The ME Show

See me, hear me, feel me, fund me! Are vlogging and podcasting the ultimate slacker careers?

"Up until now, we've been in the friendly stage, where everybody in the podcast community is nice to each other and offering advice and suggestions," says Terra.

"That's quickly coming to an end," he adds, laughing. "It's about to get ugly."


Christian Brower's got the look -- and life -- that's custom-made for vlogging. "Maybe I project my life like a TV show. That's how I talk, how I look."
Jeff Newton
Christian Brower's got the look -- and life -- that's custom-made for vlogging. "Maybe I project my life like a TV show. That's how I talk, how I look."
The Dragon Page podcasters Michael Mennenga (left) and Evo Terra. "The question right now is who's gonna make money in podcasting," says Terra.
Jeff Newton
The Dragon Page podcasters Michael Mennenga (left) and Evo Terra. "The question right now is who's gonna make money in podcasting," says Terra.

Renee Brower admits she still has a little trouble grasping what her husband Christian does all day while she's busy plugging away at her 9-to-5 job at Honeywell.

"I leave for work and he goes into his home office and does his little thing," she says one Saturday morning while the couple shares some rare time together at the dining room table. "And once in a while I go to his Web site and say, 'Oh, okay, this is what he's doing.'"

Christian recalls the day Renee called from the ol' aerospace job while he was busy shooting his 90-second take on the food at Long John Silver's.

"She called from work and said, 'What are you doing?'" he says. "And I said, 'Making a pirate hat!'" Christian does a slow burn and imitates an irritated wife clearing her throat. "'All right, well, make sure you take the meat out of the freezer and move the towels to the dryer. Okay?'"

Christian, who spends hours each day checking stats and trying to determine what his audience wants more of, says it gets his goat when Renee calls what he does "playing."

"Well, in a way, it is," she insists, adding that she was raised by hardworking Midwestern parents who stressed the importance of the old-fashioned work ethic. "I'll be sitting at work earning a living, and he's sitting at home playing with a computer and a pirate hat. What's wrong with this picture?"

Renee, five years older than Christian and the owner of the house he moved into when they married last year (occasionally, she'll add a comment to one of his goofy videos, like "It's interesting where you like to spend your money," and sign it, "The Landlord"), initially tried to get her new husband to sell real estate.

Christian got the real estate license and actually did sell a few homes, but soon he got distracted by the idea of making Web videos for the top real estate agents.

"All these real estate people always want their face on a sign; they put a color picture of their smiling face on the card they stick in your door every week," Brower explains. "It's all about smiling faces. But if you go to their Web sites, there's nothing on them. I figured, why not put video on there? I could show up at their offices with a blue screen, lights and a camera, and shoot a little video to put on their Web site."

Brower, whose show-biz fixation was already known to Renee before their wedding day (he persuaded her to take their honeymoon in Hollywood), talked the wife into letting him buy some portable video gear. "I got myself a new camera, got these halogen lamps, built this little stool for the TelePrompTer," he says, giving a little tour of his home studio.

To his chagrin, Brower discovered the seemingly vanity-prone real estate agent wasn't interested in going to video. Of the 100 direct-mail solicitations Brower sent out, zero came back.

"So then I said, 'Well now, I've got all these cameras and lights and equipment. What am I gonna do?'" he recalls. "I still wanna make videos. And if no one else is gonna pay me to make videos for them, I'm gonna make videos for me!"

Renee wasn't exactly jumping for joy over his decision. "When he came home from work one day and said, 'I'm not going back to my 40-hour-a-week job,' I was like, 'Huh?'" She agreed to back off a little and let Christian follow his creative urges -- "as long as he could find a way to make some money from it."

Christian became determined to show his wife there is money to be made from vlogging, regaling her with success stories of online Flash animation and video-of-the-day sites and showing her the hit counts and comments on his page. Sometimes, that only mystifies her more.

"I just find it kind of bizarre, because I watch these things and I'm like, 'Um. Okay. Whatever,'" she says. "And then I'll see all these hits he gets and all these comments people make and I'm like, 'Do people really think he's that funny?'"

Renee says she's yet to tell anybody at the office what her husband does when he's "working" at home.

"I don't tell people at work what he does," she says flatly. "Because the people I work with are all of the mindset that you go to a job every day and put in 40 hours a week to earn your paycheck. It just seems so different. For people to be able to stay at home and be creative and earn a living off of that -- that's so different from the way most people think."

Christian, on the other hand, loves the new work model of the video blogger who sells ad space and tee shirts by playing show-and-tell with his day-to-day life.

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