Making Money Online Is Overrated

Everyone expects you to monetize your online growth, but should that be the ultimate goal?

Making Money Online Is Overrated
Photo by Jp Valery / Unsplash

I surpassed 40k Medium followers last week. It’s a momentous number, and I’m incredibly grateful to everyone who finds value in my writing. However, with increased followers comes the expectation of making money online through product sales, books, and courses. Has anyone ever stopped to ask why?

Spend enough time on Medium, LinkedIn, or certain Twitter circles, and the path to internet fame and fortune is clear:

  • Write a lot
  • Build a following
  • Sell things to your following

The formula is simple, and it works for many people. I’ve dabbled in the process, launching subscriptions, creating a Notion template, and offering 1:1 coaching. I’ve even written a book about writing that’s sitting in the editing phase. These are all things other successful writers do and seem to be expected in the online writing world. But it just feels icky to me.

I fully understand that my time, knowledge, and experience are valuable. However, I would rather build a community that supports each other and shares knowledge freely than try to capitalize on people. So, while I have the expected products and offer my content behind paywalls, it just feels wrong. It’s essentially why all of my paywalled content (where contractually possible) is also available for free on my blog.

Maybe I’m alone in this. Perhaps it’s my nonprofit background shining through. Maybe I’m speaking from a place of privilege due to my online wiring success and private clients. I’m not sure, but I don’t want to follow the expected route to making money online. Instead, I hope to provide value and encourage others. If that brings me financial benefits, great. However, I’m not sure that monetization is my ultimate goal.

I offer no ill-will or judgment toward writers who do follow the growth hack passive income route. I say more power to you. For me, however, it just feels off. As Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, recently said, “everything doesn’t have to be for profit.” I may wake up one morning without another client and feel differently, but this is how I feel today.

What do you think? Am I looking at this all wrong, or do you feel similarly? Hit reply and let me know. As with everything I write, I try to respond to every email, so please don’t be afraid to connect.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!