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Most Writers Sound like Beggars When They Ask Readers to “Support Their Writing”

by | Jan 16, 2023 | Writing

Time for a wake-up call.

The creator economy has temporarily become slightly more challenging because of the recession and economic situation.

Writers need to eat. Writers need to pay bills. I get it.

As a result many creators are being forced to focus on money more than normal. Asking readers for support is the new trend.

And almost every writer is stuffing it up and leaving thousands of dollars on the table because they have zero sales skills.

As someone that has mastered the monetization of online writing, let me give you some quick tips so you don’t have to starve.

Don’t accidentally sound like a charity case

“Donate to my Patreon.”

“Give me money via my Ko-Fi.”

“Support my writing by…”

The worst one: “Buy me a coffee.”

This is begging. Sorry to tell you. After spending a lifetime working in sales, there’s no freaking way I’d use this approach to get a customer to buy my stuff — or even as a strategy in my former 9–5 sales job.

It’s just dumb. It sounds dumb.

Harsh pill to swallow: readers don’t give a crap about you. Don’t make me repeat it ten more times. You know what a reader is thinking?

“What the heck is in it for me?”

Instead of asking for money you have to show them value. Then you have to stack that value, put it into a list, and whack a price tag on it.

Be patient before asking for money

If you spend 4 minutes reading an article from me, you’ll notice I don’t instantly ask you for money. That’s one-night stand behavior.

Readers will support your writing and pay you — but not after one quick interaction with you.

If you’re desperate to pay bills it makes more sense to get a job or upgrade to a higher-paying job, than it does to destroy all the goodwill you’ve built by trying to grab fast cash from someone’s back pocket while accidentally touching their private parts.

Slow your roll. Breathe. Writing online is a long game.

Never rely on kindness if you like to eat

The reciprocation bias runs deep in writers.

It’s the idea of I’ll scratch your back with my writing, and you scratch my back with some cold hard cash.

Another way to put it is writers are relying on kindness. Let me share some field research I’ve done over the years.

In my time working at homeless shelters, I’ve spoken to many people who beg for money in the street. I’ve always been fascinated by the business model. I even heard stories of people pretending to be homeless to make money.

But when I actually asked professional beggars if they made much money, it shocked me. Most don’t make hardly anything. Definitely not enough to rent an apartment or buy basic meals.

Many of them tried to rely on kindness and it didn’t work.

That fact shocked me because I honestly believed it would work at some level. And the human part of me hoped it did work. I don’t want to see anyone struggle. Homelessness shouldn’t even be a thing (story for another day).

So if relying on kindness doesn’t work for professional beggars, why would it work for writers? It doesn’t. Sorry to tell you.

Show value.

Act polite

A lot of the writer calls-to-actions I see are plain rude.

They feel like someone is shouting at me to click their damn link so they can get an affiliate commission. There are no manners. I don’t even know you. There’s a way to ask for money and most writers don’t know it.

Obsessively study copywriting

This modern skill isn’t one most writers have.

You can write whatever you want. It can even be good. But no one will click your article if you don’t subtly persuade them to. And, definitely, no one will read your article and then give you money if you don’t understand copywriting.

The goal isn’t to add more donation platforms to your CTA or add more links to follow you on social media and make $0. No.

The goal is to learn basic copywriting. Then you won’t starve.

The smart ways for writers to ask for money on the internet

Enough foreplay. Let’s get to the climax. Here’s what you need to do.

1. Use this uncommon newsletter option

A lot of making money as a writer comes down to the packaging.

People don’t love to pay for donations or useless coffees. They do pay for books, and premium newsletters though (ones with research, curation of content, personality, personal experience, and stuff you can’t google).

If you want to charge money for a newsletter, here’re the formula:

  • One free newsletter edition for every paid one. Readers can stick with free or pay to get the extra newsletter.
  • Add in pricing tiers. A monthly option and an annual option.
  • Stack the value. Other than an extra piece of writing what else does the reader get? Q&As with you, community access, a behind the scenes podcast or video series, a book, t-shirt, mug, a date with you? What?

The sales copy could look something like this:

Subscribe to my “Writing with Tim” newsletter. Each week I send out one writing story full of actionable lessons from pros that’ll get you more royalties. There’s a free option and a paid tier for those wanting more. You do you.

Notice how it doesn’t sound desperate and you’re not screaming at innocent readers to throw money in your coffee cup on the digital sidewalk?

See how it’s gentle and full of benefits with zero pressure?

2. Use this old fashion technique that never dies

The goal isn’t to extract cash as quickly as possible.

Readers will gladly pay you more money over time if you’re smart about it. What you want to do is give away something valuable in return for an email address. This is nothing new but it’s amazing how many writers don’t do it.

Once you have an email address you can slowly build a case as to why a reader should pay you. Then you can pitch a product or service when they’ve been on your list for a few months and you’ve earned the right.

I go against the grain with this one. I’ve had people on my list before who got emails from me for 5 years and have never been asked for money. Again, you can play the long game or the short game.

The long game makes 6–7 figures. The short game is nothing more than a side hustle that’ll make you 4–5 figures. Choose wisely.

3. Only use ONE of these

If you’re a writer then you know what a CTA is. Only use one link in your CTA, otherwise your conversion rate decreases.

Think to yourself: what’s the most crucial ask I can make? Then make it.

Parting thought

Don’t beg readers for money directly in your articles. It sounds desperate and like you’re trying to prostitute yourself.

Treat a reader nicely over time and they’ll spend more than you could ever imagine. I have individual readers that have spent more than $5000 USD with me over the years.

You can do it too with the right approach.

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