Five Big Updates: Facebook, Fizzle, Palapa + 50 Podcasts
For those of you following along on my digital reboot, here’s an update on a bunch of things including what I’m doing with social media, Fizzle, Palapa and more.
I’m so glad I’ve gotten back to writing recently. One of the best outcomes of writing is that it causes you to refine your thinking and dive deeper into a topic than you would just thinking or conversing about it.
When I wrote about what’s wrong with social media last month, I had a feeling it might lead me to deleting some accounts. I just wasn’t sure which ones.
I’ve always gotten the least return on my investment in social media from being on Facebook. I’m not just talking monetary returns, I mean total benefits, including enjoyment, and emotional, social, as well as business-related benefits. Facebook just doesn’t do it for me as a platform.
But aside from my personal use of the platform, I have a much bigger issue with Facebook as a business. All social networks manipulate users to some degree, but Facebook combines manipulation with surveillance and misinformation in an especially egregious way, all in the pursuit of profit and at the expense of truth, decency, and a functioning society.
Facebook basically just doesn’t seem to care about the damage they cause, and instead focus on collecting massive amounts of data, and using it to invade and monetize every part of users’ lives. They even openly oppose users’ ability to disable data collection because their business model depends on surreptitious tracking.
This week I was also sad to see people already talking about a Facebook acquisition of Clubhouse (the hot new audio-based social media platform with a billion-dollar valuation), not because I care about Clubhouse, but because I think it’s horrible for users and the Internet in general for Facebook to acquire any additional platforms. Facebook estimates that 2.54 billion people use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each day on average. Once they acquire a new service, they begin integrating tracking mechanisms that allow the new platform to contribute to data mining and ad targeting. It would be sad for such a promising new platform like Clubhouse to be just another contributor to Facebook’s machine.
When we spend time on any platform, it is ostensibly because we want to interact with other people there. But, by being there ourselves, we end up attracting others who might want to interact with us. We effectively become unwitting marketing tools for the platform.
This is all a long-winded way of saying, I’m leaving Facebook and all of Facebook’s other properties (Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp).
I’m also leaving LinkedIn. I don’t have any specific issues with LinkedIn as a company, but I can’t say I’ve ever gotten any benefit from being on the platform, so in the name of digital minimalism, it’s goodbye for now.
I’m working to be more mindful about which platforms I engage with, and generally favor open protocols over walled gardens. However, these decisions are a balance of personal and business benefits, mixed with what’s good for the Internet and society. It’s complicated, in other words, and each of us has plenty to consider.
If you’ve ever reached me on one of Facebook’s properties, you can find me via email, iMessage/SMS, or Twitter instead 🙂
Hello Fizzle Refresh
A few months ago during a casual catch-up, Vanessa asked how things were going with my work, and whether I’d made any decisions about what I wanted to focus on. I started explaining that I felt pulled in a bunch of directions and like I didn’t have enough time to make real progress on any specific project. Evidently, this had become a rote answer for me and Vanessa called me on it. She said something along the lines of “you know Corbett, you’ve been saying the same thing for a long time now.”
This really hit home. I had been saying the same thing for years, and hadn’t really done anything about it. I was stuck in a decision loop and never arrived at a clear answer.
That afternoon, I decided to force some decisions by announcing my reboot publicly. I figured I would put some pressure on myself to make decisions even if I didn’t know whether they were perfect. It worked. I’ve been making strides ever since, and feel completely reinvigorated since for.
The digital housekeeping itself serves two purposes: it allows me a blank slate to construct my future from, and it frees me up (both mentally and time-wise) to have room for whatever I want to take on next.
At the same time, I’ve also been inspired by Dana Shultz. A while back she battled burnout from the intense schedule and spotlight of Minimalist Baker. She decided to take a sabbatical to consider her future, and it was exactly what she needed.
Here’s a quote from Dana about the experience:
I almost walked away from Minimalist Baker two years ago and the freedom I experienced in that decision felt incredible. The time off allowed me to consider what I really wanted to do and although I ultimately decided I still loved it, it helped me form such a healthier relationship to work. Now, it’s much more intuitive. I don’t work if I don’t want to. I take long breaks. I have hobbies. I can change anything about my work at any time if I want. I learned I need a great deal of flexibility to allow my creativity (and my human) to thrive.
What stuck with me about Dana’s text is how a change in perspective was all she needed to create a whole new relationship to her work. Sometimes just realizing you’re in control and have the power to make a decision is what it takes to feel fresh and motivated.
I was also inspired by her re-committing to the project. Minimalist Baker has meant so much to so many people, but like any creative project with an ambitious content schedule, maintaining it at a high level is an incredible personal challenge that can easily lead to burnout if you’re not careful. I’m so happy Dana found a path forward that looked out for her health and the project’s success at the same time.
Which brings us to Fizzle, the business I’ve been running since 2012. If you’re not familiar, Fizzle provides training, community and coaching to people building sustainable small businesses around something they love. We’ve served 26,000+ customers over the years and have rave reviews and tons of success stories.
But here we are, coming up on nine freaking years since launching Fizzle. Nine years. In Internet time, isn’t that like several decades? In my 25 years of working life, I’d never been involved in anything for longer than five years. This is all new territory for me.
Unsurprisingly, after five or six years, I think I lost focus and burned out a little. My business partner and some key team members left to pursue different journeys. I was distracted by building and launching Palapa.
And yet, despite only receiving minimal care and feeding, Fizzle continued to thrive. We have an amazing core group of ambitious, talented, friendly, driven and fun members reaching for the next step in their businesses every week, and new members continue to join daily.
Today, I’m recommitting to Fizzle’s future.
I have a new vision for Fizzle that builds on our foundation while making it more community-driven and more sustainable to run over the next nine years and beyond.
I’ll announce much more in the coming weeks. For now, you should know that a complete refresh of Fizzle’s website and user experience is in the works. I’ll be reaching out to select Fizzle members for feedback and testing soon. Here’s a little preview screenshot to wet your appetite.
Teach on Fizzle
A big part of the new vision for Fizzle involves opening it up to many new instructors on all kinds of topics that our members need to learn. In the past, we relied heavily on producing all content in-house. By bringing on outside instructors, we’ll be able to cover far more material and keep our library fresher.
Another big change we’re making: we will be paying instructors when Fizzle members watch your videos. This will be a tremendous earning opportunity for some who want to share what they know with an energetic audience of independent creators. As another perk, Fizzle instructors will also receive complimentary access to Fizzle for life!
Becoming an instructor on Fizzle will be by invitation, but we will be accepting proposals. If you’re a creator who loves learning and sharing, and you think you have something to teach other creators, we would love to hear from you.
We will be looking for more technical / how-to content, as opposed to foundational content. For example, we’d love to feature more courses that dive deep into specific platforms and technologies to show how creators can use them to grow an audience, work smarter, build better products and get paid.
Here’s an incomplete list of platforms and technologies we would consider courses on, just to name a handful: Notion, Roam Research, JAMStack, Netlify, Gumroad, Fathom Analytics, ConvertKit, Substack, TailwindCSS, Stripe, Memberful, Podia, Patreon, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram…
If you consider yourself an expert with any tool or technology that is useful to other creators, we’d love to hear from you.
If you have other questions about teaching on Fizzle, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll respond directly.
Looking for Partners to Run Palapa (Community SaaS Platform)
In late 2019, I launched a new community platform called Palapa. Since then, we have registered over 17,000 community members, processed over a million events, and have signed some fantastic customers including the bestselling author Eckhart Tolle.
But there’s still a long way to go, and plenty of opportunity in the community space to go after.
I’m looking for two partners / co-founders to take over building and running Palapa. I will still be involved from a strategy / relationship / marketing standpoint, but ideally I need to find two people who are fully capable of building this into a thriving project.
Specifically, I’d like to find one founder who is technical, and one who is a product/marketing person.
The project currently has some revenue, but not nearly enough to offer full-time salaries. This will be a sweat-equity situation, but the founders will grow into majority owners over time, and should be able to grow the revenue fairly quickly, given the current status of the project.
I would also consider a full sale of the project if I can’t find suitable co-founders.
If this sounds interesting to you, please email me at email@example.com with the subject line: “Palapa”
In the email, let me know 1) your skillsets, 2) your experience in software businesses, and 3) why you’re interested in this opportunity.
50 Podcasts in 2021
In 2021, I’ve decided I want to appear as a guest on 50 podcasts or interview shows.
I’ve already been on seven, so that leaves 43 more.
If you have a show and would like to interview me, here are topics I’m happy to come on and talk about:
- The creator economy
- Digital reboots
- Running a membership / community
- Remote work / location independence
- Building software
I only two requirements for shows I’ll be on:
1) The show has to have at least 10 episodes already published and 1,000 avg. downloads per episode
Or, 2) If it’s a new show you’re launching, you have run a show previously that published at least 10 episodes and averaged 1,000 downloads per episode.
If you’d like to have me on your show, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and use the subject line “Podcast”
If you’re curious about what I’m like as a guest, here are some shows I’ve been on recently:
- UI Breakfast with Jane Portman
- Travel Light with Chase Reeves
- You Need a Budget with Jesse Mecham
- This Might Get Uncomfortable
- Money Lab Live
OK, that’s all in this update for now. This should keep me busy for a while 🙂
As always, thanks for reading.
Published February, 2021
About the author
Hi, I’m Corbett Barr. I write about the creator economy 🧑🎨 digital minimalism 🧘 and tech for social good 🙌.
I’ve been self employed online since 2005, earning a living from blogging, podcasting, online courses, memberships, SaaS and more. I’ve bootstrapped, freelanced, consulted and raised venture capital.
Recently, I started over to refocus on writing, and to reevaluate my digital self.
I’m a big fan of digital media and techology, but I believe we should all be using it more mindfully and that technology itself should be a force for social good.
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