The Official Weblog of Internet Person Sam Killermann

Work dot Com

Work dot Com

A Checklist to Work Through Before Creating Any New Website, Blog, or App

Don't hire a designer until you've figured these things out.

A Checklist to Work Through Before Creating Any New Website, Blog, or App

Are you thinking about creating a website? Or a blog? Or an app? Do you want to be “in the cloud,” but you’re not really sure what that is? Have you been talking with colleagues about this idea, or received direction from your boss, and started figuring out how to do it yourself, or looking into hiring a designer/developer to build it for you?

Great! Good on you. Making things is really exciting, and it’s really fun to hit the ground running.

The natural next step you might make is to start price shopping around, looking for an agency or creative you can afford.

Not great! But no fault to you: this is what most people do next. And it’s something that results in a lot of wasted money in the long run.

Before you start designing or building something that you have in mind, and definitely before you start paying someone else to, there are a few things you need to figure out.

Continue reading → “A Checklist to Work Through Before Creating Any New Website, Blog, or App”
Work dot Com

Why I Hadn’t Funded My Work with Patreon

It's not just about a discomfort with money.

Why I Hadn’t Funded My Work with Patreon

For several years, my “day job” (the one paying my bills) has been performing comedy shows. Meanwhile, my hobby has been creating online resources, tools, and organizations for justice.

If you think that’s a weird combo, you’re not alone. I’m with you: it’s hard to wrap my mind around the truth that the way I make money is comedy, then I use that money to pay to do administrative-paperwork-email-non-profit-type stuff.

Usually, it’s the other way around.

What’s even weirder? Switching things up — and starting to fund my online advocacy work directly, not via comedy shows — seems less likely to succeed than continuing to be a working comedian.

And yes — I’ve heard of Patreon. People have told me about it hundreds of times, for years and years, every time I made that point.

A lot of the work I do is a great fit for Patreon. But I’ve been resistant to the idea of funding it that way. The reasons are a mix of ethics and personal discomforts, and are all tied directly to my work, and the change I hope it effects.

So why haven’t I done it?

Continue reading → “Why I Hadn’t Funded My Work with Patreon”
Work dot Com

How I Made A WordPress Site with a 100 Score on Google Pagespeed Insights

While saving over $100 / month on Wordpress hosting. (Oh, and this isn't an ad, even though it sounds like one.)

How I Made A WordPress Site with a 100 Score on Google Pagespeed Insights

I’m really thrilled about this. As a poor person who creates tons of websites that have a ton of traffic but are totally free and make negative dollars, I feel like I’ve found the Holy Grail. But before I get into the details, two quick things:

One, none of the following links are affiliates/sponsored (I don’t abide that sort of thing here).

Two, this path isn’t for everyone, but I’m going to lay it out for those of you who want to walk it.

Just wanted to get that out of the way, because I know that the excitement that’s bubbling out of me might be misread as a sales pitch or proselytizing. It’s not.

We good? Good. Omg. Can I tell you how excited I am?!

Continue reading → “How I Made A WordPress Site with a 100 Score on Google Pagespeed Insights”
Work dot Com

After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.

Are you considering creating a "brand" for yourself or a project? Maybe this will help.

After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.

I got thrown into this. Two-fold.

I got thrown into the work I’ve been doing. And I got thrown into a situation that’s led me to question everything, rethink and restructure, and make decisions that feel like an overall “brand.”

While I’m happy I’m here, one of the strongest forces that’s guiding what I do next is precisely avoiding how I got here: no more being thrown into stuff. Seem easy? Maybe. Probably not.

I’ll get to that in a second, but first the back story.

Continue reading → “After 7 Years Doing this Work, I’m [Re-] Branding. Here’s how I’m making decisions.”

(Un)Happiness

The Road Away From Email

A long and winding path with a pot of gold at the end. If I can get there.

The Road Away From Email

I wish I never had to read another email.

This is something I’ve said thousands of times, aloud and in my head (mostly in my head). I’ve said it in anger after opening another death threat. I’ve said it in frustration when an email sent me down a rabbit hole that took me away from a project I had planned for the day. It’s been an underlying sentiment for years, but it wasn’t until recently that it turned into a concrete plan:

I am going to stop reading emails.

But how?

Continue reading → “The Road Away From Email”
Building a Daily Meditation Habit

Maintaining a Daily Meditation Habit

What it's going to take for me to stick with 100 days of mindfulness

Maintaining a Daily Meditation Habit

I’m on day 9 of 100 in my quest to making meditation an integral part of my daily routine. At just shy of 10%, I have already learned a lot that will inform the next 90. I’m going to walk through what I’m planning to draw upon, from most concrete to most abstract.

1. Tools matter.

meditation-progress-sam-killermann

There’s this famous Audre Lorde quote that gets tossed around a lot in the social justice activism spaces I occupy: “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

Folks generally take it to mean that you can’t undo a harmful system using components that support that harmful system, or by working within that system.

There are lots and lots of debates about that quote, and you can read them (or we could get into them another time), but for now it’s the second part of the quote that I am appealing to (the part that is often omitted): “They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.”

It’s this idea, that the master’s tools may temporarily allow us to be him at his own game, that I’ve found to be particularly salient this past week. Indeed, I’ve managed to turn just about every thing in my life that led me to mindlessness into a tool to help me practice mindfulness.

Continue reading → “Maintaining a Daily Meditation Habit”
Technolophizing

1 Simple Productivity Hack: Leave your charger at home

The first time it happened, like most beautiful things, it was a frantic, sloppy accident. Now it's usually only two of those things.

1 Simple Productivity Hack: Leave your charger at home

I’m going to keep this short, because I only have 56 minutes of battery left on my laptop and still have about 100 emails I want to write today.

If you want to get work done, and are having a hard time controlling your focus (Facebook), keeping yourself from being distracted (Twitter), or hurdling any of the other hurdles between you and what you need to do today (Taylor Swift’s instagram account), take your laptop to a coffee shop and leave your charger at home. Continue reading → “1 Simple Productivity Hack: Leave your charger at home”

Technolophizing

How I Keep Track of 50 Projects at Once (& Maintain Some Sanity)

A friend wrote me and asked how I make sense of everything. This is what I replied.

How I Keep Track of 50 Projects at Once (& Maintain Some Sanity)

I’m currently in the process of finishing two books, starting another, publishing two new sexuality models, three new live social justice comedy shows, running half a dozen volunteer-based initiatives, building I’m-not-even-sure-how-many websites, and the list goes on. It’s a lot. And as I type that, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But I’ve found a way to make sense of it all, to not lose any of my little ducklings, and to retain a semblance of peace of mind.

It’s just a matter of coming up with a way of not losing track of ideas before they develop into things.

I want to first say that I’m not very good at this — I’m just good enough. And if you’re a notebook/physical thing person, you’re not going to like this, because I’m all digital, baby (in the cloud! disruptive! innoventive!). I keep track of ideas, actions, and creation using [mostly] Evernote, Wunderlist, and Google Drive. I also have a pile of external hard drives. Below is how I specifically use each.

All of these things are [or can be] free, other than the hard drives. They are great for collaborating. And they work on my phone, tablet, computer, and web browser.

To remember ideas, I use Evernote

Evernote is amazing, but it can easily get unmanageable. The trick is to effectively use tags and journals.

I have different journals for different ideations within Evernote (e.g., a comedy one, an IPM one, one for my forthcoming EP, one for each of my books, etc.) but use the same universal tag system for everything. That way, everything has its own place, but with the tags I can draw connections between otherwise unrelated projects.

For example, I originally wrote my gender TEDx talk to be a song, so I tagged it “lyrics” and while it changed from there, it still comes up when I’m looking at “lyrics” to see all the songs I’ve written, which I like (cuz it could be easily changed back).

To remember actions, I use Wunderlist

Wunderlist is almost as powerful as Evernote in its ability to organize, but it far surpasses Evernote’s ability to push me to get tasks done. You can have separate lists for different projects, assign tasks to people, or just have an inbox of incoming assignments (I use this feature a lot with my manager & project coordinator, Chum and Bethany, where we assign tasks to one another on share lists).

I have about 60 – 70 Wunderlists going at any given time. I have one for each of my live personal projects (things like IPM site, Jack and/or Jill, etc., which is about 30ish), one for each of my collaborations that are still ongoing (like the Safe Zone Project), for every freelance gig I have open, and then I have some general life ones (e.g., “Rainy Day in Austin,” “Things I Need to Buy”).

Some of the tasks have due dates, which makes it easy to know what I have to get done today, if anything (by browsing the due “Today” tab). But if that’s not absolutely necessary, they don’t. And I just open a list and work through it when I’m inspired to work on that project.

I also recently started doing “pre” and “post” lists for speaking/shows/trips, and I’ve really liked that idea. “Pre” is things to pack, print, buy, etc. “Post” is all follow-ups I accumulate while I’m there. And I have those forever until they’re complete, like the one from a trip I did back in January that is still not complete. Gotta get on that.

To get started on writing and creation, I use Google Drive

Google Drive is amazing because you can create, share, edit, and publish [limited, but not bad] all from one place. It’s as much a shared drive as it is a studio, and because of the universality of google accounts, it’s perfect for collaboration.

Right now, I have 22 top level folders in my Google Drive. As you’re starting to likely get the sense, I use these separations to help me stay organized. But for Google Drive, I don’t separate just by project, but also by collaborators. I give Chum and Bethany access to all of my personal projects, so there’s just a “CHUM & BETHANY & SAM” folder. I share access to that folder with them once, then they have everything inside, which includes everything from new articles I’m writing for a variety of sites, to bios, to show schedules, to contracts, to budgets.

Some of my other top level folders are more broad, but all with the same goal of making the sharing easy. The only reason I’m writing and making things on Google Drive instead of my laptop is because I can click a button and allow someone else access (to edit, provide feedback, take over, etc.). So it’s with that in mind that I choose how I will organize what goes where.

To finalize and publish, I use my laptop

Granted, I’m using my laptop for a lot of the things above as well, but here I mostly mean Adobe Creative Suite (for all the design and print stuff) and Sublime Text 2 (for programming web stuff). And I back up all of the finished products of everything on external hard drives.

To organize my computer, I created a new top level folder (on the same par as “Documents” and “Movies”) called “Projects.” In Projects, I have a subfolder for everything I’m currently actively working on. Everything finished or dormant stowed away on an external drive. The nice thing about the Projects folder is that now I can still use the Documents folder for what, I think, it was meant to be: a hodge-podge of personal things (like tax returns) and other files you’re not sure where to put (like resumes, animated .gifs of Ellen dancing, etc.).

As far as backing things up, I have separate external hard drives for three different divisions of my work: photo/video (all on one hard drive), design, and organizational. So I know that if I need the raw video clip of a testimonial from a keynote that I gave three years ago, I plug in my blue hard drive where it’ll be organized hierarchically by type and date, and I can find it in 2 minutes. Ditto with a poster I made four years ago and haven’t thought of since (just happened as I was redesigning Dear World). Or an organizational structure and position descriptions for something I did in 2012. All on separate hard drives, waiting to be resurrected.

Each of those hard drives is backed up as well, of course. And my computer (with all of my live projects) gets backed up every couple of days on a separate hard drive altogether.

This is how I do it, not how you should

The above system works really well [enough] for me. But I came to it through a ton of trial and error. And the best advice I can give to anyone is exactly that: try things, try different things, then try some other things.

You can start with the things above, but don’t stop until you’ve found a system of techniques, software, writing on your hand, pinning notes to your shirtt, whatever, that feels right. You’ll know when you find it. Or, rather, you’ll know when you haven’t, so keep experimenting until you hit your stride.

Better Humaning

Be Bored

"Boredom is the fear of self." - Marie Josephine de Suin

Be Bored

Be bored.

Stop. Whatever else you’re doing. Stop.

Turn off your music. Turn off the TV, Netflix Instant Streaming, Hulu+, Amazon Prime, all the things you use to fill your time. Not forever, not for long, but for right now, this moment, stop. Continue reading → “Be Bored”

Technolophizing

Let’s Be Honest: We’re Already Dating Our Phones

“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.” - J.K. Rowling

Let’s Be Honest: We’re Already Dating Our Phones

Yo. I just saw Her. It’s cray. It’s powerfully well-written and brings up a lot of thoughts about how we might relate to technology and one another in the future. But it also made me think a lot about how we relate to technology and one another right now. If you have a smart phone and you’ve seen Her, you’ve likely had a lot of these thoughts already.

It’s hard to convince myself that we’re not already dating our phones. Continue reading → “Let’s Be Honest: We’re Already Dating Our Phones”