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Whenever someone promises “exposure” instead of payment, run.
In one of my past jobs I worked in a “exposure” project for quite some time. Don’t need to mention the results: 0.
Would you deal with someone that asked for “exposure” instead of payment?
I knew better than to say yes.
Yes, you should run, unless you’ve got plenty of time on your hands (and then what’s wrong with you…!).
But successful people are hypnotizing and you can easily be persuaded it’s a good idea.
The other one I had recently was an offer of a ‘great opportunity’ to ‘work with us long-term’ which meant that they wanted a lifetime’s work from us with no payment. I did run from that one!
Just ask them back if you can pay with “exposure” at the grocery store.
I was hoping this was an article. Or something we could expand on.. considering I work for a company that promises exposure to small/medium sized businesses on the daily. And after reading Rework… well, lets just say Im motivated to find something new.
Unless it’s Oprah.
Offering to pay with “exposure” is just down right arrogant. A sure sign they would be one of “those” types of clients. Run for the hills is right.
I just turned down a job at my local Examiner.com because of this. Pays something like .50c/$2 per lengthy article on average but promises “exposure.” I would rather start my own local online paper.
Isn’t that the promise of the Internet in general?
Accurate insight but not absolute; everything’s a negotiation. Even if the payment is affordable, sometimes the exposure is more worthwhile and presents a win-win for both parties.
For instance, I highlight illustrators on my Coloring.com home page who contribute their pictures to color online. I get fresh content, they get fresh traffic.
Exposure is valuable. e.g. Sortfolio.
I’m pretty sure Neil Patel of Quicksprout fame would argue otherwise—he made himself a name player/set for life by going the “exposure” route.
I used to get so many proposals where I would give a legitimate product (i.e. catering) in exchange for my logo to be on all marketing materials… I learned quickly that meant nothing.
One of Makalu’s team members participated in, and won, the Slashdot redesign contest. The payment was a MacBook, but the exposure changed the course of our company forever, and brought some incredible opportunities we’d likely have never been presented with otherwise.
Every situation has to be evaluated on its own.
Also, run from the “Strategic Partnership” that involves no money changing hands.
If something is worth doing, it’s worth getting paid for.
Isn’t exposure the same form of payment you get for writing open source software?
There are certainly exceptions to this rule!
New England Multimedia’s technical/creative director, Scott Quillin (http://scottquillin.com), is a musician who happens to own the company and do all the techie stuff to pay the bills. But his dream is to make a living from his music and video production.
Jan 1 of 2010, he started recording and uploading a brand new song a day, and he’s just now starting to get a lot of attention. A few people have asked him if they can use his music on their podcasts, at seminars, and on their websites, offering him only “exposure,” and of course he’s saying yes!
Sometimes exposure really is free advertising.
Michelle Quillin for New England Multimedia & Q Web Consulting
Great advice. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way.
In my past life, I worked for a “traditional media” outlet that were often reached out regarding partnership opportunities in the digital space. This meant alot of startups came through our doors and more often than not, the only thing we could offer them was exposure.
I guess that’s a warning for startups but really it’s also a call to make sure you have your shit together. Know your platform inside and out, know what benefit you’ll bring to the table, and make sure that if you’re asked to guarantee something you can say “Yes”.
I run a space in Milan for social entrepreneurs that we occasionally rent for events.
You can’t imagine how many people are contacting us offering for “exposure” instead of paymente because “I will take here a lot of people and they will know about you”... Oh, I thought you were doing the event alone!!
A few weeks ago we were compiling a list of all the stuff we learned in the last few years. This one was was almost at the top of the list.
And it’s not only exposure. Participating in a venture with someone with great ideas who pays you ..% of eventual income is also a big no-no! Chances this product will ever launch? 14 percent if not less. Chances will be made every week, focus will be changed and everything turns in to a big pile of ^x%x$. Run away… as fast as you can!
I run a moderately popular music blog focusing on new indie bands. I often get solicitations from my “competition” about link trading, citing that I would get exposure to my blog. Some even were foolish enough to suggest I pay them for advertising.
And now, three months from the first solicit, I’m now beating them organically in practically every keyword that’s relevant to my site. It’s amazing what fresh content does for exposure, yes?
Harlan Ellison made the same point in the documentary “Dreams with Sharp Teeth”. A link to this segment on YouTube:
Tom F, wow—Harlan is angry! Thanks for sharing that video!
He makes an excellent point about the “amateurs” giving away so much for free, the “pros” can’t get anyone to pay them. I agree, but that’s how “amateurs” break into a business—by undercutting the market!
Unfortunately, that same ploy comes back to bite them in the rear later when they think they’re worth being paid, and the client just goes elsewhere, onto the next guy in line.
Michelle Quillin for New England Multimedia & Q Web Consulting http://twitter.com/NEMultimedia
Yes, I learned the hard way, and by being on both ends – asking for a freebie and giving the freebie – that this is usually the case. However, there are no absolutes in anything.
One caveat here is the “someone”, as in opportunist stranger, vs. someone you know closely and know how the exposure will actually work and you can justify the time expenditure as a marketing expense.
There are many caveats to this I think but in my experience one of the biggest issues with it is results are often hard to measure. I disagree with it being a hard and fast rule but certainly something that should be approached with extreme caution.
Exposure has a value. When you buy an ad in the New York Times, you are buying exposure. Exchanging work for exposure is barter. Saying that receiving exposure represents “not getting paid”, is wrong.
Good provocative post, and good comments. Especially the reference to “hypnotic” personalities. Beware the personality making the offer, and be cognizant of the fact that they initiated it!
I’ve always found that even in non money deals, its good to have a conversation about putting a dollar value on whats been given for free, even if just to refer back to it when things aren’t working out.
free exposure is fine, as long as it has a value and an effect, as many of you have noted.
And don’t be put off by comments about real cost versus profit: everyone has costs (including their own time) and everyone’s entitled to make profit.
Except within this circumstance: If the job sounds interesting AND you get to do it the way you want.
Someone asking you to do something for them for free automatically precludes them from being so rude as to dictate artistic content.
Give, give, give, and Give to Get, get, get. Give to Receive.
Now: The creator of Vooza, "the Spinal Tap of startups." Previously: Employee #1 at 37signals and co-author of the books Rework and Getting Real.
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