Get Excited And Make Things Revisited

Three-Wheaton-Moon-ShirtMy friend Joel and I got excited and made a thing. We announced it last night, and in about 12 hours, it's become more popular than either of us expected, so this seemed like a good time to revisit Getting Excited And Making Things.

I don't know how many of you have been reading my lame blog long enough to remember my Get Excited and Make Things post. The tl;dr is: print on demand + internet distribution = zero risk for creative people who get excited and make something.

Why not take a creative risk and see if it works out? Unlike the old days, when we had to purchase a lot of stock ahead of time and hope we could sell it, we can just Get Excited and Make Things, knowing that the very worst that can happen is that nobody likes that thing we made as much as we thought they would.

In the old days, creators had to hope that:

1. A store would carry their Thing.

2. Once in the store, their Thing would be in a place where people could see it.

3. People would buy their Thing.

4. People would buy enough of their Thing to get the cycle to start over at step 1.

Oh, and to have any hope of being successful, they have to do this in different stores all over the place, competing for space and attention with huge companies that have massive advertising budgets. It was, to say the very least, daunting.

But look at how much things have changed! Creative people can get excited, make something, and get it to their customers without ever having to go through any of those steps. The financial risk has been almost entirely taken away, so now we can take chances on our really crazy ideas, just because we're excited about them.

I've met a lot of people since I wrote that post who have told me it inspired them to Get Excited and Make Things of their own. Some of them have actually made money from it, others haven't, but they've all enjoyed the experience of creating something and putting it out there, which is awesome.


Fighting-Time-Lords-Shirt I bring this up today because I have a personal example that I think illustrates my point perfectly. I've been making T-shirts with Joel for a few months now, and we've been selling them at Sharksplode. Some of them are wildly popular, while others have only sold two, because he and I bought them for ourselves … and that's totally okay.

See, I have really weird tastes. I like obscure stuff, and jokes that only 5% of the audience gets.This is great for me and 5% of people, but it's not exactly a ten lane highway that goes straight to the Fuck You money, you know? In the old days, when I'd have to order a ton of stock in advance, and keep it in my garage, it wouldn't be possible to make something like I'm a Loner Data, A Rebel, that I think is clever and silly, because it's just too much of a financial risk. Using print on demand and telling the Internet about it, though, means there is no risk at all (except to Joel, who has to make the actual design, but he tells me he enjoys that and I believe him.)

Anyway, this is your reminder to Get Excited And Make Things, because when you do, you just might end up making The Three Wheaton Moon that Paul Sabourin has been telling you for two years you should make, and when you finally do, the Internet goes "HOLY CRAP I MUST HAVE THAT RIGHT NOW."

43 thoughts on “Get Excited And Make Things Revisited”

  1. I’ve been telling myself this very thing a lot lately. Write a novella? Smashwords is there for you. Want to do an actual paying audio drama? Kickstarter could be just the thing. What about music? CDbaby (yeah, there’s $39 up front, but still) or Magnatune. Plus the eleventy-thousand things I forgot.
    It’s such a game changer, it’s hard to get my head around.

  2. Thanks for this reminder, Wil. I’ve been having a bit of a rough time with, well, life lately, and it’s easy to forget that I got excited and made things once, and it turned out quite well. Thanks for helping me to remember I can do that again.
    PS: Three Wheaton Moon? Brilliant!

  3. Is Sharksplode something like Cafe Press or is it more of your own web site? Curious… I’m a glass artist and there are a couple of shirts that would be funny to glass artists that I would like to come up with… Thanks for making me laugh and for being so cool you’d send a photo of yourself to TheBloggess without knowing what the heck it was all about. :)

  4. I love this stuff so much, and the internet even more for it. Due to an off-the-cuff remark I once made, my sister made for me a t-shirt that said “LINK IS MY LOVE GOD” alongside, of course, Link, brandishing his Master Sword. (Heh, heh, heh.)
    And no matter how many times my husband says otherwise, dressing in a Halloween costume that only two people will get brings such joy to the other person getting the joke that it’s 100% worth all the sideways glances.
    Next up, Wil: A shirt covered in duckies and bunnies, with the line “I <3 SHELF PAPER” emblazoned across the front. I don’t think that exists yet.

  5. “I don’t know how many of you have been reading my lame blog long enough to remember my Get Excited and Make Things post.”
    Enough of that already!

  6. I get excited and make things. You have one of those things! Without the internet, I wouldn’t have been able to. With print on demand fabric from, I can make in joke dice bags for my friends. I make in joke bags for other people’s friends… jokes I don’t even get.
    And on Canada Day, the client I am a support worker for was hospitalized. She’s still there. But because I’d already been making things, my access to technology and my creativity have paid the bills. It’s immensely rewarding, and a hell of a lot of fun.

  7. OMG! THANK YOU for making the best t-shirt I never knew existed for my gay sister who loves Harry Potter. Her birthday is in a month, and you carry women’s 2X (so rare!) and I bought it!
    I get excited and sell stuff I make (geeky jewelry) on Etsy. Recently I got excited and started writing a novella. I’m half done and I’m gonna sell it on Kindle. I love technology!

  8. great shirt. I have a geeky idea for one. have you seen the Konica Minolta Bizhub commercial, yanno the one where they go “It’s the elder, he who speaks of floppy disks”?
    “Floppy Disks? You’re not an elder unless you can speak of the Hollerith Code”

  9. I bought the Fighting Time Lords shirt last month and have had several people – mostly strangers – ask me where I got it and that they MUST have one of their own. :)
    I wish I were creative and/or artistic so I could Make Stuff too.

  10. I’m kind of amazed because this speaks to something that has been animating me lately. I don’t mean to be self promotional, but for about a year and a half I did a cooking show online. By my measures, it did okay, not great, but okay. That’s not the problem. The problem is that I wasn’t okay with okay. I got obsessed! Endless days of working the webs, trying desperately to find new “friends”. It’s a long story. Suffice it to say, I quit doing the cooking show. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because too much of my enjoyment was tied up in an idea of success which I made sure to set out a little farther than the day before. Might be a formula to eventually be a winner, but it’s definitely a formula for constantly feeling like a loser.
    So I quit the cooking show.
    Here’s the thing. I still wanted to Get Excited And Make Stuff. I get off on that, and that’s enough. I set uber low goals and I’ve just been vlogging about …whatever. Today I published a vlog where I shaved my head. Yeah. I know. Hey, it beats Shane Dawson.
    And um, gee, this is kind of awkward, but I shot a video today about my decision to shave off my mustache, and I talk about facial hair as a general phenomenon…and uh (I am so getting permabanned again…shit) I uh kinda mention you….?
    actually I was going to call the video “will wheaton’s whiskers”
    if it’s any consolation I’m totally gonna buy a coupla t-shirts.

  11. Good stuff for sure. If I may offer some advice as someone who wrote a POD that sold a grand total of 1 copy to complete strangers (excluding my family which, despite their good intentions, got me all excited when I saw the Amazon sales ranks drop when they ordered copies)…study, research and study your target audience some more. Fiction is a tough sell if you’re a random nobody like myself. Something non-fiction…something that is of the how-to sort that will have long lasting appeal and use to people can work out great. I’ve talked with many successful POD authors who did quite well…and they all said the same – do your research, find a niche market, establish your self as at least a half assed (or full assed, preferably) authority, and then give it a go.
    Umm. I hope this comes out okay. I’m pretty drunk and this is coming from a guy who drinks but a few times a year (or once every few years). After spending a year living next noisy, obnoxious neighbors who finally moved out…it was time to celebrate. :)

  12. Just dropping you a line…
    Up here in Portland on this Friday the 19th, the last day of “Flix on the Bricks”, they are playing Stand By Me.
    It’s real fun. Huge inflated screen in Pioneer Square.
    Was reminded of it when I saw your post about it the other day.
    Just in case what you may wonder what you look like 30 feet tall outdoors.

  13. I love getting excited and making things. I knit dish towels using really nice 100% cotton yarn. The best things about them is they are super absorbent and they get softer and nicer the more you use them. Mostly I just give them to family and friends as gifts.
    And when I say gifts, I don’t mean birthday or holiday gifts, more “Hey, it’s Tuesday and I was thinking about you / I miss you since you moved to Ohio / we haven’t hung out in forever so here is something I made with my two hands to let you know I care” type of gift.
    The Three Wheaton Moon shirt is both the most awesome and most the most horrible thing I’ve seen in forever. I must have one!
    On a completely different note, your story about playing Scrabble with your wife is one of my favorite short stories. The humor, sweetness, and simplicity in your writing in that piece reminds me of Steinbeck’s “Tortilla Flats” or “Travels with Charlie”. It is beautiful narrative.
    So when I heard about the game Bananagrams on NPR this morning, I thought of you and your wife. You are probably already familar with the game (I only say this because two of my favorite games in the last couple of years: Munchkin & Zombie Dice, came via your recommendation) but just in case you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend it. It is another word game your wife might enjoy, and it is fast paced and competitive enough that I don’t think you would dread pulling it out of the closet.
    Here is the website:

  14. Thank you for creating things. I saw the Fighting Time Lords shirt and immediately bought this for my husband for his birthday! He loves it and wore it to the library convention I was attending and it got rave reviews.

  15. I remember. I’d like someone to get excited and make me a new kitchen. Thanks to an unfortunate and slow water leak, mine is gone! Yay!*
    *whatever the opposite of “yay” is.
    Also, living at my mother in laws is awesome!

  16. As I’m an old codger, this is my favorite thing about the way the world’s changed – the barriers to publishing and marketing a creative person’s work are so low now it’s like a wholly different thing.
    Oh. Right. It is.
    Last time you blogged about this I pointed you at my Retropolis, which you seemed to like; since then I’ve gotten excited and made something a bit different, which is here:
    That’s a whole form of publishing that didn’t exist when I was a wee sprat. As much as I’d still like my flying car… that’s pretty cool.

  17. That was a great video, and perfect to the issue at hand. Thanks a lot David. Ira Glass had another piece about the time he went to go interview the cast of MASH, and what an epic fail it was.
    The thing about my cooking video was that every time I made a gourmet meal I had to buy, well, gourmet ingredients. I could barely afford to eat more than one hot pocket at a time and there I am buying a duck and asking the butcher if he can get me caul fat so I can make terrines. That limited me to making a video at most about every two weeks.
    The big realization was that what actually kept me going wasn’t actually the food or the cooking, but the commentary I made while I was doing it. So I wondered, and am now exploring, whether I can do something that is pretty strictly commentary. And I don’t need to go shopping! I’ve gotten a little feedback, which has been pleasant, and yes I am still dealing with the sense that “hmmm, not great”. The important thing to me is that I am excersizing a muscle, which is still pretty weak, but getting stronger. I don’t think I’m going to want to quit.
    Thanks again, great reference.

  18. We play the hell out of Bananagrams! It's the only word game in the world that I have a chance of winning when we play it.
    And I love that you make dish towels! My friend makes them for us, too. We have two Tardis ones, a Dalek one, and one with a jolly roger on it.

  19. Much appreciated. I have photos of the wreckage but there’s no need to make the whole internet sad. I’m going to go find a desk to bang my head on.

  20. I read this post whilst wearing my “I’m a loner, Data” Tshirt and listening to Erasure on YouTube. I got excited and subsequently I made stuff. Very personal stuff that for my own protection should not be put up for sale.
    Seriously though, I get a lot of compliments on the shirt.

  21. See, I have really weird tastes. I like obscure stuff, and jokes that only 5% of the audience gets.
    Heh. I get in such trouble with my wife for that. “It’s as if you think you’re better than everybody else is because you and one other person in the crowd get the obscure [TV/music/history>] reference. I don’t think you actually think that, but that’s sure how it feels.”
    You’re right, honey, I don’t think I’m better than everybody else. Most people will just look at me and say, “Good ol’ Lee – a couple cards shy of a full deck.” Nothing new there. But if one person gets it and chuckles, then I have made a connection; it means that there really is another Man From U.N.C.L.E. fan out there.
    Regards, Lee

  22. My house recently had a water leak issue, and my kitchen and living room have effectively been gutted. Today I discovered nearly all of my houseplants (all more than 10 years old) had been melted/baked to death by the fans, dehumidifiers and the like, that have increased the temp to 100º plus. I got an awesome email that you bought a t-shirt with my goofy brothers face on it, just as I was wailing about my dead plants. I know. It’s plants. But they were mine and now they are dead.
    Thank you for brightening my super sad day a little.

  23. Holy fucking shit, Wil. The first thing that I’ve trolled besides baseball in two years and of COURSE it happens to involve that CLOWN SWEATER!!! WTF, dude? Nightmares, man. Nightmares.

  24. late at night I come to your blog, it is like talking to an old good friend, except that you don’t know we (and don’t want to know – that is a funny part), but your writing and vivid descriptions makes me feel good, and kind of part of your life, so I thank you, Will :)

  25. THIS MUST BE MINE!!!!!!
    Although I was thinking you should redub it ‘Three Wheatons and A Moon’ in homage to that very special episode of ‘What’s Happening’

  26. Not surprisingly, it was available in a size for my favorite neckbeard. You sure know your market! Thank you for something that can’t help but make you smile.

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