“My name is Brett “Fish” and i am gifted in doing things that don’t produce money.”
Sounds like it could be the opening words of a 12-step meeting, or a brag, or else a confession. Maybe a bit of all of those. Or i guess it could be a slight frustration. Especially in a world that seems to expect you to at least be good at some things which bring in enough money. Whatever that means.
It tends to be a bit of a private joke, and i am certainly not the only one. And it is not a huge frustration, because typically i am not the biggest fan of money and have certainly not been someone who needs or wants piles of it hanging around. But also it is essential to understand the context and realise that my ‘not that much money’ is a lot more than the majority of people in this country and the world have to live on. It is always relative.
But the question i want to address in this post is all about continuing to produce helpful content for those who need or appreciate it.
Show Me The Money
i don’t have a big problem spending other people’s money. But i am not a big fan of asking for it. So the idea of people showing up and saying something like, “I really appreciate what you do and have benefited from it and would like to support you as you continue to do it!” is an idea i am very much on board with. And Patreon feels like it could kind of be that idea.
A few years ago, a friend of mine [and i guess you could say a big fan of a lot of my writing and speaking work] encouraged me quite insistently to start up a Patreon page, which i eventually did over here. Christy-Lyn specialises in harp music which feels like a tough one to sell but eventually after making tons of videos with literally [and i mean literaly literally here, not just figuratively literally expressed metaphorically] thousands of followers and subscribers, she has been able to move her business off the site and create her own whole thing which is going really very well.
Whereas my Patreon page did not go quite as well. i had one follower for the longest time and then moved up to three and then four and then my uncle in the UK left and started sending me money directly and then this year i jumped all the way back up to four again. Who are all friends and mostly just supporting me so i don’t have no people i think.
Challenging people on racism and anti-women attitudes is a little harder to sell than harp lessons, it seems. But at the same time, despite it not having worked very well for me at all, i still don’t quite yet believe it’s not a decent way of helping me to do the things i do well and have time for them.
What is, and has always been, key for me, is for people to have access to my stuff. When i write or speak i typically have the idea that anything i produce is public domain and if people can be encouraged, inspired or challenged by hearing it or having it reproduced, then people must do that. i even snuck a piece into my self-published book, ‘i, church’ encouraging people to do that. i NEVER want people to have to pay for things that i produce.
At the same time it doesn’t work that way quite as much with my landlord, or the cashier at Pick ‘n Pay, or even the guy who sells hockey boots. They seem to more urgently demand money from me in order to do the things. And so money becomes relevant.
i also believe that there are enough people who are comfortable with money to be able to cover those who are struggling with money. Although what i typically see is that it is those who don’t have a lot of extra money, or even sometimes enough, who tend to be the first to be super generous.
But if i had people signing up for Patreon or sponsoring me to be able to do the work i do in another way, i would really want it to be those who could easily afford it, and not wanting to be an extra burden to someone who doesn’t have the money. i am more than happy to be the cause of someone having one less glass of wine or coffee, but not really one less meal!
So What Exactly Do You Do? [When you’re not playing Ironman in the woods?]
So there is a fair amount of writing and speaking stuff that happens, but some of the main things that having non-9-to-5-job time allows me to do include the following:
# Out of the Fishbowl Podcast/Codcast
i am busy releasing Season 2 of my well-received podcast, Out of the Fishbowl, which has been getting a lot of really positive feedback and starting some good conversations around a variety of topics ranging from judging those who like pineapple on pizza, to seeking diversity in the voices that inform us, to finding better questions to generate more honest conversation between us, and even exploring the worst thing we ever did. To catch up on all of the episodes you can click here or you should be able to find it by sticking ‘Out of the Fishbowl’ into the search of any place where you listen to podcasts.
The latest episode i have just released, titled ‘The Depth Penalty’ takes a look at how we do prisons [redemptive vs punitive] as well as the death penalty [good or bad?] and it has already received some really positive feedback as well as some strong pushback and is definitely an episode that is going to have people responding quite differently depending on what they believed going in.
# BottomUp non-profit education
Now there are people with 9-to-5 jobs who volunteer with BottomUp, who i think are doing such excellent work, particularly in the areas of critical thinking and practical skill-developing. But having the time means i am more freed up to participate more freely in some of the work they do. In the last few years i have been particularly involved in the area of Speak Up, which has to do with public speaking based on issues that are present in your context. If you had one bit of money to contribute somewhere and were choosing to support either me or BottomUp, then i would direct you to go and support them, because they really are doing amazing things with young people from areas that have often been given up on.
# Partners for Possibility
While the essence of Partners for Possibility is pairing up a business person with a principal of a low-resourced school, that might suggest that being in a 9-to-5 job fits in nicely. But it is specifically because i haven’t got a 9-to-5 that i have been able to partner with Fuad Viljoen and the people of Lavender Hill High School in a variety of ways from story-telling sessions with the staff to some vision-casting and then a few opportunities to speak. While the PfP programme officially ends for us in Feb, we have decided that as long as i am around and able to, i will continue to walk alongside the school. Having flexible working hours certainly helps make this a lot more possible.
# Words and things
So those would be the main things, but beyond that there is blog-writing and video-making and engaging with people on social media, particularly around areas of social justice with regards to race and men and the homeless and more. Reading and listening and learning so that i can continue to create content that is hopefully accessible and helpful to people who don’t have the same kind of time to be able to explore in the way i can. Plus some mentoring and being involved on a number of boards or leadership teams [SJLA, SCO, St Johns Anglican church] that hopefully make it easier for others to do their things even better.
How you can get involved
The idea is simple. If you are someone who has been encouraged, inspired, educated or motivated by any of the content i produce, there is an opportunity to get behind me and support me to be able to continue doing that stuff.
The more official direct and easy-to-manage way is by heading to the Patreon Page that i have set up and subscribing there with a certain amount per month. i don’t offer a whole lot of extra content there [although if we start to build an active community there i would LOVE to see the content i produce being shaped in that space with input from all of you]. Alternatively you can message me directly on email@example.com and say, “Hey, i’d like to throw some money into the pile to support what you do!”
i DO NOT want this to be something you do if you are struggling or can’t afford to. This is really aimed at the people who have money to spare and are looking for meaningful ways [or ways that might feel meaningful] to channel it into good directions.
At the moment, things are a little tight, but i think i am getting in more than i am sending out. Where it becomes challenging is where i would at some stage like to get things like a vacuum cleaner, a pair of running shoes that don’t hurt my feet, and a new stove/oven that doesn’t give off that weird glowing vibe from one of the elements inside when the oven is on that seems like it might burst into flame any moment. So having a few more people contribute on a monthly basis starts to make those things a possibility to save towards. i do also do some freelance writing stuff for a company called Bunny Studio which helps bring in some extra from time to time, but if anything was to change dramatically then i might have to consider a more 9-to-5 job which brings in more money to cover all of the things. But for now, we’re good.
The other area where money is helpful is with regards to increasing the quality of the content being produced. So if some more support comes in, then in time i can invest in a better phone [pics], sound setup [podcast] and computer and make the content even better for those who benefit from it.
Thanks for taking the time to read. As i said, asking people for money is always quite humbling and hard. Spending other people’s money a whole lot easier. i really don’t have a problem when people who have money want to contribute towards something that either makes a difference to someone else [Hello, BottomUp!] or that they feel adds value to their life. And if you feel i do that, and have the bucks to spare, then please consider joining the crew. And shout-out to my friend Nicky for the amazing pics.
At the end of the day i do this stuff because i either love it or find it extremely important. And i don’t think i will stop doing it. And i do always want it to be free for anyone who wants or needs to receive it. And i hope that will always be the bottom line and so the rest of this stuff is just about how we can do that better or more effectively. Thanks so much for your time and if you have more, go and listen to an episode over here…