Why I’m Switching Careers to Coding

Marketing to Coding – TL;DR Version

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. 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.

“Rockstar 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.

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, I think.

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 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 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.

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.

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

It’s unlikely I’ll share much of the modular synth stuff here as it doesn’t really fit the Dev.to market, but I will share my journey learning to code games and algorave music.

I’ll also share my information security and privacy hobby with you here.

And of course, as I said, I’m going to dump all of my marketing knowledge here 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 set up an automatic newsletter without wasting time.

My friend Tiffany is an online writer who has tens of thousands of followers on Medium, but she closed her newsletter this past week.

She’s been spending so much time writing that she doesn’t have time to assemble all the stuff she writes every week into a digest for her email subscribers.

She’s cranking out thousands of words a day, plus creating a vlog. She doesn’t have time to take everything she created each week and put it together into an email.

My situation is different, but with a similar problem, and conveniently the same solution.

I’ve been doing digital marketing professionally for over 10 years and I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to make music. But, I know I need to be marketing to get people to find and ultimately buy my music.

The problem is, I don’t have any time to market and make music at the same time!

Tiffany and I needed a solution, so I sat down and took a look at ConvertKit’s features (affiliate link).

In just a little bit of time of reading the documentation, I figured out how to set up an automatic newsletter to keep my email list engaged.

Getting new subscribers is pointless if they don’t stick around long enough, so you have to keep them engaged.

This weekly newsletter will do that, and it takes less than 5 minutes to set up.

I made a video, but for those of you who are like me and prefer words and pictures, I’ve got that, too.

1. Log in to ConvertKit

How to set up an automatic newsletter without wasting time.

2. In the top navigation, click on “AUTOMATIONS”.

How to set up an automatic newsletter without wasting time.

3. In the new navigation that appears below the top navigation, click on “RSS”.

How to set up an automatic newsletter without wasting time.

4. Insert your RSS feed into the space, and then click on the green “Check feed” button.

How to set up an automatic newsletter without wasting time.

5. You will see an example appear on the left, and on the right will be settings you can choose for your automatic newsletter.

How to set up an automatic newsletter without wasting time.

I go into all of those settings in the video, but I’m confident that you’ll most likely figure them out on your own. If not, please reference the video. And of course if you ever have any questions, you can contact me and I’ll be sure to help you figure it out.

Attract new fans by ranking higher in search engines

It’s come to my attention that a lot of musicians don’t know about SEO.

They don’t even know what SEO is…and that’s okay! You’re going to learn it.

If you don’t know about me, the TL;DR is that after college I put my music career on hold to learn internet marketing, and now I’m here to teach it to my fellow musicians.

Most of my experience is actually in SEO, so this was an easy guide for me to write.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. That’s easy enough to remember, so we’re going to continue calling it SEO. It’s shorter, and this post is like 4000 words long already.

When you search for something in Google, Bing, or whatever search engine you use (I prefer DuckDuckGo), do you ever wonder how they decide what comes up first, second, third, etc.? How did they pick the websites and the order they appear in?

Very few people know the actual algorithm that sorts all of the websites on the internet, but we do know some of it.

We know enough that we can use that little bit of knowledge to optimize our websites for the search engines to rank higher, thus bring in more traffic for specific keywords.

Why SEO is Important to Your Music

When people want or need something they just search for it online. That goes for music, too.

It’s pretty common for people to search for genres of music. They might search “latest progressive house” if they’re looking for new progressive house music, or “Pink Floyd cover bands” if they need one for their husband’s birthday party.

You need to be in the search engines where people are looking for your music.

Of course, you have to have a website first. I’ve seen a few musicians who only use free pages like Tumblr. Tumblr is a great place to have a page and an excellent tool for sharing your music and growing your fanbase, but it is not the best place to host your main website page on the internet.

You need to have a dedicated website. That’s something you will learn more about in the very near future, so make sure to sign up for the email list if you want it sent right to your inbox.

Having a website that is dedicated to just you and your music will give the search engines something to index with your name on it. You can also optimize it for certain keywords, such as “dark techno DJ” and “hip hop producer”. When using Tumblr or other free website services, you won’t be able to customize enough to fully optimize your page. Having control of your platform is extremely important in this case (and many other cases).

Once you have your dedicated website and optimize it properly for the search engines, you’ll have the opportunity to promote it offline as well. Set up a personal email that looks professional (no more @gmail.com), put it on your business card, slap a free music download code on it, and hand it out at gigs and conferences.

What color is your hat?

When you first start searching the internet to learn about SEO, you’ll probably see information about people talking about white hat, grey hat, and black hat SEO.

You won’t be required to purchase or wear any sort of hats to market your games, I promise.

White, grey, and black hats are terms used to describe the ethical techniques a particular Search Engine Optimizer (also referred to as “an SEO” for short) may take to reach higher rankings search engines.

You will never hear me teach you a black hat technique. Those are the “bad” or unethical techniques, and they run a high risk/high reward sort of thing.

Frequently, they will skyrocket a website to the top of google for a short period of time. Then the site either tanks because it’s been busted doing something unethical, or it drops because black hat techniques aren’t sustainable.

Then, they try another black hat technique that gets them boosted back up for another short period of time. This is a lot of work and too risky.

Many search engines will blacklist your website entirely if they catch you. This is called “sandboxing”.

There’s almost no recovery from that. You have to make an appeal directly to the search engine and hope that they take pity on you. Many websites and businesses have gone out of businesses because of this.

White hat takes a lot slower to get high rankings, but they’ll last a lot longer (theoretically forever). You also will run zero risk of getting black listed by search engines. In fact, most white hat techniques come straight from the search engines themselves. This is the way to go.

Grey hat is sort of in between, and hard to classify. We’ll leave it at that for now.

Keyword Research

In search engine optimization (SEO), keywords are very important. You need them for your meta title, description, and in the content. That makes keyword research one of the most important things you can do.

Note that a keyword may actually be keywordS or a keyphrase. It’s easier to just call them all keywords, regardless of how many words are in it, so that’s what we’ll do for the rest of this guide.

So, how do you pick out what keywords are best for you?

Most of the time, you can get a lot of your keyword ideas just with common sense.

If you’re a game designer, a good place to start is with the keyword “Game Designer.” That keyphrase gets over 100,000 searches per month.

Of course, if you’re doing work locally, you’ll want to add in what’s called a “location modifier”, which is a part of your keyword that is a specific location.

For example, “game designer in Miami, Florida.” It’s unlikely you really need that, though. Most of what we do is online, right?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, let me teach you SEO! We’ll get started with this guide, and there will be more follow.

You’ll need to know the right keywords for every page on your site. Once you’re done with that, you can use your keyword research to figure out what your blog posts and other pages should be.

There are tons of keyword research tools out there, so I’m only going to show you the ones that I use.

First, let’s talk about UberSuggest.

UberSuggest is just a basic keyword suggestion tool, but it’s one of the better free ones I’ve found.

Basically, just type in your main keyword, and it will spit out a group of top suggestions, and then a bunch of other suggestions which will be organized alphabetically.

I typed in “game designer” and the top suggestions were:

KeywordNumber of Searches per Month
game designer salary9,900 searches
game designer135,000 searches
game designer jobs4,400 searches
game designer degree1,300 searches
game designer colleges2,400 searches
game designer education320 searches
game designer schools2,900 searches
game designer job outlook140 searches
game designer skills260 searches
game designer resume320 searches

If you use their KeywordsEverywhere plugin (mentioned below), there is also monthly volume, cpc, and competition for each of the keywords.

  1. Monthly volume is approximately how many searches the keyword gets.
  2. CPC is cost per click, which is and estimated how much it costs per click on an ad, were you to purchase ads.
  3. And competition is a number scale from .01 to 1, where the closer to 1 it gets, the harder the competition.

We can see that a lot of the keywords here refer to game designer education. If you didn’t go to school for game design, you’ll probably not have anything to say about that, and thus a lot of these keywords aren’t relevant to you and your website.

That’s no problem. Don’t worry about it.

You’ll need to use your own best judgment when selecting keywords. You know what makes sense, so use those keywords.

But, you could also take those “useless” keywords and turn them into something useful.

To fit this example, you could write a blog post about why you didn’t go to college for game design. Try to come up with ways you can use these keywords and still provide value to your readers.

Some of the other keywords here are useful, too.

“Game designer skills” has decent competition, but it wouldn’t be hard to write up a blog post about your recommended skills a game designer should have, and why. Plus, it would provide value to those who are looking to become game designers.

Teaching what you know is a great way to build a following.

Another keyword there that can be turned into a blog post that would benefit those who are learning to become game designers is “game designer salary.”

You might be thinking “I can’t use that keyword because I don’t have a salary. I work alone; my income fluctuates.”

So what? That’s your blog post right there. Keyword it “game designer salary” and then talk about how there may be no such thing. Or, if you’ve been a game designer for a big AAA company where you did collect a salary, talk about that.

The most important thing about keyword research isn’t finding what keywords will work for you, but to find what keywords people are searching for and make them work for you.

While UberSuggest is great for looking up lots of keywords, if you just want to get some quick info on a keyword, I suggest a Chrome/Firefox plugin Keywords Everywhere.

With Keywords Everywhere, you just go to Google.com and type in your keyword. At the top, it’ll show you quick info on search volume, cpc, and competition rating.

At the bottom, it’ll show you Google’s quick suggestions, and their search volume, cpc, and competition rating.

If I just need to look at something quick, this is what I use. It’s a lot faster than trying to run a keyword through UberSuggest, which sometimes takes a few minutes.

Meta Data is still important.

Entire books have been written on this subject, but we’re going to take a look at two specific things: the meta data, and basic page SEO.

Why Optimize the Meta Data

Meta data is what the search engines use to categorize and understand your web page. You need to do this with every single web page on your website. The good news is, once you set the meta data, it likely won’t need changed unless you’re tweaking it for better rankings.

There are three parts to the meta data that you need to know about today: title, description, and keywords.

If your webpage functions without using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, it’s likely you’ll have to learn the HTML (or have your web designer add the meta data). If you use WordPress (recommended), you can use various plugins to handle it for you (I recommend the Yoast SEO plugin).

Optimizing your page titles.

The meta title is the title of your webpage. It will appear in the respective tab of your browser, the title area of the search engine results, as well as in social shares such as Facebook.

Moz, a resource on learning SEO and digital marketing, recommends you use the following format:

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand

Our primary keyword will be the game type, and the secondary keyword will be the name of the game.

So, for example, you could have:

Mobile Roguelike RPG – Roguelikes Aren’t Overdone by Cool Games Studio

This specific format isn’t necessarily the best nor the only format you should use, however, you should stick to the basic principles of the format.

The page its self would have content specifically about your mobile roguelike RPG.

It’s important that the primary keyword be unique to that page in that there is only one page dedicated to that primary keyword, and thus only one meta title with that primary keyword. The page content should reflect that and be exclusively about that particular subject.

The brand can be the name of an individual (the designer/developer) if that’s the name they do business as.

A common format for location based businesses is to have the keyword, then the location, then the brand:

Video Game Design in Miami, FL | Cool Games Studio

This isn’t really necessary for most gamedev because we operate online, but it’s good to know anyway.

Whatever you decide to go with, make sure that your format is consistent through your entire website.

Some people prefer a format that only has the primary keyword. Some prefer not to have their brand in the title. These are okay; you have to figure out what work best for your site and adjust it in the future.

The length should be under 55 characters, but that is not a hard rule. Having a longer meta title isn’t going to hurt you unless it’s ridiculously long. The important part is that people, viewing in the search results or in social media, can see by the title what your page is about.

Keep the important information first. If your brand name at the end runs over the character limit, that’s okay.

For a blog post, your title will be the title of the blog post, rather than a main keyword, with the brand name at the end. If the title is too long to include the brand, that’s okay. Example:

This is a Blog Post Title | Cool Games Studio

Optimizing your page description and keywords.

The description tag will contain a brief description of the content on the page, as well as a call to action. This will be seen in the search engines as well as in social shares such as Facebook.

The general format here is loose, but include a primary keyword, secondary keyword (game name), and brand name (if it fits). You’ll also want to save room for a call to action.

Here’s an example of a good meta description:

Looking for a new mobile roguelike rpg? Cool Games Studio has just launched their latest game: Roguelikes Aren’t Overdone. Click here for a free demo!

That one is fairly short at 152 characters, but it will work. It includes the main keyword, the brand name, and a call to action to get them to click on the page. Notice the call to action offers a free incentive. Always try to offer something like that when you can. That’s out of the scope of SEO; it’s actually a part of marketing called “conversion optimization” which we will discuss more in future blog posts.

Your description needs to be under 300 characters. It used to be 155 characters, but Google has recently changed this. This is important because when we end with a call to action, we don’t want it to be cut out with an ellipsis (…) and be left unseen. That will hurt our conversion rate, and the conversions are what’s most important here after the page is ranking.

Optimizing Meta Keywords

The meta keywords used to be important in SEO but were abused to the point that they are no longer relevant at all. In fact, the Yoast SEO plugin doesn’t even have the option to input them anymore.

You don’t need to worry about this at all. If someone tells you otherwise, they’re suggesting something that will waste your time.

Having meta keywords will not hurt you, but they will not help you, either. It’s really just a waste of time at this point. If that changes in the future, I will be sure to let you know.

That’s all that you need to know as far as optimizing your meta data.

Optimizing the page title and URL.

The page content is anything that’s visible to the viewer. This will be your text, images, and even videos or audio if you have them.

Should you have more than just text on your pages? Absolutely.

People like pages with visual interest. They like pages broken up by images or videos or, at the least, just text formatted differently. We’ll talk more about that later.

Optimizing the Page Title

This is the on-page title that everyone sees when they visit your page. It needs to be placed at the top of the page in an H1 HTML tag.

If you’re using WordPress or any other major CMS, that will be the default in the standard “Title“ input box.

This will be similar, if not the same as, your meta title, but reversed order and without the brand name.

If your meta title was:

Mobile Roguelike RPG – Roguelikes Aren’t Overdone | Cool Games Studio

Your page title be:

Roguelikes Aren’t Overdone – Mobile Roguleike RPG

There isn’t really a hard rule on how long your page title should be, but it shouldn’t be ridiculously long. You don’t want to stuff it with keywords or have it be any longer than absolutely necessary.

If the page is a blog post, you want it to be the title of the blog post. Writing a good blog post title is a whole skill in itself, so we’ll talk about that in a future blog post.

Optimizing the Page URL

The page URL needs to be just your game name with hyphens (-) separating the words, no primary keyword, and no brand name.

If your meta title was:

Mobile Roguelike RPG – Roguelikes Aren’t Overdone | Cool Games Studio

Your page URL should be:

yourwebsite.com/roguelikes-arent-overdone

For a blog post, you want it to be the same as your title (again with hyphens separating words), but without the articles (a, an, the), conjunctions (but, or, for), and prepositions (on, at, to).

For example, your blog post title is:

How to Make a PacMan Clone in Unity

Your URL would be:

yoursite.com/how-make-pacman-clone-unity

This is usually the default if you set your CMS like WordPress to automatically make your URLs out of the site post title, but if you need to do it manually, that’s how it should be done.

If you keep in the articles, conjunctions, and prepositions, it’s okay. They won’t hurt you any, but it’s considered standard practice to leave them out, just as you leave them lowercase when writing a title.

As far las length goes, it’s not really important to keep it under a certain length, but generally you want something short and concise. No reason to get ridiculous with it and have it go on forever.

You also don’t want to have more than one keyword in it, so something like “yourwebsite.com/roguelikes-arent-overdone-mobile-roguelike-roguelite-rpg-role-playing-game-ios-android” would not help you any (and probably hurt you).

Optimizing the text content of your pages.

There’s a lot to talk about regarding text content but in this guide we’re going to stick mostly to the SEO techniques you should be using on your text content.

Word count isn’t terribly important.

For the most part, the longer a page is, the more page content there is for Google and the other search engines to read and index.

That said, you don’t want to fluff your page content either. Your page content needs to benefit the reader first and foremost. Always write for your reader first.

The Yoast SEO plugin suggests every page be at least 300 words long, but I’ve seen pages with less rank if they’re good pages that help the reader and deliver quality page content that matches the meta data.

Make sure your keyword is used throughout your text content.

But not too much. The primary keyword should be between 0.5% and 2.5% of your text. The Yoast SEO plugin will calculate this for you, as will many other free tools on the internet if you don’t use WordPress.

Also include your game name here and there as well.

A good rule of thumb is that the sentences need to read well, so don’t have the primary keyword or game name stuffed in places where it doesn’t make sense.

Add visual interest to your text content.

Use bolding, italics, and bulleted or numbered lists, but don’t over-do it. People used to bold and italicize their keywords as a standard. Don’t do this. This is an outdated practice that doesn’t help any.

Instead, bold what’s most important for the reader. If someone skimmed your page and only read the bold, it should be enough for them to walk away with the main idea.

Use subheaders to break up sections.

We talked about the title above, which is always placed in H1 HTML tags. The H2 HTML tag is important as well. There are also other H tags you can use, from 1 to 6.

Use them as subheaders to break up your page content and make it more readable.

You can also use them for SEO purposes. At least one H2 should have your primary keyword in it.

Don’t let your paragraphs get too long.

For readability, paragraphs should be broken up to never be more than a couple lines long on a standard browser. This doesn’t do anything for SEO really, but it’s good for the user.

If you currently have a lot of pages on your site, it may take you a while to go through and edit each one. Just take it one page at a time.

Optimizing images for even more discoverability.

Images need to have relevant keywords in the file name, and the page should have at least one image with the page’s primary keyword in the file name.

Just like with the page URL, use hyphens to separate words.

If you’re showcasing your game, you could just use the primary keyword and a numbering system for the order you plan on displaying them:

roguelikes-arent-overdone-screenshot-001.jpg

This will also help you easily identify which images go on which pages if you bulk upload multiple pages’ worth of images at once.

You’ll also want to set the alt tags for your image. If you ‘re using a CMS like WordPress, this will be an option via an input boxes. If you’re using HTML to build the site by hand, you’ll need to code it in.

The alt tag is important for when the image fails to load or for screen readers, commonly used by people with vision disabilities such as blindness.

You want the alt tag to have an accurate description of the image and work in your primary keyword if you can. It’s important that the description be accurate more than have the keyword in it.

A good description for a picture of you on a page for previous example game would be:

Screenshot of mobile rogulike RPG, Roguelikes Aren’t Overdone.

or

Screenshot of main menue of mobile rogulike RPG, Roguelikes Aren’t Overdone.

Again, the primary reason for the alt tag is to describe the image to someone who cannot see it. That’s more important than including the primary keyword. However, if you can work it in and it makes sense, it will definitely help.

In WordPress you can easily edit all of this for each picture in the Media section. No need to go and edit each page.

Optimizing self hosted media files.

Optimizing videos for sites like YouTube is a topic reserved for a future blog post, and it’s recommended that you upload to YouTube rather than self-hosting your videos, for various marketing reasons.

Again, we’ll talk more about that in the future, but let’s briefly touch on if you’re natively uploading a video to your website instead of YouTube or another site like Wistia.

The main thing you need to do is to make sure that the file name is titled like we talked about in the image optimization guide.

A good example if your video is a game trailor:

roguelikes-arent-overdone-trailor.mp4

It’s also a good idea to have a transcript of the video available beneath the video, if there aren’t closed captioning options.

That’s it for optimizing the videos when self-hosting on your own website.

Optimizing Audio Content

This is exactly the same as optimizing a video.

There are audio hosting sources you can go with that will need some level of optimization, but if you’re self-hosting the audio file on your website, then the only real optimization you’ll need is the filename of the audio file.

And just like with video content, having a transcript beneath the audio would be very helpful to those who cannot hear it.

That’s all you need to know about SEO to get started right now!

If all this seems like a lot of work, it’s really not. You might have had to go through and edit all of the pages that are already existing. Luckily, once it’s done, it’s done.

You can always go through and rewrite the page content to be better, but for the most part your page content will be fine if you follow this guide.

For more content like this straight to your inbox, sign up for the email newsletter below:

You Need to Start Marketing Immediately, Even if Your Album’s Not Ready

Probably my second biggest regret in life is not starting an email list sooner.

I’ll talk more about that in another post, but here’s the one-sentence-reason why:

I would have a larger fanbase right now.

I always thought it would be hard, and it was…the first time.

There wasn’t someone like me out there teaching musicians how to start an email list.

Even with my experience in digital marketing, email wasn’t something I was brave enough to touch.

But it turns out, email is the best way to reach and engage with your audience.

That’s why I’m here making these guides for you. That’s why I write these blog posts and email newsletters.

I want you to succeed faster and easier than I am. I want you to do better than I did.

Don’t worry; I’m not totally unselfish. I do benefit from doing this for you.

  1. I get to listen to the cool music you make during your successful music career.
  2. I get some money whenever you purchase one of my recommended products or services.
  3. Most importantly, I can share with you the music I make and hopefully bring you happiness through that.

So, yeah, I stand to benefit from this, too. But I also really love sharing my knowledge. It’s much better shared with you than just guarded away in my skull.

Us musicians, we’re not competition. We’re in this together. We need to acknowledge that and stick together. Help each other.

Here’s some advice I wish I had received sooner:

Start marketing now.

  • Not when the album is done.
  • Not when the album is being mastered.
  • Not when you first hit the studio.
  • Not tomorrow.

Start now.

I’m going to give you a quick tip in this post and in the future, I’ll write many more in-depth posts about marketing music.

For now, I’m going to give you one thing you can do to get started today. This is a small thing you can do right now, after you finish reading this post.

Get started with email marketing today.

You don’t even need a website to do this. I recommend you sign up for ConvertKit because it’s by far the best and most affordable, and I get a small commission from you signing up. Also, it’s what I use and have been using for a while. I wouldn’t recommend something just for the money…I only recommend products or services I use or have used and approve of.

You can also get MailChimp as a free alternative, but I’m willing to bet you’ll have more difficulty in the end. Remember: you get what you pay for.

Click here to sign up for ConvertKit.

Once you’re signed up for an email marketing service, go ask everyone you know:

Hey, I’m making some new music. Would you be interested in being notified of when I release something?

If they say no, thank them for their time and move on. If they say yes, respond with:

Thanks! I just need your email and I’ll send you some tracks as soon as they’re ready!

Then get their email and put it into ConvertKit (or MailChimp, or whatever you chose). Now, you’ve started an email list.

Go through Facebook, your phone, Instagram, and whatever else. Only ask people who would be interested…don’t bother people you know don’t care about your music.

Then, when you’re done, shoot them all a welcome email. Tell them a little about what you’re working on, and show off some music you’ve worked on in the past.

And don’t forget to email them regularly with updates on your projects! One fun thing to do that engages your audience and makes them more likely to listen to your music is to give some background info. Show them pics of your studio, talk about the gear you use, give tour stories, etc.

If you’re interested in more information about email marketing, check out my Complete Beginner’s Guide to Email Marketing.

That’s just one small thing to get you started, but there’s so much more! Continue learning, for free, today. Sign up for the email list below and I will send you content every week to help you attract more fans.

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.

Ads make your games trashy, so here are some alternatives:

Let me tell you about ads. They suck. Nobody likes ads. We all use adblockers now, right? I understand that doesn’t work in apps or games yet, but I fully expect someone to figure it out in the future.

But ads do make money.

Flappy Bird reportedly made $50,000 a day from ads. I made less than $100 off my first game, which I sold for $1.99 in the Google Play store. But that was my first game, so I’m happy with that.

I’m also really happy that there were no obnoxious ads in my game. It may not have had the best art, but dangit it was clean and ad free.

The Idea Behind Free Games With Ads

The idea behind free games with ads is that you’ll get more downloads, because it’s free. More downloads means more players, and more ad impressions means more money. More players also means you have the potential of appearing in app store’s “New And Noteworthy” section, as well as in the features section when your game inevitably becomes the most popular game in the app store (you know, since we’re fantasizing here).

The fact of the matter is, it’s hard to get there even with a free game. There are billions of apps in the app store now, that you’re competing against for attention. You might as well sell your game and put together a solid marketing plan instead of having a sloppy marketing plan based on free games.

Plus, you’re building your brand. Do you want to be known as the company that makes free, ad-laden games? Or do you want to be known as the company that makes good quality games, with no distractions?

Ads Cheapen The Experience

When I’m playing a game, I really just want to play the game. I don’t want to be distracted by ads.

Some could even argue that ads break the immersion. If you’re playing a game like Flappy Bird, there may not be immersion, but it’s still something to keep in mind when it comes to other games.

But most of all, they just cheapen the experience. Everytime I see an ad it makes me feel like this company is just trying to make money off of me playing their game. I feel like they didn’t create the game because they love to create games. They created the game because they wanted to make money.

That’s what ads do to your games. They make the player feel like you’re only trying to make money.


The Solution? Sell Your Game

You should be selling your game. You put a lot of hard work into that game, and you’re proud of it. You don’t want people to feel like you just want to make money, because you don’t just want to make money. Your goal with this game wasn’t to make money.

Your goal was to create a work of art and share it with the world. Interactive art that everyone can enjoy.

Bring Back Demos

The first part of my plan is to bring back demos. First of all, nostalgia is killing it these days, especially 90’s nostalgia.

Remember the days we used to get demos in the mail? I still have a stack of PS1 and PS2 demo discs I refuse to get rid of, even though I probably own most of the games on them now (or at least the ones I want to play).

That’s the feeling I want to bring back. Demo discs. Except without the disks, because those cost money to manufacture, and many computers these days aren’t even coming with disk drives. But, let’s bring back demos in the form of downloads.

If you forgot, here’s how they work: the player downloads the demo. It’s a short version of the game.

Let’s say it’s an RPG, for example. Maybe they only get a short part of the story, perhaps an hour of play time. They also have a shorter list of characters to play. Or if it’s an online multiplayer FPS, they only get one map and one character archetype. If it’s a platformer with 30 levels, maybe they only get five levels.

Either way, the idea is that you’re providing them with a short and free small slice of the game so they can see if they like it.

You can do this in the App stores. Just create a smaller version of your game, limited, with a slice of the gameplay, and name it GAME NAME DEMO (not necessarily all in caps). Then also put up the full release, at full price. In your demo, link to the full release.

“This is only a demo. If you like this game, please continue by purchasing the full version.”

Please note that I am not talking about holding back part of a game and making people pay for it to continue. This is not charging people for part of a game, or charging them to complete a game. This is charging for the full game, while giving away a small amount for free so they can decide if they like it or not.

You Can Also Go With DLCs And IAPs

The other option is to release DLC and IAPs, or DownLoadable Content and In App Purchases if you’re new to the industry.

DLC’s are sort of the new-version of expansions. You sell them for a small (or large if you want) amount of money and they add some features, or new characters, maybe new levels or an additional story to the game.

If you’re going to go this route, my recommendation is to wait a while after you launch the initial game and listen to your players. What do they want? Make a DLC out of that. If your provide your players with something they want, they’ll be more than happy to pay for it (especially if they already paid for and like your game).

As far as IAPs go, they seem to be doing really well, but I find it easy to be tempted to sort of be a jerk about them. I hate IAPs that cause you to pay to win, or speed up playing, or games that hold back until you either wait X amount of time or pay to speed it up. I just really really dislike that, I don’t enjoy games like that, and I won’t play them. Again, I feel like it cheapens the experience and reminds me or makes me feel like the developers only released this game to make money, not to share their art and experience with me.

That’s not to say that IAPs can’t be done right. The way I would do them, were I to ever have IAPs, is to offer cosmetic/aesthetic changes for purchase. Maybe the game offers alternate skins for a couple bucks a piece.

“You can make your characters/spaceships/background environments look different just by purchasing our IAP!”

This way, people who enjoy your game and want to continue playing it but change up the scenery a bit have an opportunity to do that while also supporting you, the developer.

Marketing Your Game

Okay, well, that’s going to take way more than just a paragraph in one post.

Here on my website, I teach game design and development, as well as the business and marketing of video games. If you don’t already know me, I’ve been working in digital marketing since early February 2008 and I want to take that experience and share it with you.

As a game designer, I don’t see other devs and designers as competition. We’re a community. We’re in this together. I want us all to succeed and be able to share our creations with the world. Subscribe to the email list below) and let’s share our ideas and learn from each other.

Leave the ads to people who just reskin games and release them under different names hoping to make a few quick bucks.

Stop Telling New Game Designers (and Devs) to “Climb The Ladder”

Any social site where people talk about game design or game development will always have this one question frequently asked:

“I have a lot of ideas for games but I don’t know how to program and I’m not good at art. How do I get into game design? My favorite game designers are X, Y, and Z.”

And the answer to this question is, without fail, always:

“Learn to program or get good at art, start working for a company, work your way up. That’s how your favorite game designers did it.”

I absolutely can not stand this answer.

Here’s A Better Answer

There’s a pretty solid possibility that your favorite game designers did, in fact, do it that way. When the video games industry was just getting started, and growing to the mainstream level we see now, this was pretty much the way to do it, because the resources needed to make video games were held tightly by companies with with money.

If you didn’t have money, you either needed to go get some, or go work for a company until you were able to get the position you wanted.

We don’t have that problem anymore. Game design and development are able to be done in affordable ways. It’s often free, to a point. Unity doesn’t require you to pay until you’ve made $100,000 in a year on games. For 3D modeling and animation, Blender is completely free.

Start your Own Studio. Design Your Own Games.

  1. Learn what goes into designing video games
  2. Learn how to design great video games.
  3. Design great video games.
  4. Learn to code in pre-made engines like Unity (3D/2D) or GameMaker (2D). Alternatively, hire or partner with someone who does.
  5. Learn to do basic art required in free software like Blender (3D) or Inkscape (2D). Alternatively, hire or partner with someone who does.
  6. Be a game designer.

You Can Still Go The Triple A Route

You might be thinking, “What if they/I don’t want to be an indie developer? What if they/I want to work on AAA titles like Halo or World of Warcraft?”

No problem. I still don’t recommend working your way up from the bottom.

Design your own games. Ship them. Make a name for yourself. Get the job you want at whatever studio.

There are three ways to get to the top of the AAA gaming industry:

  1. Start from the bottom and work your way up the corporate ladder of a company that was never yours and most likely wouldn’t ever be yours. Even if you stuck with them for 50 years, they’re probably already owned by another company who most likely won’t give it up, ever.
  2. Start as independent, build up your own indie studio, then get a job as a game designer at a big AAA company.
  3. Start as independent, build up your own indie studio, become AAA yourself.

#3 is the option I prefer.

I’m Going To Help You Do This

I’m building out a site and collection of courses on how to

  • Design games well and
  • Start a game design business once they’ve got that down so they can go on to make games with their ideas

No one should have to spend 3 years “getting experience” as a QA tester and then spend 10 or more years slowly working their way up the corporate ladder.