I get a lot of calls from people who want to team up with me. Some of these inquiries are from strangers while others are from clients who I have done great work for and want to use my skills on a new venture. It is extremely rare that I agree to team up because I believe that SEO equity stake team-ups are a bad idea.

To be clear, what I mean by equity stake is when someone has a product to sell (or an idea for a website) and they want to import the product (or offer it in some way), take care of distribution, and run the entire business, and “all” I have to do is build a website and optimize it. Once the site ranks high in Google, “we’ll each make tons of money”. Or so the pitch goes.

Why Not Team Up?

Pricing: I can’t control your product’s pricing and I don’t necessarily have a say in controlling what the product will cost. If you have romantic ideas of getting rich by pricing it high and I can’t control that, then we’re in trouble.

Customer Service: I don’t know how you’re going to treat clients. Since I won’t be handling that aspect of the business, I may discover that you don’t know the first thing about offering assistance, supporting the product we sell, or working with consumers.

Supply: You can’t guarantee supply. What if the website takes off and you suddenly run out of supply? Then what?

Long-term: I don’t know where you stand in the long-term. If the product doesn’t sell as well as it could, who is going to put money in to keep it going?

One-sided: In many cases, I get the impression that the person who wants to partner up with me recognizes that I bring a lot to the table and that they will in essence end up relying on me to do all of the thinking, or  worse, they will become what amounts to a silent partner. I don’t want to do all of the thinking in this type of venture.

Nothing to Lose: In some cases, people ask me to team up where they have a long-running, successful business offline and want me to create the entire online marketing campaign. Sure, that’s great for them since they have nothing to lose. They get a free website and complimentary marketing from an experienced expert and if it works, they make some more money which is great. If it doesn’t work, or only makes a little money, well they had nothing to lose since I did most or all of the work.

Change of Heart: You may change your mind about being my partner or being in the business, or you may find a full-time gig elsewhere. Either way, I’m stuck, having done all of the work with nothing to show for it.

Partnership Goes South: What happens if the partnership goes south? What if things don’t work out as planned? A few things could happen but one of the worst outcomes would be that I have done my end of the work because the website and SEO are what’s needed right from the start, whereas your part will typically only come into play once the business gets moving.

50% vs. 100%: If I’m doing all of the work, then what do I need you for? I’m in the Internet marketing business. I could sell anything online, on my own. If I take on your project, I won’t have time for my own, where I get 100% of the profit rather than 50%.

Craigslist: Craigslist is a giant company that’s been around for a decade. You have no idea how many people call, describe a website that sounds like Craigslist and then tell me they’ve never heard of the site. Even worse… “I’m not good with the computer but I have a great idea that will make us rich.” Yeah, right.

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