Why I’m Switching Careers to Coding

Marketing to Coding – TL;DR Version

Updated 2019-08-05

Before I get into coding, I’m about to publish a lot of posts about marketing, and I want to have this story to link back to.

The truth is, I hate marketing.

I didn’t always feel this way. I used to love it. It seems like just recently I loved it.

But I’ve been doing it for over a decade now and I’m just…bored.

I don’t want to do this any more.

Coding has always interested me, and I love music. I have a degree in video game design. I’m also fascinated by information security and privacy.

I want to switch careers and I haven’t quite figured out to what kind of coding, yet.

Before I switch careers I’m dumping all of my marketing knowledge here, for you.

I’m still struggling on figuring out what’s next for me, but I’m currently learning programming to work on games with a platform called It’s My Chance build OSINT automations. I’d also like to learn how to perform algorave music, and “program” modular synths.

That’s the TL;DR version. Here’s the much longer version:


Marketing to Coding – The Long Version

Back in 2006 I wanted to be a writer, and spoiler alert, that’s basically what I became.

Actually let’s go back further.

Childhood

When I was a kid I wanted to be in a boy band.

Really.

This was the 90’s and I sang my heart out to Backstreet Boys and NSYNC.

Like, every day. Oh and Hanson. In fact I used to pretend as a kid that I was a radio DJ who played nothing but Hanson. Hah what a goof.

Anyway, when I was old enough to read I got really into books, particularly Goosebumps.

Don’t forget, this is the 90’s.

And that’s when I got really into writing.

I’m sure I told my parents I wanted to be a Backstreet Boy or something as a kid, but I guess I told my dad I wanted to be a writer and that stuck with him.

Middle and High School

I went through all of middle and high school saying I was going to be a singer in a band. That was all I wanted.

It was so known that people called me “Garrett Rockstar.”

Seriously. My mom even has a Christmas ornament for the tree that says it.

I also goofed around with coding web design, some light programming, and even some light hacking as a teenager. Music was still what I really wanted to do.

College

But, by 18 I had mostly lost faith in that. I started going to college and in my first college class, ENC1101 English Composition I, I got back into writing something other than poetry and lyrics.

After our first paper, my professor pulled me aside and said,

“Garrett, you have a voice. I implore you to keep writing.”

So, I did.

After another paper he said,

“It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to reading a student’s work.”

I went home and told my Dad and he reminded me that I had told him as a kid that it was something I wanted to pursue.

Dad was always pretty supportive of whatever I wanted to do. Even when it was too expensive, he would say

“That would be cool to try that but unfortunately I can’t afford it.”

Looking back, all those expensive things I wanted to do probably wouldn’t have lasted anyway, so it’s a good thing.

Mom was always the voice of reason.

“Rock star isn’t a real job. You’ll need something to fall back on.”

“Writers don’t make much money until they have lots of books. You’ll need a real job while you write.”

I don’t know if she was necessarily wrong, but it definitely made me give up on both of those things as a long-term career path.

I kept them both as hobbies, but I started studying web design in school.

Learning SEO and Internet Marketing

At the time I was working at a restaurant and I hated that, so I started looking for jobs online and I found one on Craigslist that ended up being my first marketing job.

It was an SEO firm and they needed someone to basically copy and paste content.

A while back, that was how you did SEO. Just post content all around the web with links back to your “money site.”

The owner took me under his wing and started teaching me all about SEO and other parts of internet marketing. We’re still friends today.

I didn’t end up staying with that company, but I worked there for quite a few years.

Back To College

I was finishing up my AA when I got my first non-website programming class (don’t fight me about HTML/CSS not a programming language bs) and had a blast.

It was a Visual Basic coding class, if I recall correctly.

At that point I had to start thinking about my major because I needed to make sure my last AA credits were towards that.

Something I forgot to mention that is now important: I also joined the Air Force to be in information security but got hurt in training and sent home.

So, in college, that’s what I decided my major was going to be.

I did one semester of that stuff and loved it, but at that point I discovered a different nearby college had a video game design degree.

So, I transferred and did that.

Graduation

After graduating, I still only really knew one thing through and through: marketing. Plus, at that point, I had a lot of experience and had built up a name for myself locally.

People sought me out to do their marketing.

I’ve been doing that since.

That brings us to about a year ago.

I’m still doing the marketing, but I turned 30 a year ago.

And I realized I didn’t want to do this anymore.

Yet, here I am, still doing it because people still seek me out and want to work with me.

From Marketing to Coding – A Plan(?)

I’m currently working a day job doing marketing and PR for a non-profit (it’s not important which one; you’ve probably never heard of it). I also overlap with doing marketing for a game platform called It’s My Chance starting a privacy consulting and OSINT business.

As I’ve said earlier, I’m tired of doing marketing. I don’t want to do it anymore.

Of course, I haven’t expressed this to the It’s My Chance team yet, but I did get the go-ahead from the creator and lead programmer that he would welcome my help programming.

I have some brushing up to do, and quite a bit more coding to learn, but I’m going to try my hand at it.

So, I called up the It’s My Chance guys and told thanked them for the opportunity, apologized for any inconvenience, and bowed out.

Now I’m working on starting my privacy consulting and OSINT business, while learning programming to help automate a lot of my process.

I’m also going to keep working on learning to program algorave and modular synths.

I will share my journey learning to code automation and algorave music on Dev.to.

I’ll share information on privacy and security here on GarrettMickley.com.

And of course, as I said, I’m going to dump all of my marketing knowledge on Dev.to for you all first.

After all, it’s a decade of knowledge and experience that would be useless collecting dust in my head.

See you around 🙂

Official Comment Thread:

My Plan to Win the ConvertKit Landing Page Challenge

Orange gradient background with white text that says "30 Day Landing Page Challenge. You're In! Here's what's next."

I don’t believe in competition, even in a literal competition like the ConvertKit Landing Page Challenge.

There’s $5000 at stake, and I could really use it right now to pay off some medical bills.

But it’s just not in my modus operandi. My MO is to serve people.

This challenge, for me, is a challenge against myself. I just want to see if I can do it.

That’s why I’m sharing my plan with you.

We all need 100 new subscribers.

Plus, I want to see more people up in that top 100 subscriber bracket.

If we can all get 100+ subscribers this month, we all win.

100 new subscribers has got to be at least two new sales on whatever it is we sell, right? I think if our email list conversion rate is under 2% we’re probably doing something wrong. That’s a topic for another post.

Side note: the only affiliate link in this post is to ConvertKit, for people who aren’t already members. I’m not trying to sell you on anything in this post. Just sharing my knowledge.

This is the plan I’ve put together based on everything I’ve learned over the past decade working in digital marketing.

While it is based on everything I’ve learned, it doesn’t contain everything I know.

My specialty has always been Search Engine Optimization (SEO), but I haven’t put it as a part of this plan.

Why no SEO as part of the plan? Because this is short term competition.

That said, in the grand scheme of things this landing page will exist outside of this competition. I don’t plan on closing it at the conclusion of the competition.

My long term goals for this landing page will include quite a bit of SEO. I plan on this being an evergreen landing page.

But, this post and the included plan are specifically for the ConvertKit Landing Page Challenge.

Without further ado…

ConvertKit Landing Page Challenge Plan:

Step 1: The Product

The Product is what the landing page is for. For some people, the landing page may just be for the mailing list. That is your product. For me, it’s going to be a video course.

My video course will be “Everything I Know About Digital Marketing”. It will be an on-going video course that I add to regularly. 

Every time I add substantial content, the price for new members goes up. Anyone who was already signed up gets updates for life. 

This sense of urgency will convince people to sign up as early as possible to get the best price.

The other incentive to sign up early will be that their questions will shape the future of the course.

Step 2: The Landing Page.

I will be using everything I’ve learned in Supercharge Your Writing to craft out a quality landing page.

It will be focused on The Product (see Step 1).

At the end, above the sign up form, it will say that the course is coming soon and that there will be a special preorder price, as well as a short pitch for The Lead Magnet.

Step 3: The Lead Magnet

The Lead Magnet will be a short, 5-10 day email course with daily actionable lessons on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is my specialty.

Side note: I’m considering dripping them out every couple of days rather than every day. This is so that the readers have time to take action before each next lesson. It will also give me a little more time to tie up any loose ends with Steps 4 and 5.

For those who are too impatient to take the full email course, I will offer a PDF version, created in Attract.io, at the cost of one share via their preferred social media (Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn), which I will use GoViral to facilitate. Both of these tools are by Brian Harris of Videofruit. These tools, in conjunction with ConvertKit, are most crucial to my marketing automation.

The social share they will be required to send out will be something along the lines of…

“Join me in this free email course to increase organic traffic to our sites!”

…with a link to the signup page.

Step 4: The Other Lead Magnets, or, The Secret Sauce

There are more lead magnets, and so I call them the The Secret Sauce

Technically I should probably call them “share magnets”. But, lead magnet is already a standard industry term so I’ll stick with that.

Each lesson will also have a video and checklists, which the subscriber will need to provide a share to get. I will again use Attract.io to create the checklists and GoViral to facilitate an exchange of goods for the share.

The social share they will be required to send out will have a quick tip from that day’s lesson. It will also include a link to join the email course for the rest of the lessons. Example:

“I just learned that metadescriptions don’t matter in SEO but do matter for CRO. Learn with me in this free SEO email course: (link)”

Step 5: The Sale

The end of the free email course will have a sales email about the full video course. Here’s the kicker: those videos they watched, if they chose to, are a sneak peek of the course. 

They’ll be informed that preorders are open. If they preorder now, they’ll also get a 20% discount off the launch price. I will reiterate that they get free updates for life PLUS their questions will shape the rest of the course.

Now that they’ve gone through a free email course and seen the quality of content that I will be producing, they know that the price is going to go up multiple times, and they know that their questions will be answered in the course because I’m building it along side them, I have a strong feeling this will lead to a fantastic conversion rate.

It’s probably worth getting a tax extension this year.

At the time of writing this, I am procrastinating doing my taxes and am considering getting a tax extension.

The good news is, I have a super simple accounting method I use, so it won’t be really hard when I need to do it.

That spreadsheet has saved me hours of headaches in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.

I could knock out my taxes this Saturday if I really want to.

Even still, I find myself wondering…is it worth getting a tax extension? What if I file the extension and then just do my taxes on time anyway?

I got one last year, and it seemed to work out well for me. Maybe there are some downsides I don’t know about.

I thought I should do some research.

You might need to know, too. This is what I found:

The Penalty

If you end up owing the IRS money, you will face a penalty for filing late, and a penalty for paying late, even with the proper tax extension form.

Or maybe you won’t pay the filing late fee if you get an extension.

To be honest, all of the articles I read weren’t clear on that.

Some say you get charged the late filing fee for not filing an extension, some say you get charged it even if you do file the extension.

Let’s err on the side of safety and assume we’re going to get the maximum charge.

The penalty is a 5% charge per month you are late paying. Luckily, this is capped at a maximum penalty of 25%. That’s still a lot of money, and probably why I owed so much last year when I filed in October!

Aside from that late fee, you have to pay interest. Currently, the IRS interest rate for underpayments is 3% annually.

However, if you’re an employee of a company and you’ve been paying your taxes with every paycheck, you should be getting money back.

Gee, it seems like the government almost doesn’t want to give you your money back, but will chase you down like the mafia if you owe them.

(Have I made it clear in this post and my last post that I really hate the government taking my money?)

You can file late, but still have to pay on time.

I want to make sure I make it clear: there are two penalty fees mentioned above.

One is for filing late, one is for paying late.

These are two separate fees and will still be incurred whether you file a tax extension or not (at least, that’s how I interpreted it).

On Form 4868 you will see that there is an option to pay some money now.

It’s a good idea to pay as much as you can towards your taxes (if you think you will owe).

This should keep them off your back long enough to get your shit together.

How to Apply for a Tax Extension:

Applying for an extension is really simple if you’re already using a service like HR Block or TurboTax.

Just log in and do it through their systems.

If you’re not you can download Form 4868, fill it out and send it in. All of the instructions are on the form.

I’ve been using TurboTax and HR Block since I was 18, alternating between the two based on what I need.

I heard there’s a new online HR Block service where you just send them info and then they call you with questions if they have any. Then they do the rest.

I’m going to check that out and if it works out for me, I will let you know.

Can your Extension be denied?

It can, but for that to happen you’d have to have really messed it up.

As long as you fill out and file the form on time (on or before tax day, usually April 15th), you won’t be denied.

Do make sure to keep copies of everything. I wouldn’t put it past the IRS to come after you and say you were late.

I bet they’d do worse things.

Does filing a tax extension increase your chances of being audited?

I seriously doubt it.

I know I haven’t been very nice to them in this post but I will give them this one thing.

There is no evidence that indicates you will be more likely to be audited if you file an extension.

My personal opinion is that you should do as much as possible to keep the IRS off your back.

Filing an extension and paying as much as you can by April 15th will keep you lower on, if not entirely off of, their radar.

Most experts in the articles I read said that if you’re making an obvious effort then the IRS will most likely leave you alone.

But also that filing an extension is not enough, as itself, to be the only thing that causes you to get audited.

If you’re going to get audited, there’s more going on with your account than just a tax extension.

How long does a tax extension last for?

Tax extensions used to end some time in August, and then you could file for a second one that would push you till October.

Now, they just go until October.

Most years, the date is October 15.

Can you file a second tax extension?

Yes, sort of!

The only way to get a second tax extension is if you apply to one (or more) of these circumstances:

I included links to more information on each situation because based on my brief little bullet points you can’t figure out if you actually do qualify or not.

Check them out if you think you might be one of those people.

Or, you know, just do your taxes on time.

What if you can’t pay your taxes?

My dude, I don’t even want to tell you about my situation here.

The IRS has a payment program you can sign up for. It’s pretty great and I have used it twice.

Because I need to be better with my money.

If you’re using a service like HR Block or TurboTax, they should have that option when you file your taxes. I know TurboTax does but I’m not sure about HR Block.

If you don’t use services like those, you’ll have to get your instructions from the IRS website.

I’m not going to retype them all up here for you.

God have mercy on your bank account.

Hope that helps!

How I easily keep track of accounting for my music sales.

I hate math. A lot.

But, since I live in a capitalist society that requires me to make an income, I like keeping track of my money to make sure I’m spending it in the right places.

Also, the legal mafia government says I have to pay them protection money a portion of my income as taxes every so often. To make that as easy as possible, I put together this awesome spreadsheet and accounting method.

I call it the “E Z Accounting” method, and I’m going to show it to you today, in this blog post.

Please note that I am not an accountant or anything like that and if you use anything I teach you here, I am not responsible. 

I am simply showing you what I do and what works for me. You can and should adjust to make it work for you and what you need.

You should always consult with a licensed accountant for anything important.

Download the free spreadsheet:

First, you need to get the spreadsheet. Put in your email below and I’ll have it emailed to you.

It’s a Google Spreadsheet but you can download any format you like by going to “File” and “Download as”.

Or click “Make a copy…” if you want to use it in your own Google Drive account, like I do.

Start filling out the spreadsheet:

Now that you’ve got it downloaded, you can start filling out the spreadsheet.

It’s probably not hard to figure out on your own, but I put together a quick and easy guide. It’s the rest of this post. I even made pictures!

Maybe I’ll make a video, too.

I threw some example stuff in before taking the screenshots below. We’ll take a look at it closer underneath the image.

Let’s take a look at each column.

  • Date – I shouldn’t have to explain this one to you.
  • Item – This is the item that either came in or went out.
  • Location – This is where the money went or came from.
  • Income – If the item is income, you put it here.
  • Expense – If the item was an expense, you put it here (don’t forget to put a “-” in front of it).

I filled out two example items to show how the spreadsheet works. We’ve got an income and an outcome expense.

As you can see in the image, we spent $300 on tax services this month, but received $3000 from a client payment. Woohoo!

Note that these are not real. They’re just an example.

Down at the bottom is a Total line, which will have Total for Income, Total for Expenses, and then to the right of that (squared in blue in the image) is the difference.

So far this month, we are looking good with $2700 in profit. That’ll cover rent, at least.

This math is automatically filled out if you don’t mess up the spreadsheet you downloaded. The one I put a lot of work into. Please don’t mess it up.

If you do mess it up, just download a new one. Or shoot me an email.

Let’s also look at the Year To Date tab:

The Year to Date tab, or 2018 YTD, is basically a brief overview. It looks like this:

You’ll need to change this every year as the years change, in a new spreadsheet (don’t overwrite your old ones…keep them!).

As you can see, the month of April has already started filling out.

That’s because I set it up to take from the April tab (and all other months) and input the totals.

We also have a Total line for the whole year. I like being able to quickly take a quick glance and see where I’m at for the year.

In the future, I may add quarterly totals as separate lines. If I do, I’ll be sure to send an email out letting you know.

Below that we have a few categories of items. You can change these and add to or remove from the list.

The categories do not fill themselves out. They are just there for me to keep track when it comes tax time, and you can do the same.

I’d like to figure out how to automate that part in the future, too. I have some ideas but need to work out the kinks. Again, if I make any major changes to the spreadsheet I will let you know. Especially if they’re big new features.

Questions? Comments?

Contact me.

Hope this helps!

How to generate a sustainable “rainy day fund”.

A couple years ago I had a cool job working for a small marketing firm. I was up at the top; just one position below the CEO. I was in charge of all marketing projects: both ours and our clients.

Unfortunately, that company didn’t work out. That’s another story for another time.

I was making good money and I was stupid with most of it, so I didn’t have a lot saved up. Not to mention, the CEO owed me $2000 that I never ended up seeing.

I was terrified and started taking on any project I could get my hands on. I was barely scraping by.

Luckily, I had a rainy day fund.

A year prior I had heard about this easy investing app called Acorns. I set it up to automatically deposit money into the account every month.

From there it just grew and grew.

Then, when I needed it, I was able to withdrawal with no penalties. I had even profited a little over $100, which was about 10% growth. Not bad.

Get started with $5 for free

If you sign up through my referral link (below), Acorns will give us each $5. That’s $5 for you to get started, plus $5 for me, to keep sending you content like this.

Then, if you set up an account and refer someone, you get $5 for every referral you make, plus they will get $5 to get started.

Here’s how to get your free money:

Step 1: Get an Acorns Account

If you already have one, skip this step.

Click here to sign up for an account through my referral link.

Step 2: Find your referral link

Once you’re logged in, there’s a link in the left side navigation. Click that and it will take you to a page with your referral link.

Step 3: Share the referral link

Here’s how I do it:

  1. Text message everyone you know who might be interested and just ask if they’re interested. Don’t send the link yet. Just say something like “Hey, we’ve discussed getting started in investing before but we didn’t know how to do it. If I found a way to easily get started investing, would you be interested?” When they say yes, send them back something like “This app does all the heavy lifting for us, and it only costs $1 per month. Plus they’ll give us each $5 for free if you sign up through my link: [your referral link]”. If they say no, just thank them for their time and don’t bring it up again.
  2. Repeat this process on Facebook.
  3. Repeat this process on Twitter.
  4. If you have a mailing list, send out an email like this one to your subscribers.
  5. Repeat this process anywhere else you can think of where you interact with people regularly.

It’s not a multi-level marketing scheme. It’s just a referral bonus. Plus, it’s money going into your investment account. Watch it grow.

And let’s not forget the real reason we’re here: to grow our revenue. Don’t forget to check out Acorns’ other features such as auto-round up and recurring investments. Set your investment on autopilot.

What is Acorns?

Acorns is a “micro-investing” app that basically sets up an investment portfolio for you on auto-pilot. You can set it up to start growing your wealth and never touch it again until you’re ready to withdrawal (which you can do at any time). Every dollar you invest is automatically diversified across 7,000 stocks and bonds to help improve your return while reducing risk.

It only costs $1/month until you have over $5000, then it’s just 0.25% per year. At that point, it’s so far less than what you’re making in interest you won’t even notice it.

I invested a lot into this a couple years ago and when I needed it, I was able to withdrawal and use the money immediately. Now, I’m back in a position that I’m investing again.

Things to keep in mind about investing:

  • It goes up and down over time…don’t stress about it.
  • The longer you keep it in there, the more of a chance you have of making a return on your investment.
  • Average of 10 years is usually around 11%+ (last I read)
  • According to President Donald Trump’s Twitter (take that as you will/politics aside), the stock market is just getting better and better. Now’s the time to invest.

Click here to sign up for an account through my referral link.

Consistency is the most important part of your music career.

People are going to forget about you. They’re going to forget about your music and you.

Pretty terrifying right? No one wants to hear that. Sorry for being so harsh, but you’re not doing anything to remind them who you are.

That’s why you need to be consistent. Consistency is the key to being successful in anything.

Let’s start at the top.

Note: there are a couple of affiliate links in this post. For more about that and how they work, check out the Resources page.

You need to be consistently making music.

My friend Sean McCabe says “show up every day.” Every day you should do at least one thing that works towards your music career.

That doesn’t mean you have to release a song every day, or even record every day.

Just one thing is all it takes. Show up every day and do at least one thing that’s going to get you closer to completion.

  • Make a few new drum samples.
  • Work on mastering for a song.
  • Create a new synth.
  • Build some new loops for your library.

Just one thing.

One thing every day that’s going to get you closer to your goals.

He says that doing this for two years will get you where you want to be. That’s such a short period of time if you really think about it.

Plus, you’ll be getting better at your music each day as you work on it.

While you’re getting closer to completion, you’ll need to be working on marketing. Building your audience is what you should do, which is why the next three parts need to be consistent.

You need to be consistently sharing your music.

Show people what you’re working on. Show your works in progress.

It doesn’t have to be anything crazy or intense. Maybe it’s a short vid for instagram of a WIP you made this week.

Heck, even just share a teaser of album art.

There’s so much in the process of creating an album that can be shared, and it drums (pun!) up interest in your release.

Of course you can and should be sharing this stuff on your social media like Facebook, Twitter, etc, but you should also be sharing on your blog.

You need to be consistently posting on your blog.

If you don’t have a blog, make sure you’re signed up for the newsletter right now. I’ll be posting a comprehensive guide that will teach you step by step how to set up a blog for your music.

Increase your online revenue.

Marketing on the internet has over 9000 things to learn. I know. I've been working on them for the past decade.

Now, it's time for me to share it all with you.

Sign up for the newsletter to get started today.

You will also be added to the newsletter. We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

You need to be posting to your blog because it’s the one platform you control.

Remember MySpace? Who uses that anymore?

Don’t think it’s impossible that Twitter or Facebook could be next. I don’t even know anyone who really uses Tumblr anymore.

But your blog, your website, that is something you can control. It will exist as long as you want it to. I use A2 hosting and their quick and easy 1 click WordPress installer for this site and…well almost all of my sites.

There’s also a simple little thing you can do to keep people coming back to your blog for more. Aside from posting consistently, you need to be collecting emails from your visitors, and sending them a newsletter.

You need to be consistently sending out email newsletters.

My biggest regret is not starting collecting emails sooner.

I would have made way more sales on my previous albums by now had I started collecting emails from the very beginning.

It’s just the best marketing you can do on an album. Tell people about it.

Like I mentioned above, controlling your own platform is important. If Facebook disappears, or simply loses popularity, it will be very difficult to retain that audience and move them to whatever new platform you’re on.

I use ConvertKit because it’s easy and they have great functions for automation.

If you have your fan’s email, you’ll be able to take them wherever you go very easily.

Plus, people will see you all the time. You’ll be in their thoughts because you regularly send them valuable and interesting content.

That way, when you launch an album, they won’t see it as spam.

You ever sign up for an email list and forget about it? Then weeks or months later you get an email that’s like “Hey I just released my new EP!”

Of course I usually check it out but it’s just like “ugh who is this person and why are they trying to get money from me?”

You need to share at least once a week.

They won’t forget about you this way. We think in weekly cycles. That’s why most TV shows put out new episodes at least weekly (during their season).

Of course, you can share more than just once a week if you want, but don’t overwhelm yourself.

Trust me, people will start to notice.

I’ve been inconsistent in the past and people have commented on it. I was totally embarrassed.

Consistency is totally hard but there are lots of ways you can prepare, like setting up an editorial calendar or automating your social media posting with a tool like CoSchedule (that’s a referral link, btw. If you sign up, they cut me a discount on my subscription at no extra cost to you).

Make sure you’re signed up for my email list so that you can continue to learn more about growing your fanbase.

The one thing that will save your gamedev career from certain failure.

This is a long post, so here are some important sections you can skip to:

You gotta eat. You gotta have a roof over your head.

Here’s the thing: you need money.

We live in a post-scarcity world that thrives through a strange, impure, though somewhat functional version of capitalism. At least, those of us in “developed nations” as they call them. That’s inescapable.

Bill Hicks (RIP) said:

“If you think you’re free, try going somewhere without money.”

No matter how much you hate it (or love it), it’s inescapable. You need money. How do you get food? Money.

You can grow it but that’s a lot of work. It’s a full-time job within itself. Seriously though, if you have time and energy to do that, I recommend it. But you probably don’t most of us don’t.

Same for the roof over our heads. Even if you bought a house and paid off the mortgage, there’s still government sanctioned property taxes. I’m trying hard not to get political here but I just am not a fan of all of this. But it doesn’t matter because it’s the reality and you and I have to work within that reality.

Lucky for both of us, I’ve figured out a way to do without being miserable for the rest of our lives. We’re going to make money making games. But before we do that, we need to get money.

Not having a way to pay your bills will stress you out.

The fastest way to kill any pleasurable thing is stress. If you’re stressed about life, you’re not going to enjoy game design and development.

If you’re stressed about anything, it’s going to kill your joy.

You might be so stressed about money that you think “I should be working right now” when making games.

Or, you’ll think “I need money right now so I’ll have to get this game out as soon as possible so I can start making money.” That turns gamedev into a job and not something you enjoy.

It also runs a high risk of creating a rushed, unpolished, shitty game. Then, that game won’t do well. You won’t make a lot of money. You’ll get discouraged and burnt out. You won’t want to make video games anymore. Result: passion == killed.

You need to avoid this at all costs.

Taking on massive debt will stress you out, too.

We also need to avoid debt. Having debt is going to stress you out.

To be fair, most of us in America have some amount of debt; many have a massive amount of debt. You need to keep the debt to a minimum and ideally non-existent.

The problem is, we don’t always have that choice. I understand that you may live in an area where everything is spread out and public transit sucks, so you need a car. But your car broke down and now you need $1000 worth of maintenance, or worse, a new car (new meaning, go get a used one for a couple grand). Now you’re in debt getting these things and it wasn’t your decision.

It happens. I understand. I’ve been there myself. Don’t be ashamed, just pay it off. Work to pay off all your debts. Keep your credit cards paid off every month.

Just like not having money is going to stress you out, having debt is going to stress you out too. We need to get a steady income, and you need to pay off your debt before you do anything drastic like quit your job and go full-time gamedev.

I wouldn’t say “never go full-gamedev”, because that’s the goal, but we need to make sure the timing is right and the preparation is done. The first parts of that preparation are to pay off debt and have nothing left that isn’t paid for.

It takes a lot of time to build, release, and market a game.

Your game will not be done in a week. It probably won’t be done in a month.

Even if you’re making little games, they’re not going to be ready for production (or ready to be shipped, rather) in a short period of time until you’ve already got a few games under your belt and have figured out your processes and efficiency.

Even once the game is done, polished, juicy, and bug-free (mostly), you haven’t done any marketing, have you?

You’re going to flop and maybe, if you’re lucky, pick up some customers and fans in a few months.

Flappy Bird made a lot of money, but it had been out for months before it reached the point of success.

Can you survive like that? Can you survive for 6 months to a year without your games making any money? If yes…well then I guess you’re good to go. Start making games. If no, you need to be able to survive for at least 6 months before you throw everything out and focus on game design and development.

You need to have money coming in to pay the bills while you build and market your early games.

Once you’ve got a few games out that are well marketed and polished and bug-free (again, mostly), you will have a good amount of residual income, or money saved up from launches, that you can use to leverage a more focused gamedev period.

Most people would say 6 months but I hate stress so I recommend having a year of income saved up before you go all-in.

You should have a year in savings, and/or residual income coming in before you quit your job and start making games full time.

It’s going to take even longer if you don’t already know how to make games.

Of course, if you’ve never made a game before, it’s going to take longer.

You’ve got to learn the software, learn to make the art, polish everything, work out your processes.

You’re going to be slow at making games at first. It’s okay, in fact, it’s encouraged! Take your time. Really learn the nuances of what you’re working on. Get into it.

Also, make a lot of games. Make lots of little games. Learn your processes. But during all this time, you need to be making money, too.

You’ll also need money to fill up the gaps you don’t know like development or art or music.

You’re going to find out that there are a lot of parts of gamedev you just are not good at, or don’t want to do.

I’m terrible at art. I can not draw. I’m not great at 3D modeling, either. My animations are terrible. Art just is not my thing.

So, I either work within my constraints to build very minimalistic games, or I hire someone to do the art. That costs money, so I need to have money.

You’ll find yourself in a similar boat every once in a while.

Maybe you’re not a musician, but your game needs music. Maybe you don’t know anything about sound effects, but there are sound effect libraries out there you can buy. You can buy art. You can hire programmers.

Maybe your art is beautiful and animation is your forte, but you can’t program worth a dang.

I’ll talk more in the future about how to make games w/out programming, but ideally you’ll hire programmers or artists (whatever you need) to make the really awesome games you have in your head (and hopefully in GDD’s because you need to write those ideas down before you lose them).

The fact of the matter is, you need to have an income before you start making games. You need to have generated residual income that’s coming in, or have a lot of money saved before you go off on your own.

We’re going to complete this in two ways: by first getting a job, and then making money playing video games.

First, get a day job.

  • You need to get a day job if you want to be a professional game designer or developer and run your own studio.
  • You need to get a day job if you want to be a professional game designer or developer that works with clients.
  • You need to get a day job if you’re just learning to design or develop video games.

You need to have money coming in, and you need to be working towards your game design and development goals in your off time.

This will take the stress of not having guaranteed income off your back.

It’s going to take the stress off your back. Having a guaranteed amount of money will pay your bills and get everything done.

If you’re stressed out all the time, you’ll never want to work on your games or get any extra work done. You’ll come home and space out on Facebook or in front of the TV. Maybe you’ll load up a game to de-stress and the next thing you know it’s time for bed.

Of course, you need to take time for yourself, too, but you don’t want to spend too much free time if you’re working to become a full-time game developer.

If you want to make it your full-time job, you need to start with a day job and make a smooth transition once you have money coming in.

Your day job can’t be related to the gaming industry.

It’s important that your day job is not the same as your gamedev aspirations. I know, it sounds like you should get a job in gamedev if what you want to do is gamedev, but there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t do this.

The first is that when you work on something all day, you’re not going to want to take time at home to work on the same type of thing.

If you just spent 9 hours at an office doing gamedev, you’re unlikely to have much motivation to come home and work for another few hours on gamedev. You’ll want to do something else. You just spent all day on gamedev. Your brain is fried from that.

That’s why if you get a day job in something completely unrelated, you’ll come home ready to work on gamedev. It will remind you every day why you want to come home and hustle on gamedev.

You want to get out of that day job, even if you enjoy it, not because you hate it but because you are passionate about gamedev and want that to be your main source of income. You want to spend 40+ hours a week working on gamedev and not your day job.

I personally love my day job. I am Communications Director for a nonprofit trade association. It’s completely unrelated to video games. Most of my job is internet marketing, traveling to our events, and handling the website.

Of course, those are things that I do for gamedev and are a part of running any business, but when I come home I mostly focus on gamedev. I work on my marketing during lunch and in the mornings before I go to the day job.

Another reason you don’t want to have a day job in gamedev is because many companies lock you in with non-compete clauses.

They’ll make you sign a contract that says you will not make any other games while working for their company. If you do, they will own the rights to the game.

Sounds unfair, but it’s totally legal, though maybe not ethical. Either way, it happens, especially for bigger companies. Some smaller companies are catching on and doing it now, too.

You don’t want to get locked into that even if the job seems like a dream job. You will be completely unable to make a transition to full-time gamedev if you’re not allowed to even go home and work on gamedev.

Be aware that some nongamedev companies will do this to you, too. I once started to work at a company that was in the substance abuse rehabilitation industry and they made me sign a non-compete that said that even video games would be theirs because it could be used in rehabilitation.

Not a very nice thing to do, but luckily that didn’t work out in a bad way. I also didn’t work on any game while employed there, which really sucked.

You also can’t be doing freelance work for the same reason as above; you’ll be too tired to work on your own games.

Back when I first started doing internet marketing I started experimenting with my own websites, but I was talking to a co-worker named Drew who gave me a great analogy:

“It’s like being a mechanic and going home to work on your own car after spending your whole day working on other people’s cars. You’re just too tired of working on cars to work on yours.”

Though I once had a roommate who was a mechanic and he went home and worked on his own car, but he was just really passionate about his car.

There’s also the freelance hustle that will take up a lot of your time. If you dig back in my content here, you’ll find some blog posts about content marketing. I used to do freelance content marketing, SEO, and consulting.

I made good money and enjoyed the job, but I was working almost constantly. No time for a girlfriend, no time for most of my other friends, and no time to really enjoy life. That particularly meant no time to work on gamedev.

How to get a job:

Alright so how do you get a job? You can’t just walk into a place and ask …Wait yeah actually you can.

Start by asking people you know.

The first thing to do is ask people you know. Reach out to people who know you and let them know you’re looking for a day job. A lot of people will have openings where they work or know someone who does.

This is the easiest way to find a job, and a lot of people I know, including myself, have gotten a lot of their jobs through people they already knew.

Besides, it’s free to ask. Post out on Facebook or something.

Next, check Craigslist.

I found my first really good job on Craigslist, the one that got me started on the path to learning internet marketing. It was a completely random find.

My roommate at the time was looking for a job and asked how to use Craigslist to find jobs. So I pulled out my computer and opened it up and was showing him when I saw the ad. I told him that ad was mine and I’m going to apply for it, so don’t, and he agreed.

The next day I was in there for an interview and later that day I got the call that I was hired. Thus started the journey that got me here. All thanks to having a shitty job and a roommate (who worked with me at the shitty job) who wanted to get out of that shitty job.

LinkedIn also has great job search capabilities.

The second time I went looking for a job was recently, and I signed up for a paid LinkedIn account to look for jobs.

I sent out a lot of resumes and didn’t get anything back, but from what I hear, it’s an actually great place to apply for jobs.

While you’re at it, you get access to all of Lynda.com’s courses when you’re a paid LinkedIn user, so you might as well use some time to go through their course videos. If anything, just watch the business and marketing ones. You’ll get a lot from those.

There are also some for Unity and other gamedev stuff, but they’re a bit outdated last time I checked.

Monster is another place I’ve heard good things about.

Monster.com is another popular one, though I can’t say I’ve ever tried it so there’s certainly no endorsement from me. I do know of people who have gotten jobs from that site before, so I do know it works.

Plus there are TV commercials so it must be somewhat successful, right?

Also check any other job boards you can think of.

If you can think of, know of, or find any other job boards, they might be worth trying.

I know a lot of associations, such as the one I work for, have job boards on their websites. So do colleges, and of course, your local county website will have a job board as well.

As I said before, you can always just walk into a place and ask for a job!

Getting a day job is going to save your game development career. I promise you that. You may think it sucks, or is terrifying, but it’s going to make focusing on gamedev 100x easier and your games will be 100x better because of that.

You can also make money playing video games.

What if I told you-you can start making money playing video games?

You’re going to play games when you relax anyway so you might as well monetize your hobby.

I mean, you do play video games, right? Of course you do; you’re learning to build video games.

You’re not learning because you think it’s some market to get rich in. You’re doing it because you have a passion for games. It’s because you play video games and see things you want to do or wish were done differently. You are, at your heart, a game designer or developer, and you want to make games.

You have to play video games to make video games. You have to understand what makes them tick.

  • What makes them good?
  • What makes some of them suck?
  • Which levels are the most fun?
  • Why does everyone hate water levels but game designers keep putting them in?

All of these things come from experiencing the medium first hand.

What if you made money while playing video games? Monetize your hobby and make money while you relax at night and on the weekends.

You need to start making money while you play video games.

Lots of people are making supplemental income playing games, or even making a full living.

If you’ve ever been on YouTube or Twitch.tv you’ve seen people who are making money playing video games.

Pewdiepie makes millions of dollars every year playing video games and posting the videos on YouTube. He’s not the only one making money. Most people aren’t making millions, but many people are making a living playing video games.

I’m not saying quit your job to become a full-time streamer. Not yet, anyway. We can get you there, though. For now, let’s just focus on some supplemental income.

There are ways to monetize that others aren’t taking advantage of.

I have a background in marketing. I’ve been working in digital marketing for almost 10 years, and I have a focused specifically on internet marketing. Here’s the thing I’ve noticed studying Pewdiepie and other streamers and youtubers: they’re not taking advantage of the best ways to make money.

Most of them could have been making more money the whole time.

That’s not to say what Pewdiepie is doing is wrong. He’s obviously in the right place now.

What I’m saying is that when he started, he could have been making more money from the beginning. He could be making even more money now because of that.

I’ll show you how in my free email course Gaming For Fun and Profit (sign up below), but let’s take a look at some more of those tips right now.

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Most people who are making money streaming don’t even know marketing.

The thing about most streamers and YouTubers is that they don’t really know anything about marketing. They know about playing video games.

Here’s a tip regarding content marketing: teaching what you know is a great way to get people to listen to you.

While a lot of streamers and YouTubers don’t know that marketing tip, they’re subconsciously or unconsciously doing it by making achievement videos. They show you how to get the achievement and you find it because you want to know how to do it. You see they have other videos teaching you how to do other things in the game, and you subscribe or follow them.

They grow their audience that way.

There are tons of other marketing tips and tricks, really just techniques, that are being used by major corporations and small businesses all over the world. If you knew them, you could apply them to your streams and videos and make a lot of money by growing and monetizing your audience.

You just need to know the marketing techniques and how to apply them to your specific industry.

That’s what the free email course Gaming for Fun and Profit is for.

The more free time you have to dedicate the more money you can make, using this to replace your day job (if you want).

Once you’re building up an audience and monetizing the audience in an effective and fair way you can eventually begin the transition of replacing this with your day job.

The great thing about YouTube videos is that they’re there until they get deleted. I have YouTube videos I posted a year and a half ago that still make me enough money to pay for my groceries every month, and I haven’t touched them. It’s practically set and forget.

Of course, if you keep working on it, you’ll get even more money and can pay for more than just groceries.

But our goal isn’t to ultimate replace our jobs with streaming. We want to replace our jobs with game design and development.

But who is the target audience for game designers and developers? If you’re selling a game, who are you selling it to?

The same people who are watching you play games. Your YouTube and Twitch audience will also be your gamedev audience. These people are the first people that will buy your game when it’s ready.

And they’re the first people who will promote it and play it online for others to see. They’re the first fans you’ll have, and they’ll help you make the transition from streamer to gamedev full time.

It’s important to have this audience set up and actively engaged during your transition phases.

That’s why I set up this free online course to teach you how. I originally was going to turn it into a book and sell it, but I decided it would be better if I just gave it away for free. It was going to cost $40 for just the book and then as much as $130 for bonus materials. Instead, everything is being sent right to your inbox for free.

You can sign up with the form below:

Sign up to get the FREE email course

Once you subscribe, you'll receive the course one lesson at a time until completion.

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