Giving it Away for Free

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A fair amount of my headspace has been occupied lately with how or whether business/entrepreneurial language makes the transition to conversations I have with and about academics and academia. One of these concepts is “giving it away for free.” There are marketing gurus out there who talk a lot about the strategy of going ahead and sharing the awesomeness you have (as an entrepreneur or business owner), in the hopes and expectation that your people will find you easier that way and that once they have found you and are paying attention to you, you can sell them more exclusive access to your awesomeness.

Because this is a marketing model based on generosity, I find it pretty appealing. It assumes that not all of our interactions–in business or otherwise–are grounded on the principle that one party profits at the expense of another.

Thinking about how this mantra “giving it away for free” or, conversely,  “not giving it away for free” would translate into academic discussions has been really fruitful–especially in generating questions.

What resources/awesomeness do you have that other people routinely want or expect from you?

Are these part of your job description or outside of it? (i.e. are you getting paid to do this or not?)

What do you routinely end up doing “for free” and then resenting?

What do you do “for free” that actually energizes you and gives you something in return?

What position of privilege or marginalization do you occupy that obscures or complicates your performance of free labour?

What position of privilege or marginalization do you occupy that obscures or complicates your expectations of others’ free labour?

What could you/would you give away for free if it meant attracting more people to your awesomeness?

And the list goes on. What comes up here for you?

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