Roxanne & Shane, founders & owners of Bare Feet Studios & Beachwalks.tv have been consulting and in the internet industry a lot longer than I have and I was fortunate enough to receive some vital coaching from both of them concerning Time, specifically relating to being a freelancer.
I physically met Roxanne Darling two years ago in November 2006, but I knew her already from the Yahoo Videoblogging Group. We had some great and important conversations and I knew she had her finger on the pulse of what was going on in this new “New Media” world I was diving into from my Corporate and Broadcast video background.
Rox & Shane did their own show, Beachwalks.tv, but what I didn’t know at the time was that they were also very, very, VERY busy with their consulting business where they have 12 years of experience working in internet technology, streaming media, audio & video podcasting, new media creation and consulting, content management systems, event production, and public speaking.
Fast Forward to March 2007, and I accompanied Rox to NYC’s BlogHerBiz ’07 conference. We were filming or attending discussions all day, which probably amounted to 6 or 8 hours, tops, before we shut the productions down and got ready to socialize for the rest of the evening.
When Rox turned her computer on, she said something about having 80 emails since she had last checked this morning. I remember laughing at that, thinking “ha ha, you have all this spam/bacn to get rid of, hahaha” To my shock & horror, I found out she had 80 actual legitimate BUSINESS emails, with more coming in.
At the time, I was probably only getting 30 emails a day… like, meaning in a 24-hour period… and those were mostly garbage. There was something about Rox’s email situation that told me to pay attention, because I was looking at my future. We headed to the socializing events with both of us knowing that by the time she returned from having a good time (and, less importantly, business networking at the same time), even MORE email would be stacking up…
Vaporware & Future Money
I became bored of the Broadcast/Corporate video world and found out about putting video on the internet/iPod from my good friend & colleague, Athina Krikeli one day when she showed me a commercial she created, one day after a session of Emmy Award judging.
As soon as I watched Athina’s work and saw how clear it looked on this little box-thing, and how the stereo sound was perfect, my mind instantly expanded as I considered an entirely new form of self-expression.
It was suddenly clear to me that I didn’t have to put my work on television and watch it disappear. My news articles showing for an hour or two, then disappearing. My commercials playing until they rotated them out for the next big thing in the focus groups, never to be seen again. My segments disappearing forever once they cancelled Studio-Y or GameFace or changed the focus of a channel from Youth to Sports and then to Fashion. Suddenly, I had the opportunity to do good work, put it “on the air” and have it STAY THERE. Also, I was no longer restricted by local or even national broadcast limitations. People could watch my videos in France or Japan, anytime they wanted to and as many times as they wanted to! Amazing! 😀
This is how I became involved in the world of vaporware & future money.
In the real world (IRL, in real life) budget comes before production. If you don’t have any money… you don’t get anything done. Period. If you have a little bit of money, you can get your job done poorly and slowly by someone that doesn’t really know what they’re doing. In the internet world, people come up with ideas and then try to figure out how cheaply they can make that idea a reality. This is because (which I didn’t realize for a loooooong time) we’re living in a “startup culture”. Everybody’s always working. It’s never enough. You don’t get paid NOW, you get paid when your company gets funded and eventually gets bought. It’s all about the bottom line, because everyone’s scrambling for funds and then scrambling to prove that they deserve ANOTHER round of funding. Meanwhile, everybody knows this is all “future money” and could collapse at any time, so every dime needs to be accounted for in terms of ROI.
That’s all well and good, except a) like I’ve been saying for two years already (“Monetizing Digital Video” February, 2007), there’s no revenue stream for monetizing internet video because you can’t prove demographics, and b) video, as far as internet communications are concerned, is only ONE of SEVERAL formats in which you can get your point across. You can use SMS, email, RSS subscriptions, text blogging, audio recordings, static websites… If you want to put something on television, there’s only one way to do it. You HAVE TO make a video. On the net, the question is “Why should I spend the money to make a video when I could just type some words and get the same number of hits to show to my advertisers?”.
This is why professionals avoid web video. There’s normally no budget at all, and if there is, it’s whatever allowance was afforded that group by a sponsor or they’re hoping to make their money back via CPM (= impossible). Of course, there’s money in doing Corporate Video that just happens to be on the internet, or, at least, inTRAnet, but that’s the same-old same-old for me *yawn* and I wanted to pioneer something like JetSetShow or SomethingToBeDesired.
So basically, instead of having an actual REASON to do videos which would cause them to have an actual BUDGET to do videos, you have a lot of people and groups that know that internet video is hot and only getting more and more popular, and they want to be involved, but they really have ZERO idea of what they’re doing because it’s only another business concept to them. They’re not actual artists. They’re not actually media makers. They have no idea AT ALL about what it takes to bring a project from concept to completion. This would seem to be a good thing, but it isn’t hahaha.
This combination of lack of funding, lack of ROI on video projects and this “We’re all trying to make it with a startup” mentality has created this weird, handout-based environment. I was introduced to a woman at a party (so what’s new about THAT? 😉 haha) and literally RIGHT AFTER she was told what I do, she goes “Oh… if you have some free time, blah blah my project!” I don’t remember her exact wording, because I go to networking events to hang out with my friends, not to field sporadic questions & comments about business in the middle of the night when I obviously have a drink in my hand and I’m tryin’na chat with the ladies.
So anyway… I exchanged contact information with her… Meaning that I took her business card and told her to Google “Bill”… I sent her an email the next day, and her response had nothing about budgeting in it. ????
That’s when I accessed my visual/audio memory to try to figure out EXACTLY what she had said to me. I believe she had said “If you have free time, maybe you can help me with my project!”. I’m assuming the operative word was “help”, which, to me, implies “I can’t do this, so I need someone to help me”, as in “My car isn’t running. I need someone to help me fix it”, which would be the MECHANIC, who is going to BILL YOU for the time he spent working on your car and the materials he utilized in the process. It was clear from her correspondence that she meant “do it for free”.
I had another situation where I had just come from a REAL job out of town and I went to a party. At the time of my arrival, I had nothing planned for the entire rest of the week. A friend of mine asked me, in the course of conversation “What are you doing tomorrow?” to which I replied “nothing”, which meant to me “Nobody’s offered me my day rate to do anything tomorrow other than EXACTLY. WHAT. *I*. WANT. TO. DO, so I might do ANYTHING or NOTHING AT ALL tomorrow, and that’s the way I like it”. His response to finding out that I had nothing to do the next day was “Oh.. I’m doing blah blah event tomorrow. Could you come to the event and film it? 🙂 ” After I finished sipping my brew, I said something to the effect of “Nah”. He looked incredibly perplexed by my answer… Almost as perplexed as this guy.
I attempted to explain the situation to him by saying “I just worked three days in a row. I’m not doing [jack] tomorrow”. Of course, this only confused him EVEN MORE because of this startup mentality that we all have of “everybody’s always working” and “everybody’s always scraping to get out of the barrel” and “if you’re not working on something that makes you money, you may as well spend YOUR time on something that improves MY life”. I’m not saying that’s what HE was thinking. It’s pervasive. Every time I ask someone what’s new or how they’re doing, I get some kind of report about their business endeavors. Meanwhile, people are hiding “Significant Others” left and right and either don’t want to talk about them AT ALL or will bring them up while specifically avoiding saying even their FIRST names!…. “the person I’m seeing, blah blah blah”.
It’s not just individuals either. Companies… Like actual well-known companies that have tens if not hundreds of employees that are all drawing salaries… want handouts. The reason they need guidance is that they JUST found out what I knew in 2006 and people like Jay Dedman & Kenyatta Cheese knew in 2004 if not earlier, that internet video is the wave of the future.
Because nobody seemed to notice this while we’ve all been putting hundreds and hundreds of episodes on the net for years already and handing out entirely free information that entire time to the entire world in the Yahoo Videoblogging Group, NOW, companies are scrambling to try to get on the bandwagon and nobody that they’ve already hired knows what they’re doing AT. ALL.
So it took me a LONG TIME to figure out what was really going on in the space, because I didn’t imagine it was going to take them this long to figure out how to monetize digital video to the degree that they could afford to pay professionals to handle the business. In the meantime, I watched my daily email count rise and rise towards Rox’s level and I stopped using my phone entirely. I literally did. not. have. the. time. to. waste. listening to the long-version of what people wanted from me. Put it in an email and I’ll get to it when & if I get to it.
At some time during this period, I ended up speaking with Rox & Shane individually about TIME, because I knew that they had already been living the life I was now living for years. I needed AT LEAST a starting point or some kind of foundation that I could build my own concept of TIME on.
People with staff jobs have it easy. 🙂 You go to work when they tell you to. You come home when they tell you to. You go back to work when they tell you to. You get a check every other week.
Freelancers in the real world have it easy. Here’s my rate. You can afford it or you can’t. You have my money or you don’t.
Freelancers in an handout-based society have to work with the lowball budgets presented to them or pass on the project entirely (as not worth spending the time to even THINK about) while constantly fielding ?deflecting? ?deleting? all kinds of RFCs (hahaha I made a funny! hahaha Requests For Charity! hahaha) from acquaintances AND NON-ACQUAINTANCES!
Just 11 days ago, on January 01, 2009, my ideas about TIME completely solidified for me, and that’s what this series of posts is going to be about. How do you efficiently organize your time so that you can do the REAL work, do what YOU want and/or need to do, accommodate lowballers and hand out charity all at the same time? 😀
~Bill Cammack, January 12, 2009
Continued in “Time, Part 02”