I have several amazing service provider resources in my life, including an outsourced HR professional that is stellar, a personal trainer that's ripped, and a patent attorney that seems to know how to patent or trademark just about anything with value. I also know the services world intimately well, as I used to run a real estate brokerage as well as a mobile consulting company. I got a lot of press for those companies, including writeups or quotes in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Washington Biz Journal, CNN, TLC, Newsweek, Discovery, BBC, The Washington Post and others.
That's why it drives me crazy when service providers say things like "blogging my knowledge-base isn't consistent with my business model." So, being true to writing a blog about something when I'm passionate about it, I'm going to make an argument that as a service provider, providing free and full access to the amazing knowledge you have in your head will actually turn you into a superstar vs. killing your business. It will actually allow you to make way more money with way less effort.
First, let me acknowledge that it's a hard argument to accept when your entire livelihood hinges on the knowledge you have in your head. You're not selling any product. You're just selling your time, and your expertise. But the reason I'm right is a fundamental truth about human nature: People love attention. And they want to be around those that have it.
It goes deeper than that, of course. But really, that's what this is about. Either people are attracted to you for some reason, or they're not.
The reasons vary -- in my blog about applying social media, I talked about the Angelina Jolie effect. In a similar vein, I just watched the Never Say Never movie about Justin Bieber in which pre-teenage girls go berserk about him (I know he's only 16 but seriously, it's a very inspiring movie no matter how old you are -- watch it!).
Another reason people might be attracted to you is because of your beautiful mind. You may have domain-specific knowledge that nobody else in the world has. Knowledge that you can command a lot of money for. In fact, as I say in my blog about social media, I argue that the sharing of SME (subject matter expertise) actually forms the foundation of successful social media initiatives.
These concepts form the foundation of my argument: By sharing what you know, you attract people to you. People that have the types of problems you can solve. And because of social media tools like blogging, you can share that knowledge in new ways -- ways that literally didn't exist just 10 years ago -- that are very efficient with your time. And if you're a service provider, you know how valuable your time is, because it's your primary monetizing mechanism.
And so that brings me to the part that's not so obvious: The natural reaction of service providers is that by giving their extremely valuable SME out for free, they will lose the ability to monetize it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The reality is actually the exact opposite: By sharing what you know freely, you attract to you the people that have the problems you can solve instead of you having to go out and find them. And importantly, since everyone's problems are specific to their situations, while your audience may be able to apply some of what you know to their situation, they won't be able to apply it completely to their situation. They will still need you, even if you blog about everything you know. In fact, the more open you are, the larger the audience that will respond to you.
That truth actually creates a virtuous cycle. You blog about something only you know or have figured out, and your audience tries applying it. They may see some benefit from the effort, and yes you lose the ability to monetize on that part. But almost 100% of the time, they either will a) know that you could solve their problem more completely than they can, b) know that they don't have time time to apply the solution themselves, or c) try to not use you, apply the knowledge themselves, fail miserably, and then be even more desperate to retain you.
And the beauty is that you've created a situation akin to the sirens of Greek mythology: Customers come to you because they feel like they already know you from reading your blogs, and they already know you can help them. You don't have to sell them on you and your expertise.
As a service provider, finding new clients is typically very difficult and consumes a large portion of your time -- precious time you could spend monetizing.
However, if you're at the top of your game, it's even worse, because you have a good pipeline of business from existing customers, which feels good, and you have a strong referral base that keeps new customers coming. Pretty good life, right?
But here's the problem: All those customers know that the more people they refer to you, the less attention you'll be able to give them, so they refer cautiously. It's you service providers that are on the top of your game with a strong pipeline that are missing the most by not blogging, because you're missing on an opportunity to catapult yourselves into the stratosphere.
Because your pricing mechanisms must be based on the laws of supply and demand for you to have parity (not be overwhelmed vs. not have any clients), it's only by greatly increasing demand that you can give yourself access to the options that will make you not just rich, but wealthy.
Just look at service-based superstars like Oprah, or motivational speakers like Tony Robbins, or musicians, or movie stars. Their service-providing talents are so in-demand that they can make products out of them. Think about that for a second: Productizing and packaging your expertise. There are plenty of other examples -- writing books, or making audio/DVD programs (think P90X).
Most service providers never get to this point, and many don't care to. That's OK -- believe me, when I write this blog I'm fully aware that I'm doing myself a disservice by encouraging any of you whose services I rely on to spend your time publicizing and then productizing your expertise so you can sit on the beach drinking MaiTais instead of spending time with me.
But even if you don't want to productize your expertise, you have another option (which is still detrimental to me, but here goes): Just raise your rates. The more in-demand you are, the less you have to work to maintain the same income. And who doesn't want more free time?