I’ve made it as a food blogger. I know this, because though I’ve never tried to make it as a food blogger, I have now gotten my first overture from an internet start-up to be one of their founding content providers, in exchange for the exposure I’ll have when they make it big and take off. They found me because they were looking for food bloggers. Cool. Except, not really.
Here’s the thing. I don’t work for free. I’m one of the most grasping, crass, mercenary people you are going to meet. I do a great do of work for “no pay,” but absolutely none for free. This blog? Keeps me from driving my roommates batty, feeds my exhibitionist impulses, and is the crux of the platform that is the Anaea Lay publicity machine. (It’s a very small machine. And not very ambitious) I know exactly (sorta) how big my blog audience, but in the depths of my wrinkled psychology I feel like putting things here is the same as personally telling everybody in the whole world, which makes it a lot easier for me to shut-up about thing X which I have blogged. This is good, since otherwise I repeat myself way too much.
The Strange Horizons podcast? Many of the same reasons as the blog, plus exposure to a bigger audience about which I care, and, most importantly, there’s now a Strange Horizons fiction podcast. This is a thing I very much want to exist. How much do I want it? I price my time for hourly work at $120, and I spend anywhere from 2-7 hours a week on the podcast. You do the math.
Seriously. I price my time for hourly work at $120. Why? Because if I go back to the horrible consulting jobs I never ever want to do again, that’s what I make. If I’m going to make less doing whatever it is I’m doing, there had damn well better be benefits that make up the difference.
Real Estate? I do not make $120/hr doing real estate. I do have a hell of a lot of fun. I would not do it for free (and I am not a cheap Realtor), but as long as I enjoy it as much as I do now, I will do it for bleeding ever.
Writing? This is a little complicated since I’m going to write whether or not I publish. But do note, when I publish, it’s never for less than $.05/word, which is the industry concept of professional rates. If I send something to a semi-pro that doesn’t pay that much, the thing I send is short. Or a reprint.
Between all of this, my social life, my penchant for playing with my cat and reading books and consuming other media, etc. etc., my schedule is very full. Not unbearably full, because I’m getting aggressive about avoiding that, but as full as I’m comfortable with. Anybody proposing a new project to me had better have a really good case for why it’s worth throwing my delicate balance out of whack. Really good. I recently got invited to do a small bit of a project by the people who wound up doing it several months after I started to, then had to let drop because I was indulging in my penchant for defiantly sleeping on marble floors. I really wanted to do that project. I would have done it all myself, for no pay, if circumstances hadn’t readjusted my priorities. Getting a stab at it was awesome!
I turned them down. I angsted a bit, but I turned them down.
I’ve turned down friends on their start-ups several times at this point, too. And in their cases, they were offering “hopefully money someday,” plus helping my friend achieve their goals.
“Exposure” is marketing talk for, “and after you believe that, there’s this bridge in Brooklyn I’ve got for sale.” I can get exposure by running naked through the streets. If I want a lot of exposure, all I have to do is pick big-ish author or editor X and say something calculated-ly horrible about them. Exposure is easy. Exposure is not valuable. Connections are.
No, stranger I’ve never met or heard of, I do not want to provide all the content you need for your start-up to succeed. I don’t even want to provide a fraction of it. If you’d like to republish things I’m already doing, we can talk rates. Otherwise? See the headline.