Would You Pay For Exclusive Access To Online Expertise ?

There’s a row going on and I’ve got stuck in !

It goes like this:

Would you pay for exclusive access to online expertise ?


Would you pay for exclusive online expertise from those who you thought espoused the philosophy of giving away free tips, in order to create trust, which is then rewarded down the line as goodwill builds and  reputation increases ?

Probably not.

There is a new paid for community called The Third Tribe and I didn’t think I had a problem with it until I got involved in a discussion about it at Altitude Branding

The people behind The Third Tribe are social media and blogging superheros like Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse from Problogger who have undoubtedly helped many, many people with their free advice.

As far as I can see it the Third Tribe is about monetizing their kudos. It’s a half way house between the marketing of old in which selling was of the hard  variety and the  philosophy which is at the heart of social media; sharing freely with an open group. This new set-up is a paid for online community, with exclusive access to movers and shakers.

I certainly don’t disagree with charging for expertise. Everyone offering a service has to make a living. I trained for a post-graduate diploma in journalism and then spent 15 years at the BBC learning the craft of communication. That is not knowledge which should be thrown away.

I work hard at blogging three times a week and read everything I can on the subject so I can help people who are going on the same trip. I want to be paid for that and no one would argue that so should the blogging ‘stars’ – they should obviously be commanding  the top rates.

But sharing knowledge online, posting on forums and using Twitter to connect with really interesting people should not become an exclusive event. I don’t want to see the velvet ropes go up. If the top thinkers are at the private after-party aren’t we all just a little bit worse off ?

What do you think ?

(By the way, this is an important debate and I don’t think anyone, whatever position they choose to take should be labelled whinger or whiner. Just thinker.)


3 responses to “Would You Pay For Exclusive Access To Online Expertise ?

  1. important stuff – a definite retweet 😉

  2. It’s a bit of a problem, isn’t it.

    For those that have made their reputation on free access, it seems like an about face. I don’t think they’ve made clear what they’ll continue to do in the open, for free, and how that’s different for the paid access.

    I try to be very clear on what I do in the open vs. what I do for a client. I think this heat is generated over the illusion of social media giving one a personal relationship with virtually anyone. And you wouldn’t charge a friend, would you?

    Actually, I would and do. But I set clear lines about what my profession is and what I must be paid for and those things I do for my friends or community.

    At to the Third Tribe, I think it’s all a bit over hyped. SM types huddling with other wannabe SM types, all about how to make money.

  3. Thanks for the wise words.

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