Switched from Revue to Mailchimp

When I started the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club email newsletter, I wanted to try something different, and I picked Revue. It turned out to be simple to use, and easy to manage, but as the list and my process has grown, I sort of outgrew it pretty quick.

Previously I was using a Google Form to collect people’s birthdays and other info for the Birthday Club. This is important stuff, as whenever there’s a birthday, an email gets sent out.

Even more important is people being on the email list! What good are these emails if half the people who sign up aren’t on the email list?

So I moved everything into Mailchimp, and set up the sign up form like the Google Form.

I just couldn’t add all that in Revue, which is okay, since they’re built more for growing a list and then monetizing it, or selling ads – and it’s great for that. I just needed something different.

Exporting my user date from Revue and uploading to Mailchimp was simple enough. I just needed to set up the extra fields in Mailchimp (Birthday, First Name, Last Name, etc.), and everything lined up just fine.

Now when people sign up to be in the Birthday Club, they’re on the email list as well. This removed an extra step from the process for the person signing up, and honestly not everyone who joined the club went and subscribed to the newsletter. Extra steps matter! So now it’s streamlined, which means I get to grow the newsletter at a better clip.

Another reason for moving back to Mailchimp is that the emails will look a little better now, too. Revue only had a few different templates, and didn’t let you add to much to the design, so it’s nice to have some of that control back.

Again, not a knock on Revue – their service is great for what they do! I’ve just been using Mailchimp since forever, so it was nice to “come back home.”

P.S. If you want to sign up for the Metal Bandcamp Gift Club Birthday Club, just click here to subscribe!

Write It Down

My to-do list app (Todoist) is worthless if it’s not the first thing I look at when I sit down to work.

This Christmas I got a nice Panobook (thanks, Bill), and it’s helped me finally take the plunge into a productivity concept that I’ve read about countless time but never put into practice; write down the most important things you gotta do tomorrow.

Now, when I finish up my work each night, I write down the 3-4 BIG THINGS I need to start in the morning.

Then, when I sit down at my computer, even before I wake my laptop, the most important things are right there in front of me.

Finally Bought a Monitor

After staring at a 13″ laptop screen since about 2003, I finally invested in a monitor; the $450 LG 27UK850-W 27″ 4K UHD IPS Monitor with HDR10 with USB Type-C Connectivity and FreeSync.

What the heck does any of that mean? Eh, I have no idea. The biggest feature is the USB Type-C Connectivity, which is kinda handy, as it’s one less single-purpose cable I needed to buy. Oh, and it charges the computer, which is nice.

The biggest feature? It looks enough like a retina screen, and at 27″ that’s pretty damn good. I admit I bought a cheap $250 big monitor from BestBuy before but the resolution was garbage, so it was just a bigger image, but with actually not that much real estate on the screen. I returned it.

With this new set up I can have two full size browser windows side by side, with room to spare. This has helped me be more efficient with my work, as I’m not cycling through tabs all the time. Time saving is a good thing.

Funny story: I went to the Apple Store ready to buy the LG UltraFine 4K 23.7″ Display, which is $700. See, I didn’t want to buy another monitor, set it up, plug it in, and then see that it’s garbage. I went to the Apple Store, played with the monitor they had on display, and was like, sure, let’s do this.

The person who helped me out asked me some standard questions, like what I’d be using it for, the work I do, and then basically said I should do some research online and find something that’s bigger and probably cheaper. Woah! And they were 1000% correct. I compared the resolution and other specs of the LG UltraFine to this one, and they seemed about the same. Sure, I bet side by side there’s some diference, but I spent a lot less and got a bigger screen (27″ vs 23.7″).

Creating Sustainable Businesses

Alex Hillman recently shared some great business tips via Twitter:

Service businesses are 1000x easier to start than product businesses, but they’re much harder to grow. Almost all of the successful people I know started a service business, then raised rates to reclaim time, and invested that time in growing more durable revenue streams.

Alex Hillman

Go Outside

I’ve stared at my inbox, or my laptop screen in general, trying to think, forcing myself to be creative, to fix a problem, come up with a solution, and rarely does that method work.

Before you make a big decision, walk around the block.
If it’s raining out, take the dog for a run.
End the meeting a few minutes early and go for a stroll with the team.
Instead of an afternoon snack, consider some sunshine.
The less convenient, the more it pays.

A hard habit to create, but definitely worth it.
When in doubt, go outside. Especially when it’s inconvenient.

Seth Godin

Grabbing a jacket (or running shoes) and heading outside is very less convenient, yet I know, from experience, it’s usually the right course of action.

Getting It Live

The best piece of advice my dad ever gave me was that you start learning to drive after you pass your test. To contrive that to serve my point: your software can only reach its potential when it’s live. You are not your users, so don’t pretend you know what they want/need. Give them the best thing you can make, then let them tell you how to do it better.

Jasper Tandy

I remember launching Noise Creep back in 2008. We had all these ideas at launch, that Tuesday would be one thing, and then on Thursdays we’d post another thing.

That lasted maybe two weeks.

Get your thing into the wild, ship it, publish it, make it live.

Make the Time, Take the Time

Schedule time to be around the things you enjoy, or else your schedule will get filled with everything else. That other stuff isn’t bad – it pays the bills, most likely! But you gotta put your own oxygen mask on first before you can help anyone else.

If I’m only in react mode, checking things off a to-do list all morning, into the afternoon, there’s no room for magic. No wonder. No dreaming.

The dreaming is the work. It’s where the great things bloom, and become bigger than ourselves.

Making Music Podcasts

My dude Sean Cannon laying it down, talking about music podcasts:

Four years ago, I started telling music industry friends and acquaintances that they should create high-end podcasts built around their artists/albums/labels. At the time, I got two main responses: “So you’re saying we should get our bands on Maron? Do you know him? Can you get us on there?” or “Oh yeah, (insert musician here) is really funny. I’ll have them talk to their buddies.”

I worked with Sean on my music blog from 2005-2008, where he was bascially my right hand man, and helped me really build and expand.

Then when I started Noise Creep at AOL Music, I was able to hire him as my deputy editor, which was both awesome and crazy at the same time (20+ posts a day was nuts).

But Sean went onto to work big time in radio and won a freaking Peabody award. He recently made the the Striped podcast, which is all about the White Stripes.

The thing is, there is so much more to be done with music using the medium of podcasting. Super glad Sean is one of the people leading the charge.

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.