That’s a good question, one that I’ve spent way more time than I’d like trying to answer.
I probably still reach this point, even if I was fairly compensated from the beginning. The money certainly would have alleviated a lot of emotional strain in my personal life, like more money always does for people who don’t really care about money (pro tip: you should always care about money, even if you don’t give a shit about buying stuff). But would it have shown me that I needed to care more about my follower count and work to create a brand for myself in the NBA community more so than performing my day-to-day work responsibilities? Probably not because I cared more about my job than my reputation or credit; although, maybe that money frees me up to do just that. At the time, making a name for myself always, always, always took a back seat to making a name for [insert the name of the outlet I ran]. And the buzz I worked so hard to create for that outlet doesn’t help me at all now.
I managed a vertical that got 93 million pageviews and over 24 million visitors my last year. Now, I can’t even land a job as a staff writer or assistant editor at places that do a fraction of that traffic.
Not only that, but in everything money=value, and despite all the objective measurements that showed how valuable I really was (traffic, quality, sheer output) the people in charge of the purse strings — and my job, it turns out!— didn’t make that translation. Or, more accurately, they made it way too late and only after I pestered them about it. Despite all that, the lost money is not what makes me so upset now.
What I care about is the ability to get hired again. To do what I’m really good at for someone else (someone, hopefully, who appreciates it a little more this time). Part of that is the credit. Credit is how you get hired again in this business. I busted by ass once I got my foot in the door and was wildly successful because of it. But now that I’m outside the door again, through no fault of my own, and because I didn’t adequately brag about my success or create a personal following when I was inside the door, I’m back to square 1.
And I’m not sure I’m young enough to go through this all again. I’ve already proved myself.
My skills and work ethic haven’t changed, but it doesn’t matter. I’m not big on Twitter or Instagram or Facebook; I just helped make the outlet I managed big on those platforms; millions of people aren’t flocking to read my medium posts, but millions did to the outlet I managed.
All that lost income can’t be undone, and you would think that despite the lost money, the very real, objective success I had at the helm would make it worth it. But it doesn’t because that too has been robbed from me. That credit has been lost to the ravages of time and those who took over what I built (and it’s doing great, I’m sure!). That, more than anything, is something I will never get over. Ever.
All of that hard work was pointless. It’s like it didn’t even happen.
Because I won’t ever get that credit, even from the people it most directly helped, I’m gonna have to stop doing this for a living. Despite bludgeoning possible employers over the head with my bonafides like a preening cudgel of privilege, I ain’t getting hired.
At the end of the day, like everyone, I have to provide for me and my family, and because of my own foolish belief in my employer and coworkers, I can’t do that in this area anymore.
I’ve got to get a job flipping burgers or something while I try to find another profession, hopefully one that values hard work and competence more than this one did.
And I’m not even sure that profession exists anymore.