There’s Nothing Wrong With Being Compensated For Your Passion


With the advent of macro social platforms, I see more and more people spending time giving their ideas (in full) to sites they don’t own. In tandem, the companies running them are being compensated for your ideas and passion, mostly by running ads next to them.

It’s called digital sharecropping and it’s how many social sites work. Prior to this, an intelligent community of users thrived in the independent web. Funny enough these people who started years ago are still thriving because it’s a win-win situation. You have a platform you own to share your ideas with the world, and you get compensated for doing so. The demand for independent presences in the web continues to grow with the growth of social, because the social web is very much a problem in search of a solution (with independent content frequently being the ‘solution’ — or what users point at).

Certainly the consumer web has changed, but I still believe that if you’re going to put time into something you deserve compensation. Especially when you can use that revenue to put back into your passion.

Some thoughts before you get your pitchforks:

1. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being compensated for sharing your ideas on the web. Many of us have been doing this for well over a decade. As a side note, the money is almost always an ancillary benefit of doing something interesting as opposed to simply doing something to make money. If you just create things purely to make money online, you’ll never make much anyway.

2. There’s also nothing wrong with giving away your work 100% for free, without any desire for monetary return. I do this with my music — it’s all 100% free to download, share and remix. I don’t even run ads on my music site. The reason is my art is very niche and I recognize it isn’t very monetizable on its own. But I also have other projects (such as writing and remixing) which have wider audiences and so I monetize those.

3. I’m also not arguing against using other people’s platforms. I use a variety of networks daily. They’re a wonderful way to share your thoughts, build relationships, learn and have fun. They provide a fantastic service and user experience. Ironically enough as some users spend more time sharing ideas in full there, corporately-owned platforms are actually some of the best places to promote your independently owned stuff.

But back to being compensated for your passion…

If you’re a vanilla person with no serious interest in sharing unique ideas, stop reading. This post isn’t for you and you should go about just using the big social platforms without giving it a second thought. You get something: useful software. The companies creating the software get something: a user base to monetize and market to. It’s a trade off but I believe fair for all parties.

But if you have unique ideas and you don’t have your own site, blog, YouTube channel, or some other place you have a direct mechanism for monetization you should rethink what you’re doing with your time and ideas. Be smart and have a plan. Personally, I love writing and am compensated for it by running ads here through AdSense. I think it’s a non-intrusive experience and it also provides value for readers in the form of contextual ads (which many users do find useful and click). As a side note, ad revenue from this site supports my hosting costs as well as new designs (we refresh every few years).

There are of couse many methods for this such as software that let you charge for subscriptions, affiliate programs, etc. Get as creative as you want but in my opinion the way to do this is make it as non-intrusive to your workflow of actually sharing your thoughts.

The point to today’s post is hopefully to motivate you to consider being compensated for the work you’re doing instead of yielding this opportunity to someone else (if you don’t, rest assured someone will). There’s nothing wrong with it. And if you don’t want the money you could even give it to your favorite charity.

Plus if you’re in marketing you really should understand how to build a web brand and monetize it from scratch. I mean, beyond using your digital presence as a way to generate leads (if this isn’t already happening for you naturally you’re doing something very wrong). You should experiment with making direct revenue yourself. It’s challenging, fun, you’ll learn a lot and if you stick with it you’ll be rewarded for your passion.

image credit: Shutterstock