Giving it away

June 15, 2007

Chris Brogan had a note about Ogilvy on his site recently and I wanted to share my response to that post. You can see the original commentary on Chris’ site.

Here’s what I wrote as a retort…


I like the sentiment and the theory is MOSTLY sound. But in Ogilvy’s day (not so long ago) people knew how to think for themselves and they took the time to do so.
These days, and I really am an optimist contrary to how this is going to sound, people are greedy, uninformed little wretches who don’t observe or honor copyright protection or other ownership and they feel free to reuse whatever they ‘find’ on the Internet.
As a professional writer, I’m certainly going to share my best stuff on my blog and podcast and other venues that are currently low or no-pay pursuits. But I’m doing a disservice to any professional writer and to myself if I give away my services just to try and gain a competitive advantage.
I liken it to any service industry. I have yet to convince the lawn guy to do my lawn because hundreds of cars will see it and ask me who the artiste is that manicured my expanse of green.
Likewise, the plumber won’t fix my toilet for free just because I might have a party and the guests will be so impressed at how well it flushes that they’ll want me to refer my plumber.
And perhaps something more in line (instead of these random ramblings) is the blog outlet that says they can’t pay me for my writing because they don’t pay anyone. But this blog outlet is an arm of one of the largest media concerns in the United States, AND their print side (losing money hand over fist) is able to at least cut me a check for every piece I write for them. Why would I do the same amount of work for one place for nothing when I can get paid for it. AND if I retain my copyright on the stuff I write, then I can post it at and get some additional exposure there myself without ‘giving’ it away.
Thanks for listening.