The Line Between Making Money and Being a Sell Out


We all want to make money. With the amount of reading I do each week, a very common and relevant theme is how to make more money from all kinds of various means. I’m not immune. We have had some huge debts to pay, and making more money was a big part of how we paid off our credit card bills. However, making money isn’t always as simple as seeing more dollar signs appear in your checking account. Many of us are making money by creating or selling products or services to others. While there is nothing wrong with that, do you sometimes feel guilty for making money at the expense of someone else? Are we always able to hold our values above what might make more money for our families? Where do you cross the line between making money and selling out?

People are Buying What You’re Selling

Any time we work in job that has something for sale, we are making money from someone else. I love free enterprise. People are able to compare products and prices, and shop around. However, there are times when making a sale just feels wrong. If I have a patient that I know has little money, I often feel guilty if our office sells them one of our products. Especially if they pick out something expensive. I know this is not rational. I didn’t scheme anyone into calling my office an making an eye appointment. We never offer pressured sales pitches. If you come in and don’t want to buy anything, that’s OK, but I still feel a bit guilty sometimes if you do.

We see ads all the time trying to get people to spend money, sometimes they cater to those who might have money problems. “No credit, no problem”, “Guaranteed financing approval”, “Let us do your taxes” are some popular ones I see right now. Probably if you need to use one of these offers to get a loan, you might not to examine why. Often we view these sales tactics as sleazy, but they must work or they wouldn’t keep offering them.

On the other hand, who am I to judge what someone can and can’t buy? Just because you are a senior citizen or work at Denny’s, why am I to assume that you don’t have money to spend?

I think that’s one huge reason I enjoy my work at the government clinic on the Native American reservation. I show up and give my best advice, but no money ever changes hands. Actually, I give the same advice no matter where I am. I just can’t profit from people’s choices at the clinic. Somehow that makes it seem less commercial and more altruistic, even though I still receive a salary.

Making Money Online

Most people who start online businesses, especially blogs, hope to earn money at some point. Whether you admit it or not, we all do. I didn’t start a blog with the sole purpose of making money. It was more of a challenge to see if I could do it, and I felt I had some relevant things to say. It also keeps me in line with my money goals because I have to be more accountable. However, I have certainly enjoyed the little bit of money that has started to come in from advertisers. That being said, I have to admit I feel a bit shady about it. I would never put anything on my site that wasn’t something I stand behind. I have to hope people will believe what I say and know it isn’t coming from a place just to make money.

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a huge fan of early 90’s music. I always remember an interview with the late Kurt Cobain where he said something about the minute you take a dime, some people will call you a sell out. Not that I would ever compare my blog to a multi-million selling album, but it’s kind of the same concept and something I struggle with.

Be Your Best

I think ultimately I have to do the best that I can. I have training and experience to help people with choices in eye care. If there is only one option to prevent vision loss or blindness, you better believe I will push that very hard. If there are lots of options, I will try to help the consumer make the best decision for each individual situation.

From a standpoint of sharing knowledge about money, I can only do the same. I can’t choose the right path for you. I can only share what has worked and what hasn’t worked for me, and hope you can find something that might help along the way.

In a perfect world, I wouldn’t have to worry about money, but we all have to make our own way. I will try to make a point not feeling guilty about making money because I am not a sell out.

Was this a  Seinfeld like post about nothing? Have you ever felt conflicted about earning money?

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Written By
Sydney White is a Texas-born stay at home mom who enjoys spending time with her family, bargain hunting and, of course, writing. She is currently the editor-in-chief of


  1. I don’t consider making money from my blog as being a sellout or a conflict of interest. I just make it a point to offer only the things that I think my readers will find valuable. There are some times where it could go either way, as in “will more people than not find this helpful?” That is the line I have a hard time figuring out. I’ve passed on a lot of opportunities because of this.

    1. I hear you. I personally would have no interest in reading a post about how to get the best car loan, because I never intent to have one again. On the other hand, many people do have to have car loans, so if you can give them steps to not waste money, you are doing them a solid. Sometimes I have to take me out of the equation and think about what advice people are hoping to find.

  2. As a new blogger, I don’t mind making money from banner advertising.

    But I don’t think I would feel comfortable with sponsored posts or constantly pitching 3rd party affiliate products. I feel like this kind of marketing destroys the quality of thought in a blog and will eventually alienate readers.

    Of course, if I lost my job and had to live by blogging, I’d have no choice but to throw my standards out the window in favor of survival.

    1. I don’t think I could ever do a post pitching some product I don’t love and use myself. I have been asked to do posts about the new Discover card, which I’m sure is a fine card, but I’ve never had one in my life. It’s hard to tell someone else how great it is.

  3. I always feel conflicted about selling. I know what I have is worth the cost and current customers are happy but it’s hard for me to persuade others without feeling sleazy.

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