Article Archives

  • The motivating and scary allure of expressing yourself in your work
    The thing with lines in the sand is that they create division.
  • Let’s have a talk about objectification and harassment in tech
    Ultimately, I don’t want to talk about the harassers or even the victims, I want to talk about everyone else.
  • Survivorship Bias & Hungry, Hungry Hippos
    When Tim Ferriss or Seth Godin (or insert name of successful person here) write and release a book in a new and different way, of course it’s going to do well. They’re Tim and Seth!
  • Common mistakes freelancers make with their business
    As good as we are at making our art, freelancers miss one of the most important requirements for running a business: representing ourselves.
  • Focus and Control
    We can pretty much succeed at anything. Conversely, we can fail at anything, too.
  • Marketing tools for any self-published book
    Marketing your self-published book involves a lot of focused work, typically as much work as it took to write the book in the first place.
  • Effective marketing for introverts
    I know you have something to say. You’ve been saving it up for a while now, being patient, listening, taking notes, and researching.
  • What do you do when the trolls come marching in?
    I’ve been called a spammer, a hack, a link-baiter, a self-centered and flippant asshole, and shoddy excuse for a writer who would do better if I stopped putting articles out.
  • User onboarding: not just for HR and growth hackers
    Are you aware of the steps it takes for a client to hire you? What’s involved on their end, and on your end?
  • How to cultivate a writing routine when you run a business
    How do you create consistent content that you don’t get paid to do? You have a business to run!
  • The most useful business advice you’ll ever get from me
    The Internet isn’t a meritocracy, where we can just do good work, put it on a website and hope others will find it and buy it.
  • What’s your social capital?
    You know that person. The one that’s always on social media tweeting links to their products every few minutes. Exclamation marks abound like they’re getting paid per instance by ExclamationMarkCo.
  • Why I’m so negative about positivity
    Let’s talk about white bears and Stay Puff Marshmallow Men.
  • Call me a quitter, just ask Vince Lombardi
    There's the old adage, "a quitter never wins and a winner never quits", that tells us to slog on when something's not working, and tough things out until they do.
  • You're going to need to wear a lot of hats
    Wouldn’t it be great if being a brilliant artist was all it took to earn a living?
  • Why your work needs both cake & icing
    Marketing is icing. If there’s not a cake underneath, it’d be pretty hard for it stand up in the shape of a cake by itself. We can’t just focus on making icing. We need to also make the cake.
  • Creativity-inspired productivity
    I’m no productivity expert, but I get asked about it a lot. There are four things I do to get as much as possible done.
  • Attention is a gift you give to your work
    I realize that I tend to write a lot about negative emotions and experiences, like criticism. Fear. Failure.
  • “What do you do for a living?”
    This question tends to evoke either fear and stomach knots or an eagerness that borders on fanaticism in those of us who work for ourselves in creative fields.
  • Find your rat people
    For your creativity to support you, you need to find your 1%. Your rat people.
  • Sales advice from the world’s crappiest salesperson (aka: me)
    Most of us creatives suck at selling. And this is probably part of the reason why we write or draw or create instead of selling cars or condos. There’s nothing wrong with selling cars or condos, but I doubt many of us would be able to sell even one.
  • When you work for yourself, your boss is probably an asshole
    Bosses can suck when you’re self-employed (aka: when YOU are the boss of yourself).
  • The Metric of More
    The problem with the metric of more is that it’s dehumanizing. It’s easily the biggest problem with this new hyper-connected economy. We can talk with people all over the world with the click of a mouse but still feel so lonely.
  • Here’s what my writing process looks like
    Several people have asked how I go about writing the articles I send out every week, so I figured I’d share.
  • Do what you love
    Even as someone who works for myself and makes a living off of creativity, it’s not always fun and holding hands while letting the rays of sunshine wash over my face.
  • Tools Don't Matter
    If a carpenter loses his nail-gun and is forced to use a hammer, he doesn’t instantly become less skilled at building houses.
  • How to be rich like me
    People assume that if they’ve heard of you, you must be raking it in.
  • The common elements of good storytelling
    My favourite activity while I lived in Tofino, BC was attending my artist friend, Roy Henry Vickers’ storytellings.
  • The importance of emotion in design
    Business on the Internet is about standing out and being noticed. We want what we do online to be thought of as remarkable and worthy of continued discussion.
  • How to run your mailing list like a total jerk
    Everybody (myself included) is always going on and on about how important it is to have a mailing list for your business. It’s the easiest way to keep in touch with your audience and it nets the highest conversions when you’re selling things. The draw to build your list’s subscribers is heard far and wide.
  • 100% Proven Tactics
    100% proven to grow your audience with little to no work!
  • I wrote an article no one wanted
    I wrote an article. No, not this one, a different one (that’d be too meta).
  • Create an engaging blog for your product
    Create an engaging blog for your product
  • No goals
    No goals
  • Practice makes closer
    Perfection is a myth, so practice can never make perfect. In fact, all that striving for perfection can actually lead you away from launching anything.
  • Self-publishing battle royale
    This is what I’ve learned, having now self-published three books.
  • Rallying points
    Your business doesn't need a hollow manifesto. It needs an unwavering message and forundation for success. It needs a rallying point.
  • A brave new world
    Too many people supervise others without making anything of their own. In a previous world, they were called managers, directors, foremen/forewomen, and critics. In this new world, that type of work isn’t required. Their best option is to move from managing to making.
  • A manifesto for creative professionals
    We are amplifiers. Clients need to bring their skilled craft to the table for the project to succeed.
  • A (fall out of) love note
    Fall out of love with your inner critic immediately. Kill its voice before it kills you.
  • Success is for the lucky
    The problem with starting a new project, company or endeavour, is that you won’t know if it’ll be successful (or in what way) until you actually try it. And by try it, I mean launch it. Publicly. Yikes!
  • Free High-Resolution Photos
    While I'm not a professional photographer, I love taking pictures. Since I don't do anything with most of my photos, I'd like you to use them—on websites, apps, desktop or iPhone backgrounds, whatever you'd like.
  • How to dominate at blogging
    I was curious today what the “big guns” of Internet marketing tell their audience to do, in order to be successful. I’ve been accused of being an “Internet marketer” before, so I needed to know more about what I was supposedly peddling.
  • There are no rules
    There are no rules in business or entrepreneurship. Anyone that tells you otherwise is either lying, has no idea what they’re talking about, or is just about to pitch you their "How to succeed in business" e-course.
  • I don’t know what I’m doing
    Working for yourself is scary stuff. When you work for someone else, it's easy to blame failings or frustrations on the boss, the company or even the customers you're forced to deal with. But when you run the show, it's all on you.
  • What I've learned about creating meaningful work
    Working for yourself is scary stuff. When you work for someone else, it's easy to blame failings or frustrations on the boss, the company or even the customers you're forced to deal with. But when you run the show, it's all on you.
  • When is the best time to create?
    The dishwasher is running noisily and probably should be replaced. There are at least 3 dogs barking outside (from the sounds of it, 2 large ones and one tiny one). As well, there’s a child screaming on the street — she doesn’t want to get in the car with her parents. Dinner, a vegan “meat” loaf, is cooking and since there’s not a working timer on the oven, I’m winging it.
  • I don’t live up to my online self
    In fact, I come up very short. Online me is a fearless, straight-shooting, awesome(ish) communicator. While nothing about that is an actual lie, it’s not always true. Just like everyone else, I illustrate certain points and let people see part but not all of me.
  • $25k extra in just over a year
    Two years I didn't have any side projects or other income streams. I was doing client work only, building websites for awesome folks. I do well at this, but I wanted to push myself further, flex my creative muscles and try new things. And while I'm still doing client websites full-time, I've also written two books and released three WordPress themes.
  • Push Fear
    Fear plays you against yourself. It can't actually do anything to you, but it makes you think that it's the biggest, baddest bully in the playground, who'll slap you down if you stand out enough for fear to notice you.
  • Do What You Say You’ll Do
    What you actually do matters much more than what you say you’re going to do. Anyone can talk a big game or over-promise, but the actual follow-through is what creates lasting success.
  • Theft and Iteration
    This is how I learned web design. In the beginning, I already knew how to program (albeit in different languages) and what I knew of design was only related to print/layout (yes I’m that old).
  • Crisis of Confidence
    Feel like a fraud? Like you’re not good enough? Like what you make isn’t as good as what other’s make?
  • Show Up
    Do you want to know the difference between the folks who are constantly creating new things, selling their ideas as products and making money doing what they want to be doing… and everyone else?
  • Every Entrepreneur is an Artist
    There is no map, no guarantee of success. If there was, the map would have been photocopied (or reblogged on tumblr) by now.
  • Fuck Stats, Make Art
    Trying to follow a formula, script or tactic to get more traffic, sales or followers never works in the long run because it screams inauthenticity. Your goals and desires echo in everything you do, even if you think they don't. So if you're focused on going viral or being popular or selling something, it'll show.
  • Build an Audience from Scratch
    Let's say tomorrow I had to start my business from scratch. No existing clients, no existing following. How would I build an audience? How would I attract customers?
  • Did We Exist Before Social Media?
    I remember a time (I'm old in Internet years, so picture me shaking my fist at everyone under 25) when my day didn't consist of at least an hour of checking tweets and likes, telling everyone who'll listen what I'm working on (see: shameless self promotion) or replying to (see: blocking) friday follows.
  • There's Just No Time
    A travesty of modern times is that we think we don’t have time to pursue what we actually want to do. How can we find time to write our book, paint a masterpiece, write that song or whatever else we’d love to do with our lives?
  • The Chair
    My friend (and editor of all my books) Cheri told me about a professor she once had that said, "There are two types of people—those that sit on chairs in the public eye and those that build chairs."
  • Don't ask for the wrong things
    There are common things clients of web design ask for in every project. These aren't always the right things to ask for or even focus on, yet they are almost always brought up. Not because it's the best thing for a project, but because it's what clients think they should be asking for.
  • Lessons in creativity
    I've spent a decade and a half getting paid for creative work and running my own show (also called being a freelance designer). There's a weird intersection of creativity, business and money, that can be hard to navigate at times. Here are a few things I've learned about making a sustainable living being creative.
  • You are not a large corporation
    A manifesto for the self-employed. You are a unique badass who's thrown down the shackles of cubicle life and been liberated by your own ambition to take things into your own hands. You now have tremendous power, so use it to your own benefit.
  • Growth
    The dishwasher is running noisily and probably should be replaced. There are at least 3 dogs barking outside (from the sounds of it, 2 large ones and one tiny one). As well, there’s a child screaming on the street — she doesn’t want to get in the car with her parents. Dinner, a vegan “meat” loaf, is cooking and since there’s not a working timer on the oven, I’m winging it.
  • Dealing with unreasonable requests
    Chances are you’ve been there - a client (or potential client) asks you something that’s just not possible in terms of time or budget. Just yesterday I got an email asking me if I was able to do a project that I calculated out to be less than minimum wage in British Columbia if I took it on.
  • Not getting paid
    You’ve just done a great job on a project for a client, and now they’ve decided not to pay you... now what? Unfortunately a lot of entrepreneurs have had to deal with the fact that sometimes clients just don’t pay.
  • Notification separation anxiety
    The more I dive into figuring out what minimalism means to me, the more I see the connection between having less and being present. Less means fewer distractions and more focus (hopefully). Specifically, and what I mean to say by “distractions” in this instance, is notifications. Notifications are those little “popups” on your smart phone or computer when someone likes, @s, comments or shares something with you via social media or sends you an email.
  • An effective business plan isn't simply to have a website
    Simply having a website designed and built for your business is not an effective business, marketing or sales plan. It's only a part of the equation to make your business succeed.
  • Pay your dues
    So you want to be location independent, have a passive income and make money off what you love, right? Don't worry, all you need to do is start a company, sell something online and have a blog. The rest will fall into place, since you've got passion and know that doing your own thing is the path to happiness.
  • Work better
    I've been told I get a lot done quickly. Both in terms of client work I take on, as well as the sheer number of side-projects and hobbies I've got on the go at any given time. Here are a few of the things I've figured out that work for me.
  • Your potential customers are actually smart
    Most online sales pages treat viewers like they're idiots. As if somehow they'll be swayed by exclamation points, pages and pages of testimonials and arrows pointing at the 'Buy Now!!!' button.
  • Win at SEO
    A few people have asked why I didn't cover SEO (Search Engine Optimization) in my book and the reason is simple—because I couldn't give a rats ass about it. Obviously I like the traffic I get (and think I get a decent amount, especially from search engines) but I've always worried more about what I write than being #1 when people search for "awesome".
  • Copycattery
    I'm asked at least once a month by potential clients if I can copy a design of a website for them that's exactly like X [insert previous client name here] or if they can buy the design for X to use for their website. My answer (obviously "no") is always the same with the following explanation.
  • A Reader-First Internet
    People worry about all sorts of things with their website. Are conversions happening? Is everything important above the fold? Are the sharing buttons visible? Does the mailing list signup have the right verbiage to net the most signups?
  • Succeed at anything
    The problem with starting a new project, company or endeavour, is that you won’t know if it’ll be successful (or in what way) until you actually try it. And by try it, I mean launch it. Publicly. Yikes!