Why You Should Do It for the Money (and Stop Feeling Guilty About It)

For the first five years of my blogging career, I gave all my content away for free. Then I began running some ads, selling an e-book or two, and charging to give speeches.

Money Changing Hands

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/BanksPhotos

Even though I continued to give my blog content away for free, it was a difficult transition. For some reason, I felt like I was “selling out.”

I knew intellectually I wasn’t. I was—and am—an unabashed capitalist. Nevertheless, I still felt uncomfortable.

To make matters worse, I would periodically get an e-mail or blog comment from someone who expressed surprise and disappointment over the fact I was monetizing my platform. They questioned my integrity and challenged my sincerity.

This bothered me more than it should have—until I realized the people who were challenging me were all employed. They didn’t seem to mind getting paid for their work; they just wanted me to offer mine for free.

This forced me to get very clear about why charging for my work is not only acceptable but essential. Rather than feel guilty, I’m convinced it’s important for at least three reasons.

  1. Because of how it changes your mindset. When you start charging for your services, you go from being an amateur to being a pro. You are suddenly more accountable.
    • It matters if you show up. You don’t get paid if you don’t.
    • It matters if you do quality work. People won’t buy if you don’t.
    • It matters if you are consistent. You won’t get repeat customers or grow your business if you don’t.

    In short, when you charge, you respect yourself and your own work more. It creates value in your own mind.

  2. Because of how it improves your customers’ experience. People don’t respect what they get for free. There are exceptions, I’m sure, but not many. I have seen this time and time again.

    For example, I occasionally give away free tickets to one of my conferences. Often, the people who get them don’t come to half the sessions—or don’t pay attention when they do. Worse, they sometimes cancel at the last minute, not realizing I still incur costs.

    The truth is that until people make an investment, they are not invested in the outcome. This is why I now always make sure they pay something and have “skin in the game.”

    But charging also improves the user-experience. Recently, I bought a very high-end marketing course. It cost me almost $2,000.

    You can bet I just didn’t stick it on the shelf and forget about it. Instead, I rearranged my entire schedule, so I could get up an hour earlier and work through the material.

    Because I paid so much, I was more focused, more committed to working through every exercise, and more determined to apply the principles to my business.

    The author of the course promised that it would be life-changing. But it’s only true if the students follow-through on his teaching. The fact that he charged so much for the course improved the chances of that happening.

  3. Because of how it impacts the world. This is the most compelling reason of all to me. Charging for your services is a necessity if you are going to support your family. If you don’t charge, you won’t be doing what you do for long.

    But even more importantly, making money provides you with the opportunity to share with those in need. The more you make, the bigger impact you can have.

    In fact, within the bounds of my calling and ethical practice, I believe I have the moral obligation to make as much money as I can. Why? Because there are people in need, and I have the opportunity to help them.

Yes, “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). If we seek it as an end in itself, we can stray from our true path and bring all kinds of grief on ourselves and our loved ones. But if we focus on doing our best work and charging for it, everyone wins.

Making money is not something we should apologize for because of a few freeloaders who feel entitled to get stuff for free. It’s not good for them. It’s certainly not good for us. And it’s not good for the world.

Question: Do you struggle with charging for your work? What would it make possible if you did charge for it or charged more? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

    I definitely appreciate this post, Michael. I’ve been working on my first book, and the thought of charging for it versus giving it away has crossed my mind. I think charging for my work would allow a few things for me: (1) It would help pay for the costs of producing the material – the cost of the blog, the book, etc., (2) It would help pay for further ministry in Guatemala – this is a definite goal of mine, and (3) It would separate my serious readers and followers from those who are content to be on the fringe.

    My question for you: How do you determine the right price level for your material? What recommendation do you have for me as I consider the price level for my book?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Usually, I would say charge what you think the market will bear. A higher price can create more value in the mind of the prospect.
      I don’t think price is a big driver in non-fiction book purchases. (It is in fiction.) In other words, people don’t say, gosh I really want that book, but it is $14.99 instead of $13.99, so I’ll have to pass. That’s not how it works. Within reason, you’re just leaving money on the table by going with the lower price.
      I also think pricing depends on your strategic objective. It’s also better to charge less and raise the price later if you must. The reverse is not good. People who bought initially at the higher price feel burned.
      I would start by researching the competition.

      • joanna

        I’m interested to know what you think causes price to be a driver for fiction but not non-fiction?

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          People buy it for entertainment not for growth. They tend to compare it to other entertainment options (movies, games, etc.). With non-fiction, people tend to compare it to other education options (a course, seminar, etc.)

          • http://www.toodarnhappy.com/ Kim Hall

            I always walk away from one of your posts with more practical and encouraging information, Michael. Plus, when I read through the comments, I generally gather even more goodness. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, both paid and unpaid, and for creating a community that stimulates even more interesting and useful conversation.

          • danieltroutman

            So true! I desperately needed the information in this post. It is beyond helpful and needed. Thanks Michael!

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Excellent response. Right on.

          • http://asmithblog.com/ asmithblog

            That’s an interesting outlook. Never thought of it like that.

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

        Great thoughts, Michael. I’ve been diving more deeply into the process of publishing a book this week, and your thoughts are definitely helpful. Can you offer any other resources that I might want to read, to watch, or hear that might help me as I continue down this path?

        • http://www.janabotkin.net/ Jana Botkin

          Jon, have your read Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s “Thou Shall Prosper”? He explains the reasons for charging very very thoroughly. Excellent information that supports what Michael has written here.

          • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

            Thanks for the tip! I haven’t read it yet, but I’ll add it to my list.

      • http://www.roccoshouse.com/ Andrea Kuska

        I would also add — I’m suspicious of e-books that are too cheap. To me that means the author knows it isn’t very good and is trying to make up for the fact that it’s garbage by making it cheap. I am a lot more confident buying a $2.99 amazon e-book from an unknown author than a .99 one.

        And on that same note — if it is a fiction e-book and costs more than the paperback, I’m not going to buy it even if I know the author.

      • http://bigheartsmallbusiness.com Nick Pfennigwerth

        I disagree with charge what the market will bear. When you add that element to the game, the value you provide is judged, therefore, you judge yourself and cause all kinds of money and pricing issues. I like to price based off of resonance, which I call Right Pricing. It’s an integration of marketplace and gift based pricing. Think of it like this, “Your new in your business and getting started. What the market bears for your service is $750 per hour. But you’re just not there yet in the game. If you price to what the market bears, potential clients will pick up on that resonance and hear that lack of confidence. But if you price based on resonance, and what’s true for you, you can name your price with confidence and build your cliental a lot faster. Then as you go your price resonance will increase.” Just my 2 cents.

    • Heath Padgett

      Jon, as someone in a similar circumstance. I would love to hear what tactic you use. Jeff Goins has a great guest podcast with Pat Flynn where he talks about his strategy for going to market with a new book, physical or e-book. I would recommend anyone with a similar problem as Jon to take a listen!

      • http://jonstolpe.com/ Jon Stolpe

        Great suggestion, Heath. I think I’ve actually listened to this podcast twice, but it wouldn’t hurt to hear it again.

      • http://davehilgendorf.com/ Dave Hilgendorf

        where can I find this podcast?

  • joanna

    Interesting to read your perspective on this. I’ve been thinking about this a bit from the consumer side lately. I see myself and others too often mindlessly slip into just consuming free content (music from noisetrade, podcasts, free ebooks ect). It is easy to justify not paying given it isn’t required, there’s more good free content than I could ever consume even a tiny percentage of and I’m not doing well financially. However, I’ve come to think it is a good discipline to make sure to contribute financially on a regular basis to those creating things, even if it can only be as small as contributing $2 to the Kickstarter campaign of someone whose free music I’ve enjoyed.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Agreed, Joanna. A great discipline and mindset.

  • Denise J. Hart

    Awesome post Mike! I’m going to share this with my community of women entrepreneurs who are making the transition from a one revenue thinking to sharing their gifts through multiple streams of income!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for that Denise.

    • http://www.junesjournal.com/ June

      Hi, Denise. Your comment perked my interest about your community of women entrepreneurs (and the shift they are making too). I will check out the social links I see by your name on Disqus. Blessings!

  • Susan Bailey

    Great stuff! I sent this to all my Christian musician friends. Churches often expect artists to play for free or they pay very little. And artists, feeling guilty that they are “peddling God,” don’t stand up for themselves. As a former performer and now writer, I struggled with this but realized the engine would stop running if I didn’t charge for my services. I was lucky in that it wasn’t my bread and butter but even as a hobby, it still needs money to run. I ran my little business on a shoe string and make just enough to keep it up and running and that makes me happy. Thank you for this!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This is where I have seen the most abuse. I remember a big mega church that kept wanting me to come speak for free. One of their members, a friend of mine, kept asking. I finally asked him, “Do you pay your pastor and other staff members?” He got the point.

      • Susan Bailey

        God is practical along with many other things. Cars need gas to run; ministry needs money. It’s not the money that is evil, it’s the way it can be abused (too much or too little or none given). It’s a tool, just like a pencil, a computer, etc.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt


      • Very Concerned

        Thank you for pointing this out. I have seen this abuse among church leadership who are not just expecting free services but manipulate for money behind the scenes from non-suspecting individual members. Part of me wants to write a book warning people, in service industries especially, how to spot the manipulation in “prosperity churches” from those who feel entitled to money and free services, citing verses that infer you will be blessed if you bless them. Charge for your services – the laborer is worthy of his hire! Recognize greed and entitlement which will occur if people continue to be successful at acquiring things for free.

        • scottieclifton

          I have been in the Christian music industry on the side with a fairly successful (in my own mind) grass-roots band. I have recently translated this to a side hobby of teaching guitar and tenets of worship in churches. I have seen time and time again that giving away guitar lessons and my curriculum equals a less ‘profitable’ class for my students, much less myself. I want them to learn as much as they can and it’s proven time and time again paying for it is a requirement to a mutually-beneficial opportunity. The only ones that push back on that are also those that want another exception in the class like signup after the deadline or me to bend over backwards to the detriment of my other students.

          In addition, not charging in some fashion means the ‘hobby’ doesn’t sustain itself. If you want to be in it for the long-haul you need cash to at minimum produce the product that supplements your hobby.

          In regard to your book idea, I would suggest that most people who ‘should read’ that would not because their mind is already made up. Which means, you are a going to have to be a psycho-analyst which I would imagine would be very hard to do. But if it were a bi-product of another topic or a mindset change that could lead them to this as a ‘symptom’ to the ‘problem’ it might help. Just one man’s opinion of course.

      • Laurie Donahue

        Great post Michael! As a Christian author and publisher, I think the most classic story I have heard was about a customer that made copies of copyrighted material because he was “saving God money.”

  • http://www.andrewsobel.com/ Andrew Sobel

    Excellent post, especially for those who produce/sell an “intangible” product or service–consulting, speaking, training, writing, musical performance, art, etc. In my field (management consulting) independent professionals chronically undercharge and feel badly about their fees. Yet–as Cialdini points out in his book on influence–high prices often connote high value for buyers. People expect to pay a premium price for a BMW or for hiring McKinsey. AND they are more predisposed to feel they’ve received that value afterwards!

    Question: Any thoughts on when/how you can “activate” this concept and get premium pricing and convey that sense of value/luxury/ROI?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’m faced with the premium model myself and how to implement it. I want to launch a very high-end mastermind program. I am currently researching what others are doing both in terms of price and the value they offer. For me, it boils down to confidence and courage. The toughest sale I ever make is the one I make to myself. If I am sold, I can sell it.

      • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

        I’d buy into that mastermind program Mike. Bring it on.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Awesome, Kyle. Stay tuned. It won’t be cheap, but it will be awesome.

          • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

            I’m not afraid. The higher your price, the higher my expectations. It’s a win/win.

          • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

            Nice. Love that attitude!

      • Julie Gutierrez

        Excellent point… I think there are very few of us that grasp that we are our toughest sale and lack of understanding on this holds us back more than we know. Do you currently have a blog or material on this? What does it take for you to be sold? If you have material on this I WANT IT! Thanks Michael!

  • http://www.tracyline.com/ Tracy L

    I appreciate this post. I am a travel agent as well as a writer and in travel there are so many opportunities to work for free. It’s taken me 2 years to realize doing work for free is not productive not fair of me to ask of myself. So I appreciate what you are saying here I need the reminder for my writing as well. I do not want to go back to my old ways of thinking!

  • Carl Carrington

    Michael – I have been a reader of your blog for over a year now. Some of your content is very compelling and most enjoyable to read. This is possibly the only post written on the internet that has energised me to make comment.

    I have always thought about these points as truths but guilt sometimes holds me back to charge the full value of my efforts to my clients (often those most repeated and whom clearly value my work).

    The timing is also what spurred the comment, after a 2-hour annual de-briefing with my accountant this morning I agreed to double his retainer and add some additional quarterly consultancy advise, he is happy and now I am holding higher respect and value for his service.

    Thank you – Wonderfully written and I look forward to more engaging posts.

    Best Wishes – Carl, UK

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Carl. I appreciate that very much!

  • Jody Noland

    Thanks, Michael. From my observation, you are incredibly generous with the wisdom you share on your blog.

    Starting a speaking career is challenging. From the 2012 Launch Conference, I remember some speakers saying “speak for free until they ask you what you charge.” Any advice on how plunge into those waters?

    I love to give and earning much to give much is a great motivation for me. (As well as not being a street person in my old age! :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jody. I remember you from Launch!

      I would always quote a fee, even if you elect to waive it. (Though you should be cautious about that.) That way, they at least understand there is a value associated with your services.
      I would just start by quoting something. Remember the high bar / low bar technique we taught you.

  • Deb

    Thanks for that post. I have just started in the online world and have been considering the question: How long do I post information for free until I post eBooks etc with a cost? Will I have people come to the site if everything is free and never purchase anything if it is all for free at the beginning, how would i Make the transition? or Do I from the start have both? So I have a free eBook, free podcasts, free blogs, free Pdf downloads and 1 eBook for a low fee at the moment. I agree with your statements. My intention is a quality product, just as it was when I was doing Consulting, I am not an amatuer, I am just new to the online world. So there are definitely more products on my plan!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I would start by offering something for sale along your free stuff. I wish I had done this earlier. You don’t want to train your audience that everything is free. I had to untrain them. ;-)

      • Deb

        yes, that is my thinking! thanks I really enjoy your posts!

  • http://www.algetler.com/ Al Getler

    After working to run other owners’ businesses, I am shocked how hard it is to justify charging for my own services. The justification is completely internal. I am learning that it is harder to sell myself than I ever imagined and harder still to set a price and not swallow hard before what I charge comes out of my mouth or into an email.

    Thanks for this post, Michael. Your three essential reasons for charging are so important to me as I embark on making a full time living working for myself.

    One other question is how do you know if you are charging enough for your work? I would like to hear your thoughts and others’ thoughts on that.

    Enjoy the long weekend.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I feel your pain. This was challenging for me, too. The most helpful thing I have found is to hang out with people who have the right mindset about this.
      “How do you know if you are charging enough?” Great question. Personally, I want to charge as much as the market will bear. However, this is art not science. I would start by researching the competition.
      In some areas, you have to decide if you want to be a price leader or not. For example, with the Get Noticed! Theme for WordPress, Andrew and I intentionally priced the them at the top of the market. In fact, I think we might be the most expensive theme out there.
      The positive benefit of this is that we only get people who are serious about blogging—the higher end of the market. Frankly, we don’t want the value shoppers. They create more support headaches for us. We’d rather have fewer customers paying more. That way we can make it a better experience for everyone. (Kind of the Apple model).

      • http://www.algetler.com/ Al Getler

        Thanks, Michael. I do try to hang out with people that have the right mindset. And that is also why I am here.
        I do agree it is there is an art to charging. I also agree with your example on the “Get Noticed! Theme for WordPress. You delivered on the theme—big time! That is also the lesson (and the pressure) I think about; I have to deliver the goods. And my goods have to be better than expected to begin to charge more.

        This is a great subject. Thanks for raising it.

      • http://www.kylechowning.com/ Kyle Chowning

        I have found that value is based on a number of client/customer variables:

        1. Felt need – what problem do they feel like they need a solution for?

        2. Goals – What is the goal of meeting the felt need? (increased profitability, more customer, etc

        3. Solutions – What have they identified as the solution? Perhaps you’re the solution, or a program, or a book, or a campaign…etc. Hiring a consultant is often the solution they’re seeking.

        4. Results – What kind of results do they need to achieve to justify buying the solution, what kind of ROI are they expecting to achieve, and how fast?

        5. Value – Personally, I have found that companies with revenues less than $5MM/year tend to micromanage consultants and agencies. Once you hit $10+MM a year, the percentage of revenue that they’re setting aside to pay you becomes insignificant enough to value what you’re doing, but also let you do it without micromanagement. Of course, management style also plays into this significantly.

        I wrote a blog post on how to calculate value. Maybe it can help? http://kylechowning.com/value/

        • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Kyle. Excellent thoughts.

  • http://www.johnrmeese.com/p/about-me.html John Meese

    Love this. The theme has been on my mind more or less since I read the guest post by Stu McLaren during your sabbatical (http://michaelhyatt.com/paid-content-benefits.html). As an Economics major and similarly unabashed capitalist, I have been challenged in the past to reconcile that with my faith as a Christian. This is where I think you have the last point spot on. We have a responsibility to be faithful stewards of what we’ve been given so that we can change the world around us.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. Stu gave a great message along these lines at the Platform Conference last February. It shifted a lot of people’s thinking.

      • http://www.johnrmeese.com/p/about-me.html John Meese

        That’s great! I’m sorry I missed the chance at attending one of your conferences right here in Franklin! I’ll have to make time for getting to another sometime in the near future.

  • Paul Potter

    Great post and very timely. I’m in the healthcare business and we are undergoing rapid changes in the way we are reimbursed for our services. We are wrestling with charging for the value we offer and a end user that has been conditioned to having insurance pay the cost. Your concise statements about the underlying truth that we value what we invest in is very helpful. Thanks

  • http://www.jimdonovan.com/ Jim Donovan

    Great post, Michael. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve given away and when I saw the person later, they hadn’t even opened it. I still do it but only when I sense the person is truly interested. I also published my “Jim’s Jems” newsletter for several years before I ever offered anything for sale in it.

    For me, some of the issue is that writing comes easily and I felt weird charging for it. It’s like, how can I charge for something that’s comes so easily? I still charge less for speaking than I probably should but, again, a conflict between money and wanting to spread a positive message to people who need help.

    The classic was years ago, when I was meeting with my coach working around money issues, she said she wanted to buy 10 copies of one of my books for her clients. I quickly replied, “No problem, I’ll give them to you.” Duh!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jim. I understand.

      That’s where I think my second point is so important. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for them. It really does insure that they are more focused and more likely to follow through.

  • Matt Schmidt

    Many in the world of online business express the importance of giving free information to establish relationships and show expertise. When do you know it is the right time to start charging for service?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      When the mortgage comes due. ;-)

      Seriously, I don’t think you can start too soon. It’s not really an either / or option. You can offer stuff for sale right alongside your free stuff. That’s what I do.

  • http://inpursuitofhappiness.net/blog Miss Britt

    YES! This has been a really difficult transition for me because, like you, I started blogging for free and did so for a long time. #3 is what sticks with me the most, although I’ve been learning recently that #2 is also a factor.

  • philipdevine

    Michael, the timing of this post is perfect. I’ve got a few products in the pipeline and was initially going to give them all away for free until I felt like I had enough of a platform (i.e. what would make me qualified to charge) before charging for anything. However, after reading this post, it has challenged me not only to take my work serious, but also to create products that I feel are worth paying for, based on the value they provide.

  • Mark Russell

    Good word. Busting the free myth with this one.

  • http://www.lindalochridge.com/ Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    Michael, I like what Marie Forleo said in one of her MarieTV episodes. A viewer had similar questions about her own motives for wanting to make more money. Marie pointed out that the more money one makes the more impact one can have on the world, reach more people, give more to others, etc. I totally agree here as well.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      She has a way of saying it, doesn’t she? Love her stuff!

  • http://www.GreaterImpact.org/ Nina Roesner

    Before I left the secular training industry, I used to charge $500/hour and people taking my courses would spend $2K to participate. Now, doing ministry, I have received gobs of criticism for trying to cover just my costs, and am wondering if this is due to being female, being in ministry, or whether it’s just the 20% of vocal naysayers we all deal with. Got thoughts?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I don’t know your context, so I can’t answer definitely. But I would bet it’s the last option. My advice? Ignore them. Keep charging. Don’t think twice. The laborer is worthy of his hire.

      • Karen

        I have found that the church world is the hardest world to value one’s services and pay a fair market price. Non-profits tend to regularly remind us they are helping people but the bottom line is they still make a profit. In the church world, being a female can bring less revenue because often there is a mindset of the male being seen as “needing” the income to support his family whereas the revenue of a female is often understood as being “supplemental” and therefore not needing to be paid for actual worth but according to perceived need or lack of. I believe all three of the things you mention (along with most Christians having an unhealthy and unBiblical perspective of or relationship with money) create the perfect storm for people in the church world to criticize or not pay a fair rate for services rendered. I agree with Michael to ignore this and keep charging! I acknowledge it as a reality, continue to charge (acknowledge worth) and take it as an opportunity to share the Biblical perspective pertaining to work: to pay and be paid for services (I Timothy 5:18). As a Christian I want to honor this Biblical principal in all of my business relationships whether I am the consumer or the business owner. I “give” in all my work because I “give” my best and give as if unto the Lord. What a consumer can know about the services I render is that I will charge a fee and what they receive will be as if I’m doing the work for Jesus.

        For me, the most important work around this matter is done IN me- my having a Christian perspective of money. The more I do this work the more anchored I am in this particular storm rather than the storm being inside of me. Jesus has taught me the amount of money I possess does not establish my worth as a person in the eyes of God instead he is concerned with how I relate to and handle it. Constantly asking myself, is the way I’m handling money getting in the way of God’s purposes and Biblical truths for my life or the lives of others? I have not “arrived” but I must say the storm is no longer violent or wrecks my ship!

  • Terry Lursen

    Thanks a lot for this. All that you said makes sense, is humble and gives good spiritual guidance as well.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com/ Paul B Evans

    Awesome post, Michael!

    Creatives have a hard time charging because it does feel like selling out. Often we are afraid that we will get labeled as a “marketer.” (GASP!!) Maybe a promoter. (Say it ain’t so!)

    Also, a lot of creatives I work with loooooooove the purity (superiority) of giving everything away. They feel it separates them from the hype and hope crowd. Which is does, of course, only they also feel bad about not making any money from their hard work. Double whammy! :(

    Love the point about impact. I’ve been challenging my folks to stop thinking about how much they want to make – since they feel it’s a little icky to think that way.

    Instead they should ask… “How much do I want to give away?”

    We can help all our readers for free with posts and podcasts – but orphanages, schools, charities – need money. The more we make the more we can help. We can replace getting rich personally with helping organizations and people. That keeps me motivated!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love your comment, Paul. Spot-on, as usual. I like the shift in your question, “How much do you want to give away?”

      • http://www.paulbevans.com/ Paul B Evans

        That question has shifted me for sure. If I want to give away $25K then that changes how much I need to make.

        If I say, “I want to make 6 figures,” I think I am limiting how much I can give away. Plus, most creatives tend to set that figure as a minimum just to get by and protect themselves from feeling greedy. “If I could make $40k then I could blog full time.” That’s not wrong, but it sure limits the amount you could giveaway.

  • http://www.AmyThedinga.com/ Amy Thedinga

    This is so good Michael! A YEAR after Launch, I’m finally coming around to the belief that I need to charge for my content. I think at its core, it’s a confidence issue. Why would anyone be willing to pay to hear from me? Changeing how you see yourself is the critical first step.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. You are spot-on.

    • Michelle

      Michael, your observation (in your comment to Andrew) “The toughest sale I ever make is the one I make to myself. If I am sold, I can sell it” is spot-on.

      As someone who was inculcated (as most of us were) with the “money is evil—or at least, you know…unspiritual” mindset, I do struggle with what you write about. And as I continually pep-talk myself into a better mindset, one of the things that helps the most is the concept of offering *value* as opposed to time.

      The industrial revolution taught us all the “hours for dollars” mentality, but when you stop to think about it, it doesn’t make much sense for most professions.

      When I pay for a product I’m buying its value to me, not the time of the workers who produced it. And now that I think about it, when I’m buying a *service,* I actually DO care about the time, but in the inverse direction! For instance, if I take my car to the mechanic, I’d prefer her/him to take LESS time (and get me on the road again faster!) provided that the work is done right.

      So as service provider myself, the more I can remind myself that my clients are paying for the value I offer them and not necessarily my time (although of course there’s a correlation), the more I’m able to “sell myself,” as you phrased it, on charging appropriately for what I do.

      Thanks for so clearly articulating this very important subject!

      • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

        This is a really important distinction, Michelle. Thanks for taking time to comment.

  • http://www.ejectingballast.com/ Matthew Hexter

    Michael, your post is spot on! Also just as important is to NOT undervalue the work product or service you provide. I recall the conversation I had with my dad when I purchased my first rental property. With over 30 years of experience in real estate, he told me to charge the highest rate in the neighborhood (that the market would support). He said the “class” of renters I would get would be much better than average. And he was right! I charged $50 more then my fellow landlords and the type of renters I attracted were those I could entrust with my own home. But it also meant I had to provide a superior product (inside and out) as well as superior service. I was called up to a higher standard and it made me a better landlord and person. It was a win-win for both sides. The principle you identified in your post is transferable to all aspects of business. Thanks for sharing!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This is such an important principle. Thanks for sharing.

    • http://brucercross.com/ Bruce R. Cross

      Matthew – are you the one and same Matthew from OH that I met at Wild at Heart Boot Camp in AUG 2008 and / or APR 2009??? I think so!!

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    Here’s what I have to keep reminding myself of, if the end user isn’t going to pay for it, someone still pays for it. That someone will either be me or someone who supports me.

    This is very true in ministry. Many people feel that if you are offering some sort of spiritual help or doing some sort of religious work then you should do it for free. Often it’s the case that those being ministered to don’t pay, but someone is still paying, otherwise I wouldn’t be getting a salary every month!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Great point!

  • http://www.mikejwilliams.com/ Mike Williams

    Well said. I think that we (humans) sometimes feel that if the work is ministry, or teaching, then we can’t earn a good income. I think that we have to broaden our perception of ministry, as demonstrated by Rabbi Lapin, Dave Ramsey, and of course you. All of which are teachers and ministers that earn a living for the service they provide.

  • Ken Trupke

    Great post, Michael!

    The free market is all about exchanging value for value. Ideas expressed in blogs, podcasts, etc. are less tangible – but no less valuable – than other products, and the producers should be compensated appropriately for their efforts.

    And let’s remember: “MAKING” as much as we can only happens when we PRODUCE as much as we can. (Pretty hard to argue against making the best/most use of our talents!)

    This topic is so rich in lessons and truth. Thanks for hitting it head on!

  • Yvonne Ortega

    I want to be the best for the Lord and it takes money to attend conferences, trainings, and make products for the back table. Also I want to give more to the ministries I help support.

  • http://bloggingyourpassion.com/ Jonathan Milligan

    Michael, I think you were listening in on our mastermind call yesterday! We spend a great deal of time on this topic. I completely agree with your points. Reminds me of Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s quote: “Indeed we do serve God by serving his children. There is something very special, almost holy, about serving our customers, taking care of our clients, and attending to our associates.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love his book. One of my all-time favorites.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      GREAT quote!

  • Maria

    Thank you so much for this great post. It had a great impact in my way of thinking as a professional. Actually, it helped me realize how unprofessional I’ve been so far. I appreciate that!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      True. Professionalism is a huge piece of this, Maria. Good insight.

  • http://brucercross.com/ Bruce R. Cross

    Your posts are so timely for me. This is really essential “stuff” for me to hear as I am getting started. A great resource to dig deeper into this perspective you address is Rabbi Daniel Lapin’s book, Thou Shall Prosper. Thanks again for the awesome content!!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love Rabbi Lapin’s book. It is a great antidote to unhealthy thinking about money.

  • Charles Pobee-Mensah

    Thanks for this post, Michael. I read Seth Godin’s post for today before reading yours. I think that both the perspective in the video he links to and your perspective are both important to grasp. I don’t struggle with the idea of charging so much as the idea of charging a high price or raising prices. It’s a difficult hurdle to get over while my own family is trying to cut expenses and get out of debt.

  • http://iamcalebcampbell.com/ Caleb Campbell


    Great post. I apologize in advance if you have already answered the question, but at what point do you start charging as a speaker? Any advice on how to squeeze that into a conversation while discussing the details? I feel as of I should be charging more but I want the job and don’t want them to run when I put a price on it. Trying to find a happy medium. Thanks for all you do!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’d say as you “turn pro” in your head. We have a whole conference on this called Launch.

  • Marty B.

    Excellent post, Michael. Feeling guilty about accepting money even when good value is provided seems to be prevalent in certain religious backgrounds. I read an excellent book on this exact topic that everyone should read. It is called “Thou Shall Prosper” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. It discusses how earning money for providing a valuable service is Holy and honors God, others, and ourselves.

    Thank you for all the work that you do. I appreciate it very much and am a regular listener to your podcast and reader of your blog.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yep. I love that book. One of my all-time favorites.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    Respect. Others. Impact. Solid points, those.

  • http://www.apprenticeshipofbeinghuman.com/ Graham Scharf

    Thanks for the encouragement to create value! Just this week I had a young fundraiser for a non-profit ask for me for suggestions of ways to break the unending cycle of asking donors for money. We talked about establishing price points for the recipients of services – precisely because (as you noted) that establishes the market value of your good or service.

    Given your conviction and passion on this issues, I think you’d enjoy this piece on Value, Values and Valuation which argues that “Value is the currency of every non-coercive cultural exchange, commercial and non-commercial, profit and non-profit.”

  • DerekDRobertson

    I was guilty of asking why Dave Ramsey charged for his courses. Thought he was trying to save us money but learned this lesson that you blogged about. You won’t hold stock in something you haven’t invested in. Thanks for posting this.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I agree. Even broke people need to pay something. Usually, the thought they could get something for nothing is what got them into trouble!

  • http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com/ sharon Vornholt

    Michael – this is a great article!

    I am at the point in my business where I am struggling with this issue. I am transitioning from “free” to courses and to charging for my knowledge, and I too am amazed at the people that get upset. They think everything should be free.

    And to make matters worse if you point them to quality free resources, they have no problem telling you they don’t have time to read “all that stuff”. One lady asked me if I couldn’t just send her screenshots of exactly how I have A, B and C set in my business up with complete step by step instructions.

    Well no…..

    I love this comment; “When you start charging for your services, you go from being an amateur to being a pro”.

    I love, love this article.
    Sharon Vornholt

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Sharon. It is amazing what people feel entitled to. More and more, I just realize these people aren’t my audience.

      • http://LouisvilleGalsRealEstateBlog.com/ sharon Vornholt

        That’s a great way to think about it; not my audience. Thanks once again for sharing such great content.

  • Mark DeJesus

    I do find that even in church and ministry work, people will engage the process of transformation more in their lives when they invest in their growth. i used to give away a lot of materials and do free teaching conferences, and way too many took a laid back approach to application. What you share is very true. I would add that when they see value and learn to invest in resources, conferences and teachings, they are investing in their development and growth in major ways. We have no problem paying for a doctor or therapist visit, but we can often look for a free ride in areas of personal investment. Great leaders and overcomers are willing to invest in their growth!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Absolutely. I agree. The people I admire the most are people who are lifelong learners. They invest in their personal development.

  • http://www.professionalcontentcreation.com/ Rebecca Livermore

    I love this one, Michael, in large part because I think it’s something everyone in business has had to grapple with.

    There is a flip side to this and that is that many people want to be paid good money for what they do and yet always seek to pay as little as possible to other people. There’s a real disconnect there when you think about it! So the other side of this coin is treating people the way you want to be treated and compensating them well, even if you can get away with not doing so. Though I haven’t been able to prove it, I believe that being generous with other people has led to people being generous with me. Plus I sleep better at night with this approach!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I so agree with your comment. Thanks!

  • Stephan Serfontein

    Michael, thank you for this very important post. As a Christian I had doubts about expanding my career as Internist and take on new opportunities in my field. I have a very successful practice and when the opportunity came to take on additional work as a hospitalist at a prestigious hospital nearby I was concerned about taking this on because it also meant getting paid more for services they need. I toiled with the idea of doing this part time, but I realized that I will then become an add-on, being there as a back-up only and never fully committed. That is why I agreed to take on the position full-time, I will be expected to show up, do my best and advance the aims of the Institution, while at the same time reaping benefits from interaction with very smart colleagues – and yes getting paid well. I am also continuing my Private Practice as before and enjoying the benefit of the two wonderful worlds of Internal Medicine. Thank you for a great post!

  • gracieintouch

    Thank you Michael! You are indeed a Thought Leader i respect. This has been very eye-opening for me. I have even scheduled a call with my mentor to discuss this but your blog has answered so much of my questions. For me it’s about mental transition…I have been in missions as a volunteer for over 12 years and now I’m in the season of creating training products and i SERIOUSLY struggle with setting price. I will have to re-read this article to re-wire my mindset :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. You might also want to read Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. Several commenters above mentioned it. It did more to adjust my mindset than anything.

  • http://www.keithferrin.com/ Keith Ferrin

    I couldn’t agree more Michael. I remember when I was first starting out – in speaking at events – someone who had been doing it a while told me “Make sure you charge something. The planner of the event will see more value in it, he will promote it more because he has some skin in the game, and more people will attend. Only then can your message impact as many people as possible.”
    Great advice that I’ve found to be true for almost 20 years now!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      It’s true for every person involved in the project. Great thoughts, Keith.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Keith. I remember Ken Davis sharing the story of a patron who wanted to pay the fees, so Ken could speak for free at churches who couldn’t afford him. He discovered almost immediately that these were the sponsors who didn’t promote his events or, in one case, canceled the event and forgot to tell him until he arrived!

      • http://www.keithferrin.com/ Keith Ferrin

        Oh my. I’ve had late cancellations…but not that late!

        ——– Original message ——–

  • Sandy Cooper

    Thank you for this post, Michael. I’ve been blogging for free since 2008 and teaching classes and bible studies for free since 2004. Before that, I was the only non-paid staff member at my church, where I ran the nursery and preschool. I used to have to pay a sitter to watch my kids so I could go into church and work for free.

    For me, the point that resonated the most was the fact that I don’t take it as seriously because I am not getting paid. For a long time, with the blogging, I treated it like a business, even though it didn’t generate a dime. But after years and years of this, it’s easy to just shrug my shoulders and say, “Meh” when life gets busy and it feels too hard to write new content.

    Because my husband has a great job, we technically don’t “need” the money. But, after reading your post, I’m realizing it’s not really about that. It’s about assigning value to my time, my work, my product.

    Thank you.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Sandy. You hit the nail on the head.

  • http://www.seanmintyre.org/ Sean McIntyre

    Number two is very true and even has application in other areas. We used to give poor people money to start businesses in developing countries. This is obviously a good thing to do but these days we give interest free loans. This has the advantage that the money can be used again to help someone else. But we also find that people have more respect for themselves and for the business.

  • Jose Vargas

    Very well said Michael. I read a book some time ago that really digs deep into this mindset. Tho shall prosper by rabbi Daniel Lampin. Good book!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yep, that’s one of my favorite books ever.

  • http://www.kenzimmermanjr.com/ Ken Zimmerman Jr.

    Another though provoking post, Michael. Even though I have plans from the beginning to monetize my blog at some point, it was a challenge to actually do it. I saw the desire for free stuff more when I published my first history book. Many people asked if I was going to give them copies for Christmas. If I had asked them if they were going to clean up my yard for Christmas, they would have been understandably offended. That was my “aha” moment, when I realized the sometimes skewered view people have to charging for your work. It helped me get past the conflicted feelings that I had.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love your clean-up-my-yard comment. That puts it into perspective!

  • http://whiskeynose.com/ Ernie Ayres

    I am asked all the time to do computer work and iPhone repair for free. I asked a painter (close friend) that I help a lot for free to help us with painting a few walls in our house as we were trying to sell it. He started quoting me prices. That’s when I stopped doing computer repairs for free. I still get requests from friends to repair iPhones, iPads, computers, etc. at cost. As much as it may hurt initially to say no, it’s better in the long run.

    If friends can’t understand that, then it’s his/her problem, not mine.

    I do woodworking on the side, not a paying gig at all. I don’t mind helping friends for free with that. It’s just different when people ask you for free work when that’s your livlihood!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. It’s like walking up to your dentist and church and asking him if he could fix a tooth for free.

  • Denise_Brouillette

    Great post. Thanks. I run a leadership development company. And while we charge a high enough fee for executive coaching, the fee for our two new leadership program offerings could absolutely be higher. This post has caused me to reconsider that pricing. Thanks again for all that you do. I appreciate your blog and all of the useful information that you put out there in the world. That said, I was also early to sign up for your membership site and be willing to pay for other content. The main reasons for that willingness are your content is practical, useful, and comes from your personal experience, and you have proven yourself as a person of the utmost integrity. Thanks again.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Denise. I really appreciate the trust you have put in me. I don’t take that lightly.

  • http://www.biblicalremains.com/ Larry Largent

    Great post Michael! As a writer/speaker who is directly marketing to other christian ministries, I sometimes struggle with having the confidence to charge for my material. This is especially true since I am ultimately seeking to provide information that I think is important to their faith and their understanding of the biblical text.

    As a person with a nascent platform geared towards churches what is the best way to negotiate those types of issues? If someone is just starting out should they offer speaking engagements for free in order to develop their tribe and platform before beginning to charge speaking fees?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, you might want to offer your services for free to get the practice. But I would put a value on them, even if you waive the fee. One of the things you can do is respond, “I’d be happy to consider that. What is your budget?” Or, if you are little more brave, you can say, “I’d be happy to consider that. I typically charge $X for an event like that. Would that work for you?”

      • http://www.biblicalremains.com/ Larry Largent

        Thanks for the advice!

  • Sharon Spano

    Thanks, Michael, for this most important post. I think this is something that many of us struggle with in the realm of intellectual property. As a speaker, I often get asked to speak for free. I know you know how that goes. Because we make it look easy, people assume it is easy. I learned a long time ago that it was important to charge for all my services. Every point you’ve made is absolutely true. I do some pro bono speaking several times a year, and, on occasion, I’ll consult with a small business owner who may be referred to me via my church. But I limit these opportunities for exactly the reason you’ve stated. I’m committed to making as much money as possible so that I can help more people. Our God is an abundant God who has blessed us with talents. However, we create more value, as you’ve so eloquently stated, when we charge for those services. And, we teach out children the value of time and money along the way.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Sharon. I just created this page for when people ask if they can get together and “pick my brain.”

  • Karen ODonnell

    thank you, Michael. Much appreciated post. Your ratio of giving, giving giving before asking is larger than the majority out there. You are all about adding value first….more value than is expected — always. Money is a result….not the cause. Service above self is important. Service at our expense without receiving compensation to provide for family and self….everyone hurts. Being single, I sometimes forget this important lesson — thank you!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Karen. I appreciate your kind words.

      • Karen ODonnell

        And in response to your question– yes, I sometimes struggle with ‘fees’…..AND this week I did raise fees at the dental office — and no one noticed!

  • Deborah H. Bateman

    Michael, thanks for sharing this post. I have given away thousands of books for free and have posted free Bible studies on my blogs for several years now. I recently created my first online training course and I think some people may find it hard to believe I am charging for the course. I really don’t feel guilty and neither should you. If you’re like me you’ve spent plenty of money and countless hours studying, watching webinars, listening to teleseminars and coaching calls. We have invested time and money into what we have learned and it is valuable. Our followers should realize the value of what we are sharing. I wish you the best.
    Deborah H. Bateman

  • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

    I used to struggle with it more than I do now (although I still have to talk myself through it from time to time!). What really motivated me to charge is how it motivated my clients to ACT. I do high-end speaking coaching for a select number of clients. For years, individuals would ask me to meet for coffee, share a “quick” phone call to discuss speaking and their presentation(s). In almost every case, very little action resulted after our consultation. Not only did it feel like a waste of valuable time, I hated it for my clients. They were missing out on huge opportunities. Now I charge a pretty sizable hourly rate (in spite of my heart to give it away for free), and the results have been significant and immediate. I coach/consult because I care about life-change. Now I can actually see it happening!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I love your story, Michele. What a great example!

  • Aaron Lage

    This is a very helpful post. A needed reminder and one I hope more people take to heart. Especially pastors!

  • http://www.CharlesSpecht.com/ Charles Specht

    Great article, Michael.

    I’m getting to the point of charging for my services as a consultant. I’ve been gathering counsel from people about how to charge and one of the things I’ve been told over and over again is to charge more (up tp 10x more!). Value is perceived with price, and too often we lower our fees in order to gain customers. But very often just the opposite occurs. We lower our fees and lose customers.

    PS: People who complain about other people capitalizing on their platforms are typically people with no platform themselves. Jealousy takes on many forms.

  • Caleb Griffin

    As an attorney, I once saw pro bono work as a potential marketing tool. However, I’ve discovered that pro bono clients are generally the least appreciative and the hardest to please. Paying clients seem to recommend me to their friends more enthusiastically and more often. I hear it’s worse for public defenders.

  • Logan

    FYI, in the paragraph that begins with “This bothered me more than it should of…” it should be “should have” not “should of”.

    Great post. Thanks. I do freelance web design, and I’m also in Youth Ministry (a surprisingly common combination). Most of the time people balk at my fees for web design, but I just charge what I need to make it worth BOTH of our time. People don’t understand that when they underpay or don’t pay at all for their website (arguably the most important part of their business/brand), they get subpar work.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Good catch on the typo. Thanks! I have fixed it.

  • Lori Vande Krol

    Excellent article. Thank you.

  • http://unlikelyradical.com/ Mike

    Oh do I ever know this one. As someone who is building up an integrative financial coaching service (as much about healing one’s relationship to money as wealth building and debt elimination) I find it quite difficult to charge those who may be financially distressed. I say (and believe) that if you spend a little now, it will help you greatly in the long run, but that can sometimes feel like a hard sell, both to myself and to my clients.

    Does anyone here have a similar situation? How do you handle this?

  • Jacob Sweeney

    I noticed this principle when I got out on my own and was paying my own way. As a kid I couldn’t care less how messy my room was. Once I was paying the bill every month I found I had a lot more motivation to keep my home in the best possible shape.

    How do you recommend someone getting started as a speaker? I have always love to speak and preach and have gotten pretty good. I recently won an award. But, finding offers to speak at camps, events, churches, etc has been difficult. In fact, I have yet to get an offer! But, this is something I really want to do. What are some key steps I can take to get my speaking platform off and running?

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

    You know for a long time I struggled with charging for my work until I read these 4 verses from the Apostle Paul,

    1. “I’ve never, as you so well know, had any taste for wealth or fashion. With these
    bare hands I took care of my own basic needs and those who worked with
    me. In everything I’ve done, I have demonstrated to you how necessary it
    is to work on behalf of the weak and not exploit them. You’ll not
    likely go wrong here if you keep remembering that our Master said,
    ‘You’re far happier giving than getting.” (Acts 20:33-35, The Message) = THE LESSON: I need money to take care of myself, those who work with/for me, and to help others in need.

    2. “Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.” (Eph. 4:28, The Message). = THE LESSON: I cannot give or help others if I do not have it to give.

    3. “But if anyone does not
    provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has
    denied the faith and is worse off than he was when he was a nonbeliever.” (1 Tim. 5:8). = THE LESSON: Not providing in all areas (even financially) for my family first is to completely reject the faith that Christ gives me.

    4. “Give
    a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard
    at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working
    ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.” (1 Tim. 5:17-18, The Message). THE LESSON: Paul quoted CHRIST AND MOSES as proof that one should get paid for his labor.

    These four verses forever changed my thinking concerning charging for my services.

  • http://www.stephenpbrown.com/ Stephen P Brown

    I’m struggling with this topic and at the moment, do both. When I publish a new piece of music, I give it away for free for the first week and then charge a regular higher-than-normal price. (Almost every piece is the same cost so you know how much it’s going to be.) Have I made many sales? I only started the project in May and no, no sales yet. It is my intention that from year 2 of the project (out of 7) that I’ll charge right upfront. I’m only now just installing a system to measure how many times the piece is downloaded in week 1. I’ve always agreed with the three points you make, Michael, but also want to build a following, too. Funny thing is, I get more feedback from non-performers who listen to the computer-generated audio tracks, than I do from performers!

  • http://markstruczewski.com/ Mark Struczewski

    This post is spot on, @mhyatt:disqus. As an aspiring speaker building my platform, I struggle with this. You commented in a post on your Platform University (which, if you are not a member of, I HIGHLY recommend it!). You said “By the way, your site is beautiful. Love it!” Well, as I am building my speaking platform, I have been approached by people to build them a website like mine. At first, I did it for free…and then I realized, “that’s dumb!” So now, even though I have no desire to become a website guy (I build sites and then hand my clients the keys), I decided to monetize my expertise. Here’s what I learned as people started paying me: they respected me more; they considered me an expert. Go figure!

    I think, for me (and I know I am probably the only one in the world), I struggle asking to be paid for my work.

    You mentioned that people don’t appreciate free advice. Well, here’s the thing with me. Dave Ramsey gives away free advice on his radio show…and as a result, my wife and I have purchased all of his books…and paid for Financial Peace University.

    You give away lots of content for free on your blog, but I have purchased your book and am a member of Platform University.

    Yes, we all need to be paid for our work.

    Again, thanks for the post.

  • http://workoptions.com/ Pat Katepoo

    Struggle? Oh, yes. Not so much with my products, but for consulting services. I have fee-for-service offerings, but I’ve found many people need just a one-time snippet of my strategic advice to solve their question, and I don’t want money to be a barrier to helping them. So I give away snippets of my time (and expertise).

    Cumulatively, it’s not much time and I enjoy doing it. But still, I came to realize I needed to respect the value of what I offer. So I set a limit on the free time given for any given individual, and reference my fee-for-service offerings if the boundary is reached or pushed.

  • Amanda Roquet

    This is great, and I love your work. I think you deserve to be paid for the hard work you do on this. I have adhd and it has helped me to use your tips tremendously :)

  • http://www.studythebible.us/ Jerry McKee

    I have recently started my platform and have struggled with the idea of monitization. Not because what I have to say isn’t valuable, but because it is a Bible study site and I felt odd charging to help people study the Bible. Your post today has helped me realize that charge for a service is a lot different than teaching the Bible.

    I guess is comes down to the fact that when I was a pastor I got a paycheck. Why should this be any different.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt


    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      That’s a good mindset shift Jerry. Don’t forget, there’s also people charging for a Bible. Did you feel odd buying yours? Or were you glad you had the chance to pick one up?

      And, here’s the kicker, if someone really needs the bible study, you have the authority to give it to them, free of charge.

  • LadyMcKermit

    I really appreciate this post, Michael. I am just beginning to start my coaching business and because I am new in the business I have inadvertently offered services for free to two different people and it makes me feel good to help them but I wish I had something along the lines of “I am happy to answer some general questions but for coaching, I charge XX amount an hour.” I appreciate your guidance.

  • http://www.TheIronJen.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    AWESOME post Michael! In finding my ideal audience, one of my criterias was to find one that able to not only benefit from our message, but also one that would value our message. I totally agree that most times, people don’t appreciate or value services when they are given away with no skin in the game.

    I see it so much in women especially that it is all too easy to devalue our selves so easily by giving things away for free. I loved Daniel Rabbi’s explanation that when we allow folks to pay us, it is a token of their appreciation.

    Having said that, it is something at times I still struggle with, however, keeping my family at the top of my priority list helps to remind me I have a responsibility to fill my cup so that it can overflow to others.
    Thank you for the post!

    • Jim Martin

      Jen, I really struggled with this issue for a number of years. However, I eventually realized that the problem was that I was not valuing my own work. Consequently, some others did not as well.

      • http://www.TheIronJen.com/ Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

        GREAT point Jim!!! Like any “mind regraining process” where we flesh out the negativities in our life it takes practice. THANK YOU for sharing!

  • http://www.BattleFocused.org/ Robert Sims

    Yes, I have struggled with charging. After completing a 20-year military career, I developed a Christian reference card based on several months of Bible study and my experiences as a soldier. I self-published the work on quality card-stock, setting a modest price, and developed an online ministry with free content — which also served as a platform to promote the publication. Over the next decade, charging for that card essentially financed the growth of the online Christian ministry even with only modest sales. Whenever a “big” sale occurred, I soon learned that God had provided the money just-in-time to pay the next “big” bill. :) Today the publication is offered for free as a PDF, but when I finish the revised version of the reference card (and overcome procrastination & other obstacles to develop a workbook) I will charge for my work once again. Hopefully, I have learned some lessons from you to grow my platform even further this time around, and to make my ministry more effective for the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Thank you, Michael, for your encouraging work!

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    Thanks for the reminder Michael. At times I struggle with charging money for my writing or a course I’m trying to put together. It’s tough… But I’ve begun to run ads on my site and bring in a small income from it. Nothing fancy but it’s getting paid.

    It hasn’t changed my perception and I haven’t heard any complaints. My next step is to survey my subscribers and see if they’d mind if I tossed out great offers I find once in awhile. This could be a valuable step in creating a more lucrative site.

    • Jim Martin

      Joe, I look forward to hearing more about the progress that you are making with this. It is helpful to me in light of my own blog, to hear what you are doing.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Thanks Jim! I’ll keep you informed. If you want to discuss anything, hit me up at joe@jmlalonde.com. Would love to help you out.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      The only thing I would challenge you to consider is the survey part. I wouldn’t ask them. They will tell you by their behavior. If you are truly serving your tribe, they will find value in these offers. In the abstract, I don’t think they would know how to answer. Also, I have found that what people tell you and what they will actually do are two different things. Thanks.

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        Thanks for the thoughts Michael. I think you may be right in that they wouldn’t necessarily know. Without seeing the information/products I’d share, they wouldn’t get a clear picture. Guess I’ll skip the survey and just share great resources I run into once in awhile.

  • kentsanders

    Michael, this is such an excellent post. I am working on developing my own products & services (Evernote training / coaching) and am having a hard time transitioning mentally to a paid model. I come from a ministry background, and it’s hard to think in terms of “charging” people for something (even though I was paid by my church, and am paid now by a Christian college). Really excellent and helpful thoughts for those of us struggling in this area.

    One way I am easing into all of this is by doing a few free Evernote coaching sessions for people. I get to see what people’s needs and questions are, they get some help without cost, and I can further determine the value of that service.

    You are absolutely correct – people value what they pay for.

    • Jim Martin

      Kent, wish you the best on the development of your Evernote training/coaching. So many of us find Evernote useful. No doubt your work will add value to the Evernote experience.

      • kentsanders

        Thank you, Jim! I appreciate the encouragement and vote of confidence!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      One thought for you, Kent … do a free assessment, propose your solution, but don’t actually do the work until they hire you. Lawyers and other professionals use this kind of model all the time. Thanks.

      • kentsanders

        Thank you, Michael – I appreciate the advice! I am completely new to the coaching side of things, so value any tips on helping me do it more effectively. :)

  • Jackie Brewton

    Great Post Michael. I really appreciate the usefulness of all of your posts. I registered to attend the Launch Conference in April and was so disappointed that it was postponed. My schedule would not allow me to come in September. Do you have any plans for another one at Winshape in April 2014?

    I speak to youth about abstinence and found myself doing way too many speaking engagements for free because I never wanted a teen who needed to hear the message not get to hear the message because their organization couldn’t afford me. I felt like I would be letting those teens down if I didn’t agree to speak for everyone who asked (granted my schedule allowed it). Fortunately, a consultant showed me another perspective. She explained that those teens were not my responsibility. They were the responsibility of the organization that asked me to speak. If the organization did not do what was necessary to secure funding to bring in quality speakers, they were the ones letting the teens down.

    I no longer feel guilty if I don’t accept a request from an organization that cannot pay my fee. That’s not to say that I never speak pro bono. I just don’t feel obligated to do so any longer.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Yes, indeed. The next one is scheduled for April 2014 in Orlando. We love WinShape, but it doesn’t quite work for this conference.

  • Linda Marlene Eales CBP

    Thank you for this excellent article, Mike! Although I am not a writer, I mentor many holistic health practitioners at my student clinic in Toronto, and there are many negative belief systems around charging for ‘healing’ work. However, we can’t help those who cannot afford our services unless we charge those who can. I will certainly be sharing your article – and your work in general, as it is inspirational – with my students and colleagues!

    I hope you can come to Canada to speak sometime and share your wisdom!



    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I’d love to come to Canada. I haven’t been there in two years. Thanks.

  • http://www.danadamsontrumpet.com/blog Dan Adamson

    I wrote a blog on a similar topic, but from a very different perspective…maybe a week ago. It applies specifically to musicians and the subject of whether they should be giving away their services for free: http://danadamsontrumpet.com/blog/why-if-you-love-what-you-do-you-should-want-to-give-it-away-is-nonsense/ I suppose this could be seen as shameless promotion, but really it’s incredibly relevant to the topic of this entry. Nice post.

  • http://ryanreed.me/ Ryan Reed

    Hey Michael! Great post, and thank you for putting words to many of our thoughts and inhibitions about charging for our work. I am curious to get your feedback in regards to asking a fee to read blog posts. I recognize that this is not a usual practice, but it has crept into a few of my conversations with other bloggers – precisely given the reasons you mentioned. In addition to providing regular content, I have thought about writing a post once a month or week that dives into greater detail about a certain issue (maybe a few times longer than the length of a typical post) and asking a few dollars for my readers to continue. I believe this kind of material falls in line with what you stated above. Thank you in advance for your feedback.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I do think some free content drives interest and list building. This is the purpose of my blog and podcast. It is the first entry point. If you wanted to charge for that, I would probably do it as part of a membership site. I might also do it as video or something that has a higher perceived value.

      • http://ryanreed.me/ Ryan Reed

        Thank you for your comment. I particularly appreciate the final point in your suggestion, charging for more substantive content, such as a video. That sparks my imagination! I love your website, podcast, and Platform University – all of which I glean from on a regular basis.

  • http://randythomas.co/ Randy Thomas

    this post was PERFECTLY timed for me today. I installed three ads (AdSense) on my blog two days ago, and then yesterday, I just felt terrible about it all day. I kept hearing all the old voices saying that “real bloggers” don’t do that. When I read your post and saw what you said about that being said by people who are employed … I laughed out loud! That is so true! They can say that because online ministry (blogging being part of that for me) is not their employment! Plus, the rest of your post echoed back some (and more) of the benefits from allowing advertising.

    Anyway, thank you so much for this post. It’s great.

  • http://www.beforethecross.com/ Mike Mobley

    Thanks so much for this post Michael! What would you recommend for my site to help bring in income? I created an advertise page with a media kit, etc but would love to get your thoughts if possible!

    Thanks so much for everything!

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com/ Lincoln Parks

    I used to feel this way all the time and felt as if I needed to give away my work for free. I agree with Michael, the more you give it away the more those same people will not read it, share it, or value it. We need to make sure we charge the price that is valuable to the marketplace. The more value that you create and put into the Marketplace the more value you put into your products or services, the more you will feel comfortable with charging. I had to get over this very hard lesson. Thanks Michael for clarifying this.

  • Lane Sebring

    “They didn’t seem to mind getting paid for their work; they just wanted me to offer mine for free.” Brilliant observation, and so true.

  • http://www.mikekim.tv/ Mike Kim

    I’m late to the party on this, but great post, Michael. I started consulting this year under the (remote) tutelage of you and Ray Edwards. I charged from day one and increased my rates with every new client. I’ve never looked back, and definitely stopped feeling bad after a client secured a $22,000 contract from a proposal I wrote from him. My fee wasn’t even a tithe of that amount!

    One tip for those doing quid pro quo: put the regular fee on invoices so the client knows the actual value of services.

    Another resource: The Consulting Bible by Alan Weiss. Great stuff for ALL paid speakers and consultants. Looking forward to meeting you at Platform!

  • Alina Zavatsky

    Tkank you for such an inspirational article, Michael! As a new blogger, I often feel like I’m so far away from the level of awesomeness that other, more established blogs in my niche have, so it seems like I would never get to the point where I could charge people for what I offer. Your post gave me some reassurance, because I’m confident about the quality of what my blog offers.

  • darkwah

    thanks. this has come at the right time; the time of selling my first book “Wellspring of Life”.

  • janiemg

    I have just begun to seriously invest in my writing career, and the difference is apparent immediately.
    I’ve begun to think of money as energy and focus on keeping it circulating.
    I especially like reason #3. There will always be people in need, and we have a responsibility to help and serve the good.

  • Deb Potts

    I do struggle with monetizing my blog. I get paid as a speaker, but have only gotten paid occasionally for writing. Your comments make so much sense Michael. I would add one more reason to charge for written material – to help support your favorite charity.

  • Carla Burrows

    I can really relate to what you are saying. I self-published my first
    book as a result of a deep desire to help others overcome their fears
    and challenges so they can pursue their dreams. However I completely
    shut down stop marketing the book as well as writing to encourage and
    inspire others because of this very conflict. Thanks for the post.

  • http://www.myaspergers.net/ steveborgman

    As someone raised in a very conservative Christian environment, I have always struggled with my entrepreneurial impulses, feeling guilty for the desire to make money and to charge for my services. Your post beautifully reframes my misconception, and also calls me out on my sometimes lazy approach to my work. Now I can shed the misconception and provide the best value while ensuring my customers benefit from paying for my services.

  • Mark Semans

    Michael, I find it interesting that people will pay $5 for a “coffee” offering no intrinsic value or capability to change the course of one’s life (other than spending $100@month); yet complain that information with life changing content isn’t free. It reflects the devaluing of people to the ‘me me’ feeling of the moment without regard to the ‘building of me’ to serve others.
    Rather like the offering plate in church-an inward view of what it ‘costs us’ and missing the opportunity for their life to be changed through the service to others.

    Your service to us is challenging your readers to think differently and cause a change in our local sphere’s – by investing in content. Thank you.

  • Christy Largent

    Excellent post. I was just having this conversation yesterday with my girlfriend who is a very talented interior designer. She has never charged for her time or work and I suggested she MUST charge. (Just as soon as she finished my house…just kidding!) I insisted on paying her – she is adding value to my life, I want to add value to hers.

    I find that people often think that because they are working in their area of talent and passion, maybe because it comes so easily, they shouldn’t charge for it. Nonsense. Payment elevates the experience on all levels as you so clearly pointed out.

  • http://bluecollarworship.com/ Neil Oldham

    While I don’t disagree and would love to be able to monetize my blog someday, I have to admit there’s also something powerful about people and organizations who have the means and choose to give something of great worth for free.

    The example coming immediately to mind is LifeChurch.tv who provides the best online Bible to the world for free (http://YouVersion.com) and provides amazing free resourcing to churches (like http://open.lifechurch.tv). Other large churches have traditionally charged for sharing their resources. I and the church where I serve are so grateful for their generous gifts and I see more and more people/organizations following their lead.

    It’s worth asking God to help us see what we need reimbursement for and what we can give. Thank you, Michael, for continuing to provide so much quality free resourcing to those of us just starting out in platform development without much jingle in our pockets!

  • Rain

    Such a great post Michael, thank you! I’ve been struggling with this as a new coach as well, trying to find a balance between charging what I feel like my time is worth and charging what my clients seem interested in paying. Plus because I am still relatively new as a coach many people still say that I should be offering my service for free, but if I do that then I’ll be spending more time at my 9-5 job and less time pursuing my dream of being able to help others full-time.

    Question: When do you think you’ve offered enough free pro-bono services, and when do you think it’s fair to say you’re experienced enough to start charging all of your clients?

  • Paul Hoyt

    I really appreciate this post, Michael. I own/run a small business that sells vintage and luxury watches online, and I’ve struggled with this when myself or one of my team members gets an email from someone saying that they feel we’ve priced a watch too high. Having team members read what is said has been more of a struggle than I’d like to admit. In those times I try to remember something my Dad said – growing up he had a side trading business and used to quote Proverbs 20:14 “’It’s no good, it’s no good’ says the buyer— then goes off and boasts about the purchase.”

  • http://leadbychoice.wordpress.com/ Kimunya Mugo

    Michael, reading your blog is like coming home after a long, dead-beat day. I have struggled with this issue for some time now. A few close confidants have even prodded my wife and I regarding a coaching program we are involved in. I guess my struggle has been how to move on to the next level while still keeping myself grounded. As someone said, keep my head in the clouds, my heart in the sky and my feet firmly rooted on earth. But your blog has inspired me to a massive re-think. It has given me hope that I can still continue to do good and still charge for it. My question is how do you determine the value-proposition especially in a market where there are no benchmarks?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kimunya. With regard to your value proposition, have you read this post? Not particularly, #2.

      • http://leadbychoice.wordpress.com/ Kimunya Mugo

        This is awesome Michael! It gave me a solid kick in the backside. I kinda have a little bit of all of them but not in a very coherent manner. This post offers me a real challenge and I will get some things sorted out this coming week. First, I will take time to develop my one-sentence value proposition. It is also time I stopped to procrastinate the registration of my domain. I think this will give me the required impetuous to get the platform for my upcoming book started off, prepare my workbook giveaway, and seriously plan for content development to add value to my audience.

  • http://www.thadthoughts.com/ Thad Puckett

    I needed to read this today. I am getting some blogging traction and attracting more parties who want to see posts they write and are compensated at my site (I allow guest posting). It is not uncommon for those people to decline, which is fine by me, but it sometimes is not a comfortable conversation for me. I am learning that it is okay for me to seek compensation for posts for which others are in fact being paid.

    A recent theme that has been running in my heart is the notion of the entrepreneurial spirit being an expression of the creativity God puts in us (a part of the image of God). I see that in what you are saying here. To do any less than my very best in every area of life (especially in my work) is to not glorify Him.

  • Legacy Dad


    Thank you sincerely for this post. I’ve been struggling with this for years now too and have finally decided to monetize my platform. I’ve always prided myself for not having a ton of flashing banner ads on my site, I’ve been to some sites that are simply marketing billboards with zero relevant content. But lately (and after reading Platform) I’ve decided to make the switch. Not necessarily for personal reasons, as I’ve spent thousands on my platform with no return, but to reach a greater audience and to continue to re-invest and grow my platform. In my day job, I make around $45 per hour and it takes time to write, speak or build a platform. Time away from family, time away from other ventures. So, why should we feel guilty for pouring our hearts into something and receiving a little compensation for our efforts? Thanks for helping me get over this hump!




  • Bulldog PT

    Rabbi Lapin says payment for service is needed to help the “giver” as well as the “receiver”. Without a ‘receiver’ the ‘giver’ can’t be “better”! Unless the service render is not good, the service-person should feel no guilt.

  • CJ

    Interesting, but difficult to overcome. For a few reasons.

    I remember Zig Ziglar being quoted so often when he said and wrote: ” You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want. Unfortunately he didn’t include the instructions to determine a market price for that help.

    The word help implies free. When you’re at work and someone needs assistance they ask you to help them. Many people when they move ask for help to avoid paying movers. The boy scout helps the little old lady across the street. In each of those examples and certainly the many, many others that exist, the word help implies assistance in whatever form for free.

    Someone mentioned Dave Ramsey. I finally gave up facilitating Financial Peace at my church because while I loved seeing people unburdened from the chains of debt, everyone in the process was earning income except for one.

    My time, ongoing learning, purchase of things to spark interest, creative giveaways, ads run in the newspaper and even assistance with paying for a kit were all on me. I was helping people (key word again) and getting nothing back for it. Dave made a profit with every kit sold, my church facilitator at Dave’s company got a commission for every kit sold, my church got increased giving based on the results of the class and my pocket because of my help was always a bit more empty at the end of each class. I have no problem with people making a buck. But why is it I always seem left out?

    Others mentioned the church as being the biggest offenders. In a word, I have to agree. There are always a few that get paid for their time and effort. All others in the help category are volunteers. Speak and it’s a donation. Play an instrument, sing in the choir, perform in a theatrical production, serve on the communion committee. The expectation is you’re helping. And of course, help comes with the implied free.

    Don’t mean to sound cynical. But for some reason being in the help business has an implied the help is free.

  • http://salescoachdew.com/about/ SalesCoachDew

    Michael – thank you! As a sales coach, my clients often tell me that they don’t ask for the business because they don’t want to be pushy – or salesy. But the reason we’re in sales is because our clients need or want our services – so we’re essentially doing a disservice by not asking for the business. I feel this falls in the same arena.
    Our time is valuable and if we don’t put a value on our time, then you’re right – we won’t be doing it for long.
    I’ll be using this post as a reference with my clients… Thank you.

  • Heath Padgett

    As a young writer & entrepreneur this was great to hear. I would love to invest in my craft (writing) full time. In order to do so I must make money. It only makes sense if people want to hear what I say, they should encourage me going “all in”. Thanks for the great post Michael!

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Good luck Heath! What type of writing are you doing?

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Michael,

    Well said. We deserve to make a living through our efforts, like anybody who offers a product or service. We simply need to cut through our silly beliefs about money and blogging to prosper accordingly. Thanks for sharing.

  • Robin Taney

    I don’t struggle with charging for my work; I struggle with charging enough. PR is a critical component of every businesses success, but because it’s so hard to quantify, I sometimes feel like clients think I’m selling The Emperor’s Clothes.

    A business coach told me it’s a confidence thing. I’m confident in my capabilities, but not so confident in pulling a number out of the air that is within what the market will bear. What do you think?

    As always, your posts are right on, Michael. Thanks!


  • Dave Russell

    I have struggled with the same issue of charging for my work. I do feel it is important though. Dave Ramsey teaches that when you meet your family needs and have a surplus left over you then have the opportunity to give charitably to worthy groups and individuals.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Dave Ramsey is a smart guy.

      As for the struggle, just do what Michael mentioned and consider what you’re doing as work, as a job. You wouldn’t go into your day job and not expect to get paid. Why should this be any different?

  • http://asmithblog.com/ asmithblog

    Thanks for this post, Michael!

  • Jai

    I appreciate for this post,MIchael.we can charge for better service by which people focus on taking service..nice
    michael my question are same as Jon Stolpe ask?


  • Jai

    nice comment

  • …..Dan

    Great post Michael. I think you do a great job providing free, paid and premium content and allowing the market to determine which one meets their needs. It’s a model I hope to mimic soon.

  • http://themarkcryan.com/ Mark Ryan

    I am at the burgeoning stage of my blog where I want to monetize but cannot come to grips with amazon affiliate links that have nothing to do with the content. I am probably at a perfect spot to join Platform U. I know in some of the side consulting things that I do I make sure and price right for the industry. With one opportunity my rate is over 200% more than the other, this is due to private investment firms paying vs. government contractors. I have no issue getting paid, it’s how do I get paid is the question that I ask most.

    • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

      Mark, I feel you on the hesitancy to post Amazon affiliate links to products if they have nothing to do with the content. However, find products that serve your market or audience and use the affiliate links for them.

      You may also look to cj.com and other affiliate programs that have multiple clients. I’m sure you can find something that is relevant without selling your soul. (-;

      • http://themarkcryan.com/ Mark Ryan

        Thanks Joe. I will definitely look into that.

  • Ree

    I speak in costume as a historical figure, and know I could charge more when I compare how much others are getting for the same type of program; however, I’m afraid if I charge more, I won’t be asked to speak. Also, quite often I’m approached by non-profit groups, who seem to feel that since they are non-profit, I should be, too. I do feel struggle with telling these organizations I charge a fee, but I remember the words of my mentor who said, “If they can get you for free, they will.”

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Your mentor is absolutely right. Also, I bet the people who work for the non-profit are taking a salary.

  • http://www.michaelfokken.com/ MICHAEL FōKKEN

    Great post! I struggle charging for carpet cleaning (the company I run) because I think, “That is way too much. I couldn’t afford that.” So I can’t charge people according to my ability to pay. I must charge according to their ability to pay and for the amount of work I’m doing.

  • Greg

    Michael, I completely agree with your thoughts on charging for work. However, I do some volunteer work in DR Congo teaching people how to start businesses that are capable of employing other people. I also teach them principles from the Bible that are critical to life and business. I just can’t bring myself to charge them anything even though I know I would get more serious students. NGOs in the area actually pay people to attend seminars which I tell them in advance that I will not do. Any thoughts?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      If it were me, Greg, I would charge them something, even if it is nominal and even if you don’t need it. They need it. They need to have skin in the game. Then I would position myself as “Yes, there are free programs. Some NGOs will even pay you to attend. But our program is far different and far better.”

  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

    “This bothered me more than it should have—until I realized the people who were challenging me were all employed. They didn’t seem to mind getting paid for their work; they just wanted me to offer mine for free.”

    Awesome, awesome point!

  • Tami Fenton

    Michael Hyatt, your words are so true, and I really needed to hear them. Thanks for being such an awesome example. I feel blessed to have found Platform University and I am soaking up all the wisdom from you – one who has gone before me – as I possibly can.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tami. I am glad you are part of Platform University!

  • http://www.sallyferguson.net/ Sally Ferguson

    As a writer, I come across as accomplished, so people think it comes easy to me. They don’t see the hours of agonizing over the words until they sing. So, if it comes easy, they think, then why would I have to pay for it? I needed this boost!

  • Crystal Gray

    FINALLY!! someone who explains this topic in excellence. Yes, I do have a hard time charging. Until recently the economic status AND a decrease in my salary at work AND my desire to never work for anyone (meaning company, business, church, non-profit organization, etc.) again. I know God is calling me to work for my income solo. But until I am “okay” with charging people to do what I love, I will be broke and disrespected. I have had enough of that attitude and set-back. PLUS, it DOES push you to be excellent in all you do. Thank you Michael for writing this and thank you to my sister for forwarding this post to me.

  • http://growing4life.net/ Leslie A

    Thanks for some good food for thought. I would like to add that it may very much depend on exactly what your content and purpose is. I believe that John MacArthur’s and Alistair Begg’s ministries have furthered the gospel and grown many believers a great deal by offering their podcasts at no charge. But that is why their ministries exist. And they can only do this because other people GIVE (which we can’t do if we aren’t getting paid). Just a thought…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      That’s a fair point. Thanks.

  • http://mconception.com/ Rainer Proksch

    Thank for such a great article. Its provides a true and practical thought about a situation that most of us face. The reasons given here are very much thought provoking that it is a help to a lot people who faces these kinds situations.

  • Nina Lewis

    I have always struggled with charging with what I am worth due to self-worth issues. However, I slowly realized that charging less only left me burnt out, no time to market and no money to re-invest back into my business. I think when people undercharge or give away free content; they are saying: I am not good enough. I know because I have experienced this first hand with my own limiting beliefs. On a side note, I feel that you can give away free content in terms of content marketing, but not actually doing work for a client who is looking to make a profit off your hard work and pays you nothing. Thanks for sharing! This helps me stick to my guns-I still have issues around charging enough so I just practice, practice, practice saying my higher rates without fear! : )

  • http://dalemelchin.wordpress.com/ Dale Melchin

    Michael, thank you so much for saying this. I work with people in my day job who will bemoan the rich ( I wanted to use something harsher, but I know I’ll get nuked). The thing of it is those who are successful either got it themselves, or they are building upon what life gave to them on the front end. It is not the place of the masses to try to pull those people down. I will definitely becoming back to this post as my platform grows. Thank you!

  • http://www.musicmarketing.com David Hooper

    I agree with the post, but I think the title is misleading as so many people work solely for the money. I think it’s great to get paid, but I also want to work with people who are so passionate about what they do that they’re do it (or something similar) for free, because it’s part of who they are.

  • Jorge

    I have been leading the music program at my church since May 2010 & spending more and more time on it has led me recently to believe I should be compensated. My wife does all the piano playing as well. What is the best way to request payment?

  • http://suwandytjin.com/ Suwandy Tjin

    Michael, I can see that there is great truth in your post. I am a newbie in terms of starting my own speaking, writing and training business. So far I have started by offering all my speaking for free as well as writing on my blog. I have plenty of useful materials that I know may worth a lot of dollars that only I can offer but yet to offer it. I am thinking of offering it via my blog but my blog’s only two months old and though I have been consistently posting I have yet to see enough traffic to justify offering paid contents.

    Should I wait until I have enough content (and traffic) before I begin offering paid content?

    One further thought I might add (and interested in your opinion): I once heard this about offering paid content: “When you charge, remember this principle: People will value you for how you value yourself. If you value your content and think that it’s worth thousands of dollars, don’t short change yourself by offering it too low, for people will consider you cheap because you value yourself cheap.” What do you think?

  • tmabie

    Speaking of giving things away for free, Thanks for the Life Plan ebook. Speaking of charging for your content, what’s the latest update on your Life Plan book that you’re publishing?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      We are still working through the Life Plan Manifesto. I finished the first draft in August. My co-author, Daniel Harkavy, is now working through his part. It will likely be out in December of 2014. Thanks.

      • tmabie

        Thanks for the update! Looking forward to it. Put me down for a copy! ;-)

  • Jenn Hoskins

    Yes! I needed to read this today, especially since I just asked a blogging group I am part of how to monetize without being a used car salesman. I have a women’s evangelism blog and I struggle so much with this. I wrestle with the idea that I am trying to profit from encouraging moms in evangelism and annoying my readers (none have ever expressed concern, it’s just me and what I feel like I am doing). I do some VA work to offset costs, which means I work for someone else to then turn around and pour the money into my blog/ministry, zero profit, a foolish business model to say the least. I really do need to remember that making money off of the site should be mandatory because I am taking time away from my family to serve my readers and I should be compensated since no one likes to work for free. I guess its hard to really realize that blogging really is a job. Plus, I am a mom of 6 so working for free with long hours is something I am already very familiar with! ;) Thanks for your encouragement!

  • http://www.junesjournal.com/ June

    Wow, lots of comments! Just seeing this post. Thank you for covering this topic. I actually penned a post called, “The Believer’s Discount” which addressed how complete strangers, often believers, approach me wanting a free website. Knowing I’m a Christian, they’d call my “business” line but expect me to work for free and give “in the name of the Lord.” I also had fellow African-Americans who would play what I call the “race card.” I’d hear, “Can you hook a brotha up?” While there are occasions I may do free work or favors to help family members or close friends–people I know–I have a rule not to perform this for strangers who ask. If I approach them and offer, that’s different (every now & then I “tithe” by donating services to a great cause). But yes, your point about how people who complain that you charge don’t mind getting a salary at their jobs for THEIR work really hits the nail on the head. Thanks again for a great post.

  • Belinda Smith

    When I first started my online business, I got an email from a friend which read, “Congratulations on figuring out how to monetize what I give away for free every day.” That passive aggressive comment still haunts me. …not enough to do it for free, though. :-)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. I would right back, “Obviously, I respect my work more than you do yours.” ;-)

      • Belinda Smith

        :-) Yes!!!! haha

  • David L. Montgomery

    Oh my! This is just the tonic I needed. I knew that even when do charge it wasn’t enough but rejection from the “free”dom seekers added that feeling too.

    You’ve put my concerns in perspective and the guilt is melting away. In short, “If you don’t think I’m worth it — you’re not worth my time either.”

  • Felicity Richards

    I absolutely agree with your position especially about the lack of appreciation for ‘free stuff” It’s so amazing how knowledge is not viewed by those who need it as a commodity worth paying for, paying something – even if it’s the economic cost of having it provided i.e. the time and effort spent putting the material together for others to absorb. I totally endorse this article as it seems commonly believed that only tangible goods and services ought to monetized by the sellers. Knowledge/information/ know how seems not to be recognized as worthy of being monetized. It’s the responsibility of the professionals whose work in knowledge based to change the way what they provide is viewed by charging equitable fees.

  • Mandy Worrall

    Thanks for this post. As a coach who coaches other coaches as well as other clients , guilt happens a lot. We don’t want to take advantage of those in need, while balancing value for money and the need to look after our own interests. I reposted this because it is succinct. I will of course dig deeper with each individual for their particular story and whether it is still relevant.

  • Ambaa

    So true, but so challenging!

  • Lisa

    Thank you for this post. A friend just sent it to me as I was struggling to prepare a quote for my videography work. Your insight is helpful. Thanks!

  • Joshua Christensen

    That is just an absolutely honest and real post! Thank you Michael.

    I’ve struggled over the years with charging people for my content and more and more, I am confronted with this very important problem that the only people I’m ‘helping’ are actually takers who aren’t changing anything. I’m committed to making a lasting impression in this world with the little time I have. I have valuable material that can change the people who employ it. If they don’t invest in themselves, no one else will. I can’t want it more for them than they want it for themselves.

    Besides, when I’m supported full time by this work, more people will be impacted and empowered. As a bi-vocational Thought Leader and Change Advocate, I’m divided in effort. A kingdom divided falls.

    Powerful stuff! Powerful!

  • http://thegreenleafblog.blogspot.com/ David Roiel

    Hi Michael.

    You still give lots for free; your blog, your podcast and your ebook! And I appreciate it very much.

    Working to give is the best motivation to work… God’s provision is constant, regardless of our job or status.


  • justpassingby

    There is nothing wrong with charging for your time even though it is a lesson I am still learning. People who want anything of value know they have to pay the right price for it and you should not do business with anyone who does not understand that.

  • Steven Dieringer

    Just starting out in business as a life coach I decided I actually have a healing ministry. With this revelation I decided I could not charge for it. After a couple of days I started to realize I owe it to the people I work with to charge them, and now after reading your blog I am certain this is the right thing to do.

  • http://www.frontline-network.org/ Garrhet Sampson

    Hey Micheal, I’m looking at monetizing my blog but I was wondering about some of the legal aspects of it. Do I need to register my blog as a business? Do you have any resources that you would recommend? Thanks!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I don’t have any resources on that. Sorry. I think this would vary depending on where you live. I didn’t get a business license until pretty far into the business—basically, not until I turned pro.

      • http://www.frontline-network.org/ Garrhet Sampson

        No problem, thanks for the reply. Looks like I have homework to do!

  • Scott Musgrave

    Sheesh – you pop in at the right time frequently with content that is so good for me and others as well.

    I gotta marinate in this one – let it set in my soul, Spirit and heart.

    I would tell you to stop so I can catch up – but I won’t…as I love all of this.


    YOU are very generous with your content.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Scott. I appreciate that.

  • Laura

    Oh my gosh you have articulated my feelings exactly! As someone who is cautiously moving towards monetizing this was really encouraging! Thanks so much!

  • http://patternsofsuccess.com/ Jason Richardson

    This is why Michael Hyatt is the master. Spot on!

  • http://www.BenMiller.com/ Ben Miller

    This is such a great post. I’m currently just getting started writing and speaking.

    Sometimes I feel like the opposite of this article. After running a business where I charged a premium for my services, now I want to charge a premium for my consulting and speaking. I know that I’m worth it, but I haven’t “paid my dues” in this field yet…. so I’m slowly earning my stripes.

    I often joke that my blog is costing me money because I’m paying to promote it!

  • ShawnPhillips

    Amen to all this… so true. People value what they invest in. The “free delusion” is what I call it. They think they want it for free, but like if fitness were effortless it would have no value and no one would care.

    Charge top dollar and over deliver.

  • http://onechrisdaniel.com 1chrisdaniel

    Great post Michael. As I’m changing my platform for the PU makeover and rebuilding my site to be much more robust, this helped me bring home the essence of my services. Thanks so much!

  • http://www.brokenpurposes.com/ Jeff McKee

    This post speaks exactly to where I’m at! I’m a pastor and have been blogging for some time now. After reading Platform and listening to your podcast (esp. episode w/ Dan Miller – $150,000), I became intrigued with the possibility of monetizing my platform. I’ve since purchased the Get Noticed Theme(which I LOVE!) and added a few E-Books to start off with. It’s slow – very slow, but I see potential. Even though I still feel that guilty sensation everytime I promote my material, I’m encouraged in the possibilities that lie ahead. Thanks again, as always, for timely and reassuring content!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Excellent, Jeff. Good for you.

  • Asbjørn Berland

    Michael, when do you believe it would be right for a pastor in a church to get paid for his work? What if the church is small and the members rather would like to have several lay-elders serve for them?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I think from the start. The amount will be smaller, because you don’t have many people. But those that do attend should get in the habit of contributing.

  • Eric

    i love how under you post it has the free screencast! haha nice

  • Patti

    Good post. In my context – I’m a Christian minister – amazing how many people think a minister should officiate at their wedding for $100 … or less. Usually involves 1-3 meetings ahead of time; a rehearsal one day, ceremony another (usually a weekend), and personal prep time. Caterer and DJ charge a fortune and no one blinks; minister (without whom, no marriage happens) gets a token gift. For a long time, I thought it was a great initial connection with a family, but… it’s not. I charge now.

  • http://www.louannstropoli.com LouAnn Stropoli

    Thank you!! I’ve worked in ministry for a long time and am now working hard to break through from the scarcity/poverty mindset. (This post is perfectly timed!) I’m also wondering if folks will be more interested in my material if I charge for it. (Today’s boost for my free blog post so far has pretty much failed.) I needed to read this tonight! This post encourages me to take my business out of the hobby phase! Thanks for encouraging us!! See you in the University!

  • Carol M Green

    Thank you for this post. I am getting ready to publish my third non-fiction book and I have wondered about pricing. I may be raising the prices on the first two when number three comes out.

  • Becky

    Great post! I just finished reading The Merchant and the Monk and have started reading Thou Shall Prosper. It seems like I am in the middle of learning all kinds of wisdom regarding business and money. I’m just starting out so your advice is much appreciated.

  • Latrina Patrick

    I have definitely struggled with charging for my services, but I have gotten better. I’ve also found to be true that when you give away so much quality free stuff, people don’t want to pay. I had that trouble with some of my grant writing services. I was giving away quality products, especially teaching videos. I enjoyed doing it, but I thought it would entice people to want to pay for more indepth training. However, once I offered courses for purchase, I got practically no responses. It was disheartening. The more I gave for free, the more people wanted. Not sure how to get around that. I have used your principle of giving more than you ask of/sell to your subscribers. Finding the balance has been frustrating.

  • Seth Williams

    This is a profoundly important blog post – one that I definitely needed to see. Thanks for putting this together Michael, this kind of mindset can be a real game changer!

  • http://www.thouartexalted.com Annie Pajcic

    When I first started speaking for Christian Women’s events, I was just thankful they invited me to speak! I did not initially charge but rather, asked for a contribution their budget allowed. My “contributions” ranged from silk plants to barbecue sauce, XXL t-shirts to an actual monetary check! Please don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled just to share God’s Word. When I acquired an agent, she helped me to understand that my time had value. Not only were they paying me to speak for thirty minutes, but they were paying for the hours spent studying the Word, babysitters, and time away from home. Being a Mom of four, this is not an easy feat! I have no problem being paid. My time is worth something. I do feel more professional. There is more respect for my ministry (thouartexalted) and my husband doesn’t miss the barbecue sauce at all!