More than a few eyes rolled when I told them that I am involved the business of blogging. I like to think that some of it was due to the chaos surrounding us. After all we were at a party for a six year-old and the soon to be unemployed Chuckles The Clown was doing a stellar job of mishandling magic tricks. I almost felt bad for Chuckles. It is one thing to not be able to fool a room full of adults and quite another to not fool a room full of six year-olds.
I suppose that you could say that I was holding court. I was standing next to an ice chest full of beer and surrounded by a group of fathers who were absentmindedly watching Chuckles muff his performance. Our hostess probably would have been less than pleased to know that I was taking bets as to how long it would take before the kids turned into an angry mob. I am sure that she would have been less pleased to hear me wonder out loud if the kids would tar and feather the poor guy. Blame it on the removal of the filter that used to guard my mouth.
There were a half dozen men standing there and the conversation had already touched upon kids, school, movies, sports, kids and finally work. I hadn’t intended to mention a thing about blogging but one of the guys thought that show and tell time meant talk about Jack’s blog. Mind you he hasn’t ever read it. He just knows that I have one and had heard that I might be making money from it. He also knew that one of the other dads wants to start a blog and thought that it might be useful to ask for my help.
Except his method of asking was to tell Tom that we should exchange numbers because he was certain that I knew enough to help him become a successful blogger. Really it was an obnoxious way of trying to twist my arm to get something for free that other people pay for. That something being, my time and expertise.
I was irritated by the whole exchange. Maybe I am to blame for part of it. Maybe karma bit me in the butt for screwing around, I don’t know. Truth is that I don’t care. What I do know is that when I am asked nicely I am always happy to lend a helping hand. But that helping hand has limitations because my time is worth something. I don’t say that to be obnoxious, arrogant or flippant.
My time and expertise is worth something. I have skills and experience that people pay to use. It happens on a regular basis. I have clients that hire me to write for them. I have clients that hire me to consult with them regarding marketing plans. I have clients that hire me to talk about social media plans. They pay me for my time. I leverage my skills and experience so that I can put food on the table and support my family.
The doctors and lawyers that were among those standing next to me don’t work for free. I know this not just because it is obvious but because I brought it up in conversation. You see when the eye rolls came I made a point of giving a 2 minute talk about blogging and how I have used it to make money. I wanted it to be understood that I am a professional whose skills are in demand. I wanted it to be understood that I am available for hire. You never know who needs help and I figured that it couldn’t hurt to do some soft networking.
Jim could have used a softer approach to ask me to help Tom. I Â would have been glad to talk to him and offer some professional guidance. Instead I had my arm twisted and found myself as the recipient of a two thousand word post and a half dozen emails asking for advice. I handled the situation politely and professionally. I gave Tom some quick and easy pointers. I talked to him about what platforms he can use and why he should create a Twitter account. When he asked me if I would take a look at his blog when he set it up I said sure.
And then I told him that I was sorry to cut things short, but I had to go because a client had hired me to build a blog for him. That part was a lie but I was trying to politely let him know that I get paid for my time. I suppose that I could have just come out and said it, but this worked for me.
The experience reminded me that people who haven’t run their own business or worked in a capacity where they had to bill their own hours don’t always appreciate that time really is money. And when it comes to the business of blogging that always holds true. I just wish that more bloggers understood that or appreciated that when they work for free they are hurting others and not just themselves.