I have had versions of the following post on a number of different blogs and publications for the longest time. The time has come to formalize it, since content, its ownership and how we think about it  is critical to the principles of People First. 

A recent question from someone in one of my many groups …

“Why is it so difficult to find a freelance writing gig?

My reply …

Because the people who pay for writing have no clue of the value, which is why they call it ‘content’ which we know has no value and is homogenous ‘filler’ that can be swapped out at a moments notice.

Here’s my basic rule …

Please – Do Not Call ‘It’ Content!

…. book, novel, short story, article, white paper, promotional piece, advert, painting, sculpture, song, opera, photograph, image, graphic art, poster, fine art … anything … anything but ‘content’.

Why?

Because as long as ‘we the creators’ fall into the trap of using low cost, homogenous, non-descript words like ‘content’ to describe our work, our soul, our passion, our beliefs then our work will continue to be viewed as ’free – to – cheap – to – low – cost’, as ‘homogenized, non differentiated, interchangeable fodder’. Moreover, we then only have ourselves to blame and the resultant payment for your art, your thinking, your ideas, will continue to race to the bottom.

It is not in the interests of any real creator to allow that, so why allow their interests to define how we think?

Content is a horrible, generic, cheap, ‘anything will do’ kind of word. Which is why ‘content’ has no value. It is also important to know that it is in the best interests of buyers of our sweat, labour, thought and time to keep their price down. But our costs are not kept down. So our earnings suffer. And they are suffering badly.

And it has to start with you – the creator, because it isn’t in the interests of buyers to change their behaviour and vocabulary – ‘they’ want great work at no cost.

From a while back now – but well worth repeating ….

It’s the amateurs who make it tough for the professionals

Harlan Ellison

I wonder if that is how this kind of thinking comes about? As I wrote when I first saw this …

For all those of us attempting to get paid for value by people who wouldn’t get value if it smacked them between the eyes.

John Philpin

Content is a horrible, generic, cheap, ‘anything will do’ kind of word. Which is why ’content’ has no value.

“I draw and paint on paper using pen, ink, and watercolor. I then scan and publish my work on this web site. People then visit and read this graphic novel, or if you prefer, webcomic. Occasionally, I write a blog post like this one. There is art and there is commentary, but there is no content and there are certainly no consumers.”

Don Macdonald – August 24th, 2011

All Creators Should

STOP using THEIR words to describe OUR work. OUR soul. OUR belief. OUR effort.

and

START using OUR words to describe OUR work. OUR soul. OUR belief. OUR effort.