Free Costs

Posted on September 30, 2009


blingbling mouse

blingbling mouse

This started with a much-better-than-I-could-have-put-it post over at Hummingbird604’s blog on charging actual, real money for social media work.

I have volunteered my time for the Vancouver social media/tech community to extreme lengths. I am not self-absorbed or self-congratulatory in saying this, I am just being truthful. I have liveblogged numerous events for free. I have covered many events for free. This doesn’t mean that I have de-valued my own work: it means that I am interested in giving back to the community in the spirit of “paying it forward”. However, I work as a freelancer. I am NOT a freebie. Don’t mistake my generosity for lack of appreciation for my own value.

This hits close to home (right in the rent money, in fact) because, just like any professional social media practitioner who didn’t just fall off the Apple truck, I’ve been the recipient of more pitches than I care to count that end with the fateful words, “There’s no money, but it’s GREAT exposure.”

Thank you. Adding up all my social media platforms, I have in the vicinity of 14,500 daily readers. Rest assured that if I wished to expose myself further, I would go down to Granville and Georgia at rush hour and de-pants.

Hell, I’d even get on tv!

In any case, JP posted this great video on the relationship between vendors and clients (h/t to Raj for link): it’s got ALL the basic types, including the Tony Robbins escapee (“We can MAKE this work, Rob!” “it’s Ted, actually”) and the cheapos who won’t give you the contract, but want you to give them instructions on doing the job themselves. Having worked in small business communications before social media, I’ve met all of these people, and it seems that very few of them really think of it in these terms. There are some unabashed assholes in this world, and Karma will eventually catch up to them, but most people think they’re being completely reasonable, including the woman who expected me to write 600 words a day for her blog, yes, “for the exposure.” To 36 readers a day.

Believe me, if she’d hired me, she’d have gotten a LOT more than 36 readers a day.

Ladies and gentlemen, the video:

And then, you know, that reminded me of something that sounded a little stronger, a little profaner, a little more, in fact, like me. So here it is: Harlan Ellison, grand old bastard of sci fi, on Paying the Fucking Writer: