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If Twenty Million People Read This Article, I Can Never Work Again

Regret, and the Value of Your Attention

By Steven Christopher McKnightPublished 26 days ago 3 min read
The poor young lad you're helping

It’s odd, looking at the Attention Economy and realizing the numbers you need to pull in order to be successful. I have no idea how much TikTok stars get paid on views alone—in fact, I have no idea how TikTok works or makes money, since I don’t have a TikTok. That being said, many people work absurdly hard just to make beans. I have no idea how difficult it must be to be a full-time YouTuber or Twitch streamer. The pressure to constantly create new content, evolving all the while, sounds too much for me to handle; I’m a writer, so my expertise lies in doing one huge amount of work and then sitting back and saying, “It’s in God’s hands, now.” Anyway, help me do a mediocre amount of work and receive all the money I need to survive.

A few years ago, I wrote an article: “If Six Million People Read This Article, I Can Pay Off My Student Loans.” That article was written under the premise that, if I never signed up for Vocal+, at the $0.0036/read Vocal authors received, I could afford to pay off the $16k in student loans I had accrued. (Plot twist: That number is now $26k. Master’s Degrees are expensive, y’all, even with funding.) With that being said, my overall read count on my Vocal account, due mostly to months at a time of inactivity, is around 19,000, less than half a percent of what I needed. What have I learned from this? Absolutely nothing. Will I continue trying? Absolutely.

Perhaps I’m being facetious when I say I learned absolutely nothing. I learned a lot. Mainly, I can’t bullshit my way into comfort. I can’t post one thing on the internet and say, “Because of this, I deserve to live a life of nonwork.” I’m not pretty enough for that. I need to work hard to never have to work again. I have to keep pushing, maybe even create regular content, in order to keep the steam going. Don’t get me wrong, 19,000 reads is still significantly more than I ever thought I’d get, and much more than I deserve. But I digress. The truth of the matter is, your attention is worth money. Significant amounts of your attention equate to significant amounts of money. It is something I have to work hard to earn, and that is not work I will take lightly from here on out.

So, let me break this down. How did I settle on twenty million reads? Here’s my logic: At $0.006/read, that equates to $120,000. My dividend investment account yields me about 1% every month. If I receive the full twenty million reads, and directly invest that income, I receive about $1200/month. That’s not exactly a lot; that’s like working 40 hours a week at $7.50/hour, and to be perfectly honest, that might not be enough to live comfortably without working. As of right now, my rent is $800/month; it could be less if I split rent with a friend, or if I move somewhere where the rent is significantly cheaper. In any case, living conservatively, I could make it work. I’d still probably work, but that’s getting ahead of myself.

This is my strategy; it might not be perfect, but it’s a quantifiable goal, and I like things that are quantifiable. In exchange, dear reader, I promise to make the most of my Vocal+ subscription. I promise to give you the content that you want from me.

Let me know in the comments what you’d like to see from me!

You can read my favorite short story that I’ve written here.

You can read my second-favorite short story that I’ve written here.

You can support one of my favorite fellow creators here.

Views are one thing, but tips are another. If you want to see me succeed, but don’t want to provide your attention, a $5 tip is actually worth over 800 views. That’s 0.004% of my goal. Droplets add up. What is the ocean if not a collection of billions upon billions of raindrops?

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About the Creator

Steven Christopher McKnight

Disillusioned twenty-something, future ghost of a drowned hobo, cryptid prowling abandoned operahouses, theatre scholar, prosewright, playwright, aiming to never work again.

Venmo me @MickTheKnight

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Comments (6)

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  • Yusuf Alam12 days ago


  • Umme21 days ago

    13 down, 19,999,987 to go!

  • L.C. Schäfer22 days ago

    12 down, 19,999,988 to go!

  • Gabriel Huizenga24 days ago

    Great read! Here's to Twenty Million, friend!!

  • Brin J.26 days ago

    Contributing by reading this three times. Wait. Does Vocal count a person or a read? Like, does leaving the page and coming back to reread it do anything? Or did it do some kind of scan thing with my account, and that's all? Genuinely wondering. As for what I'd like to see more of. Your sense of humor is what prompted me to follow you :) so, more of that, please. In any way, shape, or form. I wish you success.

  • Mackenzie Davis26 days ago

    I just had a feeling you'd be back soon!! I'm SO excited!!! Also, you have 19,000 reads on Vocal? That's possible?? I have just under 4k, lol. That puts things into perspective... As for the 20 million, I feeeeeel like Medium could help with that. Or maybe not, I don’t know. I certainly haven't cracked the viral code. Apparently you have to be a marketing genius, or know a generous marketing genius...(if you can stand them).

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