So last week I discussed the new and fairly grim reality for many creatives. I pointed out the big picture of what’s really going on in the New Publishing Paradigm—The Matrix. Playing a short, blonde, sassy Morpheus from Texas…I offered a choice…
The Blue Pill—get paid in exposure dollars and empty promises.
OR the Red Pill—tough truth, hard work, but a way forward for authentic PAID success.
If you’re the Red Pill crowd, Wonderland is gone and now I’m telling you the game is rigged and it’s all a hustle. The MEGAs (big brands, I.e. Huffington Post) are using us as human batteries to power their brand.
And once you recover from envisioning a female middle-aged Morpheus in yoga pants…your next question might be, “Fine, no how do we get PAID?”
We beat the hustle 😉 .
*hands paper bag* It’s fine. I am here.
I want y’all to HUSTLE…not GET HUSTLED. Big—no HUGE—difference.
Step One: Best way to beat a hustle is to know we’re being hustled in the first place.
That’s what I hopefully did in my post Welcome to the Matrix—You Work for Free and there IS NO Payday.
I’ve known the hustle existed for a long time and my first time calling it out involved blood, guts and being called the “c” word more times than ever in my life.
Creative is not the word I am referring to. Nope, not clever either. Compassionate? Um…nope. Not that one either.
Almost two years ago, I blew up the Internet with my first Pay the Writer post, but at the time, I only knew enough to be royally ticked off…ok, blind with rage is more accurate.
In hindsight? Not the best approach, but a start.
I’ve grown a lot since then. I’m wiser and have had more time to study the “game.”
Though back in 2016 I knew writers (creatives) were getting shafted, I hadn’t figured much of anything out beyond that. It’s taken me eighteen months to unravel HOW those exploiting us were doing what they were doing (and HOW they’re still doing it).
HOW were/are they getting us to so eagerly go along, calm as Hindu cash cows?
If we look to the slang definition of hustle it is an inducing by fraud, pressure or deception, especially of inexperienced or uniformed persons to buy something or participate in an illicit scheme. It also means to fraud or to deceive.
Please keep in mind that the best hustles are completely legal.
Everything we creatives have endured by and large is completely legal and we willingly consented.
Yet, with new information, we now have the option to revoke our consent.
All this said, blame games and being a victim aren’t my thing, so I take the mea culpa. In defense of all parties involved we knew this was uncharted territory and well…mistakes were made.
Whether this behavior continues, by and large is up to author education. Here’s where I come in.
If being paid in feel-goods and participation trophies is cool with you? Rock on. Keep on posting. Not all writers have the same goals. But for those who desire a paid career, we need to get street smart.
What POWERS the Hustle? BLOOD IN THE WATER
All hustlers from con men to that deadbeat ex we fell for sophomore year all work the same way. Like sharks, they can taste blood in the water. Blood in the water means something/someone is injured or damaged.
They must select the perfect mark in order for the hustle to offer the largest payoff for the least effort (MAX ROI).
Even in completely legal “hustles.” Okay especially in legal hustles.
A family member of mine recently went through a nasty divorce. I begged her to let me help her with searching for a new house. She didn’t want to be a burden and fell victim to a real estate agent with no scruples.
What this agent did was technically legal. But the agent spotted an angry, deeply wounded female with no work history and no real world experience on her own alone and unguarded…who could be cajoled into a seriously BAD deal.
The real estate agent probably “deeply cared” about my family member…until the commission check cleared. Sadly my family member is now in for a rough road.
Emotion, desire, longing, fear, doubt, insecurity are all blood in the water for any kind of hustle.
The MEGAs use our fear, lack of knowledge, our insecurity coupled with our desire for approval against us. They know a lot of creatives over the age of thirty-five are scared of the Internet, used to the old world, and desperate for a helping hand to guide them.
They don’t believe they can go it alone.
Us older writers are also are most likely to want to believe we’re still playing the same game with the same rules only in digital form and the MEGAs are happy to let us believe that lovely lie and pray we take the blue pill.
We are the perfect mark—target—for blogging for free (exposure dollars).
The MEGAs know the money is and always will be IN THE ADS (and are counting on us not putting this all together).
MEGAs convince us we cannot possibly make it without them and we need them and are better working for them even if it is for free (“temporarily” of course).
Patently 100% false.
Snowflake Honey Badger Don’t Care
Millennials grew up on-line teething on keyboards and have paved the way we can follow. Sure Millennials might be “delicate” in other ways, but ON-LINE?
*backs away slowly and makes notes*
Millennials are like the honey badgers of social media. Honey badger don’t care!
***linked to the video I am referencing but warning you there are curse words…yet SO APROPOS****
They bite into stuff, chase social media snakes, take what they want, get stung, then bitten by digital cobras, pass out and sleep off the venom…then eat the cobra that just bit them and resume digging and working and move along unfazed.
It’s why a lot of Millennials have become the new MEGA brands of the 21st century.
Millennials have been able to be the honey badgers of social media because they were never the ideal target for the hustle.
Why do I need you to make me a star? I ALREADY AM ONE!
Money? Meh, I live at home.
Exposure? Wikipedia says people die from that.
Because the Millennial MEGAs started out young and fearless with technology, they held an advantage. They never knew a world with gatekeepers or rules and if there were rules, then they didn’t matter. Rules didn’t apply to THEM. Since they didn’t have bills to pay they had a lot of freedom to work for free…authentically.
Keep that in mind.
The Game Has Changed and SO HAVE THE RULES
We keep thinking we are playing the old paradigm publishing game. Write, get exposure, build a CV, pass gatekeepers and POOF paid work comes our way.
Not so fast.
Remember it’s a different game entirely. The old rules NO LONGER APPLY.
Just try playing Monopoly using the rules from RISK with Tiddly Winks on a Chinese Checkers board and see if you aren’t ready to start drinking heavily by noon.
Yet that’s essentially what we older writers have been doing since 2006. We allowed the MEGAs to guide us because they had the power, brains and resources and they said they would help us learn the new game. Right?
The Honey Badger Hustle
In my POV, making this simple, there are three options for writers who want to be PAID.
Option One: Refuse to Play
Some writers simply refuse to get on-line. They write books and have no want for social media, and that’s cool if you can write a book a month and simply bombard Amazon with so many books something eventually sticks (though without social media this is a tough way to get paid, but doable).
Option Two: Play Our Own Game
We build our brand. If we’re going to work for free then it will be for OUR BRAND. We build our brand any number of ways (my preference is the blog because no one can arbitrarily shut down your site). But whether it is videos, blogs, images, it is under OUR NAME.
We cultivate our own audience and eventually they will know us, hopefully like us and buy books and such.
Option Three: The Honey Badger Hustle
Option two can naturally dovetail into this. In fact, it is on my business plan. I hope more of you join us. The more honey badgers, the better for creatives. We must stop caring so much.
Trust the process. Build a brand, cultivate an audience and THEN approval and money eventually will come, but only if we are fearless and selfish. We must rabidly guard our dreams and HUSTLE.
Millennials inherently or accidentally understood that if they built it (the audience) the MEGAs would come…to THEM with MONEY.
We can learn from this. A lot of bloggers already have.
I know a mommy blogger who’s making $15,000 a month…off ADS ALONE.
Trust me, she started at ground zero and didn’t waste time or content on any MEGA to “launch” her. They pay HER to help THEM.
The Honey Badger Hustle is when we understand the hustle and use it to OUR advantage—out-hustle the hustler, so to speak. We still can write for MEGAs but in a symbiotic way. Everyone wins.
Now, I’m off to eat some snakes 😉 ….
In the End
We’ll unpack this grift more as we go along. This is a system over a decade in the making, and I can’t unravel it with one or two posts.
Yet, if you Honey Badger UP, learn to be fearless. You can be tough, but social media is NOT tough. Teenagers can figure it out. A toddler with an iPhone can do better than a lot of us.
I can help you. We are all worth being paid for what we do well and anyone shaming you for wanting to be paid is a user.
Honey badgers don’t care.
What are your thoughts? Have you been afraid of social media? Confused and thinking you were playing the old game and the old rules? Are you scared? It’s cool. Shows you are onto something. I am here. Haven’t abandoned y’all in eight years, so y’all are stuck with me.
I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!
What do you WIN? For the month of OCTOBER, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
I hope you take the red pill, and I am here to guide you.
Social media is and should be super fun and that while you might need solid training, you DO NOT need a team of professionals paid a never ending stream of cash to “manage your brand”. You also DO NOT meed MEGAs to “launch you.”
I can train you what to do and how it all works. How you can create something where MEGAs come to YOU…