Hey Stupid!!


“Hi, I’m stupid.”

I’m with stupid.

We’ve seen it again and again. Workplace “scandals” that involve public spats, arguments over bad management that end in someone getting fired.

Some “gurus” claim this shows a lack of “emotional intelligence.”  I think it’s more to do with economic intelligence.  But, if you need a primer in emotional intelligence, here you go.

Emotional Intelligence primer

A smile 🙂  means that someone is happy.  Yes, some actors can fake smiles, and some jobs require you to smile even when you’re miserable, but genuine smiles can be spotted by experts.  A genuine smile tends to start in the corner of an eye, and lingers even after you leave.  Happy is normally good, unless the happy person is laughing at you.
A frown 🙁 means that someone is unhappy.  Few people frown on purpose, outside of Schopenhauerland (formerly known as the Democratic Republic of Germany) and its cultural satellites.   Frowns are normally bad.

If something makes you smile or happy, then it might make other people happy too.

If something makes you frown or unhappy, then it might make other people unhappy too.

Economic intelligence primer

Here we get to the story.  Some baby boomer, or Generation Xer, or millennial has a blog, kind of like this one.  Having a blog makes that person, regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity, a blogger.

Most bloggers know that they are amateurs.  But, a few are stupid enough to think of themselves as professional writers.

A professional gets paid for what they do, usually by form of contract, with payment agreed in advance.
An amateur does something primarily for fun, without any guarantee of pay.
A fool does work without a contract or advance, or even worse signing a contract that gives away their moral rights for nothing, expecting pay for hard work even though no one is legally bound to pay.

When Samuel Johnson said that “Only a fool would write but for money,” he didn’t mean that money should be the only motivation.  He meant that writing well is a time consuming, and energy consuming, activity.  Writing is also an activity that can destroy relationships and make people frown, and it often does that by accident.

Frowning Fool or Smiling Freelancer?

Many of today’s “freelance writers” give their work away for free on blogs.  Fine, then they’re amateurs.  But those who give away their writing to billion dollar enterprises, such as the Guardian, the Huffington Post, and Youtube, and expect to get paid by getting “exposure” are fools.

But, you get paid for Youtube views, you claim.  Yes, you get paid one dollar per thousand views apparently, according to the most optimistic report I’ve heard (I’ve also heard lower estimates, but let’s be optimists here.)

Let’s say you get paid a dollar per thousand viewers, then you just have to go viral, right?

Well, let’s say it takes you a full week of work to plan, make and promote that video.  That’s actually pretty short for a viral video, but lets say you’re a record breaking genius, smarter than Hitchcock and Orson Wells combined.  And, let’s say that you don’t have to pay for insurance or for props or equipment, and any employees (cast and crew) that make that video will work for free because they don’t have to pay for rent or food, because they are angels come down from Olympus.  Again, highly improbably and close to impossible, but let’s live in a fantasy land for a moment.   And, let’s say that your normal pay would be 400 dollars a week.  That’s incredibly hard to live on, but less impossible than the rest of it.

You’d need 400,000 viewers for each video, or 400,000 videos a week, just to eke out that kind of measly living.   That’s more than the entire population of Cardiff.  And, the work involved in that makes it a full time job that won’t give you a chance for a real life.   Furthermore, that’s assuming that you have no expenses related to making that video.  Additionally, it assumes that you never go on holiday, never get ill, and never take any time off to visit friends or family.

(Note, if you get 400,000 viewers on television, that’s worth tens of thousands of dollars, or more.  If you have that kind of audience, TV is the smarter bet, but we’re not talking intelligent here, we’re talking viral.)

Making money with affiliate programs can be equally as fruitless.  Even if people buy stuff through your page, there’s no way of proving it, and very few ways of knowing it.  Without a paper trail of referrals, you’re at the mercy of the “honesty” of big corporations.  (Good luck with that.)

Note: the average UK broadsheet has fewer than 400,000 readers a week.  The Guardian claims a readership of 200,000.  So, if that billion dollar newspaper was relying on Youtube views to make a living, it would be unable to pay it’s editor in chief minimum wage (and forget about renting an office, or paying any kind of taxes.)  Check out how many sales the average bestselling book gets, or big DVDs get.  Not that many.  You’ll start kicking yourself for giving your work away for pennies to the commercial version of Ham Radio or Public Access Television.

What was Public Access Television?  Better than Youtube.  In the days of public access, they paid for your equipment.  Here’s a trip down memory lane for the stupid (if you want to make a living by going viral, then that’s you.):

Do you want to earn a real living, I mean, average, US wage of 52,000 a year, with the typical four weeks off?  Take out a calculator and do the calculations yourself.  But first, consider that the typical film takes a team of dozens of people at least a year to make, so you’re looking at breaking some Internet records just to be “average.”

Forget about going viral while trying to hold down a day job.  Most of these viral people are already independently wealthy, so they don’t have to worry about work.  Either that, or they have fancy, overpaid jobs that don’t require any concentration, like ambassador to a country that’s seldom at war.

You’re more likely to win the lottery, get hit by lighting, and be attacked by a shark in the same week than go viral and make a living off of it.  In fact, many “viral” artists make a living off of telling other wannabe artists “how to” go viral.  It’s all a big ponzi scam.

(If you want to use the Internet as a platform for activism, that’s another thing.  However, note that many of the most popular videos online were first on another format, for instance on television.)

Now, a lot of people think that “viral” work will lead to paying work.  Well, the chances of that are slim, kind of like winning the lottery.  I don’t know of anyone who watches YouTube all day searching for undiscovered talent to hire.

At Ptara, we HAVE seen people’s films and then either contacted them about a project or recommended them to others for projects.  However, these weren’t viral youtube or vimeo or DailyMotion filmmakers.  These are professional filmmakers who have proven their skills through traditional filmmaking channels that paid them on the way.  In general, we didn’t see their films online, but on DVD or in the cinema (and the few that we saw online were available in traditional formats first.)

But, wouldn’t we consider hiring a viral video maker, a linkedin influencer, a “trending” blogger?  No.  Never say never, but in most cases, no.

We’d rather hire someone who has chosen us over the competition than someone who would give away their work for free.  And who wants to pay for what you just got for free last week?  Would you pay for wikipedia content?  It’s kind of the same thing.

But mostly, if you work for pennies for billionaires, I’m not going to go penniless to feed your exposition habit.  No, I’ll pay you much less than the billionaires at Youtube, Huffington, BBC, and Guardian will, because I have much less money than they do.

If you’re feeling stupid right now, don’t worry.  I was stupid once too, and I’m still probably doing stupid things right now.  Hey, you’re not paying for this, are you?  That’s pretty stupid of me to be telling you this for free.  I better not let it happen again.

Kick your addiction to social media glory, and ask the billionaires for a fairer share of their profits.  Don’t be stupid.