Whoa! Ever Been Called a Sellout For Monetizing Your Content?

9 December


I’ve been wanting to write this post for some time, but an email I received last week finally convinced me to get busy writing…

Hey Lisa,

I was wondering if you could do a blog post and share your experience with this. I have an email list that I use for important tips and advice.  I never, ever sell anything directly from my list and usually offer free advice. Well just recently I sent out a special mailing to announce my first financial e-course that I launched and one reader replied that I was selling out by pushing products to my list.  He didn’t even purchase the course. Even though the overall feedback was positive, this one comment really got to me and I couldn’t help but wonder if others felt that way and just kept silent.  Do people often complain when you monetize your emails, blog posts or videos?

– Jerry

The Snake Oil Salesman Fear

It’s inevitable.  I don’t care how much free information you give away or how awesome your content is, there are always going to be people who hate to see people selling something… ever.

If you’ve built up your credibility online by giving away free information and launch your first product, a lot of people worry that you will suddenly turn into a snake oil salesman and begin peddling everything in sight.

That’s an understandable concern because that does happen, but if your product is good then you can’t worry about pleasing everyone.

Some People Hate Promotion… Even if It’s Subtle & Seldom

I did a video last year showing how to use Artisteer to create your own WordPress theme, and I remember getting an email from an unhappy guy who unsubscribed from my channel.

He felt the only reason I created the video was to promote Artisteer for the commission.

I can’t lie.  Of course, that was part of my strategy for that particular video.  In fact, it’s a great strategy to employ on YouTube, as long as you don’t overdo it.

This video I did on the Genesis Lifestyle theme (affiliate link) has generated a few thousand dollars in pure passive income over the last year.  So of course the affiliate commission was motivation for such a video.

However, not every video I create is to promote something. In fact, most of my videos don’t sell anything at all. The majority are purely informational to build credibility, stay on your radar and to help out in some way.

And even when I do create a video that mentions a product I’m affiliated with, I also offer some kind of tutorial or advice to balance out the fact that I am earning a commission.

Even still, there are just some people who don’t like it and never will.  So yes, I can relate.

Like you, Jerry, I offer a lot of free information so sometimes promotional emails or videos (even if they are subtle and infrequent) can rub some people the wrong way.

And when you’ve built up a reputation of always giving away so much information for free, promotional content may cause a few frowns.

You Can’t Please All The People All The Time

At the end of the day, you can’t make everyone happy.

You could write a blog post stating you are donating $5,000 of your yearly blog earnings to charity and someone would criticize you for not giving more.

Now, I’m not suggesting that Jerry should completely ignore all negative comments, but sounds to me like most comments were positive.

And isn’t it funny how we can receive hundreds of positive comments and that one negative piece of feedback can really eat at you?  I can relate.

Assuming your product’s quality is good, most people are not going to have a problem with you monetizing your email list and website.

Just be careful of going too heavy on the promotion — especially if you set a certain expectation with your list by providing mostly free information.

What About You?

Have you ever struggled with when or how often to monetize your content?   Is it ever challenging to maintain that balance between free advice and promotional content?  Ever been criticized for monetizing?