a blog by sam christie. former home of "12 Months of Stuff"

Author: Sam Christie (Page 2 of 3)

I Did Not Build A Website This Month. Here’s Why.

 Photo via featuring Grumpy Cat.

Photo via featuring Grumpy Cat.

Well, that wasn’t a total failure. I set out this month to build a blog in Ruby on Rails. I didn’t end up building the blog, but I did learn some Ruby and do some introductory projects. It was all going well and then it suddenly went off the Rails. Womp womp!

One second I had a test post and test comments, and the next I couldn’t even get a server started to see my progress live on the internet (that’s something you need to do with Rails—start a Rails server.)

In any case, I learned something. That’s going to become my motto I think :).

Halfway through yelling at my tutorials and help sites like Stack Overflow, lamenting the plight of the first-time Ruby developer, I had an epiphany:

This isn’t fun. I am not happy doing this. I am not enjoying this.

I started thinking of some of my other projects, and some of the pieces of them that I just don’t want to do. As you can see, the video updates have become scarce. That’s because I’d rather be doing stuff than editing, uploading, and managing video content. The idea of these update videos weigh me down and get in the way of getting stuff done. Of course in any profession or career or project, there are parts that are less shiny and perfect than others. But this is my own project. I get to make the rules! 🙂

With that in mind, I am issuing a 12 Months of Stuff Official Decree:

All future projects must directly contribute to my happiness.

I started these 12 projects to “get to where I want to be”, but I’m starting to find that destination is a bit nebulous. Sure I want to have my own internet content empire, who doesn’t? But if it makes me miserable, then there’s no point to it. I need to focus on the fun parts, and figure out how to outsource or get around the parts I don’t enjoy if necessary.

Enter the above decree. At least I’m learning things, right? “Inspect and adapt”, as they say. Stay tuned for June’s stuff announcement shortly. It’s going to be a good one.

In love & stuff,

I’m Building A Website in Ruby for May’s Stuff

Whew. It’s been rough the past few weeks. You know the drill – life gets in the way, things get shuffled around, your 12 Months of Stuff project is the thing that gets pushed aside. Well I’m back on track and jumping in feet first to may’s project: Building a website. What’s the site gonna be? The plan is to use it in June’s month of stuff. For now, here’s a handy intro video.

April Recap: What I learned from 3 drum covers

I’ve been lagging on this post. There’s something about procrastination that is exponential – the more I put off something, the more I want to put it off. More on that in a future post. 

For now let’s recap some stats:

I did 3 drum covers this month
“Bonfire” by Childish Gambino765 views
“Woo Boost” by Rusko44 views
“Knock Knock” by Mac Miller234 views

That’s over 1000 views in one month, which is exciting for me. Although to be honest, the goal of this project wasn’t to necessarily get views (He told himself as the Woo Boost video tanked).

The goal of this project was to play drums, film it, and discover some new best practices for cover videos. In that regard, this was a success. 

An Ideal Space to Create: Setting Up The Equipment

By far the most annoying part about recording anything for me, whether cover videos, non-cover videos, podcasts, or music, is the set up process. I’m in a one bedroom apartment. I don’t have a lot of space. I don’t have a constant mic set up where I can simply push a button and go. That’s on the wish list of course, but for now I’ve discovered that I need to identify road blocks as they happen and course-correct as quickly as possible. 

Identifying Roadblocks

For me, the prospect of connecting all my wires, setting up the camera, and testing the microphone levels is daunting. It’s the exact type of work that I hate doing, so in my mind I view it as a monster task. It turns out that these tiny pieces of the puzzle really only take 10-15 minutes of actual time. (Look for a video on this shortly.) Once I nailed that down, I forced myself to commit and block out enough time to set up, record, and break down. Yes, I still don’t enjoy setting all this up, but I figured out the quickest and best way to get it all done and got started on time, which minimized my time wasted. Now when I think of these annoyances and see a wall, I can visualize myself busting through the wall since I already found the quickest way to get it all done. 

Finding An Audience

It was important to me this month to find a core audience for these videos and focus on promoting to them directly. Letting all my friends and family know about my projects is nice, but if I ever want to turn this into a business somehow, I’m not going to market to people I already know. Hitting the ground running with a new project each month has proved challenging as far as finding an audience, but this month I found a comfortable match.

Banana suit in hand, to Reddit we go

The first song I had in mind for these videos was Woo Boost by Rusko. I own a banana suit, so I figured why not do the cover in the banana suit, put it up on Reddit, and see if I could get a viral hit. As the deadline for the first video approached, I realized I wasn’t comfortable enough with the song yet for that to be the first video. So I pulled out a sleeper favorite of mine, Bonfire by Childish Gambino, and put that up. 

I scouted r/donaldglover and r/coversongs for a bit before hand. I noticed a certain time frame during which the Donald Glover board became active, so I aimed for that and posted my video. Surprisingly, it took off on that board, with 46 upvotes and a handful of positive comments. I also ended up submitting it to r/rap.

I took similar approaches for Woo Boost and Knock Knock, and even submitted Knock Knock to the r/Flyers board. Some people got snarky since I posted a drum video to the hockey board, but most understood. (“So this is what missing the playoffs is like”) The Mac Miller subreddit isn’t nearly as active as Gambino’s, so I’m not surprised with the drop in view count. Honestly though, I had high hopes for the Woo Boost cover. I submitted that to EDM and cover song subreddits, and didn’t even eclipse 100 views. You’d think a fan base that is into having cake thrown at them would be into a banana suit drum cover, but apparently not. 

Key Takeaways

All in all, I’m happy with this month. I played some dope tunes, got a lot of good feedback from friends and strangers alike, and learned some things I can bring into my next project:

1. Identify and remove roadblocks as soon as possible

I can’t wait until week 4 to adapt since each project is only a month long. I need to find the pain points that keep me from doing the Stuff of the Month and remove them or adapt to them if I want to complete these projects on time and successfully. 

2. Finding an audience is key

I knew this going in, but I’ve struggled with it. If I could, I would devote much more time to this, but in the span of one month, I need to be more strategic. I plan, from here on out, to find the most suitable, viral, hungry people I can find for whatever content or creations I’m dreaming up, and get it into their hands/brains appropriately. It’s no surprise my most successful video this month was Bonfire, since Gambino’s subreddit is the most active and he has a dedicated niche of fans that follow everything he does. 

Lastly, thanks again for all the support. If you’ve been reading, listening, or watching what I’m doing, thanks. I appreciate your time and I hope I’m inspiring you to do the things you love. Put a pin in this, because I was aiming for 4 drum covers and only hit 3. Maybe I’ll have to release some “Bonus Stuff”…

In love and stuff,

Watch my drum cover of “Knock Knock” by Mac Miller!

“Knock Knock” is basically one part ode to Pittsburgh and one part Mac Miller talking about how great he is. I know this because my favorite hockey team, the Philadelphia Flyers, used this as their in-room victory song a few seasons ago. A few of my steel city friends were quick to remind me that there were numerous western PA references, it shouldn’t be our victory song, blah blah blah. I stopped listening after a bit because A) it’s hilarious that we adopted a Pittsburgh rapper’s Pittsburgh-laden song for our Philadelphia wins and B) I enjoy the song, so I don’t really care what it’s about. Of course I had to rub it in a little bit and wear all the Flyers gear I could find, because the prospect of grating on the nerves of suburban Pitt tween trolls makes me smile.

Watch my drum cover for “Knock Knock” below and let me know what you think.

I’ve done covers of Woo Boost by Rusko and Bonfire by Childish Gambino, so check them out if you haven’t seen them yet :).

Watch my drum cover of “Woo Boost” by Rusko!

This is another drum cover that has been cookin’ in the ol’ Sam Christie drum oven for a long time. “Woo Boost” by Rusko is one of the first songs that introduced me to the wonderful world of EDM. While I’m not a neon-wearing EDM festival fiend, I do enjoy it any time a scene kid pivots successfully. No-vox electronic wubs and flubs have provided the soundtrack to many of my most productive days.

If EDM doesn’t click with you by the end of this video, you may never understand it*. *It’s also highly possible I have no idea what I’m talking about. Anyway, take it from a guy who covered “Woo Boost” in a banana suit. You’ll enjoy this one way or another.

Missed last week’s cover of “Bonfire” by Childish Gambino? Watch it here.

In love & stuff,


Watch my drum cover of “Bonfire” by Childish Gambino!

For April’s Month of Stuff, I’m doing four drum covers – one per week. First up is “Bonfire” by Childish Gambino. I’ve been sitting on this cover for at least a few YEARS (yikes) and I’m glad to finally record it and get it up to kick off April’s Stuffly* endeavor. (* yes I made this word up.)

This song is dope. It’s got some rough language, so if that’s not your thing, you’ve been warned.

Let me know what you think! Have a song you think I should cover? Comment below, tweet, post on my wall, or comment on the YouTube video. Thanks for watching and remember, if you want to get to where you wanna be, it starts with that first step.

March’s Truth Tee Wrap Up: I…failed?

March. Stuff. Truth Tees. “Hand drawn t-shirts with meaning, with a % of the money given to charity”. All that sounds rad, right? Well, not enough people thought so. Chalk up the first “failure” in the 12MOS canon. 

As the end of March approached, I knew I had a long way to go. With two t-shirts sold, I needed 8 more to print so I kicked it into high gear. I took out Facebook ads, pinged bloggers, and tweaked the ads to get as many clicks as possible. But it wasn’t enough. I felt a little defeated, which explains the beginning-of-April hangover that will see me launching April’s project not on April Fool’s day (worst day of the year), but tomorrow instead.

A combination of work, personal, and extra-curricular hiccups lead me to trudge across the March finish line with my head down. But looking back, as I mentioned in my previous post, this may not be a failure at all.

Sure, I didn’t reach the goal I set for the project – “Sell enough t-shirts to print the Teespring campaign”. But 12 Months Of Stuff, at its core, is about doing stuff. And that, I did. So maybe this month wasn’t such a failure. 

I learned how to better manage a Facebook Ad Campaign on short notice. (Did I mention starting and finishing a project in 30 days is hard?)
I learned how to better market a Teespring campaign for optimum success.
I learned how to turn a scan of a drawing into a Photoshop file into an Illustrator file into a t-shirt. 
When I spin it that way, I got a lot done. 

“Comparison is the thief of joy” says Teddy Roosevelt, a quote I’ve heard before and have never been able to internalize. I’m constantly looking at super-successful people and comparing myself to them. “Why can’t I do that?” “What’s the real difference between me and them?” 

Then I listened to this episode of “Invisible Office Hours”, a podcast by Jason Zook and Paul Jarvis. In it, they explore how comparing yourself to others can sometimes be motivating, or hold you back. For me, it usually does the latter. After listening to this podcast, it finally clicked. Zook and Jarvis talk about what we all see—the results of hard work—as well as what it takes to get there—the process. When comparison is truly the thief of joy, we are comparing result to result. I didn’t print any t-shirts while sites like the Yetee and Threadless sell and print tons of shirts per day. But what about the process? How did they become so successful? I have no idea. 

But I realized, looking at my own process, I’m comfortable with where I’m at. The “result” of March’s tee campaign wasn’t just to sell shirts, it was to attempt to sell shirts. To do something. My process of weekly tasks, inspecting and adapting, and soaking up all of the knowledge I can gives me solace. A successful “12 Months of Stuff” isn’t twelve successful projects. It’s twelve attempts. Twelve times refining the process. Twelve chances to figure things out. Twelve blank slates to create whatever type of world I want. And so far, trusting in the process has been very fulfilling and worthwhile. So I’m going to keep it up and push on. The small psuedo-failures will be outweighed by the bigger picture. By the end of this year I’ll be closer to the person I want to be, even if it’s only twelve tiny steps closer.

Check back tomorrow for April’s stuff announcement. Thanks for the motivation, kind words of encouragement and support. 

In love & stuff,

Truth Tees Teespring campaign is almost over! + what I’ve done and learned

There’s only a few days left in the Teespring campaign for March’s stuff.

Truth Tees are hand drawn designs on t-shirts, with meaning, with a % of the $ going to charity., and this tee design reads “Maybe your nightmares are afraid of you”. I designed this to help empower people with mental health issues to take control and get better one day at a time.  I’ve paired this tee with Erika’s Lighthouse – a charity out of Winnetka, IL that “educates communities about teen depression,  eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and empower teens to take charge of their mental health.” With a little under 5 days to go, things aren’t looking so hot (which means it’s the perfect time for you to buy one!)

That said, I’m not giving up. It’s time to regroup a bit, look back at just how much I’ve done throughout this project, and some lessons learned.

Stuff I’ve done:
1. Designed the t-shirt
2. Launched the Teespring campaign
3. Reached out to bloggers about the campaign
4. Created Facebook ads for the campaign

And most importantly, here is what I’ve learned:
1. The more detailed your plan is, the better it’s gonna go…

Ad libbing aside, I’ve been doing 12 Months of Stuff for 3 months. It’s hard! Some of these projects are pretty involved, almost always more than I initially think. I know if I had 3-6 months to push this t-shirt campaign I would have hit the goal by now, but trying to break down a project into action items while also juggling life, a day job, and these updates has been tough. That said, I know if I get more detailed with my project plans I can hit the ground running and have a better chance at success.

2. Always ALWAYS have and keep a schedule.
When you block time for a task, there’s nothing to think about. You don’t get caught up in anything else, and it makes it easier to attack your to-do list when there’s a set time for everything. In straying from this, I find myself feeling like I have less time than I have, which leads to more stress, which leads to worse stuff overall. Not good! I noted how important this would be in month 2, and I mostly stuck to it then. I’ve trailed off on keeping a set schedule in this one and I think it’s time to get back on track for April’s stuff. 

3. Don’t be afraid to change on the fly!
Those Facebook ads I created plummeted performance-wise in the first day or so that they were running. I made a few tweaks and now the traffic is trending upward. It’s important to inspect & adapt and change once you realize something’s going wrong. It’s not that I didn’t anticipate the amount of work going into these monthly projects, but as I said before it’s pretty daunting to do something and do it well over 4 weeks. I’m making small tweaks where I can and going from there.

Regardless of how this campaign shakes out, I won’t consider this month a failure. The point of this year long journey is to do all of the things that I felt like I couldn’t do, or didn’t have time to do, and so far I am accomplishing that. I would love to have every project be fully polished and pristine, but the fact that I’m doing any of this stuff at all is success enough for me. I’m learning new things every week—things that are going to help me when I decide to expand on some of these monthly projects later

And there’s still time to hit the goal for this campaign! Buy your Truth Tee now at Remember, 25% of the profits are going to Erika’s Lighthouse. Watch the video below for more info including some more on the stuff I’ve done and lessons learned.

In love & stuff,

Truth Tees available now on Teespring! 25% of profits go to charity.

Available now at

Available now at

“Maybe your nightmares are afraid of you” reads this limited edition Truth Tee. I designed this t-shirt to empower people with mental health issues to take control of what they’re going through and get better one step at a time. If you change your perspective, sometimes you’ll notice that a “scary monster” is actually just protecting her child. 

Twenty five percent of the profits from this campaign will go to Erika’s Lighthouse, an Illinois charity whose mission is to educate communities about teen depression,  eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and empower teens to take charge of their mental health.”

You can snag this Truth Tee from now until March 30 at Watch the video below for more.

This drawing and saying means a lot to me and hopefully it will help someone else out there who may be going through some difficult times. 

In love and stuff,

I’m Selling T-Shirts And Giving $ To Charity For March’s Stuff

I’m super excited to announce that March’s project is Truth Tees – Meaningful, hand drawn designs on t-shirts, with a % of profits going to charity. 

Truth Tees started as a ridiculous idea between friends. I took it and ran with it in 2008, making a made-to-order t-shirt storefront through Spreadshirt. The designs focused mostly on typography, and finishing the phrase “The Truth Is…”. I’m bringing back the brand for this (currently) one-off run with a hand drawn look, and designs that have a bit more meaning. I‘m going to run a 2 week Teespring campaign at the end of March. (That basically means if I don’t sell a set amount of shirts before the campaign is over, then they don’t get printed.) 

Last week I posted a song explanation for “Get Over It” — the closer on my Young Professionals split EPwhich deals with mental health issues, how people perceive them, and how people experience them. The design I created (which you can get a peek at in the video below) deals with feeling empowered to take control of your mental health issues instead of them taking control of you.

The most exciting part of this for me is that I found a truly awesome non-profit in the Chicago area to pair this design with. Erika’s Lighthouse. Their mission is to educate communities about teen depression,  eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness and empower teens to take charge of their mental health.” Super cool. Super necessary. Super important. Not only do they have programs to help teens get through their mental health issues, they also have programs to educate parents and friends on mental health issues too! 

I’m going to try to get in touch with them directly to work closer with them on this campaign. But regardless of how that shakes out, if this campaign succeeds they are the ‘charity in residence’ (not an official term) so to speak, for this run of Truth Tees.

For the first two weeks of March, I’m going to focus on planning and trying to make sure the campaign gets off on the right foot. For the last two, I’ll run and promote the campaign. Stay tuned to the blog or my YouTube channel for more info soon.

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