It’s always been an interesting dilemma for people who owe their living to their creativity — do you sell your ideas and knowledge, or do you give them away?
I’ve always been a believer in the adage that it’s better to give than to receive. But hey, a girl’s gotta eat.
When I first met my current business partner, he had stories about how, in the early days of the Internet, he belonged to an email group of people who discussed fishing rod building. When amateur builders would post questions, lots of pro builders would respond vaguely, hoping the individual would seek out their professional (paid) help rather than struggle through the harder processes themselves.
My business partner told me he made some folks angry when he bucked the trend and posted explicit instructions… but in return he received the gratitude and goodwill of those who were helped by his advice, and when they did have a problem they needed a pro for, they remembered and gave him the business.
I had my own experience in this vein over the weekend. In a series of message board posts on a popular Internet business forum, I basically gave a step-by-step run down of how to build a non-spammy niche website in a single day. I had no ulterior motives. People asked questions, and I just decided there was no big downside to giving answers.
And I got a lot of really nice feedback from my posts. Made me feel darn good about giving. I got one nasty bit of feedback from someone whose return email was made of e-rubber who said I was going to harm the sales of people who sell packages on how to create niche websites.
Egads! Mr Anonymous would rather I packaged my ideas in a PDF, made a 3D cover and sold themfor $97. Somehow I don’t believe he’d be the first in line to buy it … but I digress.
What I wanted to mention was the interesting and unexpected twist that resulted from those posts. As a direct result of my interaction on that forum, I’ve had a significant jump in sales of my software.
Which also makes me feel darn good.
So the moral of the story is? It feels good to give, but it’s even nicer when some of the goodness bounces back to benefit you.