There is no such thing as free unless the thing in question is without value.
When you write a blog post you give away to the world on your blog, it is not free. You spent time, energy, effort, and knowledge writing it, time that could have been spent doing something else.
When you share a video of your session from a conference, it is not free. You are directly harming your ability to be hired as a speaker at future conferences because why should prospective attendees pay if they know the video will be available for free later?
When you interview someone for your podcast, it is not free. Both of you are giving up time and knowledge that might be better spent elsewhere.
The only time something is truly free is when it has no value, when the person who creates something believes it to be of no inherent value that it’s only worth throwing away. Your excrement is free. In fact, you pay people to take it away. Same for your garbage and your recycling.
Mitch Joel quotes Mike Lipkin often: “I would do this for free but I make you pay so that you understand the value of what you are getting.”
As a new media/social media creator of content – blogger, podcaster, Tweep, etc. – I want you to understand that what you make available without a financial transaction taking place is not free. You may indeed be rewarded in other non-financial benefits for what you give to others, in reputation, social currency, popularity, fame, etc., but don’t call it free unless it is of no value.
I appreciate what you create on a daily basis when I read your blog, listen to your podcast, watch your video, and I acknowledge gratefully that it is not free, that it has inherent value and worth. You spent hours of your time on what you’ve made, time you could have spent with your family or playing with other hobbies, and for that I thank you.
I will not demean your work by calling it “free” – valueless – and assuming that because you don’t charge me money for it that I am entitled to it with nothing ever given back.
Thank you for giving of yourself on your blog, on your podcast, in your Twitter stream, and beyond. I appreciate you all the more for it.
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