Last week, I introduced a new thread on this site: a series of modern day technology and business mysteries. The target of my curiosity (or venom, depending on your point of view) was publishers. The post was very popular so I’m eager to continue my eternal quest to comprehend the incomprehensible–at least to me. This is where you come in. Yes, you.
I don’t know how to accurately categorize the following story. I can tell you two things, though:
- it’s completely true
- it offends my business sensibilities
A guy from a company that makes project management software contacted me on via my site to discuss writing and content. Let’s call him Steven for the purposes of this post. I offer these services on my site and I was thinking to myself, “Maybe I have scored a paid writing gig.” Ka-ching, right?
Nope. It turns out that this ostensibly intelligent guy had an entirely different idea. Y’all ready for this?
After a few emails, Steven and I set up a time to talk. Steven told me that his company employs a full-time writer of some sort to blog about project management issues. In a nutshell, Steven wanted me to resyndicate his company’s content, of course linking back to his company’s site. Below is the crux of conversation to the best of my memory:
Me: At the risk of being entirely selfish, “What’s in it for me?”
Steven: Well, you get content on your site.
Me: My site is vendor-agnostic. I’m an independent consultant, speaker, and writer. That aside for the moment, would I be able to post my content on your site if I agreed to your proposal?
Steven: No, we don’t really allow that.
My cynical but probably accurate translation of Steven’s “pitch”: Will you help promote our company without any money or exposure in return?
I almost don’t know where to start here. First up, I called my sometimes therapist Jim Harris in disbelief. He agreed that this was an interesting proposal, and by “interesting” he meant completely insane.
Second, what am I? The Smart Data Collective or some other type of aggregator? Nothing against aggregators but it’s pretty clear that they take the content from other bloggers and sites. A 30 second review of my site ought to eliminate that theory.
Next up, I pride myself on my independence. If I’m going to sell out, at least I want to get paid, right? Overt advertising is one thing and I do have a few affiliate links of my site. But to routinely pass off another company’s posts as valuable “content” for my readers would erode or destroy the credibility, brand, and reputation that I have spent a long time building. I don’t need a branding expert like Chris Brogan to tell me that.
On a different level, I understand the freemium model, outlined in Chris Anderson’s Free: The Future of a Radical Price. I do my own share of guest posting, albeit on a limited basis. I’m completely fine with having others guest post on my site, but those are one-off posts designed to give my readers a different view point. Steven wasn’t suggesting limited guest posting and, at least to me, a one-way street makes absolutely no sense.
Am I overreacting again? Does this make any sense to you? What harebrained ideas have people proposed to you?
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