It may surprise, shock and appall you to read this, but I don’t spend every waking hour writing. Some of it I spend reading, working the SEO beat and wrangling kittens, but a fair chunk of it is spent on computer games.

Football Manager 10 to be specific, and managing Dinamo Vrange to be precise. So as you can appreciate I’ve spent time in various forums. What I’ve seen in my favoured forum is a situation that should serve as a warning to anyone creating content.

They’ve shown me that if you ever want to make money, you can’t afford to work for free.

For years, the team at FM-B (including Copyblogger guest Jordan Cooper) have created an invaluable guide to the game. Tactical tips and tricks distilled from their own experiences and experimentations. Every year, the updated version of the guide is released to a rapturous reception. Except this year.

Why?

Because they’ve decided that their effort should be rewarded. So they’ve slapped a price tag on it. £7.50.

Not unreasonable, you might think? I mean, how much would most copywriters charge for seventy-odd pages of well written copy that fulfils a very real need and engages with an audience perfectly?

The problem is that they’ve been offering this for free for the past few years. And while the forum stalwarts and vocal admirers have forked up the cash, the people who never comment or say thanks are coming out of the woodwork to complain.

So what does that mean for copywriters and bloggers?

It means that if you’re an established blogger looking to make some cash from your content, you need to be prepared for all those returning visitors who never comment to suddenly become very vocal and very angry. Those thousand unique hits a month aren’t going to turn into a thousand sales. Your detractors will be the minority, but you should never expect all the people who will take your advice for free to be willing to pay for it.

And if you’re a copywriter just starting out – don’t fall in to the trap of doing work for free just to get established. Always charge a fair price for fair work. People automatically link cost with quality. Why would they pay you for the sort of content you churn out for free? Especially when that guy charges a fortune. That must mean he’s far better, right?

And if you’re just a Football Manager addict who’s stumbled upon this by accident, buy FM Britain’s latest eBook. Then tell them they owe me commission.

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