Monetization is For Amateurs (i.e. You Deserve More Than This)

So there’s this phrase that fancy copywriters are using a lot.  The phrase is “money getting,” as in “my product is . . . quite simply . . . a money getting system” or “you should buy my money getting blueprint.”  Or whatever.

This phrase (“money getting”) appeals to buyers because it implies passivity.  After all, who wants to buy a money earning system when they can buy a money getting system?

All of this brings me to “monetization.”

Let’s talk about monetization for a second.

Monetization is the process of taking something that’s not making money – and that (usually) wasn’t created with the intention of earning money (or getting it) – and then trying to squeeze money out of it.

Think about it for a second . . . if something is making money, you don’t monetize it.  You might want to increase profits.  You might want to up your margins, or improve your conversion rates.  But you don’t monetize it.

It’s kind of like freezing an ice cube.  It’s pointless.

Sam Walton never thought “how can I monetize my store?” (because that evil organization started out intending to make money).

Restaurants don’t say to themselves, “how can I monetize food?”

You don’t monetize a business . . . because it’s already a business.

So what we end up monetizing are things that were never intended to create money in the first place.  And the result is kind of awkward.   And unnatural.  And amateur.

And like a diesel engine jerry-rigged to run on gasoline, it never quite works right.

It’s backwards.  And it leads to a lot of mediocrity.

It leads to a lot of amateur eBooks, wasted time, and low ROI.

Amateurs monetize.  Professionals build businesses.

Amateurs occasionally write mediocre eBooks that anyone else could have written, to squeeze a little money out of their website.

Professionals get up every day; look at themselves in the mirror; rededicate themselves to their mission all over again; execute like madmen; and produce excellence week after week after week.  (Actually they produce excellence week after week regardless, because that’s the difference between an amateur and a professional).

Amateurs don’t.

I’m not saying this to talk down to you.  I’m not saying this because I think you’re amateur. And I certainly have no high horse to ride.  Because I’ve tried to monetize several times in my life.

What I am trying to tell you is that you’re better than monetization . . .

. . . and that thing you care about A LOT, it deserves better than monetization.  It deserves to be a business run by a passionate person.

Or it deserves to be left the hell alone.

Pure.  Unadulterated.  And unmonetized.

That thing you care about.  It doesn’t deserve monetization. It deserves better than that.


  • Our website is a cluster________.  But it gets 2 quote requests a day.  We chose to work with 2-3 a week.  And that’s all we need.

    • Awesome.  That’s the power of deliberately creating a business.

  • soniasimone

    Thanks so much for writing about this, it makes me *twitchy*.

  • So If you started out without the intent to make money and later decide your efforts can be lucrative. Instead of “monetizing” you would build a business is what you’re explaining to do right?

    The monetization comes as a result of having a successful business. Did I get that right?

    So instead of focusing on making money, your focused on building a lucrative business.

    • Not exactly. Monitization is when you take something that wan’t designed from the ground up to create money . . . and then jury-rig it to try and “turn it into money.”

      Creating a business that’s designed from day one around an income-generating business model is the opposite of monetization.

      Does that make sense?

      •  Almost. I guess I see your point for people who try to “jury-rig” something for monetary gain. However, what about the people that start off with no intent to build a business and then later decide it’s possible to monetize it?

        Pat Flynn comes to mind. He built a website as a resource to help people pass the LEED exam. It wasn’t until he got laid off until he decided to monetize it. It worked out great for him as well.

        In addition, I recommend to some of my clients to NOT try to make money in their efforts within the first few months of starting to help them focus on quality content instead of just making money. If the content is solid, later they can decide what business model they want to build around it.

        I guess what I’m saying is this article makes sense for those jury-rigging sites online for money, but no so much for people with great content and a nice following of people wanting their service(s)

        I hope I didn’t misunderstand your article’s intent.

        • There have been people who’ve been successful with the post-hoc monetization strategy.  But they’re few and far between.  They’re the exception to the rule.  Far better to start from day one with a business plan in mind.

  • How about, I don’t plan to make huge amount of money or a direct business. I just want to write and express myself. But I want to make a little money out of it, like including an affiliate link. Is that a bad thing?

    • Not a bad thing at all.  You probably just won’t turn a huge profit that way. Which is fine if that wasn’t your intention in the first place.

  • Gailingisclaus

    Clay, you are amazing. I got some great pointers from your Danny review. Than you.