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Guides

Guides
August 20, 2017

How to make a DIY marketing plan

You know what creative people are really good at? Making stuff. And you know what they are usually really, really shitty at? Selling it! I get it - for most people making stuff is fun, selling stuff isn't (I love it, but that's why I do marketing for a living). But good products don't sell themselves, so if you want to get any kind of traction for your work - your art, book, blog, band, t-shirts, whatever - you're gonna have to get good at marketing. And that's exactly why I'm writing this long-ass article-- it's a complete blueprint for non-marketers to make a simple but super effective marketing plan that works for any kind of product or service - it's a simplified version of the same approach I've used to sell a shitload of digital products like Nail The Mix and Getgood Drums, physical products like Horizon Devices' Precision Drive or A…
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Guides
August 14, 2017

How to NOT eff up your education

Let's be real: college is a big deal. Not only is it usually expensive as shit, in many ways it sets the tone for the rest of your life. The stakes are high and it can definitely seem overwhelming, but the keys to successfully navigating college are the same simple things that you hear me repeat a lot on this site: stay focused, grind hard, and work on building authentic relationships with cool people who will help you level up (aka networking). And yes, I get it - most of this is probably stuff you’ve already heard from parents and teachers and you might not want to hear it. Maybe you think it doesn't apply to you, but I assure you that it does - you are not special. And I didn’t listen to my parents or teachers and you probably don’t either, so I’m going to say it again…
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Guides
August 7, 2017

Real talk about starting a clothing company

I know a few things to be true: That many of you are interested in starting a clothing company, that the apparel business is hard as fuck, and that there is very, very little information out there on the actual tactics of building a brand or the day-to-day operations of running the business. There's plenty of fluffy interviews with vague advice like "follow your passion," but almost nothing about how to actually DO the shit it takes to get there: design the right product, build a brand, and convince people to actually give you their money. I don't have any experience working for a cool streetwear company, but I did spend about four years doing design and marketing for Abercrombie/Hollister a few years back when they were crushing it (I designed a few hundred Hollister girls shirts and spent months in Asian factories getting shit made), and I learned a…
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Guides
July 23, 2017

Why you should go to college (with a few exceptions)

If I have one regret in life, it's that I didn't go to college until I was 25. I'm very happy with my life today, so I guess it's all good - but I always wonder what would have happened if I didn't drop out of college when I was 18, after one quarter. How many years of frustration and failure would I have avoided? Because the next 5 or so years were NOT fun for me. I spent most of them working shitty dead-end jobs at print shops (if you've ever worked in one, you know it's fucking soul-crushing), trying desperately to get a job that didn't make me want to put a bullet in my head - and getting almost zero traction. I wanted to be a graphic designer, and I spent every waking moment on nights and weekends teaching myself. I kept telling myself that I didn't…
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Guides
April 13, 2016

How to deal with being a Smart Kid

If you're reading this, chances are that you are quite a bit smarter than the average bear. Your first reaction to this headline was probably "What do you mean 'deal with'? Being smart is a good thing, why would I have to 'deal with' it??"  But as I realized a while ago-- after alienating and pissing off a lot of people with my lack of self-awareness-- being smart is a double-edged sword. Yes, being smart is a gift. But if you're not careful it can also end up being a shitty curse. On one hand, solutions to tricky problems likely come easier to you than they do to 99% of the population. On the other hand, dealing with people is probably not so easy for you and you may have already shot yourself in the foot a few times by being a little too smart for your own good (god knows I have,…
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Guides
April 5, 2016

Why comparing yourself to others is your worst enemy (and your best friend)

The awesome thing about social media is that it’s super easy to see what all your high school friends, exes and former coworkers are up to. The not-so-awesome thing is that it’s also super easy to make yourself feel like shit by comparing yourself to them! This is because comparative thinking is very powerful. Our brains are hardwired to compare ourselves to others, and for whatever reason it tends to take those comparisons in a negative direction that creates cycles of self-defeating thinking and behavior. But it doesn’t have to be this way! You can train yourself to think the right way (where “right” is the way that will make you happier and more successful), you can turn comparative thinking into a positive force that will help inspire and motivate you. I know this might sound corny/Tony Robbins/Oprah, but trust me-- this shit is SUPER important! It's especially important to…
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Guides
March 27, 2016

The DIY guide to Facebook ads

If you think about it, Facebook is the most punk thing ever, because it gives DIY businesses/bands/etc access to exactly the same advertising platform that Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM, etc use. This is a big deal, because Facebook is quite simply the best marketing tool that has ever existed. It can singlehandedly grow your business from two dudes/chicks doing something in their spare time to a fulltime operation where several people are making a good living off of it. I want you to use Facebook to unlock the potential of your awesome DIY project! But in order to do that, you'll need to learn how to use it. So I'm going to show you, using real world examples of how I've used FB ads for my own projects to drive traffic and make hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales. This article won't be short, because Facebook is very powerful and there's a lot to say about it,…
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Guides
March 13, 2016

How to get freelance clients

As anyone who's been a freelancer will tell you, DOING the work isn't the hard part— GETTING the work is the hard part, especially at the beginning of your career. Once you build up a name for yourself, you'll start to get new clients via word of mouth, but until then you need to grind for a while with the specific goal of getting new clients. Like most things in business, the formula really isn't that hard-- you just have to put in the work. This article is specifically geared toward visual artists, but the basic template applies to anyone. Note, this article is only for people who want to be truly excellent. It's for people who are filled with a burning desire to kick ass at what they do and build a name for themselves as a hot up-and-comer in their field. So if you are content being average and just…
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Guides
March 5, 2016

How to get PR for your work

Ever see a company/band/brand’s name pop up in your newsfeed and go, “WTF, why is everybody talking about these guys right now??” Well, that didn't happen by accident (usually). It was almost certainly the product of a carefully planned and well-executed PR campaign. And while most of us kind of intuitively know this,  we often have no idea how to actually put it into action for our own projects. I’ve been on both ends of the PR coin over the years— as a writer for a bunch of music sites and magazines, and as someone trying to get press coverage of things I’ve worked on— and it’s actually pretty simple once you understand how the game is played. Proof that I am not talking out of my ass here: I’ve gotten 100+ media placements for CreativeLive in national outlets like Alternative Press, Guitar Player, Revolver, and tons more. I also got coverage…
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Guides
February 28, 2016

Which is better to work at, small companies or big companies?

I’ve worked at companies ranging from 3 guys in a converted garage to a global, publicly traded company with 65,000 employees and everywhere in between, and the honest truth is that there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. It depends on the company, the individual, and the match between the two. That said, there are some broad patterns that you should be aware of to make sure that you’re picking your moves carefully and don’t end up falling into the Zone Of Pain. What’s the Zone of Pain, you ask?? I’ll tell you in just a minute— but first, let’s get the basics out of the way... THE BIG DIFFERENCE: HOW MANY HATS YOU WILL WEAR In general, the main thing about big companies is that roles are much more rigidly defined. If you’re a graphic designer at a big company, all you will ever do is graphic…
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