Content under attack … and a solution

content-under-attack

This has been a depressing week for me.

It seems that everywhere I look, the most creative and generous people on the web are under attack as big companies gobble up their ideas and content. At the end of the post I would like to propose a solution — at least a partial one — to this problem.

My sobering week started when I attended a talk at Columbia University School of Journalism featuring Michael Reckhow, product manager for Facebook Instant Articles. It became apparent that Facebook really doesn’t understand the needs of content creators, the critical importance of journalism, and their fair place in the eco-system. Facebook talks about collaboration but their actions show they are about grabbing money however they can.

As Columbia Professor Emily Bell said, Facebook engineers do not seem to even think through consequences. They are simply coding and iterating. When asked how this will affect content creators, their response is “We don’t know. Let’s throw it out there and see what happens.”

Coding is cheap and fast and plentiful and we seem to be in a media world dominated by cleaning up unintended consequences instead of thoughtful planning and collaboration. In the wake of Facebook experimentation, content creators are reeling.

Stealing and profiting

The second blow to my media psyche came when viewing this alarming video about how Facebook is profiting from video piracy. If you have not seen this, it is well worth the three minutes of your time and explains what we are up against:

The third blow to my world are the consequences of Facebook’s new preoccupation with “dwell time.” This cuts to the heart of the content marketing model.

Instead of posting a link that can drive views to my site and services, Facebook is rewarding publishers who post the entire piece of content, as it collects more information and displays more ads in the process.

The chances for my ability for even indirect monetization are severely undermined by this reality that will be hitting all of us.

And to make top things off, If you find a way to get your content discovered, it’t likely that your ads that help you monetize will be blocked.

The Renaissance monetization model

It seems that everywhere you look, musicians, artists, and writers are being ripped off from the web titans. Perhaps we need to turn to another form of monetization … one that pre-dates books!

The fact that artists are broke is nothing new. For most of human history, artists have depended on the benevolence of patrons for survival. The greatest works of Michelangelo or Monet would not exist today without their patrons.

I have been predicting a world where we return to this model. Here and there it is happening. A foundation for investigative journalism. New resident programs for artists. And for a guy like me … Patreon.

Patreon is an application that allows your fans and readers to give a little back. This is the uncomfortable part of the church service where they pass around the donation plate : )  For the first time in seven years of creating content for you, I am asking you to think about sponsoring my work with a few dollars a month.

First let me be clear that I am not whining and nothing is changing here. On this blog, you see bold and brave commentary you don’t see anywhere else and I will continue to deliver that (as well as Slideshares I pay to have created, contributing columnists I pay for, videos, and podcasts).

Generally, I create this work for you on my weekends because I can’t afford to interrupt my “real work” during the week. I would like to be in a position to justify more time developing exceptional content for you. I have so many ideas for in-depth topics and insights but can’t justify the time to write them up.

I’ve set up a Patreon account that will allow you to donate just a little money to keep this blog going strong.There are donation categories that allow you to receive a signed copy of The Content Code, become part of an Alpha Audience mastermind community, and there’s even an opportunity to become an advertiser.

Please click on this link to become a patron of {grow} and my efforts to bring you the videos, Slideshare presentations, audio content and commentary that makes you think and grow every week. Is a month’s worth of content worth the price of a cup of coffee?

Thank you!

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Top illustration courtesy Flickr CC and Richard Elzey

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  • Social Media Josh

    Although I haven’t read any of your books, I am a big fan
    of your blog work and frequently reference it in my own writings and
    lectures.

    Having said that, I am a little surprised that
    you went this route. I understand the argument against Facebook and how
    they’re hurting content creators, and it’s certainly a valid point, but
    I’m not sure why I or anyone else should feel compelled to pay for you
    to write content — whether you do it on the weekends or at 3 am on a
    Tuesday. As far as I’m concerned, that’s your decision — no one is
    forcing you to take your weekend time to write content. That argument
    just doesn’t appeal to me.

    From my vantage point, writing these
    posts allows you to stay relevant in your audiences’ lives — most of
    whom I presume cannot afford your one-to-one consulting services —
    while continuing to develop thought leadership, which you can leverage
    to make money elsewhere … whether that’s writing and selling
    additional books, speaking engagements, consulting opportunities, etc. I
    know you already know this, but asking your audience to pay for blog
    content just doesn’t speak to me. In fact, my first reaction was, “Wow,
    he’s selling himself out.” In other words, I think this hurts your brand
    more than it helps it.

    But perhaps I — a 27-year-old native of
    Los Angeles who operates an international social media consultancy — am
    not in your target audience, or in your primary target audience.

    Regardless, this is just my two cents.

    I also think it would be important to clarity if and how you will divide this money to your guest contributors, if at all.

    Take care, and I hope it works out for you one way or another.

  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    Hi Mark. You are a brave guy, and I’d like to be the first to say your courage to tell the truth is truly admirable. I will support you and I will encourage others to do so. You don’t owe any of us your accessible wisdom each week. It’s our privilege to receive it, to believe it and to benefit from it. Thanks ever so much for this post, possibly your bravest post ever!

  • Thanks very much for the comment Josh and thanks for reading my blog. Perhaps this is a sentiment held by many.

    Yes, I already pay my contributing columnists every week and have done so for six years. As far as i know I am the only individual to pay guest bloggers, so right on top, I am at a net loss of hundred of dollars every month out of pocket. But I do it because I believe it is the right thing to do to support these people.

    The benefits you state here — connecting with people, developing a voice of authority, etc — are all correct. That’s why NOTHING is changing. I will continue to blog, even if it means weekends, nights etc. It not only creates business benefits but I enjoy doing it.

    However, I could be doing A LOT more with this blog. I would like to spend more time on deeper ideas and more thorough teaching. I have big ideas about really re-inventing the blog. But this comes at a cost and the current cost-benefit analysis just doesn’t justify that. I would like to change that.

    Recently Scott Monty implemented this Patreon system on his newsletter. I get a lot of value from his work and gladly became a patron to show my support. For the price of a cup of coffee, I am supporting his work in a small way.

    If a reader wanted to support me like I supported Scott, how would they do that? I really don’t make much money on books, and if a book is read that is a used copy, a library copy or a borrowed copy, I make nothing. As you siad, you have never even bought a book. So is there any way somebody who has been reading my blog for months or years can show their support? I think this is an appropriate request.

    Each month, I deliver, on average, 12,000 words of insight and advice you don’t get anywhere else. On top of that I am providing free Slideshares (that I also PAY somebody to create), podcasts, and videos. That’s not changing so I don’t see how you could claim I was selling out. The impact on you is zero if you don’t think the work I deliver to you is worth a dollar or a couple of bucks a month.

    You have also approached me about a guest post and I am happy to help you with that. Not only have I built a huge forum for new people like you to get some exposure, but I also spend a lot of time coaching them to help make their blogging better. That is all part of the economics of the blog. I provide exposure (40 new bloggers in 2015!) and coaching and have never asked for anything in return.

    I have already received some donations so there are at least a few people out there who are raising their hand and saying, yeah, your work is worth the price of a cup of coffee : )

    Thanks again for your comment and for reading my blog.

  • Thanks very much Mia.

  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    One more thing, which won’t be anything new for you, of course… Being on the front lines of change is not something we choose for fun. And if we choose it primarily for self-promotion it shows. I have never felt like your take on important marketing choices was primarily for self-promotion, most notably this one today.

  • Thanks so much for the kind words!

  • I hear you, Mark. A couple of weeks back, I made an appointment with a very large player in the online marketing world for a talk about how we could “work together” to help their users with Pinterest marketing (since I know for a fact most of them don’t get it and she agreed). Silly me for thinking that “work together” meant money, or at least decent exposure to their audience.

    No, what she meant was that I would blog for them. In exchange I get a link to an author bio.

    When I explained quite nicely that I didn’t feel that would be the best use of my time, she left the invitation open and ended with the thought that their users would get a lot of value from my expertise.

    It has value, but it isn’t valuable enough to pay for. In that case, I’ll keep it for my own audience.

    I value the content you provide and the way you keep me on top of my game. So, I’ll be visiting your Patreon account. I consider it a good investment and I appreciate having another way to tell you so!

  • PS – I don’t think Patreon is the solution. It’s the NPR model. It works for them, but if everyone did it, there would be some serious donation fatigue quickly. I think the only solution is for people to just stop giving everything away, but being the first to do that is business suicide. If only there were a way to unite us all.

  • Hey Mark,

    This is such a compelling topic that it took my brain a while to wrap around it. I had reactions alternating between “Mark done gone crazy” to “He is absolutely right” (not to mention the tangents between.)

    When it comes to the absolute glut of content and the challenge of getting ours noticed (let alone the challenge of getting anyone to care about it) I completely agree. I’m not big on predictions but I can certainly see trends and one of the trends that has been growing is that internet marketing is getting harder and harder and less and less profitable.

    “Inbound” worked five years ago – really well in fact! These days, the most profitable endeavor (for us and for our small business clients) is real-world engagement in various forms. Those blog posts that get read by hundreds of people, those podcasts that get heard by thousands… they are being consumed by spectators. Less and less by leads or customers. (And much like you, I’m not talking about “the big guys.” Big companies will always have some measure of success because of their sheer branding power and ability to throw money at the problem.)

    As authority enhancers and relationship building tools content has value so I’m certainly not discounting the value of content. I’m a strong believer in content and its myriad benefits.

    But the idea that we’re all going to list-build our way to riches or blog our way to financial independence is about the same as the idea that we’ll hit the lottery. I did win ten bucks the other day, which is about the equivalent of what I get solely out of content creation.

    With that said, I see our content (and that of others like us) as serving two primary functions. 1. We can use it as a lead generation/relationship building tool and 2. We can use it to serve people out of the pure love of serving and helping. I bet for a lot of content creators it’s both.

    All that to say that while I would love to be compensated for my content, while I would love people to support my efforts, the idea is wishful and unrealistic. As I think it is for 99.9% of everyone else.

    I think for YOU it may be a fantastic idea. You’re Mark Schaefer. You’re an author, a speaker, a well-known, well-respected influencer with a self-proclaimed award-winning blog. You have your own Wikipedia page. YOU get to have patrons. People will support you.

    Me? Your commenters? The rest of the small business content creators who are feeling the crush of big companies and outrageous amounts of content? I think we’d raise a few bucks. I also think we’d spend an inordinate amount of time marketing our Patreons. And creating an entirely new slew of “free offers” that give even MORE value to donors. We’d be perpetually chasing the carrot on top of the one we’re already chasing when we follow the example of people who came before us.

    What I hope is that people will support your efforts to create more without thinking they can do it themselves. As a model for your average content creator to emulate, I think it would be disastrous. We’d end up with a glut of content AND a glut of people asking us to support that content. In the end, all would be white noise.

    I also completely agree with Alisa Meredith that we, the content creators, have the power to change at least some of this. We caused a lot of our own angst by giving away everything we have in the name of “adding value.” There will always be a glut of content. But there doesn’t have to be a glut of GOOD content if we simply stopped putting it out there.

    Yes, we need content to market. We don’t, however, need to keep “providing value” for free (or for donations.) If people truly value our content and want us to continue creating it (the webinars, the eBooks, the training sessions, the thought-provoking content) then we can rightly ask to be paid for it. We don’t have to ask for donations so people can maybe, if they feel like it, pay for all the value they receive. In some ways I think that devalues content even more. We’re basically telling people, “Hey, I have something so valuable that it’s worth paying for… maybe.”

    I realize this was rather a lengthy comment but I think it’s an important topic for small business content creators. I worry that people will latch onto donations as “the new solution.” I worry that people will lose focus on the purpose of their content. I worry that people will make excuses rather than take action (Facebook is stealing from me, LinkedIn in undermining me, etc.) I worry that we’ll keep chasing the monetization carrot instead of thinking more deeply about why we’re doing what we’re doing and how. I look to people like you who have the power to stir the conversation to really explore the potential and pitfalls.

    And if I may be blunt, I think it’s important for you to realize that we are not you. We are not the speakers, the influential, the international authors and teachers, the well recognized and sought after. We are the small business owners and content creators. Artists like Michelangelo had patrons for a reason. For every artist and creator to follow that model would mean art would have ceased to exist. For content creators to see donations as a viable trend would eventually be death to content.

    Thanks for opening the conversation – I hope we can continue it to the benefit of content creators big and small everywhere.

  • Amen, Carol Lynn! This is NOT a viable solution for the vast majority of us even though we are worth it.

    I’m not sure what the solution is. It’s hard enough to get people to spend money on their own marketing, let alone get them to pay for marketing content.

    I’ve cut down on my own content creation quite a bit lately, but the actual, qualified leads are increasing. Maybe a little “hard to get” is the way to go for the rest of us.

    That or the lottery.

  • Alisa, less IS more (cliché but true). In our business, the less free we provide, the less accessible we are, the less accommodating – the more return. To some that sounds like being a jerk. In business it’s called “getting paid for what you do or not doing it!”

  • Kelly Kranz

    Let’s all just make amazing videos like this Facebook one. I Look great behind the camera.

  • “Donation fatigue” — Love it, Alisa! And I agree. I can definitely see the writing on that wall.

  • I’ll see Alisa’s “Amen” and raise her a “Hallelujah”! Glad you reached the comment box before me, Carol Lynn. So I’ll just say …

    What Carol Lynn said. 🙂

    Mark, I’m with you 2000% that content creators are not respected. Believe me, I would know (and so would a gazillion other bloggers). I’m just not convinced the Patreon model is the answer. I can see the “group mentality” kicking in and, well, you can fill in the blanks.

    Just this morning I experienced the shock of learning Huff Post pays their guest contributors zero dollars. Man, I’m floored. I’m certain they’re raking in some dough from the ads on their site and yet they can’t squeeze a nickel from their piggy bank to pay for a well written article. Pfft! Phooey on that. “Exposure” doesn’t pay your electric bill.

    Curious to see where this topic leads.

  • Let me get this straight, Alisa. This company was expecting you to produce content (blog) for FREE?! Wow. What a slap in the face. Frankly, I think that behavior is not only unprofessional and disrespectful, but unconscionable. 🙁

    On a positive note …
    I’m pleased to learn Mark pays for guest posts. Nice to know someone values their contributors.

  • Loved your book btw! And I could not agree more with this little nugget here Mark; “Facebook talks about collaboration but their actions show they are about grabbing money however they can.” And no need to send me the book, I own it as should any marketer, and my wife in a bit will send a donation… Thank you again Mark.

  • Melanie, I thank you for your outrage. 🙂 I’ve blogged for others many times for free, and sometimes it is worth it – if I get to link to my content and their audience is large and full of potential clients. However, sharing what I’ve spent years to learn for a lousy link to my bio on their site? Uhhh, no.

  • Many, many thanks my friend for the support and kind words!

  • Kitty Kilian

    I am not sure I agree, Carol Lynn, even though I am a small content creator myself. First of all Mark is well placed and gets around, and – as a former journalist – he is finding and passing on information much more than many other ‘content creators.’ If I support him it is because I value his role as a journalist of online marketing. I would hardly support any other blogger I know of because I don’t value their content enough.

    You cannot blame Michelangelo for being Michelangelo – and Marks way out may not be yours or mine. Brainpickings Maria Popova has been doing the same thing for years now and she, too, has remarkable content.

    Is inbound marketing less succesfull because of content overwhelm? Yes, but that is another subject.

    The way Facebook is now agressively and imorally forcing their content lock in policy on all of us is more than disgusting. Youtube or Twitter are doing the same type of thing of course, as are many other platforms.

    IF the free space which once was internet has indeed come to its long predicted end – it looks like it – then I will support the last free agents untill all is lost.

    😉

  • Yes, have been doing that for a long time.

  • Sure, be happy to. Send me an email and we’ll set something up.

  • Kitty Kilian

    I agree.

  • Interesting comment. I did not mean to imply that you are me or anyone is me. But I’m not sure that matters. I recently became a patron of Scott Monty’s newsletter. I don’t know how many subscribers he has. I don;t know how many patrons he has and I don’t care. He is creating incredible value for me and I think it is fair for me to give a little back. It is quite amazing to me that this would even be seen as controversial in any way. Give back if you feel like it. What’s wrong with that idea? Why is that “crazy?” : )

  • Thanks. So very kind of you! Perhaps there is a different book I can send you?

  • Kitty, I think we actually do agree on this. Mark (and anyone, really) is well within their rights to ask for support for the content they provide. And I never implied that the artist was “to blame” for their talent and subsequent support. Rather, my point is that as the Michelangelo of this art form (content) Mark is likely to find far more success with this solution than your average small business content creator. I believe in supporting the people we respect. I suspect many people will support Mark and it will provide the resources he needs to fulfill other content ambitions. I doubt that the people who emulate him will see as much success and that’s what worries me about considering this a solution. To your point precisely – this may be the perfect solution for him. But probably not for me. And probably not for many of the small business folks I know.

  • Proud to know you stood your ground in this instance, Alisa! In my book there was no reciprocity worth a hill of beans in that proposal.

  • I’m sure I did not use the word crazy and indeed that was not my point. Much as I said to Kitty, whom I agree with, we are all within our rights to ask for compensation for our content. If everyone were compensated fairly for the value of their content, none of us would be having this conversation.

    I think this is neither crazy nor controversial. My concern is primarily in the concept as a solution. A solution for you, yes (or at least a good possibility for a solution, which you’ll be better able to judge over time.) A solution in general? No.

    I’ve seen a lot of trends in my 16 years in marketing and one that is happening right now is that there are a lot of great marketers out their busting butt to put content out that they hope will turn into money. They do it as part of a sales funnel. They do it for “exposure”. They do it because they have listened to people bigger and more influential talk about how you must have your free offer, you must provide value, you must be of service.

    And here’s a trend that I want to see: I want it to stop. Used to be a time when the tremendous amount of valuable blog content we put out in the name of “building authority” was enough. Then we had to add video. Then we had to add podcasts. Then we had to add whitepapers and downloads and webinars and then we had to start providing case studies and research tomes.

    We devalued ourselves. We offered up the farm for free then we backed up and said whoa, look at all these people taking our free stuff. I’d better ask for some money.

    It’s expensive to produce content. Everyone from the New York Times to the smallest blogger sitting at their kitchen table knows this. If we’re going to stop being the starving artists of the modern world then we need to stop painting our murals on street corners and holding out a tin cup full of change. We need to be bold enough to put a price tag on it – not merely a suggestion box.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving back to the people we admire and respect. I do everything within my power to support those people. But every time another marketer (or other content creator) puts out a free eBook or hosts a free conference or writes another free training course, I want to scream and ask them when was the last time they went to a doctor and the doctor offered a free exam? When was the last time you talked to a contractor and he offered to paint your bedroom for free? When was the last time you brought your car to the mechanic and he offered to fix the transmission for free? When was the last time you called your attorney and he offered to consult with you on your copyright issues for free? And yet why are content creators constantly expected to produce their service for free? Why do we expect that of ourselves, to the point where starting a Patreon account and asking for donations is now our solution?

    I may sound a bit strident about this but I’ve seen so much of this happening and so many people suffer for it. I have also seen a tremendous amount of follow-the-leader when it comes to this stuff, and you are a leader here. I don’t doubt that half the marketers/creators on the planet will now be swarming Patreon as their next big solution.

    So I’ll say this again: what you are doing is not crazy. It’s not controversial. It’s not wrong. But there is something about it that is dangerous. Something that says, “I deserve to be compensated for the value that you get out of my content. If you feel like it.”

    I’d like to try this out in “the real world.” Next time I go to the supermarket I’m going to pick up a giant bag of M&Ms and walk out the door. Because I want them… they’re valuable to me… but I just didn’t feel like paying for them. But maybe next time, if I have some loose change.

  • Poetically said my friend. Thanks Kitty.

  • I’m not sure I even understand what the issue is. Of course this is a matter of audience and scale.

    I once had a young guy debate with me. He wanted to sell his music online in a certain fashion and to justify his point, he pointed out the fact that Radiohead (one of the bigest bands in the world) did it. Well for this to work, you have to be … Radiohead. They can crete their own model.

    I am blocked out from the Facebook follies because I am not the New York Times or National Geographic, the Radioheads of content. I am a little guy and I have to find my own way forward using the technology and strategies available. I don’t see that we are disagreeing. In my post I am not suggesting this is for everybody. It may not even be for me but no harm in trying something new.

  • Waving the white flag – not sure how else to explain. I do truly wish you the best in your new endeavors.

  • No need to do that. I’m enjoying the discussion! Just not sure there is real disagreement here.

  • In general, I disagree with this. The more you give, the more you get in return. How do you establish an audience and a voice of authority without giving, giving, giving?

  • No, I don’t think we necessarily disagree and I actually didn’t set out to share a dissenting opinion. The main concern for me is that by asking for money – instead of expecting it – we’re collectively perpetuating the myth of the free internet. By the way, to Kitty’s point, I don’t think the internet was EVER free. We made it free by stealing (music, books, etc). We have the illusion of free (which we pay for by surrendering privacy, personal information and allowing ourselves to be advertised to). But even the free-est information costs somebody something. Why content creators are expected to be at helm of “free” is beyond me.

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  • By doing great work, that’s how! It doesn’t have to be free work. We do plenty for free as it is. Most of us blog, podcast, even sometimes speak or teach for free. There has to be a limit.

    This “give until you bleed” idea is leaving a lot of businesses bleeding. And I don’t have to guess as to the outcome – I can demonstrate it over and over. The more you give…. the more you give. The “getting” part is optional. We don’t become respected by being likable and generous. We become respected by doing great work and respecting ourselves first. I know plenty of people who wouldn’t give you a nanosecond of their time for free and they are amazing, sought after, respected. And then I know plenty of “us” – content creators who give give give because… ? Not sure what the “because” is because I don’t know who told us we were supposed to do this. But the return is often us giving. A lot. And more. And then burning out and moving on.

  • Marianne Griebler

    Mark, I’ve read your blog on and off over the past few years, but your August post on whether it’s better to be honest or nice online was the one that got me to subscribe to your blog. What you wrote surprised me, because I so rarely hear it from anyone. And this post is confirming why I’ll give you a little financial support.

    There’s so much disingenuous content on the web, so much lousy advice, so many people telling you that all you need to do is write more and give more and somehow you’ll win the lottery. Like you, I need to make a living. I’ve stopped writing for other bloggers for the paltry pay of a link to my website. I believe in being generous because it’s a value I hold myself to, but I am increasingly careful that doing so does not come at the expense of finding people who will pay me for my expertise. No doubt “content shock” came out of this belief that if we write it, they will come. It only works in baseball movies, folks.

    Years ago I subscribed to Salon when they were test-driving their subscription model. It fell apart pretty quickly. So few sites since have been able to monetize their content, apart from the NYT (and I do have an online subscription). I do not nor will I ever have your following, so I know that the model you’ve created would not work for me. And that’s just fine. What you have inspired me to do, once again, is affirm the value I offer and to ask for just compensation in a way that makes sense in my business. Running an ethical business means that you respect yourself as much as your clients.

    Thanks for writing a tough column, for being honest about how much your generosity has cost you, and for speaking to truth. Happy Thanksgiving!

  • This is really a lovely comment Marianne. Thanks for the kind words and the financial support as well.

  • Hmmm yes I see that. There are certainly limits. It’s quite an interesting conundrum, perhaps worthy of a blog post. If you want to have a massive audience and massive reach, you have to put in a tremendous amount of work … and give away a lot for free. Not just content but your precious time that represents.

    There is some tipping point where you just can’t do it any more. So maybe you fall short of hitting it big as a personal brand because you can’t sustain the pace. It is very hard to keep it up. I work like a dog.

    I’m reminded of a comment Paul Roetzer made years ago. He said in a podcast that he made a decision to not be a “brand” because he could not sustain the pace of “new.”

    I guess in some ways this post is me crying out. I have sustained the relentless “pace of new” for seven years. I’ve been running a marathon that does not end and I probably don’t need to do that any more. Is anybody out there? Does anybody care if I went away or took it down a notch? I guess I am looking for some validation that people give a damn. I mean five bucks is nothing, right?

  • Amen.

  • Two things come immediately to mind after reading your comment here…

    1. Does a huge personal brand pay my mortgage? Give me more time with my friends and family? Let me do things I love? Or does it have me chasing my brand? (That’s something everyone has to answer for themselves.)

    2. I absolutely hear you on the running a marathon part and wondering if you’re getting anywhere or whether if you collapsed on the side of the road the crowd would keep on going.

    We have some nice podcast stats. But when we stop producing and stop promoting, those stats aren’t so nice anymore. So no, it’s not self-sustaining.

    People absolutely care about what you do. Will they pay five bucks for it? Some will. Some won’t. I bet the people who won’t think you’re just as awesome as the people who will.

    But… and here’s a big but… what if you demanded five bucks? What if it wasn’t optional? What if you said – as I want all great content creators to do – this is your price of admission, folks. I give you this, this, this and this from my heart. But THIS…. this extra stuff? This new stuff? If you want in, prove it. Give me five bucks!

    Ok, so my marketing pitch was off 🙂 But that’s the idea.

    This is absolutely worth the conversation (and why I’ve amassed some 1500 words in these comments…) Because asking for money nicely is one solution. But uniting as content creators to get off the merry-go-round and put some value on what we do? I kind of like that one better.

  • Mark, I totally see your point and commend you on going the Patreon route. I know that you’re making this move because you want to continue to genuinely connect. Something to mull over: Demand Metric explained in a recent study that content marketing effectiveness isn’t a matter of *how much* money is spent, but rather *how* it is spent. So maybe the future of content creation isn’t about doing ‘more for the sake of more’ but rather doing less for the sake of…focus, clarity, and sanity? I don’t have the answers. And only you know what’s best for you. This is simply something that I’m mulling too 🙂

  • And maybe this is why we are locked in to “free.” As some of us who have been doing this quite a few years start to get burned out, when we shut down the “free”, we are easily replaced by people who are willing to do free in the name of brand building and gaining exposure.

    Carol Lynn, you and Ralph do a great job networking locally and have a loyal following. Some others I know who rarely blog and are perhaps not well known are building businesses solely on referrals.

    Maybe it’s just time to get back to the old-fashioned methods because in our industry the content game is becoming an unsustainable hamster wheel of futility.

  • We’re at the helm of free because we’ve trained people to feel entitled to free and we’ve worked hard to out-free each other for years. Now we are tired of it, but we can’t stop. Excuse me while I go work on this ebook which will not be free, because as my buddy Jeff said, “Carol Lynn will beat you.” 🙂

  • I beg to differ… I believe the correct word was “smite” you 😉

  • The more we talk about this the more I’m thinking that this is also a matter of goals. For me, personal branding, name recognition and having a following are not it. Running a business that services clients with excellence and makes me lots of money to pursue my passions in life… that is it.

    So in some respects, if you do want to build that kind of recognition, at least in today’s internet world, you do have to give give give. A ridiculous, and as many of us have found, unsustainable amount. Building a business is almost cake compared to that. Networking in the real world, getting those referrals, those are gold. The only people who need to know my name are the ones who refer me to their friends and colleagues, right? But if I want to be recognized, known, branded… holy cow, I would die trying. Literally.

    Though I also wonder, as I consider some of the very big names… Seth Godin. Dan Kennedy. What do they do for free? (Other than what they may do pro bono which in my mind is a different thing.)

    All I know is I’ll keep beating this drum until the day content creators expect – and get – respect AND money for their work. Or forever, whichever comes first 🙂

  • Marianne, I really appreciate your views on juggling creating content and the need to make a living. Most of us will not have a Mark-type following, so we have to figure out how to make it work beyond the love of doing it.

  • RandyBowden

    Well stated!

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  • This is the topic I explore in The Content Code. Approaching content strategically. Honestly I don’t see Patreon as a strategy. It’s an option and an experiment. If you list all of the ways you can possibly monetize content, this is something new. Why not try it? : )

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  • Mark, the 3 minute video on “Stealing & profiting” by Facebook is indeed shocking. Is there no limit to greed? KS

  • No : )

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