Sebastian De Deyne
Designer & developer at Spatie

The Monetization Trap

I want to talk about something I’ve been chewing on for a while: the monetization trap.

Last year, I had a hard time writing a post, sending a newsletter, or researching a topic without considering if it could be part of some grand monetization scheme. Everyone and their dog seemed to have a project that generates passive income; I want a slice too!

Once you start to look at a project through the lens of monetization, the scope blows up. There are practical considerations like pricing and payment infrastructure, but more importantly, accountability towards people paying you. If I start a paid newsletter, I need out enough quality content to give people their money’s worth. Out the door with the writing on a whenever-inspiration-strikes schedule.

The scope blows up before I even get started, and I’m paralyzed from doing anything.

I zoomed out and looked at the grand scheme of things. Why do I write? Why do I code in my spare time? People that bake cakes or tend to their garden aren’t looking to monetize their hobby–the hobby itself is fulfilling. Writing and coding are my creative outlets. I already have a great job. Monetizing a side project wouldn’t affect my life and finances in a significant way, at least not enough to warrant the time and stress.

After reflection, I realized I don’t care about monetization as much as I thought, I got tricked into thinking I did because I see so many people around me building SaaS or selling paid memberships on the side. Does that mean I’ll never monetize anything I do? Not necessarily, but I feel calmer realizing there’s no hurry, and I don’t need to shoehorn anything.

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