Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Right Place, Right Time - Free

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Thanks Valeria. This is something I've been thinking about for a while as newspapers all over the country struggle for survival. The problem really started when papers stopped charging for content and let the advertisers pick up the real costs of putting out a newspaper. It was a model that worked for a long time, but fell apart once Internet came along. Except for the Wall Street Journal, none of the papers saw that the model had changed. They didn't take the web seriously and gave away their content.

While John is a discerning reader willing to pay the NY Times to read writers like Thomas Friedman, most people aren't. The Times tried charging for premium content and failed to attract paying customers.

Because people have come to expect free.

I was recently involved in a discussion about Twitter. What would happen if they decided to charge? Do you get enough business value from Twitter? Are you willing to pay to be part of a social media site just to engage with friends? Just a thought.


You could go to lots more blogs that are free, however you would not get the insights I provide, because they're not me. Now, you can rationalize that those insights are available elsewhere... information may be free, but applied knowledge comes at a cost - that of experience. There's a really big difference between saying something and talking about something you've actually done.

Of course I don't do this full time, so I limit the research to what I can accomplish with the tools and knowledge at hand. At the end of the day it comes down to "how" - how are you going to use what you learn for yourself and your business.

Also, my work is not free and so is not your time and attention. Thank you for reading and for highlighting your own preferences and learning.

Valeria - per usual -- you totally rock! This blog was definitely in the right place at the right time. The idea of free information was a topic of discussion at a gathering at my home last week. Here is the consensus of the group: at least on the Internet -- we expect everything to be free. Free websites, free blogs, free news, free information, free videos... we have actually gotten to a place where we are offended if someone asks us to pay for information that we feel should be... free. That is, unless, you can add real value to the conversation -- offer something truly differentiated and unique -- in addition to all of the free stuff you're already giving me. Valeria - you write an absolutely amazing blog, but if I woke up tomorrow and found out that you were charging $10 a month to read your blog -- I would be hard-pressed to feel good about paying that fee when I can go to 10,000 other blogs that are all... free. However, if you continued to deliver (for free) the insanely high-quality content that is hugely valuable to me (like you do now) -- and I noticed that you also sold some workbooks or manuals that would help me even more -- getting such high quality FREE information from you would give me the confidence to spend any reasonable amount you asked for to purchase the "extra special" information you were selling. I think one of my friends at the dinner party said it best, "information is free -- I can get the information I need at no cost from 100 different providers -- it is the consolidation and thoughtful explanation of the information that I am willing to pay for. If the New York Times just runs an AP story -- I can read that in any other paper in the country and for free on a thousand websites. But I cannot get a really well-written commentary from Thomas Friedman anyplace else -- and for that I am willing to pay the New York Times for the opportunity to read high quality information -- combined with opinions, analysis, and thoughtful commentary. It is all about adding value by helping me make sense of the information - by putting it into context for me -- that is what I pay for - not the information."

Keep up the great work Valeria -- and please keep it FREE!!!!

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  • Since 2006, Conversation Agent focuses on business, technology, digital culture, and human behavior. At Conversation Agent LLC, I help organizations and brands that want to build better experiences tell a new story.


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