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How to make a living out of memes

Always in tune with the latest memes on the internet? You could turn it into a career

While they might be a routine element in your daily social media and online lives, memes are also quite important. We even did an entire issue themed on memes! (March 2017) Today, they’re used for a number of purposes. Apart from simply cracking a joke, memes are used in arguments to enforce a point, they’re used in protests, they’re used to express an opinion and a lot more. The world revolves around memes so much, that being a memelord is now a viable profession.

You read that right. An expertise in memes today is of high value and can get you a good job with companies looking to market themselves as relatable, witty and millennial friendly. With the right approach, it can even make you an entrepreneur. So, why are you still sitting here and not minting money out of your meme knowledge? That’s because one simply does not walk into meme expertise.

Y tho?

Gone are the days when you would head to some corner of reddit or 4chan to find fellow memesters who deal in the dankest of them memes. Today, everybody, from political figureheads to representatives of foreign nations are indulging in memeing – sometimes to generate public goodwill, sometimes to bring their opponents down. Some say that memes have reached the same position as propaganda posters of yesteryears.

Along with that, with similar intentions, major companies are delving into memeing to generate a good rapport with their customer base and seem trendy. There was a certain level of interest towards memes during the late-1990s and the early 2000s. There are social media profiles of otherwise serious companies that indulge in a healthy dose of meme humour, and even encourage memes on themselves, to connect with their clientele. In such a market, someone with an expert-level knowledge of memes, someone who can put their finger on the next viral meme sensation to hit the interwebs is clearly invaluable.

Teach me, senpai

So, how does one become a ‘meme expert’? Well, the obvious answer would be to dwell on the interwebs, the hallowed depths of reddit and 4chan, and know all about the latest memes. However, that merely makes you a memer, not a meme expert. For that title, you need to know the origins of memes, their true purpose, their variations and a lot more. A couple of canonical sources to do that would be KnowYourMeme and EncyclopediaDramatica. The former collates the description, origin, spread and known variations on the endless sea of memes available out there.

While you’re browsing, take notes

Just in case you’re looking for something more serious, you’re not in for disappointment. There are actual universities out there offering real courses on memes. For instance, University of California, Santa Barbara offers Linguistics 135 – Memes: When Language and Culture Go Viral as a course which “introduces theories and methods needed to understand how and why memes work, including memetics, intertextuality, dialogicality, resonance, branding, stance, voice, identity, network effects, linguistic ideology, and culture.” As a part of this course, students also get to conduct web-based research on memes, virality and more.

To take things one step further, if you’re going for a post graduation in communication, media, the internet, a PhD in memes is not entirely unheard of. Take Kate Milner from London School of Economics, who’s channeling a love for Lolcats into her Masters dissertation. Along with her there are a number of students and researchers taking up memes as the subject of their PhD dissertations. Lets see you get that approved from your professor.

A meme librarian

Amanda Brennan, Meme Librarian

Before we delve deep into the kind of jobs that your meme knowledge can easily get you, there’s one particular individual you should know about. Officially, Amanda Brennan is the senior content insights manager at Tumblr. However, she is mostly referred to as the meme librarian.

Yes, you read that right. Her job description? Tracking every meme that shows up on Tumblr, which is one of the most popular memeing and fandoming platforms for millenials. Prior to working for Tumbr, she was with Know Your Meme where she got the job title of ‘meme librarian’. As a result, she is almost always in tune with what’s happening on the internet and is often called upon talk shows to share her views and knowledge about internet memes. Her passion for information and memes have landed her in a place where she can mix her love for memes and her day job while making a good buck.

Meme-trepreneurship

Have you noticed the number of meme-only pages and accounts in most popular social media platforms? These accounts, with followings in the millions, have mostly been started by individuals as a hobby or a pastime but have evolved into considerable sources of income. Popular indian accounts like Rajnikanth vs CID Jokes, Insta_desi not only boast of a large following, but also promotional campaigns from brands running on their accounts. Some of them even manage to earn in the lakhs per month.

Memois

The story of meme entrepreneurship actually has another aspect. Georgia Tech student Anushk Mittal was like most of us during his first year of college – looking at memes as a quick source of entertainment and humor. Pretty soon, he realised that the current platforms where memes are shared aren’t optimised for meme content. He set out to solve that problem by creating the app Memeois. Fast forward to 2018 and the platform boasts of more than 80,000+ active users on with over 12M recorded meme interactions on Android and iOS, along with alternative platforms like iMessage and even an Augmented Reality app where you can put memes in the world around you. With a database of 1M+ memes indexed intelligently (and increasing every second) Memeois is gathering significant insights about memes while you’re reading this. If you were to assume that this is passing fad and there’s no real opportunities in there, Memeois is in the process of completing a seed round of funding that would put their valuation at $2.7M – and they’re hiring.

“We’re a fun technology startup first and foremost, so the basic requirements are that you should LOVE memes,” says Anushk, Founder and CEO of Memeois, “A typical day of work gets me to interact with 10,000+ memes. At Memeois, we love to have such people as in-house experts to help select featured memes (think about app store editors but for memes), pick the ones that are really good for sharing across social media and to understand the community and state of the memes. After this, we look for really smart people, who are best in what they do”

According to him, this is just the beginning for meme experts. With marketing using memes already showing results almost 10x better than standard marketing content, meme experts are all set to become an integral part of a brand’s strategies across social media, advertising, content writing and more. The question is, are you ready to leverage your knowledge of the dankest memes and make a living out of it?

Arnab Mukherjee

Arnab Mukherjee

A former tech-support desk jockey, you can find this individual delving deep into all things tech, fiction and food. Calling his sense of humour merely terrible would be a much better joke than what he usually makes.