Creative Expansion: June 2024

Creative Expansion: June 2024

June was the month that changed everything. And even when you know something is on its way – like a Christmas gift – the joy is in finding out exactly how it arrives. That’s the part where the universe gets a full creative license.

Having begun new work at the end of May (more on this later), the dark, looming financial clouds started to clear and make way for a much sunnier scene. Miraculously, I also found substantial stuck money in my invoicing system and later in Amazon KDP book royalties.

On the home front, having spent the better part of three months searching for a home, my team was starting to get antsy and weary with limited responses. But by spreading our fingers out to friends and friends of friends, we finally managed to identify a more permanent home for me, and I moved in on July 1.

I did not publish any content in June, but I was laying plans for – and beginning to develop – new projects in the background.

Since that is mostly what I’ll be covering here, let’s segue into the essence of this letter. For those who want to know what will be covered, here’s a convenient bulleted list:

  • Full-Time Contract as Prompt Engineer
  • The 3 Project
  • Digital NO-Mad Exposing the Lies of the Freedom Lifestyle and Grass is Greener Syndrome
  • Local Recommendations Blog

Full-Time Contract as Prompt Engineer

Trying personal times were to follow the completion of my bread-and-butter staff writing contract in January 2024.

Having become a competent and skilled free agent, I was surprised by how little others had in store for me. I attempted to line up the few content writing, digital marketing, web development, and podcast sponsorship opportunities offered, but only the low-hanging fruit supplied any juice. That left me with pennies on the dollar.

Undeterred, I pressed on with my live music and multimedia event, Clean Slate, in February. Some may assume Clean Slate was the problem, but it was merely the symptom, not the root cause. More on this shortly.

In the months that followed (documented in a book to be released, The Ferry Letters), I had altogether too much time to spend in reflection and deep internal work. To my surprise, though, it proved essential to my caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation.

The culprit of my ongoing challenges had much more to do with who I was hanging around than what I was doing. I’ll cite an excerpt from a yet-unpublished ferry letter:

Even if you’ve got superhuman wills of steel, how you’re treated by others will eventually affect your sense of self. There’s a significant difference between being seen merely as a worker and a human being. On the one hand, you’re being paid and valued for the task you complete, which will only ever be worth what the company deems… On the other hand, you’re being seen for the holistic value you bring to the project, including the many intangibles that add value to the customer, client, team, or company.

I wasn’t working with people who understood or even valued those intangibles. There are many intangibles I bring to the table (that’s consistent with the way others experience me). But in this client relationship, there was zero value placed on anything other than tasks completed. This impacted my sense of worth long-term.

It took a while, but I finally found the next step in my creative evolution in April. I completed a lengthy onboarding process (not their fault – there were insane delays, including the arrival of company equipment, which impacted my ability to start sooner) to begin work as a prompt engineer with TEKsystems at Meta toward the end of May.

This full-time contract has been a godsend in every way imaginable, and I’ve been having a blast on the job. Of course, I’ve had to reorient my schedule and life around this new role – something I haven’t completely figured out yet – but it’s been a very positive and welcome change.

The 3 Project

The 3 Project

I can’t, at this time, recall exactly when conversations for The 3 Project began, but I suspect the wheels were in motion as early as 2021, with semi-regular phone calls and meetings to discuss the event.

Our executive producer, Frederick Tamagi, acted as the project’s visionary, championing the idea of bringing together three distinct artists to share their stories and works of poetry and music, backed by an all-pro jazz band (and even those are words insufficient to describe their proficiency but watch the videos and see for yourself).

I was brought on as the associate producer of the project, and I am eternally grateful to have had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring this production to the world. In some ways, it was like raising a child, as I was deeply involved in the marketing strategy, and acted as the lighting and PowerPoint tech on show nights.

The 3 Project may sound uncomplicated on paper. In practice, it was a journey riddled with landmines, not all of which I’m at liberty to disclose. But I think it’s fair to say hearts were shaken and possibly even shattered by personnel changes and trying personal circumstances – injury, surgery, financial struggles, and in my case, the events of Digital NO-Mad (more on this later).

The 3 Project took the stage on December 1 and 2, 2022. I know that, to some of you, that will seem a long time ago. I bring it up now because 1) I didn’t have the opportunity to cover it in the capacity it deserved last year, and 2) our journey as producers didn’t end after “lights out.”

The entire performance was captured by a professional sound engineer and video crew, and we had always intended to share the chapters with viewers like you. This project has finally been completed and the videos are being shared more broadly.

There are over 20 videos and including them here will no doubt bring the loading times of this page to a crawl, but I’m going to post them anyway, and I hope you enjoy them. I would love to hear what you think, and I suspect Fred would too (I will happily pass on your comments to him).






















Digital NO-Mad: Exposing the Lies of the Freedom Lifestyle and Grass is Greener Syndrome

Digital NO-Mad by David Andrew Wiebe

If you’ve reviewed my book launch schedule, then you know by now that I’m launching a new book every quarter. It is ambitious, but then again, all manuscripts are at various stages of completion, and in most cases, very close to completion.

Per Dan Kennedy, I’m a big believer in learning when to call something “good enough.” If I were working with a publisher, no doubt they would have different thoughts about what should go in the book, and whether an author should launch more than one book in a year. This is a case where being independent and getting to call the shots is honestly gratifying.

June saw the release of my latest, Digital NO-Mad: Exposing the Lies of the Freedom Lifestyle and Grass is Greener Syndrome, and paperback and hardcover versions also landed on July 7, 2024.

The book documents a 90-day out-of-control tailspin that left me feeling quite ambivalent about the prospect of continuing to live out of Airbnbs and working while traveling, something I had begun doing in 2019, and returned to in 2022, post-pandemic.

The journal entries that form the bulk of the book were published on Steemit. So far, I don’t think I’ve found anyone brave enough to comb through that lot, but if you’re the adventurous type, you’re welcome to give it a go. Let me know if you do.

I think the books offer a much better reading experience, though. The Kindle, paperback, and hardcover versions are all subtly different in terms of content, and they each have different covers too. Given that the book contains footnotes, though, the paperback and hardcover versions are recommended, though the Kindle version is sufferable.

The hardcover costs the most since it uses high-quality color paper. This is the first time I’ve ever used color in a book, and that is one of the ways I got to expand creatively through this project. But there isn’t anything I can do about the price – I will make pennies on the dollar already and would make nothing charging less (which I don’t think is an option with Amazon KDP).

I’ve probably answered most questions concerning the book in audio updates on my Telegram channel, but if there’s still anything you’re wondering about, let me know so I can guide you in the right direction.

Local Recommendations Blog

Local recommendations blog

My coverage will not include Ricky’s…

With Digital NO-Mad in tow, and The Ferry Letters soon to come, the thought had occurred to me that I might want to target a new audience with fresh content – the kind of people that might be interested in reading my travelogs.

If that wasn’t enough:

  • My ongoing food adventures have been a frequent topic of conversation among friends.
  • I have reportedly “changed lives” with some of my restaurant recommendations.
  • My vertical as a prompt engineer is in local recommendations.

So, starting a local recommendations blog felt like the natural thing to do, and I have been quietly developing the content in the background.

As with many creatively expanding projects I intend to take on, this is not a project that will necessarily receive regular updates but will probably expand as my coverage grows.

With any luck, the project will be ready to launch by September.

Closing Thoughts

How did you expand yourself in June? What new things did you try? How did you challenge yourself?

Leave a comment below and let us know!

Grandpa

Grandpa

April 3, 2024
Queen of Surrey

My grandfather loved his grandchildren. He also loved to tease them. I’m pretty sure he made me cry more than once when I was a baby.

He was a hard man, and he didn’t speak much. If he did, it was mostly in loud barks at his wife, Holdine, whom he couldn’t hear half the time. She would always be in the kitchen fretting about something, and he would be returning home from the fields, usually in a grumpy mood.

But he did know how to make a mean sausage. I will miss that, just as I miss their farm, even though there was never anything to do there.

Never one to teach anyone anything, grandpa would only ever show you how to do things.

He never taught me how to fish, how to use a lawn tractor, or how to drive a truck. But he did show me how.

We went on many fishing excursions together, and we did occasionally catch a few fish. I made him do most of the bashing and unhooking because I didn’t want to touch the fish’s slimy exterior. I’m glad we got to spend that time together.

As a man of community and church, he was always steadfast and never waning. He held onto his beliefs, and he wouldn’t hear of anything else. Maybe because of that, he always commanded a great deal of respect.

He loved Johnny Cash, wrestling, and cars. And of course, he loved God.

In his waning years, he showed a softer side. I doubt that’s how I will remember him, but the years did take a toll on the man who, at least in my eyes, was seemingly unbreakable.

I will always remember the version of my grandpa who was kind of like a superhero. Maybe he didn’t always choose right. But he did do what he felt was right.

Pre-order The Ferry Letters

8 Woo-Woo Things I Do Even Though I’m Not Superstitious

8 Woo-Woo Things I Do Even Though I’m Not Superstitious

Marketing legend Dan Kennedy is known for poking fun at new age, spiritual, and religious practices.

In the same breath, by his admission, he still practices what many consider “woo-woo” rituals.

I feel much the same way. I don’t know how much I buy into the woo-woo, but if you observed my actions even for just a week, you’d realize relatively quickly that some of what I do appears the furthest from logical and practical.

Here are eight woo-woo things I do even though I’m not superstitious.

I Meditate

Let’s start with what is probably the least superstitious thing I practice… meditation.

I was first introduced to it when I had a run-in with severe anxiety, and I did it out of necessity. It seemed to help.

In the years since I have tried many forms of meditation and have used it to visualize, change past events, uncover my spirit animal, and even more esoteric things.

It took a long time to cultivate as a habit, but it’s getting harder to imagine not meditating daily now.

I Declutter

When business is not flowing, one of the first things I do is declutter.

I’ll recycle old to-do lists, file away bills, take out the trash, take bottles and cans to the bottle depot, donate some things to Value Village, and so on.

Usually, after this has been completed, business starts flowing again, as if by magic. It’s also a documented phenomenon in Robert Anthony’s Beyond Positive Thinking.

A recent trip to Value Village did appear to set some things into motion in my life, though I can’t say for sure that there’s any correlation.

I Attempt to Feel as Good as I Can

This was instilled in me through various personal development programs like Your Wish Is Your Command.

I’ve become increasingly skeptical as to whether feeling good or “raising your vibrations” does anything to attract what you want, but all things being equal, it’s better to go through life feeling good rather than feeling bad, isn’t it?

I Whiteboard What I Want to Manifest

You could also call it goal setting. I’ll whiteboard a revenue goal for each month, and if I am compelled to, as I was during the recent total solar eclipse, I will also write down the things I want to manifest.

You don’t want to keep anything on your whiteboard for long, as the tool itself is designed to be used and reused.

So, if there’s anything I want to show up in my life, and I decide to whiteboard it, I will put a tighter timeline on it.

Though I do feel whiteboarding is a good way to keep my goals in front of me, I’m not certain that it has any inherent magical power.

I Feng Shui My Workspace

I’m not a Feng Shui master, but I do listen to those who are, such as Marie Diamond.

As a result, my desk is always facing the door, the direction of opportunity. I keep some (golden) currency on my desk as well. That’s about all I know to do, besides decluttering.

So far, I can’t say that it has helped in one way or another.

I Document My Income… in 3 Places

A bit of a weird habit, I suppose, but I document my income on my whiteboard, calendar pad, and computer.

The thought process is – the more I handle and manage money, the more I think about it, the more I document it, the more will come my way.

I used to think it made a difference, but I can’t say it has done anything for me lately.

I Affirm

Whenever I receive money, no matter the amount, I repeat the phrase in T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind:

I am a money magnet. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

There is evidence that gratitude is a good thing, so this might be a worthy habit to perpetuate. The word is out on whether it magnetizes you to additional income though.

I Pray / Ask for Spiritual Gifts

I talk to the Universe almost daily.

As for spiritual gifts, I was not in the habit of asking for them previously, but I’ve seen Gary Spivey do it on his live streams, so I thought “Why not?”

If I get them, I’m better off. If not, I would be in the same position I was in before I started. What have I got to lose by trying?

Final Thoughts

Do you have any weird habits, rituals, or practices, even if you don’t entirely believe in them?

What things have you tried that seem to work?

What have you tried that hasn’t worked?

I look forward to your comments.

My New Daily Routine

My New Daily Routine

Sometimes you need to change your approach.

The world is a changing place. And while evolving with it can often be frustrating and uncomfortable, it is a necessary part of life, according to the principle of entropy.

So, I’m evolving, and this is how I’m structuring my days for the next couple of weeks.

7:00 AM – 7:30 AM: Breakfast

Breakfast, at least for the time being, will probably amount to supplements, spirulina water, and a bowl of rice. I should be able to upgrade to oatmeal (and hopefully some fruit) soon.

7:30 AM – 10:00 AM: Content Creation & Distribution

I’m frontloading the day with the most mentally intensive work – content creation. Three hours per day will allow for the creation of email campaigns, articles, podcast episodes, and videos.

Without naming specific projects, I have many backlogged pieces to pump out. This may be my last run at trying to be a content creator, at least in the capacity I have done to this point, so it’s time to make the last stand and tackle the unfinished business.

Additionally…

The current economic collapse isn’t just here – it can now be tangibly felt. While I don’t claim to know all the right things to do during a downturn, one thing I do know is people will be turning more to content (including, of course, YouTube, Netflix, and video games) while they sit at home waiting for things to improve.

My theory is if I can make a small dent in the content power wave, I will at least make a decent income on viewership, if not on affiliate sales, sponsorships, and my products.

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM: Opportunity Hunting

While there is a near-limitless set of opportunities to explore, there’s only so much time in a day, so I had to narrow my search to a few key areas.

I will be routinizing scanning the following:

  • Local jobs. I’m not very good at jobs, don’t enjoy them, and generally don’t last long at them. But I’ve at least got to be willing, even if just temporarily, to humble and submit myself to another’s employ. Experience shows just some employment income helps around tax time too.
  • Classifieds. Odd jobs allowing me to earn $50+ will all be considered.
  • Pet sitting. Looking back on past income, I have done considerably more pet sitting (and sometimes caregiving) than I even thought. I have at least three pet owners who should give me good references now, so it’s in my best interest to keep seeking opportunities. For the most part, I have a very good rapport with dogs, though there are a few large breeds I don’t seem to get along with.
  • Upwork. Remote contracts are still ideal for me. I have a lot of experience with them, and their scope is usually limited enough that I can keep my focus and enthusiasm long enough to get the work done. I’ll be focusing on writing and virtual assisting unless I see something else that appeals.
  • Pro Blogger Jobs. One of the most popular online destinations connecting businesses with writers. New opportunities are popping up daily, and I occasionally see some with my name written all over them.
  • Podcast sponsors. I’m keeping an eye on Podcorn.

11:45 AM – 12:00 PM: Live Stream

It has come to my attention that live streaming for 10 minutes per day is not that big of a deal. I have already live-streamed twice in the last two weeks, reading chapters from my latest book, so it is quickly becoming habit. In the future, I can also host webinars or bring guests on to talk, adding some variety to the streams.

12:00 PM – 12:45 PM: Lunch

Rice and beans. Maybe potatoes.

12:45 PM – 2:30 PM: Client Work

I don’t have many clients at the moment, but I do have a few. Their projects do not necessarily require a ton of work, but either way, it would be in my best interest to set aside some time to serve them each day.

2:30 PM – 3:00 PM: Networking

I have been attending a daily call for those looking to grow their business through content for the last four to five months. This group is set to open to the public soon, so that means besides being a good opportunity to learn and receive accountability, it may also become a great place to connect with new people and earn business.

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM: Exercise

I usually lift weights twice per week and do aerobic and lower-body exercises in between. Since I’ll be getting up a little earlier than usual, my default will probably be light, aerobic exercise but we’ll see.

3:30 PM – 4:30 PM: Promotion

By this time, most of the heavy lifting for the day will be over, and I’ll be able to focus on admin tasks.

This 60-minute block will be spent:

  • Executing a long list of book promotion tasks I’ve documented
  • Pitching and cold calling individuals and businesses I can help
  • Promoting my products and services on Fiverr
  • Exploring other places where I can share my products and services (forums, classified sites, freelancing sites, etc.)
  • Delivering on other promises I’ve made

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM: Profile Refresh

I’ve noted several channels that are due for a refresh. This includes:

  • My resume (I will probably end up creating multiple versions)
  • Most of my social media profiles
  • My LinkedIn profile
  • My YouTube channel (specifically, the banner image)
  • My Amazon author profile
  • My ValuedVoice profile
  • My website (for instance, I could add my work experience to the about page)

I should be able to tackle these categories in short order, though updating my website and resume will be an ongoing thing, so I may keep this task in my routine, even after the above channels have been brought up to date.

5:00 PM – 5:30 PM: Meditation

Time to take a well-deserved rest, even if brief.

I don’t know how much I buy into “High vibes attract what you want,” but I do the things required to get into the right state anyway.

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM: Supper

One should not attempt to fight a war on an empty stomach.

6:00 PM – 6:30 PM: Inventory Management

I have dozens of listings on Facebook Marketplace. I will need to keep them updated and renewed. I may still want to add a few things too.

I probably won’t need to spend a ton of time on this, but for the time being it has proven an important income source, so I will keep at it until it doesn’t make sense anymore.

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM: Errands

I may need to buy groceries or run to the bank. I may want to attend a Meetup or an open mic. I may want to begin the process of creating a local community or find one I can plug into. I may also want to cancel some of my subscriptions to save some money.

This 60-minute time block also plays into the three basic scenarios I see playing out in the next one to two months or less:

  • Scenario 1: I do exactly as planned. I find good-paying work, I find a home in Lower Mainland or Fraser Valley, and life continues as expected.
  • Scenario 2: I find a few things locally (job, contract, community, girlfriend, etc.) that make it worth staying on the Island, and I find a place to live locally.
  • Scenario 3: Things don’t work out and I return to Calgary for a few months. This is probably the most desired outcome so far as friends and family are concerned. I am still weighing the pros and cons but I can accept that this is not the worst possible outcome, given the home base connections I already have in Calgary.

I have no reason to believe that Scenario 4, where I end up living out of a tent for a while, will play out, so I’m not planning for it.

7:30 PM – 8:30 PM: Phone Calls

Making phone calls to maintain and build relationships is something I should be doing anyway. I’m not great at it, and I don’t always enjoy it, but its value has been instilled in me through network marketing and the recent leadership program I’ve completed.

Others may be aware of opportunities I’m not, and I’ll be honest – even a few small cash injections wouldn’t hurt my financial standing (or mental health) right now.

8:30 PM – 10:30 PM: App Testing

This largely falls under the category of “Esoteric and experimental,” but at least it’s easy to do, even if I’m low on energy.

You may already be aware of the hordes of survey sites, games, gift card & cash-reward apps, review sites, and micro-work sites that exist.

I’ve been testing them out and documenting my journey on Better Ways to Survive.

As anyone who has tried these will attest, some are more efficient than others, but it’s hard to earn more than a few dollars per week this way.

In April, I have only earned about $13. But.. that is $13 I would not have earned otherwise, and I have done worse on Medium at times.

So, it’s still an income source, even if measly. And one of these times, I may come across an app that turns out to be a decent income earner (decent is good enough for me, especially if I’m only dedicating a couple of hours per night to the pursuit).

If I hope to find anything good, though, I think I will want to tear through the apps a little faster than I have been.

Delivery and other fetch-quest work also isn’t off the table, though locally these shoes mostly appear to be filled.

10:30 PM – 11:00 PM: Prepare for Bed

I’m going against my circadian rhythm a bit by getting up at 7:00 AM. I’ll want to get into the habit of readying myself for bed at 10:30 instead of idly watching YouTube videos or playing games on my phone until I collapse from exhaustion.

Reading might be a better habit to insert here, but no pressure.

Closing Thoughts

I am interviewing for a five-month contract this week, so if all goes according to plan, I won’t be sustaining the above schedule for longer than one to two weeks.

That said, I believe I have set myself up with enough possible avenues (without being too scattered), to find my way even if that contract doesn’t pan out.

Are you making any changes to your schedule? Are you doing anything to adapt to current economic conditions? What has been working for you?

Let me know in the comments.

Financial Breakthroughs – Day 2

Financial Breakthroughs – Day 2

I’m documenting the journey of how I got back to my feet financially.

If you’d like to see how this all got started, as well as how you can support me, click here.

With that, here’s my update for April 12, 2024.

I Live Streamed

No one was there to watch, but they should have been!

(Subscribe to my YouTube channel.)

I read the introduction from the Productivity, Performance & Profits Blackbook, and even answered five questions.

And I will be back with more…

I Sold My Ibanez 12-String

This put a couple hundred dollars in my pocket.

I was a little sad to see it go, but I wasn’t using it that much. So, it deserves to be in the hands of someone who will make good use of it.

Plus, while the Ibanez wasn’t bad, I’m looking for a 12-string that plays even smoother than that one.

I Made Over 20 Videos

I’ve got something going called Spark 90, and there are three of us (including me) committed to making 90 pieces of social media content in four weeks.

I’ll be sharing more about this in the first ever MusicHackers.org newsletter. It will be very interesting to see what comes of it.

Either way, I’ve got until next Thursday to put together 90 videos, and I’m almost a third done.

I found it fun, and if I wasn’t feeling a little under the weather, I probably would have made even more videos.

Financial Breakthroughs – Day 1

Financial Breakthroughs – Day 1

I am currently documenting the journey of how I got back on my feet financially.

If you’d like to see how this all got started, as well as how you can support me, click here.

With that, here’s my update for April 11, 2024.

I Sold My Nintendo 3DS & Game Collection

This was not a hard sale, especially at the price I was selling it at. This earned me a few hundred dollars.

I probably could have sold it for more piecemeal, but then there’s no telling how long it may have taken to get what each game was worth. Still, I learned something from that.

Either way, I was surprised to find how popular handheld consoles are right now. And people still pay a premium for the games.

Nintendo botched the eShop and basically admitted it by shutting it down, so it’s amazing to see that there are still so many loyalists.

But if there’s one thing they did right with their marketing, it’s scarcity. There is a secondary market for the games, but if you want to buy games brand new, you’re still talking about $40 a pop. DS games can go for a lot more, especially rare ones!

I Listed 10 Xbox 360 Games for Sale

None have sold yet, but they have generated a bit of interest already.

Compared to DS or 3DS, you can’t expect to charge much for Xbox 360 games, but I did find that some were worth more than others.

If, for whatever reason, you’d like to explore everything I’m selling, you can check out my Facebook Marketplace profile.

I Asked Someone Whether They Wanted Me to Ghostwrite Their Book

Of course, it may turn into a ghostwriting contract, so I can’t tell you who it is.

But one thing I know for sure is that I only need a few of these contracts per year to keep me warm at night (though no doubt they are a lot of work).