With extremely limited resources a prisoner must mainly rely on their family in order to sufficiently take care of themselves. For years I’ve been looking for ways to make a legal income without leaning so heavily on my family. I’m an adult. Not only should I be taking care of myself, but I should also be able to contribute.
Prisons in America are designed to prevent an inmate from interacting with the world. Which limits their access to paying jobs and entrepreneurship. I understand. Some people can be dumbasses and take advantage of freedoms with the wrong intent in mind. I would even go as far as to say it should be expected in a place with a high concentration of people with a history of not doing the right thing. But that creates a situation in which a person doesn’t even have the option of doing the right thing since 99% of prison jobs don’t pay. Thanks to the slavery exception clause in the U.S. Constitution. So most prisoners steal from the prison to sell items to other prisoners who have support or they sell drugs and contraband on the black market.
I came to prison before cell phones could take pictures. Seriously. My experience with technology was and still is vastly prehistoric. Thankfully I’m a fast learner. I met a guy who used to be a database designer and I asked him to teach me to code and design websites. I had an idea that I wanted to do a serialized mystery podcast. What I really wanted to do was create a TV show or movie, but that would be next to impossible, considering. So, podcast it was.
I’ve been in love with the written word since I was a child. But at this point I had never written a complete story, much less a book or screenplay. None the less, I started writing this story. I created this ugly looking website – first attempt but all the functions worked – and posted this horrible audio recording of what I’d written. The story was good, the audio was bad, and I had no clue about driving traffic. My podcast got crickets.
Someone suggested that I put it on Amazon and after what I now consider to be too much consideration, I did just that. Released a book with a terrible cover that I made with no knowledge of what goes into cover design. Not quite crickets this time, but almost. It seemed easier to get people to read a book than listen to a podcast on social media. At least that was my experience. Still, I had missed the mark by miles with the cover and description. The two main selling points of a book. I learned though. A lot. Number one is to hire a professional who works in your genre for cover design. But my funds are limited. Gotta work with what I have. I learned what it took and made a few horribly decent covers. If not great works of art, they at least make clear the genre.
The main problem is that I’m not able to market consistently. It takes money to run ads and then you have to wait a couple months for your return. My situation doesn’t allow for the consistency needed to run ads successfully. But if you have an audience, YouTube will push your content to them. And not only do you not have to pay them for clicks, but they actually pay you!
That looked to be the most efficient way for me to earn income no matter my situation. Get my content up and it will get views forever. Well, maybe not forever, but maybe forever. Never know. I also wanted to be able to show the world that I’m not a criminal, despite the mistakes of my teenage years. I’ve grown. I’ve learned. I’m working to build multiple careers and I’ve come to realize that work is fun and engaging. There is absolutely no reason for me to commit another crime. And maybe with a platform and a chance I can inspire others and teach them that they don’t need to commit crime. If I can start a career from my cell then anyone can do it, anywhere.
I used three apps for the production of my audiobook. The actual recording was done on Bandlab. They have a great noise removal feature that’s necessary with all of the background noise here and it also makes it easy to mix the vocals. After exporting it from Bandlab, I import it into Audiolab. Bandlab exports in m4a format so I use Audiolab to convert it to an mp3. Simple interface and process. The audio converts in seconds. Once I get my mp3 file I use CapCut to produce the video. CapCut is TikTok’s video editor so for someone who uses TikTok it should be somewhat familiar. But there are differences. I select the image I want to use, which in this case is my book cover. Then I scroll across the bottom and change the format to fit YouTube’s wide screen orientation. After that, I simply add audio and locate the audio file. You may have to manipulate the duration of the on screen image to fit the length of the audio, but it’s a simple process of dragging or copying. Then I export my video and upload it. The hardest part is finding the time to get the recording done. The most skill requiring part is getting the keywords and metadata right for YouTube.
I guess all this is a long winded way for me to say: If I can do it, you can do it. 💯
-Author Kevin Macklin
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