22 Sep Why I Quit the Free and Low Cost Platforms
In my 🔮 Prediction Alert: We Will See More Rip-Off Artists episode from September 8th, I talked about: “Jean Anouilh said, ‘What you get free costs too much.’ Touché. Sometimes what you give for free also costs too much.” In this episode, I will pull the curtain back and discuss why I chose to quit the free and low cost platforms. As always: this is not advice. Just me opining for your entertainment only.
✔️ Why I unpublished my free educational courses.
✔️ Why I unpublished my Patreon page.
✔️ How I used the Pareto Principle to regain more time… and sanity!
✔️ The idea that if you give the whole candy store away for free, it will automatically draw people in and gift you with paying customers, has not been highly accurate in my experience. Sometimes it feels more like you are pushing things out at a financial loss. Not to mention the time drain involved.
Link I mention in this episode:
Need more? Email me: https://causeyconsultingllc.com/contact-causey/
Transcription by Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos!
Welcome to the Causey Consulting Podcast. You can find us online anytime at CauseyConsultingLLC.com. And now, here’s your host, Sara Causey. Hello, Hello, and thanks for tuning in. In today’s episode, I want to talk about why I decided to leave the free and low cost platforms. As always standard boilerplate disclaimer here. This is not advice of any kind. This is me opining for your entertainment only, you have to do what makes sense for you and your business. So this is just me offering an op ed of my observations and what my experiences were like. In my episode from September 8, titled prediction alert, we will see more rip off artists, I talked about John enemies quote, what you get for free cost too much to che and sometimes what you give for free also cost too much. And in that episode, I talked about how I came to the difficult decision that I was going to stop offering free educational courses, because it just didn’t really live up to what I thought it was going to. It just didn’t. And I started to feel frustrated with people complaining essentially about nothing. In my opinion. Here you are accessing this information completely free of charge, you have no hardship, you have no financial skin in the game whatsoever. But yet, you’re always going to have the Nancy the nitpicker, Ned, the needy Mike the micromanager types who want to complain, the sad but true, Would that it were not so but unfortunately it is the course should have been shorter, it should have been longer, you should have done this, you should have done that. And I’m assuming you’re like it’s free. Okay, what on earth do you feel that you have to gripe about? If you didn’t enjoy it, you don’t have any money invested. So I’m not really sure what you have to gripe about. But see these platforms that host free educational courses, they kind of pitch it to you as like, well. Okay, there’s no guarantee, obviously, that your ideal clients or your ideal customer base will ever see this content, we can’t guarantee that. But like they could, you know, at the very least it helps to submit you as an authority figure, you’re getting your ideas out there. It’s a gesture of goodwill. So it makes it very appealing to those of us that like to coach that like to train that like to help those of us that like to communicate that enjoy content creation. I mean, it’s almost like catnip in a way. However, there’s still a lot of behind the scenes infrastructure that has to go into it all. You are on your own time with all of your own equipment and your own resources. I guess unless you have a benefactor that’s decided to provide those things for you. You’re having to do all of that yourself. And then when you look at the cost benefit analysis of the time that I spent creating this content that basically didn’t seem to go anywhere, could have been better spent doing something billable. Okay, I know, I know. Somebody’s gonna probably say, Well, you sound like Scrooge McDuck. You’re weighing and measuring everything in terms of money, not everything. No. With that being said, some things do have to be weighed and measured in terms of money. I hate to burst your bubble. But that’s how businesses operate. If you’re not turning a profit, you have a problem. If you cannot make money to provide for yourself and your family, you have a problem. That’s another gripe I have with this mentality of just give the whole candy store away for free. Just put everything out there free of charge and hope it works out. Huh? Yeah, right. Okay. I can’t mail a check to the mortgage company full of hopes and dreams. I can’t go to the grocery store and pay them in free content. I have to be able to have currency to get the things that I need. So this idea of, well, you shouldn’t care about money. I completely disagree with that you should care about money. You shouldn’t make it the God of your world in my opinion. It’s not the be all and end all of life itself. There are other things that are important besides money. But we still have to be able to function in society and that that includes currency you let me know of a way that money can just fall out of the sky with no effort at all cool beans, but until that day, come is working for a living and owning and operating your own business freelancing gigging, you have to keep an eye on the bottom line and you do have to weigh in measure certain activities and do cost benefit analysis of was this worth my time and effort. And if you come to the conclusion, indeed it was not, then you may have to start trimming some fat. Another thing to potentially consider is that those free courses don’t necessarily live in a fresh kind of way forever. as times change, as markets change as circumstances change, then you may have to go in and refresh the content to make sure that it’s relevant. And some of the platforms will actually start pressuring you to do that. I think there’s this false notion that, okay, you set aside the time at the front end, that’s where you’re going to have the pinch, that’s where you’re gonna have to carve out time from your leisure, and then do this content creation. But once it’s done, it’s done. Once the videos are up there, the audio lectures, whatever format you’re using, once it’s done, it’s done. And then it can just live on the internet forever. Right? Okay. Sure. But then, in reality, not so much. So to use myself as an example, and talk about the job market, things that were highly relevant during the apex of the great resignation, are not as relevant in the midst of a recession, when the market cools off, and that balance of power goes back to the hands of corporate America. Things that I talked about in the context of the candidates, the job seekers, the employees, they’re the ones holding all the cards right now, if you have a bloated, protracted, completely nonsense, hiring funnel, you’re going to miss out because nobody’s gonna play those games with you. Well, if unemployment gets up to 10%, if people are desperate for work, things become a different situation, not saying it’s right. I’m not saying it’s right. I’m just saying that times change and circumstances change. And I was sitting there like, I just don’t feel like I have it in me to carve out time. I’m so busy. You have so many other things that I’m doing both in my work world and in my personal life. I just don’t feel like I have time to go back and try to edit and rerecord and say alright, we’re in this weird Funkadelic transitional period where the great resignation, at the very least, it’s editing, I frankly, think it’s over. Because a lot of people that I talked to are like, You know what, I want to really, really be sure if I’m going to make a job change right now I better feel 1,000% confident that where I’m going is a clear, obvious upgrade from where I’m at now. Otherwise, I’m gonna stay here and just ride out whatever this economic poop storm is. I get it that makes complete sense. So I’m sitting here like, I don’t I don’t want to go through the process of trying to rerecord and update and flush out these courses for what so I just unpublished the courses and immediately felt a sense of relief. Maybe you’re not supposed to say that. Maybe you’re not supposed to be that brutally honest. But I did. I thought, okay, the people who enjoyed these courses that got something useful out of it. Awesome. I’m really happy that they did. And there were in fairness to the argument there were a lot of people who did, I’m not trying to sit here and say everybody was a mike the micromanager and at the meeting Nancy the nitpicker. That’s not the case. We know how it goes though the squeaky wheel is the one that you hear the loudest an empty can is the one that makes the most noise. So at a certain period of time, it’s like well, I’ve invested the time and energy that I’m willing to invest in this, especially considering there’s no revenue, there’s no financial return on investment. It’s not even really being seen, quite frankly, by people that I would say are in my ideal customer base. So why would I go back and do a refresher? I just I for me personally, that’s all I can do is speak from speak for myself, not speak for you, but speak for me. Speaking for myself, I just did not feel that it was going to make sense, not from a time perspective, not from an enjoyment perspective, and not from a financial perspective. And I think sometimes in life, you can kind of tell that you’ve done something right for yourself by the amount of relief and release that you feel and the amount of relief and release that I felt when I unpublish those courses and said I’m done. No more free educational courses done with that chapter of my life. Mazel Tov to everybody who enjoyed it, but now I’m moving on. It was nice. It really was. In a similar fashion, I made another difficult decision to pull the plug on my Patreon efforts. For me that was always An experiment, like a cook in the kitchen throwing together different ingredients to see. Okay, is this recipe going to turn out to be really beautiful? Is it going to be awesome? And everyone loves it? Or is it going to turn out to be something that we chuck in the waste bin? And we never attempt ever, ever, ever again? I didn’t know. And I’ve had friends and business associates that had mixed results. A few people have said, Yes, I really felt like that platform was worth my time and effort, a lot of not. And I felt like, I’m not going to know for sure in my situation, if it’s going to work out well, without trying it. What I do is kind of niche in its own way. Now there are plenty of recruiters, there are plenty of people involved in staffing, if you want to go and find their messages on other podcasts or on YouTube or their blogs. Go for it. It’s out there. It’s plentiful. But I felt like what I was trying to do was be more incisive and to really speak in a in a in an unfiltered way. In my own voice about here’s what really goes on behind the scenes. Here’s what really happens. Here’s how the power brokers actually come to their decisions. Here’s how you can hopefully use this information to your betterment. Knowledge is power, I believe. So I thought I know that I have a unique voice here. I know that I have something valuable to offer. But Is anybody else going to see it that way? You know, I go sort of hate to quote Kevin O’Leary after he threw napalm into the market there with his video about quiet quitting. But like, he says, if you do something for three years, and you’re not turning a profit, you’re not able to do it full time as your job and it’s a hobby. You either take it behind the barn and shoot it and you’d do something else. Or you just put it to the side and say this is my hobby, but it’s not my job. Well, I’m not going to spend three years doing weekly content creation and okay, I’ve got a handful of subscribers now. No, I don’t And okay, now I do again. And then No, I don’t. People just, I think really underestimate the amount of time and effort that goes into content creation, even if you’re on a shoestring budget, even if you’re not going and spending 1000s upon 1000s of dollars on professional equipment at editing and like back of house staff to help you or a social media company or a promoter of whatever, even if it’s just you or even if it’s you plus your assistant, it’s going to take a lot of time, even on a shoestring budget. I think a lot of these platforms, which, okay, this is part of good advertising and good marketing, I get it. But I think a lot of these platforms give you the best case scenarios, definitely not the worst case scenarios. They’ll show you the shining beacon on the hill. Oh, Sally Sue makes 100 grand a year on this platform. Oh, look, Billy Bob and his entire staff, they make half a mil aren’t they doing great? And you’re like, Okay, well, I’m not looking to get on here and make half a million dollars a year or even 100 grand, a couple 100 bucks a month to kind of help with the infrastructure would be fine with me. Lord have mercy, you know, the amount of time and energy that you have to put into trying to scrape together that couple of 100 bucks. It’s absurd, in my opinion. In my opinion, it did not make good sense for me, and my business. And I stumbled upon this article, I am hopefully going to pronounce all of this information correctly. I always hate to mispronounce names, but sometimes like, it just can’t be helped. I think this person’s name is Barb. Satir opolis Sotiropoulos. Okay, I’ll drop a link so that you can check out her information for yourself. She has his blog post titled why I left Patreon. And as I was reading through her comments, I was like, Yes, I totally get what she’s saying. Under the heading how it started, she writes, I joined Patreon around March of 2018. At the encouragement of one of my former co workers, I had been thinking of joining the platform already and had seen many artists with accounts seemingly doing well at it. Exactly. I was still working full time as a graphic designer. And I thought this would be a great way to potentially start having a regular side income that can help fund my art projects and eventually helped me transition to doing it full time. I was very eager in the beginning. I set everything up fairly quickly and took notes on all of the things that Patreon recommends to launch your account. I would say I did about 70 to 80% of those things, which at the time seemed more than reasonable to me. Over the years I experimented with tiered pricing and what features were included. I researched other artists who offered similar things to see what my competition would be like and where my pricing is. should be. I even mentioned it on social media and in my monthly newsletter, basically I did all the things I thought I should be doing. Now under the heading, how it was going. In the time I was on Patreon, I think the highest amount of patrons I had at one time was seven or eight people, there was a handful that signed on in the beginning and remain loyal the entire time, including my coworker who convinced me to start it to begin with. To those people, I am truly grateful for their support. Others came and went for various reasons. When someone chooses to stop supporting you, Patreon allows them to do an exit survey of multiple choice options as to the reason why, if you ever want to feel terrible about yourself, that’s a great place to look for answers. Now, granted, I’m admittedly a bit of a sensitive person. So some of the reasons probably hurt my feelings more than someone else’s may have been, when I would receive a comment that they didn’t get what they were expecting my heart sunk a little, I was trying my best to put out great content every month, and largely was delivering exactly what I said I would unquote. See, this was another experience I had with free educational courses. It’s like, what? What did you think that you were gonna get here? signs, wonders and miracles for $0. So for me, I think it it triggers more of a sense of frustration, like, it doesn’t so much hurt my feelings. It’s just like, Okay, I’m not going to play ball at this court anymore. I’m just not going to do it. There are individuals on YouTube that I enjoy watching their videos, but I won’t comment. I won’t put anything out there. I know the thing is, like, I know that at least giving them a thumbs up will help the algorithm and commenting helps even more. But the reason why I don’t is because it’s just not worth it. Some of the people that have larger channels, it’s like they’re at that they’re at that point, they’re in like the hinterland between like massive success and not massive success. Like they have a large audience but they don’t have enough back office infrastructure to have a moderator who will get rid of the spammers, the scammers, the people trying to post porn and just nasty stuff. And for me, it’s like, if you’re not going to do a good enough job of keeping the gene pool clean, then I’m not going to participate in the discussions because I don’t want to be targeted by scammers, spammers, tap fishers, porno people man explainers, trolls, bots, shills blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It’s of no interest to me. So I just take my ball and go home. I want to read just a little bit more from Barb’s blog posts. Now, the average artist on Patreon that I researched charges somewhere between five to nine US dollars for a single tear that gives their patron access to things like new content behind the scenes and a weekly or monthly video tutorial. That to be perfectly frank is a steal for what they are getting content wise. I want to say that again, so that the people in the back can hear me if you are only paying $5 a month to get weekly tutorial videos from an artist and more they are giving you a ridiculous deal. And quote. Yep, I agree 100%. But that’s the thing. Now I’m going to put my Sara spin on this my analysis, you can agree or disagree, just my opinion. And I could be wrong. But I think that’s part of the problem. These free and low cost platforms, I think just sort of intrinsically have this problem of people who want a lot. Their expectations are high as Hill. their pocketbook is not they don’t have any skin in the game or very little, you know, they’ve thrown three or four bucks in the tip jar. And now they want signs, wonders and miracles. You did not turn water into wine like Jesus at the wedding of Cana. So I just want my $5 back. Wow, talk about lowered expectations. It’s like what I said about YouTube, I will subscribe to certain channels and give the content a thumbs up. I just won’t dive into the comment section if I feel that that particular creator is not doing a good enough job of moderating the content and clearing out the detritus that I would never write them and be like, Hey, I’m a free subscriber to your YouTube content. And now I want to be a Nancy the nitpicker or a mike the micromanager and tell you your business. I want to tell you how I think you should be doing it. No, no, you just vote with your feet. That’s like people that want to go in a restaurant and just eviscerate everything. Yeah, I think it was. It may have been one of the episodes that Gordon Ramsay did have like Kitchen Nightmares or something. But, and I think this was him forgive me if I’m misquoting and attributing it to the wrong person, but he was talking about like, everybody now is a critic. Everybody can go on Yelp. They can go online and go Google reviews whatever and write a review of a restaurant. It’s not like it used to be where the the weekly food critic would come out with a report about the latest restaurant in town and people sort of took their cues from that person. Now everybody will sit and review something, they’ll go to a fast food joint and get a 99 cent cheeseburger, probably not with inflation. By now, it’s probably a $3.99 cent cheeseburger, and sit there and pick it apart, as though they are considering a fast food joint for a Michelin star. When I started to feel overwhelmed by the amount of information that I was having to put out the amount of work that I was having to do and underwhelmed by any kind of financial recompense that I was seeing in return, I went back to the Pareto principle, I will drop a link to the Wikipedia article so that you can check it out if you’re not familiar with the Pareto principle. But essentially, it states that for many outcomes, roughly 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes, other names for this principle or the 8020 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity. So in other words, I wanted to start looking at maximizing my 20%. Because when we adapt the Pareto principle for business, the adage becomes roughly 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your clients. So what you do there is instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, you just look at how can I maximize the ever loving hell out of the 20% that are paying me the 80% of my revenue. And for me, putting out the free and low cost content was just not getting me there. Now, I do still have my blog for free on my website, I obviously still have this podcast, which is free, and it’s highly accessible. As my blog is hosted on my website. It’s not on any kind of social media platform. So people can find it and access the information for free. I feel like that’s good enough. I feel like that’s doing its job. As far as like proper search engine optimization, people who want to find me can find me, but trying to be all things to all people on this. We all these various platforms, it’s too much. It’s too much for me, maybe your experience is different, I don’t know. But for me, it was starting to be way, way more of a headache than it was actually worth. I feel like this idea of just give the candy store away for free, put everything out there free of charge, be ubiquitous, be everywhere just be super findable on all these platforms. I feel like that is in its own weird way, like a cousin of toxic positivity or toxic optimism. Because it’s like if you just give all of this marrow away out of your own bones, people will respond to it. They will automatically convert into paying customers and they will just love you. You will automatically repel the wrong people automatically attract in the right people and everything will just be groovy. And it’s like a Yeah, okay, sure. Sure. There’s another blog post I want to read by Natalie kuh. Hopefully I’m saying her name right. And then blog post is titled How to Stop giving your time and your value away. She writes, there’s a popular recipe that sees many women in business giving away their time and value for free or even giving up on their business entirely. It begins with a genuine desire to help and serve your clients. You love your work and you want to do right by the people you serve. Even when it means staying up late, taking on too much or accepting unrealistic deadlines, then you throw in limited working hours. Many women in biz are also primary caregivers, you may be trying to run your business in school or daycare hours. That means in real terms, you’ve got 15 to 25 hours per week max. And that’s to do everything sales, marketing, client delivery, product development, business development, content creation, networking, training, admin, etc. Then top it off with a tendency to undervalue yourself and your work. As women when something comes naturally to us, it’s so easy to assume it just can’t be worth much because you know, anything of value should be hard. And it feels awkward and uncomfortable to say we’re worth X, so many women feel they need to compensate for their own perceived lack of value with lower pricing in quote. Yeah, I think there’s some of that. But I also think some of it comes from this message that’s been sort of shoved down our throats lately in the business world. Just give it all away for free, deliver tons of value. If you just put so much value out there. People are gonna see it. They’re gonna love it and It’s like, Hmm, that market too, has become saturated. I remember when I was on the pirate broadcast with Russ, and he was like, you know, marketers seem to ruin everything. getting emails used to be cool. Now, it’s like mostly spam. I would argue it’s the same thing with this, throw everything at the wall, put all of your content out there, give the candy store away for free, and all these people are going to show up? Well, geez, so many people have done that already. And yet, so many people are washing out, we still live, sadly, with this statistic that most small businesses fail? Well, it’s not a wonder. It’s not a wonder, especially with this ghost lurking in the background, who give all your content away for free. Your customers will magically find you and they’ll be so grateful. Oh, no, that’s not been my experience. Ne Ne Ne No, no, in my experience, people that are getting pearls of wisdom for free, or for a very low cost. And you’re just offering it across all of these platforms, in my opinion, which could be wrong, in my opinion, it sends out the signal that you don’t value your time and effort very much. Because you’re putting all this stuff out there for five bucks a month or 10 bucks a month, are you putting it out across all these platforms free of charge in the hopes that it will somehow be a beacon or a magnet for clients? When unfortunately, in a lot of cases, it’s just not. As I said before, I cannot offer you advice, I cannot tell you what to do. I will say that if you have been having the same experience, if you kind of drank the Kool Aid, a little bit of just push the free content out just be ubiquitous, be everywhere. Try all of this. And you’re feeling frustrated by that I get it. I see you my hand is in the air. I totally get it. I will add that most successful entrepreneurs normally scratch that out probably all successful entrepreneurs, I hate I hate to get into all all and none. And always I’ve never, but like any successful entrepreneur that I can think of any way has tried things and failed. I mean, there’s an old expression that you should fail fast and fail often figure out what works and what doesn’t. And the only way to do that is by experimenting. So I’m not going to condemn anyone, including myself for just trying something new, trying some new strategies, checking out a platform seeing if this works, and that doesn’t and how does it go? That’s part of the dance that you have to Tango out when you own and operate a business or when you’re freelancing, and you’re trying to get your name out there to a larger audience of people, that is part of the game. So there’s no reason to feel bad and to take it personally if you try something and it just doesn’t go the way that you want it to. I do think we have to look at the law of diminishing returns. And we have to look at the Pareto Principle. Am I getting a sensible enough return on investment to keep doing this? Or am I just kind of talking to no 1am I doing putting out this content and nobody’s there are only a handful of people are there. I’m just not getting enough money to continue doing it. Can’t tell you what to do. Just some food for thought. Stay safe, stay sane, and I’ll see you in the next episode. Thanks for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, please take a quick second to subscribe to this podcast and share it with your friends. We’ll see you next time.
BarbSotiArtPosted at 17:56h, 22 September
Hey Sara! Thanks for mentioning my blog post in your episode. You made some really great points in your podcast episode on this topic that really drive home the problem with these types of platforms. You are SO right about people’s attitudes towards free or low cost content. More people need to be talking about this. Also, you did a pretty good job on my last name, most people just don’t try to say it all. 🙂
Sara CauseyPosted at 18:17h, 22 September
I think a lot of these platforms showcase the “best case” scenarios of creators who supposedly make thousands upon thousands of dollars a month and leave out the vast majority of people who work their tails off only to get a handful of subscribers at best. Also: I’m glad I didn’t totally butcher your name! 😊 And very glad you were willing to publish that post about your own experiences. I feel like a lot of content creators are exploited by these platforms under the general pretense of: if you build it, they will come. Ehh, not so much.
BarbSotiArtPosted at 18:25h, 22 September
You are 1000% right about that. They use the success stories to sell people on using their platform. I get it, but also it’s often misleading. Patreon does give you suggestions on how to “succeed” but as I mention in my post, there are so many factors that go into whether that actually happens or not. I almost nearly didn’t make that post but I decided that it was better to share my failure and give reasons as to why. So many of these platforms make it seem like it’s the promised land and in fact it ends with a lot of disappointment. Your point about the time you are putting in vs the return you get is exactly what made me leave. Like why am I stressing about this every month? For what? 😄