Jul 20

No More Whuffie Please. Just the Kind That Pays My Bills

A slang term coined by Corey Doctorow in his book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom to describe reputation-based capital.

This is also described by Tara Hunt as “social capital” (i.e. cred that isn’t money).

At Volusion, I never felt like I could use my talent. I wasn’t writing with my voice. It’s a very hollow feeling to come home and feel like your work isn’t really your own.

Lynn at GeekAustin suggested I write for him. He’d had the site “in the garage” for a while and had had some success with the GeekAustin Happy Hours. We decided we’d do some interviews of geeks in the Austin area. Although I never felt I could write in a way that appealed to geeks, Lynn watched as the RSS subscriptions went up.

Lynn felt that writing for GeekAustin was a way for me to show people my talents and build my “whuffie” so that I could get a better job. Although I wasn’t happy at Volusion, I couldn’t be aggressively looking elsewhere because my boss told another employee that if we were caught, we could get fired. It was the best shot I had at establishing myself.

What ensued? I wasn’t pummeled with job offers I wanted. I was pummeled with people asking me to write for their own organizations for free.

Since writing for GeekAustin, I’ve been asked to write for or help with:
1.) RefreshAustin
2.) Green Technology Alliance
3.) SharingHope.tv’s blog
4.) AIR
5.) Conjunctured’s blog
6.) League of Technical Voters
7.) NetSquared
8.) Practical Ecommerce
9.) TakesAllTypes

I know I’m missing some here.

I’ve been asked to head up NetSquared Austin. I’ve been asked to be more active in Austin Social Media Club. People remind me of their events completely out of the blue. I’ve been asked to “pimp” a design firm who said they’d swing work my way, but never did. I’ve had random startups calling to pitch me their product ideas, saying, “Yeah, we could use you later on”. I’ve been told my face is on every Facebook event in the Austin area.

I don’t have health insurance right now. I haven’t been on a vacation in over a year. I’m worried about paying my bills.

Man, whuffie sucks.

I lost one client already which I blame on my extracurricular Web 2.0 activities. I have others lined up which may or may not fall through. I will not volunteer for anything again until I know I can take care of myself. Whether this is with a series of clients I help freelance or at a company that actually understands that I work well with little supervision and with adequate compensation, that’s up in the air.

I’m even looking at two positions in Houston. Houston, people!

I love the Austin 2.0 community. I love Austin period. That’s why I take pictures and write posts with tons of link juice and throw people’s resumes around. But I have to learn to say no, and this post is my first step to saying no.

I’m revising this blog complete with all my services this week. If you know someone who needs help with website branding, copywriting, press releases, blogging or social media, have them contact me at michelle(at)michellesblog.net. Just make sure they pay me in dollars and not whuffie, because I don’t think my landlord takes that yet…