Listen, Do Gooder – I know you believe in what you do. I know you don’t want to deny anyone access to the wonderful things you’re putting out into the world. I understand that what you’re producing is not traditionally something that’s easy to monetize.
But I’m begging you – try. Not just for yourself, but for all of us. Seriously.
The problem, you see, is that as soon as one of us agrees to deliver the value we’re creating (organizing events, offering advice, fixing things that are broken, etc.) for free, it immediately becomes harder for any of us to get paid for it.
As soon as something is available for free or on the cheap, that’s how much all comparable products and services are now worth. If I live in squalor in order to offer consulting services for half the going rate, I’ve just created pressure on all other consultants to also live in squalor, or they can’t compete with my prices.
For any of us to get paid, we all have to get paid. As more and more do gooders shy away from trying to make money at work they’re passionate about, fewer and fewer do gooders are able to make any money. And then they, in turn, are unable to pay for the things they need.
Should our work be all about money? Of course not; we get non-monetary rewards as well. But I’m not sure when we decided that meant we weren’t entitled to the money, too.
Making money at what you do does not make you unable to maintain the integrity of the work. If anything, money worries decrease your focus and productivity.
Meanwhile, people with no intention of changing the world usually have no problem asserting their right to make money. Predictably, that’s where most money ends up. With people who recognize that their work has financial value and insist on getting their share (or more than their share), regardless of social impact.
That’s wrong. They have no more right to material comforts than we do. Every time we work for free, we surrender that right just a little bit more. Not just for ourselves, but for anyone doing similar work.
So cut it out. Assert your right to get paid. Get creative. Put a little more focus on it. If you can’t get paid for what you’re doing now, see if you can come at the problem you’re tackling from another, more lucrative angle. If there are elements of what you do that will never pay, balance them with others that will.
You have as much right to money as anyone, but it’s up to you to get out there and exercise that right.