The Monetization Priority
How web3 can be a beneficial kick in the butt for content creators who shy away from charging for their work.
Image generated by MidJourney AI - Prompt: Jasper Johns style dollar bill ;-)
Since I started this journey on the wild web3 with my podcast by minting a NFT for each episodes, I've never hesitated to charge a fair price for my tokens and the utilities that go with them. And when I say charge, I'm not talking about selling my NFTs for thousands of dollars as if they were a one-of-a-kind David Hockney. No, my NFTs are not a Jasper Johns American flag, but they are still worth a pretty penny.
Why? Because I have a strong sense of self-worth and confidence in the quality of what I create. Sure, sometimes I have a bad day, but most of the time I know that my community appreciates my work and my NFTs are worth every single satoshi. Plus, it's more fun to say "I'm worth this much" instead of "I got this many likes." So go ahead and charge what you're worth, my fellow creators!
But first ...
Why Is Monetization Hard for Many Creative Entrepreneurs?
I can think of three reasons.
Fear. “I can’t risk trying to make money now—I’ll fail.”
Complacency. “That’s not how I view my work. I’m not a business person. I’m a creative.”
Misguided beliefs. “I’d rather just create cool stuff and wait for the market to come to me.”
Removing monetization is a way to avoid looking at you in the mirror. It delays the question: Is what I’m doing worth something?
My heart goes out to those who are afraid, who think that their work should be a non-monetary labor of love, and who hope that customers will magically come to them.
It doesn’t have to be that way! We have to acknowledge that ....
Pushing Monetization Down the Road Sucks
The problem is that most creative entrepreneurs do things a bit backwards when it comes to earning a living from their work. They think that they need to create content, then use that content to build trust and credibility with their audience, and then at some point monetization will come into the loop. In a way, that’s living in La La Land.
My question is:
Why can’t more entrepreneurs create awesome stuff while at the same time being paid for it?
I’m actually not against all reasons for delaying monetization. And I’m not against all freemium models. I’m just against automatically doing this. Free first doesn’t have to be the only way.
My recommendation is:
In the early stages of whatever you’re creating, use NFTs to place monetization firmly at the front of your projects. That way, your collective will creatively and financially grow with you.
And for the record, I’m just one of a growing chorus of web3 enthusiasts recommending this. Indeed, in Li Jin’s brilliant article, “The New Creator Playbook,” she wrote:
Instead of creating content for free with the hopes of gradually growing an audience and one day being able to monetize it, creators are now able to monetize and build an audience upfront through tokens—and then use that money and that following to produce their content and grow their business.
(Li Jin, you’re a massive inspiration for me and my Uncut team. I’d love for you to be a guest on Uncut’s “The Minted Podcast with Seth Silvers”!)
So, getting back to what I want to add to this conversation ... First, this requires a question ...
Have You Heard of Mike Michalowicz’s Idea of “Profit First”?
Without going into too much detail, this financial strategy challenges preconceived notions of what we think about profit. Usually we think of profit as whatever is left over after we’ve paid for everything else, such as expenses, right? Well, the “profit first” model promotes the idea that business owners should pay themselves a profit before they pay expenses, etc. (I’ve intentionally just skimmed the surface of this financial model. You can dive into more of it here.)
Suffice to say, rethinking profit by bringing it “closer” to the heart of your business, is exactly the kind of mental switch that creative entrepreneurs need to make with monetization.
Web3 Can Help Entrepreneurs Emphasize Monetization
With Web 2, content creators bought into the bullcrap of producing increasingly more content in order to build an audience, and then—eventually, one day, hopefully—arriving at monetization. And they usually tried to achieve this via traditional (i.e. now out-of-date) models such as advertising, sponsorships, and paid subscriptions.
With web3, NFTs can be used to change the way we monetize creation. Right now, with tokens and blockchain technology, you can identify which subset of your audience are interested in participating in content creation with you.
So, if you want to stop pretending that earning money isn’t your objective, and you want to stop complaining about people not financially supporting your endeavors, then say to yourself: “Making money from my awesome work should not be taboo.”
At a high level, I can see two approaches that will help you achieve this.
Monetize While Creating. You can say to your community/collective, “I'm about to create this content. You can participate in the creative process with your money, time, or talent. Thanks to your contribution, we'll co-produce something awesome together.”
Monetize After Creating. You can say to your community/collective, “I created this content. You can get some ownership of it, and access special benefits, which will help me to continue doing what I'm doing.”
If you’re a creative entrepreneur keen to prioritize monetization, do these three things:
(1) Get our free “NFT Guide for Creators.”
(2) Visit Uncut.FM.
Lastly, I want to leave you with something brilliant that an Uncut user revealed to me: There is content that you will never traditionally monetize, but via your collective, you can monetize it.
Krystl Fabella is the Uncut user who showed me this in action. Some of what she creates just wouldn’t jive with advertisers or sponsors. But what she’s creating is important. And people love it. So she created a community, flipped it into a collective, and got access to capital. Not by monetizing her content. But by monetizing her community. (Check out Krystl’s completely-sold-old NFT collection “PNYPWR” and read my article about it.)