Pretty much weekly, somebody calls on me — either via e-mail or a phone call — to help them with some aspect of their online strategy.
It’s very flattering, of course.
But I also think I have some value to share. I’ve been in online publishing since 1995. I’ve been involved with and in charge of online news sites that have won national awards. I have an established track record for running sites that grow revenue. I currently run a local news site that is at the forefront of building sustainable online news businesses. I get quoted in local media coverage often. It’s not like I’m some hick in the sticks with a few screwball ideas. After all, you’re the one calling me, for a reason.
I’m not surprised when I get the calls.
About 3/4 of the calls at this stage are either from people who have started a local news site or are thinking about it. I’m happy to give them 20 minutes or so of my time at no charge to share a bit of what I’ve learned. I realize at this stage, they have no money to give to a consultant and I’m eager to see independent news sites succeed. I’ll do what I can to help.
However, about 1/4 of the calls are from legacy media companies.
Now, I’ve worked at legacy media companies. I know, even in these tough times, they’ve got money to spend and if the CEO decides a consultant is needed, $10K or $100K is nothing. Chump change. I’ve seen it happen time and again.
But when I ask for $100 for an hour of my time — click. Or my reply e-mail never gets answered.
Look, if you’re a legacy media company and you want my thoughts on how to build a better web site, attract more audience, have a better comment community, or, especially, help you make more money, and we both know I can help — why are you surprised that I would want to get paid for my advice?