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I Started Running


In early July of 2016, a dear friend told me of a bet that was made at a party. Someone said he couldn’t run an eight minute mile. A few drinks in, of course, he set off to prove them wrong. They were right, he couldn’t run an eight minute mile, but it made for a great story.

Soon after I wondered, could I run an eight minute mile? In high school (20+ years ago) I ran a seven minute mile, and I used to ride a lot, so I figured I’d try.

It took me 13 minutes, but I ran a mile. The next five days, it was difficult to walk down stairs because I fucked up my leg muscles so bad. But something clicked.

On July 8th, I started a Couch to 5K program using an app I downloaded (5K Runner). That first workout had me run a total of six minutes. I kept at it. I was excited to wake up and do the workouts. This was in the blazing heat of summer, but I kept at it. Run for two minutes, then four, then six, then eight.

Some runner friends gave me tips, guidance, and even equipment. I went on a small trail run in Philadelphia, PA, with my friend Jesse (above) who was training for a 30K trail race, and he graciously ran with me for my training run – five minute run, then rest, then another five minute run.

Finally, on August 25th I ran 3.1 miles without stopping. On October 9th, I ran my first 5K trail race, with a time of 32:46, a 10:33 pace.

Many things in life is beyond my control, but this running thing is something I can wrestle with, and I like that.


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Things I’ve Learned about Patreon since 2014

I’ve been on Patreon since November of 2014, and while Skull Toaster isn’t my sole source of income, I’d miss it if it were gone. In recent months I’ve been able to chat with a handful of people about setting up their own Patreon projects. They’re a varied bunch; podcasters, writers, musicians, and sometimes a combo of all three (and more). We all make our art for various reasons, and different motives drive us, but as Yancy Strickler (co-founder and CEO of Kickstarter) said in issue #13 of Offscreen Magazine:

“It just so happens that money is a critical – and gatherable and measurable – component of bring an idea to life.”

It’s not that we’re on Patreon hell-bent on quitting our day job(s), but money in our PayPal account is part of the tool box that help bring our ideas and passions to life. Getting $1 from someone you never met in real life, just for “doing the thing,” greatly expands your creative universe.

Here are some things I’ve learned over the past year or so:

“True Fans” trump any amount of planning.

You can craft the best copy, amazing reward tiers, and write out your goals from your first $10 to $1,000, but what you need is “True Fans.” What are “True Fans?” Read this excerpt from Kevin Kelly’s ‘1,000 True Fans,’ which was published in 2008:

“A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”

How do you build an audience of “True Fans?” Show up everyday (I’ve been Skull Toaster for nearly five years, but have been doing the “music blog thing” since 2001), care about the people, and get vulnerable sometimes.

Failing to plan is planning to fail.

You need to plan your rewards and goals. Some folks can get away with not having reward tiers and goals, and maybe you can, too. It won’t hurt to plan things before you tell all your social media followers to visit your half-baked Patreon page.

Don’t create extra work for yourself.

Rewards should be by-products of what you’re already building, for the most part. I write heavy metal trivia every week, and schedule Tweets every weekday. My questions are written by Friday, so on Sunday I send them to my patrons, as a reward for their $1/mo or more support.

Musician Christopher Jon (see his Patreon page here) really smacked some sense into me from a recent discussion. Going to the post office every month is lot of work. An hourly Google Hangout is a lot of work, too, and so is writing a song for someone. Make sure you don’t bury yourself in Patreon rewards, which could take you away from your main work.

Have lots of patience!

People will support you on their schedule, not yours. A Tweet or email once a month might not lead to 10 new patrons, so let it simmer. Some people will jump at the chance. Some take a week or a month. Don’t lose hope.

So keep updating!

Make regular updates on your Patreon page, and share those with everyone. A video, a song snippet or piece of audio, photos, stories – hold back some of your Instagram pics or Twitter rants and throw them into a Patreon update! As more people read, some will see what the heck this Patreon thing is all about. Not everyone pulls out their credit card on their first visit.

I’ve helped some great people with their Patreon pages, so please check them out: Sarah Saturday, Kallie MarieNikki of the Everything and the Kitchen Sink, Erik of the Shoot the Shred podcast, and Travis from the As the Story  Grows podcast. Be sure to check out my Skull Toaster Patreon page, and if you have any questions, just shoot me an email (


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Constant Conversations with New Pals!

A few months back I got talking to Mike J. Heyliger on Twitter. We go back a bit “professionaly” speaking, in the publicist / editor sort of thing, but I’m stoked to say we’re now pals and talk almost everyday via email. That leads to the interview I just did with him on his ‘Constant Conversations‘ podcast on his own Blerd Radio. We discuss stuff like:

-The metal word is an interesting and unusual place, filled with many odd band names. Why does the genre seem to have a near-monopoly on monikers like Couch Slut and Goatwhore?

-Perhaps contrary to the image presented by those band names, metal fans tend to be some of the most soft-spoken, genuinely nice music fans around (at least Mike thinks so). This phenomenon is also explored.

-A place with not as many soft-spoken, nice people? The internet. Why are people such assholes on social media?

Listen to the episode right here, and follow Mike on Twitter at @realmikejoseph.

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What Would You Do?

There are so many damn wrongs in the world. So many poorly written articles, or bad albums, or whatever. There will always be somehting to shake your finger at, to correct, to seeeth at!

This post from Shawn Coyne is fantastic (go read it here):

“What if you were given the permission not to have to right injustices or prove anyone wrong or build up a pile of money to do good? What would you do then?”

Imagine creating the thing that’s the opposite of that thing you hate? Forming something in your spare time which – if you weren’t involved – you’d fall in love with? Removing distractions, and the energy drain associated with always being against something, and instead went the other direction?

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Speaking vs Writing

You’ve probably seen a lot more podcasts out there. I spoke about this in the past, that people would bore of reading so many things every day that all look the same, and that they’d choose a small number of podcasts to listen to instead. A post written by an unpaid intern looks (functionally) the same as a post written by a writer who’s been honing their craft for the past 15 years.

Now give each person a mic and see what happens.

In the podcast world you either have it or you don’t. There’s all sorts of SEO tricks with online writing. You can edit, re-write, have someone look over your work, but when you’re speaking into a microphone you better have it. You either hold an audience, or you don’t.

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My advice for Twitter in 2016

I’ve been on Twitter since 2006, and so 10 years later I’m still trying to get people to use it better. Check out this ditty I wrote for Haulix on the subject.

An unpaid intern can automate Tweets from the RSS feed on your blog. They can find some stock photos, or RT someone that said, “I love your stuff,” but that’s just “social media by numbers.” That is amatuer hour in 2016, and it’s a house of cards because everyone – small businesses, bands, record labels, Best Buy, and Oreo cookies – EVERYONE is doing that.

Hopefully you can get something out of it.

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Metal Bandcamp Gift Club Interview

Humbled to have been interviewed about #MetalBandcampgiftclub by the awesome Bandcamp!

Every time you open Twitter, there’s tragedy, there’s heartbreak, there’s horror. And in the metal community, if you’re not talking about that, you’re talking about how this band is stupid or that label should go up in flames. It’s so toxic. This is the polar opposite. This is tangible. A lot of the people who are participating are just nice people, and they’ve come together to be like, “Hey, I like you on Twitter. You’re cool, we have nice conversations, here’s an album that I found that you’ll like.”

Read ‘Giving the Gift of Metal‘ and go buy someone some metal albums!

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Twitter Noise

Trying to promote your brand on Twitter in 2016 is going to get even more difficult:

“Look what Twitter has been doing. Have you seen the Moments ads on TV? The promoted Tweets below replies? The suggested follows, and the polls, and the new animated heart… er, I mean “Like” thing, apps to install, the “while you were away” feature that will never go away. Count on Twitter to add even more distractions in 2016.”

Read ‘Making The Most Of Twitter In 2016’ here.

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Some Twitter friends spawned a hashtag that took off. After talking to my pal Travis I bought the domain name, installed WordPress, and now there’s a central source for info about #MetalBandcampgiftclub, all at So instead of trying to explain what #MetalBandcampgiftclub is to any newcomer via Twitter (which can sometimes get messy), we can just send them this URL!

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Sometimes the best way to make sure you can fit everything into one day is to start removing things.

I block Facebook/Twitter/YouTube/Netflix off my computer directly in my host file and I keep my phone on do not disturb for the most part. That way I’m only checking it when I’m taking a break, and not compulsively when I’m frustrated.

A minute or two, several times a day, over the course of a year really starts to add up. This has come up more than a few times with people I’ve talked to lately. (via Eden the Cat)

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