I Want Your Monies

Justin Cooke Updated on February 29, 2020

We’ve all been there.

Looking around at other projects that seem more interesting or valuable, worrying that what we’re doing might not work, wishing we were in someone else’s shoes

I’ve come across projects in recent weeks and months that have blown me away.  Take Adam Baker from Man Vs. Debt who’s creating a documentary and interviewing interesting people about their life choices and raising 100K on Kickstarter in the process.  Or Derek Sivers, creating the ultimate resource for starting a business in Asia.  Or Dan Andrews, bringing like-minded start-up entrepreneurs together in the Philippines to achieve their dreams…and getting paid for it!

That’s awesome stuff…

Don’t get me wrong…I love what we’re doing as well.  We’re selling sites that help people earn their first dollars online, showing them how to build their own online empire, building a revolutionary WordPress Theme that will (I hope) change the niche site industry, and solving the huge problem of automatically determining profitable niches …something that’s never been effectively done before.

Still…we want to do more.

How could we get involved in these projects and with these people? Should we email them out of the blue and tell them why they should partner with us on their project?  Ask them out of nowhere if they would fund our new business idea?  Ask them to write a personalized and detailed 28-point plan to help us find success?

Of course not…sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

Yet those are some of the emails that all of us receive on a regular basis.

I’ll be honest: This blog post is partially written out of the frustration felt from the volume of emails that are asking for hand-outs and provide no real value…but my real hope is that I can provide a resource to point those people to that will show them how reaching out and making real, valuable connections will take them so much further than their current approach.

I know this may sound a bit pretentious.  I understand that.  Still…if this helps even a couple of people make connections that will change their lives it’s worth it.

The process for this is really quite simple but there are nuances here…let me go over each step in some detail:

Reaching Out To OthersReaching Out The Right Way

You wouldn’t believe how many emails I get wanting something for nothing.  Aside from the flash of irritation these cause…it’s just depressing.  How do people not know that sending an unsolicited email where you ask for the moon and stars is not likely to get you very far?  It reminds me of the stories you hear about recent lottery winners and the hundreds of requests they get for money that has forced some into hiding…not a great approach.  These emails, essentially, boil down to this:

I see that you make monies.  I’d like some of those moniesCan you either give me some of those monies or do a bunch of work for me, we’ll partner on a project, and then we’ll split those monies 50/50?

Note: I’m now officially sending this link to any future “monies” emails I get, hoping it will do some good.  Also…if we’re at (admittedly) such a low-level and receiving so many emails like this I can’t even IMAGINE the types of emails people like Seth Godin or Mark Cuban receive!

Charlie Hoehn does a much better job of explaining this, but “Reaching Out” basically boils down to making quick contact, a touch of flattery, briefly explaining who you are, and saying something interesting.  That’s it.  No sales pitch, no partnership opportunities…just making contact.

Making A Meaningful Connection

Reaching out as stated above is likely to elicit a reply.  It may be short or long, depending on how much time they had…but any personalized reply at all is an opening.  If they asked you a question, answer it!  If it was just a “thank you”, you can follow up to let them know you appreciate it and to let them know you’d like to keep the door open if you come across something that might be useful or valuable to them.

That’s it…don’t try to get into a long drawn-out conversation unless they’re asking that of you.  Simply leave the door open for future contact.

Building A Solid Relationship

Get to know this person you’ve made a connection with.  Find out what their passions are, what they’re working on, etc.  When you come across something that you think would be really valuable for them, let them know!  If they’re a tech VC let them know about interesting start-ups, acquisitions, or failures in their space.  If they create documentaries about quirky people, let them know about or introduce them to people they might find interesting enough to write about or interview.

The goal here should be to prove yourself as a valuable resource to them in a space or niche they’re interested in.  Don’t inundate him or her with too much information or ask for anything in return…just be helpful.

Offering Value

Once you’ve established a relationship and received feedback that shows they’re interested in what you’ve done so far…wait for an opportunity that is a fantastic fit for you and offer to help them.  Maybe they’re writing a book about Twitter and you can provide them a valuable case study or they’re writing about travel and could use your helpful tips about your living in Turkey.  Whatever it is…find your best value proposition to them and grab it.

I’d prefer not to offer paid services here unless the work required is so intensive that you simply can’t do it for free.  If you’re making a connection with someone you truly respect, it’s unlikely they’re going to ask that you go completely out of your way for them without compensation, anyway.  Let them open the pricing conversation and, if possible, do your first work for them for free(I know this may be a bit controversial…but if the value of the connection and the learning experience on the project far outweigh any silly compensation agreement I really think it’s worth it to do it for free.)

Giving And Receiving ValueReceiving Value

If everything has gone well up to this point, the person you’ve reached out to would be CRAZY to not continue to grow the relationship with you.  You will have built a great start to your relationship and your mentor/guide would love nothing more than to help you succeed.  In fact, it’s likely that he or she would be willing to help you out using their own connections if/when there comes a time that you need it.  Plus, the great experiences and value you’ve had in working with someone you have so much respect or admiration for can be priceless.

A last point I’ll say about the value received from this is that, most likely, the person you’re reaching out to has more experience than you.  If you’re making the right connections, they may help you down a path where even though you might not see it at the time, could be an intensive and rewarding experience or lesson that you might have not attempted otherwise.

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Final Thoughts

This lesson is definitely born out of experience.

I’ve been on both the giving and receiving end here and can say unequivocally that I get and give a better response with Reaching Out over asking for a Hand-Out.

I remember years ago trying to connect with those in a position to help me and, because I was so focused on my own needs instead of theirs, I was frustrated with their replies or not receiving a reply at all.  I can tell you…reaching out the right way is significantly more rewarding.

Have you found yourself trying to make contact with someone where you were more concerned about your needs than theirs?  Has someone try to contact you with that same approach?  How did it work out?

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  • Frank says:

    Hey Guys, I’ve been so close to sending one of those emails out so many times. My gut told me to refrain. I can only imagine how many emails successful people get all the time. I think our intentions are good when we say that we’d pay 50/50 but I can see the flip side. I just put together a blog with about 40 pieces of content on it and now i’m trying to promote it via Social Media while the search engines catch up to it. I’d like to run something past both of you guys to see what your thoughts are. I just signed up for the mailing list of a well know blogger. After I signed up he mailed me a survey and I filled it out. He mentions that he does meetups throughout the world for free and that I should provide my info for future events. I live in Tokyo currently and I don’t anticipate any meetups anytime soon. I flat out told him that I would pay for his ticket, show him around and board him. I may have crossed the line but like you said he reached out to me via the survey. I figured here’s my shot. Overall I think you guys make yourselves more available than you would think. I’m sure it’s tough managing/finding the balance between trying to grow your business and grow your audience and keeping them happy. What put’s money in your pocket us or your business? It seems that your business puts more money in your pocket than we (your audience) does therefore you need to focus on it than us. You also have a hire us page. Time is money and the fact that your offer paid consulting is nice alternative as well. As a fan/customer I feel you provide enough value already. I read this great article on Internet Business Mastery that may help my fellow readers.




    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Frank!

      Wow…it’s been a while since I wrote this post…thank you for reminding me about it, hehe.

      So you signed up for someone’s email list, filled out a survey, and then offered to bring them out to visit (on your dime) and network with them? That’s a pretty cool offer. If it were me, I’d want to get to know you a bit first, of course! I know someone else that has reached out like this to people he’s wanted to work with:


      Yeah, we try to put on a rougher exterior…but that’s only because we really do keep ourselves open to connections…it’s just easier to weed out those that aren’t serious this way. (Shhh…don’t tell anyone!)

      Oh…and EXCELLENT link share there, btw. I love the IBM guys and that post from them is STELLAR!

  • I was working on an article for someone to feature their fundraising project on a local site. Aside from all the work I’m doing to feature them I *THEN* got a follow up email asking if we’d (TMBA) be willing to sponsor the event as well. And all the ways we could turn our audience on to support it. Them them them. Obviously I am on board with the charity (I promoted them!) and want to help out as much as I can, but really?!

    And, of course, I’m the asshole cause “I don’t want to help out a charity.”

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Shame on you, Elisa…you wouldn’t support a charity? 🙂

      I think this is especially useful if you’re working on something as critical as a charity or fundraiser that has the opportunity for direct impact and to change lives. How much are you costing people with your “selfish” approach, right?

      • Couldn’t agree more. And I see it so often. They are so happy to have someone who is willing to help out/volunteer that their spidey-sense goes in to overdrive and they start thinking about ALL the different things the person could do for them. Then the volunteer is overwhelmed and put off and goes away, and the organization is back to where it started. Sad really.

  • Claire Smith says:

    I really enjoyed reading this post, it was very timely.

    It illustrates why some people succeed and some fail online. The failures are those who expect or hope someone else will do the lions share of the work. Those who succeed are the ones who are self reliant, work hard, give before they take, give others the benefit of the doubt and realize their success is due to their own hard work and not some chance meeting with a fairy godmother IM who has already spent the time and effort doing that work themselves.
    With just starting to have some insane success online with Amazon this summer, I have started a blog and have been posting a monthly earnings article online since I first earned $2.50 last August and do have a few friends who follow me. I have been overwhelmed by the kind emails and offers of help and support I have had, and consider myself fortunate.
    But I have already had a couple of help me emails too and that little lurch in the stomach that this person is not going to do well online under their own steam. And I find it sad because I know no one can help them but themselves. I love that your post today is a kind way of telling them that and to look to yourself to succeed.
    I love helping people, that’s why I have set up a blog, so I can post what I have learned and not have to email everyone separately as I am a horribly slow typer 😉 but there are only so many hours in a day too, specially as a crappy typer.
    I have known for some time that is not about the money, if my bills are paid that’s nice. Now, what is more fun than checking Adsense or Amazon earnings stats are the emails, contact, connections and shared experience that comes from connecting with like minded others working online, so I am glad people reach out.
    So I have nothing to offer you guys but a big thanks and if you ever want any tips on Squidoo or keywords, I’d love to help. Claire

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, Claire!

      I was a little worried writing this in that I didn’t want to discourage people from reaching out. We love the contacts we’ve made through AF and really want that to continue. Still…if we could point people towards a better way to make contact we thought that might be helpful.

      I watched a video the other day with Gary Vaynerchuk talking about how from 2006-2009 he would answer EVERY email, respond to every tweet, etc. I didn’t know this when we started, but we’ve taken a similar approach and it’s done wonders for our growth and has really helped us to connect with people.

      So…can you share a link to your blog where you talk about Amazon? I found a site from you but it hasn’t had a post for quite a few months…I’m guessing you started something new! Would love to check it out!

      • Claire Smith says:

        Hi Justin,
        Sorry for the delay, I never got a notification of your kind reply. Yes I always try to reply, to blog comments too!

        This is the site, the logo is WIP right now, I just wanted to get it up and start sharing, rather than have it picture perfect with nothing going on

        The Amazon success is mostly though Squidoo, it’s pretty insane and getting better too over time. I have just started some Amazon niche sites that have actually got one or two sales as well. I enjoyed your Building a Niche Site Empire report and it helped with the Amazon set ups a bit too, and I hope to diversify into Adsense too! Thanks for making it available!
        Cheers Claire

  • Karthic says:

    whatever you guys write, it always has a personal touch. Something i have to learn. Thanks for the mailing tips 🙂

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Thanks, Karthic!

      I’ve really had some success with the methods listed above. I’d particularly mention it’s worth checking out the Charlie Hoehn link above…there’s gold there!

  • semir says:

    hey nice post….i am guilty of it. i have sent spencer and someothers this kind of emails….may be accidentally they all were good people because they replied me with a great email….yes , they gave no money. To be honest i dont blame my self. Because i am trying so hard to make money online despite the hardships to get internet connection, and other major set backs like hunger…etc.. yes u might not beilive me, i am from africa and i am a middle class. offcourse i am not sooo poor. but life is very hard for me. Do u know how hard it is just to carry big old laptop ,walk 1 kilometer each day and take crowded bus …just to get free wifi connection which is 90-120kb/sec ….. i have been reading how to make money online since 2009? still i tried and failed, couldnt change my situation.
    if building niche sites was one big company….the CEOs justin and joe definetely would have given some opportunity for the poor kid who begged for a domain and hosting account on thier way to enter the headquarter.. hope u get it eventhough my poor english!!
    and sorry for the last comment i did …”i want ur money”
    i am sure this one will not get deleted.
    have a very nice time in here and the hereafter.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Semir,

      I definitely understand what you’re saying and no problem about the English!

      Joe and I both live in the Philippines…where even OWNING a laptop is a luxury that most cannot afford. Instead of crowded buses, they have crowded “Jeepneys” here…and the internet is quite slow as well.

      I would argue with you on one point, though, and that is your approach. No matter what your personal finances, there’s an effective and ineffective way to approach people and make contact. Of course…you can always email people and ask if they’ll buy a domain or hosting package for you. If you email enough people, you’ll probably get someone to buy them for you, even. My point, though, is that there’s a better way.

      I could have not responded to this comment or not have published it. Instead, I’m hoping I can give you an example of something you can use in the future to be more effective.

      What if you approached an email like this:

      Hey there!

      Love what you’re doing, especially your post about ____…I thought that was very helpful. In fact, I wanted to email you to let you know about this other blogger I found named _____. He’s done some amazing stuff with this…you should specificaly check out these posts here:

      Post 1
      Post 2

      Anyway, very glad to connect with you so I’ll keep this short. I’ve started my new website here: _____ and if you had any thoughts, I’d be very glad to hear them!

      An email like that shows me that you’ve read our posts, points me to an interesting resource I’d want to check out, and is likely to get a response from me (or anyone else) about your site…even if it’s brief. It’s a MUCH better way to reach out and make contact.

      I hope that helps?

  • You know, at the end of the day, helping people will get you something out of it. If you are new to IM, that is a must to build relationships that you will able to bank on it later. I mean it could be a mean to an end, but it is a beneficial to both parties at the end.

    On the other hand, you can find yourself frustrated when you get used, but being forgiving and believing in a higher purpose will definitely get you past that. You learn to filter after awhile and after all, we are humans and we can’t just help each person that reaches out to you!

    You free guide must have helped a lot of people, but also built your credibility, which allows you to sell more products and websites.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey there!

      Yes, the guide definitely helped a bit with credibility. Mostly, though, I thought we were creating a resource for current readers that they could more easily share with others. Much of the information is already on the blog…just fragmented and not as clear, I think.

  • Btbuzz says:

    Derek Sivers is a genius I have a lot of respect for him.
    People always want stuff for nothing and don’t want to work, nice concept it dosen’t work last time I checked. It’s amazing to me all the bs offers on you don’t have to work to make money. Earn while you sleep, right, in your dreams. Ha Ha.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Agree…Derek’s done some pretty amazing stuff.

      Yeah, it’s amazing how many people want the “easy button” to personal riches. Well…I guess I want that too…it’s just that I know it doesn’t exist a huge majority of the time.

  • Marc Ashley says:

    I try to help as many people as I can. My whole life I’ve always been that person who helped everyone else, only at some point you feel like you’re being used by some people and sure enough I’ve been used and abused by many. For the last 4 years I just shut myself away and helped myself which was a very important step in my life because I was always good at helping others and terrible at helping myself. It hasn’t been easy but it was definitely worth it. Now that I have more time I have decided that it’s just part of my nature to help and that it’s one of my main purposes in life. Like you guys trying to help people on the lower end can be definitely frustrating especially when some people don’t want to be helped and others expect your ongoing thoughts or help forever. But it’s also rewarding when you have a customer that really makes that first dollar and they suddenly understand that all those mails with “focus and never give up” were not bull after all! As for me cold mailing others? Sure I wrote a top IM just last week explaining that I have the worlds best and next marketing phenomena and if he is interested he can meet me for $75,000. Did they say yes? Of course not! Do they think I’m crazy? Probably, but I did it on purpose simply to use it as a promotion once I get it up and running myself! I’ve also written other so called stars and yes I’ve got to know them personally but I wrote something really interesting to get their attention and not just “I have an idea will you split your money with me?”

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Marc,

      It’s definitely a balance between helping yourself and helping others, I think. We tend to put some of our best information out there for free, hoping it will reach the greatest amount of people. The 1-on-1 stuff is what I find difficult and it’s usually from an anonymous person I’ve never heard from before asking a bazillion questions, wanting a personally laid out blueprint to their success, etc.

      In general, the people that reach out to us are overwhelmingly cool, provide great ideas, ask interesting questions, etc. This post wasn’t for them. 🙂

  • Justin,

    I think you’re dead on here. I try to focus on providing insane value in any new relationship. I think we are sort of socially programmed to try and nickel and dime people some time or just generally take advantage. We want to get the benefit now instead of seeing it as a really valuable (both socially and professionally) investment for the future.

    I also wanted to say, you should cut back with the formatting on your posts. The overdone italics, underline, bold, etc. really draws away from how awesome the content you put out it is.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Taylor,

      I just found myself “re-introduced” to your blog and I absolutely loved this post:


      Like you, I followed the scripts when I was younger…and I tend to default to them now without careful consideration of the choices I make.

      Thanks for the comment…especially regarding the format. I can’t wait to get some real design done for this blog. I’ve tried to format it a bit so that it’s more readable (changing the font screwed up the site) but I’ll be glad to get away from that…

      • Justin,

        I’m glad you liked the post. I didn’t know anyone other than my sister was reading that stuff, haha. I recently got back to the U.S. after a year out of the country so I’ve seen how a lot of my friends have settled down into scripts that they aren’t happy with, but think are the only choice or something that they “have” to do.

  • Leny Pearson says:

    It’s really hard to believe that with all that you give away for free someone would ask for more. It really demonstrates the lack of initiative that those people have. Even if you gave them more, they obviously wouldn’t work to sustain it, and in turn blame you for their impending failure. It is definitely wise for yo to keep your “monies”.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Hey Leny!

      I should be clear that quick questions, contact, etc. happens all the time. We’re talking about the worst of the worst here…the bottom 5-10%. You’re right, though…horrible initiative eh?

  • His work is excellent, thanks for the post!

  • Yes, totally agree – if you want to get on someone’s radar doing nice things for them without asking for anything in return is the way to go. And the thing that those people don’t get is that by building a relationship first, it will not only help them in the project that they are working on now, but it will most likely pay off in the future as well.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Absolutely, Thomas.

      The other thing I didn’t mention in the article is that you don’t know how that person you’re trying to contact REALLY is. We get people asking us to partner with them and they don’t really know us. What if we’re ass-hats or jerks to work with? Why get yourself tied up in something like that. Better for YOU to get a feel for the person first anyway, IMO.

  • Marcus says:

    I have the opposite problem. I’d love to e-mail some people I admire, but hesitate because I feel like I don’t have enough value to offer. They’re so busy and have overloaded inboxes, so I wouldn’t want to add to that.

    Ninja Tip: You can set canned responses in Gmail. Click on the gear icon in the top right corner. Click on “Labs” then scroll down to “Canned Responses.” Click “enable” to turn it on.

    The next time you get an “I Want Your Monies” e-mail, when you reply, there will be a drop-down menu for canned responses. You can write your message once (e.g. “Here read this”), link to this blog post, and save it for future use. So when you get those annoying message in the future, you can just click on the canned response and send.

    So far, I’ve had better luck by getting role models to respond with Twitter or to comments on their blog. You saw how surprised I was when Alexis Ohanian (co-founder of Reddit) took the time to thank me for tweeting an article about him.

    James Clear at Passive Panda had a good article called “How to E-mail Important People.” http://passivepanda.com/how-email. He even has examples of bigshots who have replied to him.

    • Hey Marcus, I have been using Canned Responses for years now, it is one of my favorite labs (next to Multiple Inboxes). I try not to over it use it though, but I think this may make a good case to come up with another template. Thanks!

  • Nice writeup Justin,

    It’s a general problem with people entering the IM (or make money online world more broadly) with a mindset of “want want want” what they really should be entering with is “give give give”

    I would love to form a relationship with you and Joe, so if there is anything I can do for you – just let me know.

    • Even better, they should think “win-win”. How can both parties get value our of the relationship? And is their part worth the same as your part?

      • I agree to an extent Joe, but I just don’t think there’s anything I can provide that would possibly justify you getting involved.

        So I guess the core problem for many who wants to get involved with the big guys like you and Justin is that we simply can’t offer you anything. It’s like trading a Volkswagen for a Porsche.

        Maybe when my blog hits a thousand uniques a day and I build a list of thousands you might be interested, but for now all I can do is thank you hundreds of times for your awesome content and simply offer my services.

        I know this offer might seem a little weird, because you will probably never take me up on it. But who knows, one day you might be traveling through Denmark and need a ride – who knows?

        In any case you got a brand ambassador for life 🙂

        • JustinWCooke says:

          Hey, Chris!

          Really interesting comment…I’m guessing we’re not doing a very good job at communicating our weak areas or things that provide us value for you to say that!! That and, I think, people (you?) undervalue skills all the time, hehe.

          Here’s an example I sent to someone recently via email we were talking to about creating a “marketplace” for niche sites and a few others added at the end overall:

          – You have a large list of website buyers/sellers that you could add right away to the user base

          – You have access to Angel/VC money that would be required (once the model is proven) to take it to the next level

          – You’re a super-sharp programmer that has the technical know-how to build something like this out with a team of developers and are looking to us for the buyer/seller audience

          – You have a proven track record of high-profile market launches that would help quickly launch the marketplace

          – You have an eye for design and can create clean but simple logos/websites

          – A conversion expert

          • Hey Justin,

            I’m 0/6 for those you listed.

            And I think it’s only natural for people to talk about what they are good at, which is in your case building niche sites at scale, process management and outsourcing.

            I got great people skills and I write fairly well, but I cant think of anything that you need.

            I’m not trying to make it about me, I’m just putting myself on the spot as the one interested in making a connection but with no coding, no graphics, no huge lists, no invest-able resources, no clue about conversions.

            And I think honestly that goes for a lot of people, but hey – everyone starts out like this right 🙂

            PS. Signed in with my Facebook for some reason, silly disques plugin 🙁

          • JustinWCooke says:

            Hey Chris!

            I probably shouldn’t have limited it to those six…was just trying to give an idea as to skills/things that we’d currently see as quite valuable. Honestly…making connections with sharp people is worth it by itself…it’s not always about value and skillsets you provide, you know? 🙂

          • Chris Broholm says:

            Of course Justin, I could probably brainstorm the shit out of any concept you’d bring forward, and I can’t wait to help you with developing your software – I’m a rough critic though, so it better be good!

        • Chris, that’s enough in my book! Thanks for the kind words.

  • Jerry says:

    So,is there any chance that I could get you guys to…. haha just kidding. Seriously, I would like to share a promising resource that may help a lot of people.. and it’s Free! A close friend of mine is the CFO for http://www.cmenow.com/ Check it out.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      Funny, Jerry!

      So I checked out CMeNow…seems like an awfully confusing pitch. It seems like they’re trying to be Facebook, Skype, Google, and LinkedIn…all wrapped into one? And…trying to do all of this on their own platform rather than integrating between those services? Either their value proposition is awfully confusing or I think they’re a bit too ambitious…

  • And you publish this article as I was just about to send you guys an email 😀
    No monies for me then?

    Actually it has been really wonderful connecting with people. Building relationships and connecting with people is far more important and rewarding than just asking for hand outs.

    • JustinWCooke says:

      NO MONIES FOR U!!!

      Hehehe…of course, we’re not talking about YOUR emails! 😛

      Seriously…this isn’t based on anyone in particular and not from the majority of emails we get. We ASK for and LIKE connecting with people generally…but some of them are really poorly thought out and it can be frustrating.

      I figured I know and use a better way to connect with people and thought I’d share, hoping it would help others out.

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