Earlier today, It was suggested to me that I sign up with what appeared to be a kind of online app that allowed bloggers to be matched with potential sponsors. Given that Zennie62.com has over 11,000 blog posts (actually over 12,000) and has been around since 2005 (when it started life as a blogger blog), covered the NFL Draft, The Oscars, and two Democratic National Conventions, not to mention the Consumer Electronics Show for three straight years (2013 is the latest) and Wonder Con and Comic Con, it’s a cinch that a reputable firm would want to team with us.
In fact, we did $300 worth of excellent blog and video-blog work for a firm this year – a web security firm – and that wasn’t the only one. Tout.com has sponsored Zennie62.com at The Oscars, Comic Con, and the Democratic National Convention, and all this year. What Tout.com got was mentions in all blog posts related to those events, mention as sponsor in the start of each video related to the event, and videos that talked about Tout, as well as a ton of Touts – 15 second video that are a cross between Twitter and YouTube.
But the best deal for Tout is that each of the blog posts and videos are up long after the event’s over, have received thousands of views, and last forever, or until the YouTube or blog platforms they’re on stop running. Tout is happy, and in turn, my Tout-enriched tweets have gained more followers – now, the Zennie62 Twitter account is well-over 1 million followers.
So I signed up for this online app called “Social Spark” (well, with the words all ran together) and went to the airport to pick up my Mom’s husband. After I got back, to make a long story short, someone on their end gave me a crackpot reason why my blog was being rejected – they said I had less that 20 posts total. I’m not kidding – I thought the Social Spark people were brain-dead.
So they gave me a chance to resubmit, so I did, but also tweeted out the issue. So, I got another reason for rejection, and this one was even dumber. It said that the blog did not meet a laundry list of specifications, like, it didn’t have, get this, a clean design. HAHAHAAHAA.
So, I figured something weird was going on, and looked at any place on the app’s site for company info – I saw the firm was in Orlando, Florida and then that’s where the IZEA name popped up. It took me about a minute to realize that was the same company where the marketing rep and I wound up in the sack in Las Vegas during CES 2012.
Oh, here’s the video of our room:
It was also the same company that threw the CES 2012 Digital LA Party that my friend Marla insisted I come to, so I did. That was where I met her and also where I spent much of my time helping her keep her boss, IZEA CEO Ted Murphy, from being thrown out of a lounge at The Cosmopolitan called “The Library,” because he was drunk.
What a wild night.
For me, I wasn’t looking forward to the party. It was Friday night and I’d already seen more than my share of events and people, and on top of that, my friend called me that morning to inform me that a mutual friend of ours had committed suicide. But I went to the party, and this woman who had quite the athletic body greeted me at the entrance and gave me my name tag.
To cut to the chase, as the night and the party went on, and the drinks flowed, things got rather wild. There was some guy trying to have sex with whoever the girl was, who was with him, and right there in the room standing up. Then, there was Jennifer B, my muse, who I wanted dearly to get to know. JenB was all over the place, but mostly trying to make sure her boss didn’t get thrown out of The Library. I was willing to help because I was interested in her – in retrospect, I realize that the reason it took so long to finally succeed in getting her was that she wasn’t used to anyone black. Yep. Keep that in mind.
So, after what seemed an lifetime spent chasing her boss to make sure he behaved, then enduring his insulting comments that I was the hired security and not a media entrepreneur – let alone a blogger with a CES Press Credential – and then befriending a married guy who was connected with IZEA and who wanted to sleep with Jennifer B, but said he didn’t want to, he finally told her that she should take me to her room. In fact, he insisted on it.
The next morning, we woke up so late that Jen B was in danger of missing her flight and had to turn her rental car back in. She didn’t have the $104 needed to change her Southwest reservation, so guess who paid it for her? Me.
After that, we packed, got dressed, and I took her down to a wonderful Greek restaurant called Estiatorio Milos in the hotel. They really took care of us, and treated us like we were married, which kind of was what it felt like. I had to call my Mom, as my phone went dead and she freaks out if she can’t get in touch with me in a reasonable amount of time within a day.
So I did, and Jennifer B insisted on talking with Mom and introducing herself – in fact, said “Give me the phone.” So I did. I thought that was bold and showed a lot of interest in protecting me, or so I thought.
Afterward, Jen B admitted that she had, at that time, no experience with anyone black, and wondered if she was the first white girl I’d been with. Uh, no.
But on the other hand, that I was her first black guy wasn’t an issue for me. Maybe it should be, but I don’t think about that, and how a woman is going to respond to you is based on a number of factors, I think. But, really, as my Mom says, I have a hard time seeing racism up front – I guess that’s why I’m so vocal about it when it happens. I prefer to see the good in people.
So, we had a long lunch, I paid, and then walked her down to the lobby and then went to get a cab back to my hotel room at Circus Circus. It wasn’t until I got back to Oakland that everything unraveled.
Note, first, that we, she and I had talked about my blog, but it was a parenthetical conversation – we talked most of the time about us. It was intense. So, I was not expecting what I got when I sent an email to see if she was OK.
She was nasty and didn’t want me to contact her, again. When I called her to see if I was off-base, she basically said the reverse of all that she said at the Greek restaurant, and basically came off like a racist. Plus, she was upset that I called my Mom, even though she insisted on talking with her. Total craziness! I was shocked. She said that the best we could do was run in to each other at conferences. At that point, I didn’t think doing business was a good idea, not that she seemed eager to maintain me as a business associate. Heck, if she really was, she would have been interested in maintaining good graces with me, even if it meant dating for a while.
So, I worked to put the entire experience behind me. I told my friend who got me into the event about it, and she remarked “That’s wild. She seemed into you.”
Yeah, I was into her. But I’m sad that race was a factor, and I wonder, given my experience, if IZEA blocks out people of color? My advice to any blogger of color, especially someone black, is to work your own investment and sponsorship deals – don’t rely on middle people like IZEA. You’re not going to be appropriately treated or valued.
I find that people who look at me from a race basis always end up treating me with great disrespect, only to pay for it later.
IZEA now has some idea of what real bloggers do. Real bloggers are not to be screwed with, disrespected, or treated with a racial lens. Real bloggers are effective. Real bloggers are a force. Real bloggers are the people you want for you, not against you. I don’t normally kiss-and-tell, but the way IZEA treated me on Black Friday just made me lose it after I discovered it was IZEA – and then all of the Vegas stuff came out.