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.

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 live events. 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?