I Stepped Right Into the Monetization Trap (Don’t do the Same)

Audience monetization. Build an audience first, then monetize it. This is what you’ll read over and over again. One of my mantras is to do the opposite of whatever is the trend because it’s often much more effective compared to the trend.

It seems to make sense. To build an audience, find out what they’re looking for. Find the common denominator. Then build a product.

But does it really? The only thing it really does, is defer action. And it’s action that makes people succeed.

The Reality of Postponed Action

So why on earth should we first build an audience and only then start listening to people and crafting solutions to the damn issues they have?

I know for a fact that I fell for it. Every milestone I’d reach, made me think: at the next milestone I’ll start monetizing my brand. Kind of expecting that somehow all the answers would be there.

So first I thought: let’s start monetizing at 200 followers. Then I hit 200 and figured: I’m not ready yet. Let’s do it at 300. Then I’d hit 300 and did the same thing all over again. Let’s monetize at 400.

Now I’m close to 400 I thought to myself: this is bullshit. It really is. Because I’ll never be “ready”. All the answers will never mysteriously be presented to me somehow.

I’ve been postponing it myself and the longer I think about it, the more I think that follower count doesn’t matter. It’s a vanity metric. Part of it is trash anyway, there’s tons of really hot girls that follow me but they post nothing and have no followers themselves.

The number of followers your account has, really doesn’t say anything at all.


I’ve been postponing all this because talking to people kinda scares me. But without talking to people, you cannot listen to them. You cannot help them tell you what it is they want solved.

Engaging with Your Audience

If you want to sell something, you need an offer and to create an offer you need to know what people need to have solved.

Now there is an alternative way. You can go look at other people’s tweets and scan through the comments to find questions people raise. See if they’re answered. You can also do this in the YouTube comments. On Reddit. Quora. Medium. You name it.

It can give you a bit of insight into the problems people have. But you will waste time building solutions for them if you don’t speak with people about it.

I create management reports and dashboards for a living. They help people act upon information my team and I provide. It’s really helpful because we help people sift through the weeds and make sense of the data. But literally every time that I started building before speaking to people about the actual issues they had, I’ve built something terrible.

The product always works. It always does what I want it to do but that doesn’t mean it does what my clients want.

Now I didn’t really like doing this research but I had to get good at it because I kept building stuff that people didn’t need. I thought they did based on some comments they made somewhere. Or an email I’d received. But most of the time, they needed something else.

And you can only really find out what people want if you talk to them. It’s such a waste of time, effort and money if you don’t. Of course, you can go the safe route and solve problems you had yourself. Chances are that other people had those same issues. But even then… You would still need actual feedback to end up with a great product instead of an okay product. And is something okay really something you want to be known for?

Monetization is Taking Action and Overcoming Fear

I really think a lot of us – not everybody of course – have this same issue. It can be scary to talk to people. I always feel like I’m bothering others in trying to find out what problems they have. But it’s hardly ever true. People love talking about their problems and as long as you’re really interested, you might actually help them solve it.

Recently, I’ve been talking to someone to help them with monetization strategies. I don’t have any experience with it, but I feel like this is such an issue that other people – regardless of their background – can help you solve just by listening and reflecting back to you. I personally find it really difficult to monetize my own brand but it’s the typical case of not seeing the trees through the woods. It’s easy for others to see what you should do but you keep spinning in circles, not making a decision.

But not deciding upon your strategy is a decision in itself. Make no mistake about that. By not making a decision, you’re deciding not to do it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to monetize your brand. Nobody except for yourself wants you to. It’s not a necessity. And by trying to help others with this, I see an obvious trend. It’s getting more and more clear.

A lot of people think they want to monetize their brand but don’t actually want to. They like the idea but don’t know where to start. But it’s not that difficult to find out what it is you should do and you know it. Common sense will tell you what to do. There’s just something that scares you and that’s okay. But you either have to accept that something scares you and get over it, or move on. Let it go.

I feel this is why so many people stop building their personal brand. You will have to do some actual work and social media makes it seem like it’s a breeze. Like everything will somehow magically end up at your plate. That people will tell you their problems without interacting with them. They will tell you their problems but you have to talk to them.

I know that’s what has been holding me back and I see that this is the case for a lot of people out there. But if I as an introvert can talk to people about it for weeks, even through the DMs (which I really used to hate), so can you.

Build a personal brand that really suits you.


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