When being paid in exposure is worth it

Founders and creatives tend to lose sight of what is most helpful for their company. Sometimes they are straight up being manipulated. These things are obvious but maybe when you’re desperate and overtired, you tend to forget.

This is a quick guide for the most valuable way to be paid.

I estimate each level is at least 10x more valuable than the level below. So I’ll put the equivalent dollar values you would have to see to consider taking the level below as an alternative.

Recurring money – $10 / month

Not all businesses make sense as recurring charges, but it’s certainly ideal for you and usually ideal for your customer as you have an incentive to continually improve what you build or offer.

One time payment – $100

I wouldn’t turn down a one time 8 figure payout like my last company got, but it leaves the existential question of what to do next and where your next customer will come from.

Daily/Weekly/Whatever metric Active Users – 10

Users who are repeatedly coming back to you or your service.

Assuming a conversion rate from active user to sale of 10% (this is ridiculously high), you would want 10 active users to make one sale.

User Registrations – 100

Every signup.

Emails/Texts/etc – 1000

1000 marketing emails or texts or notifications to someone who might buy your service.

Shout outs – Following of 10,000 fans

It’s a cliche for cheapskates to try and offer you “exposure” instead of paying you. Sometimes it is worth it. A shout-out from someone with 10,000 fans (that aren’t just paid bots) is worth $10 in recurring revenue.

Conversation with a business or expert with an annual revenue of $100,000

This can’t just be random people and businesses. But someone in your industry or a potential partner would be worth it.

Intros to someone with a net worth of at least $1,000,000

Intros often lead nowhere, but sometimes a chance one makes all the difference. I would value an intro to a relevant millionaire the same as a $10 / month customer even if it doesn’t lead to a conversation.

Some of the numbers seem small. A shout out to 10,000 people? But just scale it up. If someone is trying to get $3000 in free work, they better have at least 300,000 relevant and engaged followers.