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Tell someone what you need and see what happens

23 Feb

This lit magazine’s art direction makes me want to get busy and do stuff

By Amy Schroeder

MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine has been making cool concepts and covers for years, but the last few issues are really doing it for me:

MAKE issue 10

MAKE issue 9


I’m ready to give Nike a lot of credit

4 Nov

By Amy Schroeder

“Be a sponge. Curiosity is life. Assumption is death. Look around.”

Pretty cool words from the leader of Nike.

In fact, the entire Fast Company cover story about Mark Parker—“The World’s Most Creative CEO”—is one of the most inspiring articles I’ve read in a while.

In a way, Parker is a perfect role model for creative entrepreneurs. As a former marathoner who souped up his sneaks DIY-style in college, Parker joined Nike in 1979 as a footwear designer and product tester. Over the years, he’s moved up the ladder and led a number of innovative campaigns including the Nike Air Michael Jordan brand and a series of limited-edition artist-commissioned shoes by artists like Futura 2000.

In 1980, Nike grossed $270 million. Speed up to 2010, and Parker is largely responsible for the company’s earnings of $19 billion. Not bad for someone who likes to talk about running with waiters and hangs out with designers, eh? “A lot of people I hang out with are creatives,” he says in the September 2010 Fast Company profile, saying that he’s attracted to people who are intense and obsessed with their art. “I like the eccentricity, to be surprised.”

Amy Schroeder, the founder of Venus Zine, also is the founder of the DIY Business Association. She reads business magazines and books like some people devour romance novels.

How free is your freelance lifestyle?

3 Nov

Daniel Pink’s Free Agent Nation is still a helpful read, even nine years since its release

By Amy Schroeder

Feeling a little down in the dumps about the freelance way of life?

It happens to the best of us.

For a good kick in the entrepreneurial arse, you might want to read Free Agent Nation, Daniel Pink’s first book, the one he published before the best-selling A Whole New Mind (another great read for creative types). Free Agent Nation covers the ups and downs (but mostly ups) of being an independent employee, free of working for the man or the woman. The gist of the book, or movement, really, is to figure out the best ways to navigate the free-agent scence creatively and efficiently—with the help of others. After all, as a freelancer, you may be free, but you’re definitely not alone. In fact, more than 25 million Americans are self-employed.

Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself was published waaay back in 2001, but it’s still—and, perhaps even moreso—relevant in 2010, considering the current state of corporate layoffs.

Here are the top four quotes from the book that have stuck with me:

“The essence of free agency is to distinguish one’s self from the group—to craft one’s own unique style of work rather than adapt to a standardized form.”

“Full-time independent contractors earn an average of 15% more than their employee counterparts.”

“Independent professionals are twice as likely as W-2 workers to have personal incomes above $75K per year.”

“As a free agent, your network is your safety net. The vaster it is and the tighter its connections, the more likely you’ll be able to survive.”

Amy Schroeder, the founder of Venus Zine, also is the founder of the DIY Business Association. She’s crazy-obsessed with entrepreneurship.

End of the Web browser era?

9 Aug
Just when some DIY businesses were getting up to snuff with their online presence, an Atlantic writer says it’s time to move on

Illustration by Jason Schneider for The Atlantic

Busting your balls to sell ads on your site? Investing all of your energy into blogging and social networking?

Maybe these aren’t the solutions to online success for your DIY business. In “The Closing the Digital Frontier” in the July/August issue of The Atlantic, writer Michael Hirschorn gives a timely overview of the Internet’s history.

He also makes a valid argument for why traditional online content is on its way out and why the app model—“where content is more likely to be accessed via smartly curated ‘stores’ like iTunes, Amazon, or Netflix”—is completely changing the Internet financial model.

In the article, he says, “The Web will be here forever, but it will hardly be the delightfully free-form open plain of the early years. Its colonization was inevitable.”

What say you?

Can you envision your business fitting into the app model? If so, how? Post your comments below or on the DIY Business Association Facebook discussions board.

Don’t get emotional

5 Aug

So this is about the best piece of business advice we’ve heard all day: Emotions and business don’t mix.

DIY businesses in particular are bound to think with their hearts—we are the passionate entrepreneurs, after all—but just think of some of the damage you could do.

Read more down-and-dirty advice in Neil Patel’s “10 Mistakes You’ll Make When Starting a Business.”


Should DIY business owners think with their hearts or with their heads…or both? Post your comments below or head over to the DIY Business Association Facebook page to sound off.