Giving it away for free to earn your keep

free
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/vanessao/

Brian at Copyblogger rhetorically asked if one could make a living from publishing white papers for free, mass consumption online. His answer was (of course) yes, and he made reference to a former colleague who makes $300,000 a year from doing so. As one would expect, his tips for success are freely available from here.

This business model is described as content marketing. Earlier this week, Joe of Junta 42 once again practiced as he preached by releasing an updated version of his 42 top Content Marketing blogs. A fantastic resource linking to some great blogs; the original release was how I heard about his blog. And since then I have become an avid subscriber (if not paying customer).

One blog currently not on there is Jonny Bentwood’s Technobabble2.0. He has just followed up his white paper on social media with an analysis of the quality of other analysts’ Twitter/microblogging usage. Go check it out.

So, is this the future of content creation? The free distribution online sets the brand up and creates buzz, and a (possibly supplementary) living can be earned from speaking engagements and corporate training sessions.

The basic content is therefore free, with the revenue coming from incremental business based around that – books (special editions) and face-to-face sessions (live events). Now where have I heard this before?

Since some critics argue that what works for Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails (the link takes you to their brand new free album – The Slip) doesn’t work for Joe Average, is this a model that all bloggers can aspire to?

My answer is yes; if the quality, the luck and the will to succeed are there. Like I hadn’t heard of Joe before someone linked to his blog, I hadn’t heard of Black Kids before I saw a Pitchfork article and a link to their free EP. And now they’re on Universal. Ticket sales and merchandising, rather than CD sales, is how they will be getting paid.

And as a final point, it is interesting to note that the material I linked to from Joe and Jonny takes publicly available knowledge, adds some special sauce, et voilá. An original, insightful piece of work. Remixing, in other words.

sk

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2 Responses

  1. Simon – Thanks for the mention! – Mike

  2. Simon…thanks for the plug. You are dead right…this type of content distribution is the present and future of publishing. – Joe

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