this IS a great topic to be discussing - it is not the first time I've heard it discussed. I am sure there are many posts and threads on Biznik from the past few years on the topic of fee vs free.
Also keep in mind that there are a wide variety of folks in Biznik. I, for example, am a corporate trainer, speaker, and write internationally - but am also a small biz owner, so I look to Biznik for ideas, energy, collaboration, and for a small percentage of Biznik members who can be (and some are) my strategic alliance partners. These partners of mine I've met in the Biznik world refer me to prospective clients (bigger companies and their leaders) and it helps them to have heard me present because they know me, like what I have to say, and trust that I add value - important aspects when being referred or referring.
I'm happy to share ideas and topics "by the cup" for no charge - since I sell full training days (and training projects) by the gallon. Those "gallon" buyers are not typically Biznik members, however on many occasions Biznik members have referred me.
So why am I a Biznik Ambassador and run happy hours, networking events, and some brief topic sessions? The answer is that I find it very rewarding to help small business owners too - because I remember how hard it was for me my first few years on my own.
Our Biznik events here in Bellingham have had nearly 100% of those signed up to show up.
Do I believe fundamentally in charging for good knowledge? Absolutely. If my target audience was Biznik members, I would have "no cost" intro sessions and fee-based workshops.
Finally, I have learned through professional speaking organizations like NSA that people will pay for a speaker if they know it is worth the investment - therefore nationally or internationally known speakers and celebrities have little difficulty doing this - perhaps the issue is more about finding a way we can all help further promote each others' expertise so that people are lining up to attend?