Why I Give Away So Much Information for Free

Have you ever had this conversation with a competitor, colleague, friend or client?

Why did you share on your blog how to create widgety-whoozits and plug them into ziggity-bangs so people could do what you do? Don't you charge people to do that? If you tell them how to do it themselves they won't need you! And, you're just creating more competition for yourself, you know. If you share that anyone can go into business and compete with you. --Concerned Person from the Interwebs

Dear Concerned Person from the Interwebs,

Why would I tell you how to do something yourself like create your own ezine template, install plugins, add social networking icons, syndicate your blog posts, or any of the other things I've walked through on my blog or in articles?

I get hired more and sell more when I tell more. From a "business" perspective, that's it.

But that's not the only motivation.

As for competition, I'm not concerned. I can't possibly serve every entrepreneur out there! The world needs other people doing what I do. So if you'd like to go into competition with me and use what I share, more power to you. Just please do it ethically (don't copy my ebooks, or posts, or pricing/packages - make your own!).

And sometimes once something's happened, we're less afraid of it. I've had people lift things from my website word for word without attribution. It's incredibly frustrating and I'd never do business with the people who've done it to me. But I also know that even if they steal my words they can't steal my brain. They can't take my style (or lack of style) or my flair for how I do what I do. They can't be me. I'm me.

So here's 7 reasons I tell you how to do stuff yourself, how I do stuff, or generally share my "secrets" and why you might want to do it, too.

1. I like to help people.

I want to see people succeed in their online businesses whether they hire me or not. If I can cut your learning curve, I will. Why should you suffer through the same mistakes I have?

When I can share something in a blog post, I can help dozens or hundreds of people do something with just a few minutes of my time. Win-win. And when I get an email asking how to do something I can point to my blog posts or articles.

Plus, I'm betting that if I'm helpful enough you'll subscribe to my RSS feed or my ezine and let me stay in touch with you.

2. Some people are "do it yourself" types and I see no reason not to help them out if I can do it in a blog post.

I don't have the time, energy or mental capacity to help everyone one on one for free. So I blog instead. Many birds, one stone. Or whatever the nice non-violent version of that saying is, because I don't throw stones at birds, or blog readers. Bad idiom.

Maybe you're in that bootstrapping phase of your business where you can't afford to hire someone to customize something. I've been there. Maybe you just enjoy tinkering with your website. I've been there, too.

If you want to do it yourself, you're not likely to hire me anyway. That means I'm not losing business by pointing you in the right direction but I am building connections and gaining brownie points. At some point you may want to outsource this stuff. Hopefully you'll remember you got help from me when you needed it and come back to hire me.

3. It showcases my knowledge and style.

I sell info products. If I don't share helpful information somewhere free (blog, article, ezine, special reports, etc), how are you supposed to know that my ebooks and guides are worth the investment?

Sharing here shows you a bit of what I know and allows you to get a feel for how I write and teach so you can tell if it's a good fit for you. Not every teacher is right for every student.

If I don't share some of the technical expertise I've got here, I can tell you I'm good at X Y and Z but why should you believe me? If I show you, then not only can you see what I can do, but you can see how complicated or time consuming something is (or isn't) and that brings me to point 4.

4. Clients appreciate work more when they know what's involved.

I have worked with clients who do not value technical expertise. It's taken me 15+ years to learn what I know about website design and online business. None of what I do is a "snap your fingers and it's done" type of project. Expecting the moon delivered within 24 hours (and only 15 minutes of billable time) doesn't happen if clients understand what's involved in something or have tried to do it themselves first. So I see it as helping create better clients for web designers and virtual assistants everywhere.

5. It helps me learn and improve, too.

I have plenty of areas I can learn and improve in. When I share posts I get feedback in the comments that points me to new, better, or just alternative ways to accomplish something. Awesome.

For example, when I posted about WordPress plugins I had readers alert me to a couple cool ones I hadn't seen yet. Or, when I posted about how to add social networking icons to your blog, my readers helped me notice that my code turned into curly quotes and I needed to be careful with that so my directions were able to be followed. Those are both really valuable pieces of feedback that only happened because I shared.

6. Google. Yes, seriously.

Why shouldn't I share something with you that any reasonably motivated person can find in Google in 10 minutes or less? This is why I'm willing to share what plugins I run, what theme I use, etc.

7. I am not that big soft drink company with a secret recipe.

There were some things I wouldn't share. Obviously, if I have trade secrets I wouldn't blog about those. I won't give away the entire content of my info products. I won't go step by step how to do something specific to one blog/website/person most of the time, that's for my clients.

But I'm not a gigantic soft drink company with a top secret recipe. Mystique about how I create isn't my selling point.

What About You?

Still think I'm crazy? That's okay. Stick around and learn here anyway.

Think I might be on to something? Check out my post How to Share Your Brilliance Without Giving Away the Farm and find out which brilliance sharing strategy might work best for your particular talents and business.

Michelle Shaeffer's Twitter profile describes her as: "Caffeine powered, Libertarian gal enjoying life with my kids and husband. Empowering entrepreneurs by simplifying online business websites and marketing." That sums it up nicely. Depending on the time of day you might find her blogging compulsively, hosting a teleseminar, writing an ebook, chatting on Twitter, managing her website hosting company, or playing with her kids in the beautiful Alaskan sunshine while enjoying a frappucino. Catch up with everything she's into online and claim your free treasure chest of resources for entrepreneurs at http://michelleshaeffer.com.


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