Posted on Leave a comment

What Do I Need to Do Better? A History

blank page

When I first started in 2012, it was because I learned that people who were able to talk to classmates or others on the job were able to reinforce their learning. They retained more information and learned more than people who had to rely on themselves and their memory to learn. I was going to Disney World to be a part of their College Program, and I wanted to remember everything that I learned there. Not knowing if I would find people to talk to, I decided to start a website where I could keep my observations and put down what I learned, giving myself one more way to remember what I deemed as important and one more connection to tie the information to my brain.

I monetized the website, and as I went through school, I created movie and book reviews. When I started at as a reporter, I posted videos on YouTube to support the news I was reporting. I monetized those as well. By the time I went to get my Master’s degree, I was making just enough to pay for my Internet usage, and all indications were that it would keep growing if I kept at it. Then everything changed.

When YouTube changed its policy about who could monetize their videos, I was on the outside looking in. I lost half of my web income. When my website hosting company decided to eliminate contact with Russia, I lost half of my income again. Then I made the drastic decision to move website hosting companies, and my income dropped to almost zero. I thought I had things moving in the right direction when I took another hit in August, my worst month at my website financially speaking, even though I was in the midst of a 251-day publishing streak. September responded in a “hold my beer” fashion, and I’m staring at two months of unexplained decline in income from my website – even while September was my best for “ads served.”

In the midst of all this, I turned to writing books as an additional source of income. My wife has made penguins to help supplement what we’re making. I’ve tried freelance editing with two paid jobs and one that didn’t pan out but kept me from working in September. I’ve started publishing at Medium, where I earn based on the number of views by members and their interaction with the articles I write. I’ve attempted to expand our Patreon base and failed with every offer that I’ve put out there. I have a small but mighty core of supporters. I tried starting an email list – my wife and I are the only ones on it, which makes it a lot less work. We’ve made two calendars – one of which we’ve offered for free to our Patreon members.

So, this is where we are – facing crickets with our web presence and our ability to get the word out about what we have available. I’ve gotten messages about how people love my books. Our penguins have gotten great reviews – in private, so it can’t be the products that are the problem. That leads me to believe my biggest issue is marketing. How do I inform people about what we have available and how they go about getting it?

I have read about marketing, watched videos about it, and participated in courses about it, but for some reason, there’s a block. Either I’m not using the things I have learned, or I am using them ineffectively. I’m not sure where the disconnect is, but it must be somewhere within me, or between me and the computer. Somehow, I’m not translating what I’ve read and thought about into something productive for me. It’s a lot of wheel spinning as I use social media and Google ads to little or no avail. How do I do it better?

If I am right, and marketing is the main problem, then it’s time for me to return the blog portion of the website back to what it was built for – to help me learn. It’s time for me to start going through the marketing materials I’ve already read once, and re-read it with an eye to distilling it down to the main points: Benefits marketing, tell-a-story marketing, and other marketing tactics. Whatever type of marketing I need to learn, it’s time to buckle down and do the research and figure out how to turn it into something usable.

And after all this talking, the one thing I probably need to learn most of all is to how to listen. People may have been telling me things that I have missed. Since I have missed them, I don’t know what they are.

If you have any ideas, please leave them in the comments.

Posted on Leave a comment

Penguinator Newsletter August 2019

Hey Penguinators and those who happened onto this newsletter!

How’s it going? Thank you so much for supporting us.

On Writing

We’ve been busy this past month trying out the Patreon promotion feature, and let me tell you, we utterly failed! I thought if I concentrated on getting new people to join, I would find them, and we’d have 30 new Penguinators on our creativity team. We got zero – that’s right, a penguin egg. Not a single new member… No one picked up on our first offer $30 for 3 months and you get a penguin, and no one wanted to challenge my writing skills on the subject of creativity.

But, if you’ve been paying attention, it’s amazing to fail! That’s a part of creativity, a part of growing and a part of life. If we weren’t failing it would mean we weren’t trying. Of course, the second part of failing is learning from it. So, what did we learn? I’m not sure, yet. Maybe we learned that our offers weren’t enticing enough. Maybe we learned that no one understands creativity and penguins. Maybe we learned that social media is a terrible thing to rely on when it comes to generating new leads. It is the first day since the last offer ended, so I still have to think about it more. What do you think we should have learned? Let us know in the comments.

My SEO job has been giving me fits. I’ve seen the writing on the wall since January; I just haven’t done very much about it. So, this month I started looking for other places to get writing or teaching work. I put a gig on Fiverr for editing and blog writing. I sent out request for anyone who might have leads for editing or writing. I haven’t gotten a paying gig, yet, but I’ve had one writer say he’ll use my editing services (at a deep discount) come August 5th.

I also signed up at as a writer. This is a revenue sharing website, but they only use subscriptions not ads. So, I get paid according to the number of people who interact with my writing versus other writings they interact with, i.e. they pay $5 and read ten articles, each writer gets 50 cents. That’s not exactly how it works, but it’s the gist of it. You’ll still be able to read whatever I publish their because I’ll have a friends and family link that I will add to our regular newsletter.

Speaking of regular newsletter… I have started an email list at If you sign up, you’ll get a code for 10% off your next purchase at our website. The emails I have planned going forward will come once a week with a compilation of all the articles I wrote at Penguinate for the week before. You can read why I am starting an email list by clicking on the link.

I have connected my Patreon to my website, so now I can put exclusive content on my website for you! I will always put a link to the content in a post on Patreon about the same time as the link on goes out. This is designed for me to be able to recruit new readers to our Patreon. If you prefer me to post solely on Patreon for you, please let me know. (If you’re reading this, you’re already on the website!)

In case you missed it, I was featured on the Sweep Spot podcast for my book “The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity.” Check it out.

On Penguins

In other news the penguins keep marching.  Checkers is in New Zealand and has his own Instagram account. He and his mom have been so supportive of us. They stepped up and purchased a Pay-It-Forward penguin. Some lucky child will get a penguin at Salem Holiday Market in December unless we find a reason to give it away sooner.

We also have a new penguin. We don’t know its name, yet. I was thinking Reggie, Regina, or Reginald, but I haven’t discussed it with Jenya, yet. Stay tuned for a “Meet the Penguin” post soon!

August 12 is our Patreon anniversary. August 14, I will release “Popeye, criticism and creativity.” August 22, will be our second Penguin of the Month photo. And on every Tuesday, there’s a behind the scenes photo shoot of the Penguin Countdown. All of these will be for Penguinators only.

That’s all I have on the news front for now. Thank you, Penguinators, for your support. I’ll be sending out an extra creativity article just for you sometime during the month of August. (If you’re not a Penguinator, and you’re reading this think about joining our Patreon for more penguins and more creativity.)

Below, I have sent out a copy of our first blog post email for our email subscribers.

Thanks again for reading and supporting.

Shad and Jenya.

This is what our first Mailchimp Blog summary looks like. If you sign up for our email list, you’ll get an update every week. It’s also available at mailchimp’s archives.

Look what we’ve written about over the last week! Thanks so much for being a part of the community! Creativity to the infinite power

Excerpts:The ABCs of Creativity: Well Creativity: Even if it’s fun, you sometimes need to step away to get better. 
Read on »

Did You Catch the Creativity Secrets in the Countdown? Almost everyone missed these Easter eggs in our Patreon countdown, did you?
Read on »

Behind the Scenes Photos with the Penguins Day 10 to 7 Behind the scenes for Patreon members only! 
Read on »

Layover at JFK? Problem solved with TWA: Photos from the Hotel Layover at JFK? Problem solved with TWA Hotel. 
Read on »

Just One Day Left for More Creativity Join now and be part of something bigger. 
Read on »

Heroes of the Haunted Mansion: Claude Coats Claude Coats provide atmosphere and more for the Haunted Mansion. 
Read on »

2 Days Left to Get More Creativity Just two days to go! For every 5 people that join our Patreon by July 31, 2019, I’ll write an extra creativity article! 
Read on »

Southwest Airlines Shows the Luv on ‘The Kindness Diaries’ Luv will find a way! on the Kindness Diaries. 
Read on »

What Would You Do if You Were More Creative? Three is the magic number to join our Patreon before this deal expires. 
Read on »

8 Cool Things about Penguins from 2 Videos Have you seen this adelie coming to rescue emperor penguin chicks? 
Read on »