Yesterday we (as-in: me), received an offer for a website partnership on zantetsuken.net. I instinctively knew what they were asking and wasn’t at all surprised when the response e-mail came in the next day after I had told them that I wasn’t interested but that Orophen had some piqued interest. I am going to be respectful of the other party and not include their name, website, or the original e-mails, but I think this something that should be on the mind of others who are considering “website partnerships” in the future.
The summary of the e-mail: their site, weeks active, hits and members accrued since their launch from continual postings on the Google+ Community, and what they had to offer in exchange for the partnership: hits, popularity, proud members of a team, free advertising, free hosting, an installed blogging platform, assumed assistance from a professional web developer, etc. Sounds cool, right? All in exchange for dropping Zantetsuken.net, having Sequence Break on their website, and my loyalty to the team.
Now, I had no plans on saying yes. Orophen may have been interested, but the fellow was right in addressing me versus Orophen: I call the shots for the most part. Nothing goes on Zantetsuken.net without my express approval. If something doesn’t meet my approval and is on the website, then the natural consequence is that Orophen will hear of it and he WILL suffer. However, I gave them the benefit of the doubt because Orophen was slightly interested and some part of me wanted to believe that maybe the fellow had good intentions. Even now some part of me thinks maybe he had good but very misguided intentions. Nevertheless, there were so many problems that a swift response was in order and I declined the offer.
A partnership definition:
[pahrt-ner-ship] Show IPA
1.the state or condition of being a partner; participation; association; joint interest.
a. the relation subsisting between partners.
b. the contract creating this relation.
c. an association of persons joined as partners in business.
The joint interest would be FFXIV, but that is where it ends. I am not interested in being popular, hits, or working with a team that may not be as interested or invested when the game is actually released. Five weeks is practically a new born versus Zantetsuken which has been around for over two years now. We aren’t a big site, we don’t claim to be a big site, nor do we have aspirations to become a big and popular website. My idea has always been simple: to contribute to the FFXIV community in our own way and on our terms. The podcast is done because I enjoyed doing orzcast for a brief period of time, and mostly enjoy the conversations I have with friends and sometimes meeting new people. I also like having an outlet that I can go to and where I can do what I want with no worry of this or that or what have you (hence the language you typically find on any given episode of Sequence Break). There is also the simple fact that we aren’t short of the resources they tried to promise us. Hosting? We have a lot of space and bandwidth to spare. Word-of-mouth? Happens quite often. If people like what you do, they will come. Why spam a place for attention, when the work can speak for itself? Hrm, and web dev stuff? Uh, we aren’t short of help on that end either thanks to Orophen, Frei, and friends we can ask tips from.
The partnership would have to offer an equal amount to what is being taken away. To be honest, there would be nothing offered that could give me the equivalent of freedom, being ad free, and the quality and control both Orophen and I desire. And to throw away a site that has put in two years of work to go into a fairly fresh and new website seems not just nuts but backwards and strange. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Not that we are interested. We are happy with where we are at. We may expand certain things, but for the most part we plan to do what we want, at our own pace, and enjoy the community experience without sacrificing who we are or forgetting why we walked this path.
If anyone where to consider proposing a partnership to us again (or anyone) in the future, I hope they take this into consideration:
1.) Do your homework. Why are you proposing a partnership? Is there something that can be gained mutually by the creation of a partnership between the two entities? Does it really make sense to propose a partnership with the other website?
2.) Make sure the offer is good for both parties. Put yourself in the shoes of the other person or ask a friend to read it over and consider the proposal. Does it seem fair? Then by all means, proceed. If it seems purely one-sided then you have a problem, and you can be sure the person will decline when they see that.
3.) Be sincere. You can pile on the compliments, but if it is insincere then the other party will easily sniff it out and be wary. Show them you did your homework, and give very specific examples as to why you are interested in creating a partnership. If you are vague and general as to why you want to create the partnership, the other party will think you are insincere and it will add to the belief that the drawbacks far outweigh any benefit you could think of.
4.) Most importantly: consider what YOUR website is about first. An established website is going to look at the newer website and will ask about their commitment, their intentions, and who or what they are doing it for. Is the website created for fun? For fame?
Final Fantasy XIV has seen a mass exodus of fansites come and go during 1.0, and I already see a second wave coming for ARR. I think it is great because it gives FFXIV: ARR another chance for gamers to meet others like themselves who missed the first wave or are there to test the waters before diving in. However, if you are a new fansite for xiv, give yourself a chance to establish yourself as a committed fansite host vs. an over eager one seeking to absorb established websites. People will gravitate towards your website not because you have x, y, or z content (though it helps), but because you stuck it out and decided to stay. And that says a lot given the nature of many fansites out there that come and go for any game out there.