That title is in "air quotes" - just to be clear. I'm writing this so I don't have to repeat myself, because this sentiment has come up over and over and over. Not just for me, but for you, for your peers, your friends and many other anonymous creators out there.

"Share the knowledge for free" - anon.

The short reply is: no.

But, sure, let's take a moment to discuss this.


Just to clear up the obvious first: we have bills to pay. I have a mortgage. I need food. I have kids and dependents.

I am able to work, therefore I do, and that work brings in money to our family and with that money we support our lives. Thank god my partner and I are able to work. I know there's others who are less fortunate and struggle at this basic need.

This isn't money grabbing nor taking advantage of entity handing over the money. Money, in this particular reality, is core to survival. You know this, we all know this.

I didn't say "work for free"

That's right, you said give away your knowledge for free. Sure, speaking is "free" (mostly). But acquiring that knowledge was not a free process for me.

It either took hours and hours and hours and actually years of learning. Along the way that involved buying books, buying software, coding and creating - all activities that no one is paying me for.

Yet still that knowledge is now in me, surely I can give that away? Well, if I can stick a Matrix-like spike in the back of my head and connect it to yours, then sure, I'd be willing to do that.

Neo from the Matrix learning kung fu from a brain download

Except in reality we need to create a medium to transfer knowledge. This has costs, here's some of those costs off the top of my head for content I create:

  • The time spent writing content (long)
  • Time spent creating videos or audio (again, long)
  • Creating supporting websites for said content
  • Hosting fees for content (particularly video is yearly)

All this time is time spent not earning a living too.

So, I'm saying, for the record, "sharing your knowledge for free" is a misnomer. There is no "free" for me, nor for you.

This post is pretty much redundant, but maybe I'll be able to save myself the time (and thus cost) of replying this same sentiment every time I'm faced with this.

Free is not the default

There's many many examples of people sharing their work for free. I applaud you. I'm in this group, jsbin, nodemon, this blog and many other projects - but this is not a hard requirement of being part of the web or the world.

Free is not the default, it never was. I value your work. I believe we should be paid, and I've written about this before in You're Paying to Speak and Buy the coffee. I love paying for people's work on (I've bought an ungodly number of asset libraries for ideas that I'll probably never get around to).

I love supporting other people's work when I can. I'll continue to do so whilst I can afford to.

So get paid. Ask to be paid.

Your work is valuable and your time and experience is even more so.