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Internet fame another iteration of waiting tables

Posted December 18, 2015 into Politics by John Birmingham

Some stark lessons about the value of getting big in social media. (Spoiler warning: there is none).

And yet, despite this success, we’re just barely scraping by. Allison and I make money from ads that play before our videos, freelance writing and acting gigs, and brand deals on YouTube and Instagram. But it’s not enough to live, and its influx is unpredictable...

The high highs and low lows leave me reeling. One week, I was stopped for photos six times while perusing comic books in downtown L.A. The next week, I sat faceless in a room of 40 people vying for a menial courier job. I’ve walked a red carpet with $80 in my bank account. Popular YouTube musician Meghan Tonjes said she performed on Vidcon’s MainStage this year to screaming, crying fans without knowing whether she’d be able to afford groceries.

It's a fascinating piece of writing which is more about the dying of the American middle class than it is just about growing your Instagram audience.

Money anxiety is a deep and longtime trigger for me. I’ve almost quit Just Between Us a few times, once after spending hours hysterically crying in my parked car because I wasn’t sure how I was going to make rent. My parents couldn’t help me financially because they had their own problems. I had already sold some of my old clothing at Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange. Allison’s parents offered to lend me money, but I wasn’t comfortable taking from them. Finally I borrowed money from a very kind friend who I’ve since paid back. During that time, I had more than 70,000 Twitter followers.

It's not all bad though. I'm sure Larry and Sergei got paid.

Props to SixColors for the original link.

18 Responses to ‘Internet fame another iteration of waiting tables’

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Rob is gonna tell you...

Posted December 18, 2015

so far I have made $26 bucks from my internet endeavours. In the words of Deez Nuts ' I ain't in this for the money or fame, but if I stack a little change, well fuck it, I wont complain'

I do wonder if the 160,000 viewers of my youtube channel give a curly rats ass if I get some money out of it.

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted December 18, 2015
Apparently they'd prefer you as their slave.

Rob has opinions thus...

Posted December 18, 2015


More a chair moistener with an ego and lots of video.

I think I've come full circle I used to work for free to break into the TV industry and after a while I made some money, but it wasn't enough to live on, so I gave up and did other things. Now I do it for free, for the fun and beers with bands. Media production has always been a hard road. I've been doing this since I was 17, and never made any real money. I'm still waiting to break even from my last exhibition (why oh why wont someone buy my Thresh drawing?) Next exhibition in January and I'm already $200 in the hole from materials and framing, no guarantee I will sell and no support apart from marketing from the gallery (which I am Ok with). I did Law to subsidise the creative output any way and its working out, I don't skimp on materials and can do anything I want. Stupid costumes, graphic design, tattoos included. :)

FormerlyKnownAsSimon asserts...

Posted December 18, 2015
enough talk! now get back on the tubes and dance!

NBlob puts forth...

Posted December 18, 2015
"...after a while I made some money, but it wasn't enough to live on..." Amen, +1, & Testify.
And that, right there is how I ended up in a blue shirt measuring fish. And Every Day Since (10 fkn years) I've wondered how I can get back behind a camera, without simultaneous foreclosure & subsequent divorce.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted December 19, 2015
Long before the Internet I hoped I would earn my living as a writer and
achieved some success selling television pilot concepts (e.g., a Hogan's Heroes parody tentatively titled A Gypsy in Auschwitz:
I got $500 for that horrible idea; and then there was Homoside, a crime
drama focused on the dark, dangerous side of the closeted gay
lifestyle that began with murder and ended in scandal ["are you saying that Senator Henderson was gay??"] every single episode) but not enough to support myself exclusively through writing - and they stopped buying my TV concepts when they realized I was making fun of them.

I saw law as my only viable option. Did I give up my dreams in exchange for financial security? Most likely, yes. But I still manage to poke fun at idiots every now and then - and get paid to do it - and that is really what it was and is all about for me. So I can't complain.

NBlob reckons...

Posted December 19, 2015
Getting paid to poke fun @ idiots is one of life's simple pleasures. I have to be discreet though, have had 2 x ministerial complaints for "mocking & disrespectful tone." Felt like responding with "Please advise how I should respond to such 24k asshattery?"

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted December 19, 2015
I feel your pain, mate. But my circumstances are different. If anyone complains about me using a mocking or disrespectful tone I refer them to the Human Resource Director (me using a clearly fake upper class British accent) and then, employing a respectful tone, I mock them some more. I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself.

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted December 20, 2015
Again, jealousy.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted December 20, 2015
There are no grounds for jealousy. I am sure your fake British upper class accent is as good as mine, if not better.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted December 18, 2015
There is something strangely poetic about it all. Unbelievable fame without fortune of any kind other than the fame itself.

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dweeze mutters...

Posted December 21, 2015
Geez - 10k per year. You musta had the wrong ggs. I was in the game 20 years ago and was making 5 times that.

Not that any of those A-list asshats at ARCA (in your link) would recognise my 8.5 years of living on the road. I lost just as many mates as they did....grrrrrr.

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Blarkon is gonna tell you...

Posted December 19, 2015
Digital Serfdom. Google owns the fields. Google profits from the fields. Google generously allows you to work the fields.

Rob puts forth...

Posted December 21, 2015


content providers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your URLs.

The Digital revolution has in the end, just meant a bunch of anti competitive monopolies got replaced by even fewer anti competitive monopolies. We are probably lucky Google cant digitise food. (for the moment anyway)

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Bedes mutters...

Posted December 22, 2015
When the going gets semi-weird, the semi-weird turn semi-pro

Therbs reckons...

Posted December 23, 2015
Doesn't work for deaf poets.

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