I’m bringing good stories to you again. I’ve wanted to get back into the habit for a long time, but now I actively save links and write blurbs. I hope you find these interesting! Scroll to the end if you’d like to go straight to the visual recs.
First up: The Financial Diet put up an interview with Mallory Ortberg of The Toast that I found incredibly refreshing honest on both a personal and an industry level. Mallory talks about salaries, her short stint as a freelance writer, her Toast partner’s financial contributions/essential backing of the website, having multiple streams of income, making money from advertising and paying writers from the beginning. She’s smart and open and it’s just a great read and something I want to see more of. The creative field has gargantuan issues with fair compensation and disclosure; the more we talk about it, the more normal it will be.
Related: Mia has been sharing blog income and traffic reports since October of this year on XO Mia, and I love it because you get to see someone who’s just starting out and isn’t making five figures a month navigate monetization and blog growth. That’s not to say I don’t appreciate income reports from people who are established and making big money, but one of the reasons I’ve always been hesitant to share my own information is that I was — well, embarrassed. I talk a lot about living below the poverty line, and finances being a big factor in my anxiety, and I’ve taken big steps in overcoming the shame that often comes with it, but I still find it hard to admit, for instance, that a sale was a flop, or that nobody’s hired me in two months (someone broke the streak last week), or that I barely managed to do one sponsored post — whether due to not having the time/energy, putting it off, not doing the work of contacting people, or turning down opportunities that didn’t meet my standards. I always have an excuse on the tip of my tongue; call it promising child syndrome, “if I don’t study until the last minute I have an excuse if I do badly on the exam.”
Also related: Gaby Dunn wrote an article for Fusion about being too famous to work a normal job but too broke not to, mainly about youtube stars and how that doesn’t always translate into a steady income, and what a double-edged sword fame can be. I could write an entire post — and very likely will when I get my podcast going — about the myth of selling out and this hush-hush culture so many bloggers participate in that only serves to help people devalue and take advantage of us. Gaby’s article talks about the range of figures in brand deals because there’s no standard or communication; it tackles transparency and fan backlash, and it mentions the very fear of losing money you need if you bring up the issues in public.
And there’s this line that really hit me, “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.” I can’t fathom that kind of fame; I’m a small blogger and I’m lucky in that I find it easy to turn down non-paying “opportunities” because frankly, I don’t see the point in them. But I found it funny-sad to read, because when I lived in London, I was often invited to events that would have made me feel on top of the world — if I’d been able to afford the tube to take me to them.
Also related: a rant about setting your own pricing in the context of media kits I went on on twitter a while back. People will lowball you, so asking for a budget? No good. You need to set a precedent.
this NY Mag story about Tracey Norman, a black transgender model who became quite successful as a female model in the 70s until rumors spread that she wasn’t cis. It really serves to underline the progress that has happened over the past three decades in terms of acknowledging trans people and fighting against the stigma and the need to pass as cis and the deceit stereotype. I find it overly optimistic considering the violence and danger trans women, especially trans women of color, still face, and the endless ignorance around transgender issues — right there in the article in the way some of the models they spoke to talk about how they didn’t know Tracey “was a boy” — but I appreciate the positive outlook and the fact that it’s a supportive article on a big publication.
Here’s an article on the hate crime crisis. Trigger warning for descriptions of murder.
Kristy Tillman started a newsletter a little while back celebrating creativity from black women. It’s called Tomorrow Looks Bright, it hits your inbox on Sundays and I really recommend it! Their latest newsletter may be my favorite; that School of Thought collection is utterly gorgeous, and the photography is to die for. The feminist authors design includes Lucille Clifton, too, so naturally I’m obsessed.
From Men Explain Lolita to Me: “It is a fact universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of an opinion must be in want of a correction. Well, actually, no it isn’t, but who doesn’t love riffing on Jane Austen? The answer is: lots of people, because we’re all different and some of us haven’t even read Pride and Prejudice dozens of times, but the main point is that I’ve been performing interesting experiments in proffering my opinions and finding that some of the men out there respond on the grounds that my opinion is wrong, while theirs is right because they are convinced that their opinion is a fact, while mine is a delusion. Sometimes they also seem to think that they are in charge, of me as well of facts.” Also: “censorship is when the authorities repress a work of art, not when someone dislikes it.” Well worth a read.
A few visuals: