Only nine months earlier my son Sebastian said to me:
“Mum, I’ll make you a website for your birthday. But you’ll have to write a blog.”
I had no idea what he was talking about. Shortly after I started Goodlife Zen, the steepest learning curve of my life.
So, why did Leo Babauta give half his blog to an accidental blogger?
In a moment I’ll tell you how it happened. And I’ll outline five steps for you to follow. Because my story is an illustration about how one can build partnerships on the Net. Not that I’m an expert, you understand. I’m still learning. In fact, I’ve enrolled in Partnering Profits in order to learn the secrets of what I stumbled upon by accident.
So, here’s what happened:
When I first started blogging in November 2007, I checked out other blogs in the personal growth field and came across Zen Habits. I liked Leo Babauta’s style and thought, “Yep. That’s someone I could work with.”
It was great to come across someone who is incredibly talented, as well as modest and friendly. But to contact him seemed an impossible dream.
At that time Zen Habits already had over 50,000 subscribers and Goodlife Zen had just 2: my best friend, and my son. I was contemplating getting my cat to subscribe – just to get up to 3!
Nevertheless, I resolved to connect with Leo when the time was right.
Point #1 Earmark possible partners
When you feel an affinity for a colleague on the Net, listen to your intuition and add them to a list of possible partners, no matter how remote the chances appear at the moment. I have big bloggers, such as Leo Babauta, as well as writers who are still quite inexperienced on my list.
There’s even one guy who hasn’t even launched his first blog yet! I don’t care how much or how little experience someone has. All I care about is that they are nice people, and that they have talent.
It’s important to earmark possible partners, because if you don’t, you won’t spot the opportunities to connect with them. And that’s the crucial step: making a personal connection.
Point #2 Wait for the right time
A couple of days ago I visited a friend who lives in a remote settlement by the sea. I wanted to use her dinghy and tried to drag it down to the water. I shoved, pulled, and grunted – the darn thing just wouldn’t move! A neighbor was watching with hands on hips, amused by the antics of a landlubber.
“Hey!” I called out, “Lend me a hand, please!”
He nodded slowly, grinning. “Yeah,” he said , “I’ll help you – but only after we’ve had a cup of tea.” (I live in New Zealand where having a cup of tea is a serious occupation).
By the time we’d finished a cup of tea and he’d told me all about his liver problems and his love-life, a couple of hours had passed. When we got back to the dinghy, the tide had come in and the boat was already half afloat. I was able to launch it with one hand. Easy!
When is the time right?
Try to approach someone you want to connect with when they launch a new venture. Everyone’s anxious when launching something new and appreciates support.
The right time came for me in January 2008 when Leo launched his second blog Write to Done. I’m passionate about writing, so I was delighted to find a blog that would help me grow as a writer. I immediately started commenting. And then I crafted one of my sure-fire pitches and asked Leo whether he would let me write a guest post.
The pitch worked and Leo ran my first article on Write to Done, Juicy Writing: How to Glue Readers to the Page.
So, imagine that’s you. You’ve made contact. Now what?
Point #3 Be helpful – Take responsibility
If you want to partner up with someone, you need to be helpful. Not as a strategic move, but because you truly care. Here is an email I sent to Leo in February of this year:
“Hi Leo, it must be hard work running two blogs AND writing a book. I just wanted to mention a guy who writes excellent articles. I think he’d write a good guest post for Write to Done.”
A couple of months later I wrote:
“Hi Leo, I’m wondering whether you are on overload with your Ebook? I notice that “Write to Done” hasn’t had a new post for a while. Would you like me to write a guest post or two for you?”
You can see how I started taking responsibility for Write to Done, even though there was really nothing in it for me. And I made sure that I delivered on every promise. That’s important. Because this is the stage when trust is built.
Some people imagine that a joint venture starts with a pitch, or with a contract. Wrong!
A joint venture starts when you take responsibility.
So, let’s imagine that you’ve made a connection with a possible partner and have started lending a hand. This is a point in the sequence where many people get unstuck. Because your potential partner may now offer you money for your work. Don’t take it!
Point #4: Work for free
“But, I’m trying to make a living!” you may protest. Even if you are hard up, say ‘no’ to the money. Why?
Because if you accept a fee, your potential partner will regard you as an employee and not as an equal partner. You need to forgo short-term gain in order to reap real rewards later on.
Point #5: Put forward a win-win proposal
At some stage you will get a sense that the time is right for a partnership proposal. Before you start writing a proposal, consider the principles you are going to apply.
Here are the two principles I came up with:
- Have one’s cake AND eat it.
This principle avoids ‘either-or’ thinking and allows you to find win-win solutions.
- Harness the power of synergy.
This principle highlights the fact that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
When you start crafting a proposal, focus on your partner. What does he or she enjoy doing? What’s a hassle for him or her? What benefits could your partnership bring?
Here are the benefits I listed for Leo:
- You retain an interest – both creative and financial – in WritetoDone
- You don’t have to kill off a beautiful brainchild
- You get ongoing income from WTD
- You can delegate all the drudgery of running a blog, whilst still retaining some enjoyable creative work
I sent off the proposal and sat around, biting my nails. Then the answer came:
What a great solution! I’ve been giving it a little thought and I really like this idea. I’d like to go ahead with it if you’re still interested. Leo
This is how Leo gave half his blog to an unknown and accidental blogger.
You see, when I put that particular proposal to Leo, I already had another plan for a joint venture in mind. So, what did I do? Yes, you got it! I started at point #2 and bided my time. I wanted Leo to get to know my style before putting another project before him.
The new project?
Ah – I’m very, very excited about that! It’s still under wraps, but I’ll lift a corner for you to take a peek.
Next year we’re going to launch A-List Blogging Bootcamp, an interactive training program for people who want to become top bloggers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be personally guided to success by Leo Babauta.
Yes Leo, I have another plan for a partnership with you (that’s why I joined Partnering Profits).
But I won’t mention it to you just yet…