Free Is Free For A Reason


Do you listen to Car Talk? It’s a show where listeners call into a radio station and request free automotive advice.

I know the world is in a great recession, but dang, those people are cheap. If your car is making a CRUNK noise and you can’t turn the steering wheel without smelling something funny, you don’t call a radio show and ask for free advice. You get your fat butt over to the mechanic.

But something has changed in this world. Nobody is making any money and nobody is willing to spend any money. I will often share employment-related articles on the internet via my blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Sometimes people complain and say, “That information is incomplete. You need to be a premium subscriber to read the whole article. Why did you bother to share it?”

Right. As a blogger, god forbid you pay for smart content.

Then I’ll do webinars & conference calls & briefings. I will hear back, “Those are great generalities. Give me specifics.”

And I just bristle at the hubris.

Content may be cheap, but if you want access to solid and defensible research and ideas, you need to buy it. If you want specific advice and recommendations, you should hire someone. If you want a road map, you pay someone to build it.

If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. We forget this concept in America, but it’s true. You want solid advice? You want reliable guidance? You want valid data? You have to budget for it, source it, and buy it.

Free is free for a reason — because it’s a sales hook to generate leads. You’re like a trained monkey and you are use to sites like AOL and People, and I blame Arianna Huffington for obscuring the fact that internet is a big marketplace based on the concept of quid pro quo. You want stuff for free but you fail to recognize that nothing is really free. It only seems to be free because your data, your search patterns, and your online behavior are being tracked. An exchange occurs behind the scenes. You give up your privacy and you get celebrity gossip.

And honestly, while I love giving out free advice on my blog, I wouldn’t really take it. I was raised on two concepts — ‘buyer beware’ and a 100%-satisfaction-money-back guarantee.

  • You can’t make demands when someone is offering something for free. It’s a gift. This is why so many volunteer organizations are screwed up.
  •  And you can’t complain about quality when someone is giving away a sub par product — or crappy advice — for nothing.

So here’s my free advice.

  1. Buy quality.
  2. Pay for expert advice.

And remember that you undermine the very concept of capitalism (and the very foundation of this country) when you demand valuable information for free.


And get your car fixed. It’s dangerous to drive it like that.

Previous post:

Next post: