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seanwes podcast

seanwes podcast

Tangible insights on creativity and business every single Wednesday and Friday.

Want to make a living with your passion? From products and marketing to professionalism and clients, you'll get answers to the hard-hitting questions.

Join entrepreneurs Sean McCabe and Ben Toalson as they let you inside their discussions on the many facets of making a living online. You'll come away from every episode with something of value that you can apply to your business.


165: The Community Episode

Friday, April 17, 2015 – 1 hour, 12 minutes

We just returned from a conference and we’re feeling that conference high. You know, where you’re super inspired and fired up from spending time with incredible people and you feel like you’re ready to take on the world.

I remember I used to feel this feeling once or twice a year when returning from a conference. But then it would slowly dissipate. The coals of my inspirational fire would cool and I yearned once again for the engaging discussions with likeminded people.

The Community is like the conference experience you love, but it’s with you every day and right in your pocket.

Cory Miller joined the Community on May 8th, 2014. Over the course of a year, I got to know Cory really well. He completely turned his life around. He went from gaming every single day to growing his own apparel brand.

I loved what he was doing so much that I ended up hiring him to become the full time Product Director at seanwes. I got to hang out with Cory at the conference and he also drove down to the studio to join us for this episode while he was in Texas.

This past week, we were fortunate enough to hang out with 19 of our Community members who attended the conference. What incredibly genuine people they were! It was remarkably un-weird how normal it felt to meet them in person.

While I was there, Colin (pictured bottom left) told me he wished I’d done an episode of the podcast dedicated exclusively to the Community. He just joined a few weeks ago and he said he’s kicking himself for not joining sooner. He faults me for not pushing him over the edge and I accept the blame—so now we dedicated an entire episode to the Community.

We take you behind the scenes of the Community and show you what goes on inside and what it’s like. Other members also share their experience and what kind of a positive impact it’s had on their lives.


164: Full Price or Free

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 – 1 hour, 2 minutes

There are only two prices where a product or service is acknowledged for its full value: full price or free.

For full price it’s obvious: when someone purchases at the full amount, they value for the full amount.

When a buyer purchases a discounted product, they don’t see the original price as the value—they value it at the discounted amount.

The only way to win by discounting is to become a discount brand. Discounts are always a devaluation.

Giving someone a gift or doing work pro-bono is giving them something of full value at no cost. Unlike with discounts, the recipient of the gift values it at the full amount.

In this episode, you’ll hear why I never ask clients for a budget and why discounting not only sacrifices your long-term profitability and brand perception, but it’s a big middle finger to your past customers. I talk about you what to do instead to create urgency and sell.


163: Why I Don’t Allow Comments on My Website

Friday, April 3, 2015 – 58 minutes

Just about everywhere you go, you see comments. All social media has commenting ability and everyone has a chance to voice their opinion.

This makes sense for social media. After all, the people are what make the platform. But what about for your own domain? Should people be able to comment on your website?

The immediate answer seems to be “yes,” but remember: your website is your platform and letting people comment is giving them some of your platform.

You are offering them an opportunity to be seen by your readers and that’s a very big responsibility.

Comments can be useful, and you’ll hear me acknowledge some of the upsides, but I’m also going to make some compelling arguments for disabling comments on your website entirely—as well as showing you what to do instead to maximize engagement.


162: They’re Going to Put You in a Box

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 – 1 hour, 28 minutes

We all want to be known for something, we all want to make a name for ourselves, but there’s a harsh reality we’re up against:

The reality is people put other people in boxes.

We are cognitively limited to maintaining 150 close relationships.

What does this mean? It’s means people are forced to categorize. They’re going to put you in a box. There’s nothing you can do about that—it’s going to happen.

What you can do is define the box they put you in. Embrace the fact that you will be put in a box and define what that box is.

You have an opportunity to shape the box others put you in. How do you shape it? You curate what you share.


161: 6 Ways to Develop Self-Discipline

Friday, March 27, 2015 – 1 hour, 5 minutes

I have some good news: self-discipline is not an innate trait. It’s not something you have or you don’t; it’s a skill you develop.

Tell me if this happens to you a lot: you want to do something but you just don’t feel like doing it a lot of the time.

The people who are disciplined have learned one thing that others haven’t: don’t wait until you “feel like it.”

A common misconception is that disciplined people must somehow feel like doing things more than others do. This simply isn’t the case.

To help you develop the skill of discipline, we share 6 tips in this episode that will help you take the next step—whether it’s eating healthy, staying fit, waking up early, or showing up consistently.


160: Nailing Your Product Launch the First Time

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – 1 hour, 18 minutes

I launched Learn Lettering one year ago yesterday. It was my very first product launch and it grossed six figures in the first three days of launching.

How was I able to do this? Well, I have an exhaustive case study in e060 with all of the details, but essentially I owe it to a year of immersion in the world of marketing!

I learned everything I could. I studied countless examples from other people. I searched the web and read articles, listened to podcasts, watched videos and gleaned whatever wisdom I could from those who had been there before me.

I learned two things:

1. How to make sure you’re building what other people want (and will pay for) and not just what you want.
2. The absolute, undeniable power of email.

In the last episode, we looked at Getting Started With Email Marketing. Today, we’re taking things to the next level and I show you how I use email marketing to launch a product.

I share things I learned, what worked, what didn’t work, and everything from validation, to lead magnets, to what to put in your emails, to evergreen launches so that you too can nail your very first product launch.


159: Getting Started With Email Marketing

Friday, March 20, 2015 – 1 hour, 29 minutes

You’ve been hearing that you should be using email to build your brand and market your products, but how exactly do you do that? Where should you get started? How do you even start an email list? How do you take the one you have and supercharge the growth?

In this jam-packed episode, I give you a crash course on email marketing. You’ll learn how to get people to sign up, what to send, when to send, and why using email gets you more than 10x the engagement Twitter does.

We talk about effective ways to incentivize signups without adding spammy popups to your site and whether it matters what type of lead magnet you use.

We answer a ton of questions from the chat, so you’re bound to hear something that resonates with you whether you’re just thinking about using email or if you’ve been marketing for a long time.


158: How to Get the Most Out of Conferences

Wednesday, March 18, 2015 – 1 hour, 16 minutes

I say this with the utmost sincerity as an introvert: conferences are one of the best values you’ll ever get.

I’ve had some of the best conversations and experiences in my life over meals, coffee, or park benches at conferences.

If you’re going to a conference in the near future (or even thinking about it), this episode will give you the rundown on preparing for your next conference, how to engage with people, what to bring, and how to stand out.

You’ll learn what conferences are NOT for, why a cheap business card is worse than no business card, and why you shouldn’t worry about acceptance from your heroes—even if you get to meet them.


157: Should Artists Work for Free Just Because a Business Gives to Charity?

Friday, March 13, 2015 – 57 minutes

I’m a big believer in charitable giving. I think it’s fantastic to give to good causes. I’d highly encourage going out of your way to donate to organizations you believe in.

Where things get a little fuzzy is when someone asks you to work for free “because charity.” Sometimes it’s a non-profit, other times it’s a for-profit business masquerading as a non-profit. While they’re making money and paying their staff, they hope you’ll work for free because they say they give “proceeds” to charity.

Why is it that their accountants, organizers, and managers get paid even when good causes are involved, but art is treated as a hobby? Why are you expected to work for free?

Artists are often exploited because they enjoy what they do. Businesses or organizations often try to “pay” you in exposure and many creative people end up working for free when they should be compensated.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly times where it is appropriate and right to work for free. I think it’s fantastic to donate your services and your skills!

It sounds stingy to even talk about not doing free work when charities benefit, but the situation isn’t always so clear and people are often taken advantage of.

We navigate this sensitive issue and discuss when to be altruistic and when to be wary. We answer the question: Should you always work for free if a good cause benefits?


156: How to Defeat Scarcity Mindset

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 – 1 hour, 21 minutes

Do you know where your next client will come from? What if you don’t get any inquiries? How will you pay rent?

When resources and opportunities are scarce, this can breed desperation. When we’re desperate, we’re more likely to compromise on things like our morals or professionalism.

What’s more, Scarcity Mindset doesn’t go away with scale. Even at five or six figures in monthly revenue, the desperation will follow you.

Maybe you’re running a business that brings in a lot of revenue, but you also have a lot of employees to take care of. What if next quarter’s sales are lower? How will you take care of your employees? How will you make payroll?

It doesn’t matter what level you’re at. Scarcity Mindset only ever breeds more of the same. You’ll never get ahead by trying to run from it because it will always catch up with you.

You have to start by making conscious decisions. You have to start with actions. Your mindset has to change even while you’re in the circumstances you don’t want to be in.

Changing the way you think and recalibrating your mindset is what’s going to be the thing that gets you out of the circumstances.


155: Freeing Yourself From Golden Handcuffs

Friday, March 6, 2015 – 1 hour, 10 minutes

You’re in a job that pays well and has good benefits but you don’t want to be there. It’s not your favorite thing, or you may even actually hate the job, but it pays so well that you feel bad leaving it.

You’re scared of abandoning the stability it provides or fear that you would look foolish to your friends. Maybe you try to do something you’re passionate about on nights and weekends, except you come home from your job exhausted and spent. It feels like you’re spending all of the wrong kinds of energy and it’s taking everything from you.

Maybe you don’t have the time or energy after work to do what you really enjoy doing but it seems silly to leave a job so stable to do something else—especially if you’ve been at that job for years.

Maybe you have a lot of friends at the job or friends that know you work there who would wonder why you left: “What are you doing? We would all kill to be you! Why in the world would you leave?”

Golden Handcuffs. They come in many forms.


154: Perseverance and Sticking With Commitments

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – 1 hour, 10 minutes

Sticking with something is hard. When you make a commitment to do something consistently (like blog or podcast), I’ve found that there’s a mental block that comes around episode 20.

You’re going to feel like you want to throw in the towel. You’re going to wonder why you ever started this thing. What’s the point? Is it even worth doing anymore?

A lot of people quit here. They lose sight of their WHY and the reason they go into it in the first place. You’ve got to grab hold of your WHY before you go in.

Knowing this mental block is coming is half the battle. In this episode, we talk about preparing for the “Episode 20” hurdle, share some tips for sticking with commitments, and why I don’t plan for failure.


153: The Magic of 7

Friday, February 27, 2015 – 1 hour, 7 minutes

Do you ever feel like what you have to say has already been said? What’s the point of putting your work out there? Why does your voice matter when everyone else is saying the same thing?

If people have written entire books on a subject, who are you to blog about it? Should you even try?

Yes. Emphatically yes!

We’ve all heard that there’s nothing new under the sun but it also takes hearing new information 7 times before it’s retained.

So even if someone else is saying the same thing and even if they’re doing it better, your voice can still be the one to resonate with people. Because of the Magic of 7, your delivery of a message might be someone’s 7th time hearing it.

When you are someone’s 7th time, they actually attribute the value of that thing to you—even if someone before you might have said it better already.

It’s the same with your clients and customers. Competition is a good sign and not anything to be afraid of. They’re actually priming people who are even more ready for you to close the deal.

We’re going to talk about how the Magic of 7 applies to competition, repurposing content, growing an audience, getting clients and selling to customers.


152: Take Advantage of What Works

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 – 6 minutes

At some point, no matter how successful you are or have been, something has worked. Something was working well for you. What was that thing? What was that thing that has worked well for you? What worked in the past that you stopped doing for one reason or another?

Maybe you stopped because you got distracted. Maybe it was shiny object syndrome. Maybe you got bored of it. Maybe you simply didn’t recognize it was successful at the time.

When you look back, you’re going to see things that went well and things that didn’t go so well. Identify what worked and do more of it.


151: The Most Important Thing

Friday, February 20, 2015 – 5 minutes

There’s a lot of things.

So many ideas and projects and things you could do. Some need to be done, some should be done, some would be nice to have done.

Even of the things that truly need to be done, there are simply so many that if an entire weekend opened up for you tomorrow, you’d still have more than you could possibly accomplish in that time.

I know because it’s what happens to me on my sabbatical. I take every 7th week off, like I’m doing right now. That’s where I have these mini sabbatical episodes. For an entire week, I’m free from my normal obligations.

There are so many things I can do during this time! It’s not just a weekend but an entire week! Surely I could get caught up on everything.


150: 8 Ways to Be Constantly Improving

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 – 1 hour, 28 minutes

When you’re not actively working to better yourself, it seems like the worst case is simply that you will stay in the same place.

But our skills are entropic in nature. They stagnate, deteriorate, and get worse over time. It’s like going to the gym and working out. You can’t just get fit once and ride on that for the rest of your life. You will slowly lose what you don’t maintain.

This also applies to our skills and what we do. You’ll go through seasons where you’re focused on one thing, but what’s happening to the other skills you aren’t focusing on? There’s no guarantee you can go back, pick up where you left off, and be just as fresh on things.

I’ve put together 8 ways to be constantly improving and keep those skills fresh and relevant.

Sean McCabe
Sean McCabe
Ben Toalson
Ben Toalson


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You've helped me increase my success at gaining and maintaining freelance work. So much so I'm now overwhelmed at the moment.

Mark R.

Thanks so much for your time putting this show together. The "tangible insights" part of the show description is my favorite because it couldn't be more accurate.

Jake R.

Thank you for being so honest, for sharing your passion with everyone, for building up this community of designers, and for emphasizing the importance of professionalism within this field.

Miranda M.

I just wanted you to know that you are changing lives here. [...] I feel that I'm on the right path again.

Agata K.

I feel as though I am getting special insight and advice I would expect getting while working in a upper level agency.

Jeff M.

You truly are changing the "design way of thinking" with your podcast and articles. Thank you so much.

Dina R.

Thanks again for always providing such rich and well-thought out content.

Hallie T.

After every new episode it leaves me feeling so motivated and inspired to do things differently. You guys put a lot of effort into crafting such good content, it really shows.

Daniel C.

One of the most intelligent business minds I've heard talk in forever.

Jennifer S.