Teach What You Know

Teach what you know

The biggest hurdle I run into as the teacher lead for Learnapalooza is overcoming imposter syndrome with potential teachers. I’m constantly approaching awesome, talented people and hearing, “That’s great but I don’t know anything worth teaching!” or “I’m not a teacher! I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

It’s so frustrating.

Not just because we lose out on awesome classes, but because I’m a selfish person who wants to learn ALL OF THE THINGS. And when people when insist that they don’t know anything worth teaching, we all loose out on their expertise.

So, let’s all get on the same page right now: You know valuable things. You do not have to be a teacher to share those things.

Someone, somewhere, is currently thinking, “I really wish I knew how to do [the thing you know ALL about].” And they do not care if you have a Bachelors in Education. They just want you to share what you know! That can mean putting together a talk, writing a blog post, or even hosting a workshop at a festival like Learnapalooza.

And none of those things have to be scary! (A little nerve-wracking, sure. But never scary!)

Self-selected learners—the people who read educational blog posts, show up to Saturday workshops, and take online classes for the fun of it—are the easiest people to teach. They want to be there! They are excited to learn!

The real question for most people isn’t, “Can I teach this?” but “How do I teach this?” and “Where do I start?”


Stock Photos That Don’t Suck

stock photos that don't suck

Let’s talk about stock photos. Specifically, where to find stock photos that don’t suck.

The photos on your website are so important.  It doesn’t matter how good a writer you are—people can take in an image faster than they can read a paragraph and skipping photos altogether isn’t an option. So the photos you pick need to be good.

Not all photos are created equal! There’s a fine line between “fuck it, ship” and “this isn’t doing me any favors.” The ones you choose say a lot about you, the quality of your work or product, and even your ideal audience.

Splurging on a few hours of a freelance photographer’s time is one of the best investments you can make in a new website. But of course this isn’t possible with everyone’s timeline or budget.

Enter stock photos!


Does this airport have wi-fi?


Last week, a friend and I got together to shoot a video for a Syrup & Waffles project. (Which I’ll tell you allll about in another post.) We got there early so while he was setting up his rig and I was making a crib sheet for the day, we did that kind of aimless catching up you do with co-workers who work in another department.

Even though I’m no longer a full-time freelancer, he still is and we’ve both got a lot of projects on our plates. He updated me on his, I shared the progress I had made on a few of mine, and we both lamented the fact that we don’t create anything without ulterior motives anymore.

As an undergrad, he carried his camera everywhere and shot random footage for the hell of it. My best friend and I used to sit in my kitchen nook, brainstorming crazy ambitious plans that fizzled out after a few weeks of work.

Neither of us do those things anymore.

His camera comes out when it’s time to get paid and most of my creative work has an agenda. It’s for a client and a paycheck, or has a less-tangible but still valid career benefit. (My newsletter and this blog, for example.) As we were talking, I couldn’t remember the last time I made something for no reason other than I wanted it to exist.

I still have plenty of half-baked ideas, they just rarely make it out of my notebook these days. The (very valid) principle of not working for free as a creative professional has been so instilled in me that it’s hard to shirk it even for my own passion projects. A voice in my head is always whispering, “What are you really getting from this?” or “You could be spending this time on client work!”

Now don’t get me wrong: this is not a bad problem to have. I am well paid to do the things I love to do. I realize that makes me incredibly lucky and I am not writing this post to complain about my good fortune. I’m writing it to share my thoughts on why side projects are important to have you in portfolio.


Build Your Own Dreams

build your own dreams

Science tells us that writing something down helps us remember it. A lot of curriculum accounts for this—it’s why so many of our secondary teachers required us to take notes or do “busy work” outside of class. Concentrating on the information for an extended period of time helps us commit it to memory.

Since I’m not about to starting writing lines on a chalkboard, and my current system of scribbling notes in the margins of my notebook wasn’t working, I’ve started taking sketch breaks before bed. Not every night, just whenever I came across a note I normally would’ve jotted down on a quickly-forgotten page.

Sketching out the words gives me time to ponder them, an opportunity to do something creative for no one but myself, and a much-needed break from the computer screen at the end of the day.

Here’s to hoping it improves my lettering skills too!

“Build your own dreams or someone else will hire you to build theirs.” — Farray Gray

All About The Color (Color Color)


Do you ever see a person’s logo and think to yourself, “They are NOT sea foam green.” Because that happens to me a lot. Sometimes it’s with a friend who is so closely associated with a color in my brain that every other color falls short. Other times, it’s just with a stranger who doesn’t seem to realize the message she’s conveying with her color pallet. (Colors are important, people!)

Here are a couple of my favorite tools for picking a color scheme.


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