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Raptitude and Monetization

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I occasionally receive messages or comments expressing some version of, “I like Raptitude but I don’t like when you try to sell me stuff.”

Rather than explain my thoughts on monetization each time, I’ve published them here.

I definitely understand the aversion to the selling of things. I am a fellow consumer of internet content, and I don’t like it when I’m trying to enjoy myself and someone tries to sell me something.

There are a lot of websites I don’t visit anymore because the content is riddled with sales pitches. Most internet content isn’t good enough to justify the displeasure of scrolling clunkily through pop-up ads, auto-playing videos, and screen-darkening email opt-ins. When I run into that stuff on a website, it starts to seem like a bad deal, so I usually go somewhere else.

Knowing what I like and don’t like about my own web-browsing experience, I’ve had to think carefully about how to support this site. I think I’ve come up with the best solution.

Before we go on, there’s one vital point that may not be obvious to those who don’t run high-traffic websites: having no monetization is simply not possible. Not in 2021. Just to be able to legally send my subscribers emails costs about five thousand dollars a year. Then there’s the costs of hosting and a half dozen other technical services, plus the occasional contractor to fix things that blow up, which together push annual bare-bones operating costs into five figures.

And that only gives you a website with nothing on it. Raptitude also requires a writer, who frankly does some pretty great work, yet is willing to do this work for less pay than the average union trash collector makes. Unlike a union trash collector, his supplies and equipment come out of his own pocket. He also does all of the non-writing labor too, and there’s a lot of that.

I don’t like encountering banner ads, sponsored content, or auto-playing videos, so I don’t use those monetization methods. Instead, I offer my own courses and books, and also I allow people to become Patrons of the site, who receive extra posts and other things as a thank you. Just like my Raptitude posts, this additional, not-free content is my own original creative work, covering the same topics as the blog. So it’s a pretty good fit for the people who like the blog posts.

In order for this model to work, I really do need to sell my courses and books, and get people to consider joining the Patreon. In order to do that, I need to promote these options. Promotion works by drawing blog readers’ attention to the other stuff I can provide, and trying to demonstrate to them that they might get a lot out of it. Virtually all businesses must promote whatever it is they produce, and it’s very likely that your own livelihood depends on someone in your organization doing just that.

Even though I know my work is pretty good, and that promoting it is necessary for the site to exist, I used to really worry about annoying the people who just want to read the blog posts, and aren’t considering taking a course or buying a book.  

I get the odd email from someone annoyed by my promotional efforts. Sometimes they would call me pushy or greedy for trying to make “money off of them,” when they’re just trying to read my blog posts. So I would try to be even more sheepish and apologetic about promotion, because I don’t like to annoy people or be called names.

A while ago I decided not to waste another moment of my life responding to or thinking about these sorts of complaints. I would rather use that time and mental energy to make stuff.

I don’t mind at all when people read Raptitude without ever buying anything or supporting the site. Everyone is welcome to enjoy the site as much as they like, and they shouldn’t feel like they owe me anything. That’s how my system is designed — if enough people opt for the paid work, I can offer blog posts for free, without the animated Adobe banners and GMC ads you see on 95% of websites. As long as that works, the site stays free to all, even while it costs a fortune to maintain every year. What a great system!

But when someone expects free access to my work, and also expects to be shielded from my attempts to allow other people to fund that work, then they’re just being a gigantic baby.

By sending you to this page, I’m not implying that that’s you. As I said, I no longer try to parse and evaluate every reaction. I simply explain how the system works. Most people can grasp the basic economics of an independent website once it’s spelled out like this, and can then determine for themselves whether I am indeed a money grubbing charlatan, or they are indeed a gigantic baby, or some combination.

Either way, my view on the matter is settled. I leave it entirely up to visitors to figure out whether they’re getting a good deal or not.

David

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Photo by Diane Helentjaris

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