Welcome to The Matrix: You Work for FREE & There IS No Payday

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of John Seb Barber

This post is for creative professionals (namely writers) who desire to make a living writing full time being paid real money. If you’re writing simply for fun or enjoyment or love, then that’s wonderful! But if you long to be paid to do what you love, then read on because you work for free and there IS NO PAYDAY.

Sorry to be the one to break the news. Nah, not really.

Today’s post is one of those crucial conversations we need to have because the creative world is at a crisis point.

While New Publishing has offered us a lot of new freedom, freedom is always scary and even dangerous. It’s especially scary for those of us who grew up in a pre-digital world.

So let me say this…

Millennials often get a bad rap. They’ve been called “the most selfish generation ever.” They’re enamored with social media and obsessed with personal brands. Surrounded by participation trophies and emojis, these young people have a developed a sense of bulletproof “specialness” that rivals Steve Jobs’ famous “reality distortion field.”

BTW…this is not entirely a bad thing 😉

By the end of this post, I hope you see how much we have to learn from this insane, passionate and yes, often “deluded” generation. How maybe, just maybe these crazy kids know a hell of a lot more than we do and why we’d be wise to take some lessons.

Since this is a longer post, I am breaking into clear sections. I feel breaking this into separate posts would hurt the overall integrity of the lesson. So read all at once or in segments. But I do hope you read it though since your future is at stake and no, I am not just being dramatic.

PART ONE: Birth Of a STAR (Web 2.0)—Yeah This MATTERS

TADA! I am HEEEEERE! And I am SASSY! Call me “Internet.”

Most of us older folks were around when Web 1.0 (the Dot Com Revolution) went up in flames—along with our hopes of getting a job (*Gen X fist bump*). Yet, Millennials were too young to understand the chaos, too busy playing Nintendo to notice that their parents suddenly took up drinking while they stared, weeping, at their investment portfolios.

Then an odd thing happened, an event completely and utterly unplanned.

From the liquified remains of Web 1.0’s decaying parts something stirred in the primordial ooze of 0s and 1s. It wriggled a bit then skittered up from beneath. By sheer accident, a creation unlike anything witnessed in human history was born. Web 2.0 poked its head up from beneath the debris and it had evolved.

Evolved how?

Web 1.0 was fundamentally powered by PAID content. Web 2.0, however, was and continues to be powered by user-generated content (or UNPAID content).

This was a radical shift. Trust me, none of the dot.com investors were ever keen on the idea of anything being free. EVER. Like, how can we get stamps for email? They HATED free. Free couldn’t be controlled, measured and monetized. Free…was well FREE. Nobody gets rich with FREE? WTH?

The dreamers who envisioned the world they longed to build in Web 1.0 rejoiced at Web 2.0. Meanwhile those who were in the investing and making money business had more this reaction…

***And as a warning, I’ll be mixing metaphors more than a 90s DJ, but y’all are smart, so roll with it.

Anyway, to grasp what a HUGE deal this shift really was, think of it this way:

Web 1.0 was fossil fuels. Fossil fuels can be controlled, restricted and given a PRICE. This paradigm makes a small sector of people obscenely rich, and even more powerful.

Web 2.0, conversely, is more like fusion. Never ending energy and self-sustaining. Fusion, however, is impossible to control and a %$#@ to monetize. No business wants our cars or homes powered by fusion because we’d have all the power we needed…forever and they’d be irrelevant and broke.

Businesses don’t get rich unless they can control and monetize. Keep this in mind.

This, however, does NOT change the simple fact that Web 2.0 has the power of a star, or rather stars give it power 😉 .

Stars like our sun burn bright because of the constant fusion of two molecules of hydrogen that bond (share valences and electrons) to create helium. That bonding then releases energy in the form of light and heat. Sure one day the sun will burn out but that won’t be for a seriously long damn time.

Web 2.0 is powered in a similar fashion, though fusion is between people.

Users share valences, but instead of electrons, we share memes, pictures, videos, blogs, and gluten-free cherry cobbler recipes.

For instance, when one person shares a a funny meme, there is a reaction of energy (laughter) and this is then shared again–>setting off the reaction and constant energy that is the dynamic and powerful Web 2.0.

Made you laugh, right?

Without sharing of content, the energy would disappear much like a star winking out because it no longer had hydrogen (memes) to share.

This is a major reason why a lot of stuff needs to be shared for FREE. The more sharing, the more energy. If people had to pay a fee for every blog or picture they shared, they’d lose interest and likely rediscover a lost love for vinyl records and hanging out in mall food courts.

Initially this whole FREE was terrifying for the powerful and mega-rich who wanted to remain powerful and mega-rich. How could they keep and even increase their status and wealth in a world powered by FREE? Newspapers and magazine sales were plummeting and people were no longer paying attention to ads and commercials.

The RICH…they were suffering. This whole FREE thing threatened all they’d worked so hard to….wait a minute….

Never mind. Nothing to see.


So how DID the mega-rich media brands (the MEGAs) talk us into making them even richer? They cooked up a business model that is pure (evil) genius and they did this by working together.

See, we all thought The Matrix was a movie *falls over laughing*. Nope. The MEGAs created their own Matrix and we (content creators) are the batteries.

Useful, necessary, disposable and easily replaced.

The entire MEGA business model hinges on content creators being ignorant because that’s how they can keep using us as a power source. The MEGA media brands needed content and the MEGA other brands (McDonald’s, GEIKO, Starbucks) needed to remain top of mind.

To accomplish this, though, they had to pull off a magic show that Criss Angel couldn’t pull off if he sewed himself to David Copperfield.

The MEGAs counted on basic human nostalgia and bet that we would hold on to outdated thinking of how success actually happens. If we did this, we’d make perfect and compliant batteries.

The MEGAs are counting on us working like it’s 1999, like we are in Web 1.0 (paid content) and not in Web 2.0 (unpaid content).

Batteries don’t work with near the gusto when they realize they’re being used up. How have the MEGAs been able to convince us to enslave ourselves? Same way as in The Matrix.

The MEGAs use our ignorance and fear of authentic freedom to keep us compliant. They manipulate the rules of how the world really works. How business and success works.

They feed us outdated advice we grew up on because that’s the world we know and that keeps us obedient.

We Need Exposure to Succeed—Wait….WHAT?

Back before Web 2.0 exposure was highly valuable. Writers could often get their start writing for free or nearly free for a small publication like a local paper. The point of taking the temporary monetary hit was that working for free was an investment in our future.

Exposure was a great idea. Why?

Because before Web 2.0 there was no other cost-effective way for the small fish to reach a large audience. Exposure gave us access to an audience we had NO OTHER WAY TO REACH.

With strict gatekeepers in play, we had to earn our stripes and build an impressive CV by working for free or close to free to get the paid work then the (ideally) BIG PAYING work. Can you say syndication?

Writers needed publishers, magazines and major media outlets for exposure, for the simple reason we had no other way to expose ourselves…that didn’t generally involve handcuffs, a hefty fine and court-ordered therapy.

Times have changed, yet many content creators haven’t realized this.

Gatekeepers are pretty much gone, everyone can be published, very few media outlets PAY, and exposure is a useless currency.

Yet many content creators still take it as payment. Why?

Because we are like the humans plugged into The Matrix, unaware what’s truly going on. We are operating as if we are in a world where a CV is vital, where some big brand is going to launch our careers and where all this exposure will eventually pay off.

The MEGAs saw what the Millennials saw. The MEGAs used (and continue to use) our ignorance to their massive advantage.

How? Hope you guys are ready to get unplugged. Expect some wobbly legs but you will be free.

The Red Pill or the Blue?

Today, I get to be Morpheus. The red pill or the blue? You can choose reality or the fiction of reality.

The MEGAs are counting on us a) remaining ignorant batteries who don’t understand how Web 2.0 really works or b) that we will swallow the blue pill and remain in Wonderland.

Wonderland is what we grew up with…that had no power to get big on our own and required the blessing of a MEGA if we hoped to make it BIG.

The blue pill reinforces that attention from a MEGA will catapult us into fame and fortune faster than you can say “Oprah’s Book of the Month.”

But that is no longer reality.

The Blue Pill World

We’re now in a world where the rich are getting richer by selling us (content creators) dreams and paying us in “exposure” dollars even though they know that currency is akin to paying us in Monopoly money.

The MEGAs know what Millennials knew all along. They SAW the door, too.

MEGAs know Web 2.0 works best when your brand can churn out great content. The more the better.

Unlike Web 1.0 where the content (I.e. an article) was the product for sale, now the content is merely the bait for paid advertising, products or services which is where the actual money is made.

The MEGAs are using our hard work, gifts and talent to make themselves richer and enhance THEIR brand at the expense of our dreams and futures.

The Matrix created by the MEGAs is NOT a symbiotic relationship. It is fundamentally parasitic. The MEGAs get stronger by using up compliant content creators paid in feel-goods and bragging rights.

Down the Rabbit Hole

What if we take the red pill though? What is really happening? What is going on?

If you’ve followed my blog long enough you know exactly what I feel about Huffington Post and the creator Arianna Huffington.

I’m using Huffington Post because *shrugs* it’s used writers for years. What? Seems only fair to me.

A.H. created Huffington to give unknowns a platform, where by some “exposure magic” writing entrepreneurs would eventually get paid writing jobs. Hey, maybe in the beginning that was the goal. Who knows?

Don’t care because the HuffPo goal, agenda, and business model shifted from symbiotic to parasitic faster than you can say CLICK FOR MORE!

See, Huffington Post figured out there were a lot of eager content creators dying to get their work out there and this presented a ripe business opportunity. With Web 2.0 Huffington Post knew it needed lots and lots of AMAZING content churned out everyday to make money…off ads and clicks.

But, like I said, this wasn’t 1999 and the money wasn’t in the actual content. #DUH

Consumers weren’t buying papers and magazines and were increasingly on-line looking for the same information. Why not give it for FREE?

Great idea!

The MEGAs saw this shift from paper to digital and knew people would gravitate to free. But therein lies the pickle. How can a MEGA brand increase profits?

Cut costs. What was the easiest cost to cut?


How did Huffington Post do this? They built a Matrix.

Give writers some prestige, tell them they are building their CV and their brands just like the good old days. String them along with the promise this free work and “exposure” would eventually lead to a true payoff…and BOOM!

I now present countless worker bees making the sweetest honey ever made—but they will die before ever tasting a single drop.

Huffington Post made hundreds of millions of dollars (and still does) without actually having to pay most of the contributors. This of course, created an even BIGGER problem for the content creators (many still unaware of what’s really going on).

Other MEGA media outlets couldn’t compete if they continued to pay all of their content contributors, which led to these guys embracing the “Exposure Dollar Business Model” and creating their own Matrix.

Thus, any “platform” writing for unpaid MEGA brand for exposure simply led to even more unpaid (or low paid) work for another MEGA for even more exposure….

Welcome to THE MATRIX!

But How Do They Get Away With It?

***NOTE: I have hyperlinked all my assertions to show I am basing my arguments on facts, yet be aware every click feeds the very beast I want to starve.

Over time content creators gave and gave and gave, but the payoff never seemed to come. That was a serious problem, which required some quick thinking to remedy. The MEGAs were faced with two options.

Option One: Pay the content creators.

Scratch that. What kind of nonsense-crazy- mumbo-jumbo-talk is that? NO!

Option Two: Appeal to emotions.

Creative people dig emotions. Use words like “self-fulfillment” “giving” “contributing” “better world” and they’ll totally buy it.

Seriously, watch *giggles*. It works. Look at ’em GO!

I cannot make this stuff up.

Arianna Huffington, in an interview on Forbes encouraged entrepreneurs to focus less on money and power and more on giving and personal fulfillment. This interview was ironically right around the time she sold Huffington Post to AoL for $315 million.

I’m uncertain what dictionary A.H. used for her definition of “entrepreneur” but my definition of “entrepreneur” says nothing about yoga and also claims money and power are a pretty big deal.

Yep, looked up business plans and no diagrams of downward-facing-dog.

A.H. goes on in the interview to basically claim that lack of money and power is not our problem…stress is. We don’t need more money, we need meditation, a balanced meaningful life and more sleep.

Don’t know about you but give me more money and empower me and magically stress goes away. I also sleep way better when I’m not terrified of losing my home.

A.H. also continues to be paid big bucks to give lectures about liberating ourselves from desiring money and power and instead “embracing the third metric.”

…which just leaves me feeling dirty and used. #TouchIt #TouchTheThirdMetric

As mentioned Arianna Huffington sold Huffington Post to AoL for $315 million. Granted Business Insider rallied to her defense that she only made $21 million since a lot of other people (MEGAs) got a piece of the pie.

I feel so much better now t—NO! I don’t. Because of statement like this:

Aren’t you ready to unplug? I sure am!

PART THREE: Collapsing The Matrix—Just Say “NOPE!”

My goal is and always has been to empower authors (creative professionals) and show you that you are valuable and worthwhile.

I’m here to show you the door and help you unplug from the MEGAs that are using you up faster than a Dollar Store battery.

To do this, we’re going to inject you with a BS antidote. This might sting. I’m vaccinating you with a little Business 101.

This is how it all REALLY works.

Content Creators Eagerly Work For Exposure Dollars to Build MEGA BRANDS—> MEGA BRANDS Make MEGA Profits

Content Creators Work for Actual Dollars to Build MEGA BRANDS—> MEGA BRANDS Make WAY LOWER Profits

Content Creators Fed Up Being USED Tell MEGA BRANDS to Embrace Their Own Third Metric—> MEGA BRANDS Forced to Pay Content Creators or Write/Create Their Own $#!*

Content Creators Realize THEY ARE & HAVE ALWAYS BEEN the Brand & Do NOT NEED the MEGA BRAND—> Content Creators Finally Making REAL Money and Living a DREAM NOT an ILLUSION Because MEGAs NOW NEED THEM & PAY THEM

The revenue stream in the digital age is the pay per click, the ads, the products or services for sale. While this isn’t at all bad, why don’t we start doing some of this for ourselves?

I mean, if we’re going to invest months or years creating content for free, shouldn’t it pay off eventually for US?

Just leaving that there….

TRUTH: We don’t NEED the MEGAs. They NEED US.

Arianna Huffington at one point (no date listed on article) was making $2,330,000 per month off Huffington.

Off the blogs she personally crafted.

BWA HA HA HA HA!!!! #Kidding

The blog and brand (Huffington) makes the money and then proudly proclaims that writers working for free forever is “authenticity.”

Sadly this is more and more common. I blogged last year about Revolva and how Oprah’s conference paid in exposure dollars while not even offering so much as parking money for the performers. Exposure is impacting a lot of creatives, like the UK baker who refused to bake a FREE cake for the X Factor in exchange for “exposure.”

Pretty sure Simon Cowell isn’t paid in exposure dollars, and one would think a show as popular as X Factor would have a budget that accounts for expenses like…paying bakers for their cakes.


The thing is this. A lot of BIG BRANDS think like a business and work hard to plug us into their Matrix to increase profits.

This way we will sing, dance, write, bake cakes and on and on and on and all for free, while we take the third metric up the keister and claim it was fun!

Meanwhile, the MEGAs laugh all the way to the bank.

To be clear…

I WANT the MEGAs to make money! 

I want us ALL to make money!

We can HELP each other and that is actually happening…as in now. Go look on YouTube.

I have zero issue with us all walking away happy and well PAID. GIMME MO!

I DO, however, have a MAJOR issue with MEGAs making billions off using us, then shaming us for wanting to be paid in real money just like they are. 

We can be business partners, but partners in a mutually beneficial relationship. To do this? UNPLUG! Start valuing and building OUR brand.

Remember I told you Millennials were crazy smart?


We have the ability to unplug and to tell any parasitic MEGAs they need to pay their power bill or they are CUT OFF!


Embrace “Special Snowflake” Thinking

Thank you you crazy-deluded-fearless-special-often-annoying-but-awesome-Millennials! It would figure your childlike enthusiasm, passion and raw fearlessness would give us the answer.

Don’t get crazy, though. Y’all aren’t the first special snowflakes to exist 😛 . *smooch*

Every MEGA in history started out with special snowflake thinking. It was their “reality distortion fields” that gave them their dreams and their drive that changed the world. This “specialness” fueled the will and passion to keep going no matter the pushback.

The MEGAs can still thrive, but how they continue to do business from here is up to US. Red pill or blue? Parasitic or symbiotic? What are you WORTH?

Web 2.0 does involve a lot of FREE but it works BEST when people come together in mutually beneficial ways. For instance famous YouTuber Lilly Singh a.k.a. IISuperwomanII gets to do what she was born to DO. What she LOVES!

To entertain.

The more she does what she loves, the better she gets at it. The more she improves, the larger her audience. The larger her audience, the more big brands want to be part of her world (and PAY HER to reach HER audience).

The Bloggess, Pioneer Woman and on and on started with simply reaching out and cultivating an audience and building their brand. They focused their talent, will, passion and love on THEIR DREAMS.

My new favorite book is The Power of Broke by Daymond John (known as The People’s Shark). Part of why I like it so much is he preaches a lot of what I’ve been hammering into writers since MySpace had a pulse.


The book I mentioned is a must read for writers. We need to value what we do and learn to think like a business.

Trust me, anyone who set foot on the set of Shark Tank and promised to pay in “exposure” and “warm feelings” would be laughed off the stage. That isn’t business. Don’t know what it is, but know it is NOT business.

Daymond’s book is filled with examples of entrepreneurs bootstrapping from nothing and using grit, imagination and creativity to eventually MAKE MONEY.

He highlights highly successful entrepreneurs of all ages and backgrounds to make his point (many who are in creative fields). His core concept, however, is the same one I’ve been preaching to writers for years.

The path to success is VASTLY different in the 21st century and buying into outdated ideas costs us BIG.

Millennials always understood they didn’t need MEGA brands to launch them. They always knew they were stars *hair flip*. They believed they just needed to build enough pressure to ignite and shine!

They didn’t use angel investors or banks or the idea of riding on MEGA coattails.

They used what they had on hand. Technology, social media, creativity and their insatiable desire to connect and share with passion and enthusiasm. Millennials grasped that if they kept at it, learned, grew, failed, retooled, and kept pushing in their relentless, fearless, and often annoying way…it could and would pay off.

If they created content people loved sharing…eventually MEGAs would come to THEM and PAY THEM.

Same with you guys! Too many writers are terrified of social media or blogging. Too many of you believe you need the magic feather of the MEGA, or a major marketing budget or lots of ads to make money. You aren’t a “real” writer without some MEGA stamp of approval.

You’re strung out, depressed and can’t get out of bed, not because you need meditation…you need money. And that is OKAY. Ignore the Matrix.

Really. It’s a scam. Just walk away.

Yes, it is scary, there is a learning curve and you’ll probably fail…a lot. But in the end? Don’t know about y’all, but I prefer authentic failure over fake success.

What about you? What are your thoughts?


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…

I have two upcoming classes Social Media FREEDOM–Harnessing Passion & Creativity to Cultivate Fans & Harnessing Our Writing POWER–The Blog

I highly recommend you sign up for one of our upcoming classes listed below, especially to properly prep for Nano.

Fail to plan, plan to fail 😉 .

****Note, those who subscribe by email, the visual gallery doesn’t show, so please click through and sign up! We look forward to seeing you and serving you in class! Helping you be the best you can so your work can stand apart 😀 .

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  1. I find trying to keep up with marketing and social media confusing and time consuming. Hard to learn when all I want to do is write. Your blogs are helpful,

  2. Very informative.

    • Lanette Kauten on October 10, 2017 at 5:08 pm
    • Reply

    “Every MEGA in history started out with special snowflake thinking. It was their “reality distortion fields” that gave them their dreams and their drive that changed the world. This “specialness” fueled the will and passion to keep going no matter the pushback.”

    I need to print this and stick it on my computer. Belief in uniqueness is what drives people to prove it. I am special, dammit! And I will work hard until I make it in order to prove just how f’ing special I am.

  3. I appreciate your comments. And yes, it’s pretty telling when the makers of HuffPo walk away millionaires, but the people making the content get “exposure”.

    The blog class listed, is this similar to the blog classes you had before?

    1. Nope. More about monetization. Revamped and NEW AND IMPROVED.

    • JanK on October 10, 2017 at 6:00 pm
    • Reply

    I want the blue pill! However, I am a reclusive writer, artist. How do I get over that need for humility?

    1. With passion and art and the desire to serve. Same as always just do it for YOU! You are worth it ((HUGS))

    • Anna Erishkigal on October 10, 2017 at 6:11 pm
    • Reply

    Neo took the RED PILL, not the blue pill 🙂


    But other than that, you are 100% spot-on. I’ve gotten really quiet lately, tracking how badly Amazon and all the other big MEGAs are feeding off our hard work. Ebook distributors. Advertisers ranging from AWS ads to Facebook ads to daily ebooklist ads to Bookbub. And then all the phony-baloney ‘review sites’ and other people out to grab our sparse royalties. It’s time for us, collectively, to step off the merry-go-round and say “no thank you … I need to get paid.”

    1. LOL…71 drafts later I got lost. GO NERDS! Fixed it.

        • JanK on October 10, 2017 at 6:57 pm
        • Reply

        So, I actually want the red pill.. I want shared wealth and appropriate compensation for content and artistic providers.. Go nerds.. Go artists… Go Kristen..

  4. I’m so glad I read this whole thing. Couldn’t agree more. I want to work with a Mega but I will build my own success–word by word.

  5. I really enjoyed this article, and it did show me a different way of thinking about the internet and success in the modern age. But. You didn’t name Facebook as one of the MEGAs. Or Twitter. Or any of the other social media platforms that monetise all that free content via paid ads.
    The only difference between FB and HuffPo is that FB never even pretended to honour our content as content.
    Yes, FB does provide servers and bandwidth and an easy-to-use platform so we can shout content at each other, but it’s not free is it? And Zuckerberg keeps whittling away at how much ‘we’ can get out of that platform.
    So it’s still the red pill, just sugar coated.
    To be fair, Amazon does the same thing, it’s just a little more honest about it. 🙁

  6. I remember your post a year ago and felt enlightened then. I’m glad you’re back on to it this year. It is a scam we’ve been sold so it’s time to let go of it. What do you think about contests? Usually the reader not only gives the content (not always published) but pays for the chance to be a winner. Seems that contests are also designed to make someone a lot of money.

    1. BINGO!

    2. Yes, I was thinking the same thing about contests.

      1. You raise a very interesting point Terri. I didn’t think of contests, even though I’ve been submitting some of my short stories into competitions lately (yeah, roll eyes). You and Kristen have both given me something to think about. Thank you!

  7. Great post, Kristen!

  8. Right on, Kristen. I remember when you exposed Huffington Post, and I totally agree. I feel a chill in the air, like a Snowflake Blizzard on the horizon.

  9. Blown away by that. Fantastic piece. You nailed it. Send over the red pill.

  10. Utterly fabulous. Speaking as a daytime-dilettante writer who’s still looking up at the promise of exposure, I’m glad to have the confirmation there’s nothing there to see anyway.
    Millennials, the way I learned it (from a sports article about one of my team’s stars) did not inherit the Boomer notion of work (the way we inherited it from the Greatest Gen). We still believe that work is very likely to be unremitting drudgery and effort, which we willingly undertake so that later we can exchange it for leisure and fun. Then back to work… but millennials believe the WORK ITSELF needs to be fun. And it makes them seem entitled and precious to us sometimes, but that’s a fundamental difference I think you’re hitting on here.
    I’m one of those oh-so-proud indies who writes because he feels compelled, because the writing itself gives me great satisfaction. I pay myself with the time to write because I can’t find anything else to do with my leisure that’s better. I don’t have enough sales to assert that I’m any good at it (though I cherish the notion I don’t suck). I’d probably fall down and slobber for the opportunity to work for exposure (but fortunately I write epic fantasy so nothing’s short enough to interest the Megas).

    Like you, I’d be willing to take the risk that money could ruin me. But I feel completely cut off from the chance of getting either remuneration or fame right now (gal who bought the NYT #1 spot may have had the right idea, except she evidently forgot to, you know, write a book). So I just write when I can. Poor. Fun.

  11. Another book to read is Exponential Organizations. It talks about how organizations thinking of the future have a different structure (think Huffington Post) where they don’t have to invest as much, which is what’s killing retail and other businesses now.

    Writers must start educating themselves and not relying on someone else to do that “other stuff” that’s not writing. While the megas are doing the hand waving about emotions, they’re also taking all the rights from writers and the writers are busy letting them handle that distasteful “other stuff.” That’s how they get taken advantage of.

    I stopped writing for free because of that very emotional appeal. It felt manipulative to me (I’m in an INTP, so the emotional appeals tend not to work as well for me). I’m a veteran, and one of the striking places where I saw it was calls for veterans’ stories. It was about getting your story out, helping to heal. A lot of hand waving of that emotional appeal and no pay. I was torn for a while because there are almost no voices of women veterans, but the last call I was published in was a major publishing imprint and the writers were not paid.

    Much better to be indie.

  12. Enlightening!

    I not only have got wobbling legs, but I believe I won’t sleep for a week!

    Thanks Kristen.

  13. Wow!I mean just, Wow! Although I have been bogged down with paying job and life and have gotten behind in your articles, I am very happy with starting again with this get in your face and wake up article. Sharing!

  14. A very contentious post. I am not content with no pay for my content. I live in North America. Will I get paid if i move to another continent thus achieving contentment ?

    • DJ Austin on October 11, 2017 at 8:52 am
    • Reply

    So now you want me to write a comment? For free? 😉

    1. Nope, ergo the contest for a reward 😛 .

  15. Great post, thanks! Got the book you recommended. -w

  16. Wow that was intense! I just need more grit to actually, like, DO all this brand-building stuff myself.

    • Kat Kent on October 11, 2017 at 3:01 pm
    • Reply

    Hey Kristen. Is there anyway to buy the recording for the “Blurb” class last Friday, Oct. 6th with Cait Reynolds that you offered on W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom. I am trying to write a blurb for my book and was not able to attend Friday’s class but would gladly pay for the recording if available. Thank you. Kat Kent.

    1. Yes of course! Email me at kristen at wana intl dot com and we can get you taken care of 😀

  17. So, would you put Medium and Watpad in the same category as Huff Post? And, if you don’t ride the coattails of a bigger operation, HOW do you get exposure and gain readers?

    Certainly I’m making small gains with my social media presence and blog, but I’ll be dead by the time I have enough followers to amount to any serious bank.

    Thanks for the wake-up call!

    1. You won’t be dead if you focus on yourself and YOUR brand. That is why Millennials are becoming millionaires. They aren’t wasting time on these other entities to “help” them launch. They just LAUNCH. And yeah any site you don’t own and cannot monetize, you are making them money. You get exposure by writing a lot of good content people want to share. Making friends and writing content they want to pass along. Do it enough and be consistent then you have an audience and THEN you montetize. But those other sites? You’re a cash cow for them. Sorry. But that is the truth. They sell ad space and get you to post and bring in people who see and click ads. YOU work for them and don’t even get paid.

      It’s why I have the blog class. I am hammering on paths to monetization because I am fed UP with this exposure dollar crap.

      1. Thank you, Kirsten! I’ve been yelling about this since the demise of Web.1, and trying to get people to realize how amazing the Millennials really are for almost that long…

  18. This reminds me of one of the things that soured me on writing for a long time. When I was a kid, I kept writing to magazines trying to get published. The thing was, I didn’t really care so much about the getting published part. The thing I cared about was how all the magazines I read offered a really cool prize, sometimes cash, sometimes a new toy, to the kids they published. So I sent them my handwritten submissions that would have made a doctor jealous, and naturally they sent me a bunch of rejection slips.
    So my dad decided to help out by convincing the local newspaper to let me write a weekly “kids’ news” column, whatever the hell that was. I’ll admit that probably took some salesmanship on his part, but they agreed. They just said they couldn’t pay me. And my dad was all, “That’s okay, that’s great, she just wants the exposure.”
    Not that he asked me what I wanted. What I WANTED was the prize, the money, the shiny new toy. What I GOT was another chore I had to do every week, writing about stuff I mostly didn’t care about (reviewing Disney movies, for example, which I was about seven years too old for), for FREE.
    Eventually he had me writing for about five newspapers…for free. I did get a couple paid writing jobs out of it. Let’s see, I think Teen People paid me $25 once. Any money I did make my parents convinced me to put in a savings account, “so you’ll have it later.” I wanted to spend it, but NO, I needed to save that money.
    Well, one day when I was getting ready for college I went looking for it, and the account was empty. Yeah, mom and dad needed it later. So, I spent about six years writing for free, or very cheap, and what little money I did make disappeared into a black hole.
    And that’s why I stopped writing when I was fifteen and didn’t start again until I was 26.

    1. And thank you for illustrating my point so elegantly. We want the PRIZE not a chore and exposure. We want the money and the actual reward and we worked for it. Good for you. I hope I can help as a mentor as we all figure out life outside the Matrix.

    • Mary Van Everbroeck on October 11, 2017 at 8:24 pm
    • Reply

    Inspiring Article! I learned so much from your article along with the comments of others. If you haven’t already been knighted as ‘Advocate for Writers’, it won’t be long! Very nice. I enjoyed watching the YouTube of Lilly Singh, and will be reading ‘The Power of Broke’. It was very refreshing to hear your praise of the Millennials.

  19. You’ve put to words so many things that have been swimming through my head the last several years.

  20. Wil Wheaton did a thing a couple years ago about how exposure doesn’t pay the bills that stuck with me. Thanks for reinforcing the lesson.

    • Dominique on October 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen!!!! Aka the writer version of Morpheus! My legs are wobbly and you totally just blew my mind…and this helped me find CLARITY on what I should spend my online writing time on. I was ensnared in the idea of writing for the MEGA’s (think about how every person teaching people to blog says to grow the secret is to “guest post” on other people’s blogs, with of course a gig like Huffington being the ultimate, and then you focus on that so much you stop posting on you’re own blog!!) But, now I realize that’s a waste of time and I need to drop the write for ME not for FREE!!!!! On my blog, not someone else’s. Thank you for the red pill!

  21. Thanks for this. I’ve never believed in giving away my work for free.

  22. It’s kind of like the “green” thing. I remember the first time I saw one of those cards that said Big Hotel wanted to save the planet by not washing my bedding. Yeah, I put that card on the pillow and wrote on it in black ink: “Wash my $&#^@*&=* sheets.” Save the planet, give me a break. Kind of like how printing my bank statements with my paper and ink instead of the bank’s will somehow cure global warming. (Remember global warming?)

    You are dead on with this admonition to writers to quit enslaving their work at the behest of people who are experts at OPM. They’re so good at it, they even do it to their customers!

    The problem is our attraction to the notion of fame. Let me tell you, when you drive a truck, you don’t worry about being the best, well-known and famous trucker. Nope. You worry about getting paid that hour and half you waited in the dock while they loaded your truck with bundles of aluminum cans.

    What do writers and truck drivers have in common? They both work hard to provide a valuable service. Oddly enough, it’s the truck driver who has a higher expectation of being paid. “But if you give me 2500 miles this week, we’ll write an article about it in the company prospectus. We’ll even pay for the fuel. Hell, we’ll even you sleep in the truck.” Um. No. Pay me my 42 cents per mile.

    If we step out of the vapor cloud of methamphetafame, we may realize that working for free really isn’t a plan.

    Oh, but wait, I’m doing it right now! By golly, I want sexy gun-totin’ Texas Girl to notice me, wink at me and give me that GenX fist bump. But we’re friends on FB, so it’s OK. Sometimes we really are just talking among friends.

    But the rest of the time, yeah, we should probably put it behind a paywall and put a price tag on it. Just ask any screenwriter.

    • Thomas Murphy on May 13, 2018 at 7:50 am
    • Reply

    As someone who is much, much, much older than a millennial, I’m here to tell you that I knew all of this stuff years ago and have been working around it over the last couple of years with my partner.

    Personal experience of millennials suggests to me that most of them are not as smart as you credit them with being. They really, really aren’t.

    You make good points – but it really isn’t news to a lot of us older folk.

    1. Most of any generation isn’t in the ‘genius’ category. But the largest group of millionaires are coming out of this generation, so us older folks, if we were as creative and savvy, should be at least rivaling them at least in this area. But too many writers in older generations are busy writing for free/exposure for Huffington and other MEGA MEDIA brands.

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