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A billboard ad I wrote ended up all over NYC—how much I got paid

In 2016, I was a very broke writer living in New York, mostly stitching together a living through side hustles.

I freelanced for MTV News. I babysat rambunctious kids on the Upper East Side in Manhattan. I did catering at a private event space in the Tribeca neighborhood of the borough … Some months my bank account was down to less than $200.

Early in the year, I helped a creative agency called Ready Set Rocket write copy for a voting-oriented website. Around April of that year, I reached out to them again to see if they had any more projects in the pipeline.

Six weeks later, while walking down the West Side Highway in Manhattan, I saw a billboard with some words that looked familiar … And I realized I had written them.

‘We’ve bought you this galaxy. You’re welcome.’

When I reached out to RSR about forthcoming work, they told me they were working with Manhattan-based storage space company Manhattan Mini Storage on a series of billboards. They wanted quippy slogans connecting outer space and storage space.

I sent them a list of nine possible slogans, including the following:

  • Hey. Hey, New Yorker. You need more space, right? We got you. 
  • We’ve bought you this galaxy. You’re welcome.
  • Einstein knew a few things about space. Whatever. So do we.
  • Hillary says space exploration’s the future. We agree.

At the time, I was charging $30 per hour for copywriting services. The project took 90 minutes altogether, so I invoiced the company, got my $45, and moved on with my hustles.

‘Einstein knew a bit about space. Whatever. So do we.’

By late May, I had more or less forgotten about the project. The turnaround time was so quick and I needed to keep making money — ideally more than $45 at a time. At that point, I had picked up a summer babysitting gig and was walking toward the subway on Manhattan’s West Side Highway when I noticed a billboard from Manhattan Mini Storage.

My Manhattan Mini Storage billboard on the High Line.

Photo courtesy Gili Malinsky

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