May 19, 2011

Pay the writer

Thanks to Daring Fireball for making me aware of this Harlan Ellison clip on being paid for your work. Very interesting stuff. On first view, Ellison comes across as a bit of an asshole, but once I thought about it for a second or two I realized he has some very good points. I've read several essays on Warren Buffett / Bill Gates types that focus on discussing the mindset differences between the rich and the not-rich, and I think Ellison's thoughts fit in well with these. Making sure one is fairly compensated for ones own work is something that I wouldn't be surprised to find out a lot of us don't think through in its entirety. If I were to go back through my own career as both an employee and as a freelancer with this critical eye, I wonder how many needless freebies or lost opportunities for fair compensation I would actually find.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not planning to stop helping friends and family with technical problems, or doing the occasional 5 minute freebie for a client (sometimes it take more time for me to write the bill then fix the problem :). However, perhaps I will be a little more mindful in the future when an entity pleads poverty to me for whatever reason ("Yay, it's a record year, but sorry we had to cut the budget for raises"). I think there are some scenarios where the line between being a good guy and being an idiot might be finer then we usually think.

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