On Being Independent

This is similar to a post I wrote for my old (now defunct) blog, but now I’m going to take it a bit further here.

With the rise of the internet has come the rise of the gig worker, the gig economy, the indie artist and the self-employed remote worker.  The positives and negatives of these can be debated endlessly but I want to zero in on the independent artist or worker and why I think it’s important to maintain this independence as much as possible.

Artists and personalities online make money through a few major venues but it all boils down to two major sources: ad revenue and fan sponsorship.  Websites like Patreon allow for fans to support their favorite artists.  Video sharing sites like Youtube allow for artists to make ad money from videos and free blogging platforms allow for the creation of sponsored content.

The problem with relying on these as ways to earn a living is that you are at the mercy of these companies.  You are basically employed by them and can be ‘fired’ from them on a whim.  If a Youtube star says or does something controversial they lose their ad revenue.  Patreon has started removing voices it doesn’t agree with from its platform.  Blogs hosted on other services can be banned and shutdown (which has the added insult of all content also being deleted).  You end up being a slave to the sources of your revenue.

That’s why I try to do it all myself as much as I can.  Sure I sell my books on Amazon but I also sell them here. Sure I use Twitter and Facebook but I also self-host and manage this website.  Sure I could start a Patreon but I also run a patron system here.  When I eventually start publishing games I plan to do so on my own website and platform to start.  I don’t want to be beholden to the requirements of large distribution platforms like “Steam” (although I will eventually move onto those).

The point is, there is no benefit to being independent if you don’t have a backup plan.  To me the benefit of the extra work it takes to do it myself is that I am only beholden to myself.  I can do whatever I want, say whatever I want and not have to worry.  I can sell my books and products without Amazon or Steam taking a cut of the profits.  I can manage it all myself.

Sure there is an added time cost, and that can’t be discounted, but the benefits of being truly independent outweigh the costs for me.  Sure it can be frustrating at times and I do sacrifice a lot of visibility but the benefit of self-reliance is worth it.  I also enjoy the challenges that come along with it, hosting my own videos and building my own cloud are ways to learn and get experience.

Being independent in the world built for us by the internet is an important thing, but you have to be sure that you are truly independent and not just an employee working for less than you’re worth.



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