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Use Product Promotions to Add Value on Your Blog—and Others

We get a lot of requests for co-promotions here at ProBlogger, and at Digital Photography School as well.

Sale sign

Image courtesy stock.xchng user Thoursie

No matter what niche you’re in, if your blog has a reasonably engaged audience, you’re probably the target for others who want to promote their new products. On the flip side, you may well target other bloggers when you want to promote your own blog products.

But negotiating coverage can be tough—and making sure the product’s promotion reaches the host blog’s audience in a meaningful way can be even tougher.

Today I want to show you how to do just that, using a great example from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income.

The post

The post is How a Part-Time Blogger Landed His Dream Job—an Interview with Leslie Samuel.

Now, let me say up front that I have no idea how this interview came about, although Pat does say at the beginning of the podcast that he a Leslie have been friends for some time.

I do know that a lot of bloggers who’d love coverage like this for their products wonder how it’s done—even if they’re not personal friends with any A-list bloggers. So let’s pull this post apart a bit and see how you could replicate this kind of coverage for your next product launch—or to make the most of someone else’s launch on your own blog.

The post introduces a podcast—Pat posts regular podcasts on his blog—which contains an interview with Leslie, who tells the story of how he came to enjoy online success.

The post points out what’s covered in the podcast, and links to the services mentioned. It also links to the podcast, then mentions a special offer that Leslie’s making exclusively to Pat’s readers for his product.

What’s so good about this post?

Sounds simple, right? We all see posts like this all the time online. What’s so good about them?

  • The post provides valuable information independently of the promotion: The podcast is free. Anyone can listen to it—you can do it right there on Pat’s blog if you don’t want to download it. So any of Pat’s followers can access the valuable information Leslie has to share, without spending any money.
  • The information in the post isn’t focused on the product offer: Throughout the interview, Leslie tells a rich, deep story that’s packed with advice and tips. He gives it all away. Sometimes you’ll come across posts whose authors constantly refer to their new product or promotion, and some references aren’t always bad—often they’re necessary. But to make the product the focus of the post (or in this case, interview) can turn off more readers than it entices.
  • The offer comes at the end of the post: Pat makes mention of the special discount separately, at the end of his post. Leslie gets to it at the end of the interview. It’s clear, and obvious, which draws it to readers’ attention, and simultaneously lets them know that if they’re not keen, they can skip it.
  • The offer is provided independently of the host blog: While I have nothing against affiliate links (as you’ll know if you read ProBlogger or DPS regularly), promoting an offer in which you have no personal stake can be a great way to add credibility to the product, and communicate to your readers how much you’re focused on them.

From the guest’s point of view—Leslie, who has a product to promote—this super-credible approach to his story is great. He gets excellent coverage, which builds his profile regardless of whether people actually take up his offer or not. He also gets to make a great offer to a massive audience he might have trouble reaching otherwise. And he boosts his reputation as a guru without risking being seen as too salesy.

Pat, meanwhile, gets excellent content for his readers, and an exclusive deep discount on a product they’re likely to be interested in. This reinforces his position as a guru, too—again, without seeming salesy.

The message for host bloggers

If someone contacts you about a promotion they want you to mention on your blog, look at the potential value it can give your readers—and not just through the promotion itself.

See what gems you can get the blogger to “give away” in an interview, rich guest post, or infographic. Think about free value for your readers, not pushing a product.

The message for product promoters

Don’t see the opportunity as one for selling—see it as a chance to build authority with a new audience. What can you tell them that the host blogger can’t? That’s what you should share.

Focus on what’s unique about you, translate that into advice and help, and readers will automatically be motivated to click through to your blog, and take up your offer.

How to do it

This post presents great, unique information in a format that’s familiar and interesting to the host blog’s audience. While not all blog hosts will want to run hour-long interviews with product promoters, the path to the best opportunities is to match the key elements of the product that’s being promoted with the key needs of the host blog’s audience.

For the product promoter

For the product promoter, this means taking your product offer, and focusing on the aspect of it that’s central to your brand.

For Leslie, it’s about his journey to become a blogger—what it’s taken for him to build a popular blog from scratch. That’s what he wants to focus on in his coverage on the host blog. So he might come up with a few different ideas for exposure (through a post, a recorded interview, a series—the sky’s the limit when you’re proposing to help another blogger by providing content!) and pick one or two that seem to suit his brand and the host blog’s audience best.

Now as I say, I have no idea how this interview came about, but let’s suppose Leslie initiated it. He might approach Pat about the coverage, explain what he has to share, how it’ll help Pat’s audience, and mention the offer he’s willing to give Pat’s listeners if Pat’s open to that.

For the host blogger

For the host blogger, the challenge is to match that central element of the product promoter’s brand with the needs of the audience. So Pat would need to make sure that Leslie’s focus could be framed in an appropriate and really compelling way for his readers and listeners.

Of course, since Pat’s podcasts often include interviews, he may have approached Leslie about the interview himself, having spotted the solid fit between Leslie’s site and his own. He might have been the one who came up with the ideas for the interview coverage, including topics and questions, and approached Leslie with them. We bloggers are always looking for great content, after all! An hour is a lot of time to take out of a busy blogger’s week, so Pat may also have offered the opportunity for Leslie to promote his product as part of the interview.

Finding the right fit

As you can see, getting great coverage of a person and/or their product on a blog is a matter of fit.

The two brands need to align on some level, and the two bloggers need to work to make that alignment work in the best way possible for the host blog’s readers.

If you can do this as a product promoter, you’ll find it much easier to get really deep promotion on others’ blogs.

And if you can do this as a host blogger, you won’t have much trouble coming up with posts that really provide massive value to your readers, and position you as your niche’s go-to guy or girl.

Have you promoted someone else’s product through a post on your blog? Or had your product promoted through another blog? Tell us how it came about—and why it worked—in the comments.

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Ben Troy says:

    Successful product combined with a well read blog can do this for you, helping earning an income long after the actual work was put in

  2. Ehsan Ullah says:

    I have never did this before, but seems It’s a great idea that I would be doing on my blog. BTW, I think doing promotion exchange is also a great idea and y running a contest too. For example, If you’ve launched an E-book you can host a contest on your blog by offering $100 or maybe $200 to one of the lucky winner who promotes your eBook on his/her blog.

    • Dirk Hoag says:

      Ehsan, I would disagree with your approach, as it seems to miss Darren’s point. By offering a cash prize to a random blogger who promotes your work, you aren’t taking any care at all to ensure that there’s a sensible match between the messenger and your message. Anyone at all can post a quick & dirty article just to enter your contest, and that could turn out very badly for the success of your product.

      At the opposite extreme, I just had a very positive experience with a company reaching out to me as a blogger. They took the time to select specific people, and invited us to an event with the company’s founder to hear straight from him about what made his firm so special that we should share his message with our readers.

      I came away very impressed, and wrote up the experience here:

      http://dirkhoag.com/2012/10/blogger-outreach-strategy-199

      • Ehsan Ullah says:

        Dirk, But this is a fastest way to promote your eBook and this is what which most pro blogger had been doing on their blog like Daniel Scocco of Daily Blog Tips had done this when he first launched his eBook “Make Money Blogging”. He hosted a contest on his blog and asked for his readers to write a review of his eBook on their blog and the one review which gets more shares and comments will win the prize.

  3. David says:

    I have wondered how to best promote a product. Either I have oversold or simply put an ad box in an article – and that hasn’t worked well. The examples you linked to here really helpful as a model. Thanks.

  4. Richard Ng says:

    Hi Darren,

    Great article and nice tips, again! I guess the way of how to promote the products (e.g. through podcast or video etc..) do make a huge difference. It just give us a feeling that it is not so much of “promoting” but sharing of another person’s story/experience.

    Cheers!

  5. thank mr Rowse,i think is a win win situation for both party.the host blogger got his audience some thing he might not have got them himself,and the other got his chance to introduce himself to a new world.i actually disagree with mr Ehsan,giving away prices to a blogger who promotes your work on his blog will result in stabbing your self in the back,as you might end up seeing your work been promoted on a spamming blog or phishing sites.thanks.

  6. Hi Darren

    This was actually interesting topic and I’m sure it has got a lot to teach every blogger from each side. I indeed loved the idea with an example from Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income. It is really great and helpful. keep up the great job as I look forward into sharing more with you again! Thanks a lot.

  7. I actually like the approach Darren. Actually, I have never tried promoting my products on someone else blog but it seems like a great idea; I mean it is worth trying. Right?

  8. Hi Darren!

    I keep loving your site as each days go by; actually I concur with you on product and blog promotions on other peoples blogs. It will help you gain many readers and customers; Leslie’s blog is an example of the same. I like the way you bring out her success as a form of motivation to everyone here.

  9. Shelby Roth says:

    Amazing theme Darren! I love your content idea of promoting product and I think focusing on the aspect of it that’s central to your brand is the best aspect every blogger must follow. Thanks a lot for the tips. sounds so helpful and inspiring…

  10. Hi Darren,

    The best promoting you can do is providing valuable content, whether you own content, or the insights of another blogger.

    Promoting is OK provided you set up the promotion effectively. Why do people buy? They trust the product or the person selling the product.

    Rushing through to the sell damages the trust. Providing value before the sell builds the trust.

    Think of your product as the gift inside a wrapper of content. If the wrapper, or cover, looks pretty and catches your eye, you are likely to open the gift, or go beyond the cover.

    This is the value part, the meat, the real stuff that influences people to buy.

    Thanks for sharing Darren.

    Ryan

  11. Craig says:

    Sounds like Pat Flynn follows his own advice. He does a great job at building trust with his audience and showing how the product will benefit the readers. If after reading this summary and listening to the podcast you’re still confused, pay attention to how Pat does it and use his site as an example of how you should approach it. Thanks for writing this summary, I retain more when I see things in writing, it helped to cement the podcast.

  12. What a great idea! Thank you for sharing this. This is how I started connecting with big brands. I would do reviews of products I was already using. Now, when I talk about the brand on my blog, I can do it as a partnership with the brand, offering more to my readers.

    Because of this relationship, I’ve steared clear of reviewing products that (1) I don’t see myself using regularly or (2) that I have never used. It’s so important to have trust (as mentioned) with our audience and I don’t want them to think that I’m getting paid to promote an inferior product.

    Kimberly

  13. Well this is very interesting indeed.Would love to read a little more of this. Great post. Thanks for the heads-up This blog was very informative and knowledgeable.

  14. Hey Darren,

    Thanks a bunch for the mention. It’s great to know when what you’re doing is working. Pat was an excellent host. This post is SPOT on! Too often, marketers think about promotion, before thinking about VALUE. I’ve always felt that if you provide a ton of value upfront, in the right way, and really connect with people, they are more likely to support what you do (i.e. purchase products from you).

    To answer the unknown, Pat and I have been friends for a while. We initially met online and then connected twice at conferences. We connected from the beginning mostly because we like what each other are doing, not because we had a vicious plan to do an awesome interview and get spoken about on problogger ;)

    When we did the relaunch of Become A Blogger, Yaro ran it by Pat and he said he’d be glad to do an interview with me. I connected with Pat via skype and we scheduled a date. I had actually interviewed him recently for my podcast.

    All in all, it had more to do with relationship, and trust that we’re both providing value. I have no hesitations in promoting anything Pat is doing, and he was happy to promote what I do.

    So for anyone reading this – think about 2 things: VALUE, and RELATIONSHIPS. Be genuine with what you do, and you’d be surprised at what can happen.

    Thanks again Darren for the writeup.

    • Gordon says:

      Lesley is just great with his enthusiasm and his style of teaching you cannot fail to learn about blogging.

  15. Kate Luella says:

    Hi Darren – this is a great post, I don’t know how often this kind of thing happens tho, I’ve been trying to cross-promote my new info product for bloggers with various larger name bloggers, with good readerships, including yours, and have had very little response. Daniel from Daily Blog Tips did offer me an opportunity of reviewing my product, at a high cost to me, or emailing his list, again a very high fee. Although I imagine that is like a solo ad arrangement, rather than any relationship kind of situation, rather a purely business one. But that’s my point reallly, no one has appeared at all interested in what I can help them devleop (as in benefit for their readers) with my promotion. It just sounds nice in theory, but in practice, I haven’t had the good fortune of that arrangement. I’m still waiting hear from Gabrielle of your office, I should follow her up I guess… I hope you’re having a great time o/seas, and not in too much strife with the bad weather in the US. I look forward to catching up with you soon actually! I did an interview with Sean Kaye on my podcast last week, and your name came up a few times, obviously in a good way! :)
    Kate

  16. Chris Lee says:

    Leslie Samuel is awesome! He has great advice for blogging.

  17. This post just reiterates that giving value and providing great ideas is so much more powerful than just screaming buy my stuff in the marketplace. There are no more quick tricks in the crowded online world, it takes genuineness and a willingness to help to heard. I listened and joined Leslie’s list a while ago because of that post and have gotten great info since!

  18. Maria says:

    I just want to congratulate Leslie on the mention. Leslie is a great guy; I love his enthusiasm and the value he provides!

    • Melissa says:

      I agree with Maria! I am fairly new to the Become a Blogger community and Leslie is constantly providing us with excellent tips for building a successful blog. As I am learning blogging takes a LOT of dedication, planning and consistentcy and if it weren’t for Leslies program it would be much easier to get overwhelmed. Thanks Leslie and thanks Problogger for giving him the recognition he deserves.

  19. What is described here is two friends joining together to teach and help others. The digital tools of today make it possible for us all to do the same … so what are we waiting for?

  20. sandy says:

    This is the real law of attraction in work. All three parties were attracted to each other on the ideas of value and generosity. If that is what you value then you will know who to approach and at what time.

  21. Mike Craig says:

    Leslie Samuel is coming into his own on-line. Pat Flynn is one of few “gurus” worthy of the term. They help people on line. I work more closely with Leslie and he’s newer on line than Pat. Internet marketers like Leslie Samuel and Pat Flynn are actually giving our business a good name. One thing that I have learned from them is to give away real value. It shows people you care. Build business relationships with people that you have already helped. Oh, one more thing be passionate about your blog. They are and it shows.

  22. Moutassem says:

    Great post thanks.
    It seems that it’s always about providing value to the audience. I’ve been reading Leslie blog for a month or so and I’m seriously considering buying his product.
    Moutassem

  23. jeanne says:

    Thank you for featuring Leslie Samuel on your blog. Either through his content or personality he continues to shine, inspire and delight. Always on the lookout for others like him, who provide great value with these attributes, his recent email led me to your blog to which I have just subscribed.

  24. todd says:

    Great to see Leslie get a mention here. I have learned a lot from his site and podcast.

    For me, I have had a difficult time balancing a full time job and finding new ways to market my product to others in ways that have really driven traffic to my blog. It has been a slow process, but I’m still hopeful of building the blog because I know that I have some great quality content and will continue to produce this content each and every week.

  25. tracey says:

    Great post. Adding extra value like a coupon or deal – definitely makes the post – more valuable – to everyone.

    If you are a small biz – and want to add coupons to help with promotions on blogs – and you have a service-based business – consider using Bizdrive.biz. You get the promo value of the posting, plus a tracking link to know the impressions, clicks and sales happened on the service you were promoting – and can choose to revenue share with the host blogger.

  26. Michael Cockroft says:

    Hi Darren,

    I have been following Leslie’s blog for a while now, hoping to get up to speed before launching my own. His advice is always sound and his credibility has just taken a further leap, thanks to you. And talking about thanks: A GREAT BIG THANKS TO BOTH OF YOU for being totally unselfish with your knowledge.

  27. Robert says:

    This was a great article. These two folks (Pat and Leslie) are two people that I look up to in this business. They both share a common idea of providing free information and the business will follow. I also agree with this idea in my online work and my traditional (brick and mortar) company.

  28. Cathy says:

    This is a great strategy if you are comfortable talking on a podcast. Not everyone is.

    I listened to that interview and it was great.

    Both Leslie and Pat are 2 of the “good guys”. They seem to know their stuff and are in a very small group of marketers that I actually trust. You can learn so much about how to do things right by watching these guys.

  29. Kathy Davie says:

    I needed this affirmation! I was beginning to think I was alone in preferring value for my readers and not just blind promotion to build my numbers.

  30. Matt says:

    I actually became a fan of Leslie’s quite a while ago via a comment that he’d left on Pat’s site.

    I think that where the Become a Blogger and Smart Passive Income brands align is that they approach internet marketing with a similar set of core values. The single value that brings me back post after post is that they both focus FIRST on making the internet a better place and providing value to their guests, NOT selling products. The same cannot be said about a number of very successful internet gurus out there. I guess it takes all sorts to make a world.

    I agree 100% with what Maria says above, and I’d like to add Pat Flynn in there too. Both great guys, both provide unbelievable value to their guests, and both deserve all the success in the world.

    -Matt

  31. Venkatesh Iyer says:

    Hey, Leslie, your thrill about getting featured on Darren Rowse’s blog comes through strong enough to make me pine, too.

  32. I’m happy to see Leslie getting some increased exposure – thanks for mentioning him on here. You can clearly see that he’s a lecturer and has experience teaching with some of the content that he produces.

    Concerning striking up relationships… Rob Cornish has a great theory called “The Traffic Escalator” that I really like.

    I recently read somewhere on Reddit about how some guys managed to get an interview with Tom Hanks by sending him a silent typewriter (apparently he loves typewriters!). That’s an awesome out of the box idea to strike up a relationship with somebody who would otherwise seem unreachable.

    Also, in his book, Tim Ferris wrote about being a lecturer at a one of the colleges in the States (I can’t recall which one) where he challenged his students to reach out to celebrities and in the second class of students they actually managed to make some great contacts through out of the box thinking.

  33. Michelle says:

    Leslie is top notch! Because of his approach, I’ve been having some great success with my food storage/emergency essentials blog. I’m giving opportunities for readers to win stuff but I’m also providing some great content for free. It started slowly at first and now I’m having people contact me wanting to buy my products or work with me. Good stuff!

  34. Judy Brooks says:

    Hi Darren,

    Love reading all your posts, and visit ProBlogger frequently – always find great advice, and valuable tips. This post emphasizes the fundamentals that should be the linchpin for every post of every blogger, and that is to provide information that entertains, educates, and gives value to the reader. We can all tell the difference between the “rush job” posts written purely to sell the affiliate product, and those that are written with a passion for the subject. Amazing that so many marketers seem to be unable to grasp such a simple concept. Thanks for a great post!

  35. Amanda says:

    I think this is a great tactic. I’m a huge Pat Flynn fan! In general, the people he promotes are people that align with his views, and I usually end up following them too. After hearing Leslie’s interview on the SPI podcast, I hopped on over to his site and joined his list. Though I haven’t joined his Become a Blogger course (yet), I’m really enjoying his free content.

  36. Dean Patino says:

    Good call on highlighting Pat and Leslie. Valuable post that many can benefit from! For those new to either, I highly recommend following up with their valuable information.

  37. Jon says:

    Hello Darren,
    Great post. I will use the advice very shortly on my own website. Just building at the moment.
    I follow Leslie and Pat closely and regularly listen to their podcasts.
    Thank You,
    Jon

  38. Zane says:

    Yeah this is true that user product promotion add more value to your blog and enhances your blog bounce rate.
    Thank you

  39. Charlotte says:

    Leslie is an incredible resource. I was originally introduced to him by Kim Roach of The Marketing Lab. I have learned so much just through the videos that he offers for free on Become a Blogger. His enthusiasm and expertise are a winning combination.

  40. I actually heard this interview! It was one of my favorites because these are two of my favorite and most relational bloggers that I know. The best thing about these two and why what they do works is because of their transparency and their ability to or passion to provide with content without sounding like salesmen! It’s permissional, not pushy or pulling. Love it!

  41. ShariLee says:

    This was a great blog post. One of the things I love most about Leslie and his approach is his honesty and sincerity. He always comes across as caring more about helping others than he does about promoting things. I have come to believe that when he does promote something it is because he really believes it will help me achieve my goals. That is important when you are learning from someone. It always feels like he knows me personally and is on my team.

  42. Rosa says:

    I am a Leslie fan. Thanks for the great content

    Rosa

  43. John says:

    Hi all

    Just wanted to add that providing value is something that Leslie constantly aims to do in everything he does. For those who haven’t, make sure you check out his podcast – I find myself downloading episodes and then relistening to them due to the amount of actionable content.

    If you think about it, it is a no-brainer – I mean if you don’t aim to provide value to your audience, why would they ever find your site valuable? And I for one, don’t buy anything unless I see it as providing some kind of value for the money I am parting with!

  44. Graham says:

    I think life is always a spiral, whether up or down. I discovered Leslie Samuel when I was discouraged about ever being successful blogging, and I have followed him because of the outstanding quality of what he offers, but more importantly, because of the relationship he fosters. In that process I connected to Pat Flynn, and now have found Darren. These additions were made because of the quality of what each person offers, but came about because each person was not afraid to recognise and promote someone else who could bring value to my experience and assist me in what I am trying to achieve. This is a process that re-inforces for me that I am learning from people who have my best interests at heart. If that works for them financially, I am happy for them.

    Just when I think I might be going round in circles, something is added to my awareness that creates the spiral, upwards, I hope. In a world of repetitive, self interested hype, it is good to read some solid sensible contributions.

    My thanks to Leslie, Pat and now Darren.

  45. Shaza says:

    Run, don’t walk to Leslie’s site. WARNING: He is addictive, smart and adorable! http://www.becomeablogger.com/

  46. Ardean says:

    I’m still looking at ways to incorporate these ideas into my photography blogsite. I’ve been following Leslie for a while now – and love his podcast. Always so interesting and entertaining whether the topic is specific to your need at the moment. :)

  47. Thanks so much to all of you. I’m a newbie to all of this so all the practical wisdom is extremely beneficial. It keeps me going and prevents me from giving up when it gets hard! Thank you for your generosity, Leslie and Darren.

  48. Hans says:

    Hi Darren, good idea you wrote about Leslie, because he’s definitely worth it. I followed one of his “become a blogger 2.0″ courses and it was a great experience working with him. His posts and pot casts are full of practical tips which can be used right away. Besides his valuable info, he’s an awesome guy himself. Always willing to help even if he doesn’t have the time himself. He’s really a great resource and support for his community. Cheers, Hans

  49. JO says:

    Darren,
    Thanks for explaining Finding the Right Fit and the analogy of how the interview might have come about. It’s always good to have an example of how something is done.
    P.S. I’m also a Leslie fan.

  50. Pat and Leslie are showing us how it should be done… I watch and model both of them because I’ve seen how giving first can build rock solid relationships, that build a big income by default.

    Pat Flynn was the first guy to be completely transparent about his earnings online. This made me immediately like and trust the guy, because he was the real deal. His growth has been hugely inspiring.

    Cheers
    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia