What makes a web creator? What does your average day look like?
It’s anyone dumb enough to plug away, day in and day out, over something they love and that they want to share with other people. I say “dumb” because it’s a terrible way to make a living, but if that’s not your main concern, it’s incredibly fulfilling on pretty much all other levels.
As for my average day: things have been really topsy-turvy since COVID hit. Over 50 percent of our income dried up overnight so lately it’s been a lot of trying to figure out creative ways to fund this thing. I mean, I guess that’s how I spent much of my time before but, now it’s even more dire.
Otherwise though, a typical day sees me: editing and publishing other people’s work, writing articles, doing social media for the content we create, doing sales, marketing, and business development, and answering a titanic amount of email. The thing about running your own independent media company is that my partner and I have to do about 30 different jobs. But at least I don't have some jerk boss I gotta deal with so it’s mostly worth it.
How do you get into the flow? What inspires you on a day to day basis and gets your creative energy flowing?
I give myself like an hour or so in the morning to watch Netflix while I slowly wake up. That way I’m ready to work without feeling rushed when I get down to it. As for inspiration, I’m always floored and inspired by the awesome content being created by our writers and editors. They make me so proud that I get to publish their voices. In fact, that’s one of the things I like best about what I do, I get to amplify voices that don’t always get heard.
Otherwise though, I get most excited when I’m creating new things. Life is an art project for me. Just in the past five years or so, I created and hosted seven episodes of a live late night show, put out a web series, won “best local website” a couple times, put out a zine, and ran for Mayor of SF. I’m working on some cool new projects right now that are still under wraps.
Tell us about your journey a bit?
I’ve been doing this whole Broke-Ass Stuart thing for like 16 years now, so it’s a LONG story. But I’ll give you the short-ish version.
Shortly after I finished college at UCSC, I was working in a candy store in North Beach. One day a guy I knew from the neighborhood I grew up in in San Diego came in with the woman that’s now his wife. As they were walking out she gave me her card and it said she was a travel writer. I thought, “I wanna be a travel writer” so I decided to become one.
I put out my first zine, Broke-Ass Stuart’s Guide to Living Cheaply in San Francisco that summer (it was 2004). That was popular so I did an expanded version the following year. That ended up winning me “Best of the Bay” and I got a little notoriety. I got the zine in the hands of someone at Lonely Planet, and they liked it, and I ended up getting to go to Ireland to write about it for them.
I wanted to keep doing Broke-Ass Stuart but I also wanted to step it up and I actually found a book deal on craigslist. So I ended up doing three books. A Broke-Ass Stuart in SF book, an NYC book, and a book that was applicable everywhere in the U.S.
Then in 2011 I had a travel TV show on IFC called Young, Broke & Beautiful. It was amazing. All the while though I was building up the website to be an arts & culture destination, so as my popularity grew, so did the site. Then running for Mayor obviously helped as well.
At this point we’re one of the most influential sites in the Bay Area for arts, culture, nightlife, and activism. It’s been a hell of a ride.
What are the best/worst parts of your job?
Getting to amplify voices that don’t always get heard while informing and entertaining hundreds of thousands of people a month is the best part for sure.
And then the hardest part, as you can imagine, trying to keep this thing afloat. I started this whole thing to be an art dude, but somehow ended up being a business dude out of necessity. I’m much better at creating funny and beautiful things than I am at making money. But I end up having to spend more time being a business dude than getting to create stuff. I’m at my happiest when I’m creating.