay. But, if you lead with the quest to profit, everyone will smell that and your efforts will likely end up falling on deaf ears.

Hope that was helpful.

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39 responses

39 responses to “Want Bloggers to Promote Your Stuff? Do NOT Do This.”

  1. Rajesh Setty says:

    Jonathan,

    I am hand-selecting this blog to post a comment because of your influence with entrepreneurs. You are obviously doing a great job. You are everywhere.

    Just kidding there!!

    While I liked how you tore apart template email pitches, I loved the suggested pitch – almost made me want to learn more about Kooky frog videos 🙂

    One more way to connect to a blogger can be through a mutual friend who believes in the cause. With that approach, you can eliminate the “connecting to a stranger” dilemma.

    Have a great morning.

    Best,
    Rajesh

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Great point, having a personal introduction goes a long way, whether online or off.

  2. Heidi Swift says:

    Amen.
    Said with a sigh of relief and ten pounds of gratitude to you for this much-needed PSA.

  3. Julie says:

    Interesting read. There are a few mailing lists I’ve subscribed to, because I genuinely like their product, but almost all their emails are hype-y and seem insincere. (Much like the pitch you just thoroughly trashed.) I can only assume they use them because they work, but I come away from them feeling dirty. I hope that potential promoters read this post; it would do them a world of good. Thanks.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Sometimes they work simply because of the numbers. If they send this email to a few thousand people, odds are they’ll end up with a small percentage who bite. But, most often it’s not the people with the lists or communities you really want to be connecting with. The other thing about lists versus bloggers is that many people with lists will send out stock pre-written emails promoting a product, because they’re only seen by their list. Few bloggers, though, will post pre-written content and risk ending up posting the idential content that’s on dozens of other blogs on the same day.

  4. Mike CJ says:

    Nicely written. And I’ve been on the wrong end of a few of those too.

    Sadly the odds are they guys or girls who sent you the email, will never read the post.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      You’re probably right, because if they’d read my blog in the first place, they never would have sent the email.

  5. Welcome to school, everyone! Great job breaking that down, Jonathan, but not just leaving it at the “complaint stage.”

    One person you can trust to educate you correctly on these launch-related things is Dave Navarro at TheLaunchCoach.com. I love everything Dave puts out–it’s all good stuff.

  6. Carri Bugbee says:

    I’d like to know if that original pitch included ANYTHING about disclosure and transparency. If it didn’t, then the pitcher is not only clueless, but out of compliance with the FTC.

    Every blogger should read and know all the salient points (by heart!) of the FTC’s guidelines, which went into effect December 1, 2009:
    http://www.ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005endorsementguidesfnnotice.pdf

    @CarriBugbee
    Social Profiles: http://www.CarriBugbee.com

  7. Hey Jonathan,

    Pretty good advice, I was embarrassed at that email and didn’t even write it, that was awful! I can’t believe people still communicate that way.

    Good job 🙂

    Cheers!

    The frog example was pretty funny btw!

  8. Great posting.

    It’s frustrating to read this, since people like that probably take away the effectiveness of a person with a genuine interest in connecting with someone in the blog community. For those of us just starting out, we like to turn to those who have come before us and have learned how to make a footprint within the blogosphere, and part of that is being able to have a line of communication. Spam JVing just leaves a bad taste in someone’s mouth. This is my favorite posting you have done since you’re diatribe on sales pages a while back.

  9. Jonathan,

    I just want to say that you are a cool guy. That is all.

  10. Sean Cook says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Another post I can really identify with. Every time I turn around, it seems that someone has something to pitch me…SEO strategies, customer relationship management software, or some random affiliate marketing stuff. It’s weird to me. I realize that some of these services are great but I am always skeptical when someone tells me it’s going to be easy and that I am going to have massive traffic and gobs of passive income.

    I guess this sort of stuff would have appealed to me when I was 14 or 15, and I had no concept that most people have to work for a living. I was enamored with all sorts of get-rich-quick stuff. I guess some people never grow wary of that stuff, or there wouldn’t be thousands of people pitching this-that-and-the-other all over the damn place.

    Thanks for the insights!

    Sean

  11. Ryan Hanzel says:

    Hey I wanted to say I really enjoyed this post. I am not experienced in any of this but this article was entertaining and educational to read. Keep it up! Retweeted

  12. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by remarkablogger: RT @jonathanfields Trainwreck Blogger JV Pitches: What Not To Do http://bit.ly/duH5Qd (pls RT)…

  13. Dave Soucy says:

    Awesome post. I’m in the fitness industry and not a week goes by where I don’t get a handful of these from people I’ve never heard of. The last one was almost a carbon copy of yours, complete with the cheesy youtube video of the guy telling my how great he is.
    I’ll be sending every fitness marketer I know to this post Jonathan.

    Thanks,
    Dave

  14. Scott Carson says:

    Jonathan,

    Wow! thought those pitches only came to me because I signed up for something I should have opted out of after the first turnkey pitch. Great lessons for “top networkers” but they are probably not reading here.

    I’ve actually done some skiing though the streets of Brooklyn, but I was just starting out so I ate my bagel first.

    After reading Trust Agents and the blogs I’m drawn to, these pitches seem to have neon envelopes with signature auras. If this message could break into “networker” circles, perhaps the pitchy emails would decrease.

    Scott

  15. Sachit Gupta says:

    What a great post! I think people need to understand the old, tried and tested model of broadcasting information is DEAD. That person probably sent the same email to 100 bloggers; whereas he probably would’ve been better off just sending it 10 bloggers with a genuine email.

  16. Coach T.I.A says:

    Haha that’s hilarious.. and sad.

    I once got a pitch that said “Hey Tia, I’m quite surprised that I haven’t heard back from you after the last email I sent you about our JV cos you’re really going to miss out bla bla bla (actually, I said I would think about it cos I’ve never done a JV before and am not sure if I want to – and this 2nd email was sent to me within 2 days!)”

    Needless to say, that really got my goat. So instead of connecting with me, they alienated me by making me feel ‘wrong’ somehow. Duh.

    Rule # 1: Don’t make your prospective affiliate / JV partner feel like they’re stupid for not taking your offer. They’re not, you are.

    That’s it folks! Tia @TiaSparkles

  17. I can totally relate to this, I don’t have any affiliates running on my site and I don’t go for any affiliates that have to contact me to sign up to it.

    I find the worst ones who just cold pitch you out of the blue, no relationship nothing.

    Top post brother

    • We don’t even do paid referrals for our businesses; in or out. I won’t pay a referral fee, and I won’t take one. It’s far too easy for the referral to be about money instead of making a good match between someone’s need and a product or service.

      Affiliate stuff is one step away from referrals, but it’s a thorny patch of ground if yer not careful where you step.

  18. I’d love to see someone just cut to the chase:

    “Hi! I’m building a get-rich-quick scheme for the lazy and clueless. I assume you’re as lazy and clueless as me, so I just know you want to be in on the ground floor (for future use as a doormat.)”

    I tend to see this stuff as a moral indictment (“this is lazy and selfish; we’re sending it to you, which tells you what we think of your moral character”) which makes it hard to maintain my defense mechanism of believing that they, like me, just want to be happy.

    But I try.

  19. […] 6 Likes Who Do You Trust for Online Business Advice? | Copyblogger 5 Likes Trainwreck Blogger JV Pitches: What Not To Do I've written about how to pitch a blogger on covering a story, post, product or book. But, […]

  20. Jean Deaux says:

    A few days ago I picked up your book on impulse, came home, read it,and was pretty much blown away by it. So much so, in fact, that I immediately began recommending it to friends.

    Just signed up for bi-weekly updates and am looking forward to following you as you grow and evolve in this field.

    I’ve read a ton of people involved in this field, and you are definitely on my short list.

    Great post, btw. And your pic looks *nothing* like the one I’d had in my mind. That was a real gravitas killer–grin.

  21. […] a blog: do you have my interests at heart? Are you protective of my time and attention? Do you want the best for me? Do you want to amuse or educate me? Or do […]

  22. Wooo Hooo Jonathan!

    There you go… Well done.

    I couldn’t have said it better. Lard knows in the industry I’m so often correlated with, health-fitness-nutrition, this sort of non-sense is more than standard than the exception.

    On a one to one basis, I’ve taken the time to suggest a similar path to some of the people who’ve sent me pitches… at least the ones I know and like.

    One of the things I’ve noticed is that the people sending JV’s seem to suffer from a belief that what they are doing is the only thing going on on planet earth. Thus, when they email me I feel like I’ve walked in on a conversation mid-stream. They expect me to know what they are talking about and to have nothing going on but waiting for them to share this with me.

    Furthermore, they make the mistake of thinking that just because making LOADS OF COLD HARD CASH is all that they think about, that the rest of us must think exactly the same.

    That said, at the same time I do know that there are SOME people who have really built / created some interesting, well crafted and thoughtful products. And while I’m not a JV guy I do feel like there are some things that are a service to share.

    Sure, they are the exception but when it’s really great stuff it makes all the difference. When it’s not all about money, it makes a difference. When the people really have a passion, talent and care…

    Thanks for sharing this… it’s the sort of thing that really needs to be said and it’s good for all.

    Thanks!

    In Strength,
    Shawn

    PS Running a major JV promo for Strength-for-LIFE… oh wait, that’s a hardback book… no money to be made there. Ha… LOL!

  23. […] posted the wrong link above (although it's still a good read). the link to the JV dissection is at Want Bloggers to Promote Your Stuff? Do NOT Do This. Cheers, Eric g. __________________ To view links or images in signatures your post count must […]

  24. Nice post. This is an area I have always thought about but never knew what to do . Bookmarking!

  25. ishita says:

    hey jonathan,

    thanks for this.

    the timeliness and tone of this post is just what i needed to hear.

    in the middle of branding/gauging tone of emails for fearless and this reminded me why i feel uncomfortable in the world of “branding” at times. more often than not, a facade of hip, cool branding/jargon is encouraged to “attract” people (personally makes my skin want to melt off) instead of the authenticity and genuine gratitude i feel toward anyone who reads my stuff. copy and engagement that’s “quirky” and “cool” doesn’t need to come off as arrogant. thanks for the reminder that sometimes my gut instinct is correct! sometimes!
    ishita

  26. Great post, Jonathan.

    I think this should be mandatory reading for everyone who is trying to win big in the “making money online niche”.

  27. Laurie Seymour says:

    Jonathan,

    I’ve been reading you for only a few weeks now and am actually very new to the whole blogging thing. I’m still at the reading/learning about stage, prompted because of having ideas for blogs/newsletters, etc. that have been flooding my consciousness. I’ve still got a ways to go before I am ready to start my own. But what prompted me to respond to this post was your explanation about building community and the relationship thereof with blogging media. See the light bulb going off in my head??? Well, this post did that for me. I’ve not been a 20-something for quite a long while now and having these kinds of conversations is still somewhat of a stretch for me. What I realize after reading this though, is that if I truly want to blog, then having conversations will be the essence of that. I’ve been big on community in the physical, face-to-face world, but this will push/allow me to grow in new ways. And that is what has always moved me forward to what’s next.

    Thank you! Keep doing what you’re doing–I find your “voice” very stimulating!

    Laurie

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey Laurie – Thanks so much for making the leap and joining in the conversation. Not all blogs are built around them, but it makes the adventures a lot more fun!

  28. […] a blog: do you have my interests at heart? Are you protective of my time and attention? Do you want the best for me? Do you want to amuse or educate me? Or do […]

  29. Neil Dahlstrand says:

    Jonathan,
    I enjoyed Career Renegade and appreciate this particular post a lot. I can credit you for my growing dissatisfaction with my trade (building/remodeling homes). The feast famine thing has to go. I’ve gotten my share of over-hyped, no name but “expert, don’t miss this one!” offers and, you’re right, I’m gone in a few sentences. It’s why I keep coming back here to see what a real community is up to and learn something. Will do my best to contribute positively. Thanks

  30. e.lee says:

    this post lucidly and frankly lays out what promoters get wrong.