Stop Doing What You’re Good At

Title stolen from “7 leadership lessons over 2.5 years,” from the Signal Vs. Noise blog (wow, if you haven’t been reading that site, you should).

“Doing what you’re good at hurts the team.” Huh? He explained how when you’re the one always doing the thing that you’re good at, you create a dependency within your team. They can never be self-sustainable or perform at the highest level if you’re the one always doing the things you’re good at.

As I find myself gaining stabilty in my freelance work, I’m starting to see where I’m spending my time the most, as realizing the value of that time.

There are tasks I can do in my sleep, but that doesn’t mean I should be doing them. I use TextExpander to save time, and use a timer to make sure I’m staying productive.

But there are projects that I’ve launched that had no shortcuts. They required jumping into the void, with a spirit of “this might not work.” Or as my new favorite Star Wars characters have said, “I can do this, I can do this.”

Today I run a bit faster than I did three years ago.
I’m working on bigger projects. With bigger teams.
Getting there requires a bit of letting go of the things I’m good at.

How to Make a Podcast

Holy heck this video makes me want to start a podcast again, for the 100th time. Seriously, this looks so damn good.

I think I’m okay at building newsletters, because they’re very direct. I created the Skull Toaster email newsletter because it gave the answers to the metal trivia I posted everyday on Twitter and Instagram.

The Metal Bandcamp Gift Club newsletter gets sent out when someone has a birthday, and it links to their Bandcamp Wishlist.

Both of these newsletters serve a purpose. Want answers to metal trivia? Yes? Subscribe here. Want to help support music and labels? Yeah? Click here. Boom.

Podcasts, though, have eluded me. I did one called the Workbench Podcast with my pal Bill Meis for awhile, and Metal Minute (a sort of parody metal news show), but haven’t really done anything since.

The new 16″ MacBook Pro

My current MacBook Pro (13-inch, 2017) does the job. Even with just a 128GB HD, I’ve made it work. Right now, today, I have no need for this new 16″ machine.

But in talking with a fellow Mac nerd today about this new 16″ MacBook Pro, who also is in the same boat, we sort of just agreed that this machine isn’t for us… today.

Back in 2003, when I got my first iBook – that machine blew me away, because it was fresh, and new. A whole new world, since I was coming over from the PC world.

It’s like… I haven’t needed a favorite band for awhile. When I was 10 or so, Guns N Roses released Appetite for Destruction, and that did the job. Not too many bands can have that effect over 40+ years.

So this new machine – it’s outstanding, priced right, looks amazing… someday.

Do It Yourself

The suits saw blogs as a cheap and easy means to display ads. Every site started looking the same, to keep things cheap, and the writing had to get quicker, because ad rates kept falling.

All that to say – do it yourself.

Buy a domain name, start a site on WordPress.com, and now you’ve got a site. The site is the same as any Deadspin or Gawker or any other beloved site you used to enjoy but was destroyed by the dudes in sport coats. It’s the same in that there’s a URL that anyone on the planet can access using a browser, and there’s words on a screen for them to read.

Sure, the economics have changed, but the demand has not gone away. The trick is to make something that people are willing to support with their dollars. That means “same old same old” won’t cut it.

Niche the fuck down and find an audience that lusts for what you do. Find other creative people who crave the same thing and ask them to write for your site.

HOW WILL IT MAKE MONEY is putting the cart before the horse. Make something today, when no one is looking, when you only get 35 visits a day. Do it over and over again, for a year, or two. Build a brand, gain trust.

The reason we’re in this mess is because the entire publishing platform was built on display ads that people ignore (or blog), and inflated job titles like VP OF SECONDARY DESIGN METRICS.

Remove the garbage ads (be nice to your readers), and the dead weight, and suddenly a website doesn’t need to make $45,000/minute to keep the checks from bouncing.

Build it yourself, on an independent platform (like WordPress), and own your work.

Are Websites Even Relevant Anymore?

You buy your concert tickets through a website, and just about every article you read via social media lives on a website, so yes. Yes you do.

Don’t let the lack of LIKES or COMMENTS or even traffic sway you.

“Facebook, Twitter and other companies use methods similar to the gambling industry to keep users on their sites,” said Natasha Schüll, the author of Addiction by Designwhich reported how slot machines and other systems are designed to lock users into a cycle of addiction. “In the online economy, revenue is a function of continuous consumer attention – which is measured in clicks and time spent.”

Social media copies gambling methods ‘to create psychological cravings’

We have been conditioned since we abandoned our blogs that ENGAGEMENT is key. That public, viewable metrics are king!

Fuck that.

Like any good practice, it takes time to see results. If you’re running, taking photos, anything – it might take years. Even a decade.

Sure, you can get the quick jolt by writing something witty on social media and it gets 35 likes. Or, head down, write, create, craft on your own space (like this website), and five years later you have a giant body of work on display.

Name Your Thing

One thing that worked for me over the years was jamming two words together; Buzz Grinder, Noise Creep, Skull Toaster, Close Mondays.

Any name you dream up is void of a brand, it’s up to you to fill it with every ounce of creativity and awesomeness. Not just the logo and the site design, but how you reply to emails, and handle yourself around other people.

Rattle It Out

A few friends inspired me to start running. Years later, I hired a nutritionist. Soon that person will probably be my strength coach.

I’ve been a freelancer since 2006. Years later, it’s just me. But that’s changing, too. Since signing up for Seth Godin’s Freelancer Course, a flood of changes have come in, washing away a lot of my old thinking.

Sometimes no matter how many books we read, or inspiring articles, or watching amazing videos, sometimes it’s the conversations with other people that we don’t even know that rattle out the breakthroughs.

Relaunch of Metal Bandcamp Giftclub

I had fun putting MetalBandcampgiftclub back together again. I had been tasked by one of the helpers of the thing to take over the Twitter posing over the summer, and I totally dropped the ball.

What the heck is MetalBandcampgiftclub? Well, back in 2016 some friends of mine were having a rough time, and instead of wallowing, they decided to gift some wishlist items to friends on Bandcamp. Positive motion, you know? We were all interviewed for it in Bandcamp back then about the whole thing.

And I happen to know on good authority that the whole thing generated tens of thousands of dollar in revenue.

I’m relaunching it via an email list (you can sign up here) because not everyone is on Twitter these days. And, I really didn’t want to grow this again by expanding into Facebook and Instagram. My thinking; if you have a Bandcamp wishlist, you have an email address.

Now whenever there is a birthday (or a few birthdays), I will send out an email with links to those wishlists, and a recommendation or two.

The site was built using WordPress.com. New logo images from Vecteezy. For the emails I’m trying out Revue instead of Mailchimp since I wanted to play with something new (try it for yourself using my referral link).

The new macOS is here; Catalina.

I didn’t know this, but “Catalina is the end of the road for all 32-bit applications and frameworks on the Mac.”

Take the advice of 512 Pixels:

Stop reading this and go download Go64, a free app that will show you how many 32-bit apps are on your system. If you’re like me, you’ll be surprised how many may be hanging out in your Applications folder.

I downloaded Go64 and I’m safe, but you should check it our for yourself. I’m going to wait until the weekend to upgrade, just in case anything breaks. Can’t have my work-flow messed up on a TUESDAY.