Not Cover Story 2 – Monetization


Hi, there. This is the second full installment of what I’m currently calling the Not Cover Stories, but I should probably find a better name for if this is going to continue. If you think of a better title, just try to maybe hint at it. It’ll be better if I think I thought of it myself.

I’ve opted to turn this installment of the not cover stories toward a less emotional end. Still emotional, but just less so. The aim of this project is honesty, and I think that often carries some emotion with it. So please check the description if there’s anything in particular you’re not in the mood for right now. If I’ve missed something, I will try to update the description.

So, I’ve already written and rewritten what I’m about to say five times. That should give you an idea of just how difficult it is for me to talk about. I meant to make this a quick follow up to the last Not Cover Story, which was a couple of months ago now. That didn’t happen, and partly it’s just how badly I’m struggling to find the words for this. 

We’re talking about money.

I’ve had a difficult time with monetization pretty much from the start. For those of you who have been around a really long time, I have done two Kickstarters. The first of which went pretty badly. Considering that I was a new project, the amount of money that people pledged was incredible. But the number I was asking for was so inflated that it was never going to happen. I was designing a best case scenario, where I would get all of this fantastic gear, and I would be able to focus full time on Kakos, and a lot of other things you think of when you’re brand new at this stuff and you’re just hoping people will see the great potential in you based on very little. The Kickstarter failed. Some people made contributions in other ways. Others I never heard from again. At this point I was faced with the dilemma that I have always faced with this project. I said I needed the money, but somehow without it I could keep making Kakos Industries anyway. Even though I didn’t get the money, the show kept happening. I had played chicken with the Universe, and I had lost. I wasn’t about to let the only thing that has been getting me any attention and following go because the Kickstarter had failed. I needed this project. I needed it to do something. I needed it to get me to the next level, or whatever it was going to do for me. And so I kept making the show. 

Back then, Kakos Industries was twice a month. I was borrowing the Night Vale format, and I thought it was very important to keep that schedule. The difference was that Night Vale had a whole team. I had one person, me, doing nearly everything, and voice actors that would come in from time to time to make things look like there was a team. I would even write messages and emails as “we”, or a number of other humorous personas, even though no one else ever handled any of those things. I kept my costs low by living with family and spending as little as I could on other things. It wasn’t much of a life really. I was working extremely hard, I was constantly stressed out, and I had little money. This went on for a couple of years, until I moved to Los Angeles to pursue something in the film industry.

Living in Los Angeles is extremely expensive, as those of you living there might know. Everyone around me was doing whatever they could to make rent. I was using a bit of savings I still had from previous jobs. The work from Kakos Industries was piling up so bad that I eventually made the decision to cut down to once a month. Cutting my work load in half was the only way I could try to get any other jobs or make anything else happen. Most of you understood. Some were upset, but the truth of the matter was that Kakos Industries hadn’t materialized into a job that could help me to sustain myself. It wasn’t paying for the time, and when I had those bills to pay, it made a difference.

I moved back to Phoenix. And I kept making the show. 

Around that time, my income from Kakos Industries was around $400. It’s more than that now. We’re sitting just above $600, but we’ve been above $800 before. 

There’s something that I know about myself, and that’s that, unless I am able to create something, I am very sad. I don’t know what mental condition that counts as, but it’s really hard. I can’t give up, because giving up feels like dying, and I keep my responsibilities and costs low, which allows me to create in hopes that something will eventually take off. If I can’t create for a living, I’m not sure I can live. There, I’m getting into the sad shit again. Let’s step back.

A film professor in college told me that the key to success in entertainment was keeping your life minimal. There’s a lot of opportunities that require moving, or long hours, or unpaid work that you’ll miss out on if your life is too complicated. I’ve been good at this balancing act. I’ve been good at balancing my mental health, my responsibilities, and my ability to create. For what it’s worth, I recognize fully well that being able to live with family is a privilege that not everyone has, although it is exceedingly common among Millennials such as myself.

But then there’s the feeling I have when I look at my life, and at my age, and at what I have. I don’t own a house. I’m not even close. I can’t afford most of the rent in my own city without sacrificing so much time that Kakos Industries stops being a thing. I have no idea what I would tell first dates about my living and financial situations. There’s a lot of things in my life that I can’t afford to replace. If I end up with serious car trouble, knock on wood, I have no idea what I’ll do. I also don’t really have the job experience I might need to get something going in another field. I have tons of miscellaneous skills, but it’s really hard to put the forty or fifty things I can do relating to podcasting on a one-sheet resume. 

Then there are the expenses I incur from the show itself. I keep Kakos Industries on two hard drives in a raid enclosure and another separate drive to back things up. I recently had a hard drive failure. If you’re anything like me, just the phrase “hard drive failure” makes your hands go cold and sweaty. Skipping the technical details, I ended up spending around $600 to get things back to where they were. I didn’t lose anything, thank Evil, but that’s primarily because of this expensive system. Now, that’s not much money spread out over a couple of months or even years, but it did wipe out nearly my entire income for a month. That’s pretty rough. The laptop that I make Kakos Industries on is also starting to have some issues that are more expensive to fix than the laptop is worth. That’s going to wipe out another month at least when I do finally have to change things. 

And the tough thing about asking for money for any of this is that none of it is your problem. The listeners of Kakos Industries did not tell me to make Kakos Industries. I did it because I wanted to. And I did it because I wanted to make a name for myself, and get creative jobs, and be launched into future success. In that sense, you don’t owe me anything, and whatever I’ve done here, for better or worse, is on me. I made my decisions. This is my responsibility.

Asking is hard. 

So I think a contextual reframing is necessary for both myself, and those of you listening to this. There is no obligation to pay for Kakos Industries, or any of the other free podcasts you enjoy. They are given away for free. But they are still a service. They do something for you. And they present you with an interesting opportunity that I think you should strongly consider, assuming you haven’t. Paying for Kakos Industries gives you the opportunity to do something that matters with your money. If you love this program and you’ve made it this far into this episode and/or ramble, then paying for it allows you to show that this matters. That this is something important. That this brings value to your life and the world around you, and it deserves to exist comfortably. And that contributing to it and to the arts in general helps to make the world a better place for everyone to live in. You are joining with me to give this to the world. You are part of Kakos. You are shareholders.

You have some options for supporting this project.

KakosIndustries.com/patreon. I get it. Recurring payments can be scary, but seriously, just give it a try. Throw something you love two bucks a month, even if it’s not Kakos. It kind of feels great in a surprising way. There’s rewards at every level. Right now, I’m running a choose your own adventure story that all patrons get to be involved in, no matter what they contribute. 

paypal.me/kakosindustries is an option for one time contributions.

Store.kakosindustries.com if you want stuff. 

kakosindustries.com/wishlist if you want to buy things for the production. A few of the things are kind of pricey and I’m not expecting anyone to actually buy them, but there’s some more affordable stuff, too. There’s also some goofy stuff, and if you tell me you want to get me something, I’ll add it to one of the lists. I’m looking at expanding the things I do online, so you can sponsor a capture card and help me to stream some video games. Or a ring light to really bring out my eyes.

You can also hire me at KakosIndustries.com/fiverr to say words or do a professional voice over for you. That would help me to rely on Kakos Industries less, and it would make this whole support thing less of an issue.

And if you’re not sold yet, then talk to me. I know a lot of you are in your cars right now, and this is going to be out of your heads before you get home, or to work, or to your cross-country destination, but make a mental note, maybe say it out loud a couple of times, and then talk to me. Drop me an email. Send me a tweet. My DMs are open. Tell me what it would take. Tell me what would sell you on supporting this project. Whether I expected it or not, creating for the Internet is kind of my life now, and I still have a lot to learn. Help me to be what you need. Tell me the kind of content you love. Tell me the kinds of rewards you would support financially. 

I know that a lot of you are young and in school and your money is really better spent on self-improvement. I know a lot of you listening are stuck in jobs that don’t value you enough and your money is really better saved, if you have any left over. Some of you already support me, and I would not ask you for a dollar more than you are already comfortable giving.

But I would like to make this appeal again to those of you who listen and have something left over. If you’ve listened from the start, you’ve gotten somewhere around two solid days worth of audio from Kakos Industries. I know that some of you have listened to the entirety of the show within a week, which is impressive all on its own. Some of you have listened more times than I have, which is even more impressive. Please consider supporting Kakos Industries. Please consider supporting me and letting me know that I’m not out of my mind to be following this path.

I encourage anyone who has any thoughts to send me a message. Inquiries@kakosIndustries.com works the best, but you can reach out to me however you wish. 

This is only kind of relevant, but I thought about putting actual ads in this episode between every paragraph, but the only places that got back to me were Blue Apron and GameStop. So, if that’s how you like to support things, you can go to KakosIndustries.com/BlueApron or KakosIndustries.com/gamestop to help out the show when you make a purchase. 

I suck so much at monetizing.

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