Why Strategic Collaboration is the
Secret to 21st Century Success

Partnering Profits

There are plenty of ways to succeed online, and plenty of advice for making it happen. But what’s the one thing that every successful entrepreneur can fall back on?

If I had to reduce my recipe for success to just three ingredients, this is what those three would be:

  • Content
  • Copywriting
  • Collaboration

And if I had to give up two of those, I’d keep collaboration.

That may come as a shock, given the subject matter of this blog. But it’s true.

Partnering Strategies For The Win

The thing is, even if I couldn’t write my way out of McDonald’s bag sopping with Big Mac grease, I could still make money. My knowledge of partnering strategies (joint ventures, strategic alliances, project collaboration) guarantees the ability to put together a deal that has all the necessary talent and assets to make a project happen.

And even if I were dead broke, I could do it without spending a dime, all while making everyone involved better off. Including me, of course.

Now, I’m not saying this because I’m some special hot shot. Even though I practiced business law and saw first hand that the real rich in the room were the business people who made the deals (not the lawyers who wrote them up), it still took me 5 years to apply partnering strategies in an entrepreneurial way.

(And if you think being an attorney gave me an unfair advantage, think again. Lawyers are trained to be adversarial, and that’s the kiss of death to smart deal making. I had to get over that and readjust my mindset).

The truth is, there were at least two times pre-Copyblogger that smart partnering kept me in the game and allowed me to take things higher (the real truth is they saved my butt). That’s a big part of the back story to the instant success (yeah right) of Copyblogger.

Fast forward to today, and I’m still at it.

The Secret to Success… Before and After Copyblogger

As a business, Copyblogger is successful not because of page views, but because of what it promotes. And what it promotes is made possible through collaboration with two exceptionally talented partners—Chris Pearson (DIY Themes) and Tony Clark (Teaching Sells). I’ve got other things in the works with Sonia Simone, Mark McGuinness, and Jon Morrow, three other exceptionally talented people.

In short, you can’t do it alone. And who wants to?

As I’ve said before, I started Copyblogger to demonstrate what I could do as a way to attract partners and do other projects. There was no need for Copyblogger to become some so-called “A-list” blog to accomplish that, but I guess I got carried away.

What you’ll find much more interesting is the partnering strategies I used before anyone knew who I was. And I’ll share those stories and examples with you next week.

But up next in this Partnering Profits series, Copyblogger Associate Editor Jon Morrow shares why partnering strategies may provide a smarter route to success than your current path. Jon also has a background in offline joint ventures, as an organizer of high-dollar real estate investment groups. He’s ported his effective tactics online, and that makes him a guy you need to listen to.

Fnd out more about Partnering Profits here.

About the Author: Brian Clark is the founding editor of Copyblogger, and co-founder of DIY Themes and Lateral Action. Get more from Brian on Twitter.

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Reader Comments (59)

  1. says

    Great article Brian.

    Looking at the direction that most of the bigger, more successful blogs are taking, they all seem to be making the most out of creative partnerships, building realtionships with content authors who can provide substantial and authorative essays and posts. Some are even removing themselves from the writing aspect of the business completely and using third party authors and creative contributors to create the content.

    Probably works best for those with a larger web presence as visitor numbers can attract writers and partnerships that smaller less well known sites cannot.

  2. says

    Kind of goes back to community, right? Also, a partnership reminds you that you’re not necessarily a piece of flotsam drifting through cyberspace all alone.



  3. says

    Partnerships can be great, but in order for them to be successful you need to know that you can do it alone. Having a disproportionate amount of power/ability stops it being mutually beneficial.

    It may be of more benefit in the online world due to the network effect, where resources are not consumed when a product is made or a service used.

  4. says

    this just sent a whole slew of little buttons lighting up and jangling in my head. it’s not the first time i’ve seen it or read it but today it just made a lot of things come together-thanks!

  5. says

    Working with a partner can open up so many new ideas. My husband is the best brainstorming partner I have ever had. Together we can come up with an idea that on my own is just a tickle on the edge of my brain. Not to mention he is just great at following a project through on all the little details. Collaboration is something not to be given up.

  6. says


    No doubt man! I think the best business breakthroughs didn’t come from my hours of studying marketing… copywriting… or anything else…

    … it came from making friends with people who I could help, and who could help me, succeed on a greater level.

    The ole’ “it’s not what you know — it’s who you know” is so right on.

    I’m looking forward to your series!


  7. says

    okay, I hate to reveal ignorance, but what is the first gesture about partnering. do I need to just let someone else recognize my genius? i’m not the one who get recruited, even for Amway!

  8. says

    Hey, what a thought! Would anyone like to partner with AdCracker.com? We have several well-respected products. So if you have some promotional push or pull, let’s talk. Cordially, Steve

  9. says

    We’re taking (planning on taking) this direction in Feb./Mar. 2009 if not sooner. I was recently introduced to this field through JV sites and then IttyBiz posts.

    Sign me up as extremely interested in this subject.

  10. says

    My absolute favorite thing about Blogging, and everything else would run a distant second, is the collaboration. Most everything currently in my fire is burning alongside another person’s tinder. The most important part of Web 2.0 is the 2.

  11. says

    Looking forward to following the series. I concur that it is easier for two people to lift something off the ground than it is for just one.

  12. says

    I always find that two heads are better than one. The problem many times is finding another head that fits. Especially with the internet being the ground upon which we have to trek to find that head or better yet heads.
    Very interesting article i must say


  13. says

    The worst student from my MBA class was the best net worker. Even though he almost failed most of his classes his is remarkable successful because of his connections.

  14. says

    The problem with collaboration or strategic partnerships is that each party always hopes the other will bring the revenue.
    Only in those cases the customer demands the combined solution a partnershp works as the waters have been tested before the customer asks for, giving the customer the feeling of guaranteed integration or collaboration of both solutions.

  15. says


    As in life, collaboration is also important in blogging, especially not forgetting about those who helped us.
    But I must say that I find content to be on pair, namely for SEO reasons.

    Best regards,


  16. Malibumom says

    This is the answer I needed. Sometimes you have to be reminded of your limitations. I’ve wasted too much time trying to do what I am not best at. So now comes the search through the murky waters of lies, deception, greed, and laziness in order to find the one who is fearless-focused-and talented enough to take the journey with me.

  17. says

    Excellent point. I always thought of myself as an online copywriter. Most of my work came from sub-contracting projects from web designers or marketing firms.

    However, the owner of the web design firm that used me the most told me one day that she didn’t start making money until she quit working in her business and started subbing out everything but the marketing and project management.

    When she stopped designing websites and subbed out all the “creative stuff,” suddenly the gates of heaven opened up and the money started pouring in.

    I am attempting to make the same mind shift but it’s difficult. It really requires you to stop thinking of yourself as a “copywriter,” and start thinking and acting like a business person.

    You have to stop thinking like a “cog” (employee) and start thinking like a “Wheel.” Otherwise, as Robert Kiyosaki likes to say, “you don’t own a business. All you’ve done is buy yourself a job.”

  18. says

    Do you plan to give any progress updates on Teaching Sells; e.g., when will be the relaunch?

    David, we’re planning to relaunch a new and improved Teaching Sells in January.

    The problem with collaboration or strategic partnerships is that each party always hopes the other will bring the revenue.

    This hasn’t been my experience at all. Check out what we release next week for some guidance… you might be dealing with the wrong kind of partners. :)

  19. says

    “So now comes the search through the murky waters of lies, deception, greed, and laziness…”

    I collaborate with other small business peole all the time and I haven’t found anyone in small business like that. They have all been honest, striaghtforward, hard working to a fault. If nothing else, they’ve shamed me with their levels of industriousness and their integrity.

    If you have such of low expectations of other small business people, I can assure you that you will probably find that kind of people. But they won’t be business people.

  20. says

    That’s an interesting Brian, but I’m pretty sure Gary Halbert wouldn’t have agreed if he is alive. In the sales letter for his “The Last Seminar” somewhere in 2003, the ability to sell or copywriting, is the skill that is most important.

    Or as he said it, “Money is NOT security. Neither is longevity on the job. Neither are business contacts or “connections.” The only thing which represents any type of security in today’s world is… What You’ve Got Between Your Ears!”

    As for me, I tend to lean more on Gary’s side. I mean, people would only collaborate with you if you bring them some kind of benefits right?

  21. says

    People will collaborate with you if you can convince them it’s worth their while, rather you offer them a real benefit or not.

    It’s far more important to be persuasive and positive than “good.” It’s almost like the “Fish” philosophy. If you tell people you’re the best and believe that you are, they’ll will perceive you as the best and want to join you. It seems like psychobabble, but try it and see. It really does work.

  22. says

    Hey Brian,

    Love the idea of being able to do JV’s even if I was dead broke.

    Daniel Levis interviewed JP Maroney in his Bootstrapper money makers series and it they talked about how to approach people to do JV’s with little or no budget.

    Solid advice.

    JP Maroney and Jay Abraham teamed up on a product too.

    If anyone has listened to it please leave some feedback on it. I’m seriously considering buying it.

    Note Taking Nerd Numba 2

  23. says

    @James – You’re right. I have interpreted the post to what it means for me. What Gary Halbert said, the most important thing is the thing “in between your ears” – which in my case is selling or copywriting.

    Let me clarify.

    So to me, copywriting would be more important than collaboration. To others, it maybe web design.

    Yes, collaboration is important and people don’t necessarily collaborate only for skills… but if you don’t have your skills, then in my opinion any kind of collaboration isn’t going to help achieve your dreams.

  24. says

    @ Andre – Well, that’s an interesting take on it. But let’s say I have no skills at all. I’ve never written. I don’t know business. I’ve been a horse trainer all my life and know nothing of entrepreneurship.

    I decide I’d like a seriously popular blog. All I have to offer is money.

    So I talk to a blogger and get him excited. He agrees to jump on board.

    Then I discuss with a marketer about the challenge and he’s excited.

    Then I discuss with an info-product creator. He’s all for it and sets up something too.

    I have nothing. No skills. I had money to pay these people. Their collaboration with me on this product lets me achieve my dreams.


  25. says

    Hi Brian,
    Right on! I am experiencing some great success because of strategic partnerships and Joint Ventures with other talented online marketers. If it weren’t for my “Chief Leveraging Officers” I wouldn’t be experiencing success.

    Approaching talented online leaders for Joint Venture opportunities requires skill and personal growth. Letting go of your own ego and accepting that you can’t do it all is key when it comes to online success. Once you focus on your strengths and find others who compliment your skills set, you open up the doors to great success online.

    This post was super timely, as I am writing about this very topic on my blog and am releasing an e-book about this.

    Thanks for the great advice.
    Dali Burgado

  26. says

    @ James – You’re right. Collaboration can indeed take someone closer to their dream. But then you’ll have to be really good at managing the business – which is a skill in itself.

    Most people who only have the money and invests them in businesses or start one, fail and go broke fast because they don’t have the skill.

  27. says

    Great post Brian, it’s obvious that the DIY-Themes collaboration is working out well for you, I’m seeing Thesis everywhere these days.

    Looking forward to seeing what other projects you come out with.

  28. says

    People will collaborate with you if you can convince them it’s worth their while, rather you offer them a real benefit or not.

    It’s far more important to be persuasive and positive than “good.” It’s almost like the “Fish” philosophy. If you tell people you’re the best and believe that you are, they’ll will perceive you as the best and want to join you. It seems like psychobabble, but try it and see. It really does work.

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