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Today we’re mostly at home and incredibly online. It can be frustrating, lonely, and boring to not be able to go to cafes or cookouts, but ultimately it’s necessary. In the Before-Times, I was extremely social, and made it a point to hang out with as many different groups and people as possible. From poetry performances to coding meetups to small business expos, I went to everything I could because I liked meeting new people and hearing about what they were up to.

As a kid, I read about “Connectors” in Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. Connectors were people who belonged to vastly different social circles, which allowed them to connect people who would never normally run into each other. I wanted to be that person, so I cultivated a routine that habitually put me in new places. …


On Tuesday November 3rd, 2020 (Election Day in the United States), I teamed up with online activists and creators to host a day-long self care event called The Good Vibes Stream. In an effort to stave off election anxiety, my friend Kurt Santana and I put together a lineup of wholesome Twitch streams from 10am to 9pm Pacific, featuring gamers, artists, cats, and more.

The idea came from digital activist Mer Joyce, who DM’d me on October 29th asking what my self care plans were for Election Day. With domestic politics being divisive and heated, my friends and I were growing steadily anxious about the prospect of voter suppression, civil war, and a potential coup. …


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I recently was invited to speak to a remote class of middle schoolers about coding for fun. I was a little nervous, but their teacher assured me that it would be fine. “It’s like being a Twitch streamer,” she said. “You don’t know who is actually watching, and most folks interact through chat.”

Twitch is a video streaming platform where folks can watch other folks play video games, live. …


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The folks I interview for my podcast, The Orbit, have to wear a lot of hats. They’re online creators, which means that they have to be photographers, video producers, editors, sales managers, web developers, product designers, community managers, and more. When I ask them about the things that they have the most trouble with, it’s time management. There is so much to be done, with each task requiring a different kind of specialized knowledge. When we sit down to create actionable strategies to improve their business, often we are just prioritizing tasks and streamlining repetitive processes.

I call myself a “business therapist” because that’s what it feels like when I work with clients. They just want a knowledgeable friend to help them sort out their business problems. Many people think that being an influencer is simply a matter of taking cute photos and picking up a check. When I try to explain the phenomenon to older folks, they are skeptical of whether or not online creator work is valid. Oftentimes, they will not listen to me until I mention the amount of money that these folks are making (spoiler alert, it’s at least twice the income of the average American). …


In high school, I applied to a program designed to get students from Bad Schools into Good Schools. The idea was to find students with good grades at “failing” high schools and send them to fancy, expensive colleges on the East Coast with as many scholarships as possible. On paper, it sounded like a great idea. To my parents and me, it sounded like a dream.

My friends and I managed to get into the program. We were elated, and believed our lives were forever changed. One by one, we attended summer courses, free of charge, at the Good Schools. Our school district paid for our own college counselors who helped us navigate the application process. …


Global pandemic and civil unrest make it impossible to predict what the world will look like from week to week. Yet sometimes I feel like there is pressure to behave as if things were normal. We are still expected to pay rent. Some of us are lucky enough to have jobs, but the jobs don’t feel quite the same. For me, I used to be a business coach, but something doesn’t feel right about teaching folks how to turn a profit when profit-chasing is part of the reason we are in this mess.

A business is a system that exists to turn a profit. Any decisions that are made have to consider whether or not it makes money. The business can have good intentions, hoping to maximize public good, but it sustains itself through making money. As a result, any good intentions are a second priority. After all, you can’t create change without capital. …


My social life centered around cafes, but now it’s in video games.

Years ago, I lived in a low-income housing unit that was eight or so blocks east of Powell’s City of Books, where I worked as a bookseller. Every morning I would light a cigarette as I walked out the door, and by the sixth block the cigarette was out and I had arrived at my favorite coffee shop of all time, Courier Coffee. Courier had roughly four small tables, a wooden bar, and no power outlets. I usually spent two hours before my shift drinking coffee, writing, and shooting the shit with other regulars.

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Courier Coffee in Portland, Oregon.

Portland, known for its coffee scene, had walking tours for visitors. Guides would take groups of folks to Stumptown, Heart, Courier and beyond to give them a basic overview of the area’s coffee culture. I remember typing furiously on my Chromebook, hunched over a cold coffee, when a tourist group walked in and the guide told them “Courier is where all the artists hang out.” …


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Introduction — what is a school’s purpose?

What is the purpose of the public school system? There are many answers to this: it’s a form of daycare so that adults can go to work. It indoctrinates its attendees with a sense of patriotism. It also helps students prepare for standardized tests.

I went to high school in California, and the main thing school prepared me for were standardized tests. …


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tl;dr

Here’s a simple business structure: have a social media channel that drives people to your product or service. Once you find your rhythm and audience, open up a Patreon or another subscription-based service for your most loyal fans to support you on a more consistent basis.

In a little more detail

Okay, here’s the deal — there are a million ways to structure your business, but I’m going to show you one. …


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We’re all social distancing, which means not hanging out in groups, not going to restaurants, and not doing anything that might get anyone else sick. While creating physical isolation, how are we supposed to run our small businesses?

COVID-19 has affected me personally — I was laid off from my day job at a cafe. …

About

Connor Miller

writer | organizer | ghost. seattle, washington. author of the pocket handbook, “sustainable loops”.

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