Let’s get a few things straight. You are selling out if you do some or all of these things.
- You demand your audience to pay up and guilt-trip them into buying your eBook from you (even though it’s just a re-cycle of your old blog posts)
- You need to lie, exaggerate, and sacrifice honesty to sell your work
- You need to compromise your relationship with your audience — people who have trusted you with their attention — to fulfill your dream of owning a Lamborgheenee (Key words: “compromise your relationship”, NOT Lambo)
For most of you reading this, though, you just want to put food on the table with the passion, skills, and knowledge you have.
Here’s the truth for you:
If you make a product or sell a service to help your audience get results — more results than they’ve received from your free material — then you’re not selling out.
You Owe It to Your Audience
Everyone says they want artists to make money, and then when they do, everybody hates them for it. The word ‘sellout’ is spit out by the bitterest, smallest parts of ourselves. Don’t be jealous when the people you like do well — celebrate their victory as if it’s your own. -- Austin Kleon, Show Your Work!
If your readers or subscribers send you DM’s or emails saying how you’ve changed their lives, you owe it to them to stay alive, healthy, and creative .
I mean, you could…
Bravely ask your audience for a $10 monthly Patreon donation in exchange for a bi-weekly Q&A, risking cowardly trolls calling you a sellout
Keep pumping out free, amaze-balls content to please everyone, even though you have zero money to buy Kraft Dinners.
Then one day as your readers anticipate your weekly video or podcast… It never comes.
Later, someone finds you dead on your dining room table in front of a blinking cursor on your WordPress dashboard.
Gory but not too far from reality, as YouTuber Gaby Dunn wrote in her piece for Splinter:
The high highs and low lows leave me reeling. One week, I was stopped for photos six times while perusing comic books in downtown LA. The next week, I sat faceless in a room of 40 people vying for a menial courier job. I’ve walked a red carpet with $80 in my bank account. Popular YouTube musician Meghan Tonjes said she performed on Vidcon’s MainStage this year to screaming, crying fans without knowing whether she’d be able to afford groceries.
You’re doing your audience a disservice if the quality or frequency of your content goes down because you haven’t eaten for a week.
Or — more likely — you feel less motivated than when you started, because you’re not being compensated for your efforts.
"But What If Someone Calls Me a Sell Out?"
If you sell your own stuff, you won’t have to worry about truly selling out, like promoting someone else’s product just for the money (a.k.a. a sponsorship).
Oh, and screw the trolls who call you one. They may be subscribed to your channel or follow your Twitter account, but they’re not your audience if they hate on you for asking for help.
Ignore. And block.
Unless your dream is to die an early but artistic death, you should start owning your own platform and sell out as soon as possible.
You owe it to you.
You owe it to your audience.
You don’t owe those trolls anything.