Chameleon Community

Taking Care of Our Chameleon Community

Today we are going to talk about going into this holiday season thinking about the chameleon community. We’ll talk about how we can make a difference just by supporting the small business and content creators that are out there right now. You can even do meaningful support without spending money! Let’s care for our community like we care for our chameleon environments!


Transcript (more or less)


Welcome chameleon wranglers! Today we are going to talk about going into this holiday season thinking about the chameleon community. When we think about doing good in the chameleon-related world, we think about deforestation and extinction. And those are pretty big missions to take on for one person doing their best to make ends meet and having little free brain time while trying to raise 2.5 kids. And that is what this episode is about. Giving donations to organizations that help is an obvious approach. And it is a good one. I often bring up Eden Reforestation as a very good pace for your altruistic money to go. But today I’d like to look at how you can help with your behaviors and every day choices. Because one way you can help chameleons is to help strengthen your local chameleon and reptile communities. That increases the number of people who actually care. And large groups of people start to mean something to politicians. Small donation amounts from large groups of people grow into something big enough to enact change. So, if you are wondering what you can do, well,  because everything is connected, you can support your local reptile community and that will help. And, when I say local I don’t necessarily mean in your home town. It means in the community that you interact with on a daily basis. The internet has redefined that to mean your niche community on the internet. Because we now spend more time with our friends across the world than we do with our neighbors across the street!

A New Direction for the Chameleon Community

I have been talking about community more and more lately. Much of that is because I see it growing and we are at an inflection point. As a community, our overall mental state is shifting. We are caring more about the health and well being of our individual reptiles and leaving the collecting quantity mindset behind. Of course, there were always the people that cared about their individual reptiles and there will always be the people who use the minimum cage size possible so they can fit the maximum number of different species into their collection. But I am seeing these encouraging attitudes taking a strong foothold in the mainstream chameleon community. I am also seeing this trend in the larger reptile community so it is a transformation that is happening all over. What this means is that the attitude of caring is overtaking the attitude of collecting. And that means that we are seeing these animals as special and developing environments around them instead of constantly adding small sparse cages to our room. The deeper significance of this is that the mindset is shifting to quality of life over quantity of reptiles. And that means we are reaching a level where we can start to see the value of treating the community as we do our chameleon’s environments. We can nurture it while we are pruning away the unhealthy parts. But we can treat it as something to be cared for. Because the community is what takes care of us. And, if you have been listening to my recent podcasts you know those aren’t flowery words. The larger and healthier the community the more power we have to defend ourselves from other communities that want to get rid of us. Sorry to bring depressing reality to the, until recently positive conversation. But it is a truth. And, now we are spiraling back into problems bigger than we want to tackle in this particular episode! So, let’s de-escalate the situation and look at a couple of ways we all can support our reptile community small businesses and content creators in this gift giving season…and, actually, all year ‘round. I’ll start with the reptile community small businesses and then end up with our content creators.

Chameleon Community Small Businesses

Many of you know that I have another podcast called the Reptile Entrepreneur Podcast where I interview entrepreneurs within the reptile community that are starting businesses. We talk about what it takes to start businesses and it is half documentary and half educational. I love that podcast so much because I am able to get to know the people behind all these start-ups in the community. These are not people who figured that they would get rich breeding reptiles or making reptile products. These are people who are working on integrating that all important money making into their love for reptiles. And there are more now than ever. Our reptile community is growing and there is amazing opportunity. If you are of the entrepreneurial mindset and have wanted to start a breeding project, design and produce a product, and create an educational content stream then check out the Reptile Entrepreneur podcast. But the message I want to share in this episode of the Chameleon Academy Podcast is that they are a small business and have the same challenges as any small business. Selling enough product at a price point which can support survival. This is where you can come in. Seek out entrepreneurs in the reptile community and support them. There are reptile community members on Etsy, eBay, Amazon, and the social media platforms. There are so many eCommerce communities out there it is sometimes hard to know where people are! But you can make a difference if you look for these small businesses and support them. They will probably be more expensive than the mass produced products from China on Amazon. They will probably have to charge what it really costs to ship product. My goodness, Amazon and have seduced the general public into thinking that shipping should be free! FedEX has over 650,000 employees. They fly and maintain a fleet of around 650 aircraft and a huge number of hubs and trucks around the globe. So…consider whether the Amazon free shipping was a loss leader to get the honor of your addiction and loyalty which was subsidized by the Amazon Web Services division. The retail division loses money.  You may not care why you get free shipping just like the fish doesn’t care, at least at first, why the worm on the hook is free. But know that your small business person has to live in reality and has to pay real shipping costs. There are surcharges for all sorts of things and the carriers may or probably will not take responsibility for damaging goods.

The advantage you have with going with small business community members is that you have access to the deep well of information when you deal with them. The Chinese company selling you something cheap through Amazon most likely has no idea the difference between a gecko and an iguana. Now, many community members think they are clever by draining the experienced breeder or manufacturer of all their knowledge and then buying from the cheap mass manufacturer companies. And this happens to breeders all the time. The new customer obviously goes to the best breeder for the best information. But gratitude stops when their wallet is at stake! And they go and buy from the cheap guys that gave no value up front. I don’t remember if I shared working in the capacity of a chameleon cage manufacturer I spent hours over a week working with a guy to design a chameleon breeding room and talked strategy with cage size, genetics, husbandry, etc… just to see him bragging on social media about spending thousands of dollars putting together his new chameleon breeding room filled with a mass produced competitor’s cages. It is okay going with another company, but have that company spend hours with you working on your personal needs. Small businesses in the reptile community are doing it for the love of what they are doing so are highly susceptible to giving away their experience value for free. So, what can you do? Support your small reptile community business person. Understand that the ability to talk, I mean literally talk, with someone who has deep personal knowledge probably means that the product will have to be more expensive, have a great deal of personal attention given to it or the support of it, and will require a realistic shipping cost. So, why should you do this if you can get what they know for free and then buy some equivalent item for much cheaper elsewhere? Simply because if their business is not patronized they will close down and we will no longer have access to what they know. It will be lost as they need to get their real estate license to start a new career and now doesn’t have time to spend with you or anyone else on the phone helping and hand holding. Your wallet creates the community. That is the truth. The problem with most reptile people is that they over give and this puts them in a position to be taken advantage of and not able to take home enough to make ends meet. So, if we like a community where our most experienced people are able to share freely, then we need to take care of them!

I love making small businesses a habit. I much prefer having the personality of diverse small businesses in our community. It is so much more exciting. Yes, it is more expensive, but the reptile hobby is where we live, unwind, and refresh our minds. It is worth investing into our community! And, just to be clear, I am not just talking about the chameleon community. I mean the reptile community. We chameleon people tend to dabble in other reptiles. You can find and support small businesses in any niche!

Chameleon and Reptile Content Creators

Social media has provided other opportunities in education. Podcasters, YouTubers, and even Instagrammers and tiktokers share reptile experience. And there has been a substantial increase in quality educators! It used to be that all we would have is these pet-tubers that had 200 animals from hamsters to goldfish to iguanas stuffed in their bedroom. Now we have serious herpetoculturists. Yes, they can be lighthearted and funny, but they know what they are talking about. These people are easy to support. If they have a YouTube channel or podcast then subscribe to it. Leave a positive comment on the podcasting pp you use or the video on YouTube. Leaving a comment or liking or sharing a video sends signals to the platform that this is a good video and that will make it shared more. Don’t make up things or give likes, follows, subscribes for nothing. Make sure you actually like it. But if you got value out of whatever outreach it was, it is absolutely worth it to hit that like button. Or to share it. or to comment and interact. Any sort of involvement by you on a certain piece of content helps the creator.


So, how do we take care of our podcasters? Downloading the episode bumps up the download number which is nice for the creator. It really only gives benefit if they are trying to negotiate ad rates. Other than that it is more of a metric for the podcaster to see how they are doing. Where you can give support to a podcast is by giving a five star review on whatever platform you listen on and comment to tell others to listen. This really helps. Talk about episodes on social media and freely link to relevant episodes. The challenge with podcasting, especially in the beginning, is getting the word out that it exists. So I know the host of the one you enjoy would greatly appreciate you making positive statements on whatever social media you use. A number of Podcasters have set up a merchandise store and may use an affiliate link system. Don’t be shy in getting a T-Shirt or buying something off Amazon with their affiliate links.


And we are entering into a renaissance for podcasting. Podcasting has been this very cool thing that just has had trouble breaking into the mainstream. But that is changing. When I first started I could easily make a list of the reptile podcasts that were out there. Now, that is a big job! And this is great news because the more people put themselves out there the more diverse the perspectives you are able to hear. And, the longer a person podcasts the better they get because they are constantly exposed to different perspectives. I know encouraging you to check out podcasts when you are listening to this podcast may mean I am preaching to the choir, but there is a lot starting to happen in the podcast world. Google is looking at how to better include podcasts in search results Spotify has made incredible investments into podcast shows. They have purchased shows for tens of millions of dollars. Podcasting isn’t as easy as comedians make it out to be so, yes, anyone can start one, but it is not easy to maintain a quality podcast. If someone has made it past ten episodes they have reached a congratulations worthy milestone! Be on the look out for these new podcasts coming out and, if they have done a good job, do a little unprompted promotion for them.


The other major content creation source is the elephant in the room. Good Ole YouTube! There is a much better structure in place to help a YouTuber. Subscribe, like the video, comment something meaningful and engage with the creator, share the video with a friend who would like it or on social media. All of this can help the video get boosted in the algorithm. And, the simplest thing (which is also the thing that requires patience!) is to watch the ads before the video for at least 30 seconds of the ad. Everyone loves to skip the skippable ads. Well, those ads are what pays the creator so consider letting one or two run before watching the video.

On Instagram or TikTok do that same things. like, follow, share, interact.


A number of creators have a merch store where you can buy T-shirts and mugs and such right there on the ch annel home page. Purchasing one of these branded articles helps support your content creators! Some creators have their equipment lists posted in the description field of the video. These are those affiliate links I am talking about where if you buy from the links provided the creator will get a finders fee. It isn’t much, but it does add up. The important part for you to remember is that you use the link on the creator’s equipment list.


So if you have a favorite YouTube creator or podcaster, look for affiliate links you can click – and remember, you are not charged extra if you use affiliate links. That is just the retailers paying the creator as a finders fee. That does not come out of your pocket. And look for a merch store. Buying a T-Shirt is a direct support. And then showing off the T-Shirt on social media is a word-of-mouth benefit. We are used to all this being free. But someone is spending days of the weeks coming up with this content. A ten minute talking video is easily a day of work. And if there are graphics or basic animation like I do you can double that.  If you like the content, then actively support it. Look for that Patreon link. Buy a T-Shirt. And if you don’t have the money to spend then watch the ads in front of their YouTube video for at least 30 seconds. That gives money to them. Like, follow, subscribe, interact. Help the creator look good to the algorithm that will show their work to more people. That makes a huge difference! And it is free to you. So, as a exercise of being more aware of the world around us, I encourage you to look for the people that are helping make the community a better place and figure out a way to give back. You have the power to change things even without money. Please use that power generously towards those you believe make our community a better place.


We have to do this crazy round about to pay the content creators because the whole of social media is based on this somewhat deceptive model. The social media platform (like Facebook or YouTube or any other free service) tells the investors it will lose money for the first who knows how many years. During this time they offer the platform completely free to the public. Once the platform has amassed enough eyes and ears they start some sort of ad revenue structure. And this is where people start crying that they don’t want ads on their social media feed and how they don’t like that their activities are being followed. And what is so strange is that, for all the noise and complaining, weeping, and gnashing of teeth, and cries of deception and unfairness….we all just can’t let go of the  free stuff. It is like we are all passionately complaining about unhealthy food while we stuff our face with donuts. Honestly, Facebook, YouTube…They know we are so addicted to free stuff that all they have to do is pretend to listen to our complaining and that we’ll then just go back to feeding our addiction. Anyone that has tried a paid social media has failed miserably. That’s, once again, a bigger topic for another day and probably the Reptile Entrepreneur podcast. I bring this up to highlight that we have been lulled into thinking that there is such thing as free things. And our society has started to act like things should be free. And we are offended when they are not. Free shipping. Free social media. Free entertainment. As if it is our right. The big social media companies encourage this and I won’t get into the right, wrong, whatever of this dynamic. I figure they started it and they can deal with it. But I bring this up only to bring awareness to that cloud of deception so you can consciously lift that expectation when you get value from a reptile community video, podcast, or business. That content creator is being used by YouTube and Instagram just like you are. YouTubers get a fraction of the ad revenue. Instagrammers, TikTokers, and podcasters have to find their own way. So, let’s make sure our reptile community content creators get ads watched and exposure and let’s look to their merchandise shops and affiliate links for our holiday gift shopping.


This is all part of creating the community we want. Imagine going on a long road trip and having a whole catalog of high quality podcasts on any niche you can imagine. Or typing something as obscure as the draco flying dragon or mossy frogs into Youtube and being able to bring up a series made by a dedicated breeder that is giving solid information from years of experience. And then going on to an ecommerce site or Etsy and being able to find equipment specifically designed for your niche interest. With social media, 3D printing, and ecommerce this is being developed in front of us and all we have to do is support its growth and it can continue. We in the chameleon community are lucky. We are big enough to be pretty developed as far as start ups and content creators. We have a good infrastructure going. The dart frog community, arboreal gecko community, arboreal constrictor community…these are among those that have a very good start in this exciting new world. But there are many in the wings that are getting their start. So, please, support your community and if you dabble in other communities, make it a point to support the creators in that community. As for me, I have a content creators T-Shirt collection going that I will add to once a month. You’ll see this a lot on my other podcast where I am doing a huge push to support content creators. They are making this community a very fun place to be so they are worth going the extra mile for.


I touched on a number of topics that are deeper than simply supporting our community. If you are a business or content creator or are just interested in how they all work and fit together then I’ll be expanding this discussion of social media and how we work within that playground on The Reptile Entrepreneur podcast.

Conclusion and 12 Days of Chameleon Gift Giving Event

Now, as my long time listeners know, I take breaks at the end of the year to refresh and gather myself for the next season. I am going to do that this year, but for the close of season six I am going to end with a daily series of the 12 days of chameleon gift giving where every day you will have both a YouTube video and a podcast episode highlighting a gift giving idea for the chameleon person in your life or, as will probably be the case for any one listening this far into a chameleon podcast, links for you to provide the person who wants to give you a gift! The first episode will be released literally the day after this episode you are listening to so it is probably already ready to go! You’ll be able to find links on the website and a daily post on the Instagram account so enjoy your 12 day immersion into the chameleon world! This is a ton of work, but it is so much fun to do! And then I think I will be ready for that rest!

Thank you all for being here. I won’t say good bye because our end of year adventure is just starting. I’ll see you within 24

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