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AR, the assistant to best-selling self-help author and motivational speaker ET, recently sent me an e-mail.

In it, she said: “I love the work that you do and would like to invite you to partner in a venture where we can both benefit and provide a real service to our customers at the same time.”

What AR wants me to promote to my subscriber list (i.e. you) is a free online seminar ET will be holding on how to achieve goals and break through one’s limitations.

AR informs me that by agreeing to do this promotion for ET’s teleseminar, “You will be introducing an incredible program/product that will make a powerful difference in the lives of your customers.”

Well, that sounds good. And there are also promised benefits in it for me, including increased traffic to my website, free publicity, building my subscriber list, and (says AR) the prestige of being associated with ET and the self-help luminaries who are helping him with this launch.

So why didn’t I jump on this and say “yes”?

Mainly because I have never heard of ET or of any of the other prominent names in self-help AR drops in her e-mail to me.

Now, to be fair, AR may have anticipated this objection, because in her e-mail, she offers to send me a PDF of ET’s latest book to review.

But here, the problem is that I am busier than a flashlight salesman during a power blackout and I already have a mile-high stack of books on the nightstand that I don’t know if I will ever get to.

So the last thing I want is to read yet another self-help book from an author I never heard of.

BTW, if AR really knew my work, she would know that my focus is on marketing, copywriting, and small business, not self-help or personal development. So her offer isn’t really a great fit for my list.

That being said, should I just go ahead and offer you the online seminar without knowing anything about ET or being familiar with his work?

In my opinion, no.

Why not?

Because I do not think it is ethical to recommend a book, seminar, or any other information product unless you have either reviewed the product or are intimately familiar with the author and his work.

(In the case of an online seminar, I can’t possibly review it before recommending it, because the event hasn’t taken place yet.)

I see Internet marketers violating this rule: for not being the least bit familiar with what they are promoting to their lists all the time.

And when their subscribers ask, “Why are you promoting this crap?” They have no defense.

On the other hand, when YOU ask me, “Why are you promoting this crap?” I can honestly answer that (a) is isn’t crap and (b) I know the author and can vouch for his expertise in the topic.

I have violated this rule once, maybe twice, very early in my Internet Marketing career and lived to regret it!

So if I am saying no to ET, how do I pick what products to offer my subscribers on an affiliate basis?

First, I have many friends and colleagues in the marketing world. And I give first preference to their products because I know them, admire their work, and can vouch for their expertise.

This saves me an enormous amount of time: I don’t have to familiarize myself with their work, because I already know their work.

Second, I turn to joint venture partners to find products on topics that I think you are interested in but that I do not have a product of my own covering it.

For this reason, I don’t usually promote products on topics already covered by one or more of my own books or audio courses unless it has a hook or angle my writings don’t.

Third, the product has to be a good value for the money, worth more than the price the marketer is asking. If it is a $300 DVD set with the same information you can get in someone else’s $29 e-book, I will pass and promote the e-book instead even though my commission is much less.

Fourth, the marketer must be reputable. If they appear iffy to me, I pass.

Fifth, the product must be sold with an unconditional money-back guarantee of satisfaction good for at least 30 days from date of purchase.

One more thing: If you have an info-product you want me to sell to my list as your affiliate, tell me that you are a subscriber to the Direct Response Letter when you reach out to me.

I will be more likely to give serious consideration to your joint venture proposal if you are one of my readers, because in my online business, my subscribers are my top priority.

Bob Bly is the author of “World’s Best Copywriting Secrets” and has written copy for more than 100 companies including IBM, Boardroom, Medical Economics and AT&T. He is the author of more than 75 books and a columnist for Target Marketing, Early To Rise and The Writer. McGraw-Hill calls him “America’s top copywriter”.

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