Weird Internet Money
Weird hobbies can quickly become lucrative activities.
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Over the last ~month, I have started making a non-insignificant amount of money from two ridiculous sources: Linkedin and Twitter. Allow me to elaborate.
One of the recent joys in my life has been writing satirical ‘hustle culture’ prose on Linkedin and watching as dozens of clueless souls angrily decry my messages as “horrible advice” or “criminal activity.”
This, of course, is exactly what I want to happen. If 95% of people think that a post is funny, and 5% of people are angered enough that they feel compelled to reply, the content could continue to permeate to near-perpetuity.
Occasionally, a post will really strike a chord, like the time that my claim that I landed an internship at Goldman Sachs by winning a company-sponsored “beer mile” garnered 8 million impressions and hundreds of angry comments.
See below for one of many gems from the comment section of said post:
While I do write these posts for my own entertainment, they also serve a practical purpose: Linkedin is an excellent top-of-funnel source for newsletter subscribers. More people follow me after laughing at my satirical posts, which drives more eyeballs to my blog, and some percentage of them will subscribe.
Considering that I make a living from writing this blog, this reader-acquisition strategy has become an unorthodox, but important part of what I do.
What I didn’t foresee when I began writing these posts was that sooner or later, someone might pay me for a satirical piece on its own.
A month ago, I was chatting with Dan McCormick, a Twitter friend and the founder of DTC creatine company Create, about sponsoring a blog post or two. Dan agreed to a sponsorship on Young Money, but he also asked if we could run a sponsored “shitpost” on Linkedin.
While I said yes to his idea, the idea of sponsored satirical content seemed ridiculous… especially on a site as buttoned up as Linkedin. I procrastinated for a month or so before finally sitting down and writing the post.
I realize that satirical Linkedin content is a pretty niche market (Alex Cohen and I are the only two that I’ve seen doing it consistently), so for those of you who have never tried it: it is much, much easier to write a satirical piece on any whimsical, funny idea than it is to write a satirical piece on a whimsical, funny idea that also needs to funnel to someone’s landing page.
But finally, the idea clicked. The end result? A tale of how my quarter-life crisis led me to decide to crawl in a hole in Central Park to die like a dog who knows his time has come, getting hungry on my way to die in said hole, asking a random passerby (Dan) for some of his gummies, and him explaining that they weren’t normal gummies, they were creatine gummies.
This post was preposterous and ridiculous and somehow… people seemed to love it. Several folks even commented and said, “This is how people should do sponsored content.” And “Finally, an ad that doesn’t suck.”
“Well, that’s cool,” I told myself, but I didn’t think much more about it.
The next day, I was shocked to see 7 different inbound requests from different founders asking if I would do a sponsored Linkedin shitpost for them.
“Jesus Christ, I accidentally created Satire as a Service.”
The relationships between most social media platforms and their users work something like this: users can access, read, and publish on platforms for free, and the platforms monetize their user bases through advertising revenue.
While “creators” couldn’t monetize their social content directly, they could use social media as a top-of-funnel to drive traffic to their personal sites, newsletters, podcasts, whatever.
Last month, the-company-formerly-known-as-Twitter overhauled this model by announcing an ad revenue sharing agreement with its users. Twitter Blue users were now eligible to receive cash payments from Twitter X based on their monthly impressions.
When I first read that announcement, I thought it was a desperate hail mary, a bribe attempt, really, by Elon Musk to retain users on his platform. And you know what? Maybe it was a bribe.
But when I got this email…
I was ecstatic. I earned exactly $0 for the 20k+ tweets that I published over the last few years. Getting paid $434.33 for sharing my chaotic thoughts with the internet?
That is an insane deal.
You should not be able to make money from telling outlandish stories on the internet. You should not be able to monetize a chronic Twitter addiction. And yet, folks are willing to pay me $750 to rip zingers on Linkedin, and Musk has sent me ~$1,000 (this is my second X revenue share payment) over the last month for just… posting.
This is the new economy.
I have a new half-baked hypothesis on this phenomenon that goes something like this:
Differentiation is valuable. If you can do a thing that few other people are doing, and you do it long enough that people begin to know you for that thing, then that thing can eventually become a business.
A funny, frivolous marketing strategy and a Twitter addiction have turned into somewhat lucrative business ventures.
And differentiation doesn’t scale linearly, it scales exponentially. I have 31k Linkedin followers and 62k Twitter followers, and I’m now making a couple of thousand dollars a month from these sources.
What does this look like at 500k followers? 1 million? The upside to this game is limitless. So yeah, I’m curious to see what this all turns into over the next year or two.
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