more on why this shit ain’t free

I’d like to clarify something about that last request for support: most of my income is not made in this freelance/fifty-dollars-an-hour variety. I think what I said was a bit misleading. (If I did make my money that way, I might call that my career and not keep up a part-time job that paid me nothing.)

What is going on is this: I have a 9-to-5 office job in midtown Manhattan (like thousands of others). I spend my days knee-deep in financial prospectuses, calculating portfolio performance data, creating pitchbooks – I’m a graphic and layout designer. (Actually, the only reason I’m qualified to do that is because I had websites and blogs online for the past twelve years, and I’ve taught myself everything I know.)

Lately, I’ve been becoming slowly aware, however, of my real talents and my real worth. Call it a quarterlife crisis, a Saturn Return by-product. It’s also self-awareness and self-knowledge, it’s asking for what I’m worth, and not accepting less-than. I’m lucky this way: I’ve had contacts, I’ve had support, I’ve had access to education (not that my degree in gender helped me get a job in finance, that was all purely computer/design skills, a hobby of mine through college).

Sugarbutch has done nothing but grow, and I have more ideas than I can keep track of. And while I made it sound like my hobbies – fucking girls, processing with my friends, watching porn – are what fuels this site, there’s a lot more to it than that. The July masthead I just posted took three hours and three dozen shots before I got one that was good enough. I research HTML and database coding issues, plugins for greater productivity, I network with other bloggers and sex bloggers, I strategize, I watch my statistics (but not overly-obsessively), I create advertisements, I write dozens of drafts, I write and rewrite and rewrite and edit and rewrite.

I’ve been keeping more track of just how much I put into Sugarbutch lately, as I’m attempting to get better control of my time. I really had no idea how much I was working on it. And as I’ve been realizing how much time I spend on it, and how I don’t get any monetary compensation from it, I find myself asking: what would I be doing with my time if I wasn’t writing Sugarbutch? I’m not saying that to freak you out, but honestly, I can’t afford to be spending all my free time writing this site. I’m stretched very thin, easily tipping over into too-stressed-to-function, and I need to find a balance.

I love this work. I do this work purely out of the love of it. I don’t do it because I expect to get paid or make a living this way, but people in my life lately have been encouraging me to see if it might be possible to do so. Maybe, if Sugarbutch starts actually paying me for the part-time schedule that I spend on it, I can downgrade my dayjob to being part-time. Maybe eventually I could work on Sugarbutch full-time! Maybe it would support me! That seems impossible – but hey, I am putting it out there to the universe.

Imagine how much more I could do here if I wasn’t spending eight hours a day on financial pie charts and stock holdings! I mean really, is that contributing to the world? Is that subversive and progressive and messing with compulsory heteronormative paradigms? (It is, insofar as that job allows me to work on my Real Work, which is this site. Maybe I should put an ad up for my company to say thanks, hah.)

It’s hard to ask for money. It’s hard to figure out what I’m worth. I may have made it sound like I make $50 an hour, but I don’t – what I’m saying is, the work I do on Sugarbutch, I give away, grateful that there is anyone there to receive it and add to the discussion at all. But I am beginning to sell this same work, writing articles, web and logo design, and blog setups and consultations, and I am beginning to understand what it’s worth, what people will pay for the expertise I bring here. I’m beginning to see the ways that I can make steps toward making this work – my Real Work, all along – my full-time job.

I know how blessed I am to be in this position, I really do. I’m so grateful for this site, this community, this audience, for everyone who visits and emails and comments and links to me and reads my ramblings, for everyone who’s told me that something I said connects with them. What more is there, really, than displaying my inner emotional, psychological, and sexual life, and to have someone say not only, wow, I get it, but wow, your understanding of that has altered my understanding, too.

So all this monetizing is an experiment – let’s see if I can actually make enough money to focus on this job, my Real Job, my real (dare I say it) purpose. It’s a custom-made dream job, just for me, after all.