One of our recent tips over on Kicktastic was about Keeping Your Overhead Low - making sure you really need all those expenses you may have piled up. And one that piles up quickly for most of us are domain names. You know the one you bought because you had a great a idea but never got around to it -x 20? Twenty extra domain names and you're losing at least $200 a year. Not to mention the time sifting through renewal and registration emails.
I was forced into my phone simplification because I ran out of memory. You see, the kids and I like to make little mini-movies. Our most recent one involved all their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys and - well let's just say it's going to be epic. Because it took up most of my phone's space.
At least I thought it did. 'Till I loaded up iTunes and saw that my Apps were taking up more space than my HD video. Bleh. So since I was over capacity it was time to free up some space.
I've had an iPhone since the first version way back in 2007 so there was definitely some cruft laying around.
The Bullet Journal system is a really well thought out setup for using an analog notebook in really cool, useful ways. The table of contents tip alone made me say, “Holy crap why I have I never done this? I can't find anything in my notebooks!”
There's lots more than just this video. Check out the site where Ryder Carrol, the creator has documented every tip and trick imaginable.
There's been some talk lately about the benefits of being a generalist versus being a specialist. The idea being that you are more valuable as a generalist working at a certain level of skill, as opposed to a specialist in a particular realm of endeavor. And in some ways I can see that. I mean, if I wanted to hire someone to work at FortySeven Media, I'd be pretty drawn to the person who could do it all.
So, why do we want a person who can do it all anyway? For companies, it means a smaller team. And that smaller team can mean bigger profits and agility. It is a very tempting proposition. For individuals, it means you are more valuable as a potential hire or contractor.
To an extent, even Jon and I have run with this thinking, and for the most part, it's been good to us. However, I'm finding out that it might not be the best thing in the long run. Let's have a look the cost of being a skilled generalist.
Nate and I have been thinking a lot lately about simplifying our lives, both personally and professionally. Not that we have crazy lives, really. Unless you call crazy taking your 4 kids who are 7 and under out to eat by yourself crazy. Like I did last night. And it was a little crazy.
But seriously, we've been pondering how all the things we've placed in our lives might actually be keeping us from staying focused. Apparently decision fatigue is a real thing. You know those people who scream about how important it is to have unlimited choices? Yeah I'm not so sure it's such a good idea.
Maybe the reason we find it so hard to even have the brain space to deal with big picture stuff is because we've spent all day knee deep in inconsequential decisions?
Turns out you can only make so many decisions in a day, and if we're wasting them on low level tasks like what to eat, what to wear or even what item to do right now then we don't have the same amount of mental prowess when it comes time for the big, important decisions.
For those of you keeping track, we started Kicktastic back in June of 2012. The idea was to take what we learned using the Kick Awesome Show to make more money and have more fun, turn it into a product and sell it. That plan morphed into a subscription based model where we would keep creating content each week, interview other awesome business owners and share the knowledge.
With people paying us each month we really felt obligated to crunch out the content—nearly 100 videos and 50 blog posts in a little over a year. I'm getting tired just thinking about that.
And though we made a bit of money, we just felt like something was missing. After lots of conversations, feedback from people we trust, and some inspiring talks at World Domination Summit 2013, we finally figured it out:
For a small web shop, creating estimates and quotes can be a joy killer. I just want to make stuff, man - not write out endless spec documents! It's true. Being old school print designers let me tell you how this process went for years:
Open up our quote InDesign document
Save it as a new file
Pour over every legal aspect to make sure it was right
Do the whole spec part of the job in the middle
Make sure all the styles were right so it would look awesome
Do all the math (arghhh)
Save as a PDF
And. We. Hated. It.
When we rebuilt and re-designed the site last year we knew some things had to change. First of all, we didn't want to go through that huge document and re-do all the styles. Bleh. Second of all, it had become a huge bottleneck and we wanted to fix that.
I've started illustrating my thoughts. This is one from today.
Inside your head, everything is a good idea. It's a magical place where you are always doing awesome things, having awesome ideas, and generally high fiving yourself all the time at how awesome you are.
Outside your head is the awesome crushing or confirming world of reality.
The only way an idea is going to do anything, is when it gets out of your head and into the heads of other people. Those other people will then confirm your awesomeness, or crush it with the multi-smashular sledgehammer known as honest criticism. Which is a very kind thing even though it is super painful.
Jon does this for me all the time. My brain is a fountain of crazy vision. He stands by with said sledgehammer, helping me weed them down through survival of the fittest. It is then that I can tell others about this or begin making whatever it was.
Got an idea? Let it enter the ring below in the comments.
Somewhere, a long time ago, they wrote the rules. You know, those rules where we lose and they win. They, Them, and The Man. They got together and figured out how to keep us down.
The funny thing is that the only thing holding this system together is that we all seem to agree that these rules should be followed. As the people of this planet, we've mostly been duped into thinking that things are the way they are and “That's just how it is.”
We look at the options given to us by the world and feel like we have to choose from what we've been offered and what we think we can do. It's as if we've been waiting in line to receive our lot in life, watching everyone else get amazing opportunities and we're excited to see what we get. Then, it's our turn. We walk up to the counter, wide-eyed and ready for the significant, meaningful adventure of a life we'd been rehearsing to pass the time in line.
You've probably heard us talk about Stripe before. It's a great alternative to Paypal or a merchant account with your bank. But it's built for developers. Trying to just sell one off products or classes with it - or maybe even accept payment for a service is kind of difficult.
Let me tell you that creating our first product has been a grand adventure. Our little web design business training membership program has gone through a ton of changes. Some big (like bringing a partner on) and some small (like the endless tweaking we've done).
And that's not including the content. In fact, since we launched last year we've created over 65 videos and nearly 30 blog articles. Dang. Nap, anyone?
But back to the changes. We've got some exciting news for you guys:
Nate and I became internet friends with Allan Branch & Steve Bristol of LessEverything about 6 years ago when they wrote a short post about our “Don't Hire Us” page. Many tweets and recriprocal blog posts later, we finally got to meet them at their second LessConf. And we found an even closer friendship with those guys. They totally got us.
Back to LessConf, though - we really enjoyed that conference and came back every year after that, but I think it wasn't until the 5th and final one last week that I fully understood what LessConf was.
You see, Allan & Steve like to make a spectacle. They know how to create things that people talk about. Seven hour hugs on stage. Gourmet popsicles. Milk and cookie breaks. Complimentary massages. The list could go on. Trust me.
What are you doing next Thursday? Maybe you'd like to learn how to make your business freakishly profitable?
Turns out the Kicktastic crew is doing a 3 hour workshop at ConvergeSE on Thursday, April 25th about that very thing!
We've been there - getting worn out on small processes and tasks, not making enough money, getting lost in tedious client work and having cashflow problems. We want to help. We'll give you practical tips for turning pain into profit - and we'll have lots of fun doing it.
For Christmas last year, Nate and I wanted to do something special for our clients. We pondered and thought and decided, “what better way to show our clients we love them than to send them a custom designed t-shirt that says we love them!?!?!?!” Clearly because we are geniuses.
After much sketching, hand crafting and designing we came up with “Two Hairy Guys in Tennessee Love Me.”
Like our strange little dentist friend in the picture above, we all want to be that happy doing the work we have dreamed about doing. Most of us come preinstalled with a desire to do work that we enjoy. It is as if we know that it is possible to provide for ourselves and not hate doing so.
Unfortunately, most of us are also completely terrible at pulling this off. Even if we have pretty good jobs that we mostly like, it seems like that magical dream job is always dangling just out of reach. Why is that?
It's that time of year again, folks! Our favorite conference, ConvergeSE is back and the tickets are on sale now. They sold out in about 2 hours last year so speed it up and get on over there. Converge will be held in Columbia, SC on April 25-27.
We're super excited because this year we are doing a Kicktastic workshop on the first day of the conference. It will be a blast, we promise!
So go get your tickets now before they're gone. Trust us, you need to come to ConvergeSE 2013.
In case you hadn't heard, we're shooting for this year to be our Best Year Everat FortySeven Media. While we were doing our planning for 47m, Kicktastic and Bright Newt with Austin, he pulled out a curious looking, sprial bound notebook with a bullseye on the front. “What is this madness?” I asked and he replied, “Why, it's Seth Godin's planning workbook, of course!”
Being a Seth Godin fan I ordered the 4 pack immediately, but only recently got to sit down and look through them with my wife as we planned for this next year. It's a really simple concept, based on a program from Zig Ziglar - you take some time to identify goals that are the most important to you, make sure you are balancing between work, home, fitness, money, etc…, and then pick the 4 most important ones to work on for the next 12 weeks.
The book is setup for daily notes on each goal, and that's why I think it's such a great idea. Often wanting to do something like “start a new business,” or “loose weight,” take time. Lots of time. And it's easy to get discouraged or forget about it or get halfway done. But if you're spending at least a few minutes each day on your goal, then you can't help but make progress, right?
Here's the cool thing, though - this will be the first time Nate Croft, Jon Longnecker and our new Kicktastic partner Austin Church will be discussing businessy things live on the internet. You will laugh. You will cry. You'll probably never talk to us again. Or you might just fall in love with our weirdness.
But you won't know for sure unless you tune in Friday at 1pm EST.
For those of you in the ExpressionEngine universe there was a lot of “hot drama” the beginning of this week. Brand new websites, sweeping licensing and support policy changes, taking down the whole Pro Network without any prior notice. I'm not going to try to analyze anything that EllisLab is doing because quite frankly their business is their business (see what I did there - you know you giggled).
However, I do think that this whole situation sheds light on the importance of building your own brand and not basing your business entirely on top of someone else's.
We've worked hard at FortySeven Media to create a brand that stands on it's own regardless of the CMS we use. We write on this blog, go to conferences, do silly web video shows, and all kinds of other projects that don't make money, but help build our brand. We also do great work for our clients and they spread the word.
And while we love ExpressionEngine, we don't just do EE development - we bring branding, design, marketing and consulting to the table as well. The technology is just a means to the end of an amazing final product for our customers. It's tempting to piggy back off of something like EE's success and build your business solely around it, but you have no control if they make drastic changes.
If the news this week is pulling the legs out from under you, maybe it's time to step back and focus more on your brand and how you're different from all those other EE shops.
But that's not the whole story. Because while our brand doesn't live or die by ExpressionEngine and web design work, a good chunk of our income does.