Internet Money: The Make Money Fast Myth

One of my favorite things to rant about is the whole illusion of making money on the internet. In the current year it’s pretty obvious that everything is just going to get worse. Automation isn’t just threatening to replace factory jobs, it’s also planning to replace McJobs. Finding a job isn’t a given, instead it’s a long drawn out process of applying for crappy jobs and hoping you don’t blow your current job because it’s not like anyone else is going to hire you. Hell, it’s easy to end up blackpilled as I did, when you only can get a crappy job after years of job searching yet some guy your age gets lucky and gets a nice job because of something he bought and showed off.

With how bad the job market can be, plenty of people will fall for myths that involve making money fast. Chances are your parents might have fallen for something like envelope stuffing or MLM schemes, or you’ll know that broke student with the delusional dreams of making it big as an athlete or pop star or something. It’s a common dream, that one day you can do enough to make big money easily. One of the most common ones though is the whole idea of the internet content creator. See, back in the mid-2000s there was this new website called YouTube and it meant that content that would have required a web hosting setup or DVDs to be pressed could easily be uploaded to the internet for the world to watch. Regular people became internet celebrities overnight and scored that 15 minutes of fame, and once YouTube introduced partnership people made mad amounts of money via the internet for a while.

But one thing that hopeful people forgot was that you couldn’t always make it to the top easily. For every success story like the Angry Video Game Nerd, there were a lot of people like the Irate Gamer or Game Dude: clones of the Nerd’s format in an attempt to get ad money. And that’s something that most people don’t seem to get.

See, the internet has a lot of things that make it a bit hard to break into the market. First, YouTube was already moving towards a model where top YouTubers (and likely handpicked ones) got special treatment and promotion at the front of the site. Then over time, they shafted those people too. Both corporate sanitized videos and official TV clips were posted to the front of the site instead of top YouTubers, and then top YouTubers found it harder to make money. They found lower payouts, demonetization, superchats being killed off, and whatnot.

But even without the fact that social media sites are all fake, with top content being picked by some invisible algorithm or hand-picked by staff members invisibly (remember this the next time you see a video with an agenda and low interaction count at the front of YouTube) there’s the fact there’s an oversaturation of content. Oh look, you’re making the same electronic music everyone else is, good luck getting noticed. Getting noticed from a meme is like a one hit wonder’s career as well, there’s no guarantee it’ll translate into success later on down the line. Now I could end the post right here but I feel like I didn’t get in depth enough about this situation, so let’s take a closer look at the economy of the internet.

The internet economy

The economy of the internet is unique for two different reasons. The first difference between the internet and real life is that unless you’re working at home or as part of the “gig economy” (where you get worked to the bone doing mostly Amazon tier jobs that don’t pay the bills), the chance of you making a decent amount of money is tied to e-fame and popularity. The second and biggest difference is your income stream is dependent on the actions of a company even if you feel your internet job is freelance.

Let’s take a look at the first one. There are 3 kinds of people on websites that people get paid producing content for, such as YouTube, Patreon, art sites, and whatnot. There are the top dogs, where they have tons of fame and views. Their fame comes from the fact they are masters at making content the algorithm on social media favors, and oftentimes because they’re what I like to call a chosen one. Now what is a “chosen one”? Well, it’s somebody that has their content shoved to the forefront of YouTube, or is shilled by the media. If the media is writing multiple fluff pieces on somebody or they end up on the frontpage or related section of social media all the damn time like you’re being funneled towards their content than they’re a chosen one for sure. During the first year or two of YouTube it was possible to organically get popular as YouTubes algorithm would show videos made by real people or what people were watching.

The second group of people is “everybody else” and these are the people ranging from people who put out quality content but get overlooked by the rest of the web, to complete nobodies with capture cards or their game consoles streaming functionality. The third group of people are who I like to call targeted and blacklisted, and these are people either on thin ice with the social media titans who are waiting for an excuse to get rid of them, or people blacklisted by just about any social media site. They’re the kind of people who can defund a small social media site by simply joining it and watching as payment processors cut them off, but these people are a relatively new group. They mostly popped up once social media titans had a losing streak regarding public opinion and collectively declared “never again” and unless they had critical mass before they were blacklisted they might as well be as good as a washed up internet celeb. Most of the time they lean political or they’re making non politically-correct jokes.

Websites like this are structured to favor the top dogs. They bring in the most money and for the longest time they were also given leeway to do whatever. After several infamous incidents on YouTube most notably Logan Paul’s suicide forest video (in which a YouTube celebrity brags and shows himself finding a dead body in a forest with a high suicide rate) and the “Adpocalypses”, even they lost a lot of that leeway they had. The second group of people were treated like second class citizens. They had to play by different rules than the people at the top did, along with not getting nearly as much promotion. I saw this all the time on YouTube years ago. They’d also find it harder to get noticed online. When everybody and their grandmother is vying for attention, only the best or most well-known are going to be seen.

This leads us to the second point naturally, online you’re pretty much relying on another company almost all the time. You’re relying on services and platforms from big corporations, and you are always at their whim. It doesn’t take long for companies to change their rules at their own whim and discretion, and if you fall in the crosshairs of these decisions you end up losing big money. Case in point: YouTube’s had numerous monetization changes from slashing payouts silently to the infamous adpocalypse and its successors, where YouTube under pressure from advertisers started disabling monetization and everyone across the board was hit. Their fallback plan was Patreon and this was a mixed bag for many as well. Some people got decent money from it, but even Patreon has had monetization changes as well. It’s had the usual political financial censorship that’s part and parcel of big websites these days, but it’s also had controversies that have had nothing to do with it. For example, Patreon introduced a tier system that’d mean creators would make less money. Furthermore Patreon has also clamped down and censored porn games. One of Patreon’s top porn game creators was not immune and he had to remove incest from his game that features just about every other fetish.

Let’s rip the band-off first. We’re cutting a bunch of the most obtrusive incest content from the game to better comply with Patreon’s terms of service, starting with all of the “Inner Circle” Frostwyrm stuff. Soon I’m going to make Kiro and Kally step-sisters as well. Shade is probably going to stay as is for the present.

Why? There’s a lot of reasons I could cite, but the only one that matters is that I have a number of employees (and commissioned writers) that count on us being able to pay them every month. We’ve got enough bankrolled to pay the bills for quite a while, but getting kicked off Patreon would still force me to consider laying off some of my good friends and employees before too long to try and keep the company positioned well to continue making content. Risking my friend’s jobs (and my own paycheck) isn’t worth indulging one specific fetish. I could probably transition to a new service and do okay by myself, but we couldn’t get back up to the kind of numbers we pull on Patreon in any reasonable amount of time.

Nykke isn’t going away for good. Savin and her author (B) hashed out a plan to create an alternate intro for her where she is not your offspring (but presumably preserving the bulk of her fun scenes).

-Fenoxo (NSFW source link)

While porn content brings in big money on Patreon, they’ve shafted that demographic multiple
times. Payment processor pressure as you’d expect was also the cause for this. You don’t need to be political to experience financial censorship, just make content for nerds to beat their meat to. Hell, you don’t need to do that with modern social media websites. The AVGN was suspended multiple times and he was one of the most famous YouTubers and chances are if he didn’t have pals in YouTube he’d have to try fleeing to another site and hoping his audience followed.

The internet is volatile

This is where the truth really shines, no matter where you go online your income stream is going to be volatile. On gig economy style websites you lose that income stream if the site folds up tomorrow or you get canned for some reason, and websites love to can you without telling you what your crimes are. These websites could can your accounts if they wanted to, they have other people who could replace you and draw in more money or do the job better. Bitcoin prices also are a rollercoaster and not the most stable investment, but Bitcoin is great if you use it for its intended purpose: buying drugs and making money when financial censorship strikes.

But if you’re a content creator, things are even worse. Not only do you have to be on a mainstream social media website for exposure, but you also have to keep on doing what made you famous. You can try to pivot into new things, but it’ll be hard to do. Even worse is when you find out that your videos only pull in a fraction of your subscriber count per video for some reason. The internet is constantly changing, what made you money one year might not work the next year.

And of course there’s always the risk of being canned from the big social media sites and platforms. If you’re canned from social media sites or (more likely) you start finding your content isn’t paying the bills anymore, you’ll be regretting that choice. Unlike a McJob there’s a gap in your employment history and prospective employers will use that as another opportunity to hire some young go-getter out of high school or an older guy who’s worked his ass off for years instead of you. Then, quitting that job won’t have looked like such a good idea in the end:

Just take a look at this video, this was an early YouTube celebrity who quit his job. Within a few years this same guy and his website became a cautionary tale of late 2000s internet fame crashing and burning. He’s now stuck doing the same thing over and over again after pivoting failed and his views are down.

So what’s the moral of the story here? Maybe getting a McJob is more sustainable than betting it all on the internet. At least then you won’t have your employer asking “Hey pal, what’s that multi-year gap in your employment history from?”

Jake

Jake

I'm a purple cat :V

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