I’m on a 10-year creative journey. I’ve started and stopped many ventures, but I always keep Stepping Forward. Here’s a look back on my 10 years.
I don’t think I was made for the traditional 40-year career. Instead, I’ve always had a creative outlet to distract me outside of work. It wasn’t until two years ago that I realized I needed to take action to make creativity my life.
So I set in motion a plan: Creative self-employment by the year 2019.
I put the work in. I made valuable connections. And now with a quarter of a year left in 2016, I have a new plan: Creative self-employment by April 2017.
How? More on that later.
But first, the focus of this post. I want to look back at the 10 years that have got me to this point. I want to show you what Stepping Forward looks like.
So I dug through the internet and compiled a trove of creative projects that moved me forward. None of them are successful by internet standards, but each of them represent tiny moments of growth that led me to where I am today.
If you are afraid of starting a new venture, career, or project, just look at how bad some of my output has been and understand nobody learns to walk right after birth.
Growth is an arduous awkward journey.
So without further ado, welcome to my arduous awkward journey through creativity.
My First YouTube Channel
Ever since I was little, I loved being creative. I drew pictures, thought up stories, and even dabbled in music.
However, I never shared any of my creative endeavors publicly. That is until I discovered filmmaking.
After watching a T.V. show about filmmaking, I saved up my money and bought my first point-and-shoot camcorder. I knew nothing about lighting, writing, directing, or editing, but knew that this was the medium for me.
There was something about thinking up a story in my mind and projecting it onto a screen that captivated me.
After buying my camera and installing the drivers onto my parents’ computer (remember those days), I got to work producing my first film: Godzilla “The Return.”
After my Dad’s Oscar-winning performance, I set off to find new talent and enlisted my friends to help.
For an AP Physics project, my best friend and I produced an entire film about the history of light theories over Christmas break. (You can find here parts one, two, and three. These were the days when YouTube couldn’t upload videos longer than 10 minutes).
It still remains one of my fondest projects I’ve ever worked on.
I continued to experiment with filmmaking and even upgraded my camcorder to one that actually required DV tape. This lead to my second venture.
My First Video Production Company
Going into college my friends and I founded Delta Omega Productions.
We opened a bank account. We printed business cards. We even had our own tee shirts made.
We were legit. Or so we thought.
All of us ended up going to different schools so we were only able to film short videos over winter and summer breaks. We had big plans for the company, but nothing panned out. Probably because we expected success to come easily to a group of guys with a bank account and business cards.
Needless to say, we were all talk and little action.
It also didn’t help that none of us could act, so most of our videos sucked. However, one mockumentary ended up accumulating over 5,000 views, The Wedding.
After a couple years, we disbanded the company. But during one St. Patrick’s Day party not too long ago, we dug up an old script we never filmed and laughed the night away with a table read.
My First Blog
Filmmaking is a time-consuming (and expensive) hobby for any college kid.
Although I still had an idea to produce a cooking web series with my then girlfriend (now wife), I knew I neither had the time or resources to see it through.
“Why not start a blog instead?” said my friend Sean while watching me scarf down my delicious leftovers. “You and Erica obviously know how to cook, blogging could be a great way to share your knowledge.”
I approached Erica later that evening with the idea. She was hesitant at first and nervous that we would run out of ideas. So we made a list of 100 recipes we knew how to cook and decided to start from there.
Without any website or blogging experience, we launched Declan and Erica Cook which we then rebranded to Cooking in College, with Declan and Erica.
Two to three times a week we posted a new recipe. Erica developed the recipes and took pictures, I wrote up the blog posts and managed the site.
This is when I fell in love with blogging and online communities.
After we graduated from college, Erica and I still continued to post recipes but finally called it quits. It was time to move onto bigger things.
I recently checked, and to date, the blog has received over 2,000,000 page views thanks to one post which goes viral every fall: Hot Caramel Apple Cider (for grown ups!).
Thank you Pinterest.
My Second Blog
After Cooking in College I knew I wanted to branch out and continue blogging. I played around with the idea of another cooking blog but it felt too safe. I wanted a new challenge.
In March of 2013, I conceptualized a blog written by multiple perspectives all giving different insights into Millennial life. After rounding up a team of writers, I launched my second blog: The Millennial Type.
After about 8 months, I “fired” all the contributors and converted it to my own personal blog which I renamed: A Millennial Type. (You can find the reasoning behind this move here.)
Another two years of soul searching has finally led me to where the blog is today: a resource to help those unhappy with their life’s trajectory and are willing to do something about it.
During the past two years, I’ve documented my journey from working a nine-to-five to ultimately creating my own path. And so far it’s been working. Because of this blog, opportunities have presented themselves for me to turn my dream a reality.
None of that would have been possible if I didn’t continue to Step Forward each and every day.
That’s what it takes to change your life, arduous awkward action.
Notable Other Projects
Even during my years of blogging, I still had other side projects to keep pushing me to learn more things (and keep me even busier). Here is a list of a few that deserve honorable mention:
- Pittsburgh Poverty Project – A Tumblr account dedicated for the poor in Pittsburgh. I used to work in downtown Pittsburgh and bring my camera to work. During my lunch break I would take my camera and go and talk with the homeless and hear their stories. I had to call it quits once I changed jobs but it’s certainly a project I would like to start back up again.
- My Best Friend the Rhino – A Catholic podcast for ordinary folks. My friend Justin and I started a podcast to talk about our faith in a relatable way. To date, we’ve produced 57 episodes. But we took a break this summer and still haven’t produced any new episodes in awhile.
- Cooking on a Budget – Erica and I produced a cooking course under our Cooking in College brand a few years after leaving the blog. We wanted to learn how to put together our own course and we were really happy with the result.
- The Millennial Way – Remember that eBook I launched a few months ago? Well, a lot of work went into researching, writing, editing, and selling it! I figured I should add it to the list.
My Next Big Thing
I hope you enjoyed this little treasure trove of memories. It was fun for me to put together and even more fun to reminisce about the past 10 years.
A few friends and family members have asked me what am I working on now. As much as I want to tell them (and you) I’m just not ready.
However, I promise to tell you about my next big venture within the next month or so. And when I say big, I mean BIG.
Everything I’ve learned over the past 10 years has helped me with this project and I am so excited to share it with you when the time comes. But for now, you’ll just have to wait and trust that it’ll blow you away.
However, if you do a little detective work, I’ve been dropping hints over the past few blog posts…