Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sheer Visibility: Were You Familiar With This New Payment Form?

Visibility: The New Currency.
It’s probably because of the economic crisis we are going through, or perhaps it’s simply opportunism on the side of some companies which simply don’t have any money to invest and are resorting back to this practice, but it has strongly caught my attention that I have recently received proposals to write product and services reviews for different companies and publish those reviews on my blog, and in exchange for those services I’ve been offered sheer visibility as payment.

Not even little money, but sheer visibility.

Yes my friend, as you are reading it: Visibility is been offered as a payment form. I write and publish those posts on my blog promoting company's products and services, and in return my blog’s posts will be made visible through their digital profiles, obviously with the added value of having thousands of fans and followers. I even have been offered to be interviewed in exchange of my post, and the rest of the story might be familiar to all of us.

And if it’s not familiar to you, please be aware of it.

For me it's flattering that this little corner on the cyberspace, which began almost three years ago (isn’t it great? next month it’ll be three years old) and has served me as a personal space to share my thoughts, opinions and ways of seeing things with so many interesting people like yourself, and with business owners who have found what I write useful and somehow enlightening for managing their business, has reached such a good visibility.

And I’m also happy to see that such visibility has generated enough interest out there for companies to decide and get in contact with me to review their business proposals. It’s very flattering.

But what is truly a pity is that what is being offered in exchange on such proposals is simply visibility. Not even a small amount of money but sheer visibility.

You cannot use visibility to pay for your bills.

I would like you to read this extract from an article published in latinmusicwire.com some time ago:
Just the other day I was told by someone who owned a wine bar that they really liked our music and would love for us to play at their place. She then told me the gig paid $75 for a trio. Now $75 used to be bad money per person, let alone $75 for the whole band. It had to be a joke, right? No she was serious.
But it didn’t end there. She then informed us we had to bring 25 people minimum. Didn’t even offer us extra money if we brought 25 people. I would have laughed other than it’s not the first time I’ve gotten this proposal from club owners.
But are there musicians really doing this? Yes. They are so desperate to play, they will do anything. 
But lets think about this for a second and turn this around a little bit.What if I told the wine bar owner that I have a great band and we are going to play at my house. I need someone to provide and pour wine while we play. I can’t pay much, just $75 and you must bring at least 25 people who are willing to pay a $10 cover charge at the door. 
Now wouldn’t they look at you like you are crazy?

And I would be considered totally nuts if, when I go to Mercadona to do my groceries shopping and at the cashier I’m told that I have to pay 150 euros, I simply reply, "Hey, I'll pay you guys writing a post on my blog about how good is all the people here at Mercadona", or maybe something like "Hey, I have no money to pay you, but I will bring three friends of mine who are going to buy a lot."

What do you think would happen? What would you do if a customer bought your most  expensive product and, when you asked for payment you were told: "I have no money to pay you, but instead I'm going to invite all my friends to come by your store and buy"? What would your response be?

Let’s name each thing the way it was meant to be named and put everything back on its holy place.

First of all time and knowledge do have a value, and if you want to make us of someone else’s time and knowledge, you’ve to pay for it, and you have to pay it on your local currency, whatever that is.

If you want a musician to play at your party, you’ve to pay for it. If you want a gardener to fix your house’s patio, you’ve to pay for it. And so on, so forth, and for everything.

If you truly want to take advantage of something you find valuable, you have to pay it’s price.

I do know there is a lot of highly valuable professionals working for free out there in exchange for gaining some experience within their industry, which is completely justifiable, and some others are doing it to gain some professional exposure hoping this will allow them to bring in more customers.

From my personal point of view, this “working-for-free-to-gain-exposure” situation is not good neither for your business nor for the person who accepts the offer. Why?

First of all, it clearly conveys the message that your company doesn’t have money to pay for the services it requires. And that’s not good. For the person who accepts working under these conditions, how will that person will be able to increase its value if it started out working for free?

It is my own personal reflection which I wanted to share with you. What do you think about the “being paid with visibility” thing?

Photo Credits: angelp / 123RF Stock Photo

You would like to read this post
Why LA club owners are totally lost and some advice for them from a professional musician written by Dave Goldberg

And other related articles on this blog
"The Hammerblow is Free": The Real Value of Knowledge
Working for Free: When? why? and for how long?


  1. Interesting use of my article. I started to write a book. (I don't know if I'll ever get around to finishing it) In it I have a chapter called "Free Shit". It discusses the culture of "free". That it hasn't taken long for big companies to realize they can get someone to do things for free. There are plenty of intelligent people that are capable of doing something at a decent level for free, even if they aren't "professional" at it. For instance I found myself writing for ESPN.com on their fantasy football blog. I covered my favorite team "the Miami Dolphins". I would write a blog once a week and it would get hundreds of thousands of reads. I didn't think much of it, after all it was pretty cool they selected me to do it. But I was taking the job of a writer that ESPN totally could have afford to pay. How much advertising did they sell on my blog page? And their expense was nothing. I then moved on to writing food reviews for Yelp.com Their whole website it dedicated to people writing free reviews and spreading these reviews to their friends. All for free. They then turn around and sell advertising to the restaurants that are getting the reviews. Yelp is a publicly traded company and it's stock has tripled. Even the website that someone posted my LA Club Owners article to "Scribd.com" is now charging for people to download the article. I contacted them and said, how can you charge money directly for my writing without even giving me a percentage? They told me they would take it down. Pay me? Not an option. I decided to leave it up, since anyone would be silly to pay for it, when there are thousands of copies of it all over the internet for free. I've had newspapers contact me and ask to print it. When I ask for any money, I get laughed at. No, it's just for exposure they tell me. So what kind of exposure have I gotten from writing this (which was never my intention - but none-the-less is supposedly what the allure of "Sheer Visibility" is supposed to be all about). I sold about $200 more on iTunes for the entire year, than I did the year before. You just have to laugh. Perhaps that number is so low because listeners can stream my music for free on a whole bunch of different websites. Why? Because Sheer Visibility will lead them to iTunes to buy it. Huh? How the record industry ever agreed to free streaming, I will never know. Anyway thanks for bringing a different perspective to the same problem.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Dave

      It's truly unfortunate, I have also got offers from specialized Internet portals to write for them in exchange of "visibility". I don't know if people really understand what "visibility" means, but definitely by itself it doesn't help anybody to pay the bills.

      I was once offered € 300 per month to write a couple of posts per day. Can you imagine that? Two posts per day, means 60 per month @ € 300 euros, you do the math?

      And what about quaity? About knowledge? We could continue to go about this for a long, long time and will always find ourselves in front of the same answer: "As long as there is one single person out there willing to do the work for free, we will always have to deal with it"

      Thanks again for stopping by. Your sharing your personal experience with me and the people who read me is truly appreciated.

      Have a wonderful day, Dave :-D