They kept telling me to fake it till I make it. They said I should be less honest, a touch sterner, and certainly, under no circumstance, expose to anyone the often chaotic background behind the screen. The screen I’m talking about here is Screen Shot, and if I go against all the advice I just summarised and tell it how it is, I have been inches away from switching the lights off on it all more times than I can count on two hands, and probably four if I had them.
I spent a good chunk of my twenties carving a small path through an already crowded if not utterly impenetrable media world with a company of my own without realising what I was really getting into. Yet here I am, fighting for my existence within a clusterfuck of media tycoons unable to meet their projected yearly revenue, and young blood on the scene closing their doors by the numbers or selling off their platforms in pieces before they can’t pay the BT Internet bill. It’s an intensely difficult career choice, and yet the joy it gives back in return is feeding me with more power to continue.
Here’s the thing, if you are persistent enough, stubborn enough—if you keep at it for long enough and produce work that is good enough, you will make it. In my mind, I am convinced it’s as simple as that.
I ran Screen Shot, a media company I founded in mid-2018, when it was just myself and Sofia, now our image editor and content strategist. Today we are eight people, working in a crammed (yet cute) office in Dalston, publishing articles every weekday, running events every month, developing fun interactive online content, launching our fourth print issue and working with some exciting brands on what we like to call a new era of sponsored micro-stories.
But before all of this started taking shape/kicking off/kinda working, Screen Shot was a little hobby project I started about two years prior while I was still studying, and then working full time alongside. I remember waking up at 6 am to do a couple of hours of ‘Screen Shot work’ before heading off to a full day in some office. I used to answer emails after coming back from work, apologising for the late reply but that my day was ‘stacked at the Screen Shot HQ’. I also remember looking at other founders on social media and feeling deeply envious of their success. And I only wish that one of them would have told me then that they too were working for someone else in some mind-numbing 9 to 5, pretending not to answer emails because they’re back to back in meetings.
There were times when I felt we were publishing content to ghosts, and others when I’d call my big shot brother for advice and get the sense he thought I was spending my days building sand castles in the playground. Since we started, there have been so many successes and too many failures to even remember. Packed launches coupled with campaigns falling through last minute.
In other words, this work is not for the faint-hearted.
If you feel like you’re up for taking the leap by following the projects that give you joy, make sure to play the game safe. Keep your costs to what you can actually afford and stick to the day job until you’re absolutely sure you can quit it. Stop looking at others’ successes, it’s not real, trust me. And maybe for the sake of younger generations or those who are about to take the jump themselves, let’s all fake it less and keep it real a little more frequently. Who knows, it might just inspire more people to follow the projects they love and make our world that much more interesting to live in.
This article was written as a collaboration between UnderPinned and Screen Shot. You can check out our co-founder Jack’s article for Screen Shot here!