In light of recent high profile events, vapers need to sit down and have a long overdue adult discussion. While there is an ever growing number of vapers who realize and accept that there is money being made, this concept still seems to be shunned by far too many people.

I’m not talking about manufacturers who make products or the vendors who sell them. Everyone realizes that those companies are making money. No, I’m talking about vaping personalities; the content producers. The “vape famous”: product reviewers, magazines, podcasters, web show hosts, bloggers and website owners.

These people work hard at what they do, and they deserve to be paid. People who work for free are idiots.

Community

Vaping is booming. Despite looming government regulations, the stage is set for 2015 to be another record-breaking year with over $10 billion in sales. As impressive as that is, vaping is still small potatoes.

Is it because of this smallness that vaping continually defines itself as a community? I grow ever weary of hearing that word.

  • Don’t you dare speak out on [blank] issue, it’s bad for the community.
  • [Blank] vendor sucks, they should be shunned by the community.
  • I don’t like [blank] because he doesn’t engage the community.
  • We need to stick together, we’re a community.

We are not a hive mind. You don’t know me, and I don’t know you. Aside from vaping, we probably have very little in common. Having a shared interest or hobby doesn’t mean that we must all think alike or share the same stance on every issue. That mentality is crippling the growth of this community. Vaping is still trapped in its own self-inflicted bubble in an attempt to shelter itself from reality.

That reality is: this is a business

There are players on the board – people and brands who are making money. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Celebrity endorsements

LeBron James will earn a $20.64 million salary for playing basketball in 2015. Additionally, he will earn over $50 million in endorsement deals from various companies such as Microsoft, Cub Cadet, McDonalds, and State Farm.

Does the public really care about what tractor LeBron James uses to mow his lawn, or where he gets his car insurance from? More importantly, that he probably doesn’t even use any of the products he endorses? Is it reasonable to believe that a highly trained professional athlete regularly dines at McDonalds?

No one cares because celebrity endorsements have been widely used in advertising for over 50 years.

Ronald Reagan smoked Chesterfield cigarettes. Michael Jackson set himself on fire for Pepsi. Fabio liked butter that wasn’t butter. It’s always buzz when the next Jenny Craig reshaped celebrity figure is revealed or when the newest Revlon Girl is announced.

So why is this concept, which works so well everywhere else, taboo in the vaping industry?

On being vape famous

Rip Trippers is just a guy who started doing product reviews in his bedroom who has grown to be one of, if not the most recognized face in the entire vaping industry. Think about that for a moment.

Look at some of his earlier videos compared to now, and you can clearly see the development of a character. The hat. The beard. The outlandish one-liners like sick as tits and ch-chu-chuckin’ the vapor! And that’s just what you see and hear on screen. You can also clearly see a progression in the quality of his presentation and video editing.

He isn’t just some dude doing reviews in his bedroom anymore, Rip Trippers is a worldwide brand that was built from the ground up. That time, experience, and image has monetary value. Whether or not you like the guy, there is no denying that. You can not realistically claim that he, or anyone else, should do all of that for nothing.

“He brought that on himself, no one asked him to do it. If he’s that passionate about vaping, he shouldn’t need to make money on it!”

There is a word for forward thinking and motivated people who make their own opportunities at considerable risk to themselves:

Entrepreneurs

Only in the closed-minded community of vaping are these people expected to work for free.

The value of a brand

This doesn’t just apply to Rip Trippers. Vaping’s resident nice guy, Grimm Green, earns income from vaping. So does vaping’s bad boy, Vapor Joe. And there are a lot of people in between who are making money.

The power to reach the masses commands a premium, and those who have embraced this idea are often ostracized by the community.

It doesn’t matter if they are doing reviews on YouTube, introducing an e-liquid line, or placing ads or links on a website. Brand identity has value and these people deserve compensation for their efforts.

Here’s another concept that vapers had better get used to: a vaping personality having equity stake in a company as part of an endorsement deal, which was recently brought to light with this Rip Trippers drama. It seemed like those leaving comments couldn’t pull their jaws off the floor, as if this was all some kind of otherworldly revelation.

Guess what? It happens all the time in the real world. You know, everything else outside of the vaping microcosm. Rip Trippers should be given props for having the business sense to recognize the value of his brand and look to make such a deal in the first place. Today, it’s historic. It’s scandalous.

A few years from now, it will be commonplace. Everyone will be doing it.

It’s time for vaping to put on big boy pants and grow up. The community needs to recognize that in order for that to happen, it needs to stop being so insular and naive. This is how the rest of the world works.

Get with the program.