START OVER

Photo by Seth Werkheiser

If an unpaid intern could write it, start over.

There are things can could be written by someone else on your behalf – announcing a new product, an upcoming tour, a fancy new something or other.

Lay out the facts. The dates. The logistics. “I’m really excited about this,” you say – gee, really?! Tell me more 😕

There’s enough safe, boring, dry text out there. Throwing chatGPT into the mix makes it even less spicy.

Your creativity is your magic. But please, don’t stop using it when it’s time to talk about the things you’re doing.

I wrote about this in ‘Find social media success by occasionally riding a horse,’ where I say:

“If all you can muster is “I updated my site,” lower your expectations. The algorithms are cruel, but it’s nothing personal. Is this fair or kind? No. But playing this game is a choice, and hardly anybody wins.”

STOP BUILDING ACCOUNTS

Jamie R Cox with a reality check:

“If you only exist in the minds of your consumers as an Instagram handle, you haven’t built a brand. You’ve built an account.”

When I had an Instagram, I may have followed a lot of runners, but once I deleted my account, those runners were gone.

Same with the bands, artists, designers, and photographers I followed.

Hardly anyone pushed me off the app and into their own world – their own website, email list, nothing.

One runner I’ve followed for years – they recently ran the Western States 100 mile ultramarathon. Since I wasn’t on Instagram, I went to their website, which was just a bunch of products for sale. A lot of static bits and pieces.

But oh – they had an email list sign up! I entered my info, and got an email a few seconds later, telling me I was already on the list.

Ooops – I had been on their list for well over a year, and didn’t even remember. I definitely didn’t get anything regarding this big upcoming race, but when I clicked over to the web-version of their Instagram account – woo! There were like a thousand new photos and videos and long captions and stories and reels…

All of which could easily ported to their own website.

I get it – you can’t be everywhere, but… once a fan leaves one of those platforms, what are they left with?

The web is ubiquitous, and so is email. Every smartphone ships with a web browser and an email app.

But if all you have is an Instagram account – I mean, nevermind the weirdos like me who aren’t on social media anymore. There’s people who don’t use Instagram, but will spend hours on TikTok, you know? Or Threads, or Facebook(?!).

It’s time to stop letting our websites be the most boring, out of date corner of your online world. Post photos, stories, rants, memes… stop giving your best material away to platforms that limit your reach, and keep you locked into their universe.

EIGHT YEARS OF RUNNING

I can’t believe I started running when I was 40 years old, and now I’m 48. Where does the time go? It was 8 years ago today that I started on this adventure.

After a slow and easy winter, I got back to running in April.

Knowing I’d be slow, running on flat ground didn’t sound appealing, so I went for the hills.

Being out of breath and slow just ain’t a fun time. That’s why I started seeking hills to climb, knowing that I’d be slow, but at least I was climbing a mountain, you know?

I always remember the old running adage, “Hills are speedwork in disguise.” I wasn’t looking for speed; I was looking for strength and fitness. Every step up a hill was a single leg press, and every step down was a forward lunge.

Since starting on April 19th I’m down 12.5lbs, and I am definitely stronger and fitter. I’ve put in 75 hours on mostly trails, covered 283 miles, and climbed 36,800′ in elevation (about 7 miles).

Mind you, I’m mostly power hiking the hills, but you gotta walk before you can run. And when I do run, I’m finally able to nail a 12 minute mile pace, which is definitely an improvement from a few months ago when I’d run 14-15 minute miles. A few more months, I’m sure I’ll be able to hit a 10:30 minute mile pace.

The fun part has been how good it’s felt, which is why I keep doing it. It feels good going up a “mountain,” you know? I’ve gone up a trail called Leg Destroyer a few times. Some runs I’ve climbed 1,400′.

It’s been fun getting back in the flow, building up a base again, and making every run an adventure. I might not be doing epic 100 mile challenges just yet, but like I said earlier, gotta walk before you can run.

YOUR ART NEEDS MORE OF YOUR ART

I believe a few things in my line of work:

Let people know what you’re doing.

By this, I mean when you have a new song, exhibit, drawing, or idea, you should share it with your audience or your fans.

Like Rick Rubin says, “make stuff, and show it to your friends.”

Let people know what you’re doing in a way that is as creative as the work itself.

Established artists can send out a flyer with a BUY NOW button because they have the luxury of being established artists.

Radiohead and Beyonce can drop a surprise album because they’re Radiohead and Beyonce.

You’re not Radiohead or Beyonce.

Posting “here’s my new thing” and a link gets lost in the river of content, because everyone posts “here’s my new thing” every hour of the day, week after week, year after year.

Meritocracy is a myth,” says Delon Om. “I always believed that my art would speak for itself- that its merit would earn recognition and validation. Unfortunately, I have learned that is not the case.”

It’s never been easier to distribute your work and get it seen by a million people by lunchtime, but because everyone can do that, it’s also never been harder.

This video from Noah Kalina documents how he captured a photo and made it into a print, which sold out in a few hours. To my knowledge, he only mentioned this offering in his video, which “only” got about 900 views in a month, but his work doesn’t just speak for itself. His work is the work, and his art is the art. It’s all Noah Kalina.

He didn’t just post “new print for sale” on his Instagram Threads and call it a day.

He spent many hours making that art and told his friends about it in a 100% Noah Kalina way.

Bobby Hundreds doesn’t need to write 500+ word newsletters, he’s Bobby Hundreds! He could easily get away with posting his random thoughts and links to new endeavors. But I imagine someone like Bobby has so much creativity coursing through his veins that he’s compelled to share more about the big things he’s doing.

QUESTION: How can your creative spirit inform how you tell your friends about your work?

ADS COMING TO THREADS

That nice user experience you’ve got on Instagram Threads will end right on schedule, of course.

“Threads is still a loss leader for Meta financially, though it can certainly afford to fund it indefinitely. Internally, I’m told execs are thinking about turning on ads in Threads sometime next year, though the exact plan is still up in the air.”

Yeah yeah yea, they’re thinking about it. Of course they are, and will. That’s how companies make money.

It’s remarkable how Cory Doctorow’s “enshittification” playbook is followed like a road map by these shit companies.

“Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

Via The Verge

GRABBING NOTHING

Photo by Seth Werkheiser

All the hours spent on social media over the last several years – it stings. Hours I could have spent walking around town with a camera, or just sitting on a bench thinking about nothing.

Nothing, space, the void. Right now these are the most important items on my daily to-do list. Mind you, this doesn’t mean I spend 75% of my day in meditation, or staring at the walls while ignoring my cat, or my work stuff. I just mean capturing moments of nothing / space / the void when I can get it.

This means hour long runs with no music. Walks around town when I’ve completed work tasks. Leaving my phone outside of the kitchen when I’m making and eating lunch.

The goal each day is to grab as much nothing as posslb.e

HALFWAY THROUGH 2024

Photo by Seth Werkheiser

It’s been way too hot lately, but a few nights here and there it drops to 70F and it’s tolerable enough for a photo walk.

I mean, who likes talking about the weather? What a cliche, right? But my god, the weather is becoming so unbearable, and it’s only the first of July.

Someone in town who I chat with now and again asked me, “do you just walk around all day?” To which I replied, “yep.”

My new work process is finish something, then instead of clicking around the series of websites I frequent, or checking email for the millionth time, I go for a walk, even if it’s just around the block. I think I’m at like 20,000 steps a day.

Oh, and I ran 100 miles in June, which is the highest I’ve run in a long time. I can’t believe I ran 1,100 miles in 2020, but I’m getting back to it. I’m at 262 miles so far this year, but I only really started on April 19th. That was my “okay, I’m tired of being tired all the time” moment. And my favorite winter jacket didn’t fit anymore. Tonight I ran eight miles. ON A MONDAY NIGHT.

TOO MANY OPTIONS

Photo by Seth Werkheiser

The more I think about the marketing machine, and the how and the why and the strategies involved, the more it all seems impossible.

Like, everyone who wants to “get the word out” about their thing is competing with a million other people doing the same thing. Some of it rises to the top because it’s what everyone is talking about – tech reviews, AI, sports, Star Wars, etc.

Other folks who do stuff that’s not quite as “big,” well, they’re lost in the fray, unless we’re talking about BookTok, of course.

But like, do “we” need to be in all these popular online places to make it? Is it required?

I think about the tiny Chinese restaurant I visit in Palmerton, PA. They’re not on social media, nor do they need to be. People in that town (or people passing through, like me) want Chinese food.

They have it. That’s a simple and direct choice.

And I feel like when you have that immediate want, say, for Chinese food, you’re going to look locally.

And if the grass is getting too high in your yard, you have to get someone to cut it.

But a lot of other things – how to draw, people who talk about email newsletters with creative people (that’s me!), how to write better… there are a zillion options for everything out there, and no real guarantee that any of them are going to help in the end.

Chinese food? That’s simple. You can solve that problem in an hour.

All the other creative / strategy / marketing stuff? Endless variations of possible solutions, directions, and options.

EXERCISE SO HARD YOU CAN’T THINK DURING IT

The subject line above is from John Durham Peters, as quoted from this post ‘Research Techniques.’

Running is my exercise of choice. I warm up very slowly, to the point where the first 20 minutes always feels like a mistake, and I should be doing something else. But then I’m four miles into a run and start thinking “maybe I should do eight miles today!”

But really, the joy of running for me is not thinking, or at least, not fretting. Not worrying.

There’s taxes to be paid, deadlines to meet, tasks to complete, sure. Those will always be there.

But when running, and when I’m truly present, I notice just the important things – the ground below, the sweat on my arms, watching my breath, keeping my heart rate in check.

In that moment, at mile one or eleven, they’re the most important things in my life. If I don’t pay full attention, and stay clear minded about such matters, it could be trouble.

So running forces me to be present, which really makes you wonder what’s important in life. Like I said, the taxes, the deadlines, yep… those will never end.

But someday I will run my last mile.
Someday I’ll run up a favorite hill one last time.
They’ll be a time when I can’t just walk out the door and stroll around the block.

That’s why I keep moving, and spending money (ooops) on things that keep moving, like ultralight backpacks and tents so I can be in the woods more, or another pair of trail shoes because I use them enough that they fall apart.

So I wouldn’t say I exercise that hard, but I flirt with that level of pain. I get close enough. It’s a challenge, but not impossible.

A few months ago I started running up this road that leads to the Appalachian Trail, and it used to take me 30 minutes, from the parking lot to the peak.

Back in April it took me about 45 minutes. I gained some weight, hadn’t been running so much.

It’s June and I’m at about 34 minutes, which is 34 minutes of not thinking about a fucking thing in the world except reaching the top and not dying.