On the Concept of Brain Rape
The Limits of Freemium as a freelancer
There is a prevailing thought among influencers, entrepreneurs, and certain tech companies that in order to attract future customers you must give them something for free. They are not wrong.
If you take a look at Tesla, Spotify, and Dropbox (and countless other tech and media companies) you’ll see successful business models that stress the importance of giving a portion what you do away for free. However, when does giving it away crossover into Brain Rape?
But what’s Brain Rape?
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of Brain Rape check out this clip from Silicon Valley. PS DO NOT google image search ‘brain rape’. It’s absolutely terrifying.
Brain Rape is a thing that’s been around forever under its sexier moniker “corporate espionage” or “utter douchbaggery”. However, these days the pervasive “Culture of Free” creates a crucible between solid biz dev and having a potential client data mine your brain when they have no intention of hiring you.
So How Much Should You Give Away for Free?
If you’re Spotify, you want people to take a test drive of your streaming music service so your customers can understand the value of your product. If you’re Tesla and you are confident in the ability of your R & D team to innovate why not open source some older battery tech?
But if you’re a small business or a freelancer, how much can you really give away if you’re limited by scale?
As a video producer and a principle in EGO 360 and VR this is a question I’ve struggled with for sometime. Part of my job is pitching (read: sales!). That means showing studios, networks, brand managers, ad agencies, and development execs our creative decks and technical expertise in terms of our vision and level of execution. In any pitch meeting you have to give, in order to hopefully receive.
But, I’ve learned to hold back something despite my artistic leanings towards collaboration.
I have to give them a reason to hire me instead of someone else.
It could be a technical detail or it could be the a key plot point that would bring the whole third act together, but I need them to sign the check otherwise I run the risk of them “going with an internal producer”.
But what about consulting? There is a very lucrative industry dedicated to consulting? Excellent question.
Should I Give it Away for Free vs. Being Hired as a Consultant?
Two schools of thought and both have merits:
Hired as a Paid Consultant
- If I feel as though you are date-raping my brain then you should probably pay me. This totally subjective. But like the Silicon Valley clip above, we’ve all been in meetings when one party is taking copious notes and asking very pointed, in-depth questions.
- I can’t pay my rent with good vibes. Don’t even get me started on exposure.
- Most importantly: If you are making money on this project . . . there is money for a consultant fee.
Or Giving it Away for Free
- I’m confident in my ability to innovate. My competitive advantage is to create AND execute. If you want to burn calories on this idea . . . cool. I haven’t had my last good idea yet.
- This is art, not science. We can be given the exact same subject matter with the exact same tools and we will definitely tell different stories.
- You’re gonna hire me . . . eventually. If this is the jab that will eventually lead to a right hook down the road, I’m willing to bet on that delayed gratification.
- People are coin operated: I’m still holding something back if I’m doing it for free.
Friends — the exception?
Of course, friends are the notable exception to all this. If they are having difficulty with something I’ve experienced, chances are I usually offer to help before they even ask. But beware of professional frenemies . . .
If you want people’s money you gotta show ’em something worth buying. But in your quest for for their money, hold back the secret ingredient to your recipe that makes it your recipe.
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