Posts Tagged ‘teaching’

Teach For Free, Work For Fee

April 28, 2009

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how best to deal with offering free vs. paid content. I have been deeply conflicted right down the middle. What, Prospectus conflicted and unable to decide? Shocker. 😉 I think I’ve come to a decision on how I am going to structure my future work and this blog: I will teach for free, and work for fee.

The Case for Free Content: “Pay It Forward”, or “You Filthy Hypocrite”

I am the ultimate bootstrap trader. My accounts have always been small, and I have tried to learn part-time and mostly through self-study. Though I have bought a few books (from gift cards, natch), most of my learning has been done through the internet–through the blogs of traders, trader chat rooms, twitter, and email exchanges with successful traders. All of this teaching been freely shared by the teachers and traders. I don’t believe I have ever paid for a tool, information service, or anything trading related (other than the books). In my beginning, I didn’t want to blow my account equity paying for an expensive service or tool if I couldn’t even be net profitable with my meager account. There’s something to that, but I think there is a place for paying for education and tools. The hard part is in finding one that is worth it before you cough up the money.

Anyway, now that I have some skills and knowledge that could be of value to newer traders, I want to give back. I would be nowhere without so many traders that have helped me, offered advice, kicked my ass when I needed it, and put work into writing and teaching without any compensation from me for it. I want to pay that forward, and continue to offer teaching, tutorials, articles, advice, and help to any trader who wants to learn something. I’m no guru, but 5 years experience with the markets has given me some insight.

The other angle is that if I learned for free from others (free from cost, but not free from my own effort and time, of course) and then turned around and locked down my stuff and demanded a subscription fee, I would be quite the hypocrite. I am too idealistic for my own good, and it shows up in many ways; this is one way. All of these things support my wish to teach others and give back for what I have received. I have released my scripts and tools thus far with the source code included and unlocked, precisely so that others can learn from it and make something of their own if they desire. I debated that, but I didn’t feel right about locking it up. I am a natural teacher, and I don’t think that will ever change.

The Case for Paid Content: “Galt’s Gulch”, or “Get Out of the Rat Race”

The flipside is that I DO have skills that are of value to some. I am able to create tools that can help people make money, refine their trading systems, and the like. My time is valuable to me, and I want to be compensated for it. Further, when someone sends you some money for your work, whether it’s $1 or $1000, it is gratifying. It means they really find it useful and valuable to them, which is success to me.

In the novel “Atlas Shrugged”, when the protagonists went to “Galt’s Gulch”, a secret society of capitalist producers and achievers, they paid each other for their services (in gold, of course). No man (or woman) tried to get more than they deserved for their labors or products, and no person asked for less than they were worth. It was the ultimate meritocracy, where money equaled value, quite unlike our society today. Here comes the idealist again: I admire this sentiment and try to reproduce it today. You may notice some links in my blog roll and references to others who have similar blogs and service offerings as myself. I may be crazy, but I believe that the best product and producer should serve the marketplace! I admire talent and ability, even if it is in direct competition with myself. I believe that people will find value in my own skills if it is there. Maybe that is naive, but that’s where I stand.

Finally, I wish to move to trading full-time. Having other forms of income (like paid content) can help to make this a reality. Further, I have come to the point where I feel the need to pay for better tools and education. I want to use Tradestation (fee) or Ninja Trader (free unless you trade). I love what Richard is doing with EOTPro, and want to subscribe to their indicators. My 9 year old PIII Dell laptop is not able to run either of these systems with only 256MB of ram. It gags on Think Desktop as it is! So all of these reasons support my desire for pay for my work.

The Verdict: “Teach For Free, Work For Fee”, or “Idealism Meets Reality”

After much deliberation and thought, I have come to the following decision:

Anything I do that promotes education, that teaches concepts or experiences, that helps newer traders learn to do something for themselves, I will continue to offer freely.

Anything I do that involves my labor purely for the use of one person, that allows them to directly make money in trading, that is a use of my skills in place of their own efforts, will be reserved for donors only or have a fee attached.

This fits within the framework I have laid out, and I believe is a fair solution both for me and for readers of my blog and users of my work. Anything I have previously released will remain open and free. I won’t have a members-only section of my blog. I also hate “free-then-paid” bait-and-switch marketing, so I want no part of it and will not work that way. The work I do will either be in the free camp or the paid camp; never the twain shall meet.

Thanks for reading, I hope you learn something from my blog, and if something is valuable to you or you would like me to do some work for you, please donate or contact me. 🙂