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A special Thanksgiving solo episode!

It’s a weird year for Thanksgiving. It’s a hard year to feel very thankful. There's a lot to be angry about in 2020. There's a lot to be sad about and there's a lot to be hurt about.

But today, and this week, let's instead fill that space with gratitude. It won't make the bads and the sads go away forever, but it'll be a nice little break. And you deserve that break!

This is a solo episode – our first solo episode of Creative Elements! And I want to share with you 5 things that I am thankful for as a creator in 2020.

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Jay Clouse
Hello, my friend. It's Thanksgiving week. I hope you're taking some much earned time off this week to rest, relax and recuperate. It's a weird year for Thanksgiving. It's a hard year to feel thankful. This is the first year in my entire life, I'm pretty sure that I won't be home with my family on Thanksgiving. I live in Columbus, Ohio, and our county here just turned purple, which is the state's way of saying the number of COVID cases are worse than they've ever been. My girlfriend Mallory and I have been staying socially distant since March. In fact, we canceled a housewarming party the first week of March due to a concern about COVID coming to the US and people thought we were crazy. And here we are nine months later, still in lockdown. A lot of people have had a harder year than I have this year, a lot of people have lost their jobs. Worse, a lot of people have lost their family or even their own lives. It's a heavy, heavy time not to mention the 2020 election stress. But that doesn't mean that we don't deserve to find some joy in a time like Thanksgiving. That doesn't mean that we don't deserve to take some time off to connect with people we love even if it's a phone or video call. And that doesn't mean that we shouldn't find reasons to be thankful. There's a saying about gratitude that has stuck with me through the years, it's that you can't be grateful and angry at the same time. There's a lot to be angry about in 2020. There's a lot to be sad about and there's a lot to be hurt about. But today in this week, let's instead fill that space with gratitude. It will make the bad's and this sad's go away forever. But it'll be a nice little break. And you deserve that little break. So this is a solo episode, our first solo episode of creative elements ever. And I want to share with you five things that I am grateful for as a creator in 2020. But first.

Jay Clouse
Alright, let's dive in and talk about these five things that I am thankful for as a creator in 2020. The first thing I want to talk about is time. lockdown and quarantine really suck. But it's allowed me to reclaim so much of my time this year. No more one off coffee meetings. No more meetups, no more business travel. And that sucks. I do miss them all. But I didn't realize how much time gets wrapped into all of that. It's not just the meeting, it's the commute time to and from the meeting. It's the 15 minutes before the commute time where you're dreading the commute and you feel like you don't have enough time to really get anything done. All of this newfound time has been absolutely critical to launching so many projects this year. Because it really makes planning your days around your creative energy easier. Not to mention, when you do have days of calls, you can but them all up together back to back and have whole days of creator time too. Managing your time and your creative energy can be such a superpower. If you work best in the mornings, don't schedule call times in the mornings. reserve that time for yourself. Every morning from 8 to 11am I have on my calendar sacred writing time. That is my time. I'm not giving that up. I'm not having any meetings in there. That's when I have my best creative energy, and I saved my best time for myself. You can batch your meetings, you can batch your everything, eliminate switching costs go from one continuous task to another continuous task, don't go back and forth. lean into the rhythm of your creative energy. You'll be blown away by how much you accomplish. All this to say, as difficult as 2020 has been. It's been a much easier year for me to manage my calendar and my time in a way that is how I actually want to spend my time and to protect my creative time as best as I can.

Jay Clouse
All right, point number two, growth and learning. This year has been an incredible year of embracing my own creativity. To be honest, and I'll talk about this in a future episode, I spent a long time thinking that I was not creative. I spent a long time telling myself that I didn't have good ideas. I was just really good at executing other people's ideas. And I've been working really hard for years to reverse that self limiting belief. It's gotten a little bit easier each year. In this year alone, I've launched a LinkedIn newsletter that has over 23,000 subscribers. Two courses on LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com. An independent course called Podcasts Like the Pros, where I teach people my process for producing a show like Creative Elements. This show Creative Elements which has 34 episodes now all released since March. Nearly 100 podcast episodes in total between Creative Elements and my other show upside. Dozens and dozens of articles that I shipped through my newsletter called Work in Progress if you're not already subscribed to that I'd love for you to go to JayClouse.com and get on the list. And last year, this doesn't really count. But last year, I even produced a full length documentary called Test City USA, is starting to feel so much easier and more natural to consistently create both as a writer and as a podcaster. And it's all come from just doing the work and getting a lot of repetitions. I think I'm in a period of learning and growing by doing early on in my business, I spent a lot of money and time on personal coaching and high level programs, like All MBA by Seth Godin, 90 day year by Todd Herman, a bunch of other courses by Seth Godin. And those were all great. They helped me with my mindset, and they gave me some confidence that I could do the work. Right now we're seeing a lot of movement in the live course format, people doing six to eight week live cohorts of a course, which can be really, really great for people who want community and or accountability. But I still love and personally prefer self paced courses. There's such an efficient transfer of knowledge. And when you're in the mode of learning by doing, you want to learn skills and solve problems in real time on your schedule, not that of a live program. But regardless of how you prefer to learn, or where you are in your career, we can all grow and evolve all the time. And this is a really, really great time to double down on skill acquisition, skill improvement in learning by doing.

Jay Clouse  
Next up, I want to say that I am incredibly grateful for the tools that are available to creators in 2020. The digital tooling for all things creativity is incredible right now. We started with the means of creation, things like Adobe Suite, and collaboration tools like G Suite that as we heard, saw, he'll say and that interview, better tools of creation means more creators, which means a bigger market for more tools and more specific tools. If you look at just podcasting descript is emerging as this phenomenal all in one editing tool for indie podcasters Figma and Sketch came after Adobe to help designers. The tool stack for digital creators is so powerful, give you a little bit behind the curtain and talk about my tech stack as a non technical creator. My websites are all built in WordPress and hosted on Hostinger. I use a visual editor called Pro that's the theme that I use for WordPress by Themeco it's an incredible, incredible theme that I think is wildly underrated, especially compared to things like Divi. I can do so much using Pro by Themeco that I don't need any technical development skills to do. I capture email subscribers and send email via ConvertKit. I absolutely love ConvertKit. I wish I would have switched so much sooner. It's been a game changer for my business. I love the team. I love the product. I love everything about ConvertKit. My courses for freelancing school are on Podia I absolutely love Podia. It's my favorite learning management software platform. I have my podcast like the pros course on teachable, but that's kind of a long story is because I couldn't put the course on my freelancing school domain it wouldn't make sense for a podcasting course. So I put it at Learn.JayClouse.com and that is teachable. But if you're looking to host courses, I really, really recommend Podia. The Freelancing School community is run on a new community platform called Circle. I love love, love Circle, I think it's the absolute future of online community platforms. It's been an incredible addition to the freelancing school ecosystem. And I highly, highly recommend it if you're building your own community. I managed my entire editorial process and planning in Airtable actually manage pretty much everything in Airtable. My CRM is in Airtable, I managed my affiliate links in Airtable, I managed the editorial process for Creative Elements and all my articles in Airtable. It's like this amazing spreadsheet database process management combo that I could not recommend more highly. And I use Zapier to tie together all the things that otherwise don't integrate nicely. Save yours kind of like the duct tape of the internet. But it plugs into all these existing tools so well, that you can make so much magic happen without knowing any code just using Zapier. And all of this all these tools only cost me a couple hundred dollars per month, all in. I also just want to say that Hostinger and Podia have been fantastic partners of the show. And they each have a special price just for Creative Elements listeners. So all these tools that I mentioned, including Hostinger or and Podia are linked on my website and in the show notes for this episode. So if any of these things that I called out sound like a tool that you need something you want to add to your tech stack for your business, go through to the show notes, click the link, most of them are affiliate links. So if you need them, you're also going to be supporting the show by using those links. I am genuinely so thankful that all these tools exist for non technical creators like me in 2020 you can do so much and make so much magic happen and build a real profitable, sustainable online business using these tools that are super, super affordable. Now that marks our first three things that I am grateful for as a creator In 2020, we talked about time, we talked about growth and learning, we talked about the tools, I have two more things, which I'll get to right after this.

Jay Clouse
Welcome back, we have two more things that I want to share with you that I am grateful for as a creator in 2020. And number four is the overall creator culture. Because we have such incredible tooling available for creators and more creators than ever before. It's having an awesome impact on the culture. We don't need to follow institutions anymore, we don't even need to follow traditional brands. More and more, we can find someone with practical experience and a worldview that we identify with. And we can support them with our time, attention and money. We're seeing more and more that there is like a new way up changing of the guard of educators, even if they aren't trying to be explicitly educators, people who have built experience, learn something the hard way, and are openly sharing it in public. It's such a fantastic opportunity again to learn. And you yes, you listening to this show right now can start sharing your own perspective so much more easily and be appreciated for it. Here's the thing. I think social media is bad for us. I truly, truly do. One of my favorite comedians Bo Burnham has said that he thinks social media is our generation smoking. But I still use social media constantly. It's hard not to, especially if you're a creator trying to get in front of more people. But even as an individual posting to Instagram, we love to get the attention and love of our followers. You can't argue with that hit of dopamine. And because we all know how it feels to get appreciation or support on social media, we're all more likely to be supporters ourselves. Back in the day, when the traditional art world was stodgy and hard to get into. Patrons were typically rich people who could afford to support the arts. But today, we're all patrons. Our followers are essentially our patrons, even if they're paying us an attention instead of cash and by extension, we are the patrons of the people that we follow. If there's one redeeming quality of social media, it's that it's made patronage much more accessible to everybody. We appreciate patronage more deeply. And so we become patrons ourselves. I think that's a big net positive for society. I love supporting the work of other creators. And it's easier than ever, you wouldn't believe how meaningful a share or a retweet is to a creator, let alone any monetary support. So thank you for continuing to support my work in big ways and small, I feel the love every week, and it's a pleasure to pay it forward.

Jay Clouse
All right. And number five, I'm grateful for all the people and community in my life. 2020 has been a really hard year for keeping up with my friends. I'll admit that. I was just telling my partner Mallory that I want to do a better job of checking in with my friends in 2021. But it seems like this cursed year has helped the people close to us, the people we love feel closer in some ways, because we're all in this together. And speaking of Mallory, we moved into an apartment together at the beginning of February, we had no idea COVID was going to be a thing. And I can't imagine not being with her during all of this. I feel so so fortunate. And I'm grateful for my family who have really embraced text messaging over the years and stayed close that way. Thankfully, somehow no one in my immediate family has contracted the virus yet. And I'm thankful that they're staying safe and distant. I've been fortunate this year to work with some exceptional partners and clients. In the first half of 2020. I worked with another 15 incredible business owners through my Unreal Collective Accelerator. And as usual, we had a really great experience, especially early into lockdown or group calls every week or something that I could look forward to to touch base with other business owners and have some real form of outside contact and the unreal community continues to be a warm, encouraging corner of the internet. I've also had the privilege of some new freelance partnerships this year. For the last eight months or so I've been working with the Smart Passive Income team to help them build their membership community SPI Pro. It's the first opportunity I've had to really integrate with a team in a few years, and I absolutely love the work that we're doing together. In March I launched this show in partnership with The Podglomerate at Podcast Network. The show has taken off more than I could have imagined and I feel super, super fortunate to be building an audience and an income through podcasting. And speaking of podcast networks. For the last two and a half years, I've been publishing a show called Upside with a business partner named Eric Hornung. And this year Eric has been hard at work launching two new shows on our new upside Podcast Network has been excited about localized business podcast and the first new show launched their trailer this week alongside a refreshed Upside brand. I've been able to work with a handful of incredible freelancers and creatives this year on projects like that, and it's so so fun. Believe me when I say even a solopreneur like me doesn't do anything alone. It takes a team of people including my sister Emily, who does the illustrations for the show. It takes Uriel who made the original artwork and Brian who made our music and mix the first 20 plus episodes, it takes Patricia, who edits the transcripts every week for the show. And Leydis, my VA who helps him with publishing, it takes Nathan, the most consistent audio engineer I've ever worked with, and takes Jeff on the Podglomerate to grow the show and keep the lights on. And lastly, my friend, it takes you listening and supporting this show. I am so so so grateful to have you here with me every week. Your support and feedback means everything you reviews on the show mean a ton. And sharing the show goes so far. So thank you to those of you who have shared this show and told others about what we're doing here.

Jay Clouse
That's it. Those are the five things I'm thankful for as a creator, even in a year like 2020. I'm grateful for time. I'm grateful for growth and learning. I'm grateful for the tools that are available. I'm grateful for the creator culture. I'm grateful for people and community like you. I'd love to hear what you're thankful for. Just send me a message on Twitter or Instagram @JayClouse, or join our Creative Elements listeners group on Facebook. And let me know if you enjoyed this solo episode. It's definitely outside the norm. But it's a format that I like playing with. And if you think that I should continue doing these from time to time, write me and let me know. I'll be back next week with another great creator. So stay tuned. Have a great Thanksgiving and I'll talk to you then.