Of Soup, Circuses & Quirkipreneurs (part 1)

Sep 13

A Quirk That ThinksSomewhere in last week’s series on Gossip Drama Soup, I promised to explain how the whole internet marketing scandal relates to Circus Serene & the merry band loosely identified as Quirkipreneurs. Since both concepts are still evolving, I’ll start with how I currently define them:

>>> The Circus Serene (this site, yay!) is largely about process – the process of creating a fun, creative, successful business that reflects our identity and ideals.  So a lot of the content here follows thought processes, creative processes, productivity processes, or anything else that develops and evolves. (I just figured this out yesterday, so there’ll need to be a bit of tweaking done)

>>> Quirkipreneurs (still more an idea than a thing) is about business identity & community; an identity & community that supports people like me in our unique, sometimes difficult to define goals. A community that helps us find services geared to our needs, a community that inspires, instructs, troubleshoots, networks, and helps promote.

But this Gossip Drama Soup, everyone-is-a-scammer scandal thing? It’s made me second guess the whole idea of what I’m doing, and brought them up a whole lot of issues worth examining.  I’m going to tackle them one by one, over the next few days.  This first one I already ranted about, but it’s worth revisiting:

Issue #1:
Realistic Business Models & Expectations

A Somewhat Creepy Quirk (but I like him, anyway)

“You can’t make money online, and anyone who says otherwise (especially based on their own experience) is a scammer”

That seems to be the core message underneath the recent “exposé” – in fact, the scam-busting site that blew this all  recently changed it’s tagline to “You can’t make money online”.

And the attack wasn’t just on get-rich-quick-via-the-internet schemes — the type of internet businesses that Quirkipreneurs frequently seek to build are being dismissed as “pipe dreams and unicorns.”  If someone claimed success? They were branded unethical, accused of lying about their own success so that they could resell their pipedreams and fluff to the next generation of starry-eyed dreamers.

And to anyone wanting to build such a business? The message was “Keep your day jobs” not as insurance, but in the classic sense… because that they had no chance of succeeding, and that they were suckers for thinking otherwise.

I spent some serious time
re-evaluating those points.

In the end, I decided the scam busting robot and his merry band of commenter’s were, in fact, full of shit in regards to this message – at least in the broad-strokes that it’s being applied in.

It’s tough to make a living purely as an artist-musician-writer-actor-dancer-designer-visionary-entrepreneur-creative-of-any-type.  So to make it work, most creatives either keep a day job (not a bad thing) or create multiple income streams (<—evil internet term!). Traditionally, those income streams have included teaching others, writing books, producing tutorials, and marketing products and services related to their chosen focus.

That’s how creatives have earned livings for – well – pretty much forever, certainly long before the internet.  We do what we do, and we give others the tools to do what they do.  There’s nothing unethical about it.   And unlike the “get rich quick” make money online schemes? We know the odds are against us getting rich.  Yes, we sometimes sell inspiration.  Yes, we look longingly to examples of success in our fields.  Yes, we remind ourselves of what is possible, not probable. And yes, we’re honest about the odds (which is why some times we’re so prone to depression).

Positive Takeaways:

  • As both individuals and as a creative community, we need a crystal clear focus on exactly what we each are (and are not) qualified to teach, and why.  That’s tough, sometimes, since quirky types are usually knowledgeable in many areas, and we make good collators of information.  But there’s nothing wrong with selling what we collate, as long as we make it clear we’re not the experts – our sources are.
  • If we’re promoting/developing experimental ideas? We need to be clear on that, too.  Being groundbreaking isn’t a bad thing, and we don’t have to spin our marketing to make ourselves or our projects seem more than they are.
  • We need to stress the business end of being in business, as well as the creative side.   And we do, indeed, need tools and approaches for doing business, tools that are suited for hour our brains work – not just formulas and excel spread sheets and advice for our field, but visual, active, engaging methods that we can embrace, rather than avoid.
  • We need to be sure that while we’re inspiring clients, readers and customers, we’re also keeping their feet on the ground, with reasonable expectations, and concrete knowledge of the risks.  (Staying grounded and level-headed  keeps creatives out of our typical  roller coasters of inspiration and disillusionment, as a side benefit)

Ok, That’s It, For Now.

Next up, Issue #2: Icky vs Ethical Marketing.

And I’m very likely to start babbling a bit in my own comment section, so be sure to visit the actual blog, subscribe to the comments, and follow along.


  1. Hi, Tori – I can’t remember how I found your site but I was taken by your site design.

    In your post, you said, “We don’t have to spin our marketing to make ourselves or our projects seem more than they are.”

    I’ve been hanging out on a lot of blogs that deal with marketing and some of them seem to be about life coaching. It’s been interesting because many of them are the modern equivalent of snake oil.

    So I’m very, very interested in the discussion about the Ick factor in marketing. Also it would be interesting to talk about the hallmarks of a scam.

    I don’t mind paying for good real information. I guess that’s why books appeal to me.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    • Tori Deaux /

      Hi Dixie, so glad you found the site, and nice to “meet” you on #Emmit yesterday!

      I admit I started out scoffing at “Life Coaching” – the first life coach I ever had exposure to was a habitual liar with a real mess of a life and a mean streak a mile wide! Since then, I’ve found there are a lot of schools and approaches to coaching (Life, business, creative, and otherwise) and that some are good, some are bad, and some are snake oil salesmen. I’m actually considering getting some credentials as a creative coach, but I’m a ways from that decision, still.

      The hallmarks of internet marketing/coaching scams would be a good topic… anyone feel like jumping in with examples?

      • I’m not saying life coaches are snake oil salesman. I think a good sounding board is worth paying for at times. Someone else can see things that we can’t see. I love reading Martha Beck, for instance.

        I enjoyed the Emmit chat a lot. 🙂 Loved the topic and the image of seedlings/sprouts from that chat is staying with me.


      • Tori Deaux /

        The Emmit group is a lot of fun, and a good mix of people I’d never expect to get along, but we do – and that mix means there’s a lot of good insight. And I really hope Colin writes up his “sprouting, not launching” concept soon!

        (I have friends who are coaches of various kinds, so I’d better quickly restate that I definitely don’t think it’s all snake oil!)

  2. Is it safe to come into the pool? I’m a coach and I’m no snake oil salesman. 😉

    I like what your site stands for- “the process of creating a fun, creative, successful business that reflects our identity and ideals.”

    If everyone focused on creating a business/career path, and life that reflected their identity and ideals the world would be better off! That’s what we’re here to do…be 100% ourselves so we can offer up our unique gifts and talents.

    I’ve been thinking about the legitimacy of some coaches who sell marketing for coaches- on one level it seems like there are a lot of coaches coaching coaches to promote and market themselves- because they can’t get build their own business out of non-coaches.I was actually advised by someone to market to coaches because they are used to paying for coaching services. But that isn’t really what I want to talk about here.

    I don’t think that all internet marketers are scammers. I think the problem lies in the fact that people buy these products thinking that they will get the same results. Everyone is different- they have different talents and skill sets, and when we try to imitate someone else’s success it usually falls flat because it’s a poor imitation.

    I think that is the problem – desperate people who want a solution to their problem and rather than figuring out what works for them, they try to stuff themselves into a box that someone else created.Just like in life- there is no 1 right way to live- or to market- or to offer your services.

    I like where you are going with your ideas about being clear on what you can offer,being honest about the results, and finding the business tools and structures that work for you-a a unique individual.

    Back to the coaching thing–this is exactly what a good coach will do-help you discover what works and feels right to you-there are no one-size fits all solutions!

    Rock on!

    • Tori Deaux /

      Welcome, Leah! It’s safe, no water snakes allowed 😉 Re coaching, I hope it finds its balance soon. It really is a useful skill and service that a lot of people are a bit afraid to take advantage of because we really don’t understand it, honestly, and that means we can’t judge who is and isn’t suited to our needs.

      On other topics, I really like the image of desperate people trying to force themselves into a box someone else built. I think that the Internet Marketing formulas do work, but they only work on certain types of products, with certain markets and when launched on a huge scale…. and when the formula is followed through with the complete icky, manipulative package that targets desperate people.

      And that’s one box I do not want to shove myself into — the icky takes up all the space, and leaves no room for brilliant wackiness!

  3. Tori Deaux /

    Ok, so, up there in the post? I said I was going to babble shamelessly in the comments. And I started to do just that, but it turned into something blog-post worthy, so it will go up this afternoon.

    But you’re free to babble, as much as you like. I even reworked the comment section the other day to make more room for it!

  4. I’d like to know more about quirkipreneurs. You describe it as a community. Why? I would define quirkipreneurs as individuals who have an unusual approach to business. But I think there might be more to it than that, even. I think it might be an attitude, more than anything.

    Maybe you could do a post on quirkipreneurs. And maybe we could make a game of it with “you might be a quirkipreneur if…” and let everyone fill in their answer in the comments.

    Honestly, I’m not sure I *am* a quirkipreneur, which is why I wish I had a better defintion so I could see if I’m a quirkipreneur or a regularpreneur.

  5. Tori Deaux /

    Heyas Christy — Here’s the original post I wrote on Quirkipreneurs: Are You A Quirkipreneur? . (the link is up there in the post, but I rushed the formatting and it’s not obvious it’s a link.)

    When I coined the word, the need that creative individuals have for a supportive sense of community was weighing heavily on my mind – having something to call ourselves, something we identify with? It’s a key step in finding that sense of community.

    It’s sort of like “Mompreneurs” — they’re individual moms who run their own businesses, yes — but they’re also a larger, interlinked community, a network with many hubs and watering holes.

    I really like the idea of a “You might be a Quirkipreneur if…” game – definitely an idea I’m tucking away for future use, thanks!

  6. I’ve also been really shaken by this, though I do appreciate what Salty Droid is attempting to do.

    But I’m still having a really hard time believing that I am THAT RARE at making money online. Someone in the comments on SD said that, in order to make money online, you have to be talented, have good business sense, have good training, and a really good idea – AND THAT APPARENTLY THIS COMBINATION IS SUPER RARE, so rare that you can basically bet money on the fact that the average person you pass on the street won’t possess it.

    Here’s the quote:

    I don’t think Salty is inferring that it is utterly impossible to start an online business. Obviously, if you have the brains, talent, dedication, and a great idea, and you start a company like Amazon, Facebook, etc, then you will make money online. The tagline isn’t meant to persuade Zuckerberg that he’s in the wrong business.

    The point is that *almost nobody has that combination!* Read that last sentence a few times. You could walk up to almost every human being and say “You will never make money online” and you will almost always be right. You could also say “You will never be President”, or “You will never become an overnight millionaire on the lottery”. Obviously a few individuals have, but almost everyone else just clings to it as a vague hope that they secretly know will never be fulfilled.

    I call bullshit on this. I apparently possess this SUPER RARE combination, but I do NOT run anything as huge as Amazon or Facebook, not by a long shot. But I make a living, and I far prefer my job now to the crappy jobs that were available in my field – none of which ever had security, seeing that I worked for many years at the same place and was NEVER hired on for a permanent full-time position, and was laid off at the drop of a hat. I decided that I would be better off working for myself, and so far, I have been.

    So…where does all this leave me? Do I think that, in the case study of IttyBiz, there was wrongdoing? Yes. I do believe that chatlog is real. If it’s not, Salty will be sued for defamation and libel in the very near future and we’ll all hear about it. And, if the chatlog is real, it means that I have taken business advice from a very unscrupulous person. That leaves me queasy and questioning.

    But I still do not question whether or not I can make money online, because I’ve been doing it for the past couple of years. And I just can’t be arrogant enough to believe I am THAT rare.

    • Tori Deaux /

      Hrmmm, you’re a special rare unicorn butterfly, you are! 😉

      Me, I’m more like a common moth. I’ve earned money through online outlets sporadically, because I apply myself sporadically, and can’t quite decide what I want to be when I grow up. (cough, cough, yes I’m delusional about my age. hush).

      You know, I wouldn’t mind the SD “you can’t make money online” tagline, if anywhere in the posts or comments it was made it clear that it means “The Internetz aren’t paved with gold, and your lazy unreliable butt won’t get fabulously stinking rich by setting up a webpage and waiting for the money to roll in”. But they don’t make that distinction, and they won’t define “making money” or “success” — I can only assume it’s because the more sweeping and controversial the statements are, the more attention they get.

      Other ethics issues *are* getting lost in the “it’s all a scam” mudstorm. I’m not comfortable delving into the specifics, but I’ll say this… if I’d taken professional advice (say, from an accountant) who later was accused of something unscrupulous related to their field (like cooking the books for other clients), I’d go back over the specific advice I’d gotten, checking it carefully against other sources. I’d do that both to make sure it was solid advice, and to make sure I wasn’t inadvertently doing something unethical. If the accusations weren’t related to their field (like, say, failing to pay child support) I’d probably still double check their advice, but not as closely. Could doing something like that help settle the queasyness for you?


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