2017 Year In Review

This year was the first year that I went into my personal creative projects with a real, solid plan.

What worked?

Sandstorm

I moved the majority of my cloud-based document services to a Sandstorm instance, inside of which I ran numerous text documents, spreadsheets, wikis, git repos, file shares, and even more. I did this for two reasons: to get my data off of cloud providers that I don’t trust to varying degrees, and to experiment with developing for this platformm, which I was doing earlier this year.

Checklists

There’ll be a lot of links to Cortex episodes, so be ready. Episode 4 starts the conversation about checklists for codifying repeatable tasks. I’ve shared a Remember The Milk account with my wife for years now, but didn’t start really digging in until after Cortex. I discovered that it’s possible to add subtasks to a task and then duplicate a task, preserving the subtasks, which gave me the power of repeatable templates I could develop over time.

Personally, I have a bunch of checklists for packing lists and weekly reviews. For the comic business, I have monthly and quarterly reviews mapped out, a packling list for cons, steps for posting something to Patreon that gets promoted elsewhere, and other smaller ones. Big win for remembering how to do stuff I don’t do too often, and for staying motivated when I don’t feel like doing everything in a review.

Regular Reviews

I now do reviews the following times:

These let me catch up on ongoing things, like financial tracking and such, and give me time to reflect and pivot in different directions. They’ve been super useful.

For the business reviews, I was, at the beginning of the year, very good about getting out of the house to a coffee shop for an hour and planning things out without distraction or diving into art or code or writing. I need to start doing this again, especially as 2018 gets started.

Super-Focused Work Periods

Another Cortex recommendation. I’m now using either All Day, Feed The Animals, or Night Ripper by Girl Talk if I have either 70, 55, or 45 minutes available to work without distraction. Noise-Cancelling Earbuds help too (affiliate link, I bought them, like them a lot, and recommend them to whoever I can).

By working this way, I can crank out several full panels of art super-fast and stay on target with the work, with way less context switching which just drains energy. It works great with my programming as well. A+++, would work this way again.

What didn’t?

Having something non-kid friendly with my particular art style

I wouldn’t say Baltimore Comic-Con fell flat for me this year, but I would say it would have gone a lot better if I had something on the table for ages 8 and up. I’m looking to fill that gap in 2018.

Not putting in enough buffer for life stuff

A lot of crazy things happened this year which set me back in my creative projects a lot. I don’t feel bad about not getting this stuff done – life happens, and it’s often more important than drawing comics – but I wish that, when I put my content plan together at the beginning of the year, I had lowered my expectations more than I had. I would have been more focused on the things I really wanted to get done, like Issue 3 of Wizard/Metalsmith.

Non-memetic social media promotion

I keep forgetting that longform comics like the ones I typically do just don’t get the likes on Facebook and Instagram like single-image, easily shared images. It works better on Tumblr, but you really have to find that niche community to get that going. Next year’s marketing plan…well, it’s still in flux.

What’s still up for debate?

Using Tumblr to cross-promote work

187 Football Heads has been great, but I need to figure out good ways to get folks from there to look at my other stuff when it’s done. Still mulling this one over.