About Giving Away API Knowledge For Free

I’m in the business of providing access to the API knowledge accumulated over the last decade. Despite what many people claim, I do not know everything about APIs, but after a decade I have picked up a few things along the way. Historically, I have really enjoyed sharing my knowledge with people, but I’m increasingly becoming weary of sharing to openly because of the nature of how business gets conducted online. Specifically, that there are endless waves of folks who want to tap what I know without giving anything in return, who work at companies who enjoy a lot of resources. I know people have read the startup handbook, which tells them to reach out to people who know and get their view, but when everyone does this, and doesn’t give anything in return, it is, well…I guess business as usual? Right? ;-(

Taking a sampling from the usual week in my inbox, I’ll get a handful of requests reflecting these personas:

  • Analysts / Consultants - Other analysts reaching out to share information, and get my take on what I’m seeing. There is usually reciprocity here, so I’m usually happy to engage, especially if I know them personally, and have worked with them before.
  • Startup Founders - I get a wide range of startup founders reaching out, many of which I do not know, wanting to get validation of their idea, and understand the marketplace they are targeting—usually if I know them, or they come with a reference I’ll engage.
  • Venture Capitalists - There is a regular stream of VCs wanting to know what is happening, get my take on things, but they usually are just interested listin validating what they already know, and get introduced to some new concepts.
  • Students - There is a growing number of students reaching out, and increasingly PHD students who are working on something API related as part of their studies.

This represents the usual suspects. There are plenty of other outliers, but this represent the regular drumbeat of people making their way into my inbox. Depending on the day, my mood, and the way in which they reach out, I’ll decide to engage or not engage. However, as things are getting much tighter, especially as my time is at a premium each week, and my patience for the API sector decreases, I’m beginning to push back more. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people who have funding, or venture capitalists want to tap my knowledge without compensation. I’m guessing the privilege level with these folks is pretty high, and they are just used to engaging with other people of means—-completely oblivious to the fact that some of us don’t come from wealthy families, and are just making things work on our own.

In coming months I’ll be publishing a range of guides, white papers, and blueprints for people to purchase. Also, as usual I am open to paid consulting time. Beyond that, you’ll have to gather what you can from my short form blog posts, and the research I openly publish across my network of sites. Don’t expect much from me if you cold email me-—however, feel free to do so. The more creative the outreach, and value demonstrated by your pitch might just influence me. However, if you are just cold emailing or calling me, without understanding that I am trying to piece together a living from my work, your outreach will probably not get the response you are looking for. I’m sorry to be so cold about this, but we can’t all just be giving away our knowledge for free, and a little support of my work goes a long way–it shows that you understand and respect how much time I’ve invested in what I know about the space.