Side Hustle Thoughts.

I’m in a mood. Buckle in.

I’ve been (as always) looking at my hustles.

Before I dive in here is my view. I still don’t like freelancing that much. I’m not a fan of wading through new bullshit with usually White editors who mean well but ultimately exhaust me and I wind up doing a lot of emotional labor I don’t get paid for. I also don’t like publications that let their readership go fucking wild on authors and just delete the posts but not the articles.

There are a small group of editors I trust and some opportunities I’ve been extended. Some of the problem with that for me is, I do not have the ability to do what equates to a bit more than a part time job especially when the pay is not commensurate with an actual PT job.


The essential going advice is pretty much Field of Dreams- If you build it they will come. Most advice talks about offering the good content, promote it, make it available etc. I do that and unfortunately as I’ve said and experienced for like a decade, it just does not work for me.

Again, recently at the behest of some folks who were super hype, I reopened my Swag Shop.  And again, not ONE of the people who asked shared it, looked at it or purchased anything.

I know my price points tend towards beyond reasonable. At one point I was offering up about 110K words of fiction, non fiction etc for 11$ and only one person bought it. I have a TON of content I offer for free via this blog, medium etc. I am always very specific about how folks can help out. Even if you can’t drop a dollar, I always ask that things are shared.

This does not work for me.

Quite frankly, I get the most support if I’m having a public internet meltdown about not being able to pay for something and frankly doing the I AM POOR AND PANICKING dance is humiliating and exhausting.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and every time I try with the side hustles it comes down to this. I do a thing, write a bunch of shit or whatever and after a few days when there are zero reads, no shares etc, I feel completely devalued.

I am a Black Queer non binary femme person. I have to deal with being undervalued constantly in my life. From my dayjob to engagement with people, to the thousands of hours of emotional labor I’ve put in around meatspace and the internet, it is something that is just a shadow in my life.

For a few years now I have tried really hard to believe that if I provide the good shit, the good shit will flow back in return. I had a come to Odin talk with myself and really examined my pricing and whatnot. On one hand, folks have told me to charge more for stuff, that I am worth so much more than the few bucks I ask for.

Yet, the proof is not in the pudding.

Here is what I have come to believe now. It doesn’t matter what think I am worth. It doesn’t. The thing is, I can’t pay myself. I also can’t keep getting my hopes up. I am a terribly sensitive flower. I want so much to believe that the work I do can help sustain my life and do some good in the world, when there is just zero interest or follow up it just crushes me.

On one hand, having started in short literary fiction I am primed for rejection. When I’m in submission mode, I eat rejection. But, that rejection is not the same. It isn’t the build up and then nothing. That is the thing that is wrecking me over and over again.

The truth is, like a lot of other marginalized folks, the people who have shown that material support, who have bought my echapbook and stories and whatnot are in the same position I am.

The truth is, I’m not the beloved type of Black person with opinions so the people in the position to do the most, don’t.

They don’t.

And I’m not even necessarily talking about strangers. I’m thinking about people in my immediate circles who I’ve seen elevate other people, triple funded vacations, therapy everything and I can’t get a share of a link?


Real talk?

It fucks me up. It hurts my heart, it hurts my wallet it makes doing the shit I’m good at harder. And to have the idea reinforced that if I provide, others will provide so jammed down my throat, it hurts because obviously that is not for me.

I have to make a commitment to myself that is loving and preservative of my sanity and feelings.

I cannot give space to the whole woowoo idea that the universe (or my community) will do shit for me unless I am doing my poverty dance. I can’t.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of my work and how I offer things. I may just go to submitting only and freelancing a little and trying other avenues of revenue that aren’t writing.

I dunno. All I know is that I can’t keep working so hard and trying to hard and winding up with a deficit of both coins and good feelings.

That’s it for now.

4 thoughts on “Side Hustle Thoughts.

  1. {{{{{{Shannon}}}}}}

    It’s not just you–I don’t think freelance work pays most people enough to keep doing it. It might feed the ego of people who are already doing ok and want a hobby, to see their name in print.

    I think it’s more productive financially to do actual, decent-paying, steady part time work for more income and save writing time/energy for longer term projects you can sell as E-books. Gather your freelance pieces together for collections. (I love to have a bunch of your work on my Kindle where it’s most accessible to read and am happy to pay for that.) Give previews via Patreon. I hate also that with social media not every one sees every post so those can get lost in the newsfeeds/timelines. (Unless you pay to promote but better to pay to promote an actual book.) An occasional freelance piece keeps your name out there, to be sure, so when you go to promote books there’s still name recognition.

  2. Keith Crawford

    Hard read this – sucks that something we need to do so much brings so much difficulty and unhappiness. Hope writing it made you feel a little better at least.

    Been a weird 24. This morning a Scottish writer (white male) I admire very much quit blogging (and, one fears, writing altogether), because he couldn’t get a paying gig because he didn’t have “access” to the people with the power (I’m always pretty sympathetic to anti-capitalist rants). Last night, an American writer (white male straight) ranted for half an hour about how his work wasn’t getting published because the industry was dominated by gay women of colour. Not sure what he was drinking, glad I was drinking any of it, but he was totally convinced it was his colour, gender and sexuality that were blocking him.

    I don’t want to be another white guy saying its not about your colour or your sexuality, because, well, that would be both dumb and self-evidently wrong. I’m am peripherally aware that my privilege blinds me to shit you have to put up with on a day to day basis. I suspect, basically, that we’re all walking up an impossibly steep mountain and are all so busy struggling with our own weight that we barely notice you’ve been given an extra rock to carry. So what I will be is another white guy saying please don’t give up: from a completely selfish perspective (all I really have), your voice is helping me get up the mountain, and when I get to the top I want you to be there with me.

    I can’t offer much. I’m basically having a lot of the same problems you are (the only money I make from my writing is when I write about insolvency law or banking regulation which I don’t really want to do any more. I could teach, but when I teach I don’t write. So, poverty it is). I have shared this article (it’s in the buffer and will turn up later), encouraged others to share, and will go take a look at your amazon list.

    Asides from that, and I know it’s not paying work but maybe it’ll cheer you up, I run a radio production company and we have a free to enter competition going at the moment with favoured places on the longlist for BAME and LGBTQ+ writers (I want to diversify our writers room – we’re pretty good for LGBTQ+ but we’re whiter than a collection of Republican party interns.) I’m not judging, so I can’t promise you a place on the longlist, but I am director of the company so if you mention this post in the email then I can promise I will read you work and get back to you.

    This may not be your thing at all, or may be beneath you, but hell – we’re nice people (I promise) and if you’re looking for something different to write/take part in that won’t be utterly soul crushing, this might be it.

    That’s all I got. Wish I could offer you more. Next time I get paid I’ll buy one of your books, how’s that!


    Keith Crawford.

    1. Keith Crawford

      Got paid today. Bought Gasoline Hearts via Lark Books. No idea how long it will take to get to France, but look forward to reading it. There you go, money where my mouth is.

  3. Pingback: Hilarity Ensued. – About that Writing thing.

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