You Like What I Do As The API Evangelist? Sure, I Will Do More Work For Free!

I get regular emails from folks telling me how much they love what I do, then asking me to work for free. I’m totally happy for folks to inform me about their company, products, case studies, and other API goings on with their company. This is the bread and butter for my storytelling on API Evangelist–please keep it coming. However, the folks who ask me to work for free, what are you thinking? Where does this ethic come from in the tech sector, where folks expect you to work for their startup for free? It is something that has really gotten to ridiculous levels.

Join our webinar. Write a story for our blog. Contribute to a white paper. Join our podcast. Speak at our event. Teach a workshop. Come visit our company. Talk about our products and services. Help us craft our strategy. Do some research on this subject so we can use it. Tell us what we are doing wrong. Download, install, and play with our tool, and provide us with feedback. Take this 148 question survey that will only take you 45 minutes. Jump on the phone with us so we can pick your brain. Post our infographic to your site. Share this out via your Twitter account. Vote us up on Hacker News. Commit to our open source project. Help us create an API definition. Can you review this project specification. On, and on, and on. Oh, and hey I just wanted to email you again, because you didn’t respond to the last two emails!

Don’t get me wrong. If you know me, and we have history, feel free to ask me for favors, but remember, I do not have a job. I’m happy to help my friends, and love participating in podcasts with smart people, and reviewing my friends writing, because they scratch my back. They throw me bones, and have a history of given me exposure, and paying me for actual work. However, if we do not know each other, and have never talked, why on earth would you be asking me to work for free? Why would I want to take my brand that I’ve invested in building for seven years, and transfer that value to you for nothing? I don’t know you, your company, or anything about the value you deliver. I have to make a living just like you, and I can’t be working for free, or there would be nothing of value for both of us.

I know many of you are excited by the seemingly constant forward motion of the tech space, and that you might not realize that you are being rude. You may not be able to see it because you are in the middle of it, but much of startup culture is built on exploitation of others, and just because you are willing to be exploited by your investors, and those around you doesn’t mean you should expect others to fall in line. I’m a professional, and I’m happy to share my knowledge of the space, but it means you need to meet me halfway, and strike a business deal with me. This means emailing, DM’ing, and contacting me in a way that sets that table, not just expecting I will work for free. I appreciate your excitement, but please respect my time, and all the work I’ve put into my business, and I’ll do the same for you.

Note: If my writing is a little dark this week, here is a little explainer–don’t worry, things will back to normal at API Evangelist soon.