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.
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”?