Free advice in the blogosphere

Darren Rowse, the ProBlogger, posed an interesting question:

‘At what point should someone start paying for the advice or sharing the benefits that they receive from the input from others?’

This question was asked in the context of a discussion prompted by Jason Calacanis’ comments on how advice the guys at Weblogs had received recently helped them boost their AdSense earnings.  He went on to request further assistance in optimising their ads to boost their revenue even further.

Paul, over at Work Boxers, took offence at this and I am not so sure he is wrong:

To me this is just insulting. The guy is making $1400/day (min.), which
he equates to $511,000/year and wants free help to get to $730,000/year
(min.) along with Amazon help. Does this seem strange to anyone else or
am I missing something here? For helping him earn an extra $200k/year I
can get a free dinner. Awesome.

The main issue, as far as I am concerned, isn’t so much that the proprietors of a successful blog are seeking free advice to further boost their earnings, but rather what the best approach is in the circumstances.

Darren suggests that the proprietors of the more successful blogs may have a responsibility to those less successful to assist them to develop their blogs further.  He sets out a series of steps a blogger can take when looking for advice and I agree with his suggestions.  I tend to look for freely available advice first before flirting with paid services mainly because I can’t afford the paid advice.

As for the ethics of more successful bloggers seeking free advice to become more successful, I believe the answer lies in what is known as an "exchange of energy".  There is this notion in many complementary and alternative healing modalities that there must be an exchange of energy for services rendered.  One of the reasons for this is that the people receiving those services will only appreciate the value of those services if they must give something in return.  This usually takes the form of payment. 

In the context of this debate, I believe that the requirement of an exchange of energy is appropriate and that those bloggers who receive free advice which helps them to optimise their blogs or revenue (or whatever) must give something back.  I suppose this could be regarded as a responsibility to give back but rather than being motivated by a need to trade advice for something in return (probably Jason’s motivation for offering a free dinner in exchange for the $200k boost), this exchange should be motivated by a recognition that the recipient has received something of great value and that this benefit should be shared.

As Darren put it, "the strength of blogging is the free exchange of information, transparency and sharing of lessons learned".  I don’t believe that successful bloggers shouldn’t receive free advice.  I believe that they simply bear a responsibility to the blogosphere as a whole to share some of those lessons.  There is no need to grasp for more at the expense of everyone else.  There are plenty clicks to go around.

Paul
Enthusiast, marketing strategist, writer, and photographer. Passionate about my wife, Gina and #proudDad. Allergic to stupid

14 Comments

  1. I’m shocked that when I make joke on my blog it can be spun so far off into left field…

    first, I was joking about the dinner… if you read the post I think that is clear.

    second, I’ve been putting out more information about a) how much we make, b) how we are making it, and c) how you can make it then any other person in the Adsense program that I know about.

    third, I’m asking people to post into my comments (or email me if they don’t want to be there)… if they do email me I wind up putting the information out there!

    So, Paul who wrote the slight slam was totally off-base… I’m one of the most open guys in the business and I share information with the bloggers making $50 a month as well as the ones making $5,000 a month…

    a rising tide lifts all boats!

    best jason

  2. I’m shocked that when I make joke on my blog it can be spun so far off into left field…

    first, I was joking about the dinner… if you read the post I think that is clear.

    second, I’ve been putting out more information about a) how much we make, b) how we are making it, and c) how you can make it then any other person in the Adsense program that I know about.

    third, I’m asking people to post into my comments (or email me if they don’t want to be there)… if they do email me I wind up putting the information out there!

    So, Paul who wrote the slight slam was totally off-base… I’m one of the most open guys in the business and I share information with the bloggers making $50 a month as well as the ones making $5,000 a month…

    a rising tide lifts all boats!

    best jason

  3. I’m shocked that when I make joke on my blog it can be spun so far off into left field…

    first, I was joking about the dinner… if you read the post I think that is clear.

    second, I’ve been putting out more information about a) how much we make, b) how we are making it, and c) how you can make it then any other person in the Adsense program that I know about.

    third, I’m asking people to post into my comments (or email me if they don’t want to be there)… if they do email me I wind up putting the information out there!

    So, Paul who wrote the slight slam was totally off-base… I’m one of the most open guys in the business and I share information with the bloggers making $50 a month as well as the ones making $5,000 a month…

    a rising tide lifts all boats!

    best jason

  4. I'm shocked that when I make joke on my blog it can be spun so far off into left field…

    first, I was joking about the dinner… if you read the post I think that is clear.

    second, I've been putting out more information about a) how much we make, b) how we are making it, and c) how you can make it then any other person in the Adsense program that I know about.

    third, I'm asking people to post into my comments (or email me if they don't want to be there)… if they do email me I wind up putting the information out there!

    So, Paul who wrote the slight slam was totally off-base… I'm one of the most open guys in the business and I share information with the bloggers making $50 a month as well as the ones making $5,000 a month…

    a rising tide lifts all boats!

    best jason

  5. Yo Paul…

    I believe that there’s a time to give, and a time to sell. And it all depends on context. In the blogosphere, I’m very happy to share my expertise. Even if that means someone makes an extra $200k a year out of my thinking.

    The exchange of energy you’re talking about IS in fact there, regardless of the payment or non-payment. In blogging, that energy exchange translates to visibility. If I give you good advice, you read my blog. You trackback to my blog. I do the same. Your success makes ME more visible.

    Also, at a certain point, you say to yourself, “I have a new project coming up. That guy Roy who gave me advice… I dig the way he thinks. I wonder if there’s some money in the new project for him. Lemme budget him in.” And if it’s not YOU who says this, it might be some dude or dudette who saw my advice x months ago and remembered me.

    The purpose of blogging in my opinion is not to generate direct income (thought that can definitely be part of it). It’s to get your personality out there AS YOU ARE. It’s to allow the personal brand of YOU to shine and be accepted BY THOSE WHO LIKE WHO YOU ARE.

    This is the opposite of corporate think, which has people attempting to portray themselves as the person the corporation thinks it needs. Those people are NOT themselves at work.

    So blogging gives me the chance to expose myself to people in the hopes of finding like-minded folk who might wanna work with me one day.

    It’s a long term project.

    As Jason says in his comment… “a rising tide lifts all boats”. But the tide takes time.

    And it’s not about how fair or unfair things are. If an advertising agency hires me to write copy for them, they’re not getting me for less than an estimated R600 an hour nowadays. I won’t go lower for short term writing projects anymore — FOR AD AGENCIES.

    But for someone like you, I’d probably spend eight hours just GIVING you my expertise. As long as I knew that my expertise was being VALUED at R600 an hour. In other words, I’d want to know that you weren’t regarding my time as throwaway. That you recognised that there’s serious input happening from me, with muscle behind what I say.

    And my blog, and all the advice I can give for free, is a way of showing the world who I am, and how much expertise I have to offer.

    So one day, someone’s gonna make me rich by recognising the value in some of my posts and comments and reflections.

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

    PS: Jason…. I would say you were a little quick to take offense. Paul’s asking a MUCH broader question… in my reading of his post, he’s asking about how we should be thinking of valuing the input of others. For instance, if I give you advice worth $200k a year, should you be thinking of offering me 1% of that just cos you’re a good guy? Should there be ANY expectation on my OR your side? Or should we be thinking, “Build my personal brand”?

  6. Yo Paul…I believe that there's a time to give, and a time to sell. And it all depends on context. In the blogosphere, I'm very happy to share my expertise. Even if that means someone makes an extra $200k a year out of my thinking.The exchange of energy you're talking about IS in fact there, regardless of the payment or non-payment. In blogging, that energy exchange translates to visibility. If I give you good advice, you read my blog. You trackback to my blog. I do the same. Your success makes ME more visible.Also, at a certain point, you say to yourself, “I have a new project coming up. That guy Roy who gave me advice… I dig the way he thinks. I wonder if there's some money in the new project for him. Lemme budget him in.” And if it's not YOU who says this, it might be some dude or dudette who saw my advice x months ago and remembered me.The purpose of blogging in my opinion is not to generate direct income (thought that can definitely be part of it). It's to get your personality out there AS YOU ARE. It's to allow the personal brand of YOU to shine and be accepted BY THOSE WHO LIKE WHO YOU ARE.This is the opposite of corporate think, which has people attempting to portray themselves as the person the corporation thinks it needs. Those people are NOT themselves at work.So blogging gives me the chance to expose myself to people in the hopes of finding like-minded folk who might wanna work with me one day.It's a long term project.As Jason says in his comment… “a rising tide lifts all boats”. But the tide takes time.And it's not about how fair or unfair things are. If an advertising agency hires me to write copy for them, they're not getting me for less than an estimated R600 an hour nowadays. I won't go lower for short term writing projects anymore — FOR AD AGENCIES.But for someone like you, I'd probably spend eight hours just GIVING you my expertise. As long as I knew that my expertise was being VALUED at R600 an hour. In other words, I'd want to know that you weren't regarding my time as throwaway. That you recognised that there's serious input happening from me, with muscle behind what I say.And my blog, and all the advice I can give for free, is a way of showing the world who I am, and how much expertise I have to offer.So one day, someone's gonna make me rich by recognising the value in some of my posts and comments and reflections.Blue skiesloveRoyPS: Jason…. I would say you were a little quick to take offense. Paul's asking a MUCH broader question… in my reading of his post, he's asking about how we should be thinking of valuing the input of others. For instance, if I give you advice worth $200k a year, should you be thinking of offering me 1% of that just cos you're a good guy? Should there be ANY expectation on my OR your side? Or should we be thinking, “Build my personal brand”?

  7. Yo Paul…

    I believe that there’s a time to give, and a time to sell. And it all depends on context. In the blogosphere, I’m very happy to share my expertise. Even if that means someone makes an extra $200k a year out of my thinking.

    The exchange of energy you’re talking about IS in fact there, regardless of the payment or non-payment. In blogging, that energy exchange translates to visibility. If I give you good advice, you read my blog. You trackback to my blog. I do the same. Your success makes ME more visible.

    Also, at a certain point, you say to yourself, “I have a new project coming up. That guy Roy who gave me advice… I dig the way he thinks. I wonder if there’s some money in the new project for him. Lemme budget him in.” And if it’s not YOU who says this, it might be some dude or dudette who saw my advice x months ago and remembered me.

    The purpose of blogging in my opinion is not to generate direct income (thought that can definitely be part of it). It’s to get your personality out there AS YOU ARE. It’s to allow the personal brand of YOU to shine and be accepted BY THOSE WHO LIKE WHO YOU ARE.

    This is the opposite of corporate think, which has people attempting to portray themselves as the person the corporation thinks it needs. Those people are NOT themselves at work.

    So blogging gives me the chance to expose myself to people in the hopes of finding like-minded folk who might wanna work with me one day.

    It’s a long term project.

    As Jason says in his comment… “a rising tide lifts all boats”. But the tide takes time.

    And it’s not about how fair or unfair things are. If an advertising agency hires me to write copy for them, they’re not getting me for less than an estimated R600 an hour nowadays. I won’t go lower for short term writing projects anymore — FOR AD AGENCIES.

    But for someone like you, I’d probably spend eight hours just GIVING you my expertise. As long as I knew that my expertise was being VALUED at R600 an hour. In other words, I’d want to know that you weren’t regarding my time as throwaway. That you recognised that there’s serious input happening from me, with muscle behind what I say.

    And my blog, and all the advice I can give for free, is a way of showing the world who I am, and how much expertise I have to offer.

    So one day, someone’s gonna make me rich by recognising the value in some of my posts and comments and reflections.

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

    PS: Jason…. I would say you were a little quick to take offense. Paul’s asking a MUCH broader question… in my reading of his post, he’s asking about how we should be thinking of valuing the input of others. For instance, if I give you advice worth $200k a year, should you be thinking of offering me 1% of that just cos you’re a good guy? Should there be ANY expectation on my OR your side? Or should we be thinking, “Build my personal brand”?

  8. Yo Paul…

    I believe that there's a time to give, and a time to sell. And it all depends on context. In the blogosphere, I'm very happy to share my expertise. Even if that means someone makes an extra $200k a year out of my thinking.

    The exchange of energy you're talking about IS in fact there, regardless of the payment or non-payment. In blogging, that energy exchange translates to visibility. If I give you good advice, you read my blog. You trackback to my blog. I do the same. Your success makes ME more visible.

    Also, at a certain point, you say to yourself, “I have a new project coming up. That guy Roy who gave me advice… I dig the way he thinks. I wonder if there's some money in the new project for him. Lemme budget him in.” And if it's not YOU who says this, it might be some dude or dudette who saw my advice x months ago and remembered me.

    The purpose of blogging in my opinion is not to generate direct income (thought that can definitely be part of it). It's to get your personality out there AS YOU ARE. It's to allow the personal brand of YOU to shine and be accepted BY THOSE WHO LIKE WHO YOU ARE.

    This is the opposite of corporate think, which has people attempting to portray themselves as the person the corporation thinks it needs. Those people are NOT themselves at work.

    So blogging gives me the chance to expose myself to people in the hopes of finding like-minded folk who might wanna work with me one day.

    It's a long term project.

    As Jason says in his comment… “a rising tide lifts all boats”. But the tide takes time.

    And it's not about how fair or unfair things are. If an advertising agency hires me to write copy for them, they're not getting me for less than an estimated R600 an hour nowadays. I won't go lower for short term writing projects anymore — FOR AD AGENCIES.

    But for someone like you, I'd probably spend eight hours just GIVING you my expertise. As long as I knew that my expertise was being VALUED at R600 an hour. In other words, I'd want to know that you weren't regarding my time as throwaway. That you recognised that there's serious input happening from me, with muscle behind what I say.

    And my blog, and all the advice I can give for free, is a way of showing the world who I am, and how much expertise I have to offer.

    So one day, someone's gonna make me rich by recognising the value in some of my posts and comments and reflections.

    Blue skies
    love
    Roy

    PS: Jason…. I would say you were a little quick to take offense. Paul's asking a MUCH broader question… in my reading of his post, he's asking about how we should be thinking of valuing the input of others. For instance, if I give you advice worth $200k a year, should you be thinking of offering me 1% of that just cos you're a good guy? Should there be ANY expectation on my OR your side? Or should we be thinking, “Build my personal brand”?

  9. Hi Jason and Roy

    Thanks for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

    Jason, I think what is more important are the issues raised by your post and the commentaries by Paul at Work Boxers and Darren Rowse, rather than whether your offer of a dinner was a joke or not. This is one of those topics that seems to have taken on a life of its own.

  10. Hi Jason and Roy

    Thanks for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

    Jason, I think what is more important are the issues raised by your post and the commentaries by Paul at Work Boxers and Darren Rowse, rather than whether your offer of a dinner was a joke or not. This is one of those topics that seems to have taken on a life of its own.

  11. Hi Jason and RoyThanks for your comments. They are very much appreciated.Jason, I think what is more important are the issues raised by your post and the commentaries by Paul at Work Boxers and Darren Rowse, rather than whether your offer of a dinner was a joke or not. This is one of those topics that seems to have taken on a life of its own.

  12. Hi Jason and Roy

    Thanks for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

    Jason, I think what is more important are the issues raised by your post and the commentaries by Paul at Work Boxers and Darren Rowse, rather than whether your offer of a dinner was a joke or not. This is one of those topics that seems to have taken on a life of its own.

  13. Hi Jason and Roy

    Thanks for your comments. They are very much appreciated.

    Jason, I think what is more important are the issues raised by your post and the commentaries by Paul at Work Boxers and Darren Rowse, rather than whether your offer of a dinner was a joke or not. This is one of those topics that seems to have taken on a life of its own.

What do you think?

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