You Don’t Lack Discipline, You Lack Motivation. There’s a Difference

As indie entrepreneurs we live and die by the execution of our ideas. Without the right focus and motivation, discipline alone won’t save you.

I find it’s very common for creatives and business builders to feel they lack discipline. We think if we had more discipline then we’d be making more progress on our idea.

I don’t agree. You don’t lack discipline, you lack motivation. You lack the internal drive, the clarity and focus of desire, that would make being disciplined almost easy.

As I said before, us indie biz people live and die off the ideas we execute. Not the ideas we capture in our Moleskine notebooks, but the ideas we execute.

And if you’ve got issue with motivation (or discipline, if you insist), then you’ve got big problems with execution.

But here’s what I believe: you deserve to bring your idea to life. You deserve it. You’re not sitting on your ass doing NOTHING; you’re doing things to make it happen… it just sometimes feels like, you know, you don’t do enough, you couldn’t do enough, you’re not enough and you’re never enough.

Again, that’s all false. You just haven’t learned how to turn on motivation and channel it at whatever project you want.

Imagine a Pill…

So, imagine a pill that, once you took it, would make clear to you exactly what you should be working on.

It tells you WHAT to work on next and it makes you feel WHY you should work on it. Focus to know what’s next, motivation to do the work enthusiastically.

This is the kind of thing I’m talking about. Us indie entrepreneurs need something like that, a quick hit that can keep us focused, engaged, productive and motivated… that we can take whenever we need to.

Sustainable Motivation

You know, a lot of us don’t feel like we’re disciplined enough, but the truth is, we haven’t learned how to TURN ON our motivation.

I have ended way too many days of my career feeling burnt out, empty and unproductive. In fact, I would get so depressed about this that it was effecting my marriage, my work, my livelihood.

So, for me, it really mattered that I figured out a way to TURN ON my motivation and, well, frankly, get my heart involved in my work.

You must know what it’s like to lose motivation, right? To be working on something, all fired up and excited, and then over time that excitement fades?

That’s called “unsustainable motivation.” It’s like a faulty engine, it just fizzle out over time. (By the way, did you know this is why we called our company Fizzle?)

What we need instead is “sustainable motivation,” motivation that renews itself, motivation that lasts and lasts.

15 years…

You’ve probably heard that adage, “it takes 15 years to become an overnight success.”

It’s become a cliché because it’s truth is repeated again and again in different success stories.

It takes an enormous amount of energy over time to be successful as an indie entrepreneur.

I’ll say that again: to create your own success it takes a ton of energy over time in the same direction. This is what’s happening those 15 years before someone becomes an “overnight success.”

This is what Elizabeth Gilbert was doing, writing articles and books for 15 years before her breakout success in Eat Pray Love. This is what every comedian and filmmaker is doing during all those years it takes to find their voice. And it’s what your business success will need from you as well.

It takes an enormous amount of energy over time to create your own success… so, why would you spend all that energy to pursue a direction you don’t fiercely care about!?

But many of us don’t know what we care about that way. Sure we love our kids, our spouses, our family and friends, we love having freedom to enjoy ourselves… but few of us know what fierce curiosities or cares we have that we could pursue as a side project or career.

I used to think that “my passion” or that thing I care fiercely about would just come to me one day—it would just hit me and I’d realize it. But now I know we all need a process for looking for it. It has to be discovered from the inside out, only YOU can discover it, and even if it takes time it’s the biggest work of your life.

“It takes an enormous amount of energy over time to be successful as an indie entrepreneur.”

Pop the question

So there’s a question I’ve been building up to. The way you answer this question matters not to me, but to you. How you answer this determines whether or not you have a chance at succeeding.

We know we need internal motivation, energy from within, to have enough interest and energy over time to devote to our project.

We know need to be consistent and diligent because it is going to take time to make our own success for ourselves, and our idea needs time to develop and mature and grow.

We also know that discipline alone isn’t enough. Any guru who tells you to hustle harder or get into #beastmode is giving you a recipe for burnout.

So, how are YOU going to turn on motivation and focus every day? We know you won’t be successful if you don’t do it because you’ll get distracted or lose confidence. We know that if you DO do it your workload will be streamlined as you work smarter not harder. So, how are you going to do it?

It can’t be #beastmode. It can’t come in short sprints. It has to be ongoing; we don’t want spikes and falls, we want to elevate the baseline because another thing we know is that habits are more powerful than goals.

So, how are you going to do it? How are you going to turn on motivation for your business/project/idea day in and day out?

  • It should be something you can do any time,
  • It should be something you can do relatively quickly,
  • It should be something you make a habit of so you build the right mental muscles.
The truth is, most of us don’t have a great answer to that question. Most of us just “do a little work and see what happens.”

Right? Admit it to yourself if that’s what you’re doing right now. There’s no shame in it, that’s what MOST of us do. I’ve spent years doing that.

The danger, though, is that you’re really just throwing the dice at a craps table. Total luck, probably won’t work, let’s just try it… and you walk away worse for the wear but at least you tried.

I DON’T WANT THAT, THOUGH. I want to succeed. I want to enjoy the shit out of succeeding. I want life on my terms. I want to spend my time my way. And I want the job of my dream, namely, the one where I’m making shit I believe in and enjoying every moment of it and getting paid handsomely for it… and doing it all authentically.

If you’re comfortable with the craps table, lemme buy you a drink, but the rest of this post isn’t for you. If, however, you feel the same as me, let’s talk.

We need an answer to that question — how are you going to turn on motivation and intentionally focus it every day?

Truth is, I made something for you. If you’re interested, check it out.

If you want to turn on sustainable motivation and quit ending those days feeling depressed about what you DIDN’T get done… check it out.

If you care enough about your service, your customers, your future to realize you need to turn on motivation and intention daily… check it out.

And if you’re up for taking on the responsibility of being a DOER not just a dreamer… check it out.

I’m laying it on thick here—I know and so do you. But after 5 years of working with literally thousands of entrepreneurs I can say this really is the center of every issue you’ll have in modern indie business.

So, what’s your answer to the question? Your ideas are dying to know.

“you don’t lack discipline, you lack motivation. There’s a difference”

We made an excellent podcast episode about this topic, complete with insights from guest experts. It’s one of the biggest topics, one of the harshest realities, we all face. And there’s some powerful insights in here. Enjoy!

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Show Notes:

from Fizzle
via My Media Pal NYC


My Big Mistake on YouTube

I made an embarrassing mistake on YouTube and I loved it.

Making mistakes out loud is a pre-requisite for entrepreneurship.

Because if you’re too worried about making mistakes—about being seen as “immature” or “uncertain” or even “stupid”—you might not launch anything at all.

You may not know this but I am a kind of professional small business builder. I co-founded this website you’re on right now, where we’ve had thousands of customers over the years, and I get to bring my particular kind of madness to the work we do here… I love sharing my madness.

And my work here is about helping people make small businesses. So, it’s one of those “entrepreneur about entrepreneurship” things… but we do it without being douchbags. (how’s that for a catch phrase?)

Which means, I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO MAKE MISTAKES. I’m a business guru, man… I’m supposed to know how to do all this business stuff.

Well, I made a pretty stupid mistake… out loud… in public… and it was worth it.

“Making mistakes out loud is a pre-requisite for entrepreneurship. ”

Here’s what happened to me.

It’s highly likely you don’t know this about me: for the past several years I’ve made YouTube reviews of bags. (Here’s my channel.)

I love bags, I love video, I love talking about bags on video… there’s a lot of madness in these videos and people like them.

Over the past 5 years or so that side-project has gained a little more speed. More and more bag companies have sent us bags, more and more videos have been made. I’ve even become an affiliate for several companies and some money is coming in — not much, but enough for my wife to be happy letting me take a Sunday afternoon to make a video for some help with the rent. (#GoldDigger… I’m kidding! My life would fall apart without that woman.)

These videos started getting popular. Viewers would comment, people would subscribe. And then they got more popular, many videos getting 30-, 40-, 50-, 60,000 views. The channel was growing like gangbusters and I wasn’t really doing anything but making fun videos.

Well, the growth was giving me some ideas. What if I could make other kinds of videos, videos about stuff I wanted to talk about more than bags?

You see, if I had to give a name to the kind of vision I have for my life (this is the dream, you understand, not the reality, the dream if I could be successful doing anything in the world) I’d want to be some kind of stand-up comedian / spiritual guru. I love what comedy does to people, I also love spirituality and deep things, it’d be amazing to get to spend my time doing those two things. It’s embarrassing to say “comedian/spiritual guru” out loud, but that’s literally this lil’ boy’s “what do you want to be when you grow up.” I just gotta admit that to you.

So, in light of that dream, I thought, “what if I could do videos of comedy stuff and maybe other videos of guru stuff and over time maybe they grow and I can do this online personality thing.”

Well, in order to do that, the first thing I thought to do was separate the bag videos from the “other” videos. I’d want to have a place for each kind of video to call home — a bag review channel, and a “Chase Reeves, professional crazy person who’s also kind of deep” channel.

But there was a huge problem. I only had 1 youtube channel at the time and it was where all the bag videos and subscribers were and there was no way to change the name! It was associated with my gmail account and it was set in stone.

Dammit. Ok, plan B: let’s create a new youtube channel for all the bag reviews and see how many people we could get to move over to that new channel. It’ll take some time, but in 2 years that channel will have 60+ bag videos and a life of its own.

Now, I wasn’t sure if this was a great idea, but I felt good about it. Sure, I’d have about 40 videos of bag reviews at the old channel (Chase Reeves) because YouTube doesn’t let you move your videos around, and that’d be sloppy because those videos keep getting more and more popular. But maybe over time people will learn about the new channel (Chase Reviews) and everything will work out, right?

I talked to a friend who’s a professional youtuber — he said “don’t do this, it’s a terrible idea.” And I thought, hell, he doesn’t know everything; I still feel good about this.

And I should say that — I really did feel good about this. I felt calm, I felt confident, I felt peaceful and centered about this. It felt like I was aligned with an intention that was real true to me. So, to me, it was like: fuck it, if it’s a mistake we’ll deal with the consequences later.

I made the leap.

There was a decent amount of work — announcement video and explanation on the old channel, new videos on the new channel, teaser videos on the old channel for the new videos on the new channel, some giveaways. Basically, I really wanted to make this legit and get as many people over to the new channel as possible.

I did all the work. I did it well. I felt great about it. And the people started responding too. Immediately we had a flux of new subscribers in the first couple days, and loads of comments on the new videos.

At the time I had about 10,000 subscribers at the Reeves channel. Within the first week I had about 2,000 at the Reviews channel. That’s a huge amount of engagement within a week.

I was feeling great about this whole thing. I launched a new video at the new channel, put a trailer up at the old channel. A week goes by. Another couple videos. Another week goes by…

And I noticed things weren’t going as well as I wanted. It wasn’t about the viewers or the feedback—my subscriber count was growing, people were pumped on the new content, there was loads of comments. It was about what I’ll call “the messiness.”

See, I designed this switch in the first place because I wanted there to be clean intention on each of the channels. I wanted viewers to know exactly what each channel was about so they could easily understand the value prop. (You’re an expert in value prop, right? Gotta be to make anything stick these days. Learn about it in The Roadmap.)

But more importantly, I wanted it to be clean and uncluttered for me. But this, I could tell, was NEVER going to be clean and uncluttered because no matter what I did I’d always have 40 REALLY POPULAR BAG VIDEOS ON MY OLD CHANNEL. They would always be there, wildly popular, nothing I could do about them, like a kink in the system forever.

Sidenote: this often happens in small biz stuff. You want things to be a certain way, you don’t know all the details, you try things out and find out exactly what you didn’t know before. You don’t learn the things without taking the action.

This realization slowly dawned on me — oh no, I’m going to have to put these channels back together aren’t I, undo all the work I’ve done, explain everything all over again to my audience… shit. Waves of shame tried to come up over me but I’ve gotten too good at battle that stuff. Regardless, I was getting that feeling in my stomach, that nervous feeling. I wasn’t completely convinced but I was getting pretty sure that I was going to make this decision to undo all the work.

I didn’t want to undo all the work. I wanted the new channel to make everything clean and clear and OK forever. But my knower, my intuition, was starting to get the signal—“oy, I think we were a little impulsive when we split these channels. We’re gonna need to undo this.”

I talked to my wife about it. She didn’t really understand why I wanted to make the split in the first place, though she supported me. Nobody understood why because nobody saw that vision in my head with the emporium of video essays about life and death and marriage and kids and money. Only I saw that… and just barely. I mean, I haven’t created anything like that yet; it’s just a vision.

But ultimately my wife felt better about going back to how things were. We had more traffic on the old channel, more subscribers, etc. (#GoldDigger. I KID!) and she was right. The truth is, I was coming around to seeing how I could do BOTH of my visions under one channel. It would be the Chase Reeves emporium of the mind… with lots of bag stuff, tons of bag stuff. My comedy and spirituality video essays could impact my bag reviews and vice versa.

So, I made the final decision and made videos to tell both channels what I was doing and why. People were understanding. Most of them were just, like, “uh… ok, just give me the bag videos literally anywhere, ok?” I was embarrassed a bit, but I didn’t actually lose any dignity. If anything, I feel closer to my YouTube audience for it.

So, here’s the deal. I came up with a vision, I designed a plan, I executed the plan and did all that work out loud… in public… and 7 weeks later I said, “whoops, my mistake, we’re going back to the way it was.”

It was a little embarrassing, it took some work, but it wasn’t that hard. AND I’ve learned SO MUCH MORE about Youtube, the people who use it, my fans, my motivation and what I want my work there to be like.

Listen, if you’re in the stage where you’re thinking about your plan and getting excited and nervous and there’s a lot of vacillating between fear and enthusiasm… it might be easy to think that you have to NAIL it. It might be easy to think that you have to do this whole thing perfectly.

But you don’t.

Entrepreneurship isn’t perfect.

Success doesn’t require flawlessness.

For just about all our businesses the thing that matters most is the connection that real people have with you… the way you make them feel, the way you solve their problem, the way they feel taken care of by you.

So if you, in the pursuit of that authentic connection, make a mistake… who fuckin’ cares? No big deal. Acknowledge and move on. Flawless ain’t a requirement.

So get out there and make it count… even if there’s a little dirt on your nose.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t perfect. Success doesn’t require flawlessness.”

from Fizzle
via My Media Pal NYC

Why “Just Power Through” is Terrible Advice (FS236)

Why “Just Power Through” is Terrible Advice (FS236)

Burning out and blowing up costs us all way too much in our businesses.

“Just power through it” is terrible advice because it’s a recipe for burnout, for blowing up.

Nobody gets to storming out of the office yelling “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore!” without powering through a whole lotta bullsh*t for a while.

So, in this podcast and article we want to help us all learn a new way to handle moments when there’s too much on our plates.

We are all going to have too much on our plates at some point. The question is, will you put in a little preventative maintenance and work smarter instead of harder?

There’s a podcast episode here I really think you should listen to because it’s full of wisdom and details about this that, frankly, once you hear it you’ll never forget it.

Below are some notes about this conversation that you’ll be able to come back to again and again.

Here’s that podcast episode. You can listen to it here or in your favorite podcast player (recommended because then you can listen while you do the dishes, or better yet, go on a walk).

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“Why “just power through it” is TERRIBLE advice”

Here’s what happened…

Steph took on a TON of stuff in a short amount of time and then something unexpected happened.

It was an exciting time. She was planning a move from Chicago to Louisville.

But that meant she had to deal with finding new childcare, dealing with all the logistics of moving, selling a home, buying a home, etc. Kind of a big bunch of craziness all at once.

She also had a great speaking opportunity coming up that she needed to travel for.

But then, right in the middle of that, a bomb went off… her grandpa passed away.

If you don’t know Steph, she’s the director of member success here at Fizzle, the former head of sales training at Groupon, and she’s kind of a badass — detail oriented, very accomplished, a real go getter.

Something that’s also true about her is she’s extremely relationship and family oriented. She knows what matters most to her, and she sticks by that stuff.

So she was totally surprised by her reaction to her grandfather passing away. (She gets into this in the podcast episode. Very brave of her. Thanks for sharing, Steph! I think we can all learn from your words on this.)

Steph almost burnt out in the weeks that followed. She’s since course-corrected, but we learned 3 important things about why ”Just power through” is terrible advice.

“I think back to all the blowups or burnouts in my life and I wonder if they would have happened if I would have taken a few weeks to tend to myself. Those things may not have had to happen at all. But it also makes me think that what we’re talking about is a little bit of a luxury. There are those in a high stress environment that can’t make decisions like these.” ~ Corbett Barr

3 ways to work smarter not harder:

1. Find your balance: learn to tell if there’s too much on your plate.

Normally, if Steph were in a healthy place, the news of her grandfather passing would have been taken in stride. She could have gone back and said, “I’m going to make this transition, but it’s gonna be rough.”

We’re all going to have to deal with moments when there’s too much on our plates. If you don’t NOTICE that it’s too much — if you’re not aware of that fact — then you won’t have the chance to make any healthy changes… and sometimes those changes can make all the difference.

So, the first step here is to find your balance. Can you notice when there’s too much on your plate? Can you look at the calendar and see when you’ll likely feel a little overwhelmed in the coming months? Knowing this can be a huge asset because it enables you to make informed decisions.

“Burning the candle at both ends just leaves you in the dark”

2. Prioritize: there’s always more work than can be done, so what matters most?

Every entrepreneur (and mother) has felt it: there’s always more to be done than can be done. We have to make the most of what we’ve got.

In the podcast episode above we go into some detail on how to prioritize because prioritization as an entrepreneur can change everything about how you run your business. It’s one of those special powers of great entrepreneurs, like understanding audiences and sniffing out value.

3. Plan in structured breaks: keep the flow of progress consistent.

Any time that you have something coming up, major transitions, big life change, etc., it’s wise to look at that and say “how can I put less on my plate and consider building in some structured time off in case stuff hits the fan?”

“I don’t think I was more productive for having pushed myself to maintain status quo. The work I was doing was not from my core, I was not in an aligned place. I was creating work from where I was bent out of shape.

I’m not saying I would take weeks off at a time, but I am saying we tend to underestimate the value of a couple days — or even just one day — to reconnect and re-align. Get off the treadmill for a minute before you fall and smash your face. You can either pay in hours now to give yourself the space you need to process what’s going on in your life, or if you burn out you can pay days and weeks later to recuperate. If you get burned out it can cost you tons of time later on.” ~ Steph

BTW, you don’t have to take full days off. You can just take breaks from certain tasks. Sometimes it’s dangerous to take massive breaks — that opens you up for never getting back on the horse. But we can plan in structured breaks that recharge and nourish us so we can come back to our work with more inspiration and focus.

Here’s how:

  • Make a big exhaustive list of everything you do in your biz on a weekly basis.
  • Look at that list and say, what can I take a break from for a week? It doesn’t mean you close down shop, but it can mean you run at a much lower energy level.

That’s a big point — a lot of people think “break” means doing nothing, but maybe it’s just doing less. So, what are the essential things in your biz you really can’t let drop? Can you let the rest of it take a back seat for a week? Give yourself permission.

Here’s another big tip on taking structured breaks: make a plan for what you’ll do when you come back. This can help you really disengage while you take the break because you know what’s coming up when you return.

“We just took 4 days and went to Tahoe. Portland’s summer is so beautiful, so we didn’t leave for several months before that. Those months got repetitive, I started grinding it out and not seeing the forest for the trees. Just taking those 4 days off in Tahoe brought me back with fresh eyes. Why don’t I do this every 2-3 months!? It’s so valuable!” ~ Corbett

“How to plan “Structured Breaks” into your busy weeks”

Beware the tendency to “just power through it.” Diligence and discipline are necessary for entrepreneurs, but burning the candle at both ends will leave you in the dark!

Links from the podcast:

from Fizzle
via My Media Pal NYC

You Are What You Read

When I was a kid, my dad used to give me a stern sideways glance and say, “you are who you choose to be friends with.”

It always drove me insane. I am ME, I reassured myself uneasily. I’m not so easily influenced by other people.

But was that really true? Even back then, I knew there was something to this notion.

Have you heard this kind of thinking before? Perhaps you’re familiar with this expression: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

In my adult life, I see how true this really is. While we are all independent beings shaped by our values, beliefs and life experiences, we’re actually pretty darn malleable. We shift, grow, and change our minds all the time.

This deep desire we all have to chase learning, to keep expanding and changing is what makes us uniquely human.

And while it’s awesome, it’s worth pointing out that we are influenceable.

People rub off on us, for better or for worse, because you wanted to be like them… or because you spent enough time with them for it to just happen.

On a similar tangent, Fizzler Matthew E. recently posed this question in the Fizzle forums:

“So they say that you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with and I’m wondering, does Fizzle count?”

This got me thinking.

We’ve all heard that we should carefully consider the company we keep, but do we take the same care in selecting who we read, listen and pay attention to online?

So I want to ask you: are you intentionally, strategically choosing who influences you online?

If you were to sit the websites, blogs, podcasts, Instagram accounts and YouTube channels in a circle around you, what do you see? Do you want to emulate them? Do they inspire you to greatness?

Or, does some of what you choose to consume bring you down? Annoy you? Make you feel “less than” in some way?

What does your media consumption make you feel?

If the answer is anything less than “inspired, equipped, positive and supported”, I challenge you to evaluate the thoughts, ideas and vibes you let into your precious heart and incredible mind.

What you read, listen to and watch matters. Be fiercely protective of who you follow — before long, they’ll influence your entire direction.

from Fizzle
via My Media Pal NYC

How “Complete-able” is Your Online Course? Here’s 3 Things to Improve (FS235)

How “Complete-able” is Your Online Course? Here’s 3 Things to Improve (FS235)

We spoke to one of the most prolific and successful course makers we know, Vanessa Van Edwards, about how we can all improve our online courses.

For any of you course makers out there these insights are going to help you make much more successful courses — both for you and your customers.

Online courses are being created like crazy these days because the market for e-learning has exploded in the past decade.

Now average people like you and I can use tools that come built-in to phones, tablets and laptops to create training that people are desperate for.

However, the massive popularity and ease of access to tools means there’s a ton of competition out there.

Today you can’t just make a course that sells, you have to make a course that students complete and rave about.

What we need to do is make every one of our students a walking testimonial for our course.

“Don’t just make a course that *sells*, make a course customers RAVE about”

That’s what Vanessa knows all about. She has over 150,000 students on Udemy, and over 120,000 students on CreativeLive.

And we got a bunch of incredible insights from her 🙂

In the conversation below we get into three areas you can focus on to improve the “complete-ability” of your course.

  1. Course content: how can you know what works and what doesn’t before you press record?
  2. Lesson complete-ability: how can you measure course progress to see where you can improve your lessons for better completion?
  3. Exercise interest: how can you use your exercises and downloads to make your messages completely memorable?

Although this is a graduate level conversation for course-makers, Vanessa’s advice for completely new course creators is profound and clear.

If your online course is not “complete-able” you’re wasting your time and the time of your students.

Here’s some more of the goods you’ll find in this conversation:

  • Expert advice on how to decide what to make your course about.
  • What would a veteran course-maker do if she was creating a course from scratch today with no existing audience?
  • When should you use a platform like Udemy or Skillshare? And when shouldn’t you!?
  • There’s something important every one of your course lessons needs to revolve around. Do you know what it is?
  • How to find out what parts of your course content work and what needs improvement before you press record.
  • How you should think about what’s free vs. what’s only available to course purchasers.
  • How can you get course-purchasers to actually implement your information?
  • What are some effective ways to include exercises in your courses?
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“How “complete-able” is your online course? here’s 3 things to improve ”

Show Notes:

Vanessa Van Edwards

People School | Science of People

Nancy Duarte uncovers common structure of greatest communicators – YouTube

Start Feeling It Now – Chase Reeves at Craft + Commerce 2017 – YouTube



from Fizzle
via My Media Pal NYC

You Have Permission Not to Turn Your Passion Into a Scalable, Online Business (FS234)

“Lots of people tell you what you "should" want as a creative or as an entrepreneur. Shut out the noise for a hot second and decide what success looks and feels like for yourself.”

Oh man, you guys, there’s this entrepreneur named Stephanie Halligan… I think you’re going to love her story.

“I spent a long time trying to sell and monetize my list on Art to Self and it kept feeling shittier and shittier. I had to ask myself what I actually wanted my art to feel like and how I wanted to make money from it. The answer was NOT $30 e-courses and email funnels.

There’s a lot of people out there who want to tell you exactly what to do with your dreams. Today we hear from someone who actually had the tenacity to listen to her Self and create her own way.

Stephanie Halligan started Art to Self on Jan 1, 2015. She proceeded to make a comic and short essay every day for TWO YEARS!

If you do creative work of any kind, if you want to find a way to make your creativity create financial flexibility for you, you have got to hear her story… and you’ve got to let her insights transform how you look at your work.

There’s a whole podcast episode below but let me share a couple of the big hits from this conversation. (Do you have a podcast app you could subscribe to the Fizzle Show with? Do you know how that works?)

Define “making it.”

Stephanie’s work at Art to Self was every. single. day. But some of that activity kept her from seeing the big picture.

When I think back about making a comic every day, I mean, as a whole my writing improved, my cartoons improved. Doing it every day accelerated the growth process. The growth for myself was so accelerated and it was fun to watch that progress.

For example, one time an email didn’t go out and I freaked out — “they’re all waiting for it!” No they weren’t, nobody was mad about it. And it was amazing from an art perspective, I’m reflecting on what I’m going through in life and I’m just making work.

Here’s the caveat:

The caveat though, is that I spent so much time on the creative process that I didn’t step back and get enough perspective on the business stuff. If I’m trying to “make it,” how are my metrics doing there? I’d dip in and out of the business side of things. My subscriber list was growing, which meant more donations, but sometimes there was stalls in that too.

And here’s how she really diagnoses this problem:

Looking back I’m like, I didn’t have a definition of what I meant by “make it.” What did it mean to make it? I had no idea, it was just more more more. That constant grabbing for more feeling. More subscribers, more posts, more donations, more, more, more.

Oy, that’s good. That “more more more” thing, do you resonate with that? I have absolutely had seasons of that myself, whole months of constant activity with very little meaningful movement.

This reminds me of our epic conversation about how to create your own definition of success. Another excellent conversation if you haven’t heard it yet.

Watch for when creative work turns sour.

Stephanie started to feel dread about the constant need to produce something creative every day. She tried using business wins to reduce the anxiety.

I was the only one who told me when to make stuff. I did it for 6 months, 7 days a week. I was starting to burn out. I had to CONSTANTLY be creative… every. single. day.

Then I went to 5 days a week. That helped that feeling, that need to CONSTANTLY be creative.

Half way through the year I had 150 notes, that’s enough for a book! So I put together my very first self published book and launched that at the end of the year. It was so well received by my readers. The launch made multiple thousands of dollars. I was like, “oh yea! Products, of course! Products plus donations and we might be able to make this work.” That alleviated a littlemore of that CONSTANT need to be creative feeling.

Then I did a digital guide. Then a coloring book. It was like I was finding these little carrots to help me keep doing more, keep pushing through that dread that was growing. “Oh I bet this is it, this will be the secret to earning sustainable income and feeling like this project is feeding you and sustaining itself.” I was like, “Oh if it starts to make money then it will make me feel like I more enjoy that creative work I HAVE to do EVERY DAY.”


I was really feeling like I was clocking into a job I didn’t want. And I was my own boss! So there was only me to blame. It was like, I’m feeding this machine, but I want this machine to start feeding me. I got angry like, “I’m doing this EVERY DAY! I’m SHOWING UP!” Sometimes I even got mad at my readers, “Why aren’t they BUYING!?”

Turn down the noise.

Stephanie had lots of voices in her life telling her to make products, try this, try that, make a course. She took their advice and tried lots of money-making activities.

What I thought I wanted was the online passive, scalable income model that everyone talks about. I would have blogger friends and people in a community I was a part of, and they were like “you should teach other people how to be creative and how to turn their creativity into a brand.” The noise I was hearing from other people… everyone was like, “if you have an audience then you really should be monetizing it.”

There’s so much pressure out there to make it look a certain way. I wanted to love my creative work. But I also want a flexible lifestyle, to feel security and freedom. Conflating the two is what led me the wrong way. Those two true wants: to have flexible security, and to love my art. It took, literally a couple years to realize that I had permission to separate those two.

Notice how the work feels… to you.

Stephanie launched a bunch of products through the 2 years she did Art to Self. One of them was very different from the others.

And then I made this children’s book. It was kind of out of the blue. It was just a different project to me; I didn’t put any business requirements on it, I just quietly made it and released it on a blog post, but people really liked it! I put it on kindle and it became the #1 book there in the children’s category. Everyone loved it, I loved it, it’s one of my most favorite things I’ve ever done.

I didn’t put any pressure on myself to make money from it. But there was this voice in my head that was like, “Yea, that’s nice, but where’s the sustainable income from this?”

I got a letter from a 7 year old, “Dear Steph, I love your tree book. Please make more books.” THATS what I was wanting more of. The most nourishing feeling in the world. I wanted more of that, more satisfaction and enjoyment of the art I set out to make in the first place.

Hear the 3 pieces of advice for creative entrepreneurs before you burnout.

Do you bring heart and soul to your work? Do you feel pressure to succeed and anxiety about how to do it? Just listen.
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Our thanks to Steph Halligan for joining us one the Fizzle Show today. Give her some love on Twitter and/or Facebook.

And if you haven’t yet, check out our New Business Toolkit. 4 resources for the modern indie entrepreneur.

from Fizzle
via My Media Pal NYC

How to Build a Business You Can Run From Anywhere

How to Build a Business You Can Run From Anywhere

As indie entrepreneurs, sometimes all it takes is a little travel break to remind us why we started our business in the first place.

Travel is amazing for inspiration and perspective.

It would be terrible to make a business that doesn’t allow you to travel.

Just think about that! You put all this work in to get your business WORKING.

  • Topic we care about… check.
  • Validated unique selling proposition… check.
  • Growth channel setup… check.
  • Minimum viable product tested… check.

(BTW, all those stages above are taken from our small business roadmap training. If you’re somewhere in that process, it’s definitely worth checking into.)

You do ALL that work just to create yourself into a prison you can never take a break from!? That’d be terrible!

But it happens all the time. And it can happen to any of us if we’re not careful.

So, in this quick article (and, more importantly, the super thorough podcast episode that goes with it) that’s what I want to help you figure out:

How can we setup a modern indie business so we can travel and live with flexibility?

“How to setup an indie business so you can travel flexibly”

“The only fear is uncertainty.”

Sean Ogle created an indie business called Location Rebel to help people do work from anywhere in the world.

He believes there’s only one real fear you need to overcome…

Have you ever noticed how many fears come up when you think about travel? You’ve got to listen to his thoughts on this!

Listen here or in your favorite podcast app. Just look for The Fizzle Show.

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Sean’s travel business advice

We asked Sean: what advice do you have to help us all setup our businesses for travel, freedom and flexibility? Here’s some notes from his answers:

1. Figure out if your business is conducive to travel.

Sounds simple, but some businesses just don’t have this built in. If you run a restaurant, you can’t take that show on the road. You can, however, setup roles and positions in your company to run things while you’re away… and you can do the books or something from a laptop in Thailand 🙂

2. Decide if you want a startup, lifestyle biz or a job.

VC backed startups look down on us indie entrepreneurs sometimes, but my freedom and low expenses feel so great to me!

Be sure to make decisions along the way to preserve your ability to travel. Think about this stuff now rather than 5 years from now.

And, by the way, don’t knock getting a job — it’s easier now to get a job with great travel options that also give you the stability you want. If you can have the backing of a job with some of the structure and get your freedom the way you want it, that’s killer!

3. Make a list of all the potential travel hindrances for you and try to find solutions.

For instance, “being able to talk to customers on the phone.” If I’m in a different time zone or if I don’t have access to calls all the time, that’s gonna be bad!

Well, we can find solutions to these problems. One thing I learned was to get a t-mobile cell phone for unlimited text and data from anywhere. What cam you come up with to handle the time zone problem? Maybe an agreement with customers on what times of the day you’re available? What about video or podcasting gear, what do you need for that?

When you identify the problems, you can come up with solutions. A lot of my solutions haven’t been pretty, but they’ve worked!

“A thoughtfully run indie business will equip you for travel, freedom and flexibility”

4. Get clear about what your expenses will be during travel.

Often times my living expenses are lower when I’m traveling vs when I’m at home. But I need to be very clear about my work expenses (hosting, email provider, phone and data, etc.) so I know what to plan for.

Getting clear about costs and expenses is one thing that can help calm the anxiety many of us feel around travel.

6. Ask yourself: What amount of money do I need in the bank to comfortably travel?

10k? 2k? 20k? What’s the amount in the bank that gives you the security you feel you need so you don’t get into heavy worry mode while you’re traveling? Getting clear on that number (and achieving it!) will also reduce your anxiety.

6. Check out some travel hacking resources.

It can be a big can of worms, but there are some useful travel hacking insights out there. Chris Guillebeau’s resources are a great place to start. Sean’s major travel hacking tip in the episode was much simpler than I thought it would be.

“My business will *enable* my freedom and flexibility. ”

Our thanks to Sean for taking some time to share his tips with us in the podcast! Give him some love on Twitter.

Do you guys have any entrepreneur travel tips? Please share them in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’ve learned.

from Fizzle
via My Media Pal NYC