The Cold Hard Truth About Business: You Can “Make Cash” Or “Be Cool.” Choose One.
“There’s no motivation [to make these videos] when I can’t afford to buy my groceries.”
Rachel Whitehurt has a wildly popular youtube channel that has 176,000 subscribers and averages 30,000-50,000 views per video she posts.
Most people would imagine she’s “made it” online.
But she hasn’t.
Two months ago, she posted one final video before sadly announcing she was quitting her channel.
Why? Because she had to update her resume to interview for a “real job” and wouldn’t have time to make Youtube videos any longer.
Even though she had 170,000 subscribers… she wasn’t making enough money to pay her bills.
And this is the sad story of so many people chasing ‘internet’ fame…
People who have unique gifts. Unique voices. Unique ideas.
But they never figure out how to turn them into a business.
If you want to create someone that impacts the world, there’s a decision you must make on day one in your business:
Do you want to be cool? Or do you want to make cash?
Choose one. Because you cannot do both from the start.
Eduardo Saverin: Hey, you know what? Settle an argument for us. I say it’s time to start making money from TheFacebook, but Mark doesn’t want to advertise. Who’s right?
Sean Parker: Um…neither of you yet. TheFacebook is cool that’s what it’s got going for it.
Mark Zuckerberg: Yeah.
Eduardo Saverin: You don’t want to ruin it with ads because ads aren’t cool.
Mark Zuckerberg: Exactly.
This is the cold hard truth about business.
You can focus on making money from day one. Or you can focus on grabbing attention and being ‘cool’ with the *hopes* of making money sometime down the road.
But that could be a long, hard road full that may never end…
121,000 Twitter Followers. 419,000 Instagram Followers. 750,000 Youtube Subscribers. 10 Years Of Hustling And Still Broke.
Gaby Dunn has been building a following for ten years online. She has 121,00 followers on Twitter. 419,000 on Instagram. And 750,000 subscribers on Youtube.
Nearly a million subscribers? Holy hell. That’s the wet dream of most YouTube star wannabees.
You’d think she’d be at least pulling in $100K/year from all of that attention and all of that hustling. Sadly, she’s not even in the ballpark, according to this article.
I’ve never had more than a couple thousand dollars in my bank account at once. My Instagram account has 340,000 followers, but I’ve never made $340,000 in my life collectively.
The high highs and low lows leave me reeling. One week, I was stopped for photos six times while perusing comic books in downtown LA. The next week, I sat faceless in a room of 40 people vying for a menial courier job.
The desire for fame is like a strange crack addition for the generation of Millennials who’ve been told since day one that we’re ‘special, unique and different.’ That we can do anything we set our minds to. And that we should follow our dreams ahead of everything else.
I agree with the sentiment. But not by ignoring the economics of reality.
People lose themselves in egoic delusion by watching their follower counts rise while their bank account falls. Likes. Shares. Fans. They’re all vanity metrics. And they’re all bullshit.
Even though it feels good to get that rush of dopamine each time another person likes your post or your subscriber count goes up… But, does it really matter?
I’ve fallen into this trap a lot and watched vanity metrics fail to deliver results time and time again in my business.
A week ago I wrote an article about how I got featured in Entrepreneur Magazine. The editor wrote about it in his ‘letter from the editor,’ which got posted in the magazine and online.
Can you guess the number of visitors that article drove to The Foundation?
12. We had 12 visitors from Entrepreneur.com in January.
But when I open the magazine up and show you this photo, it LOOKS hella cool. It gives me a perceived sense of ‘authority’ and ‘social proof.’
Wow. Andy’s in Entrepreneur Magazine? He must be a bad ass.
And, I’m not gonna lie… It makes my mom SUPER proud to show it off to her friends.
But the truth? It doesn’t drive more sales. It just looks cool.
It is a vanity metric. A stroke of the ego. Nothing more.
And that is the ass backwards idea that most people in our generation are living with right now. The fallacy. The big con.
The Big Con Of Our Generation: That Attention And Fame Leads To Cash In The Bank.
The truth couldn’t be farther away.
There is absolutely ZERO correlation between the amount of fame you achieve and the amount of money you make. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
Living in a blissful ignorance, hoping one day attention will turn into dollars is not smart.
Before you set your sights on creating internet fame, first figure out how to generate a basic level of cashflow for your life.
I believe everyone should learn the basics of business, providing value for the world and how to charge money. Because it’s much easier to create your art when your basics are covered.
Here are a couple of entrepreneurs who’ve done just that:
InvestorFuse -> It took Dan Schwartz a year to build InvestorFuse. He helps real estate investors keep track of their leads. Now he’s got 300+ customers paying $197/month. Just over $60,000/month with a small team.
Charisma On Command -> They’re crushing it with Youtube (770,000 subscribers) AND they’ve built courses on the backend that covers their cashflow and then some.
These are small businesses who are helping their customers solve basic problems in their lives. You’ve probably never heard of them. They took a year or two to build. And they’re helping their owners cover their expenses for life.
All because they were ruthlessly focused on cashflow from day one. Not fame. Not vanity metrics. Not being ‘cool.’
They focused on the numbers first.
What About Big Names Like Gary V, Or Neil Patel?
You might wonder, “what about bigger names like Gary V or Neil Patel?”
It seems like these guys are ‘cool’ AND making bank.
Now, I don’t know their numbers, but it’s safe to say they are profitable.
Why? They’ve built multiple companies so you can bet they watch their metrics, measure everything and know what’s profitable.
They didn’t start by seeking fame. The media attention has always been part of their business plan because they know there’s an ROI.
It’s not attention for the sake of attention.
They’re going after attention because they know they’ll translate attention into sales for their businesses.
I got the chance to hop on Skype with Neil Patel the other day and asked him about his business model. He’s posting content up to 8 times per week targeting small business owners with his content. He has a ‘consulting’ page on his website that generates hundreds of leads, but he doesn’t actually do much consulting.
Weird. How does that work?
He told me all of the attention and traffic drives toward two purposes: 1) to sell software to small businesses and 2) to sell big contracts to Forbes 1000 clients.
One contract to him is worth six to seven figures in revenue. And he does all this content marketing because he knows there will be a handful of Directors or VP’s of Marketing who will want to buy stuff from him because they see him all over the internet.
Those few contracts cover his entire budget for advertising.
It’s all intentional. It’s measured. And it leads to results.
Same with Gary V. All the media attention he gets is used to funnel into his ad agency to book big brands as clients.
There’s a greater purpose for it all. He’s not trying to be famous for the sake of fame. It’s part of a bigger mission.
That is what people starting their careers are missing…
What is the bigger goal? Why do you want the attention? What is in service of?
If you can’t make it profitable, you can’t sustain it. Period.
Instead of falling into the trap of having your ego stroked by creating fans, followers and other vanity metrics, focus on how you can build something for the long term.
If you’re starting something from scratch, on day one you have a choice to make.
You can choose to focus on generating cashflow. Or you can choose to focus on being cool and getting attention, hoping the cash will follow later.
You must choose. Choose consciously. And stick to it.