Of course everybody, even science communicators and educators, need to make money. We've got bills to pay, kids to feed, Netflix subscriptions to renew, the works. So it's tempting to think of how we can sell our science; to think of how potential customers can buy our communication and education.
But we are not competing in the marketplace of commerce. We're competing in the marketplace of ideas. We're trying to win over hearts and minds to our point of view and our unique way of understanding the world around us. We're trying to get folks onboard with concepts like critical thinking, evidence-based reasoning, and skepticism.
To do that we can’t think of what we can sell. We need to think of what value our ideas provide to people and their lives. Maybe some folks are just naturally very curious and love learning about the mysteries of the universe. Great! That's value we can provide. Maybe some folks could use a little more skepticism so that they don't waste time and energy on junk health scams. Great! That's value we can provide. Maybe some folks are desperate to not only know what to believe, but need a framework for making decisions. Great! That's value we can provide.
Our first job is to figure out the value science brings to audiences, and our second job is to figure out how to communicate that value to them.
And the all-important dollars? People are perfectly willing to open up their wallets when they see something that adds value that they want to incorporate into their lives. But value comes first - money is a result of fulfilling that, not a cause.