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Dead Fish And Beautiful Women

Dear Phantom Reader,

As I’m sure you know from your oh-so-diligent reading of this blog, I’m first and foremost a writer who likes to dabble in all sort of side hobbies because I’m one hell of a hobby person. Music is my hobby numero uno, but I’ve gone through jewelry making and photography phases. For around five years, I ran the shop Augenblickphoto on Etsy, just for fun really, although it did bring in a little money (in my very best month I  earned 800 euros, but on average I made from around 30 to 100 bucks.) Sometimes people would write me messages telling me they admired my work. They didn’t even necessarily buy anything, they just wanted me to know. It was very nice. Still, my first impulse was always to write back to them and say, “My work? Hmm…Actually, I just really like glueing photographs to stuff.”

I closed up shop about a year ago because I’d gotten tired of it. Any time someone would order something (which wasn’t very often, because I wasn’t posting anything new) I would think, “Oh crap, I have to make something!” What had started out as something fun was fun no more.

But unfortunately, hobbies and photo stones don’t pay the rent. And as for writing, the only thing harder than publishing fiction is making any money publishing fiction. But alas, a girl’s got to earn her keep. Before I got into the Künsterlsozialkasse I spread things around by teaching EFL and translating quite a bit, with a little content writing and copy writing on the side. But now I have to earn most of my money from writing in some form, so I ditched the EFL and racheted down the translating (I can still earn a little with this), and started focusing on content writing and copywriting. Here’s what I learned:

The gig economy is actually the screw-you-up-the-ass-but-not-in-a-sexy-way economy, or at least it is when it comes to content writing. I often write service travel articles for the website EuroCheapo. The pay is ok, the articles are fun to write, and the guys who run the website are really nice. But forget about getting similar travel  writing jobs, not when sites like Fiverr exist. There are people on Fiverr who offer to write two page travel articles for five dollars. If you wrote those articles the way I write them, you’d be talking about around three hours of work, which means $1.66 an hour. I hope whoever writes these articles on Fiverr is actually just copying and pasting other stuff from the Internet and changing the wording enough that it passes Copyscape. I mean, really. That’s what the customer deserves.

I went on Fiverr a while ago and was surprised how many young millenials are offering their services there. I talked to my 23-year-old niece about it and she wasn’t surprised. “In my generation, we do so many unpaid interships where a lot is expected of you and you still work really hard. I’m sure these people are thinking: Wow, someone will actually pay me five whole dollars? Holy shit!” (And btw, pitching travel pieces to freelance publications won’t get you much either, although luckily more than five bucks in most cases…)

But you may still be wondering what all this has to do with dead fish and beautiful women. The answer is easy: I just got accepted to sell stock photos at iStock and am applying at several other agencies. My best friend Erica posed for these pictures a few days ago and the dead fish pics are from a truly creepy experience three or four springs ago.

We had a particularly hard winter in Berlin that year, and when things warmed up, my husband and I took a walk around Lietzensee, a small lake in Charlottenburg. Since it had snowed so much and the ice was so thick, all the fish in the lake had suffocated.

We had gone to Lietzensee in the winter and seen some of them under a bridge over the lake. The ice was thinner there and about 30 of these monsters were frozen into the ice, their mouths breaking through the surface where they had been desperately gasping for air before they died. Seriously the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, in the beautiful woman category I’m sure I have a lot of competition, but maybe I have it nailed in the dead fish area. Come on all you bloggers writing about natural disasters and water pollution, a picture of this deceased pike is so exactly what you need.

I’m sure I’ll pose myself sometime soon. I’ll sit on a park bench, trying to look sexy, but end up looking like I have to sneeze. Health blogs, here we come! I’ve also been having a lot of fun messing around with photo editing on Pixlr. Like I did with this picture of moi from around ten years ago, which I don’t plan to put up for sale.

My first thought: Damn, whatever happened to those earrings? I loved them! My second thought: Thank you Gaussian Blur! I mean, seriously, just look at my glowing-yet-still-natural-looking skin. Every photo you see on the Internet is a lie, my friends. Every single one.

I know I won’t get rich selling stock photos, but I’m hoping once I gradually get a portfolio together, I’ll make enough side income so that when I get an offer to write a 10,000 word eBook on vaping for 35 dollars (seriously, I once got this offer) I will never be so desperate that I’m actually tempted to say yes. (Thanks, but no thanks. I’d fucking prefer not to.)

That is, until I become a world famous writer. 😉


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