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A Bad Business Offer

[Listen to an audio version of this blog here.]

Sometime last year, a company called Tealfeed reached out to me asking me to publish my content on their platform. I was already posting on Medium, and I figured why not? Worst case scenario, nobody reads anything. Best case, I acquire some more readers. I started posting my blogs there as well, and quickly gained over 2,000 followers. Tealfeed was likely promoting my writing within the platform, because the quick increase in followers dwindled after I rejected their offer.

A few months ago, Tealfeed invited me to have a conversation around their upcoming Creator's Program as a way to monetize my content. It sounded good on paper-they would promote my content, help me get subscribers, and those subscribers would eventually pay me a small fee every month for access to my content. In the meantime, Tealfeed would pay me a small amount to post exclusively on their platform.

I already monetize my content on Medium and here. I don't make much, but fortunately, I don't need to. I don't write to earn a living, I write because I like to. And if I changed what I wrote about in order to monetize my content, I'd likely hate it.

The way Medium pays me is based on how much time members spend reading my stories. The longer members read, the more I earn. I've made as little as a dollar some months, and up to $20 others. Like I said, not a huge money maker. Medium itself makes money off annual fees paid by members. Tealfeed's monetization is similar, but different. They would make money by taking a cut of the fees paid to me. The real kicker was that I would have to post exclusively on Tealfeed, and I'd have to consider their input regarding what I write about. Medium doesn't do this.

I explained that I've had my blog for nearly four years now, and that all my content is available there. Their response was more or less, "take a chance on us." But why? Why would I utilize a platform that is outside of my control while also relinquishing creative control, on the small chance that a bunch of people are going to pay me $5 a month to read my writing? They were essentially suggesting a paywall that I wasn't comfortable with and that frankly, probably won't work. I sometimes pay for access to news articles, but I would never pay for access to a blog.

Monetizing blogs has historically been done through affiliate marketing, advertising, and selling products (digital and otherwise). To do this, bloggers need to write about what the internet wants to read, which isn't always interesting for me to write about. Click bait works, but I don't want to write click bait. I don't do much advertising directly on my blog because I find it annoying, and I don't engage in affiliate marketing for the same reason I didn't want to work with Tealfeed-I don't want random people telling me what to write about.

While I choose to cross-post my blogs in a few different spaces, it's done with the intention of gaining more readers and nothing else. I started my own blog to have my own platform and to avoid relying on an outside company or organization. There's something really nice about taking complete ownership of the creative process and final product. Moreover, I can customize my blog whenever and however I like, while a platform like Tealfeed or Medium limits customization. And just like any other platform, they could remove my content if they didn't like what I wrote about.

There was a time in my life when I said "yes" to just about any offer to highlight myself or my writing. I thought I had to, because that's what bloggers or content creators did. But I slowly figured out that not everyone is a good partner to work with. Not every podcaster is worth giving my time to in an interview. Not everyone who asks for a guest post knows what they're doing. Not every platform is worth spending time on.

P.S. If you like reading my blogs, Venmo me here and I'll write you a four line poem that will be a little bit funny and/or mildly insulting. Check out some of the podcasts and publications I've appeared in here, or find another writer to follow here.


Sarah Rose

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