You Can’t Hustle Every Single Day

There is a giant space between beginner and professional, so try not to compare where you’re at with those two. It’s okay to be a beginner. And okay to be a professional and not have *EVERYTHING* figured out.

Make your bed. Have some tea. Read a book. Wash your face. This 24/7 compare-a-thon is for the birds. Rest and recharge, friends.

Work You’re Proud Of

I love this recent bit from Seth Godin, ‘Entrepreneurship is not a job.’

The work is to solve problems in a way that you’re proud of.

When I started Skull Toaster in 2011 I saw people were bored in between sets at shows, or standing in line, and rather than start some new metal blog that’s always begging for clicks, I put the THING right there on Twitter (@skulltoaster). The “pay off” was on Twitter. Skull Toaster “posts” were on Twitter, and replying was the “comments.”

The problem I’ve always wanted to solve is helping bands sell more music. Because when bands sell music, they have money, which then allows them to do things like eat and have health care.

I’ve been covertly getting the word out about bands with Skull Toaster since 2011, not with “SONG PREMIERES” or copy and pasting tour dates, but by asking a metal trivia question about a band (like this one for Vastum), and then sending a nightly email filled with words about that band, which sometimes leads to people discovering a new band, then possibly becoming a fan, and… buying their music.

And it actually works.

It ain’t a glamorous life, but it’s work I can be proud of.

You Can Totally Give Me Money

Image of Tweet used instead of embedding because someday Twitter will close and the above would disappear

This was hard, as not many folks put their Venmo / Cash app / PayPal link out there, but dammit they should (here’s mine: PayPalSquare Cash / Venmo).

If people want to think this is cheap, or “expecting a handout,” fuck them.

Life is short and times are tough. Sure, an artist should just “make paintings and sell them,” or a writer should just pitch more outlets and get paid that way.

But hey, maybe the artist doesn’t want to come out and say they can’t afford paint right now. Or the writer is left too exhausted after a 12 hour shift at a mind-numbing job that they have zero energy to even make a microwave pizza, let alone pitch an editor.

Don’t like when people “beg for money?” Great. Move along, mind your business, and stop talking shit.

Don’t like Patreon and Kickstarters? Great, you’re so edgy.

Instead of putting down everyone who explores various means of funding (and sometimes fucking surviving), shut your face and donate to a charity – or wait, is that somehow offensive as well?

The Stress of Journalism

The state of journalism is a wild one these days.

Back in my senior year of high school I was encouraged to go to school for journalism. My thinking then was I could live anywhere and always have a job, since every town has a newspaper! Even with knowing what I know now I still regret not going to school for journalism.

Photojournalist Ryan Kelly won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for an image he made at The (Charlottesville, Virginia) Daily Progress on Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.

It was the day of a white supremacist rally. It was the day a man plowed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer. And it was Kelly’s last day in the newsroom.

Kelly left to run social media for a Richmond brewery and still works as a freelancer.

From ‘This photojournalist won a Pulitzer for an image he made on his last day in the newsroom

Kelly cites “the state of the industry, the stress and the schedule” a reasons for leaving. I mean, I can’t imagine going to bed at night without replaying the images of that day in Charlottesville.

Work For Yourself

This quote from Seth Godin’s post, ‘Speaking up about what could be better‘ is right on point:

“Our social networks have turned us into unpaid factory workers, toiling in a giant system, one that pushes us to feel shame, to be in a hurry, to worry about nothing but the surface.”

If I asked you to upload all your photos and thoughts to this site (sethw.com), and told you I was going to use that content and activity to sell ads against it and make lots of money for myself, you’d probably walk away.

But that’s what we all do on social media. All our discussions make money for social media networks. Our event pages help pay for the health care of social media employees. Uploading vacation photos helps pay those six figure salaries.

Our time, our attention, our focus is shifted to the short term on social media, and when those sites shutter (and they will), we’ll be left with nothing.

Starting is the Easy Part

Lots of people start email newsletters.

Starting is the easy part.

Running an email newsletter, well, that’s serious work. But really it’s not.

Everyday we read, consume, have thoughts, conversations, take photos – there is never a reason to sit down at our computers and not have anything to write about.

It’s just that sitting at computer can be paralyzing.

I’m telling you – if we took half of our flippant Tweets and just threw them into a draft folder (text file, Bear, WordPress), we’d never run out of material.

The allure of tossing these ideas and pondering to Twitter is strong, I get it. You’ll get four likes, and you’ll recognize some of the faces, and maybe one or two people will reply. But four hours later that Tweet is gone, pretty much forever.

But if you put that on a blog, or in your newsletter, it has a home. It can have a life now.

The fun part? You can do both.

You can Tweet it, than flesh out your thought even more in a bigger piece. The people that don’t use Twitter (which is a lot of people), they can read it now, too. And three years from now, your blog post or newsletter has more of a chance of coming back to life that that Tweet.

Ignore the Numbers and Just Create

Great quote from artist Rob Janoff, who created the Apple logo.

“Most people, especially young people, put a lot of care and a lot of love into whatever they create, and when they get criticism it’s a crusher. I spend so much time talking about how this criticism is not about you. ‘I like you, but this piece you did has these things I don’t like, and here’s why.’”

Replace criticism with “lack of views” or “lack of likes.” Don’t let the numbers sway you. Ignore the numbers, the data, which Seth Godin calls the “lazy way to the bottom.”

“It is the lazy way to figure out what to do next. It’s obsessed with the short-term.”

Listen to Seth answer how he gauges his work without data on the Design Matters podcast here (I time-stamped it, and listened to the entire interview three times already).

If I gauged the success of Skull Toaster back in 2011 and 2012 I would have shut it down. But I stuck with it, and today, nearly seven years later (seven years in October 2018), it’s a vibrant social media channel, and email newsletter, and has a wonderful paying membership.

How does Seth Godin know what he’s doing is effective? Because people tell him. And that’s what we all need, not 100 more “followers.” Make something so good that it delights and changes people.

 

Willed from Wires is Still Alive

When I got rid of all my stuff and left NYC in 2010, the only thing I wanted to do was hang out with my friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. In between all those hang sessions were quiet times in coffee shops and bus stations. With some of that downtime I started drawing again. As you can see by the photo above (from 2012), I was drawing quite a bit.

Then someone offered to buy some of my robot drawings. I got custom orders. A few bulk orders. I didn’t mean for it to happen, but I was selling drawings of robots out of my back pack.

I made a small run of a zines filled with my robot drawings. I made city-specific pieces and posted them online to help pay for bus fare, or coffee for the week. Over the years my Willed From Wires Big Cartel store sat there, doing it’s job.

It’s 2018 and I still get the occasional order for a robot drawing or two. Mostly former clients, but the occasional random order. Willed From Wires remains a hobby, very much on the side, one that I don’t push much. I last made this depressing Tweet from the @willedfromwires account in 2013.

I’m writing about all this now – in 2018 – to illustrate that everything we do creatively can still live and grow without feeding the social media beast. I can’t do several things full-time. No one can. But we can do side things that are actually on the side, and they can still flourish and grow.

The Answer Isn’t More

You’re already doing enough.

Live blogging wasn’t fast enough. Now it’s live video from your phone.

It wasn’t enough to just be on one social media network. Better be on two. Or three. Or half a dozen.

Oh, just a monthly email newsletter? Why not a weekly vlog series, too?

It’s okay to look at all these things and:

  1. Be overwhelmed
  2. Not do any of them

Growth is hard in 2018, what with media’s saturation of damn near everything. Seemingly ever channel has been over run with marketing, links, polls, videos, and branding. Click this, watch that, share this and follow these four accounts to enter our give away.

So step back. Look at what you’re doing already that does work. If you only have two online sales a month it doesn’t mean you’re not hustling enough. It means you have two opportunities to absolutely delight someone. Focus on how you can do that while not running yourself into the ground

Do Your Thing

There isn’t one true way to win this internet thing.

You can hustle and post 902,832 things a day, and live stream, and do all the conferences.

Or you can keep a simple email list, and set up at local flea markets.

Neither are right or wrong, and you don’t have to be in one camp or the next. You, your brand, whatever you do or whatever you make – it doesn’t have to align with something that’s already in existence.

I used to fight this with Skull Toaster – metal is supposed to be aggressive! In your face! Extreme! But ummm..

I didn’t get the memo, I guess.

Now, doing your own thing doesn’t always mean riches and speaking gigs and book deals. But over time you attract the people who’ve been seeking you out. You didn’t know who they were, and they don’t even know who you are, or what you do. That’s why you just keep showing up, doing the work. Because there are amazing people out there, with amazing potential. All destined to make the world a better place.

And sometimes that person is yourself, and being surrounded by other like-minded people pushes you to keep making, and creating. So keep doing your work.