In contrast to a previous article I shared about the great online game, there is a different perspective that I have been contemplating lately.
In The Great Online Game
, we are all accumulating points in an informal game spread across the entire internet. A reply on a video, comments with a retweet, or a newsletter hot take might open a door for you in the real world. I have experienced this first hand. I worked diligently on LinkedIn for years developing my personal brand as the “tech guy” with the target audience the C-Suite and leadership at my (at the time) employer. Then, when searching for a new job, my experience as a long time podcast host and YouTube creator ended up being the differentiator the company was looking for in their candidate list.
But, there is a sinister side of the gig and passion platforms. The platforms are created to exploit the creatives endlessly sharing their passion.
Passion platforms encourage everyone to create new content and publish, with promises that with enough content and enough hard work you can quit your job and make a living from your art. This could be anything!
But there are several problems with this thought. First, you need to create content that gets enough views for you to even be worthy of payment and that is even if the platform has an revenue sharing arrangement. For YouTube you must meet an incredibly high bar to start collecting the pennies they are willing to share. But, in the meantime, YouTube will run ads on your content and keep all of the money. Once you are worthy of a revenue split, YouTube will keep the vast majority of the money and charge you platform fees.
On other platforms, like Instagram, they keep all the money from your work. If you develop a large enough following, you may be able to monetize their attention by negotiating your own brand deals with a marketer such as myself, but Instagram will continue to run ads and monetize your content without ever once giving you a single dime.
Why do I bring this up in a marketing newsletter? The passion economy is built on top of businesses looking to de-legitimize marketing. Canva isn’t for making personal social media posts look good, it is to fire designers and leave copywriters to do their own visual support. Grammarly isn’t to help your emails read better, it is to remove PR and Editors from the publishing process. Fiverr is even more insidious, which can replace your entire marketing department for a fraction of the cost and leverage highly skilled marketers against each other, driving our value down.
More than ever, management does not see the persistent value of true marketing professionals. Marketing is a cost center and everyone in the organization is tasked with reducing costs. Now there are dozens of platforms that are created with the sole intention of eliminating marketing cost and undercutting what we are worth.
I know I haven’t been full of sunshine lately, especially about the marketing industry. But we deserve better. We deserve to be paid for our work, regardless if it is for the organization or a platform for our passion. Keep creating, but don’t give it away. Before you publish, consider what you have to gain versus what the platform gains. Do your own calculations.