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How to Pitch Bloggers – Make it a Win/Win/Win Situation

Posted By Darren Rowse 28th of May 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Here’s a quick tip for companies or individuals pitching to bloggers to link to their products, services, events, sites etc:

Make it a Win/Win/Win interaction!

A Quick Story

Yesterday I was pitched to on my photography blog by a company running training events for photographers. They felt that they had a useful training event that would help my readers and as a result thought it’d be great for everyone if I linked up to it and gave it a little promotion.

I went to the event page and it did look like a useful event – however I came away from the pitch feeling a little less than inspired to promote it because it wasn’t really a Win/Win/Win situation.

  • I could see how dPS promoting it would be a win for the company running the event – we have 3 million or so readers and a certain % of them would sign up for the event.
  • I could see how promoting it might be a ‘win’ for my readers – they learn something about photography.
  • But I struggled to see the ‘win’ for me and the site. Yes, helping my readers could have some benefits for us as a site – however there was no direct win really.

The thing I fed back to the event organiser was that I’m asked to promote events most days of the week so I’m a little selective in what I promote partly because I don’t want to overwhelm our readers. I’m also ideally looking to promote things that provide value for readers (and so reject some events simply because they’re irrelevant or don’t see to be high quality) AND also want to see some benefit to my site also as a result of it.

I fed back to them that while that might seem a little greedy and self interested – that I’m running a business here (as they are) and if I’m promoting a commercial event then I have an expectation that not only the organisers of the event should benefit. I’m looking for mutually beneficial partnerships.

How to Make Your Pitch a Win/Win/Win Pitch

If you’re pitching bloggers – don’t just look to get something out of it for yourself – you need to be pitching in a way that the bloggers readers will benefit (this is mainly about promoting relevant and high quality products) and hopefully where the blogger/blog itself will benefit in some way.

This doesn’t just mean financial wins for the bloggers (although that should certainly be considered if you’re benefiting financially) but it could include numerous things. Here are a few ‘wins’ for bloggers that might increase your chances of a successful pitch:

  • advertising – one obvious type of financial win is to buy advertising on the site. Whether this be a banner ad, an in-post ad, a newsletter sponsorship or some other kind of ad – this at least compensates the blogger for promoting your event.
  • affiliate deal – paying the blogger for a conversion/sale is a good way to go for you because you’re only paying for conversions and good for the bloggers as it gives them real incentive to promote your product/service/event.
  • promotion – an exchange in terms of promotion could work – if the blogger is promoting you, why not agree to promote them back either at your event, on your site etc. Promoting them as a sponsor or partner won’t cost you anything but helps the blogger to do something that they’re on about – growing their blog.
  • product – many bloggers will accept products either as payment or to give away to their readers as prizes. In a sense this is payment (and most bloggers will want to disclose it) but it’s going to cost you less while still delivering value to the blogger for their promotion.

I’m sure there are other ways you could bring some value to a blogger (feel free to share some in comments) – the key is to find a way to not only deliver value to yourself and their readers – but to them also.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. You have listed the big 4, and those are what will make me look more closely at a pitch. As a product oriented site, I get far too many pitches for what appear to be just pleas for free advertising. “Please promote our event, website, store etc.” I completely ignore them. But I do see other bloggers covering them, so it is working for the companies to some extent. I don’t think the coverage the bloggers give often add much value to their sites, since it is usually just a copy and paste of the PR information that ends up as duplicate content on many other sites. Ideally, I would like to see bloggers move away from such regurgitated content, which would hopefully lead to more thoughtful pitches from the brands. If I chose to gratuitously cover an event or store, it will be because I really like it, and I will then also write my own copy.

  2. You are absolutely right Darren. It has to be a win situation for all the three parties involved: the company, you, and your visitors. The problem is, there are many companies that think they’re doing you a favor by letting them promote their event on your blog :-)

    ~~ Sarah ~~

  3. Darn, I thought this post was going to give out the secret to getting a guest post accepted by you :-) lol j/k

    Anyway, speaking of guest posts, there’s one you could add to your list. But here’s a twist on it to benefit the “receiving” blogger even more.

    Blogger B can guest post on Blogger A’s blog, and in their resource box, give a link to their website AND one of their products in which Blogger A is also affiliated with.


    Thanks for another great post Darren :-)

  4. These are right on the money. For most blogs, it’s amazing how a little reciprocation (small ad buy, giveaway, affiliate deal) can get you on the site. In my niche, book reviews, giving away two $5 advanced reading copies will usually get you some kind of coverage. Is there a cheaper way for publicity? I really don’t think so.

  5. This is a great point. I’ve noticed that the more traffic my blog gets, the more people want to take advantage of that traffic. People always forget that I also would like something in return.

    I love that there are three “wins” stated here. While the wins regarding you and the other company, it’s extremely important to focus on your readers. After all, they are who keep you in business.

    Thanks for sharing, Darren.

  6. Emily Davis says: 05/28/2010 at 12:56 am

    I agree with your statement “don’t just look to get something out of it for yourself” and understand that everyone needs to consider all parties, exactly as you are saying… and promotions/products (your last two points) make sense. However, the advertising piece is something I would like to address. It is publicists/PR professionals jobs to receive coverage for clients, whether it be in print or online. If you wish to cover a story or event, it is up to you. If you are just looking for freebies or advertising, that is not necessarily appropriate either and may not be the best content. I was just speaking with someone yesterday about the trend in food blogs to only report on free food, which isn’t accurate. If someone is advertising on your site, you may not always give the accurate impression of them in your writing, which is what public relations is… it is supposed to be the credible form of communications, rather than paid advertising… Just my two cents in the matter.

  7. Hey Darren,

    I see your point that you are making. It makes so much sense to make a triple win not just a win/win. Thanks for giving us an example of how to make win for everyone.

    Chat with you later…

  8. I think the 4 ideas are listed according to their success rate. Of course as bloggers, advertising is highly welcome for us since there’s upfront sure payment.

    While for things like product or exchange deals, it would still depend of course to how bloggers charge for a promotion. Like for example if you ring Darren, it wouldn’t be just enough to give a free copy ;)

  9. I’m so on your wavelength with this one Darren. It has been something I have battled with on a number of occasions in the past few months, I get companies email me every week asking to promote stuff, most of the time I get something in return like gifts, and prizes for the site, but yes I do get some that simply want to plug their products and when its small companies I don’t mind, but when its huge companies like jaguar I get quite angry and offended.

    There has to be a win win win situation definitely, and the fact you are having the same problems as me makes me feel loads better about it, cheers Darren.

    I’m also feeling pretty damn pleased today as my daily visits have reached over 4,500 today! can’t believe it! extremely happy! ;)

  10. Hey Darren,

    Perhaps a fixed price deal could work too. If someone offered me an acceptable amount of money I would probably promote the event/product.


  11. Excellent article. I don’t know how many times I get asked to promote something for someone and they offer me nothing in return. Not monetary, not even any intangibles. It’s incredible to me the nerve these people have.

    I think I might send them this link the next time I get pitched to for nothing in return.

  12. This is something that happens weekly to me as well. I get a ton of people that offer me pitches for JV opportunities that have little upside for the person that did all the work to build the business in the first place (me).

    I hope that more people will read this and come to realize that unless everyone in the equation wins, there is no way that the deal is going to go through. This is not a charity and even charities have to make money or they go under.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  13. Getting advertised on popular blogs is as effective as advertising on mainstream media these days. That’s the reason advertisers want to get promotion space on blogs and it’s not bad, but yes definitely there has to be return, either in terms of traffic, money or products. Everything comes with price, and you have to pay it.

  14. Darren,

    I agree completely with this because it should be a win/win/win.

    I often get requests to exchange links with other related sites and when I check out the other one sending the request they’ve already added a link for my site but then I notice its a brand new site, nothing indexed no pagerank and everything on the site is self-promoting.

    So my initial reaction is I want to help this person, but that is quickly followed by this person only wants to help themselves and simply linking to my site in it’s own merit just doesn’t suffice.

  15. This post is quite timely for me, as I’m in the process of creating my first digital product (with more in line after it). I planned on contacting bloggers in related niches and asking them to review it in hopes that I would get good feedback as well as creating enough interest that they might want to sell it. I was planning on an affiliate setup, so that the blogger would financially gain, but I like your recommendation of free copies that they could give away. I will be incorporating that piece of advice.

  16. Darren, I love that your “don’t” posts always go on to suggest what one should do. Some days it can be very discouraging while growing a blog to hear everything one tries might offend someone. Your posts always offer a balance of “do this instead” that make you a true authority and valued resource.

  17. I have recently been trying to imagine the real ROI potential from giveaways on mommy blogs and shopping blogs that are focused on giveaways. Some blogs have Google PR and decent traffic stats but I think you have to correct for the large percentage of readers that enter giveaways as a lifestyle… are they somehow less valuable eyeballs because of their motivation? I can’t decide offhand.

    If the product or service you are promoting has broad appeal it might be worthwhile.

  18. I totally agree Darren when you state

    “If you’re pitching bloggers – don’t just look to get something out of it for yourself ”

    They individual pitching the idea has to look at it from all areas to make sure it is that win/win/win.

    Being creative with your thoughts and ideas could get you a lot of great feedback if you position it correctly.

  19. Thank you so much for writing this! This is fantastic advice that should be mandatory reading for any company wanting to work with bloggers. I can’t tell you how many emails I get every week from business websites wanting something from me without offering anything of value to me (or my readers) in return.

  20. this is great. that’s why when I ask for links from other bloggers I don’t just go and ask for it. I always say, hey [name of the blogger ] I have a killing post I wrote over the weekend, would you mind posting it on your blog as guest post from me? and sometimes I include some of the post content so he/she can see the quality of the post.

    it works all the time. he/she gets good quality content, I get a quality back link..

    I don’t think blogging is a lazy man’s job.



  21. Hi Darren, your writing always give me inspiration and encourage me in blogging. And I love this Win/Win/Win interaction.

  22. I found that most of the people contacting me to help them promote their stuff have products that they would like for me to give away and to review. They tend to supply me with a product just to keep as well. Though it’s not money, it’s at least a free product, sometimes costing upto $200. I can resell it if I ever want but I tend to keep them and give them as presents or use them myself. It’s fun receiving emails from companies wanting to promote through you, I really enjoy it!

  23. Hey Darren,

    This is something that I will be doing when my product is ready as leverage seems to be the big one when it comes to a launch.

    I will be taking into account what you said about making it a win for all people including the blogger himself

    Eye opening stuff


  24. Is it so bad to promote something purely for the benefit of the reader?

  25. I often receive email from people want to help them promote their products through review. I like receiving emails from companies wanting to promote through you, because is like to say you are making a good job.

  26. I think a lot of times if people want to create a win/win situation I think that promotion is good. And the fact that people that are the world of business should write testimonials for each other. Though I don’t use it myself yet, video testimonials that are beneficial for both people are good when both people are selling products and knowing how the products have helped each other.

    So for bloggers, they should be trying out a product, and if they like it agree to promote future events through a testimonial. And ask them for the same if possible.

    But I think the trouble is that with bloggers we’re so focused on serving others all the time we forget that at the end of the day…a business is business. And last time I check most people don’t like to work for free because we all value our time. We value theirs, they should value ours.

    Great post…very solid concepts.

  27. Great post with good points.

    I think a lot of the problem stems from the fact many large companies just don’t see some blogs as a business and therefore try to take advantage of it in any way possible. They will always look at the win win lose scenario if at all possible and may grudgingly offer a half win if you push them.



  28. I’m still rather new to the blogosphere myself. I’m looking to meet up with a lot of folks within my niches. The tricky part is building an impressionable website as having all of that due diligence worked out with others. Then making sure I could pitch the aforementioned win/win. I wanted to barter links and do crossover posts, but the best thing I have to offer most bloggers in this position is ROI. Which might not be too attractive… But I figured I’d give it a shot, you know?

  29. Hi Darren. My feeligs about this subject are the same as yours.

    I have a portuguese humor site and I was contacted a couple of months ago by a guy claiming he was part of an agency associated of a famous portuguese comediant that was releasing a new TV show.

    He wanted us to make a post promoting the event and at the same time recruiting people to go serve as an audience for the shows.

    He extended the invitation for us to go watch the first show or any of the others.

    So I thought a little about his email and my conclusions we’re that:

    a) this guy was just a low ranked memer of a casting agency that wanted free publicity for the show;

    b) His “invitations” to watch the show were laughable. Because normaly in Portugal people get paid to be in the audience. He wanted audience for free…

    So, in my reply, and since we have norms already stated concerning publicity in our site (including sponsored posts) and I just redirected him to that page and gave him 3 options:

    a) We can publish it but as a a paid post;

    b) We can do it for free if you can put a link / banner of our site in the show’s own website

    c) We can do it for free if you manage for us to get a quicky backstage interview with the comediant the night you invited us to go there.

    Now, honestly money is good, but I would’nt mind any of the other options, especially the last one. That is value to us! A little interviw with a famous portuguese artist would give a great post on our site – not to mention that we would have an oportunity to make us known to that artist and who knows what might happen next.

    His response was sadly predictable and shows how blogs are still seen in my country. HE DIDN’T REPLY AT ALL! So that just confirmed he only wanted free publicity and at the same time showed a tremendous lack of professionalism.

    So bottom line:

    – We have a humor blog but we treat it as serious business (if there’s no advantage to every part of the equation (advertiser/public/us) we won’t make the deal.

    I really hope a lot of people read this post Darren and they learn to be a little more professional about bloggers.

  30. Making it a win situation for all 3 parties if you’re not selling an actual commercial product is substantially more difficult. I’m in the process of trying to get site owners to add a social bookmarking button for there niche which will aid all three parties in my opinion but site owners don’t seem to see the value of link building and exposing there content to users with an active interest. Perhaps its the fact that the win situation for site owners is intangible?

  31. Another way to give benefits to bloggers is to refer to them amd link to their blog in future articles and press release whenever this is appropriate

  32. This gives me a lot of great ideas as I think about how to compensate some people that are helping me a great deal.

  33. It definitely has to be mutual for both parties

  34. This is why one should first thing of the benefit of the other party first. Relationships are based on the idea that you give first in order to receive last. If you try to do the opposite, you will most probably face difficult situations and embarrasment.

  35. @Jonathan Beebe there are no secrets, it all depends on you, your strategy, the nature of both your business and blog/website and your target audience. I guess the main message conveyed here is about the importance in analyzing the target market/audience in order to create the proper content to your blog, based on what you have to say or to offer. You have to keep a balance between attractive or appealing to your prospects with the realistic content you have to share.
    Thanks for sharing, in my opinion this is a great post.

  36. This is an awesome article! I do wish that more companies would understand that we’re running a business with our blogs and we’re most likely to promote things that have some benefit to ourselves or our sites.

  37. All of that post should go without saying it is all common sense not rocket science. I’ll scratch you back and you will scratch mine. it is not even a technique only used ny nbloggers or salesmen, the fact that soemone can ask for a favour for nothing just demonstrates a massive level of stupidity.

  38. I agree with everything written. I’ve given myself a few ‘rules’ to filter out the chaff. If I wrote every review I was asked to do, it’d look like a cluttered up review site, and that’s not what I want.

    I put a great deal of work into researching my reviews and writing them, often doing video/photo footage for it as well. I believe my work is worth something: my time and effort.

    By filtering out the people who are just out for something for nothing, the reviews in my opinion become of a higher quality (and are more sincere) and are more suited to my readers.

    People need to realise that it’s you doing them the favour, not the other way around if it’s totally for free.

    A final but important point I’d like to add, is to be polite in your requests. Also, be specific. I’ve had people ask me to ‘check out’ something of theirs, then scream at me on twitter for not doing a review! And that’s the other thing, be proactive, but don’t be too pushy or bossy when asking.

  39. I have never actually thought about a win/win/win situation. It’s always the readers and the people who wants the promotion that go first.

    Saying that if my readers are happy, I would call that a win.

  40. All good comments, and I agree with the win/win/win approach… one additional idea: There are times that I discover or am approached by an organization that is looking to promote a product or an event in which I have a personal interest. For example, GAILA, a company that makes special hats for women suffering from hair loss due to chemotherapy and cancer…. I have a small ad on my site and I am happy to promote their product… no charge… one it does to, I think. is associate golfgurls in the minds of our readers, with a good cause… and that can be a “win”….

  41. I’ve been on all three sides of this equation, at various times as the writer/reader/PR person. While I totally agree that product or event coverage should be a win-win-win situation, I guess I’m an old-school PR person in the sense that I measure the ‘win’ to the blogger differently, just as I do when I’m working with a magazine or other media outlet. If you provide valuable content to your reader, is that not a win to you? If the content isn’t valuable to your reader, you shouldn’t publish it. Likewise, if my client advertises in a publication or on a blog, I don’t demand compensatory editorial content. I think readers have a right to assume a product review is honest and objective, not the result of a financial arrangement.

  42. Yes, you’re right. It might sound selfish but it’s the way to be fair to all involved parties of the deal. Make a great deal instead of take any chance for granted.

    The other idea that might give value to a blogger is by involving the blogger him/herself in the program as facilitator or etc. so it’s worth for the blogger to promote about the event on the site. Win-win, I guess.

  43. Hi Darren,

    I am attempting to make the transition to win/win/win and writing a new section on my site about working with me. Something that will let prospective partners know exactly what I can do for them and some of the ideas that you are writing about.

    While it should be simple, it feels a little scary to take care of business.

  44. Hi Darren,

    I don’t see your response as at all self-seeking. It’s simply 21st century business practice and to be honest, the ‘win’ products outlines by you should have been embedded in their request, if, in fact, they are a credible industry.

  45. I’ve been pitched once or twice too with nothing in it, as far as I could see, for me or my blog.

    It really really annoys me because it appears they expect me to do the work (it takes time and energy to write a post on my blog which I pay hosting for) and they and my readers get the benefit.

    I agree. And its rude or ignorant, IMHO, to ask a blogger to do this with no compensation of some kind.

  46. Lots of times lunch, movie, or gift certs motivate me to give a mention. Of course you’ll want to disclose any gifts you receive as payment, but if the event isn’t up for giving out cash, other types of rewards work.

  47. The 4 options for creating a win for bloggers are obvious, but I agree, sometimes people fail to acknowledge them.

    However, if people think you are getting paid for every product mention, they may not give your posts as much credibility. I think that although we want to make it a win for everybody, the real win we should be concerned about it the readers win. When they like the content, they keep coming back for more, and that is the real value of your (or any) blog.

  48. Well said Darren. It’s only fair that it would be a Win/Win/Win situation. I think at least giving you the product free would suffice but for a big blogger such as yourself maybe even more!
    I’m on your 31 days to building a better blog newsletter and I’m learning a lot. Thanks

  49. I get pitches every day that exclaim with great enthusiasm that my readers will want to know about this event, and to just go ahead and email the person back with the URL when I post
    about it.

    What bothers me is the assumption that I am just sitting here refreshing Gmail, hoping someone will send me a “story idea” or press release so I’ll finally have something to blog about.

    I’ve been hesitant in the past to reply to these emails with a request that the PR firm or company do something for me, but I’m working on how exactly to word such a request. I see nothing wrong with not giving marketers access to my readers for free.

  50. It had never occurred to me to utilise the win/win/win strategy when being hit up by people wanting me to review and feature their product on my blog.

    Since reading this article I have started to implement this whenever I someone tries to pitch something to me.

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