Creative Failure

Ally wrote a brilliant piece on why creative people don’t succeed — at least as much as they should succeed.

On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make sense. You’d think that creative people are the ones with the ideas and the ability to carry out those ideas.

Whether it be writing, designing, podcasting — or any other medium — those are the types of folks that could easily knock it out of the park.

She goes on to say something that I resonate with:

What’s stopping incredibly smart, creative people from becoming as successful as they hope to be — and can be — is their own mindset.

Ok, so resonate is a pretty deep understatement, because for me there’s a significant amount of truth in what she says. I am definitely my biggest roadblock — and it’s me who gets in the way of being great.

In other words, I suffer from imposter syndrome big time. It all boils down to a lack of confidence that I am what I say I am.

Thankfully Sonia reminds me I’m not alone:

In my experience, there’s no amount of self-talk or “I can do it!” self-motivation that will really do much for the problem.

And then she says something I needed to hear:

Your authority comes from your audience, from how you help that audience get something they want.

As my friend and colleague Pamela often says, “We focus too much on pushing ourselves on others and should focus more on pulling others in.”

Some really smart words there — and advice I intend to follow.

Brilliant Business Models

Eight years ago I left my desk job and entered the world of online entrepreneurship. There have been many ups and downs since that journey started, but one thing has remained the same.

I am fascinated with, and love meeting, the friends that I have made online. Some of them have become really close friends.

A couple of weeks ago Allison and I talked about online personas, and one of the people we discussed was Erin Loechner.

I came across Erin and her work when I was surfing the internet looking for design inspiration. When I landed on her site I fell in love with it.

Then I spent some time reading through her blog, which is filled with authenticity and being real — for that reason alone it instantly became a “must read” — then I landed on her Work With Erin page.

Let’s start with the fact that she has over a million fans. If you dig a little deeper, you will see they are spread out over a number of social media platforms — Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter.

She also offers a variety of services such as writing, speaking and creating.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out her business model. It’s clear as day, and in my opinion, is brilliant. So take notes on this, m’kay?

Follow your passion. Build an audience. Sell access to yourself.

Being Great

I’ve been struggling a bit of late with my ability to focus. Whether it be design, writing, podcasting — all areas of my work life have been running inefficiently and it’s something I haven’t been able to figure out why.

The ideas in my head flow like an endless river, but finding the time to execute on any of them has always been my achilles heel.

Yesterday I had a revelation, and I think I’ve been finally able to put my finger on (at the very least a contributing factor to said struggles) why things have gone in this direction.

Here’s what I thought, and also what I shared on social media:

I think the more I focus on being great, the less I succeed at being good.

Think about that for minute, will you? Sit on it, and ponder the truth in that statement before you make any judgements about me.

We all strive for excellence, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But in my eyes, 95% effort towards it, in my opinion, is 5% short. I think the focus should be on the former of what I tweeted, rather than the latter.

The pressure to be great is — well, so great that it cripples us — injects us with expectations that are typically unrealistic.

We spin our wheels trying to write that epic post. But we have a tendency to measure ourselves up so inadequately to those we admire — so much that, in the end, we don’t write anything.

This is something I’ve realized about myself that needs to change. I’m slowly learning that I cannot be great at everything — and thinking I can be — is merely a setup for self-doubt and failure.

It’s ok to focus on being great, but not at the expense of being good. The saying goes, “Inch by inch it’s such a cinch. Yard by yard it’s awfully hard.”

You can’t reach the summit unless you start at the base of the mountain.

Unfollowing People

I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter and it’s not because I dislike the platform. In fact, I really enjoy engaging with those who follow me and talking about things that do (and often) don’t matter.

The problem I have is that at times I feel prisoner to the people I follow — and it’s something that really bothers me.

A couple of times over the past year I have tweeted this:

Don’t follow people because you are afraid to unfollow them.

I know. Do as I say, not as I do. Right?

You have every reason in the world to call me out on my fraudulent ways when it comes to Twitter. I’ll understand, because I’m guilty of it.

Though I will admit recently I went on an unfollow binge, where I pushed the button on nearly 25% of the folks that I was following — and it felt really good. Cleansing, as a matter of fact.

I was amazed how many people I had been following just because. I had to be honest and asked “Is there a real reason I’m following this person?”

It didn’t take long to realize how many of them I said “no” to, and that started the snowball once I understood that answer meant something.

The follow up question I had if there was someone I wasn’t sure about was “When was the last time you tweeted at them or they tweeted at you?”

And the silence was deafening.

It was time. Time to grow a pair and start pruning the list, so that my energy on Twitter was used efficiently, rather than scrolling past all of the statuses I know deep down in my heart I’m not that interested in.

I challenge you to take some time to go through the list of people you follow and push the button. Even if that means unfollowing me.

Consider this permission.

Internet Addiction

A few years ago Russell Brand published a brutally authentic post on The Guardian called My Life Without Drugs.

There’s a particular thing he said that I’ve never been able to shake from my memory and I’m fairly positive I know exactly why that is.

Drugs and alcohol are not my problem, reality is my problem, drugs and alcohol are my solution.

I have so many reactions that I want to share about what he wrote — some shocking, some embarrassing — most of which you might judge me on.

Russell’s authenticity is set from the start, as he opens up immediately:

The last time I thought about taking heroin was yesterday.

I don’t know about you, but I formulated an opinion on him and his character fairly quickly. But it didn’t take long for me to realize I was calling the kettle black.

It’s easy to look at what he said at face value, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the very least bit convicted. I struggle with a number of things, and my drug of choice isn’t the same as his — for me, it’s the internet.

Every minute of every day I feel the need to inject myself with time online. Whether it be email, social media or simply whatever “fix” I can get.

If I’m away from the computer, I go through withdrawal. I find excuses like running upstairs or going to the bathroom to check in. Thankfully, this ubiquitous issue we have has a way of being controlled.

Nonetheless, I need to accept that my identity away from the internet is sometimes a stranger to me — and that it’s critical I recapture who I am.

Because, in the moment, I’m currently living with this truth:

The internet is not my problem, reality is my problem, and the internet is my solution.

So for now, I’m going to lay down my stone and cut Russell some slack. Because he understands, and is doing the same for me.

Buffer’s Transparency

I used to think transparency on the web was simply a marketing tactic — something that businesses would do as a result of some lame smoke-and-mirrors approach to stroking their own ego.

When Buffer disclosed the salaries of their employees, I drew some pretty harsh conclusions in my head about them. It really wasn’t fair, to be honest, but there was something about what they did that rubbed me the wrong way. At the time, I just got angry about it.

Maybe I thought their positioning was a hoax, or maybe there was a degree of envy that I was feeling. I couldn’t put my finger on those emotions until recently, when I came to realize that their actions were merely a result of something I believe in — authenticity.

We live in a world where truth is often frowned upon, and the idea of oversharing is met with rash judgement. After all, why would a company choose to publicly announce the amount of money their employees were making? Seemed like a weird strategy play, don’t you think?

Here are four reasons why transparency works for them:

  1. Transparency breeds trust.
  2. Transparency helps with innovation as a company grows.
  3. Transparency leads to greater justice.
  4. You open yourself up to more feedback.

Ok, I buy into all of these reasons, and if I’m really being honest — they can also be rationale for those of us who personally choose to speak truth online. Building trust and affirmation are at the very top of my list when I consider what I share with my audience.

But the one thing they say that really makes sense and resonates a whole lot with me is this … “You use transparency as a tool to help others.”

When I’ve opened up on my blog, Twitter or Facebook, I’ve done so because I think there’s a tremendous amount of freedom in knowing that we’re not alone. I want those who follow me to understand they might be struggling with the same things that I struggle with.

I love that Buffer raises the bar on acceptability and breaks down some walls that are normally considered taboo. It’s quite refreshing and there’s something to be said about a group of people being pioneers in a space that’s filled with others doing things the “old-fashioned” way.

Besides, I have a hard time finding fault when they say something like this: “We see no reason not to share everything.”

Customize Genesis Site Footer

I’ve been asked on a number of occasions what is the best way to change the text that’s found in a site footer using the Genesis Framework. Depending on your comfort level, there’s a few ways to do this.

Genesis Simple Edits

I’ll start with the easiest method to kick things off, and this one you will allow you to customize your site footer without having to learn PHP or write functions, filters, or mess with hooks.

With over 280,000 downloads, the Genesis Simple Edits plugin makes life easy for you. In just a few clicks, you can update the text to your site footer.

Go to the Genesis > Simple Edits page in your WordPress dashboard, check the “Modify Entire Footer Text” option and enter your HTML code.

Write a Custom Function

If you’re like me and prefer not to use a plugin, another method for customizing your site footer in Genesis is to write a custom function.

Open up your theme’s functions.php file and place the following code:

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You might notice that I’ve removed the site footer markup and contents and redefined that back in my custom markup. I figured some folks may want to wrap their footer in addition code for styling purposes.

Genesis Simple Hooks

Alternatively to the Genesis Simple Edits plugin, you might find that you are already using the Genesis Simple Hooks plugin. If you are using that for another purpose, you can also use it to customize your site footer.

Go to the Genesis > Simple Hooks page in your WordPress dashboard, scroll down to the “genesis_footer Hook” section and be sure to check the “Unhook genesis_do_footer() function from this hook” option.

There you can place and enter your HTML code. Unlike the example of Genesis Simple Edits or the custom function listed above, you do not need to include the .site-footer and .wrap divs in the code.

If you’re looking to jazz up your site footer, I wrote a simple tutorial that shows you how to customize your footer with a heart dashicon.

I hope that you enjoyed this Genesis tutorial. I have also published a list of Genesis code snippets, so feel free to use anything you see there.

Add a Sticky Message to Your Website

The other day I was designing a personal site and implemented a feature that I thought would be really fun to share. It’s called a Sticky Message, which I also added to my Mobile First theme that’s freely available for you to download.

If you’re wondering how to add the Sticky Message into your Genesis website, I’ve got good news for you. It’s quite simple, and I’m going to show you below.

Adding a Sticky Message

The first thing you need to do is register the Sticky Message widget area. Open up your theme’s functions.php file and place the following code:

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Next you’ll need to use a function to hook the output of the Sticky Message widget area in place. In your theme’s functions.php file, place the following code:

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The last function you need to add to your theme’s functions.php is the function that enqueues the JS file that is required. Place the following code:

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It’s possible your theme already has a function which enqueues scripts and styles, and it’s perfectly ok to combine the wp_enqueue_script line of code in that.

Create a sticky-message.js file and use the code below. You’ll need to to add this file to your theme’s /js/ folder.

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The javascript you see above will add the .reveal class to the .sticky-message element after a person has scrolled 100px down from the top of the screen.

Now that you’ve got all of the code in place, style the Sticky Message container. The CSS you see below displays what you see on the Mobile First demo.

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I hope that you enjoyed this Genesis tutorial. I have also published a list of Genesis code snippets, so feel free to use anything you see there.

Add Typekit Fonts to Your Website

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Google Fonts, but I’m also an huge advocate of Typekit Fonts as well. I love the variety of fonts that Google offers, and that they are free to use, but once in a while I want to take my website to a higher level.

If you’re wondering how to add Typekit Fonts into your Genesis website, I’ve got good news for you. It’s quite simple, and I’m going to show you below.

Adding Typekit Fonts

If you are using any of our StudioPress themes, you’ll need to remove the code that loads Google Fonts first. There’s no reason to keep it in, especially since it would add an additional http request on your site load.

Using Remobile Pro theme as an example, you’ll see this in the functions file:

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You’ll want to remove the following line of code from that function:

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The next step in adding Typekit Fonts to your Genesis website is to create a “kit” through your Typekit account. After you have done that, you should be provided with an Embed Code that looks something like this:

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You’ll need to copy that code and place it into the Header Scripts option box on the Genesis > Theme Settings page in your WordPress dashboard.

Here’s an screenshot that shows you where to place the code:

Typekit Fonts Embed Code
Place your Typekit Fonts embed code in the Header Scripts box.

The last thing you need to do is update the CSS in your style sheet. You’ll want to do a search and replace, as this will ensure you replace all instances.

For example, you’ll notice that our Remobile Pro theme uses the Neuton font from Google, as shown in the CSS below:

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Simply replace the font-family with your Typekit Fonts, as shown below:

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I hope that you enjoyed this Genesis tutorial. I have also published a list of Genesis code snippets, so feel free to use anything you see there.

Rear View Mirrors

I am going to write this post in a way that I’ve seldom ever written anything. There’s a part of me that wants to stare in the rear view mirror, but I know that deep in my heart it’s the wrong thing to do.

This morning I read an article written by one of my favorite people, Paul Jarvis. If you don’t know him, you should follow him — his unapologetic stance on personal expression is not only infectious, it’s undeniably accurate.

Like most other creatives, I struggle with self-sabotage, self-doubt, and feeling like an imposter more often than not. I struggle with expressing myself, because it does sometimes feel easier or safer not to.

Over the past few years, I’ve struggled mightily with my website. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’re nodding your head in agreement, and you probably could sue me for all of the whiplash I’ve caused you.

I often struggle with focus, and pair that with the gift of creativity and being an “idea” person and I’m pretty sure you see where this is going.

What I’ve never come to realize is that the back-and-forth nature of my being was the result of a dichotomy that my work and personal life are separate entities.

This mentality has caused me conflict with authenticity in a way that I truly wish to experience. The allure of metrics and the definition of success has driven me to avoid reality and that’s something that I have inwardly resented.

A few months ago I re-launched my website as a design resource, where I decided to share some things I created and teach you how I do what I do. But I haven’t shared with you what I feel and why I do the things I do.

I love what Nashville-Based designer Ruthie Lindsey says here:

All of us are longing for connection and authenticity, and what we believe will repel people does the exact opposite.

I’m a creative person. You’re a creative person. We are creative people.

I want to share with you the entire creative process that I go through. It might be surprising, because what you see is only 10-20% of it.

What I feel, how I think, things I experience … that makes up the other 80-90%.

For me work is personal, and personal is work. I’m not going to avoid either in an attempt to gain (or out of fear of losing) any kind of numbers. So it’s time to do what feels right and have them be inter-related.

I’m not looking back. And neither should you. So if you came here looking for inspiration on design or to learn how to build things, stick around.

You might learn something about yourself, because what’s inside of you, and the things you think and feel, come out in pretty much everything you create.