How Giving Are People & My Video Series Experiment

Near the tail end of 2018, I shared some of my thoughts on the upkeep of a YouTube channel and whether I should continue my efforts there. See: The Mass Exodus Away from YouTube.

What I decided was to work on a six-part video lecture series to post on my YouTube channel and use the series for a social experiment. I told myself I would invest the effort, time, and dedication to craft this video series, put it out there, and study the public response to the series for making my determination on how I want to go forward.

Click on the banner to see the playlist of all current videos.

I was never going to publicize any of this private data-keeping or air to anyone at all how I was feeling. But I follow Jessi Huntenburg on YouTube and she recently posted a provocative video, “Money Shadows in the Witchcraft Community.” Watching her video made me decide, yah, this is going up. Because she’s so right. And I feel my data confirms every point Jessi made.

But then it also made me feel like crap, because as a creator you want to be the kind of good-hearted person who puts out content for free and not expect anything in return, but then after you put out the content for free and actually not get anything in return, oh now suddenly I’m not happy with that? What happened to “I don’t expect anything in return”? And of course you’re smart enough to realize your own hypocrisy, so now on top of feeling bad, you feel guilt and shame. Because apparently, you’re not as good-hearted as you thought you were.

The data I started keeping as soon as Video 1 went live was to help me decide whether or not it was worth it for me to continue my YouTube channel, which is in a nutshell, a lot of hard work, energy, research, and sacrifice of time that could be spent on far more profitable endeavors.

Keep in mind that whatever I put in to creating this totally free– and ad-free– YouTube content is time, energy, and resources I am taking away from other endeavors, often endeavors that would yield so much more profit, personal gains, and glory for me.

So I wanted to see if in some way, any way at all, even intangible, it didn’t even need to be dollars… Do I receive in return what I give and put out?

That was the question I presented to myself and what I hoped the data-keeping would help me answer.

Throughout the video series, I did the following:

  • A call to voluntarily donate money to me via PayPal or by Amazon gift cards
  • A call to subscribe to my channel
  • Advertising my paid online courses, and I mentioned very specific ones so I could track those specific courses over time and see whether this video series made any positive impact on sales
  • Shout-outs to my published book and then tracking AuthorCentral and Nielsen sales logs to see whether the video series would bump up my sales during the periods the videos went live

If everything I invested in to the video series yielded substantial gains in any of the aforementioned avenues, i.e., getting donations commensurate to what I would have earned if this video series was a paid course, or hike in subscription counts, or  boosts in sales of my other products, then I could convince myself that my YouTube channel was worth it.

Right before posting Video 1, I checked my total subscriber count on YouTube for the baseline: 6,662.

I took the PowerPoint I created for my 2018 talk at PantheaCon and expanded on it to create this video series, so I won’t be counting the number of hours I worked in 2018 to put the original talk together. I estimate it took around 30 to 35 hours to put together the original talk outline and PowerPoint. Everything I mention from now on is in addition to those initial 30-35 hours.

Videos 1 & 2

It took me in total 35 hours (added on to the 30-35 hours I worked last year to produce the work product I was starting this project with) to make these two videos. I managed that by doing a little here, doing a little there, over the course of many months (in fact, I first started working on this video series back in 2018).

Unfortunately for production value, if you listen closely to the audio of the videos, you can tell. The pacing, tonality, volume of speaking, etc. are varied from section to section, and that’s revealing of me recording on different days in different spaces.

Videos 1 and 2 were posted on the same day (new moon in Capricorn, during a partial solar eclipse, fun enough), within a few hours of each other.

Let’s look at a reporting of total donations, comments, and views. Why are we looking at the comments and views, too?

Because of course they’re currency. If you know anything about what motivates YouTubers, then you know that comments and views are currency.

Day Subs Donations Views Comments
Video 1 Video 2 Video 1 Video 2
1 6,683 $50 496 452 31 28
2 6,702 $0 143 204 6 16
3 6,718 $0 71 95 0 2
4 6,733 $0 74 82 0 5
5 6,739 $0 54 51 1 2
6 6,755 $0 59 83 0 1
7 6,781 $0 122 131 0 1

Within the first 24 hours of both videos posting, I received a $10 Amazon gift card, another $10 from a name I recognize, and $30 from a name I recognize.

And then for the next 6 days, I got nothing. $0. Zero.

That’s another thing I want to mention. It’s always the same 1% of folks who are generous, kind, giving, and selfless. The rest of the 99% just take and take, without remorse or shame, and don’t even feel any sense of obligation to give back.

I also promoted my I Ching course. Any significant hike in sales of that course? Nope. It remained at its same old steady stream. No noticeable blip one way or the other.

Plus, given the amount of work invested and what I feel like is otherwise very difficult substantive content to come– and for free no less– the view count was low. I don’t have to put in this much effort for that same view count– I can click the “record” button on my laptop, talk out of my ass, upload, and get the same exact view count. So to that regard, my labor and toil also felt wasted.

What about my subscriber count? Did the introduction of this video series do anything for my subscriber count?

75 hours of work gained me 119 new subscribers in 7 days. Even if we assume I worked minimum wage for those 75 hours, which is $11 per hour where I live, then I in effect paid $825 for 119 new subscribers.

Admittedly, the big flaw with these number reports is I cannot verify causation. I can only look at the proximity of timing and make educated inferences.

Also, I’m not counting the folks who watched these videos and then were motivated to purchase other courses I offer or in gratitude for the series, decided to support me by pre-ordering my tarot deck, or anything else I might not have explicitly promoted in the videos. Since I have no way of even inferring causation, that was just something I couldn’t keep track of at all.

Video 3

The third installment took me 20 hours to complete, start to finish (finish meaning uploaded and published).

There’s another toll my labor and time working on these videos take on me: my health and wellbeing. I work full-time in a highly demanding profession where statistically the attrition rate for women after 3 years on this career track is 44%, and think about that– this is after investing 3 years of their lives to law school and $150,000 in tuition (if not more). I’m also writing a book, working on a tarot deck, still do professional tarot and astrology readings for others, still taking on pro bono legal cases, and still attending to domestic matters on the home-front. To siphon any droplet of free time out of my day, daily, to invest in this totally free work product– how unreasonably selfish am I really being for saying to myself, I deserve to get something in return for all this?

Anyway, back to Video 3.

Video 3 was posted on Day 5 after Videos 1 and 2 went live. While Videos 1 and 2 were published on a weekend (Saturday afternoon and evening, respectively), Video 3 was published on a weekday (Thursday morning). I had made a call-out for donations in the first videos, but for Video 3 I didn’t.

Instead, I made an explicit call to leave a comment and tell me what you think of the series. I wanted to see what impact that would make So, does making an explicit call to leave comments result in more comments?

No.

Video 3 received the least number of views in its first 24 hours and despite the call-out to leave comments, also received the least number of comments.

On the other hand, I also speculate that posting on a Thursday morning rather than a weekend afternoon or evening could have had an effect as well. Maybe there are less eyes on YouTube videos in the pagan community on weekdays than on weekends?

Ballpark approximation, Video 3 received 40% less comments than Video 1, despite the explicit call for comment.

Day Subs Donations Total Views Comments
1 6,753 $0 444 19
2 6,767 $0 219 14
3 6,781 $0 93 8
4 6,798 $0 99 3

Those of you who’ve watched these videos will have seen that I kinda promoted the heck out of the I Ching course I offer in every video so far. Well then, how did my I Ching course sales fare as a result? Surely the enormous investment of my time and thought into this free video series will have caused a spike in my I Ching course sales?

Zero measurable difference from the ordinary stream of orders I was getting before the series went live.

Video 4

The fourth installment also took me 20 hours to produce. By this time I stopped logging subscription, view count, and donations data because I was just sorely disappointed at how little I felt like I was getting in return for the enormous amount of work.

Also, by now I could check AuthorCentral’s BookScan data to see how book sales for Tao of Craft did in the month of January compared to its prior history.

The book has been out since 2016, so I have 3 years of history to compare to. I promoted the book in every single video. So? How did I do?

No meaningful difference.

Among the comments on the videos, many folks mentioned going out to buy my Tao of Craft book as a direct result of watching the video series and I am so, so happy and grateful for each one of those folks. Reading those comments tickled me thrilled. Yet somehow my BookScan sales data showed negligible overall impact.

Okay, that’s fine. How about other forms of energy return?

Positive comments are still a form of currency and when you feel like you’ve been the catalyst for active engagement from the community, that’s a form of energy you’re receiving and getting enriched by. That’s compensation for your efforts.

So even if I didn’t earn any significant financial profit from this undertaking, if I felt like I had been some sort of a catalyst inspiring active engagement, then that would be more than enough to fuel me forward. Did that happen for me?

The comments for the four videos in the series up so far were overwhelmingly positive and each one filled me with joy.

What I found happening to myself, however, is feeling set back and stung whenever I was still getting really negative and hostile comments to past videos I’d posted (my opinion pieces). So while the pool of comments coming directly out of this video series brought me happiness, much older, unrelated videos still generating negative comments would chip away at that happiness. It made me think: maybe I should take down all my old YouTube videos for the sake of my own mental wellness.

The net result still left me feeling unfulfilled after all the work.

I’m also compelled to raise the issue of this one particular comment. I guess ultimately it was still positive. Or was intended to be.

Let’s walk through it:

This video is so fascinating, but it’s not anything I’d ever practice for myself. Nonetheless, I love learning about other cultures, so I’m loving this video series!

I’m curious how you feel about someone leaving such a comment.

Is it my hypersensitivity? Or does that comment come across just a smidge passive-aggressive, implying whatever this person practices, he/she thinks it’s superior to what I’m sharing? What I can only assume was a comment left in good faith, intended to be positive, ended up coming across just a touch… condescending.

The extra effort you have to go through to leave the comment, “aww, good for you and your cute little ways, but this spiritual path is not for me” implies whatever you’ve got going on already is superior to what I’ve got going on, but what a funny little practice I’ve shared–you’re glad I’ve managed to entertain you. No matter what you’d say your intentions were, that’s the implication I’m left with.

See, it may very well be completely true that my path isn’t this person’s path. Just like how there are a hundred million spiritual paths out there that are not mine. I don’t go onto those folks YouTube channels and be like, “Ya know, this is fascinating, so thanks for that, but this is totally not my own cup of tea. I would personally never practice any of these beliefs that you practice.”

Why would I never leave such a comment? Because no good can come out of that comment. It is a self-serving remark. Those words do not in any way enrich anybody, except maybe to make myself feel self-righteous. Take a moment to think about it. What is the true ulterior point of vocalizing aloud to someone else on their channel, “That’s cool, but this isn’t for me. I’d never do it this way.” It’s not enough justification to say, “Well it’s the truth.” You have to ask yourself: What is your purpose? What is your motive for expending your energy in that way, which ends up resulting in someone on the other end, a total stranger, feeling bad?

My mother always taught me when you visit somebody else’s place of worship, you need to worship their god or gods with them, genuinely, in a heartfelt way, and observe all the practices the members of that church or temple observe while you’re there (unless part of the religion is you’re not allowed to, in which case, yah, don’t, just do as instructed by the members).

That comment– irrational, I know– reminded me bitterly of when I was in Japan and observing Caucasian tourists being obnoxious and disrespectful at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Or in China and Taiwan when they’d wear their dirty shoes straight into the places of a monastery clearly marked “please take off your shoes” and then act as if they were deeply offended when a monk asked them to please take off their shoes. Or even the simple ignorance of how they should behave around shi fu, our most venerated masters. They’d be taking martial arts lessons from a decorated master and treating him like their BFF and call him by his first name. The decorated master, trying to accommodate to Western culture, will oblige, but meanwhile us native Asians are like, wtf? You know I would have gotten beaten to a bloody pulp if I had called my shi fu by his first name?

Oh by the way? In case you were wondering, that’s exactly why Asian occult traditions are so reluctant to share anything with the Western Christianized world.

Direct Ads > Free Content

I also have a few hard-learned takeaways for the entrepreneur. Direct ads, meaning you just go ahead and get straight to talking about what you’re selling, works better than giving away free content and hoping people will be so taken by the free content that they immediately buy what you’re also selling.

When I take 60 seconds to post a picture on Instagram promoting one of my online courses, I get a much bigger and more significant spike in sales of that online course than I get from the crazy number of hours and toil I expend on these videos thinking the videos will somehow promote my online courses.

When I send out a newsletter announcing the sale of something, it brings in a good flood of sales. When I upload a video that’s nothing more than, “Hey, check out my new product! This is a feature, and this is a feature…” that video will generate great sales. When I upload an educational series like this one and insert a few nudges to look at my paid stuff, nada.

The consumer public needs a direct call to action. Direct. You need to spell it out. “Buy this” or “order this now.” You wish I was making this up. I wish I was making this up. It’s the most disappointing lesson learned about humanity in all this.

The public is basically telling me I’m better off being smarmy and punching out hard-sell Instagram photos marketing my wares than trying to produce educational content in hopes that education will inspire people to seek out more of my work and compensate me for that work.

I’m sad that hard sells work better than putting everything you’ve got out there for free public consumption and then just hoping people will voluntarily do right by you. I’m sad that they rarely voluntarily do right by you, but then if you get smart, do the hard sell, because clearly that’s what people want– that’s where their money is going– you get vilified for showing any iota of regular business logic.

Paid Courses = More Appreciation

Free Courses = People Assume You Slapped This Work Together and It Was Effortless For You

You spend 50 hours of your time laboring away to produce something you give out for free and only 1% of the people appreciate what you’ve done while the rest– crickets or just a quick and light, “Aw, gee thanks!”

You spend 50 hours of your time laboring away to produce something exactly the same– exactly— but now you charge $30 for it and suddenly 99% of the people who gave you the $30 appreciate what you’ve done and laud you to no end for it. “Best $30 I ever spent… I learned so much… This is incredible content… Seriously thank you so much for putting this together…This has totally stepped up my game–I’m better now because of this course!”

To continue to work for free instead of charging the $30 (if not even more) you could otherwise charge for that work means you are an idiot.

To step up and charge $30 for your work means you get vilified as a money-grubbing, greedy, un-spiritual, un-evolved hypocrite. How can you possibly claim to be compassionate and spiritual and still have the gall to charge $30 for educational content instead of putting it out for free, from the goodness of your own heart? Unless there is no goodness in your heart and you’re just a money-grubbing greedy hypocrite?

Where I’m Left at Now

I get a lot of messages asking me when I’ll be releasing Videos 5 and 6. Honestly, I don’t know. I’m not sure if there’s anything motivating me to produce them.

And even if I do, since I already have a lot of the content for Videos 5 and 6 put together, is it going to be free? Am I going to put it behind a pay wall and, like every single other pagan, tarot, or witchy YouTuber who decides to stand up for him or herself and go on Patreon, get hated on by members of the community for demanding some financial compensation for all the work that goes in to producing videos?

I reviewed the average view count for the four videos over the last month: on average each video got 1,508 views. Speculate that only about half would be willing to pay $1 (one dollar!) per video, so now that’s down to 754. Multiply by 4 videos and that’s $3,016.00.

Even if half the average view count those videos received would be willing to pay me $1 per video for a total of $4 as just a little thank you tip, I would have received $3,016.00.

That’s why Jessi’s video hit home.

Instead I got $50 on Day 1 only and from people whose names I already recognize and so they shouldn’t be donating anyway because I already feel their love and appreciation, and then crickets from the masses for the rest of the month.

Ultimately, this isn’t about the public or anything a monolithic public did to me. It’s about me and what I do to myself.

I need to take a really hard and difficult look at my own motivations, the darkest among them, and figure out what the hell is going on with me. Like Jessi notes, it’s money shadows, though we each need to then as individuals figure out the exact form that money shadow is taking in our lives.

I want to give back to a community that has as a collective blessed me with so much. I feel obligated to give back for all that I have received. But then I have to wonder: am I going about this the right way? Here I assumed that putting out free courses like this one so that people who possess an eagerness to learn but not the financial means to pay for entry can still have open access to esoteric content. And by contributing these free courses to the general public, I was doing my part for the community.

I wanted that to be enough for me. But I’m not as spiritually evolved as I would like to idealize myself as being.

Post Script

I hope after you read this, your takeaway isn’t that I’m mad no one compensated me financially for something I voluntarily initiated and put out into the world as free stuff. That was not the point of this post at all.

My point was to be open and honest with you that right now, I feel like I am not receiving from my YouTube channel what I am giving to my YouTube channel and it’s nobody’s fault but my own. That’s all that this post was about.

I made the rookie mistake beginner tarot pros make, and that is not keeping the energy balance in check.

I hope I made clear that I’m not mad at the 99%, especially if a segment of that 99% are people who can’t afford to pay. The whole reason I started the free courses series was– as I’ve said over and over throughout– to do my part to level the playing field of access.

70 thoughts on “How Giving Are People & My Video Series Experiment

  1. sybes1

    Aww. Crap. Well this is just discouraging. I hear you. I *feel* you. You already know my story and that I have to wait until I’m finally settled back in No Cal and can re-establish my library (including course materials). This has been my angst for the last 15 months: no way to have a library and notebooks and workbooks and courses until I’m finally settled in my house again—that would be May. However, that doesn’t excuse me from upping my ante. Thank you for all that you do.

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      1. sybes1

        Awww ❤ ❤ <3. Well, prepare yourself b/c I KNOW somewhere between the fire and my travels I’ve lost SO much of your work! Soooooo……yeah. In a few months I’ll be more in touch XOXO

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  2. I bought the OOTK course and used a four ring binder, and plastic wallets, of which I needed many because the library lied about offering double-sided printing.

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  3. Nathen

    I have found your generosity to be absolutely incredible. I can see how it would be hurtful to not get more response from all your hard work. I personally have become a bit of a benebell-ophile and get a lot out of all the content you put out both free and what you charge for. And I would probably continue to follow your work even if you do start charging a fee or doing patreon or what have you. I hope that some kind of balance is found in all this for you. You are good people and you deserve to be happy with what you are putting out and the response that you get!

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    1. Hi Nathen! ❤ Well thank you and it's people like you that mean the world to me and why I love what I do. ❤ I'm still pretty against Patreon and reluctant to go that route and am still frantically trying every other possibility before that? hHaha. We'll see what happens.

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  4. I’ve experienced a stark contrast this week with educators. It started by being “fooled” into scheduling a time to watch a {$MsTarot} webinar / advertisement for a $300 course, and ended with me vowing to watch every video you have on YouTube and then one by one go through each of your much more financially accessable courses.

    I’m the same Woo who commented on your test post on YouTube. I’ve got physical limitations and I feel locked right now only being able to continue my studies through video. So I am damn sure appreciative of the wealth of information you have available on YouTube. All the work you’ve done is giving hope to this woman you never knew existed before today.

    Due to my physical limitations I cannot work. For years now I have struggled to find a means to earn money, because money equals value. I realized I was struggling to feel I have *value* in my existence. I’ve since shifted my focus. I know logically that value is more than what someone will pay me, and I work every day to emotionally feel value through other means, too. So I sit online and read people’s stories and try my best to share with them some hope or compassion, or at the very least a feeling of being understood. So my husband comes home everyday, and he asks what I did. Well, I felt like shit, didn’t move, continued to postpone chores, but what I *was* able to do is send some messages to people out there on the internet and try to make them feel better. It’s such a small thread of value, and I hold on to it so tightly. This is why it is OK for me to exist: I made someone feel better today.

    So, back to earlier this week. I can see right through all of {$MsTarot}’s marketing (and her constant emails…). I can see so many of the strategies. And, yes, I honestly felt damn fooled by her webinar. I felt like a fool for falling for believing it was anything other than 60% advertisement with fake interest in the product she advertised and zero for the topic of the webinar. I doubted if any of it was actually live but just a rerun. I just felt manipulated and lied to.

    The end result of focusing on returns is what {$MsTarot} has come to. Is that what you want for yourself, for your business?

    After feeling fooled by {$MsTarot}, I still was driven to continue my tarot studies so I dove into your Holistic Tarot and SKT videos and there was such a stark difference. Your content is *quality.* I learned so much just from art history alone, and I’m a friggin’ art and architecture history minor.

    I discussed the profitability of selling online courses with my husband. It is clearly working quite well for people. My own cousin is making a killing. Is *this* something I could do to earn money (value for existing)? I could do work when I am healthy, and earn income even when I was ill. The numbers I guessed {$MsTarot} was pulling in flashed like dollar signs in front of my eyes.

    But then I realized {$MsTarot}’s method goes against my personal code: open source, open documentation.

    I developed this personal code back in my healthy days where I was an open source developer. It feels important to me. It feels like something I should adhere to. Surprisingly, my husband was supportive of sticking to it and not compromising. So the dollar signs of {$MsTarot} slipped from my eyes; her methods are against my code.

    I switched over to watching your videos. I tried to branch out, but frankly no one has nearly your quality, so I’m just going to watch them all, I agreed, and then work through your courses one by one as health allows.

    I found your approach matched more closely to my code. You give away a wealth of information for free, and keep some to yourself for profit. This much closer to my open documentation code. If you write a book, of course sell the book. My husband said, “So many of these business books has the author openly admitting they’re just a compilation and refinement of their own blog posts.” — so, it’s also possible to do both. But looking at your two books I can see how a compilation of blog posts wasn’t in the cards. They’re physical works, and physical works should be sold.

    I don’t know how to help the conflict you feel, nor how much people’s opinions grab at your heart.

    I get this impression, though, that you are driven to share information. There is something inside you that wants to do that more than just to earn money. There are so many ways people have marketed themselves with far less effort, like you noted. Therefore, there is something else inside you driving these instincts.

    For me, this drive comes from several sources: 1) sort my own thoughts, and I find it much better to sort my thoughts through the lens of education; 2) enrich the world around me with as little barriers as possible; and oftentimes, 3) get the thoughts *out* of my head so I can think about something else. And then I just put it out there, somewhere, just in case someone gets value from it.

    Where is your drive coming from? How does satiating your drive help you?

    What is always most important is taking care of yourself. You aren’t obligated to any of us ambiguous internet entities. We are here to serve you, and the moment we don’t it is absolutely within your perogative to walk away. Try to strip away the feelings of owing any of us anything, because you don’t. The moment the interaction turns to net negative is the moment you should walk away. You’ll probably be drawn back for another purpose. But if you aren’t, if you permenantly move on, that’s OK, too. Your sanity always, always comes first.

    The same goes for income. Once you have enough for what you need, anything else is gravy. Just because someone else charges $300 for half the content you provide doesn’t mean you should, too. Don’t measure yourself against another, and instead just measure against your needs to achieve peacefulness.

    Don’t let feelings of obligation, nor drive for aquisition drag you down. Focus on your mental health first. Your sanity is your #1 priority in life.

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    1. Hi Kat!

      I’m sorry you had a negative and smarmy experience with $MsTarot, but I know firsthand that most of the tarot professionals online aren’t like that and we all quietly get frustrated with the $MsTarots of the world, too, as they’re giving everybody a bad name. =)

      Hopefully she doesn’t represent the *only* way to approach a tarot business. =) One can strike a balance between offering paid content and offering open access content. All I was saying in this blog post was that I don’t think I’ve struck that balance for myself. =)

      Thank you for your insights!

      Like

  5. Hazel Jane

    Hi Benebell, I found this video series really fantastic and I’ve been planning to rewatch and take notes! I’m always blown away by the free content you put out there like the study guides for Holistic Tarot and the video series for Spirit Keepers Tarot. I love your Bell Chimes In videos and your website. I’m sorry your YouTube channel has not been proving worth it financially. I found you through the Biddy Tarot podcast and the trust built up through watching your YouTube content led me to buy Holistic Tarot and one of your Tarot Readers Academy courses (which would not have come to you directly of course). I’ve also now ordered the Vitruvian edition of SKT and will definitely be purchasing more of your courses in the future. However I can see that to create all that YouTube content for those purchases isn’t a sustainable hourly rate by any means! It’s a very slow burn.
    Thank you for everything you have shared. I wish you all the best in figuring out your next step. Your integrity, generosity and the quality of your content really speaks for itself and I’m sure your followers will support you x

    Like

  6. Anonymous

    The only word I have about this blog post to expressed my thoughts on it and how it made me feel is disappointment. Here is why:

    Anyone who has spent any time reading about social media and marketing would know that the average conversion rate of a viewer/follower to patron is less than 1%.

    Ive watched all the referenced videos both yours and Jessi’s and I do agree with Jessi. But the problem is systemic in our culture not just within our community. Digital entertainment piracy is a perfect example of that – how many people pirate movies, television, or video games for free because they can – its not that they can’t afford to buy them. Lets be honest this is socially systemic and is not going to fix it self over night.

    “Keep in mind that whatever I put in to creating this totally free– and ad-free– YouTube content is time, energy, and resources I am taking away from other endeavors, often endeavors that would yield so much more profit, personal gains, and glory for me.”

    Yes, that is the case in everything we do – every single aspect of everything we do has perceived value – both to us and other people. I think the thing about social media people forget is it never is the primary source of customers. It increases reach and visibility and even in major corporations is always billed as loss because it inevitably is – it takes more time and resources to do then what you get directly out of it. However, the intrinsic value of visibility and reach is where the value lies, not in tangible capital.

    “Also, I’m not counting the folks who watched these videos and then were motivated to purchase other courses I offer or in gratitude for the series, decided to support me by pre-ordering my tarot deck, or anything else I might not have explicitly promoted in the videos.”

    I think this is the fundamental flaw in your argument – your audience grew by 119 people so if 1% of those people monetized, then you won by the standards of social media monetization. You can’t look at your existing base because they are already familiar with your services and have either monetized in the past or chosen not to. By your own words you admit to not even following your experiment through – “By this time I stopped logging subscription, view count, and donations data because I was just sorely disappointed at how little I felt like I was getting in return for the enormous amount of work. ” Furthermore you go on to state” You spend 50 hours of your time laboring away to produce something you give out for free and only 1% of the people appreciate what you’ve done while the rest– crickets or just a quick and light, “Aw, gee thanks!” – by any means of standard social media marketing principals that IS a win, in fact, if I recall correctly in one of your SKT videos you even discussed this topic in your amazement at the high conversion rates you saw from your newsletter.

    In addition, the widespread success of your book, courses, and deck I think point to the relative success of the reach and visibility you have garnered from social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. Saying ” how unreasonably selfish am I really being for saying to myself, I deserve to get something in return for all this? ” Is not selfish – no, but to say you have got nothing, and that 99% if people just tank unabashedly is well… a lie. Everyone wants and deserves to get something for the time and efforts they put into anything, and what they get and how they value it is completely up to them, and that is fine. I’m not saying you should not feel this way, but rather your arguments for feeling this way seem flawed.

    You then go on to discuss comments you received:
    “This video is so fascinating, but it’s not anything I’d ever practice for myself. Nonetheless, I love learning about other cultures, so I’m loving this video series!”
    I’m curious how you feel about someone leaving such a comment.”

    I see nothing wrong with this comment – its very neutral in my opinion, and to be frank in my time watching you through all platforms I feel as though you take things very personally for someone who works in law and who I would assume would have a thicker skin. I complete disagree with the remark being “a self-serving remark. ” – they were providing YOU with feedback which you ask for. Her feedback was honest from his/her perspective, and that’s all you can ask for. I do not think in any way that the person leaving that comment had any other motive other than to provide you with their feedback.

    “Paid Courses = More Appreciation”
    Its like that with everything in life though is it not? When people pay for a service or a thing it is a show of appreciation and value.

    At the end of the day Benebell you have won, more than most people ever will with your continued success and growth even in the past year within the community. The success of your book and deck alone is probably more income than MANY people get in a year. Is it bad to want more? No, absolutely not. Is it bad to expect more, no. But to stating “The rest of the 99% just take and take, without remorse or shame, and don’t even feel any sense of obligation to give back” is such a disgusting generalization that I am completely and totally disappointed in you. I constantly see people thanking you for your content, linking and sharing your blogs and resources, I see people referencing your book constantly (how many copies of those have you sold?), not to mention the insane success of your deck – which lets be honest if we look at your subscriber base as of posting this which is 7,106 people – let’s drop it to an even 7k to eliminate some fake accounts that always exist – and compare that to the 1k decks you sold out of in a week; that is a huge win of 7% conversion. All of these are different ways of giving back to you, if it’s making a purchase, sharing your content, or simply posting a comment saying thank you – which you have received many of. Heck, even just a simple like is a show of appreciation and giving back, and I think you really are devaluing everything outside of giving you money here.

    As someone who is also active within the community and who has a channel for me it always has been about giving back and raising visibility and reach. Most of my income comes from local business, readings, and goods sold to local shops and at markets/fairs. For me that is fine. It is ok that you may feel otherwise.

    What is not ok is marginalizing the people, who cannot, or may not want to by saying The rest of the 99% just take and take, without remorse or shame, and don’t even feel any sense of obligation to give back”. Because, at the end of the day you have no idea who those 99% are, what their ability to give back is, or if they have chosen to give back to the community at large in other ways. If you have seen 1% monetization rate then you are totally winning.

    Ill end by referncing this: “I want to give back to a community that has as a collective blessed me with so much. […] I wanted that to be enough for me. But I’m not as spiritually evolved as I would like to idealize myself as being.”

    Clearly its not, and that is ok. All of us have to decide what is valuable to us and what is not, but remember there are MANY people who have given back by purchasing your book, deck, courses, or readings.

    In closing, I feel as though you missed some of the message in Jessi Huntenburg’s video, and as you did say ” Like Jessi notes, it’s money shadows, though we each need to then as individuals figure out the exact form that money shadow is taking in our lives.” I think you need to really reflect on your success and understand that you have been more successful than any of us could ever dream or imagine to be within this space. In all honesty, I have seen your disregard of that fact over the past six months or so grow into egotism, which leaves me feeling disappointed.

    Like

    1. Hi Anonymous:

      Your comment made me feel sad, though I totally get where you’re coming from. My blog post comes across as sounding like someone who’s privileged who is nonetheless still whining “woe is me.”

      I don’t think the conversion rate of click-to-buy in a newsletter is the same as the viewer-to-patron conversion rate.

      Thank you for pointing out the flaws in my arguments, though I wasn’t trying to make any arguments. I was laying bare my actual thoughts, even the ugly ones. I’m sorry the ugly ones made you feel disappointed in the fact there are ugly parts of me.

      I never said I gained nothing from my social media presence and I do think you are conflating a lot of things together. I apologize for not having the time to parse through it all for you, but in short, being present on Instagram with daily posts of food and tarot cards is different from what goes into creating free courses like the subject this post was about. There are plenty of people far more successful than I am who are not creating these types of free courses, are present on social media, and maybe they’ve got some sort of balance right that I’m getting wrong.

      Also, it’s not like I worked my ass off to create that deck, or worked my ass off to write a book, or worked my ass off to create courses that people will want to buy. But I’m open to hearing which messages in Jessi’s video you feel I’ve missed.

      Finally, if you are making the blanket generalization that everyone in the field of law has thick skin and isn’t allowed to feel hurt, especially when one thing is in a personal-spiritual sphere and the other has to do my professional-impersonal-not-really-my-problems-anyway sphere, then I think you’re exhibiting the same qualities you’re accusing me of, are you not?

      Like

      1. For what it’s worth, this internet stranger didn’t interpret anything negative about your post. It is a perfectly normal part of the struggle when trying to come to terms with managing our time juggling income/survival, social connection, and passion.

        It’s always hard opening up because our differences naturally lead to misunderstandings and conflict. Yet we need each other, too. We become better as a whole when we open up and are honest with each other, yet also leaving us vulnerable. I think that you opening up a bit to your personal side has been helpful for people to understand the reality of life, everyone’s journey being not so dissimilar. But it inevitably causes pain, too.

        Hedgehog’s dilemma.

        Like

    2. I wrote my reply before we had our conversation, so take that in to context. ❤ I'm glad to have connected more directly and gotten to hear your point of view, which makes me a better person for it. Folks like you keep me in check. Thanks. xoxo

      Like

    3. Neela Ravi

      I wasn’t going to say anything, I really really wasn’t, especially seeing this comment was written by “anonymous” but man I can’t not say anything, even knowing the person who wrote this comment won’t see my reply. But I will keep it short rather than rip you apart point by point as you made to do with benebell’s post.

      You sound like a selfish, self-centered, jealous, resentful banana in your entire post, and I’m using banana as a euphemism. You also come off, whether it’s true or not, as having less than zero understanding of the amount of work content creators put into their work. I’m honestly appalled that someone like you had the audacity to comment this. You accuse of benebell of being a privileged blogger but holy crap you sound like a white privileged banana that’s whining and turning what is someone else’s personal feelings into something that’s all about you. Are you actually serious right now? This woman doesn’t have thick enough skin? She needs to check her privilege?

      She puts herself out there every day, being honest and transparent with her followers almost every step of the way. She is kind, and listens to people, and genuinely cares about providing content for people who can’t afford it. I’m sorry but just. Fuck off. Fuck off this blog and keep your stupid, shitty opinions to yourself. I disagree with every single word in your comment and congrats, you’ve managed to piss off an internet stranger with your “I’m so disappointed in you” shit. I’m sorry your unsuccessful in life but with your attitude it’s not really a surprise.

      Benebell, I am deeply sorry for slinging rude words at someone on your blog. But I feel very strongly and, weird as it sounds, protective of you in this community. You single handedly shaped my spiritual path in ways I don’t feel comfortable sharing on an open site, but needless to say, you do not deserve to be attacked, shamed, and guilted like this on your blog. This anon is a coward, who can’t even attach a name to their comment because they know it’s shitty. Like I said, I disagree with basically every word they said and I’m sure I’m not alone.

      You are a strong independent woman who I liken as being up there among the esoteric modern greats. Don’t listen to bananas like that anon, and know that whatever you decide to do in the future regarding the content you produce, I support you. I know what it’s like to pour 100s of hours into creating something only to have people greedily ask for more and not bother to give anything in return other than “this is okay, where’s the next part?” In those instances I’d personally rather have no feedback than have “I’d never do this but thanks for the info.” It’s insulting, not constructive, and ultimately useless feedback.

      Take care of yourself, and know that regardless of people like anon, there are many more who see you as a person and not some infallible God to be trampled on at the first misstep. Thank you for all your hard work. ❤

      Like

    4. Sorry but the fact that you posted anonymously negates your entire piece. You were simply trying to hurt Benebell by this response. Sounds like you are the one that needs to do some reflecting on your own ego. Or is that why you hide? Because you are afraid others will not like you for being so mean-spirited? If you are going to say it, own it. Seek joy, y’all. Be authentic. Arwen

      Like

        1. lucychenfineart

          Haha! Arwen, I can see your face 🙂
          When someone is hiding as Anonymous when leaving comments, they are clearly ashamed of themselves.

          Like

  7. I read with your SKT this morning after reading your post. Message to you is you are building your kingdom via social media, with both power of creation and destruction. It is just the beginning. Don’t give up. They want me to send you this. Now tell me which products I still haven’t bought from you I will do right away. You have done so much good work, and money is not the thing you most need, and you have inspired so many people. From that video series I put down on my to-do list that I will revisit I Ching this year. Your translation helps me so much in understanding the text. Thank you Bell.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Miss….benebel wen….l really appreciate your work….l have listen and watch YouTube regarding about your Tao and Buddhist religion….I am really appreciate it… however,l want to apologise to you that l  am not make any donations your program…. anyway be frank to you….l am newly established medium.  So recently l just bought Tao of craft , your book on amazon.com and l would take I ching, course your course hopefully l have enough Ang pow money on Chinese New year….. anyway l would offer my medium service to you…. for free via  pray to grow your legal practice in California and , please don’t give up…every business out there is very thought and complicated… how good you are people out there are still reject you…..there l personally wish you gong xi fa cai 2019 to you and your family in California US…by the way…l am Jharry p Kang from tawau Sabah Malaysia….

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Like

    1. Hi Jharry: Please, no apologies whatsoever and I hope the takeaway message people leave with from this post isn’t that they should donate! That was just part of my conversation about why I haven’t felt like this give-take ratio has been balanced, but reading what everyone has said here, including your insights, lets me know maybe I was wrong and there is a lot I didn’t take in to account or see, and I was looking at my own data all wrong. Thank you! ❤

      Like

  9. Jam

    I just want to say that I’ve been hugely enjoying the new series, and it was your general youtube presence that really got me into you (for lack of better phrasing?) in the first place! I happened to catch your youtube post linking this on one of my rare ventures into the youtube app, and I feel compelled to respond.

    I’ll admit that I’m not subscribed — this is largely due to the weirdness of youtube and psychology. If I subscribe to a channel, even if I “ring the bell”, 90% of the time, I miss new videos. Or, when I do see them, I end up not watching them right away, safe in the knowledge that they’re in my feed….only to lose track of where the video went once seventeen other people upload that same hour.

    When a new video comes out from a channel I’m not subscribed to, but whose content I watch frequently, youtube STILL tells me when a new video is uploaded (among other content, such as your post being at the top of my feed) — but the difference is that I will click it and watch it right away, because I’m worried they won’t show me the video again. (And navigating youtube is a particular difficulty for me, due to how I watch it, which I’ll explain later)

    Despite not being a subscriber, I do currently own Holistic Tarot, and I’ve bought your I Ching course, your Tarot as a Tool for Craft course, the Tarot and Shadow Work course, the Tarot, Occultism, and Modern Witchcraft course, and your Copyright Law and Tarot course.

    However, I bought all of those before you launched the new series, and while I have plans to buy more courses and preorder the new edition of the SKT, I haven’t yet gotten a chance to. (I’m working with retail cashier money, and it doesn’t always go as far as I want it to, at least not right away)

    I don’t know if I’ve ever left a comment on any of your videos, and I’m sure if I have, it wasn’t recent. And I guess I want to offer a defense/explanation (excuse??) for myself: I stream youtube to my television.

    There’s no way for me to leave any kind of feedback from there, except to like and favourite, which I do! But if I want to leave a comment, it’s not a matter of scrolling slightly down from the video I was just watching, but rather getting to a laptop or phone, finding the video I watched, leaving a comment — and then watching the youtube app on my tv break down because it won’t let me watch youtube in more than one place.

    The whole thing is a very clunky experience. It’s….a hassle. And I’m not saying your videos aren’t worth that hassle — they are! But I usually have about two hours between when I come home and when I have to go to sleep so I can be up in time for my next shift, and a LOT of things I should be doing kind of fall by the wayside. (I’d say you should see my room, but….no one should see my room. I can barely keep up with the things people DO see, like my unruly hair)

    Reading this post broke my heart though, because I went through my own similar let down, feeling like a community I was giving my all to wasn’t giving very much back to me. I was just a medium fish in a huge pond, but I still had over ten thousand people who showed up claiming to care about what I was doing and saying, but when the time came to show that in a financial way…well, for me, it was less than 1% who showed up. I think it was even less than .1%.

    And that absolutely killed my ability to keep going, and honestly, my every interaction with the entire community since then is tinged with bitterness. Even though everyone else was doing what they’d already been doing the entire time I’d been active on the platform, which is consuming the content I was giving them, for free, as intended. I kept telling my friends, “It feels like no one cares what I’m doing.”

    It’s been so hard for me to even confront that experience that I still haven’t resolved it for myself.

    I hate that something I did helped someone else feel the way I felt. An apology feels lackluster in the face of that — but I do apologize. For what it’s worth, if you did go the patreon route, or behind another type of paywall, I would show up!

    The work you’ve put out, both paid and free, has made such a difference to me in ways I couldn’t even begin to get into, and I know I’m not alone in that. I can’t tell you what choice to make, and I don’t think you need me to, but I hope you can find one that resolves things for you. And in the meantime I’m going to try to do better to make sure my own actions better reflect what I value.

    Like

    1. Hi Jam! Well I learned something new– I have no idea how streaming a YouTube video onto a TV even works! So I never even conceived of the logistics for people doing that! So thank you!

      And thank you so much for letting me know I’m being heard. ❤ I probably won't go the Patreon route, but I might scale back and try to make more "me" time. ❤ Thank you!

      Like

      1. I use Google Chromecast to cast videos from my phone or computer onto the TV. It’s actually a lot of fun! You can configure it so anyone on your network can cast to the TV, and you can have fun social YouTube sharing binges with friends. I do this a lot with friends.

        When my body isn’t feeling well, but my mind is working, I set up a long list of educational videos to cast onto the TV and curl up to rest my body but stimulate my mind.

        And, yes. It’s regularly OK to take “me” time.

        Like

  10. Robert

    Bell —

    You have every right to expect compensation for the phenomenal work you do. I was telling my wife today that you have the content of about four extremely intelligent people on your site for nothing. I’m stunned that you have given so much of yourself to the rest of us schmos for free. I thank you and bless you. If there is somebody out there who will insult you for using Patreon to try to recoup the hours and hours that you put into teaching, you didn’t need that person, anyway.

    Blessings on this Imbolc 2019 —
    Robert

    Like

    1. Finn

      Hear freaking hear. I aspire to be as generous and thoughtful as Benebell, if I ever have a creative endeavor to bring to the world. Many more blessings and thanks!

      Like

  11. Finn

    Benebell, I admire and aspire to your openness, thoughtfulness, and generosity with everything you create and relate here. I am always so encouraged and inspired by you, and I hear you here, as another artist, *so much.* I’m one of that section who genuinely *can’t afford everything on offer that I want to support or take, and your offerings are a gift and a blessing for me, and I am always so excited to support you when I can because you genuinely understand where I’m coming from. I wish you all the very best in finding the right balance—I’ll be following along and showing you off to everyone and buying everything I can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Finn! Aww, thank you! Money is most certainly not the only currency. Most people who have a YouTube platform– most– really aren’t in it for the money. But they do want to know they’re being heard. Otherwise they’d just write in their private diaries at home instead of putting out video content. So knowing one is being heard and appreciated is absolutely a form of currency. I guess lately I wasn’t feeling it, but a lot of folks have let me know I’m supported, so it’s been heartening. Thanks! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Vera

    Lady, I was wondering how you didn’t feel like this prior to your experiment. You are incredibly generous with knowledge, artwork, cards, pdfs, etc. No wonder you feel disappointed, it’s natural to want to receive energy back for whatever you put out there. That’s the way our universe works and it is very spiritual. What’s going to be left for you if you do not receive back? Drive, inspiration and vitality have to come from somewhere (physical prosperity as well). Balance your scales, and take care of yourself. You are easily the most hard working person of which I know, insanely productive and creative. Take a break and take back a little for yourself,
    Vera

    Liked by 2 people

  13. First of all, I want to give you a hug and let you know that you are awesome. I came across your blog the other day and found your content engaging, so I wandered some more and looked into your tarot deck, saw the book that goes with it and got excited. Then i found Holistic Tarot and immediately bought it through Prime and got it the next day (im a quarter of the way through it) and have continued to rummage through all the absolute gold on your website. When I started reading this and saw you had a YouTube channel, I wanted to go straight to it.
    The point being that the internet is a slow business, and it takes time to build up an audience. I know you have a following, and i hope so much that it increases because you deserve it, and i believe the world needs people like you. But, as i know you know, the internet is a strange place that turns what we know about sociology on its head.
    I guess what i mean is that you are appreciated, and i do think YouTube is an important avenue to reach people and help them on their learning path. But if its taking so much of you, then either you need someone to take some of the load or it might not be the right time for you.
    For selfish reasons, i hope you can manage to keep on with them, but i would never want you to be drained in doing so.
    Sorry, this is kind of a useless comment.

    Like

  14. HI Nicola! Well very nice meeting you! ❤ You're right– YouTube presence is important in this day and age. I think it's really it's me, and not actually anyone else– I went about it all wrong? And therefore created the imbalance all on my own. I think once I figure out how to be more tempered with it, it'll all be good. Thanks! ❤

    Like

  15. Sophia

    I have followed your work only for about a year now and I completely understand everything you say here.
    The works you put out are always high in quality and everyone who looks can clearly see you put a lot of effort, time and research into everything, making sure it’s accurate, helpful and detailed.
    Yet people don’t show thankfulness….
    Personally I definitely bought your tarot deck because of the series and while I am definitely going to buy your book, it’s going to take some time for me to get the money together.
    I am someone who chooses very actively to belive in the good in people so I hope that over time you will get the love and payout you deserve from people who maybe right now are down on money but will remember you when they aren’t anymore yet realisticly there is no way for you to track that and I fully understand that that is not a good business strategy…

    In summary I guess: thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the work you put into honestly educating people and spreading knowledge, you changed my daily practice l, and you changed my thinking/deepened my understanding on a lot of things.
    Whatever you decide on the YouTube channel/free content has in my opinion nothing to do with greed and everything with caring for yourself and so whatever decision you end up making I and presumably a lot of people will be with you.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Kay

    I’ve bought at least 3 of your courses, Holistic Tarot, your planner and your deck (and will probably buy the new deck if I can afford it). I know YouTube is a LOT of work. I used to do it for advertising purposes. I suck at it so it didn’t work. And your numbers show it might not work anyway. Anyhow, I wish I could donate to you, but some of us are living paycheck to paycheck and in a ton of debt. I make about $35K a year. I only donate to one charity every month ($12) even though that should be going to debt. Just wanted to state the obvious – A small percentage can’t afford to give extra. I don’t know what percentage, but I’m one of them. I do very much appreciate your work. I would subscribe to you on Patreon or whatever platform if there was an affordable tier level.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kay: Yes, I think it’s mainly the YouTube thing that has sucked out my joy, not anything here on this website or the content I create *here*. I will keep what’s already up on YouTube, finish the unfinished series, and then just scale back… a lot. =) Thank you so much for your great insights.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Suzanne Ricker

    Hello! I felt the need to come here today to express that I believe it was my comment you are referring to in your blog. This was brought to my attention by someone I do not know but appreciate the heads up.

    You have addressed it in such a way that I felt I needed to come here an publickly apologize to you Benebell. My comment was meant to be complimentary and instead has come through in a way I never intended. I continue to marvel at your knowledge and understanding of topics that far outweigh what I will ever know of them.

    Hoping I will be able to redeem myself here, I truly meant that I do look forward to learning about what you are so willing to share with all of us. Our paths are different, but I love learning about things that I don’t yet understand and open to what you are taking so much time to teach.

    Whatever your decision becomes with all of your time, work and efforts, you have a great following. I mean (and meant) no disrespect to you or anyone here. This is most certainly the “curse of the post/text”. I need to watch how I word things and will most certainly be more mindful of how I phrase things to come across the right way.

    Thank you for your time here.

    Like

    1. Hi Suzanne: Thank you so much for clarifying! I don’t remember who left the comment, but I just remember how it made me feel, but thank you so much for clarifying. It definitely changes things, a lot. 🙂 ❤ And yes, I guess I also have to remember that things come across much poorer over anonymous text in comments sections than in person. What would have no misunderstanding in person ends up getting misinterpreted over the Internet. =) I definitely appreciate that everyone has different paths but I guess it stung me to put in that much effort sharing something so personal of mine and then for what I had *perceived* at the time as "Eh– cute, but this isn't for me" in response to those efforts. But now I see it wasn't the case at all. Thank you for clarifying! ❤ xoxo

      Like

      1. Suzanne Ricker

        I truly believe that diversity in this world is definitely key. The more that we share of ourselves and our experiences, the more we grow. I’m so sorry my words brought you to feeling as you did. You definitely have content that is worth while across the board. I look forward to following your work and plan to support in what ever way I can. Thank you for your reply. 😊❤️
        🌛🌝🌜

        Liked by 2 people

        1. And thank you for clarifying. It makes me feel much better about the will thing. I also apologize for overreacting right out of the gate and not giving the benefit of the doubt. 🥰

          Like

  18. Thank you for sharing these thoughts and for being vulnerable. It’s easy to “forget” that nothing is really free. I’m glad you decided to share your feelings of discouragement, and the facts of how much “support” you actually get from making YT content… It’s pretty discouraging. Your words are reminding me that I could do a better job living out my ethics. I’m kind of laughing at my on hypocrisy; it’s funny how easy it is to let yourself become selectively ignorant of your own values. Like, duh, of course I want to support the people who are doing work that adds value to my life!! Do I follow through on that? Sometimes, when it’s convenient. It’s ugly but true, and I’m probably not the only one who could do a better job.

    Maybe one reason that happens is because we have a tendency towards “all or nothing” type thinking. For example, I have definitely fallen prey to the thought line of, “well, I didn’t budget for a $50 e-course this month, so I’ll watch all these free videos instead.” That’s not the kind of person I want to be, though!! How about, “all this ‘free’ content is adding so much value to my life right now, so let me see what I *can* afford to give to this creator today,” even if it’s just a few bucks or an appreciative comment. As you’ve said, there are many ways to “support” that aren’t necessarily financial; and financial support doesn’t have to be enormous to make a difference. (Aside– the book “Consuming Choices: Ethics in a Global Consumer Age” talks a lot about the psychology of ethical consumption, the bystander effect, “voting with your dollar,” etc. Seems applicable to this conversation).

    I have watched and read your content almost obsessively for the past ~10 months, so I definitely owe you a long overdue thank you! I’ve watched many of your videos more than once, and I’m reading both the Tao of Craft and Holistic Tarot, cover to cover, for the second time. I can’t even begin to describe how impactful your research, synthesis, opinions, and expertise have been in my personal path. Something about your outlook on life and existence just strikes a chord with me in a very intense way, and I’ve learned so, so much. I see myself as a learner/student/sponge more so than a person with valuable opinions, and maybe that lack of self-confidence is part of what’s been blocking me from thanking you… But in any case, even if I am just one tiny drop in the sea of people who consume your content, I’d like to tell you that this tiny drop is extremely grateful. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hi again. Hope I’m not providing too many thoughts here. You and your business model are on my mind since I’m in the midst of binging your YouTube videos.

    I think an important part of the equation to consider is your type of content and the type of audience you draw. The two are kind of part and parcel. You create scholarly level work and therefore attract an audience who approach their studies scholarly.

    This is in contrast to {$MsTarot} and soooo many other educators in this business. They are advertising themselves as quick and easy, do X and you’re done! Take Y and get a master certificate! They’re selling speed and a defined finish line to earn (feel) an accomplishment. This sells. This sells on the 5 minute level of simply labeling a YouTube video “Master Court Cards in 5 minutes.” Just as sex sells, speed sells, too. We all wish we could have Matrix-like brain implants so entire bodies of information could just be uploaded into our brains. And I’ll go so far to say we gravitate towards people who advertise speed because we hope that maybe that wish might be granted this time.

    Every single thing you do is antithetical of that approach. You’ve touched on it repeatedly in your videos that people need to take a slow tempered approach, that if you move too fast that you can end up unstable or inadvertently crossing a dangerous line. People kind of don’t like hearing that. People want power now. They want knowledge now. There is a reason people are seeking power or knowledge — and impatience is quite likely an underlying layer.

    At the very least, {$MsTarot}’s audience doesn’t want to hear it. They have jobs and kids and other obligations, or even just a dragging depression locking up their brain save for brief moments. And let’s be frank, people probably don’t get into Tarot and serious religious studies unless they have some serious questions they desperately want answered — answered quickly. People don’t *want* to wait years for these answers. They get lured towards the speed. Going slow saddens them.

    But *your* audience is hearing your warning that they need to keep things slow, and they keep coming back for more. Why?

    Holistic Tarot was the first tarot book I ever read. Why? Out of the gargantuan quantity of books about tarot out there, why did I pick Holistic Tarot as the first book to crack open? I picked it because of your analytical approach. I learned long ago speed and promises were all marketing gimicks. You didn’t promise me *anything.* You told it as it is, and you continued to tell it as it is. I don’t feel sold to, or lured by you. I feel I can trust your words are honest.

    I specifically never looked for speed when it came to Tarot and spiritual studies. My primary goal is to assist my mental health. I’ve been working on it for years, and I know I will continue to work on my mental health for the rest of my life. Speed is not in the equation for me. A slow, plodding, analytical, methodical approach is right up my alley.

    You do sell me a on speed, in a way: you tell me (and show me!) all this research and assimilation you have done, so I feel as though learning from you will be faster than rereading every book you have read. Yet, that is the nature of human advancement. We learn from others who learned from others, so we can learn faster and have time to make a next step of advancement that the next generation can subsequently learn from us.

    To continue on my own case study, I have had Holistic Tarot for exactly 2 years, and I haven’t finished reading it. It’s well worn and marked up and flagged as I flip all around it regularly, but I haven’t read every page yet. I am taking a slow and methodical study. It’s not easy. It’s not quick.

    Heck, I bought Tao of Craft 11 months ago and haven’t even cracked it open because I jumped the gun and bought it before I was ready to study it.

    This is where I see your audience participation slowing down: being ready to study. We’re not in college. Our brains don’t move as quickly as yours (I think your brain moves faster than my brain ever did on the healthiest days of my life). The amount of information you share is *intense.* It is awesome, incredible and amazing, but intense. I could spend an entire week dedicated to studying just *one* of your Taoist videos. I hope to! I’ve got them on my list “to be studied and assimilated” when I next have a confluence of events where I can read, write, think, and have gotten all my chores and other obligations completed. So. You know, maybe in 2 years.

    I don’t think I’m alone. People may be slower for different reasons than I am, but I think most of us are slow for some reason or another. 99% of the world’s population moves more slowly than you do.

    Your audience is not {$MsTarot}’s audience. Your audience is yours. You saw that yourself when your estimates for selling the first run of Spirit Keeper’s Tarot blew your expectations out of the water, and earning a 2018 honor despite it only existing for the last 2 months of 2018.

    I think you’re going to have to put aside the guides and trade secrets people have learned for engaging with and measuring engagement with audiences, because you have curated an audience who behaves differently and approaches your work differently. An audience that very likely approaches your work slowly, and methodically.

    Who is your audience? What do they want from you? What do you want from them? *Truly want* from us? Why are you driven to create content? Why are you driven to share content? How can you direct your content creating drive to pull out what you’re looking for from your unique audience?

    I’m positive you’ll figure it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Please don’t be discouraged! I must admit, I feel a little guilty. Guilty in not understanding the way Youtube works, regarding the likes/views/comments being crucial in the first 24 hours. I’ve got your videos on my watch list and now I’m working through them(oh, and not to brag or anything, but the second vid basically “forced” me to get the Tao of Craft). All I can say is, please put out the other 2 vids! I may be speaking out of turn here for others, but heck I’d be willing to pay for them! That’s how much your work means to me. I’m willing to support what you do because of your inspiration and the way you present information is invaluable. Learning about your culture and all other cultures and spiritual and religious practices should be required for anyone calling themselves a witch/metaphysician, etc. in my opinion.

    You’ve opened up my tarot practice so much. The Rote learning cards are a priceless resource. I even went full nerd-fest and laminated them, I write different things that I’m trying to focus on learning, aspects, keywords and the like.

    So close this mushy-gushy comment thusly: Keep on keeping on! Those of us that love and benefit from your work are here for you and to support you and what you do.

    ~G

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Whist

    I’ve purchased a lot of your courses, planner, and tarot cards in the past. I can no longer afford to purchase these items even though you have provided these services at a significant discount. And I am grateful that you have even offered sliding scales in the past for some of your courses.

    I understand youtube has changed their pay structure significantly which is why its not as easy to monetize unless your someone like Pew Die Pie ( and those kinds of videos that are guaranteed to get clicks) who got lucky before the youtube change. I just think the metaphysical community is too small compared to say like gaming or kitten/animal youtube videos. I think this also goes back to glamour witches and how that image is easier to monetize as opposed to deeper videos.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Miss benebel wen…. good evening from , tawau Sabah, Malaysia….oh…. where are you? I miss your reply….even though you not replying,or do not heard me…. it’s ok…as a spritual medium….l would keep offer you a free service via praying to you ,so you can successful in you legal practice as a attorney in California , United States…..om mi to fo….

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I think it’s cute that you did this.
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    Yeah, no. I thank you for doing this. I stopped monetizing on YouTube and went to Patreon for several reasons that you have mentioned above. But the one that also motivated me was that I felt like monetizing my videos was making money for YouTube and not for me. Like you, I am a business woman. Unlike you, I don’t have two identical sisters so I can work a 40-hour high-stress job, create content, offer classes, and do everything else that you do, woman! I KNOW you must be triplets. You rock my world.

    I also don’t watch a lot of videos these days because, again, time! But I make time for yours. I forget to comment and that’s funny because I TELL people comments are currency on YouTube and on the Blog Hops. But you know…walking the walk is not as easy as talking it. I appreciate your dedication, your authenticity, and you really are beautiful, not cute. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, agree re: monetizing via AdSense on YouTube. For such a small channel like mine, monetizing on YouTube doesn’t benefit any of the people I care about (the community and myself, haha).

      Like

  24. Kallie

    I just wanted to second what a lot of people have already said. I think that these days, it’s really easy for us to just kind of passively consume content without taking the time to interact, leave feedback and god forbid, support the creator. Your post really struck home with me because I am so guilty of this, and I realize I’m not doing everything I can to support the people whose work is so important to me.
    I love your work and have spent many an hour learning from your site, watching your videos, and reading what you have to say because your philosophy to kind of life in general really resonates with me. And I feel guilty because this series *in particular* has been especially meaningful for me personally, and this is maybe the one part of your body of work that I haven’t shown support for. I’ve got your books, I’ve pre-ordered the new tarot deck, I use your planner daily…. and yet this series, which is maybe the thing that has had the strongest impact on me on a spiritual level…….. I haven’t done anything about it at all. No comments (because really, I’m not much of an Internet commenter in general), no donations, no signing up for the I Ching class though it’s on my list for when work slows down a little… Nothing. And yeah, that’s pretty crap of me. Thanks for sharing your feelings about this, because it really made me reevaluate how I interact with the generous people that I learn from every day.
    I am lucky enough to able to show my support for work that is meaningful for by paying for it,
    and I’d be happy to do so if you decide to offer this as a class, or with any future undertakings. Thanks for calling me out–your post definitely inspired some serious introspection into how I interact with content online and has made me rethink how I show my appreciation.

    Thank you for all of your hard work–I find that what you create is inspiring, fascinating, challenging and though-provoking, and I thoroughly enjoy it. The world is a better place for it!

    Like

  25. Natalia

    Oh this was moving. Let me explain, I’ve been a follower of your work for years now, reading your tarot deck reviews, watching your videos, and on occasions glancing at your free course options. As an admirer and follower of your work I’ve always wanted to partake of your free tools and courses but always felt that I could not financially give back and so I withheld myself. I purchased your Metaphysicians Day Planner for the first time this year and I have to say that’s been a game changer for me, including the excellent guidebook. This video series opened a door for me, it was like an epiphany, “yes, The Tao of Craft is a book I want to invest in, and yes, I need to pick up my I Ching book and finish reading it this time.” The series was insightful and inspiring. I have to admit I haven’t purchased the book nor your I Ching course because I am financially strapped while also currently undergoing legal issues. So despite wanting to invest more in what you have to offer I am not able yo do so. But believe me when I say, I have your book and course on my list of things to get this year, and I am very greatful for all your work. Thank you.

    Like

    1. Hi Natalia! Thank you so much for your note! And for sure I don’t want folks to ever feel pressured to give, especially when they should be focusing on preserving and sustaining the self! So happy to hear that the day planner’s guidebook was of use! =) Much love! ❤ xoxo

      Like

  26. Sasha L

    Hi Benebell, I am so sorry you feel disappointed about how much you get out of offering your free content. I appreciate your openness in this blog post. For some odd reason I was unaware of how much it can mean for a content creator that a viewer leaves a comment about how much he or she appreciated the video. It’s kinda stupid, because it’s not rocket science. Its human to want to feel appreciated (monetary or in other ways)
    I am completely guilty leaving little comments, I admit. Writing doesn’t come easy for me, and English is a foreign language for me. But that being said, I want to explicitely say that really really appreciate you videos very much. I have never seen other youtube videos where there is so much knowledge and content even in one single video. Besides that, you put also a lot (!) of effort in making the video look awesome. Its a delight to see.
    I am totally new to the craft. Your youtube channel was one of the first I have found (found it after Jessi Huntenburg recommended your book Holistic Tarot in one of her videos). And I must say, I am very oldfashioned considering buying stuff online. I hardly ever do it. But after watching your superb videos I knew Holistic Tarot would be more then worth it. So I did something I rearely do and I ordered your book. And I must say it even exceeded my expectations. It gives me so much content to dive in to. I feel like I am immersed in studying something in depth again And I just enjoy it so much (I just spend the whole morning studying and taking notes as we speek, time flew by).
    Well, just wanted to say what I think each time I see one of your videos….
    But don’t forget to put your selfcare first, whatever you decide to do!

    Like

  27. Emera

    My guy and I found your work only last year. We got the I Ching series and Metaphysicians planners last year, but have been so busy that we are only now finding time to invest more regularly. Now that we have a bit more time, we started focusing on Thunder Rites and haven’t made it to much new content. (He’s been practicing Daoism and kung fu for decades, I’m an western practioner that is pretty new to it, just for background). Oh ya, we also have Dao of Craft, which he’s been reading, and I’m starting on.
    We talk literally every day about how much we appreciate you and everything you’ve shared. It’s really quite remarkable just how much energy and knowledge you give. We don’t have a lot of wealth coming in, I’m a student and he is a metals artist. That said, we would find a way to pay for videos if a paywall is what you need to do. You’re worth that and your work is worth that.
    I will say that I’ve never commented on a YouTube video before, because most comments sections seem to devolve into being sort of awful or silly. That and not realizing that my comment might be meaningful. I now wish that I had done so on the videos that we have had time to watch. Even now, I’m thinking…does she really want to read this? Please know that your work is tremendously valued by us and we will be here to support you in whatever way we can. I work part time in service, and I know that sometimes the tips I get are as important energetically (showing appreciation) as they are financially.
    Sorry for the rambling. I’m also a fiber artist, so if you ever think “hey, I’d like to have something embroidered”, let me know. I’d be honored to create something for you.
    Thanks for being a great teacher and truly kind and generous person.

    Like

  28. Dan Cruz

    I admire a lot your work, specially with the Asian traditions. I learn a lot with you and your will on recording and sharing that information. I don’t think there is anything wrong on wanting your content to be valued by the public, since it needs a lot of work to do it.
    It’s hard to me afford more than the ebook version of “The Tao of Craft” because I’m brazilian, but I’m always sharing your channel and blog and I hope it grows bigger. You sure deserves a lot of recognition!

    Like

  29. Lisa

    I just want to say I am very grateful for what you do. I have bought books and classes and consumed free content. I admit to not having a clue how it works and I have never seen any video asking for donations. I never realized it was a thing. Also, I didn’t know they were changing things either. I am incredibly giving, donating to food shelters and helping friends in need with no expectation of return. I am not saying this to toot my own horn. Honest. I want you to know donating to you or any YouTuber was not even on my radar. Because I didn’t know. Because I am helping people in my own life… because, because. Everyone has reasons and yes sometimes people just are not generous. Please do not take it as a reflection of your work. I tell people do what they have to do for them. Even if its not what I would want. If it’s not bringing you joy or not bringing the pay off you need, stop. In herbalism, the payoff is in teaching and writing books, not actually doing the work. It’s just the way it is. In massage therapy, discount voucher services rarely work. People who buy them, just keep buying them all over town, regardless of how much they love you. I have attracted more people charging a high price and I still do massage for a few of my clients who need it sooooo bad but have barely enough to survive. Its a balance and its good. Do what feels right for you. Many blessings and much much gratitude! 💗

    Like

  30. Julie

    Hi Benebell,

    Thank you so much for this! I *feel* it so very much. Like many, I didn’t start my channel “for the money” but there is definitely the issue of energy balance that needs respecting. Your analysis is very much appreciated!

    It is hard to balance wanting to help others, especially those not in positions to support our work, while taking adequate care of ourselves, too. It’s rough to be a “giver” and face those who chisel away at us until we are dust. I learned some of this the hard way when my book came out years ago. There is no shortage of people who will ask you to write for them for free, to grab a copy of your book for free, etc. When I finally realized all this “free” work for “good will” was sending me backwards financially and emotionally, I drew a line in the sand. The next time someone asked me to write for them for free I quoted a price. They told me off. (We’re talking about the autism world, too.) It stung.

    The reality of some aspects of the human condition is, sadly, stark. We must understand what we need to thrive as parts of humanity aren’t bothered if we slowly bleed dry. (It’s not their problem, they say.) It may sound harsh, but it’s sadly what I’ve experienced. Some are fantastic and make the efforts worth it, true. But there need to be a balance.

    You’ve provided much needed food for thought and I appreciate the time you spent writing this piece. ❤ I hope to pay it forward somehow. Much love & light.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Starlight

    I wonder if it’s that your content is avant-garde and that you will be reaping the benefits of your many, many hours of hard work later rather than sooner? I cannot imagine the rewards and benefits not coming, given the quality of your work. (I’ve ordered The Tao of Craft and I ordered your shadow work course a short time ago. 🙂 )

    Like

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