There are a lot of business and marketing folks (at least the ones that I follow) that advocate giving away a lot of things for free.

One of these people, Kathleen Shannon of the Being Boss podcast, has called this giving away “gifts of knowledge.”

I love that.

For the past year or so, I have been actively practicing giving away gifts of knowledge through these essays, my podcast episodes, and through informal consultations and conversations with people who want to learn more about starting a small business, writing and publishing, course design, and a host of other topics that I get approached with questions about.

Being generous with these gifts of knowledge has resulted in some incredible relationships, new ideas, and creative energy that I would never give up. For these reasons, and many more, I don’t plan to stop giving away gifts of knowledge any time soon.

Recently, though, a colleague that I’ve known for years said, in an off-handed way, “You’re giving away a lot for free.”

And it really stuck with me.

Because she’s right.

Just to clarify, her tone when she said this was both appreciative and incredulous; in other words, it was not meant as a judgment at all.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about what she had said. It planted a question in my mind that I’ve been thinking about ever since:

What is my end goal in giving away my gifts of knowledge?

Other than the books I’ve written, and a podcast sponsor for one of my shows, I’m not benefiting financially in any direct way from any of this content that I release.

After thinking about this for quite some time, I’ve come to two conclusions:

One: I believe that regular content creation is all about building credibility and expertise so that I can indirectly “sell” other services through my business.

For example, in the past year, over 80% of my side business income has been generated through speaking engagements on campuses around the country. I am frequently asked to provide keynotes, workshops, and individual coaching sessions on a wide range of topics related to my books, but also related to things like creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

These are all areas where I am committed to “walking the talk,” sharing my process, and helping others to see different strategies that they might implement to increase their own productivity, have more effective work habits, or to just enjoy their work more.

These are also all areas where I give away a lot of free content. The free content is, in part, what helps me to be seen as credible and to have expertise in these areas.

Two (and this is big for me): I’m ready to start creating offerings that package my “gifts of knowledge” in a way that will generate revenue for my business.

For the most part, this will include online offerings where I don’t need to be physically present on a campus to engage with the audience who is interested in learning from me.

I do plan to continue to speak when I can, but since my speaking schedule is limited by the fact that I work full time and that I have a set amount of vacation time to take in order to speak, I think it’s time to expand my business model to include some new things.

So. All of this means that in the next six months or so, you’re going to learn about some new offerings from me.

I’ve thought about the questions I get asked the most, sifted through the knowledge I have that I think will be the most valuable to other people, and reflected on the best methods to share those things for the widest possible audience.

I can’t even tell you how exciting it’s been to create these new products, to craft the content in what I think will be the most helpful delivery methods possible, and to strategize about how to share this content with you and with new audiences.

Right now, my creative energy is through the roof.

This has also meant some financial investment on my end. In other words, I’m going all-in on this. I’m putting money on the table because I believe in these projects and their worth to other academics.

It hasn’t been easy. And it’s incredibly scary. But I’m also having the time of my life.

I’ll be sharing more soon. Thanks for coming in this journey with me.

To think on:

  • What gifts of knowledge do you give away for free?
  • What areas of your knowledge do you place the most value on?