Her name was Karen, and Karen did NOT like me.
At least, that’s how I took it the day my application came back DENIIIEDDDDD. “Consists of or includes immoral or scandalous matter under Section 2(a).”
This was back in 2013. She was an examiner for the United States Patent and Trademark office. I was trying to do the responsible thing by registering the mark for The Middle Finger Project, which had been in-use since 2009. (Better late than never, homies.)
AND YET, our friend Karen thought that the public would be scandalized. 👀 So together with my intellectual property attorney, I appealed their decision and filed a formal response brief arguing the opposite: that the The Middle Finger Project was actually an uplifting beacon of hope. (Much as I choke on the word “uplifting.” So fluffy.) As I stated in my signed declaration: “The Middle Finger Project brand is affirmative. It gives confidence, hope, inspiration, and a supportive community where anyone doubting the quality of their life can come and find their guts.”
We also argued things like:
Hey, you can’t cite Urban Dictionary as a credible source! Hey, our readers don’t take it to mean that I’m giving the middle finger to them! Hey, this reflects a contemporary attitude! (If you’re feeling particularly suicidal, you can read the full public argument here.)
But most importantly, we said: Hey, Karen, IN CONTEXT, this is not offensive. Because guesssss whattttt, teammmmm? Under trademark law, the examining officer has to prove that the public’s perception of the mark is scandalous in its particular market context. But Karen dropped the ball. So we argued for context, and then I went ahead and attached a few hundred responses from readers who had answered the question, “What does The Middle Finger Project mean to you?” (All of which were things like: “Your words are a huge encouragement—I can do this!”)
A few months later, we received a call from the trademark office. They’d be withdrawing their rejection and granting us the mark.
TA DA! That was a win. But you know the real reason I’m telling you this story (besides really wanting to say Karen’s name fifty-thousand times?) Because the trademark office isn’t the only organization that thinks The Middle Finger Project is scandalous. You know who else does?
Twitter. (Especially Twitter.)
In other words: the places where everybody else buys ads to get the word out. When I log into my Twitter Ads account, I still have the same ol’ message:
The Twitter Ads policy that we violated falls under “Inappropriate Content” > “Profanity and vulgarity.”
Which is all good and well. Because you know what you do when you’re a scrappy mo and you hit a roadblock like that? You get creative, instead.
Since Day One, I have not been able to buy ads online. Which also means that since Day One I have been using a completely different method of getting the word out about my work. And guess what? It’s been eleven years now and it hasn’t costed me a DIME. I don’t spend any money in advertising. I don’t run ads. I don’t muck around with all of that rigamarole. (Though maybe I’ll try my luck again, now that I’ve got a published book out with a major publisher and it’s public domain. That should be an interesting argument!).
And yet, I’ve still earned millions of buck-a-roos, doing good work out here.
In fact, my friend Alex doesn’t even have social media and still rocks a 6-figure online business as a writer.
So, what’s the secret? How do you get the word out about yourself without all the bullshit? Kinda timely, because we’ve got a ton of bullshit we’re dealing with right now, and we need to cut the fat. We need to simplify right now. We need to identify the 20% that moves the needle 80% so you can still make money without throwing a bunch of stuff up against the wall and hoping it works. You can’t be spending three hours a day lollygaging around Instagram and calling it work. Even if “lollygag” is a great word. You need a simple system and you need it now. And you need something that doesn’t cost you money you can’t afford to let go of.
So I’ll give you a hint: my friend Alex doesn’t have social media. But she DOES have something else.
Something most people don’t even think to use—but need to, especially right now. Right now, because it doesn’t cost any money to do, and right now we’ve got enough extra time on our hands that you can actually DO IT. So let’s come out punchin’ after this, shall we?
This is the only way I’ve been able to ninja hack my own way around the online business world.
This video explains it all. It’s not me, it’s my friend talking, because why recreate the wheel? (Though she does use the word “spiritual” in it. 😆 ) But seriously, this video will give you like 1,000 ah-ha moments in your brain (even if you’ve been at this online biz thing for a while).
By the way? ***If you watch the video right now and then answer ONE quick question about it here, I’ll instantly send you a 15% discount code you can use in our new shop, The Middle Finger Project Store, launching next week!***
More on that shortly—and the “Emergency Money” workshop I’m pulling together for you right now, as described in yesterday’s email. WE GOT THIS. I GOT YOU. WE GOT EACH OTHER. HOO-RAH.