Not long after I hosted the very first International Custom Rod Building Exposition, I rocked the rod building world by paying my seminar presenters. This had never been done. Some competitors were outraged at this dastardly act. They said that by paying seminar presenters I was going to ruin the aspect of rod builders being willing to “share” information at no charge. Of course, at the same time, they had no problem charging rod builders for buying their magazines and books, or for attending their shows. I still believe their outrage was more about being able to continue getting ideas and techniques for free, which they could then peddle for profit, thereby increasing their own revenue.


Granted, many rod builders don’t want to be compensated for their ideas – they give and share without any regard for any sort of compensation. But the thing is, I’ve always felt that anyone who adds value to something I’m selling should be compensated to at least some degree, even if it is only a token amount.


At the Expo, the amount I paid varied depending on the presenter, the topic and whether or not the person was doing something else at the event whereby a seminar stood to put a little money in their pockets. Most times the compensation was $50 to $100. Not much, but maybe enough for a guy to pay for a hotel room night, or take his wife out to a nice dinner when he returned home. My point was simply to show these folks that I really appreciated what they brought to the event. Anyone can say “thanks” but paying somebody shows that you actually mean it.


I’ve done the same thing at the magazine for quite a few years, although a bit more sporadically. Payment amounts for articles and photos have varied depending on the quality of the piece submitted and how much work I had to do on my end to prepare and photograph anything required. And often, due to other things involved, no direct compensation was made. Nobody has gotten rich off writing for RodMaker, but the occasional $25, $50 or $75, or perhaps the extension of a subscription by a year or two hopefully helped buy a blank or two for the author.


More recently I’ve been thinking about drafting an ironclad compensation form with specific amounts to be paid for specific submission types. Articles, photos, tips, etc. In fact, this very afternoon I’ve decide to do it. It’s not like I have to – I receive article and photo submissions on a nearly daily basis and very, very few ask to be paid. But that’s not the point – I simply want to compensate the folks that contribute their ideas and techniques, without which the magazine would be far less than it is. I think it’s a good thing to do.


No doubt, some will fuss and scream about this just as they did all those years ago when I began compensating the Expo seminar presenters. But I don’t care – I still think it’s the right thing to do. “Thank you’s” are nice but awfully cheap, and if you really value what somebody has brought to the table, you should be willing to offer something tangible in return.


For a copy of the new RodMaker Article/Photo Submission Compensation rate schedule, please email a request to [email protected]  I should have them ready to send by first of next week.


Tom Kirkman