Monday, July 15, 2013

Confronted With Money

I'm presented with opportunities more and more frequently these days, and (via a long process of trial and error) I think I've become pretty good at handling them myself. Companies want me to show a product or wear shirt or plug a channel or mention a brand in a video. I almost never do these. In fact, I can't even remember the last time I did. I want my content to remain my content. I want my audience to trust me. I don't want anything I say to be clouded by other things. Other people may have started making videos for money- or fame-related reasons--and I don't really care, as long as they own up to their reasonings (most don't, however)--but I joined to make friends and express myself. I'm all for being hired for web shows or other video projects (like Answerly, etc.) that I actually work at, but my personal channel--my haven for my personal creativity--is not for sale. (Not saying I would never endorse something. Just saying my requirements are strict and it would have to be something I fully approved of. Like alcohol. Sadly, and like most people in the world, I haven't made a dime from drinking.)

But this isn't another blog entry to ramble about that. This week, I was presented with an opportunity outside of my video work, which always surprises me. A company wanted me to link articles on my Google Plus page. From what I understood, these would be about politics or entertainment or other general things. I could comment on them along with linking them, and say whether or not I agreed or disagreed with the content.

I very much considered this proposal. Firstly, I don't use my Google Plus page much, mostly because I have no idea what to post there, but partially because I prefer Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. I figured it would be nice to have some articles to show people, especially if I had some say in what the content was. Google Plus seems to be more news-oriented, so I thought it might fit right in. Secondly, ever since The Stylish went on hiatus, I've been scrounging around trying to find odd jobs to whip up a little more money to move with (whenever that happens). Thirdly, I could be upfront about what was going on, which is always a requirement on the rare occasion I agree to do any sort of thing for money.

I talked on the phone with the guy last night and I thought everything was pretty squared away. This morning, I received an email with links to two articles I was being asked to post, both about the Zimmerman trial. I clicked the links and, to my surprise, I was listed as the author of both articles on both websites.

I was horrified. Obviously there had been some sort of miscommunication. Or maybe I was seeing it wrong? Nope. Clear as day. "Written by: Joseph Birdsong."

I emailed the guy back and told him I didn't realize this is what would be going on and that I wasn't comfortable with it. I mean, I want to be a for realsy writer someday (which probably means I need to stop using phrases like "for realsy"). But even if that wasn't a personal goal of mine, I'm not comfortable with my name being on something I didn't actually work on. I don't even talk about politics online, or news things, or really serious things at all. I mean, I'm not just a pretty face (exhibit A), and I do have opinions and such, but those just aren't things I write about. Additionally, people often let me know they can tell whenever I've written something, and it was clear I didn't write these things. It was journalism. My voice was nowhere to be found. It was like a big, dead raccoon with my face pasted on it. (I usually try to come up with a visual and that's the best I could do. Sorry.)

After a couple more email exchanges trying to sort things out and seeing if we could work with not having my name on the articles, I was told it wasn't possible. I stood firm by not wanting my name attached, and so a deal was not reached. I apologized for whatever miscommunication had clearly taken place and declined any future offers.

It's quite unfortunate. Sometimes--usually around the time of the month my student loan bill comes--I'll lie in bed counting little bills hopping over fences and dream of all the bank I could've made over the past six-and-a-half years. How many cardigans might I have now? How many bottles of Boone's Farm could I have purchased? Perhaps I could've gotten that diamond grill? I feel a bit like that girl who doesn't have State Farm insurance in that one commercial. The money's just dangling out of reach, but my conscious keeps jerking it away from me.

For the most part, I know I'm making the right decisions for my personal psyche to be comfortable. Anyway, a diamond grill would feel so much more rewarding if one day I can purchase it with money I feel I earned appropriately. However, whether or not the grill would actually look appropriate on me is another matter.