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A Blogging and Service-Related Mystery

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Apr | 26 | 2010

Apr | 26 | 2010

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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  1. Rob Paller

    With the exception of the potential for increased page views, I don’t see how this would have been to your benefit. Some bloggers might have taken the bait just to pad their Google Analytics but I don’t see how you gain anything for your personal brand by doing so.

    I see no overreaction on your part. Actually, I see some reasonable restraint for not outing Steven’s company. 🙂
    .-= Rob Paller´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: April 21, 2010 =-.

  2. Jim Harris

    I hear you, I hear you saying:

    “If I’m going to sell out, at least I want to get paid.”

    Over the course of the last year when I have largely paid my bills with paid writing, many times I encountered somewhat similar “indecent proposals” based on a somewhat appropriate Dire Straits paraphrasing:

    “We get your writing for nothing, and our exposure for free.”

    Wow! What a great deal! . . . NOT!

    I want my money — and not for nothing — but for my services.

    I do have more to add, but I’m afraid we’re out of time today. I’ll make a note to revisit this topic in our next session — assuming that your check clears and covers my therapist fees 🙂
    .-= Jim Harris´s last blog ..The Challenging Gift of Social Media =-.


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