Define Monetize

Since the name of this site is “Monetize Yourself”, I suppose I should define monetize, in the interests of completeness.

    To Monetize (v): to make money from something

    “My website used to be an expense, but I monetized it and now it more than pays for itself.”

    “The number of Twitter users may be growing at 1385%, but if Twitter can’t monetize that, the company is still worth nothing.”

Monetization is the process of making money from something. It originally meant the process of making something into money, ie molding gold into gold coins, but it got co-opted, and is used today primarily in relation to websites and blogs: lots of people have websites and blogs, but if you want to be a professional blogger, you need to monetize your blog.

Let’s take a closer look at how you go about doing that…

Step 1: Identify an asset

Monetization is something that’s only done to an asset. Before you can monetize, you must have something — a skill, a location, an item, a gold mine, whatever — that’s valuable to other people.

Sometimes this is obvious: if you’ve got an apple orchard, then you can provide value to other people in the form of apples. Everyone needs to eat, so that value is fairly easy to spot.

Sometimes it’s less obvious: the Middle East, for a long time, was valuable not for anything it had (it was always fairly desert-y), but for where it was: at the intersection of Europe, Asia, and Africa. To get from one place to another, you had to pass through Persia.

Sometimes it’s really obscure: John Elway, here in Denver, realized that he had an obvious asset: the ability to play American Football really well. But he also realized that he had another, less obvious asset: the fact that he was well known for playing football really well, and that people (especially here in Denver, where we adore our football team) really liked that.

Step 2: Make money from it

Once you’ve identified what value your asset can provide, you have to figure out how to get money in exchange for that asset. Again, in many cases this is pretty clear: you have apples, you exchange them for money. No problem.

Persia was a little harder, and no one, simple solution suffices. Instead, Persia made use of its central location by

  • Selling services directly to tourists and merchants (guides, maps, advice, translation, etc)
  • Taxing trade that passed through the area (in times and locations where they were strong enough to enforce that)
  • Setting up marketplaces and trusting that the traffic from those markets would spill over into local businesses like restaurants and hotels
  • Serving as a home base for merchants who ran trade routes through it

John Elway monetized his football skill by playing football for the Denver Broncos. But, having taken business classes in college, and aware that the football gig is only good for a few years, he also monetized his football-related fame… by starting a series of car dealerships in the Denver area. They were as good as any other dealerships (sometimes better) and you got to drive a car with John Elway on the back, so they made quite a good profit for him.

You are an asset

So that’s how I define monetize yourself.

Notice that when I tell you to monetize yourself, I am claiming that you are an asset. And so I believe. Furthermore, I believe you are an asset that’s worth more than the brainless-labor hourly rate that you currently get paid.

I believe that there are better ways to monetize yourself than to sell the precious hours that make up your life to an uncaring boss. Your assets are worth more than that, and we need more from you than 45 years of labor.

How can you monetize yourself without getting a lame job?

Resources for Further Reading
HomeworK: Figuring out what to do
The slightly smaller big picture: how to monetize yourself
What do you want to be when you grow up? A stupid question
Finding Your Niche