Photo by Martin-Neuhof
“Hey Andrea! When will you release a new post on your blog? Can’t wait for it!”
I’m happy when I receive direct messages like this one. Yes I will keep blogging, I’m just going through an intense period that doesn’t leave me much space for producing ‘free content’ here on my blog.
In the last 6 months business exploded for my team and me at itive. We are taking care of several new projects and have new clients waiting down the line to work with us. This period in which I’m living now got me thinking about the time I spend creating and sharing free value VS payed work for my clients.
The good side of the free content is that it helps me to share snippets of what I do with people who find value in it and end up contacting me when they need help with their marketing, PR, web design, etc. This ultimately translates in more work for my team. Sharing free content on my blog also gives me the chance to exchange thoughts, ideas, and opinions with you. Learning from each other is priceless. I am and will always be thankful for what I learned and will keep learning from our conversations.
On the other hand, the client work I do with itive is what ultimately puts food on the table and pays the bills. So when new projects come, I have to take care of them.
I see many other friends and colleagues changing their relationship with the free content they produce. Here are a few names:
- After 5 fantastic years Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson dropped their thursday show condensing the podcast (FIR – For Immediate Release) in one and only weekly monday episode.
- Big changes also for the magic duo Terry Fallis & David Jones that recently left Inside PR in the hands of an outstanding Martin Waxman (@Terry @David: Martin rocks but I’ll miss you guys).
- Dennis Howlett stopped offering free lunches.
- Geoff Livingston shared everything he felt and ended his regular contribution to the Buzz Bin.
- Gary Vaynerchuk is slowing down too because he needs more time to focus on other areas to stay on the edge.
The balance between investments in free VS payed is my dilemma and it’s not something that I extend to the people I listed. Someone might be drowning in new tight schedules, others have less or nothing more to say so they are reducing the amount of time for producing free content to leave space for other activities that add more value at a personal level or for the organization they are working for. Priority is shifting.
I feel that we (content producers) all have arrived to a point in which we are evaluating more carefully where to invest our time, energy and experience.
Am I going to start charing for my content?
I don’t think this will happend anytime soon. Part of the what I produce will keep being released for free, but recently I’ve been thinking about if/how this will change in future.
There’s a wind of change blowing in our industry that is making me and many other content producers think. Do you feel it? What’s your take? And if you are a content producer how are you dealing with it?
0 thoughts on “Wind of Change Blowing on Content Producers”
A very thought-provoking post, Andrea.
Certainly, paying clients have to come first. But for me, the free content that I produce is my primary marketing channel, so it’s important to find the time for it. I’ve always believed that giving your content away will pay you back many times over.
Also, I think a lot of people are shifting the venue for their free contributions to the conversation. While Neville’s job responsibilities have led us to cut back to one episode per week (largely because of the difficulty of coordinating our schedules eight hours apart), neither of us seem to be doing less blogging or tweeting!
Ultimately, how much we give away is a personal decision based on the time available, the value of what we have to offer, and the value we get in return.
@Shel: True, my blog has always been my primary marketing channel, too. Once this intense period will be over I’m sure I’ll get back to my normal blogging schedule. What I’m going through though made me think. Sure, I’ll keep producing content, but what I’m thinking about is how much of that content will keep on being for free or open to a large audience.
To give you an idea, I usually share 80% and keep the remaining 20% for those who find value in it and want to take things further by working with me. Will this change in the future? I’m not sure yet. Lately, what I started to realize is that all these years of free content ‘spoiled’ our audience, turning it into an almost ‘demand-only’ crowd.
What I often see today is a general perception that if something is online it has to be free. Probably because it’s still hard for the general public to find value and invest in something digital, virtual, in something that they can’t touch? Maybe… It’s also true that in this case the role of communicators and strategists is to show where the real value is for the organizations that want to enter this digital space. Anyway this is taking me down other paths that would require additional posts.
There’s so much going on for people like us who are working at the bleeding edge of this industry. Many are now feeling this change more than what they probably did in the past and are starting to move in different directions, either because they ran out of things to say or because the time and work they previously invested in the social web elicited an exorbitant amount of work to deal with today.
Whatever the case may be, I think this is an interesting period in which many practitioners are:
– changing/evolving their relationship, communication and strategic approach with their audience.
– moving to the next adventure, keeping ears and eyes wide open to the next thing that could or will potentially change once again our online world.
The more i think about this topic the more I fee like writing about it. I hope to hear Neville’s take on this, too.
Keep up the great work on your blog and, of course, on FIR!
Yes, I think you’re right, Andrea. There’s definitely some change in the air. For myself I think this will lead to producing even more specialized content in the facebook area, focusing on consulting and widening my network of partners to outsource services rather than actually implementing things myself.
@Annette: The Facebook book you are writing for O’Reilly… will be released in English too?
As far as I know it won’t be translated. 🙁 There is another book about facebook from O’Reilly USA called “The missing manual” (2nd edition April 2010, but not including the transition from fans to like nor the news from f8). My book will be like Tim O’Reilly’s twitter book, see http://www.oreilly.de/catalog/facebkger/ – but: in German…
@Annette: Yes pity…thanks for letting me know!
Good to see some new content here, Andrea. I was beginning to wonder what was happening!
Like Shel I’m committed to producing free content as it’s one of the most effective ways I market what I do. However, there are times when you need to re-evaluate and juggle projects alongside things like blogs and podcasts.
I’m in the process of taking on partners and growing my business into a small agency and that takes time so for the time being I’m burning the candles at both ends to keep the content going. But I reserve the right to change this from time to time.
There’s no proven method to maintaining and building an online business. So much of the content marketing space is evolving. Anyways, here’s to finding balance ! A good, healthy successful balance!!!
@Jon: Yes, this is definitely a re-evaluation period for me. Like I replied to Shel I will go back to my normal blogging schedule once this period will be over, but all this made me think. Read more on that reply I gave to Shel…
I’m happy for you and your upcoming projects. Being an entrepreneur is not easy and you really have to work hard… but it’s also extremely exciting. Good luck! -keep me updated on your future moves.
You certainly keep yourself very busy! Congratulations on your success!
When you take all those isolated changes and list them like that it does seem to be more than coincidental. It’s definitely worth exploring to see if there is a trend here.
For Inside PR, I was running out of things to talk about. And since our stuff is searchable and sticks around forever, why bother repeating ourselves? That doesn’t stop many people from rehashing the same old themes, but it wasn’t something that I wanted to do.
Time is at a premium for all of us. That’s good. What that shows me is those who have invested in exploring the space by using it to share their thoughts are now being counted on by others to guide them as consultants.
@David: I’ll definitely miss your insights on InsidePR, but sure I understand what you are saying. It makes sense.
I couldn’t agree more on the fact that it’s actually thanks to what was invested in this space that today many are counted on by others to guide them. I’m just feeling that something is changing (read also the comment I left to Shel). Probably it’s because we are moving into a new communications era with new channels and tools that we can use to establish a connection with our audience. People are changing too, their behavior, their taste, their expectations and business is consequentially forced to continuously evolving -faster than ever before.
Maybe it’s just a feeling, it’s difficult to say yet… I guess time will tell.