Michelle Jackson – The Seven Deadly Sins of Content Creation

Welcome to Series 6 of the Plutus Awards Podcast hosted by Michelle Jackson. Our community is filled with hundreds of stories from creators and entrepreneurs just like you. And through this show we share these stories of challenges and successes from bloggers to podcasters, from writers, speakers, and more.

In this season we talk about a somewhat taboo topic — the deadly sins that personal finance (and other content creators) can make. We share lessons learned, how to avoid these mistakes, and the fact that we’re all human, putting our creative work out there into the world. This season’s conversation is about the inherent risks we’re taking in developing online brands, our own hubris, and the impact that how other people perceive us can make us or break our online brand.

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In proposing this series I wanted to touch on our shared vulnerability and humanity. We’re not perfect and sometimes I’m frustrated by the narratives shared online that content creators never make mistakes. Because a lot of what we do is failing forward. The other part of the conversation related to the 7 deadly sins to avoid making in the content creation space as personal finance creatives is figuring what’s the fine line between making a mistake (and resolving it) or committing an actual sin with no understanding of why it’s a sin and no intention to resolve it.

The Seven Deadly Sins of Content Creation

Notes and summary from this episode

The goal with this season is not to shame anyone because of the mistakes that they’ve made, Instead, it’s to have authentic, empathetic conversations around what can go wrong when running an online brand, share how people address different situations so that you have ideas of what to do if you find yourself dealing with the same issue and try to answer the question “Are some mistakes unforgivable?” And what role does the greater personal finance space play in a creator’s redemption?

I’m about to share some of the Deadly Sins and one that I committed as well

Omission-Are there aspects about building an online brand and business that you could be more transparent about? In the next episode, my guest Natasha and I talk about this at length.

Reputation-This refers to how the greater community perceives you positively or negatively. Interestingly, you may be perceived negatively and still be a pretty influential content creator.

Consistency-Life happens and sometimes you may end up disappearing for a moment. How consistent do you really have to be before hurting your brand?

Money-There are so many different angles that we can talk about from the money angle. There’s an endless number of possibilities where actions around money can impact your brand.

Products-Developing unique to you products is a great way to earn money. But, what if something goes wrong? People hate your product, you don’t deliver on the premise of the product or maybe YOU hate YOUR product.

Lack of Connection-This one is tricky, lack of connection could relate to the greater personal finance community or how your circumstances change and how those changes impact how the community you serve views you. I’ve noticed this in 3 different situations:
When personal finance content creators earn more
When their interests change and they fail to realize how this change impacts their community
When a personal finance content creator seems to be out of touch with what their community actually wants from them

Pricing-Developing and creating products and services is a scary and exhilarating process. But the pricing process can go bad very quickly. How? By under or overcharging what you’re selling and how your clientele perceives your pricing.

Intentions-Sometimes your community doesn’t understand what your intentions are and things can go badly pretty quickly if this type of miscommunication isn’t addressed fast.

Michelle’s Mistake-Related to Money and Reputation

This mistake happened several years ago and I’m still a little embarrassed by this even though the issue I’m about to discuss has been resolved for many years. When I first got into course creation, I loved it and I had the opportunity to share my course in some communities. In one, the sales went well and the creator received affiliate commissions. Now, I had been paying affiliate commissions as they were trickling in and then my income dropped. It dropped to the point where I couldn’t afford to pay the last pending affiliate commission that ended up being a fairly significant one to me at the time. And, instead of speaking to this content creator about what was going on.

I avoided it.

Similar to some of the financial behavior and financial anxiety that had gotten me into the financial mess that I was digging myself out of at the time. This creator has done VERY well for themselves. And, they weren’t chasing after me for the money. In fact, it took quite a while before their team member reached out to me about it.

It would take another 1 year before I took care of it. Again, they never bothered me about the commission. This person is a 7 figure earner but my delaying and avoiding this payment because of the stuff my head had the following consequences:

Paranoia-I was wondering if people were talking about me behind my back and discussing the situation.

Impacted my course sales-I just couldn’t put myself out there to sell the course even though a relatively small number of courses would have taken care of the problem.

Negatively impacted how I felt about myself and the work I was doing in the personal finance space. While I never give financial advice and I’m fairly candid about the financial mistakes that I made, I felt horrible that I was unable to address this faster on an emotional level.

It took up a lot of head space-I spent a lot of time thinking about this problem versus taking care of the problem.

And it was this issue that made it clear to me that there were underlying issues with money that I needed to address and maybe it would be a good thing for me to work with a financial therapist.

By the way, it was just $600 dollars.

You’ll notice that with my business now-I don’t use affiliates and if I were to ever do it again, I would have someone designated to manage that aspect of my business.

The other sin that I avoided had nothing to do with me or my actions. Instead, it was related to another content creator in an adjacent space (not personal finance) who I know as an acquaintance. This person lives in Colorado, had started a Meetup group and seemed like a nice, ethical person.

Then, one day, I was randomly on Twitter and saw entire threads about this person and people’s very legitimate concerns about how they were running their business. In fact, legitimate publications in the state had written articles about this person. I would have NEVER known about this if I hadn’t seen those threads.

What was concerning was that they said that every 6 months this type of thread comes up and it’s not a big deal. Now, I never let on that I had seen these threads. Instead, I stopped attending the Meetup group and am no longer in contact with this person which wasn’t difficult to do given that we were acquaintances. Part of why I made that choice was that it didn’t seem like this person was addressing the issues that people were bringing up. Maybe, I would have made a different choice if that had been the case.

But, being in the personal finance space even though I never give financial advice. And I don’t call myself an expert, reputation takes a long-time to build and a few minutes to kill. And while it’s possible to rebuild your reputation, you’ll forever have issues. Proximity to questionable people with questionable business practices would reflect badly on me.

You’re often judged by the company that you keep. Remember, people have receipts on what you’re doing and who you’re connected to.

I hope that you enjoy this season and the conversations that we’ll be having. Again, the goal isn’t to shame anyone. It’s to show that we’re human and make mistakes and also to shine a light on the actions that can irreparably harm your brand and hurt the good work that you’re doing as a content creator in the personal finance space.

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About Michelle Jackson, Podcast Host

Michelle Jackson is mission-driven to help her readers and listeners empower themselves financially. Whether it is by improving their personal finances or learning how to sell what they already know — she loves having those conversations. Michelle runs the website and podcast “Michelle is Money Hungry” and is the founder of the Money on the Mountain retreat focused on empowering financially single women one conversation at a time. When she’s not geeking out about personal finance you can find her hiking in the mountains of Colorado.

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