Blogging for nothing, and your clicks for free

I started writing a blog because I was hacked off with nobody listening to me at work when I tried to discuss with them the ideas I had for using the internet to make the work we did more interesting. I found that by writing stuff in public, online, people who were interested found it useful, and talked to me. Later on, people found it so useful they gave me work based on what I wrote here. It was a kind of freemium business model, though I never planned it that way.

After all, in the archives of this blog is an awful lot of information about how organisations can innovate around the way they use the internet, and what lessons they could learn from internet culture. If the people that wield budgets read it properly – and trusted their own staff a little more – they probably wouldn’t need to hire me, ever. But don’t tell anyone that.

Dennis Howlett writes a really interesting and informative blog called AccMan which “concentrates on innovation for professional accountants with a strong leaning towards the technologies that drive client value”. Don’t worry though, it’s a really interesting read. The other day, Dennis posted about a couple of related things: one, that he spent a lot of time providing free advice off the back of his blog posts via other channels like email; and secondly, that as a result of this, he would be making some of his blog content available only on a paid for basis.

It’s an interesting response to an issue that probably didn’t exist until recently. The question is, I guess, once you start giving stuff away for free, is it impossible to withdraw, even partially, from that position? And do people then expect you to provide everything for free? In other words, just because I provide advice, guidance and opinion for nothing here on DavePress, does that obligate me to answer people’s questions on email for free? I, like Dennis, find myself doing it all the time.

I guess this is an issue a lot of content businesses are wrestling with at the moment, newspapers especially.

Don’t worry, I can’t see myself charging for what I publish here anytime soon – I doubt there would be many takers. I’m happy using the blog to develop my ideas, and develop a bit of goodwill in the hope that can turn itself into paid work at some point in the future.

2 thoughts on “Blogging for nothing, and your clicks for free”

  1. Most people would find it hard to accept that they should pay for information or ideas served up from a blog post. Even though the content is high value, blog posts tend to represent small portions of bigger ideas. People are prepared to pay for more extensive data analysis in white papers or reports. There you can charge very large sums eg Nielsen Norman group makes quite a bit of money charging over $100 for usability research reports, and there seem to be people prepared to buy them. The value of the free blog post is that it acts as a demonstration of the quality and ability you would get if the person was hired for private commercial work. It allows you to justify the fees you charge the client.

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