Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dr. Phil, Robin, and Open Sky - Wrong on Many Levels

I'm just a regular person with a regular job and a little barbecue blog that I've worked on for eight or so years. I started the blog to help family and friends, and then others found Barbecue Master, and my numbers went up. This doesn't mean I got rich. It took four years I think to make the $100 pay out amount for Adsense, and a good month now (spelled summer with my topic) is when I do make pay out in a single month. Clearly, I'm not in it for the money.

Open Sky - We Have a Vision

Open Sky got in touch three or four years backs. I don't recall all the details on the dates. I'm better with information over dates and numbers.

The idea that was sold to bloggers they hunted up online was that we could share really good products with our readers and get (or sometimes even not) a few cents if someone clicked through and purchased. I link companies all the time for free (and no kick back), and this sounded kind of like Adsense. But, it included kind of a custom store - sort of like Amazon affiliates when you link (which you can't in my state).

A lot of the little bloggers out here thought we might help out with best picks. It did not appear that there would be much money, but people could get the best of the best we could suggest.

What Open Sky Did

Open Sky kept pulling in more and more bloggers and pushed for our contacts for good small products and pushed for us to spam link our blogs and pushed for us to backlink to Open Sky (which makes it rank higher on Google). The stress was great (if you listened to the emails and calls). I know one early Open Sky shop keeper (as they called us) committed suicide. I don't know why, but I'm sure extra stress did not help.

Most of the bloggers bailed on Open Sky when they tried to get us to push products we did not know, love, and trust. They put a Beer Pong table on my Open Sky page which is when I cut all ties. I teach, so there is no way I would have ever recommended a Beer Pong blow up table thing. Per the email . . . oops Open Sky was sorry about that.

Others (mostly new bloggers I think) stuck with this plan. Open Sky was very convincing.

Then . . . Open Sky canned all the little bloggers who did not have huge fan lists and sales. This little blogger model was what they sold to everyone, but they just got the backlinks and then dumped all the little ones - most who were honest and on the level.

You can Google around and find many stories about the early years of Open Sky.

Open Sky - The New Company SPLASH

I've seen a few articles just out about this new company Open Sky that is fab-u-lous. They make it sound like it's a few months old. That is not true.

Tonight Dr. Phil's wife ended his show with a pitch for Open Sky with her personal favorite products. You sign up, and you can buy what Mrs. Phil loves. She gets a cut of your money as well as Open Sky, and the companies sell more but priced up, of course, for such big endorsements.

What You Get at Open Sky

Some products at Open Sky are great. Some are not. That's life.

The short time I was active, one shop owner who was featured by Oprah was able to sell a ton of cereal bowls for $16 each. She was the darling of Open Sky back then (and others like her who had a TV audience etc). You could get bowls just like the ones on the darling's site for a couple of bucks at Target.

So, the bottom line is that you have two middle men when you shop Open Sky. That's fine if you want to pay for what stars tell you that you should buy. If you just Google the product, it's likely that you can find it for less, unless the actual company is new and desperate enough to take very little or no profit.

Note to Dr. Phil

You are good at business Dr. Phil. That's clear, or you would not be where you are. Good for you. I did, however, think that you had some heart, and I thought your wife did with her showing up at your tapings all the time.

I must say that I am disappointed that it appears that you did not do your research and did not know how many people Open Sky walked over (little bloggers, little companies, buyers) to suddenly be a new HIT. This is not a new company, and they did not build those backlinks. They used up people, and they tossed them in the trash. I'm just thankful I walked away.

Sure. Robin can have her little Open Sky shop to share what she love, love, loves, and make money, money, money. That was the idea (I guess), but the first idea was that the shops would be by real experts who really cared about the product areas. The topic experts with real blogs would not sell out, so that did not work out. Not enough money for the real deal.


I can't say what the impact will be with a small blogger sharing this information. I'm sure Dr. Phil could smash me like a bug. Heck, all the Open Sky big wheels have connections that could hurt me I'm sure. Just check the pedigrees.

As far as my readers, if you need or want something related to grilling, smoking, or barbecue, I will tell you what I use and love period. You can take that to the bank, and you do not need to pay Open Sky and a TV star to tell you what to buy.



Anonymous said...

Not to mention all the Manufacturers or product suppliers that they BS'd and dropped because sales weren't what they wanted...I was one of those suppliers

CA said...

Sorry. Yes. I know that Open Sky pushed little companies to offer up loads of free product. I'm guessing they suggested that would get the product and word out. There are loads of freebie sites online where onliners just snap up samples like that. I doubt many sales come from that approach. I don't know, but that's what I see. Open Sky would have the stats. I would not.

Beth said...

There is so much corporate propaganda out there being regurgitated by bloggers and it's pretty easy to tell the difference between an authentic piece of heartfelt writing and words with an agenda. Some writers have mastered the art of appearing authentic while still pushing products but even those will lose credibility among their followers if their endorsements become too overt. I admire your way, Cyndi. 100% authentic. Authenticity never goes out of style. "To thine own self be true" is always sound advice.

J.Q. Rose said...

An amazing post. Thank you! I remember when you were geeked up about Open Sky and told me all about it. Had to be more like eight years ago!! Anyway, when I saw Mrs. Phil's pitch for products on Open Sky, I thought. Maybe I messed up not joining in and becoming an expert in gardening. But now I have heard your side of the story, not so much. I hate it when the "stars" who I love turn into commercial money making machines. I guess the bottom line to make money is no sin and runs the world, but at least do it honestly. I wonder if Robin really uses the products. Even The Doctors (who is a Dr Phil show) does pitches for products telling you how great they are when the pitch is in actuality a one hour long commercial for the book or product. I appreciate your sharing the whole story. Keep doing what you do, cause you are the Master of it!! Hugs from Janet.

CA said...

The initial idea to have real Mom & Pop shops where real experts helped people find the small companies online sounded great.

That's a lot of what I do here without profit. Some of the small companies (and large ones) will offer to send a sample for an honest review. A few offer a prize to give readers, although I don't do many of those.

Open Sky quickly found that little passionate bloggers were not going to post "buy this" links all over. If we could help someone find something . . . well good.

The Open Sky pressure was awful. They had someone call and demand that I sell x number of products by the end of the week. Really now? I'm not pushing readers to buy anything. They can read and see if they hear about something they might want to try. I do find some really great products. But, I'm a writer and not a saleswoman.

I've clicked on Dr. Phil all week to catch the end. Robin McGraw is pitching her Open Sky store every night and giving away free product. I wonder what all the people without iPhones are going to do with those rhinestone iPhone covers?

Dr. Phil McGraw must not remember what his TV show is about - a talk show to help people? No. He appears to have become a used car salesman or the unemployment office for his family.

Chris said...

Open Sky is still around? I thought they folded years ago. It is whack that Dr. Phil's wife would be on his show pitching her own Open Sky stuff.

I was going to try to think of some funny Dr. Phil quote like "Bar-beee-ccccuue Master, harboring jealousy is liiike drinkin' poison and expectin' your enemy to die. You don't need a porcupine to tickle a gypsy" but it just didn't have the same effect without his voice, lol.

Like adsense, what a great comparison! Good post.

CA said...

(-: Dr. Phil or anyone can try to make me feel bad, but that isn't going to happen.

I'm proud to have a barbecue blog where I can be honest. I have friends on Facebook who I did not give thumbs up. I remember one which was way too hot for me. Now, it might work for others. I can say that honestly, but you better like it blazing hot.

The main reason I feel bad about Open Sky is that they hurt people I care about - both bloggers and small line sellers. That is not OK, but that really is what they did.

If you're really well off and can afford to buy Robin McGraw's picks (which she may or may not have picked), fine then. Just know that you are paying her and Open Sky for the honor of buying on a space that won't even list online without a "membership." Makes you wonder - what do they have to hide Open Sky?