Recently, my Orlando expert friend Ken gave a “State of Things” on his podcast, the Orlando Tourism Report– he looked at what’s working? What’s not? What could be tweaked? Ken’s analysis, findings & changes he shared made me take a step back & try to do the same thing for myself. I’ve been doing this writing thing a lot shorter time than OTR has been on the air/podcast apps, but it was an important reminder to continually assess & realign, so here we are.
I’ve been running the JLBNerdy blog since October of 2015 and only have a handful of posts- and that signals that it’s time to get on it. In all the marketing advice I’ve seen on pinterest (hard research- that’s how I roll), it’s all about scheduling. Knowing that, Sunday is now going to be post day. Instead of over scheduling and stressing, it’s going to be one post a week unless something awesome & extra & random shows up. My goal is to keep it nerdy, keep it real & keep it me, so rest easy on that end.
As previously mentioned, I’ve been writing via Fiverr, freelancing for individuals directly and looking at some larger projects in the near future as well. The amount of writing I’ve done lately is awesome & I’m aiming for a day in which I do only that for work. There’s big goals & little goals sprinkled down the road ahead for me- & I’m simply excited to have an audience to help make that journey possible.
Feel free to comment or shoot me a note if you’ve got anything you’d like to throw out there- I’d love any feedback you’ve got to share.
PS Like I said, Ken is THE authority on Orlando and Central Florida. If you’re interested in that, check out the Orlando Tourism Report to hear from some of my favorite nerds around.
I started freelance writing. I sucked it up and decided to not be afraid anymore and move forward. Besides, a smart man named Kevin Smith said that if something is scary, do it. Forget that fear and just dive in (more on the Q&A session with Kevin that we attended later in a possible review of Atlanta stop, if only so I have an excuse to share the selfies Losson & I got with him)
I decided that April was the time to start, so I did what I had been considering for a while & signed up for a Fiverr account. The website is an awesome website where you can buy and sell services starting at $5 a pop. After fees, as a seller, you bring in 80% of those sales, so you don’t start off being a billionaire- that comes later. The increments of what you offer/how much/the cost can vary based on your offerings and what folks are wanting to buy as well. For example, a base 500 word blog post/article from me is $5 for a 3 day delivery, but for an extra $5 you can get 1000 words instead or pay extra to get it a day earlier- it’s very flexible and I like that.
So Fiverr is my start. I figure once I get a little more experience I’ll look at some bigger, meatier freelance jobs but this is a good side hustle for the moment. My biggest goal is to get $200 in sales so I can buy a new laptop (it’d cover about half the cost), then I’ll really be making it in my mind. Thus far, I’m about 1/4 of the way there, so it’ll happen before too long, hopefully.
I’m still surprised every time I get an order that people want to pay for my words. Even though it’s their assignments, the fact they want me to put their expressions together is pretty awesome. I haven’t really advertised a whole lot either, so the buyers I have gotten are pretty random and so appreciated, too.
I’ve done a lot of scary things in my life-quit my job of 5 years, get married (hey, it can be scary to say ‘forever’!), etc., but this journey of becoming a freelance writer is one that I am super proud of already, not just in hindsight. I could have thought about starting for a lot longer before I did, but I decided to just jump in and see what happened. Within three hours of having an account, I had an order for an blog post in my inbox.
So here’s to conquering any fears that might be a hindrance to what you dream of doing- that fear is more than likely just a figment of your imagination- take that chance and just see what happens!
I’ve absent some lately & I must explain myself. I blame Kevin Smith.
I’ve written before about Kevin, my enjoyment of his films & my love for what he stands for- not just the inappropriate sayings I’ll spare you from here. Kevin is a man on a mission to inspire. He took a leap of faith to begin his career in 1992 & create “Clerks” by maxing out some credit cards. His gamble paid off & the film found a deal with Miramax. Kev was able to pay off those credit cards & also start down a creative path that led to many more films & a cult following.
I say all of that to tell you that Kevin Smith has inspired me to find my thing. He is forever talking about how people need to find their passion, follow it & make their life what they want it to be. That being said, I want to be a writer.
You’re probably thinking “well duh, she writes” by the simple fact I’ve got a blog in the first place, but there’s more to it than that- I’m admittedly scared with this writing realization.
Writing is hard & eventually being a freelancer is something that I dream about but makes me nervous. There’s 3 big reasons that I’m not so certain about writing- my mindset, my laziness & my need/want for new equipment.
My mindset is full of “but who would pay for my words?”. This questioning also informs my subconscious self-sabatoging that I have a tendency to do. If I didn’t self sabotage, I would have graduated college a semester sooner, I’d probably weigh a few less pounds & I imagine I’d honestly be a little less stressed out in life. It has gotten much better but I still have my moments & areas that I’m not so certain about. With some positive performances & feedback, I know it’ll get better, but I’ve got to make it to that point.
My laptop fan is shot, so I kind of feel in order to get much work done, I need a new laptop. That’s not the most crucial thing though. I’ve got Losson’s computer to use & can save for a new laptop- as long as I have paper & pen I can write, right? Right, just gotta keep reminding myself.
So there it is, all laid out. My fears are pretty much all in my head & I need to continue to move away from that. If you have any advice on freelancing, writing or generally being a positive, confident person, I’ll take any & all pointers!
Kevin-John is a rad artist who has created many pieces for sports teams & players and also most recently for the Fine Arts arm of Disney Parks. I could go on & on, but I’ll go ahead & let him tell you how it is.
I must tell you first though, as I listened to the audio he sent me of his answers,there was constant sounds of his pencil moving. This guy is the real deal.
1) What brought you into the world of art? Did you always focus on creating pieces based around sports?
Unprofessionally, meaning art in general, drawing sketching & painting, has always been a part of me. It’s just something that just comes out; you can’t prevent it. As long as I’ve been around I remember picking up any crayon or pencil that I could find when I was a really small child & just trying to replicate anything I saw on paper. Back then it was Batman & dinosaurs, that sort of thing.
Professionally, I started when I was a senior in high school selling my art. Basically what brought me into that was that I worked a retail job part time in high school, was bringing home $80 a week & realized that I could do much better by selling art. So I came up with some pieces that I thought would sell in my hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania. At the time we were really enthusiastic about local history & the landmarks & things like that around my town, so I created art based around those things & then would sell them through local galleries & gift shops.
The sports art came about 10 years later and that was again driven by need. I met some pro athletes & they asked if I could do portraits of them playing football or whatever [sport], [as] they would like to have it for their sports room at home or one guy was opening a restaurant and wanted it [f0r that], so that’s how that came about. I was a sports enthusiast and an athlete myself so it was an easy transition to make; it was something that I understood visually how to make that work. I built my brand nationally based on the sports art [and] until about 4 years ago, that [is what] I was most known for.
2) You made the move from Pennsylvania to Florida- what caused that big of a transition? How did it effect your art?
I moved to the east coast of Florida 4 years ago. I was on a trip to Walt Disney World & I’d always heard about the coast here, so I rented a car & drove out. It was February, it was 85 degrees, and beautiful and palm trees everywhere and I was knee deep in ocean water that was warm and beautiful and blue. Back home in Pennsylvania we were getting just absolutely shellacked by a huge snowstorm & I just said ‘this is where I need to be. I have no reason to stay there,’ so I made a plan. Looking back, that was about six years ago now.
[It has affected my art] in ways I’d never expected. I expected to just move forward with the sports brand, continue [on]. I started doing some pop culture art & that was going well.
Once I got here, the opportunities for different type of art are just endless. I’ve never been an artist that has been ‘inspired’ to create art, I’m kind of a ‘paycheck artist’. If I think that it will sell, I’ll produce it, that’s my job. Once I got here, there’s the beach & palm trees & sand & the surf, I’ve been quite inspired to create coastal art, which I’ve done a lot of [now]. I’ve also always had a passion for the tiki culture. There’s a little bit of that here on the island, so I’m developing a whole series of tiki culture art. It’s a situation where I’ve never been inspired before, but this place it’s just so beautiful that it continues to inspire.
3) How did you get involved with creating work for Disney? That has to be a dream for any artist! Do they give you subjects to create works around or do you get free reign?
Disney became familiar with my art work, it wasn’t something i was searching for. I’ve always loved sports & then I worked in sports, I spoiled where I play with work, which is a blessing & a curse at the same time. I wasn’t looking to do that with Disney- Disney was my playground; it’s one of the reasons I moved to Florida & now they were offering me this contract to create art for them. I am so blessed to be able to do it- it didn’t take much convincing on my part after I realized what their direction was with me. Their direction for me is to create experiences in the parks that people can take home with them to relive those park experiences in art work form. that’s as much direction as they give me, they don’t suggest one way or another what I do. I essentially come up with concepts for new pieces I’d like to create, I then present those concepts & it goes through a bit of a review process & then that’s pretty much it. Then I create the art, it goes through approval & then it finds it’s way into the galleries in the parks here [in Orlando] & also Disneyland.
4) You have done some amazing pieces for the Disney parks & I especially loved the footage you shot while creating your Tower of Terror painting, showing the process. It was a really cool look “behind the scenes”. What inspires you to make videos such as this & share tests on colors & concepts with your friends on social media?
I have always been strong with marketing in my art. Its one of the reasons my brand has become so successful because I’ve been so strong with marketing the art. I think that means more than just showing the completed product. I’ve always been a proponent of talking with my client base and introducing them to Kevin John the person, as well as Kevin John’s art. I think it adds a little more dimension to the art to know who the person is behind it [and] creating it. Along with that, here comes social media, with fans following me from all over the world & they are able to have this intimate look into my studio everyday, me creating this art, so why not put videos up & share that process with them. Photos, commentary, that sort of thing. I don’t give away any of my trade secrets, if you will, however I do like to give my fans an intimate look at the process. It creates excitement for new, upcoming pieces.
The last two pieces that I produced for Disney, the Tower of Terror piece & the Tiki Room piece, I promoted it in [the months leading up to] the release. we’re talking hundreds of hours in the creation of this artwork from concept sketch to final product. So the fans are really watching this along the way & I think they gain an appreciation for how long it takes to create the piece of art & how labor intensive it is & my passion for it, that I don’t just sit down in an afternoon & whip some paint on a canvas & off it goes to sale. They’re paying $6,000 for an original because of everything that went into that piece, as well as the quality & what it looks like. I think the re was so much anticipation for those two pieces that they sold immediately. I’m honored that they sold so quickly.
5) The million dollar question: How does one make creating your art your job? You’ve been at it for quite a few years & have an impressive list of clients & I know that is a dream for myself & many other creative folks that I know.
29 years as a professional I celebrate this month (March). How do you do it? Talent is a component, but I think that is lower on the list than what a lot of people believe. Hard work. When I talk to artists or do interviews, a lot of the questions are similar to [these]- the word ‘inspire’ comes up a lot. I think that the general public believes that an artist kind of floats through the world & all the sudden is hit by this ‘inspired vision’ and then sits down & creates this masterpiece & sends it out into the world for sale, & then goes back about his or her day for the next few weeks or months, until [they] are inspired again to create another piece. That maybe true for some artist, but for me, inspiration has a little bit to do with it, but production is more the fact.
I work an easy 70 hour work week every week. It’s the hardest I’ve ever worked my life, over the last 20 years specifically. I didn’t go to college or art school, so I kind of earned my bones, gritty in the streets so to speak, learning on the fly & kind of inventing it on my own. It was just something I knew I always wanted to do. This was how I was going to make a career and I don’t look at it as ‘I’m an artist, I’m going to run this like an art process’, I’m a business owner, I own a business, the product is art, iI am the CEO, I am part of the marketing team, I am part of the sales team, part of the production team & I’m the sole laborer. So you look at business owners; what type of hours & effort do they put into a business? Just one of those job titles would dedicate an easy 40-50 hours a week, so I’m doing all of those different jobs, there’s no way you can do it part time & there’s no way you can do it in a 40 hour work week. It is non stop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
I am lucky if I take a Friday off every couple of weeks.I try to reserve Friday as my day off, I work Saturdays & Sundays. Even then, I’m still answering emails, checking social [media]. When I’m mobile I’m still on my phone constantly. That is how I think you become successful at this. It’s not about the art, it’s about running it as a business, as a business owner would run a successful company along with wearing different hats along the way. So you have to learn all those disciplines as well, you have to learn what it takes to wear those different hats, not just the artist hat & I find very few people are able to do that. I have forgone having children, all the normalcy of having a ‘normal 9-5’ for this. My career & my brand is everything for me. And I’ve sacrificed everything for it.It’s not unlike musicians [who] sacrifice everything to be on tour, everything [else] takes a back seat.
Bonus Question: You often talk about going to estate sales, on a quest for tiki themed items. Any tips on going home with something awesome? Also, for the record that Magnum PI mug you posted the other day is now in my radar to seek out!
[Estate sales are] just recreation to get out. I can’t always plan to be that far away from my studio, even on a day off, so down here in FL, there’s estate sales every weekend throughout the entire year. It’s something I’ve always done. My grandmother used to refer to me as an Old Soul. I think I have kind of an attachment to history, so when I go to estate sale or yard sales, [the people are like] “the tools are over there, the men’s fishing equipment & boots are over there” & that’s the last thing I want to look at. I look at the old decor & vintage accutremont , things of that nature. It links connective tissue from today & our past. We have such a recent, young history in our country here, it’s not difficult to find items that can link you to 50 years ago or 100 years ago, and i appreciate the craftsmanship & beauty.
I’m really drawn to atomic age, mid century modern decor. MY whole house kinda looks like the Jetsons, kinda 1950s vibe, so I love to collect that. The tiki culture is rolled right into that, so i snatch up tiki mugs when i can.
Tips? You’ve got to be persistent. You cant’ just go out one day a year & expect to scoop all of the prized booty that you could desire. I hit sales atleast a couple times a month. I went out two weeks ago with a friend & we didn’t find one piece [and] we hit 25 sales. Last weekend, on my birthday, I went out & scooped 5 or 6 pieces, it’s just luck of the draw. Stay consistent, that’s my Kevin-John estate sale tip.
Judd Apatow has got me hooked again. I’m pretty much in love with “Love” (sorry for the cheese).
The new series on Netflix came out earlier this week & is a real & funny show that I’m 7 episodes in & can’t wait to devour all of the 10 episodes. The series covers events in the two characters lives, Mickey (Gillian Jacobs) & Gus (Paul Rust), as they individually happen & then intertwine.
The series is set in LA & has some rad locations they use (I adore Mickey’s house) & includes some of the area’s stereotypes (and a killer Andy Dick cameo in the episode simply titled “Andy”). Also while the show is set in this place that is known for extravagance & fiction, the show keeps it relatively real. Being just a few years younger than both main characters, their lives don’t seem to be too terribly over the top & they seem like folks I would be friends with. Gus lives in a lonely apartment & drives a Prius & has a decent job as a set tutor for kids on tv shows but really wants to be a writer. Mickey has a roommate , goes on a furniture rearranging & purging binge one night when she’s frustrated & shows up late, or not even at all, according to a friend. I dare say I can relate to this even more than I normally do the Apatow produced “Girls” on HBO (which I do love as well).
I quite enjoy the exploration of Mickey & her sobriety as well. This is something that is often touched on in these more “real life” shows, as I think of them, but it’s not generally a large focus. The way that Jacobs plays the character of Mickey is just a great- she (and also the scripts by Apatow, Rust & Leslie Arfin ) show the side of this tough girl that she wouldn’t normally show to the world. Seeing Mickey learn to be good with herself, her history & being sober while dealing with a new relationship is just good. I can’t think of any other words for it but it just seems real & good & I have even more respect for Gillian Jacobs as an actress after this series.
I can’t wait to finish binge watching the series (probably tonight) & I’m going to say probably rewatching it again at some point.
Also, I must confess, moppy haired & big glasses Paul Rust in this show has hit the top of my crush list. This is my type of guy, to a t. I mean, he takes a date to the Magic Castle- where he is a member… Makes my heart go pitter patter. Reminds me some of the hubs & his love for comics & conventions…
It may be small & way too close to the living room, but I sure do love my kitchen.
I was lucky enough to get a lazy Saturday morning this week & take on my favorite tasks on my days off work. After waking up, Losson had gone to work & I had the place to myself. I made some coffee & got into the kitchen. I got to deep clean some, run a few loads of dishes & even make a cake that Loss had asked for me to make (don’t be too impressed quite yet..it was a simple box cake with cherry pie filling on top).
All that being said, Saturday morning was fantastic. There’s something so nice about seeing what you’ve gotten done already & being able to just listen to podcasts or music. Even when I lived with my parents, I would love spending Saturday mornings in the kitchen, trying out a new recipe or baking something for some folks that I wanted to make a treat for. Half the time, I would just make something for a friend or family and only taste test it & just pass it along. It was almost a test to see if I could just make something that was yummy & something folks would want to try. Even in our apartment, I’ve continued this baking & cooking with caramel cupcakes at Christmas time. I don’t know about you, but caramel can take a long long time to cook; it was a good lesson in patience & had a great result. It was definitely a little self esteem boost as well.
So here’s to some stress free time in the kitchen- not timelines, no responsibilities & even a little time to create something new & delicious along the way. Enjoy!
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. That’s just a fact. I was lucky enough to connect with one of my high school english teachers via facebook last week and when briefly catching up, she told me she hoped I was writing still. That vote of confidence from someone who hadn’t seen me or read a word that I have written in ten years meant oh so much. Thank you, Mrs. Sparks. I will never ever forget the day you told me that I write casually & need to be a little less so when writing papers…look at what I’m writing now!
So that brings me to my main thought- I’ve been perusing my blogging board on pinterest & have been contemplating changes I can make to this thing. Not only in minor details, but also in a larger scale via the content I post. I also had a very well read post that was related to the Disney community lately & it has got me considering the amount of posts about Disney that I’ll be posting. There’s so much random knowledge & opinions & thoughts in my head about the Disney parks, films, characters, history, etc. that I want to share with you all. Obviously with the pending move down south, we’ll be quite close to Walt Disney World (admittedly some of the reason I’m wanting to move- my absolute dream job is there- but more on that later), but I want to make sure that this blog doesn’t turn into just a place to see the latest regurgitated Disney news.
So this post is just mainly to let you, dear reader, know that the wheels are constantly turning & ideas are churning & ever evolving. I’ve got some ideas for other projects to be included in the world that is this blog as well & am excited to hopefully get my laptop back up to 100% (my fan is shot) again & up the game with what there is to share.
Have any suggestions or thoughts on what I should post about? I’ll take any feedback- thanks for being a reader, too!
So what do I do on Tuesday nights that I look forward to every week? I spend about an hour with the Dis Unplugged:Walt Disney World Edition crew.
The weekly podcast is downloadable via itunes & is also the video is available on the Dis Unplugged website. I began listening to the show when they were doing only audio shows (around 2013) & have loved how they moved to a video format. The show covers all aspects of Disney World, some Disneyland (there’s also the super great Disneyland edition of the show that is audio only with some other folks who live in California), dining, resorts, all of it. If you’re a Dis Nerd like I am, it’s just the best source.
Besides the awesome work they do on the show, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know these folks through their show. The head honcho, Pete Werner, is a tech junkie who is known to rant about clean bathrooms & he knows his stuff (he also started Disboards as well. I highly suggest those boards!). He’s assembled a great team of folks of varied ages & backgrounds who are great personalities. They all crack me up & I’m friends with most of them on social media & I’m proud to be part of the whole community that the show has created.
There’s so much more I could say about the show, but I’ll just leave it with this- if you want to know what’s going on at Disney World, check out the Dis Unplugged. The show can really make your boring Tuesday night a lot better.
With a pending move & a bunch of clutter in our tiny apartment, I’m going to keep a running tally of what all we get rid of. I figure it will make me realize I am being productive, so here’s the list so far of items that have been purged from the apartment:
3 big shopping bags (Goodwill)
1 box (Goodwill)
1 basket of kitchen supplies donated to family friends who lost their house in a fire
2 bags of action figures sold to a local shop ($100)
Pair of Converse that didn’t fit & a vest (Plato’s Closet, $6.40, $6 towards Fla fund)
Valentine’s Day is upon us & I have to say I have no clue what to do or get for the hubs. Thinking on it some, I decided that I should just write on it here. (Warning: It’s probably going to get mushy)
We’ve been married 8 months today (wow!) and it’s been an adventure so far. If you’ve seen my posts lately, you’ve read how much the “adulting” has been going on & how it’s been kinda stressful, but knowing we can work together & it will work out is a very comforting thing to remember. I know that we can get through the rough stuff & it will be okay in the end.
And not to get lovely dovey gross, but Losson has some amazing qualities & has done some awesome things to make life easier & just plain better for this undeserving girl. He consistently has dinner ready when I get home from work, he was supportive to leaving my job of 5 years when I was at the ultimate burn out phase, he’s supportive of my Disney habit & even enjoys a good chunk of it himself. Those are just a few things.
We’ve still got some things we’re working on, such as our communication at some moments & our organization skills, but it’s a process & we’re getting there. That’s ok, we’ve got time, honestly.
But the best part of it all is when we just lay in bed & talk & giggle & are silly. Last night we got talking about something just ridiculous & spent 30 minutes giving Siri stupid requests on my iphone. We were cracking up & having the best time. That’s one of my favorite things we ever do; quality time is something that we try to make happen as often as possible & it makes my life so much sweeter.