One video, article or side project can change your life.

by Tobias van Schneider
first appeared
on my private email list.

Think about this: One piece of content, one little thing you create or publish, can change everything you do in the future.

  • One article you write & publish can change your life.
  • One video you upload & share can change your career.
  • One little side project you create & publish can change the course of everything you will do in the future.

But the problem is, we don’t do these thing. We usually sit here over thinking, planning, strategizing and coming up with excuses why we can’t do it.

I do this all the time myself. I come up with ideas for little articles, I write them, and then I delete them again thinking no one cares anyway. Let me give you an example:

A couple months ago I sat down and wrote an article with the title “No Alcohol, No Coffee for 15 months”. I finished the article within one sitting, it took me less than 15 minutes to finish, nothing special.

I just wrote it for myself to reflect on my personal experience. I hit the publish button and moved on, because who cares anyway?

Apparently a lot of people did. It was by far one of my most read articles I’ve ever written with millions of views. It got syndicated to pretty much every big online magazine and translated into more than 10 languages across the world.

In retrospect, I can see why people might liked this article. But the moment I published it, there was nothing special about it. I’ve never written an article in less than 15 minutes, and rarely cared less about it’s potential to receive an audience.

But for some reason, it was that article that got my writing around the world. Since then I learned it once again, don’t think about it too much, just fucking do it.

Casey Neistat might be familiar to some of you by now. He is a well known YouTuber and vlogger. But a little over a year ago, before his crazy vlogging career started, he uploaded a 3 minute video called “Crazy German Water Park”

Casey’s second most watched video of all time.

Within the following months this video got more than 18 million views on YouTube alone, making it his second most watched video of all time. There is nothing in particular special about this video, it’s a good video, but one of his best? I doubt it. I assume even Casey can’t tell you why this video exploded, or why in specifically this video compared to any of his others. (which are all excellent)

While this video probably didn’t change Casey’s life, it’s still one of his most watched & shared videos. Which means, it’s the video that reaches far beyond his subscriber base giving all his other videos exposure. It’s the video that reached more people than any of his other videos.

We can analyze it and maybe find something in retrospect, but I’m pretty sure even Casey Neistat wasn’t prepared to see this video explode. Sometimes we can feel it, we can feel when the stars align and something is going to be successful. But sometimes it happens for the strangest reasons, all we have to do is hit publish on a video called “Crazy German Water Park”.

A couple years ago Mikael Cho, one of the co-founders of Crew was almost being forced to shut down his company. He had 3 months worth of cash left and needed to get his shit together.

At the time, he was working on a new website for Crew. While searching for some good stock photos to use for their website, the team noticed that they just couldn’t find anything worth using.

So they ended up hiring a photographer instead to shoot some quick pictures in a coffee shop. Since they only needed one picture and had a couple extras left, they decided to simply share them online for free to download.

3 hours and one quick Tumblr theme later, they put up a website called Unsplash with download links to these extra photographs. Then the team moved on with their day, I mean, they had a business to save.

Unsplash, a quick side project idea ultimately helped Crew to what they are today.

Long story short: The website Unsplash blew up on the Internet. It received millions of visits and downloads within the first year. More people wanted to share their extra photographs, and they eventually did it through Unsplash. And on top of it, Unsplash served as the number one referral to Crew, helping Crew to survive and ultimately gain the exposore they needed.

All this happened just because the Crew team decided to share their extra photographs on a quick and dirty Tumblr page.

I’m pretty sure no one at the Crew team knew at the time that this little side project will ultimately safe their company.

In the end, it’s about just doing it. It’s about hitting the publish button. It’s about not thinking about perfection, it’s about zero expectation.

It’s about walking the walk, doing the things. Making something, and showing it to the world. One day only one person will appreciate it (and thats okay) and the other day it might be thousands.

I almost didn’t record my little video about Instagram the other week. I was half asleep in my hotel room in Stockholm and thought about it. I thought about how no one would give a shit, and that I’m not really good in front of the camera anyway.

But because I was jetlagged and it was 5am in the morning, I said, fuck it, I just record it and put it on YouTube. It took me 10 min to record (I wasn’t even wearing pants, but you will never find out anyway 😬) and 30min to edit. Then I uploaded it, and forgot about it. To my surprise, more than 60.000 people watched it in the following days.

I can probably come up with many more stories like these, and just reflecting on this myself today makes me motivated to do even more in the future. Keep going, keep running and have fun.

Often the things I expected the least results on, turned out to be something that impacted my work or career the most.

Have a fantastic Monday, let’s do it!

//EDIT: I just found out that Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a similar story, but a completely different approach on Medium as well. Worth a read!

PS: I usually send out these articles via my personal email list right here. You can sign up anytime, I won’t spam, promise.

Thanks for hitting the 💚 if you enjoyed this article. This will tell me to write more of it!

Tobias is a Designer & Maker + Co-Founder of Semplice, a new portfolio platform for designers. Also host of the show NTMY — Previously Art Director & Design Lead at Spotify & Board of Directors AIGA New York.

Desk of van Schneider

Stories from the Desk of van Schneider written by Tobias van Schneider. New stories usually appear first on my private email list which you can sign up to at — Enjoy!

Tobias van Schneider

Written by

Self-taught Designer & Maker. Un-Employed. Founder of Formerly Spotify — More About me:

Desk of van Schneider

Stories from the Desk of van Schneider written by Tobias van Schneider. New stories usually appear first on my private email list which you can sign up to at — Enjoy!

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