Sunday, February 14, 2010

Norman Chad, or the Art of Getting Other People to Write Your Column

CC image of Norman Chad at the 2006 World Series of Poker by flipchip /
From a recent Norman Chad column:
Q. Is it okay if I sometimes skip over your column and read just the questions and answers? (Don Gallovic; Lakewood, Ohio)
A. Maybe I'll start a hidden $500 reader giveaway in the body of the column -- that will bring you back, won't it?
Norman Chad is a syndicated weekly sports columnist and ESPN poker analyst with an offbeat sense of humor. For years, at the end of his columns, he has had several questions from readers, along with his answers. He promises readers $1.25 if their questions make it into print. He often answers with a quip, but often the questions are so funny by themselves that he just responds with his signature line, "Pay the man, Shirley." Arguably, the questions are the best part of Chad's columns.

It's a clever way to get out of doing a little work and generating a lot of loyalty and goodwill from the readers whose questions are used. And, as with many media ventures, readers are so satisfied with the bragging rights that come from seeing their names in print that they will produce valuable content with little or no compensation.

On my reading list is a book called Wikinomics, which covers similar business models.