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The Casual Player's Boss Impressions & Rankings

Hey guys, so I'm a complete casual player who decided to check out Cuphead because I love the artstyle and let me just say that it was simultaneously one of the funnest but most frustrating games I've played. I'll be working on a guide for most bosses aimed at other players like myself that just want to experience the game without worrying too much about ranking or perfecting parrying. But before I embark on that project, I thought it'd be fun to provide yet another boss ranking list along with my impressions of them because those are always fun. Keep in mind that while some of these bosses may, on paper, be harder, by the time you get to them you have mastered some techniques and have access to more weapons so this may have impacted my perception of them. I also refused to use Smoke Bomb with the exception of Grimm Matchstick, mainly so I could just focus on the platforms so that definitely impacts my ratings.
As a fun fact, despite beating the game I went back and somehow still lost to the Root Pack so that gives you an idea of my skill level. It took my 1,221 deaths to beat this game (roughly 3 days)!

F Tier: Tutorial Bosses
The Root Pack: An excellent starting boss that teaches you so much about the game without saying anything. Teaches you about the recurring patterns bosses will have (and the small tweaks that will occur in their patterns), different phases and even shooting up and taking care of the clutter on screen. Not too much else to say here but it's a fun fight.
D Tier: Easy Enough
Goopy Le Grande: Believe it or not, I struggled quite a bit with Goopy. Granted, I was still getting used to the controls but to this day I still find him somewhat challenging. I can't quite predict when he's going to bounce off the screen and that can easily throw me off. I also have the bad habit of dashing when he's charging up his punches. When he gets bigger it's scary because the bounce off the screen takes up so much space and you have to remain close to him to stay out of harms way. Still, nothing too bad here.
Ribby & Croaks: The first phase is really easy. Just stick to the far left and duck. Only jump to avoid the low punches. Use spread shot to clear the screen from the fire flies. Once you get the timing of the rolling frog, the second phase isn't bad either. You can easily use the wind to move out of harm's way and when you get too close to the frog throwing out the orbs, running in the opposite direction almost ensures you'll never get hit. The hardest part is obviously the slot machine phase. I found dodging the coins that home in to be annoying and contributed to the most damage I took. Bull/Devil is by far the easiest as half the time it doesn't require you do anything, Tiger Phase is really not too bad either as once I found my rhythm it was super manageable and you have your choice of jumping when the balls aren't out yet or at the height of their arc. Frog Phase I found to be the hardest only because if you mess up, it's really, really hard to get back to a working rhythm. This was my second boss fight and I found it only slightly more challenging than Goopy (I'm pretty sure I died to Goopy more!)
C Tier: Challenging In Any Other Game
Cagney Carnation: Yikes, this was the fight that really shook my confidence. The screen is a clutter and being trash at parrying, it all but ensured that the little minions crowded my screen. Still, it wouldn't have been so bad were it not for that absolutely stupid flower that flies at the top of the screen. I can't tell you how many runs it ended. It makes dodging the acorns so much harder and the final phase a total mess if it manages to slip by. Still, if I took care of that damn thing this boss wasn't too bad.
Werner Werman: Hands down one of the funnest bosses in the game, he's still a total cakewalk and it's shocking to see him in the third island. His first phase took some getting used to, mainly because if the cherry bombs where thrown at odd angles it could get hectic. His second stage was really difficult until I realize that the sticks holding the bottle caps don't hurt you....I thought they did and so for a while thought this fight was way harder with entire parts of the screen cut off. But once I realized that, this was a cakewalk and his last phase is probably the easiest. Cool twist ending too!
Hilda Berg: Now we're getting to the bosses that really start to challenge you. Hilda Berg wasn't too bad though. Simply staying in motion makes you avoid her fast "Haha" attacks and her first transformation is super easy. As soon as she remains in place, you know her insanely fast ram is coming so if you just watch her, this phase should be over without any worries. The tornadoes require some slick maneuvering but nothing too bad. Her Gemini form is really fun while her Sagittarius form is a total pain. Her last phase wasn't too bad, especially since I had a saved up special that significantly cut down on the time and the UFO's are the only real threat.
The Phantom Express: With the Parrying Sugar charm equipped, this fight isn't too bad at all. The first phase is a cakewalk and even if a Pumpkin slips by, it's relatively easy to dodge the eyeballs and return to safety. Second phase wouldn't be too bad except it can be tricky to parry the pink bricks without getting hit. The third phase is a mixed bag. Sometimes the ghosts would slip by and put me in a messy situation but most of the times it was fairly easy. The last phase isn't too bad but the smoke ring that circles is tricky and easy to get lost in the background. Still, nothing too bad here.
Bippy the Clown: The first boss that told me the game was not fucking around anymore, I still don't consider Bippy to be too bad. I almost view him as another tutorial boss, teaching you to watch the background, change up your weapons and make use of your supers wisely. First phase is easy with practice and so long as you watch the background and use your Spread Shot, while staying away from the far left and right corners where the balloons spawn, the second phase is easy. The only thing tricky about the third phase is ensuring the jerk doesn't trap you just as the roller coaster is coming. A bit out of your control but keeping an eye on the background made it manageable. The last phase is a total blur but I never struggled too much with it, especially after dumping a charged special at him.
B Tier: Buckle Down, You're in For a Tough Fight
Cala Maria: This is such an odd one. On the one hand, it only took me a handful of tries to defeat her. On the other hand, some combinations feel outright impossible (Blowfish and electric eels or ghosts) while others are a total cakewalk. I found that when the damn Seahorse comes out, if I drew it close to her before her second attack, it minimized the pain. Her second phase isn't too bad at all, especially since by now you should have mastered the bullet hell the game can throw at you but luck can really screw you over: one unlucky stone gaze can end your run. The last phase is also luck dependent but you have some time to position yourself anticipating the stone gaze. All in all, a mixed bag but the fight goes by pretty quickly. If it didn't, this one would be much, much higher.
Djimmy the Great: The RNG at the start of this fight is pretty insane but thankfully the first phase is by far the hardest so no worries if you do super badly. Until this fight, I had not been using the Mini Option on the plane but it really, really forces you to master the mechanic...and good thing too! It's mandatory from here on out! I found the Cats to be the easiest to dodge, with swords being of medium difficulty and the treasure a nightmare albeit going up and down makes them more manageable. Second phase gets some getting used to but with practice wasn't too bad. Third phase I cheesed by staying near the top but it isn't too bad normally either. Fourth phase is by far the funnest (aside from avoiding the cats) and with using mini prudently and smart positioning is over before you know it. A special to the face ends the last phase before it gets out of control.
Captain Brineybeard: This one is a ton of fun. Tons of screen micromanagement. The hardest part of this fight for me is getting the shots to land on the Captain. Took me the longest time to master jumping high enough to hit him with the Charge Shot. But otherwise this is trail and error, learning how to keep track of all the chaos on the screen and finding the rhythm to avoid the cannonballs the ship launches. The last phase is super weird. Either really difficult or a cakewalk depending on whether you have your special built up and if you decide to cheese the orbs thrown out. Still, relatively easy to get to the end with all 3 lives once you've mastered the earlier phases.
Sally Stageplay: My favorite fight of the game, I will go on the record here and say that if it weren't for Smoke Bomb or Art 2 making you invincible, this would be the hardest fight of the game. I beat her without using Smoke Bomb because I wanted a challenge and I'm glad I did. But without invincibility her second phase would just be grueling. Really fun though. Her third phase provides some challenge with dodging the big wave (it's really hard not to burst out laughing at seeing some schmuck carrying the prop!) and the last phase is a breeze. However, the first and second stages really require you position yourself correctly and it's easy to get in a bind if you don't. Tricky boss (without Smoke Bomb!) but always a blast.
The Devil: The big baddie of the series, I personally didn't find The Devil to be too bad. Much like Sally, Art 2 makes certain aspects of the fight a breeze that otherwise would be more daunting. His first phase is by and away the toughest but since you get plenty of practice it's relatively easy to master. His Goat Attack isn't too bad once you get the hang of it. The snake is free damage and the spider is occasionally very tricky or extremely easy. What really makes this phase difficult are the magic objects he conjures up. The bouncing balls aren't too bad but they can blend in with your shots. I used Roundabout in this fight to deal with the purple minion with ease and sometimes I would get them mixed up. The flames that fly at you aren't too bad once you get the gist of it. But the stupid flames that travel in a diamond formation are hell to avoid and ended most of my runs. The second phase is super fun and not too much cause for trouble. Third phase goes by in a breeze if you use your special and invincibility when things get chaotic. I found that if I made it to Phase 2 with all 3 hearts, I was all but guaranteed to win this fight.
Tier A: Welcome To a Trail By Fire
Grimm Matchstick: By far the first phase is my favorite in the entire game. I can just play it over and over again for fun...and good thing too! Because I found myself back in it plenty of times. The first part is never too bad and contrary to a lot of people's opinions, I rarely ever found platform placement unfair. I think the problem most people have is they insist on going forward when you can just as well dodge going backwards if the forward option's platforms aren't preferable. But so long as you have a Plan A and Plan B of which platforms to dash to, this isn't bad. The Lobby Gun is essential for this and the second phase, which is so weird. Getting the timing of the stupid fireballs is so weird. But provided you're observant and listen to the audio cues, it gets better with time. Still, mastering this phase was extremely grueling and those flames jump in a way that almost always led to close calls. The last phase is super weird. Objectively speaking, it isn't too hard. But what makes it so damn hard is that Cuphead teaches you to be shooting at all times. You cannot do that here. Every instinct you've gained will be begging you to but it's important to take your time. But once you do, this phase is honestly not that bad. Still, this was truly the first boss that got me totally frustrated and I had to look for help online. Once I got the hang of it though, I realized it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought.
Baroness Von Bon Bon: Oh boy. Independently speaking, none of her minions are too bad. But once the Jelly Bean soldiers enter the picture it's really easy to get cornered in a bad spot. By the time she pulls out her cotton candy shotgun, things are so chaotic and you may well be in quite a pickle. By far I found the Candy Corn and Jawbreaker to be the hardest. If I got them on Phase 1 and got through unscathed, I considered myself lucky. The Pudding is odd. Very, very easy by himself and he has a tendency to trap himself on the right corner of the screen making for an easy fight but you may also be forced to go to the right side of the screen which in Phase 2 and 3 can mean taking a cheap potshot by the randomly spawning Jelly Beans. The Waffle and Gumball Machine are both okay (I used a special to make sure the Waffle was gone ASAP). Honestly, the 3rd Phase throws so much shit at you it's really hard to keep your cool and sometimes you're just trapped in a tough spot where it feels kind of cheap. Sometimes you get lucky and make it to the last phase relatively unharmed. Very uneven battle in my experience. The last phase is difficult namely because the head moves in such weird patterns. I found it best to focus most of my attention drawing the head away from the center, getting a few shots in and then avoiding the head again. Always being mindful of when the Peppermint would be coming out made this last phase grueling but doable.
Wally Warbles: I have no idea why but I found myself getting hit over and over again by the damn eggs of the first phase...even while sticking to the left screen where their breaking can't touch you. Took me try and try again to avoid them and even then it wasn't very consistent. Those stupid birds also gave me trouble cutting off entire parts of the screen extending the length of this fight. While Djimmy's Turban introduced the notion of bullet hell, the second Phase ups the ante and really forces you to become comfortable with the concept. Takes a while to master and sometimes the phase lasts a bit longer than you'd like since he ends up at the top or bottom of the screen just out of reach. His son is by far the trickiest aspect of the fight and requires that you keep your cool, be okay standing in front of him both having to be wary of a point blank shot (thank God you can parry them!) and the collapsing eggs around him. His randomized movements make it hard to find any kind of rhythm. The last phase isn't too bad but it's relatively easy to get boxed in and take some damage so I had to come in with at least a hit to spare. Getting here is so difficult that it's easy to choke up or miss any of the small projectiles coming at you. What a doozy of a fight!!
King Dice: Another oddball fight. King Dice's individual components aren't half bad but what makes him truly difficult is how its more an endurance test that requires near perfection than anything else. It's also time consuming to play the different bosses and figure out which ones work for you. For example, I just could not get the hang of Mr. Wheezy even if others insist he is easy. I did pretty well against the Tipsy Troop but it was risky, so Chips Bettigan was my best bet (no pun intended) but without Smoke Bomb still took some time to master. Other bosses are super easy if you use Smoke Bomb like Pirouletta but make the fight with King Dice that requires perfect parrying difficult and gives you less control over the dice. For some players that's a good trade-off but for me it wasn't. I found Pip and Dot to be the most manageable and fun and Mangosteen was super easy albeit nerve wrecking. Oh and fuck Phear Lap. That tree that takes up a third of the screen is broken and a rather bizarre mistake in an otherwise well-designed game. King Dice himself, once you got to him, was nothing too bad but did require smart positioning and taking stock of the situation. For fun I'll rank the sub-bosses in order of least difficult to most difficult.
  1. Mangosteen
  2. Chips Bettigan
  3. Pip & Dot
  4. Hopus Pocus
  5. The Tipsy Troup
  6. Pirouletta
  7. Mr. Wheezy
  8. Phear Lap
  9. Mr. Chimes
Tier S: Absolute Insanity
Rumor Honeybottoms: This is the first fight that truly forced me to figure out what I even wanted to do. All the fights before it, I knew what I should be doing but what was difficult was figuring out how to do it. From the get go, you have to master moving from platform to platform horizontally and vertically while getting used to the pace of the automatically scrolling screen. Next, you have to get comfortable with the movements of the police officer and how the bombs will explode. It took me a good half an hour to make sense of the chaos and try out different weapons to find what worked for me. Roundabout was the V.I.P. here and I found a specific pattern that not only helped me get through Phase 1 but consistently enter Phase 2 with a super almost built up. But the Second Phase required a lot of work as well. I had to give up even trying to progress so much as try to find out what the hell to do. I figured out how to deal with the magic round balls first, then it was getting used to the timing of the triangles and I figured out the bullet bills last. Once I did all that, I was so exhausted and the third phase is no slouch either. This is the only time I actually struggled with the platforms as the boxing gloves took up most of my attention and I frequently found myself without a platform to jump to. However, coming into the last phase with the invincibility all ramped up made it so much easier and thankfully you can pump so much damage into her as she turns herself into an airplane that it made the last phase difficult but not impossible. Still, it was the first boss where I truly felt I had to use all of my brainpower to figure out what to do. Very fun fight and I don't get the hate against it. I loved this fight!
Dr. Kahl's Robot: Yeah, you just knew this would be my toughest fight of the game. Much like Honeybottoms herself, this is all about taking your time and being smart about how you approach the battle. There's so much chaos going on in the screen and it takes forever to figure out what's causing it. Oh, so the bottom part is where those fucking annoying spaceshifts come from. Wait, why are there bombs coming in now? Oh, it's because I destroyed the bottom part? Once you figure out what each body part does (and what attacks are introduced once they are destroyed), it becomes a test of what to destroy first, second and third. Once you figure out what gives you the least trouble, it's about getting into a rhythm where you can do it down to a science. You cannot afford to take a hit here. The second phase is actually my least favorite phase in the entire game. Not only is it entirely boring but sometimes getting hit by bombs that spawned off-screen or by the robot's head coming at a much higher level of the screen felt insanely cheap. Still, going in a certain rotation and lobbying bombs rather than shooting missiles at the head works the most consistently. But missing a bomb can cause chaos on screen that can be really hard to get out of. The last phase is obviously the most difficult. Honestly, the bullet hell itself wasn't too bad but it was having to dodge the platforms that made it so immensely difficult. I also found that the way the attack starts is really unnatural and you find yourself at odd angles. Once I got hit and used the invulnerability frames to reposition myself, I found a better "flow" and was able to use the paths that naturally arose from the attack combinations. Still, it lasts so long and the platforms can put you in some tight jams. Doesn't help that the other two phases last so long that by the time you get here your nerves are jolted. Very difficult fight and were it not for your specials significantly cutting down on the time you spend on the last phase, this fight would be much, much harder than it already is.
Phew! Okay so that's my rankings for the bosses along with some of my thoughts. Hope you guys enjoyed and please feel free to share your own list of rankings and thoughts!
submitted by ValorTakesFlight to Cuphead [link] [comments]

Popular Self-Working Card Tricks for Complete Beginners

Popular Self-Working Card Tricks for Complete Beginners
Note: I spend a lot of time with children and teenagers, and have compiled a list of videos to help them get started with and interested in card magic. So this article isn't written for magicians in the first place, but it is something that you can pass on to children or adults who are interested in learning their very first card trick or two.
If you have a deck of playing cards, and are completely new to card magic, the first tricks you should learn are self-working tricks. No trick works completely automatically, of course, but this is a term that refer to tricks that don't rely on sleight of hand. That makes them super easy to learn and perform, so you'll be having fun showing these to your family and friends in no time!
Many magic teachers recommend starting with self-workers, because then you can focus entirely on your presentation, which is essential to make card magic entertaining. We'll kick-start your magic career by introducing you to a number of popular and simple self-working card tricks. Exposure isn't allowed here, so I can't post any links to video tutorials in this article. But you'll easily and quickly find places that explain these tricks on youtube and elsewhere on the internet.

10 Simple Card Tricks

These classics of card magic are easy tricks that almost every magician has learned early in their career. They will also introduce you to some important principles of card magic, like the "key card", and the "one ahead principle". There's one "classic" which I haven't included, and that's the "21 Card Trick". It's one that most people know already, and although there are ways to make this card trick interesting, the method primarily involves mindless dealing, and it can be quite boring for your spectators. You're more likely to have fun with the card tricks in the list below:
Quick Two Card Catch
The effect: Your spectator inserts a black 9 and a black 10 anywhere into the middle of the deck. You toss the deck from one hand to another, rapidly pulling two cards out while doing so. Amazingly, the two cards that you've pulled out from the deck are your spectator's black 9s and 10s!
What's good about it: This requires a small set-up, but it's worth it for the big pay-off. It relies on the fact that because there are two cards that are quite similar, spectators will remember only the colour and the value of the cards, and they won't remember the suits other than that they were both black. It's a very simple method, and yet the impact can be very strong, because it is a remarkable feat that you appear to accomplish, by pulling out two cards that have been placed into the middle of the deck by a spectator!
Background: This trick is also known under other names including "Friction Toss", "Friction Production", or "Two Card Catch". If you use a simple cross-cut force (described later in this article) at the start of this trick, this trick can seem even more amazing. Any two cards will work, but it's best to use cards with a similar appearance of values, like black 9s and 10s, or black 9s and 6s, and refer to them as "black 9s and 6s" rather than mention the actual suits. You can also use this method to produce all four Aces, two at a time.

The Four Robbers
The effect: You introduce the four Jacks, which are actually four robbers. You then tell a story about how they attempt to burgle a bank, doing their dirty work at different locations in the building. You place the Jacks in various parts of the deck while telling the story, corresponding to different floors of the building. When the police arrive unexpectedly, the four Jacks are able to escape in a helicopter, by magically appearing together at the top of the deck!
What's good about it: The strength of this trick is that it has a fun story to go with it. You aren't following the same-old story of having a card selected and finding it, but you are simply describing a story, and then something magical and impossible happens. The method is very simple, and how entertaining this trick turns out will depend entirely on how good you are at dramatizing the story, which you can have a lot of fun with!
Background: This is another common trick that many young magicians will start out with, and has been around since the 1850s. After a simple secret set-up, it's very easy to perform. It might not fool thoughtful adults, but it's an ideal trick for children to learn, and they can really fool others of their own age with it.

The Piano Trick
The effect: From two piles of cards, you magically make a card move from one to another. A common way to do it is to get your spectator to stretch out both hands like he's playing the piano - hence the name of the trick - and place pairs of cards between his fingers, plus an "odd" card. These are distributed into two piles (e.g. between you and your spectator). Remarkably, although everything is shared out evenly, the odd card moves from one pile to the other pile!
What's good about it: Once again, how you present this makes all the difference. Nothing physically moves, and yet by clever misdirection and proper scripting, it will really seem to your spectator's mind that a card has been transferred from one pile to another.
Background: This trick is more than a hundred years old, but it can easily be given a modern twist - I've heard of magicians performing this with knives and forks, with different kinds of fruit, and even with socks! See a great variation by Alan Hudson performing the piano trick with cutlery here.

Spectator Cuts To The Aces
The effect: The spectator does all the work in cutting the deck into four piles. Amazingly, at the end of this process, the top card in each of the piles turns out to be an Ace!
What's good about it: It's always a good idea to turn the spectator into a magician, and that's what happens here. They are the ones doing the cutting, so the magic apparently happens right in their hands. It is important to find a way to perform this trick in a way that makes things entertaining, however. Like many self-working tricks, since there's a small set-up involved, the effect can be strengthened if you can precede the trick with a simple false cut or false shuffle.
Background: Numerous versions of this trick exist, including more complicated variations, but the basic version is very easy and can be performed by a complete beginner. It goes under various names, including "Poker Player's Picnic" (The Royal Road to Card Magic) and "Belchou Aces" (Roberto Giobbi's Introduction to Card Magic). One of the finest versions of this trick is Chad Long's "Shuffling Lesson". This takes it to the next level, as both you and the spectator use half the deck, and you deal four Kings while the spectator deals four Aces - an apparently impossible finish! Chad's version is so good that some magicians even use it as a closer in their professional magic act.

The Circus Card Trick
The effect: After your spectator has selected and remembered a card from a shuffled deck, and returned it to the deck, you start dealing through the deck, claiming that you can find it. You deal several cards past their chosen card, and then propose a bet that the next card you turn over will be their card. Thinking that this is a safe bet since you've already gone past their card, most spectators will agree - at which you point you proceed to turn over the already-dealt card that is theirs!
What's good about it: Usually a trick presented as a "challenge" for your spectator isn't the best idea, because it can turn magic into a contest rather than something entertaining and magical. This trick is a good exception to that rule, because it's super light and quick, and is ideal for a casual setting. Don't use it to actually swindle people of anything valuable, but when performing it as a fun gag effect, you'll usually have the whole room laughing at the result - even the person who has become the butt of the joke.
Background: This trick relies on a common method known as the "key card" principle, and you'll find a variation of it in almost every introductory card magic book. The basic principle can be used for many other tricks, like the next one in this list. The real appeal of the Circus Card Trick is the humorous presentation; it also goes under many other names, and is often presented as a bar bet or con.

The Pulse Trick
The effect: Your spectator selects a random card which is returned to the deck. But can you find it? Of course, you're a magician! You feel their pulse while they move their hand across a face-up spread, and by the picking up subtle changes to their heart beat as their finger moves over their selected card, you're able to identify it!
What's good about it: What makes card magic interesting is when it has a good presentation, and while this is a very easy trick to perform, it has a very entertaining presentation. You just need to do a lot of acting to make it convincing, and since the method is so straight-forward, you can really focus on your showmanship. The method here is basically the same as the Circus Card Trick, but with a different presentation it feels like an entirely different trick.
Background: Another interesting presentation that relies on the same secret, is to have your spectator put their fingerprint on their card, and you then identify their chosen card by `finding' the card which has their matching finger-print. Yet another presentation is to frame it as a lie-detector test, getting your spectator to point at each card one at a time while saying "That's not my card", while you `detect' when they are lying by looking into their eyes or identifying subtle signals from their body language. Pick whatever presentation suits you best - either way it can be quite impressive and believable, especially for children witnessing this trick.

Do As I Do
The effect: Both you and your spectator each have a deck. After shuffling your decks, you both select a card, which you remember, and return to your deck. You then trade decks, and each find your selected card in the other person's deck. Because you've been in sync with each other, the two cards are revealed to be ... exactly the same!
What's good about it: This trick appears completely baffling to someone who has never seen it, because the odds of two people selecting exactly the same card is 1 in 52. The method is easy, yet well-disguised by the concept of "Do As I Do", where you and the spectator have to synchronize your moves and do exactly the same thing. This also gives opportunity to have some fun as well, so it lends itself to enjoying the presentation. Because the spectator is part of the magic, it is engaging for them as well.
Background: Early versions of this trick were already performed in the mid-1800s, under titles like "The Sympathetic Cards" and "Marvellous Coincidence". This now common trick has been around in its current form since the early 1900s.

X-Ray Vision
The effect: The cards are all laid face-down on the table in a spread or in a shuffled mess. In a demonstration of x-ray vision, three people (including you) point to a random face-down card, and you correctly identify all of the selected cards.
What's good about it: There are various ways of presenting this trick, and you can also perform it by naming a card that your spectator then has to try to find at random. But it packs a punch far greater than you might think, because to actually be able to correctly identify three face-down cards - some of which are genuinely selected by your spectators at random - would be a true miracle!
Background: This trick is found in many books with beginner card tricks, and goes under names like "Seeing Through the Deck" (Scarne on Card Tricks), "The Three-Card Pick by Touch Test" (Magic for Dummies) and "One Ahead" (Joshua Jay's Amazing Book of Cards). It's a good introduction to the one ahead principle which is used more often in card magic.

Mutus Nomen Cocis Dedit
The effect: Twenty random cards are divided into pairs, and several spectators secretly select and remember any pair of their choice, which are then put together in any order. You lay out the cards in grid with four rows of five cards. Each spectator merely tells you the row(s) that their two cards are in, and you can miraculously identify their chosen cards!
What's good about it: This trick becomes most entertaining when you incorporate a fun presentation, for example when you pretend to use muscle-reading to identify the chosen cards (as described in "The Pulse Trick"), or use a lie detector presentation. Of course the true method is much simpler, and although you'll need to memorize some words (only four!) to make it work, the effect seems truly impossible! Involving multiple spectators makes it even more engaging, and seem more astounding!
Background: This is a very old trick that goes under various titles, like "Houdini's Double-Talk Card Trick" (Scarne on Card Tricks). and fortunately you don't have to use the Latin words in the title used here, because there are simpler English-language mnemonic aids that do the same thing.

The Slop Shuffle
The effect: The deck is mixed up completely in small packets of face-up and face-down cards. After a final cut, all the cards are magically corrected, and now face the same way!
What's good about it: This is a nice change from the usual "pick-a-card" type of trick, since the magic happens with the entire deck. Even though it is basically self-working, the illusion is very natural and convincing, and the deck really does seem to instantly change from something that is completely mixed up, with cards haphazardly face-up and face-down, into all the cards being the right way.
Background: This trick is a common beginner trick that can be found in many magic videos and videos, and while most commonly known as "The Slop Shuffle" (Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic), it's also called other names like "Self-Reversing Pack" (Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic). There are ways to take this trick to the next level by having a card selected by a spectator, and all the cards are face-down after the "slop shuffle" except the chosen card.

2 Simple Card Forces

The concept of a "forced card" is a very useful technique in magic. Once you master it, you can perform all sorts of miracles very easily, with many options for how you reveal the card that you have `forced'. There are ways to force a card with sleight of hand, but here are two very simple ways to accomplish this in a self-working manner.
The Ten-Twenty Force
The effect: You write a prediction for a card to be selected, then get your spectator to freely choose any number between ten and twenty. They deal some cards based on their chosen number, thereby selecting a random card which they reveal. Then your prediction is shown, and it matches the selected card perfectly!
What's good about it: Being able to correctly predict a card apparently chosen at random by a spectator is a very powerful technique in magic. In fact the selected card has been predetermined in advance, but by presenting it as a feat of prediction, you really give the impression of being able to tell the future. You can even give the paper with your prediction to a spectator to look after, to prove that nothing is written after the fact, making the prediction feat seem even more convincing.
Background: The principle underlying this is a simple mathematical one, and yet it can be surprisingly deceptive, especially for the average person who has never come across this before. Besides using a card force as a prediction, there are also many fun ways to reveal a forced card (see some good suggestions from Jay Sankeyhere).

The Cross Cut Force
The effect: You write a prediction for a card to be selected, and get your spectator to cut anywhere in the center of the deck that they like. The prediction is revealed, and remarkably it turns out that the your spectator has cut to exactly the card that was predicted!
What's good about it: Having a `hands off' approach where you put the cards in the hands of your spectator always makes a magic trick seem more convincing. You couldn't have possibly done anything to the cards, because you didn't even touch them! This makes your magic seem all the more like a miracle. And yet this trick will work every single time, and produce the predicted card!
Background: The "Cross Cut Force" is sometimes underestimated by magicians, but it can be extremely effective when done well. It works best when you pay attention to subtle details, especially by introducing some time delay before revealing the cut card. You'll find some excellent tips for using this force, and some great tricks that utilize it, in John Bannon's excellent "Move Zero" series of DVDs. A related and similar method that takes the Cross Cut Force a step further is the "Cut Deeper Force". You will easily find information about it online, and it can be used as an alternative way to accomplish the same effect.
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So there you go - ten simple card tricks, and two simple forces! So what are you waiting for? Grab some playing cards, check out some of the videos, and you'll be amazing people in no time! And no matter how much they ask, keep the secret to yourself, and don't repeat a trick to the same audience!
Author's note: I first published this article at PlayingCardDecks here. .
submitted by EndersGame_Reviewer to Magic [link] [comments]

Review: One Dozen Devious Devices and Deceptive Delights

Review: One Dozen Devious Devices and Deceptive Delights
I'm not a pro magician. I'm just an amateur hobbyist who has enjoyed a lot of magic over the last 30 years or so. So I don't want to spend weeks and months learning knuckle-busting sleights and complex technical moves. For me magic is mostly about entertaining family and friends, and having fun. I love learning new tricks, especially ones that don't cost a fortune, and that I can get into performing quite quickly.
Over the years I've picked up and enjoyed a lot of tricks produced by Magic Makers, because they specialize in making products geared to beginners and intermediate magicians like myself. They are a magic wholesaler located in South Dakota, and the man behind them is magician Rob Stiff. He has experience with the business side of magic as well as expertise in cinematography, so it's no surprise that they combine magic with slick marketing and high quality filming. Their video trailers are typically very lavish and extravagant, and many of them have the feel of a miniature movie short. The online instructional videos that typically accompany their products also have a high degree of professionalism.
More importantly, Magic Makers sells all kinds of magic related products, including tricks, playing cards and gaff decks, instructional videos, and much more. By importing products from Asian manufacturers, they're able to make their magic very affordable, and you'll find a lot of their inventory on the mass market on sites like Amazon and eBay, which means that their products are easy for people like me to get hold of. They certainly also have a large range of items that advanced and professional magicians will appreciate, but many of their products target people like myself - the intermediate level magician, the amateur hobbyist, and the beginner. In this article I'll cover some of the items from Magic Makers that I've particularly enjoyed lately. I'm not being paid to write this - I just love magic, and I love writing about it and sharing my experiences with fun products, and these certainly qualify!
*** CLOSE-UP MIRACLES **\*
Psychic Escape
In Psychic Escape, a spectator chooses one of five different coloured brass discs, and places them into a brass cylinder which is then closed and sealed. A string is threaded through the cylinder, including through the holes in all the discs, and your spectator holds the string on both sides, so that the cylinder and discs are genuinely trapped on the string. Now comes the magic: the cylinder is opened, and only four of the discs are on the string, and the spectator's selected disc melts right through the string and drops into your hand! See a demo of a performance here.
When you see this effect being performed, it seems truly impossible - which is the mark of good magic: the illusion of impossibility! The secret lies somewhere in the props, but I'm not going to spoil things by revealing how it works. Suffice it to say that the spectator genuinely can make a free choice of which coloured disc they'd like, and there's no duplicate discs or palming required. To add to the mystery, you can even have the spectator turn the five discs face down before making a selection, and keeping the colours hidden while putting them in the cylinder (so that you don't even know what their chosen colour is). Even if they only name their selected colour for the very first time merely a moment before opening the cylinder with the final reveal, the disc of their selected colour is still the only one that escapes. I don't think I'd go so far as letting the spectator examine the cylinder closely afterwards, although you certainly can show everything quite openly beforehand.
The props for this illusion are outstanding, and just scream high quality: a solid brass cylinder, and attractive coloured discs also finished with brass. Even the string that you thread through the discs is durable and attractive, ensuring a classy look all round. The written instructions that come with the trick are all that you'll need, but a link is provided to the publisher's website with a two minute video that shows a performance followed by the explanation. The trick promises to be so easy that it's basically self-working, and many people will be able to perform this within a couple of minutes of learning it. I found it a little knacky to get the angles right, but with a small amount of practice was able to pull off the required move consistently. Beautifully made, easy and fun to perform, and generating strong reactions - exactly the combination of things most magicians will love!

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The Great Matchbox Illusion
If you really want to make an impression with a completely baffling illusion, it's hard to look past the Great Matchbox Illusion. You start by displaying a small matchbox which has a charming retro look. Then you show a toothpick, which can be examined, and push the toothpick completely through the center of the matchbox, so it is showing on both sides. Nothing amazing so far - until you open the matchbox to reveal that inside it is a solid and impenetrable brass block!
I don't want to give the secret away, but obviously something is heavily gimmicked in order to make this illusion work. The gimmick is easy to operate and understand, and the secret is a simple but very effective one. Most importantly, it is incredibly convincing - see a demo of this effect here and another video trailer here. You can even involve the spectator by having them hold the matchbox and push the toothpick through it. If you're bold you can even let the spectator examine everything at the end of the trick, and it's highly unlikely they'll discover anything.
The written instructions provided are brief, but there is secret link included that gives you access to video instructions from the publisher, including a two minute tutorial video that teaches you all you need to know. It really is super easy to do, and you can literally be performing this to people less than five minutes after opening the package and watching the video. Putting a solid block into someone's hand that they have just penetrated - now that's amazing!

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*** ILLUSIONS WITH PROPS **\*
The Vanishing Box
Being able to vanish small objects has always been a great way to create wonder and amazement, and that's exactly what you'll be able to do with ease courtesy of The Vanishing Box. This fantastic prop also goes under the name Professional Rattle Box. As you can see from the official video trailer here, the concept is very simple: insert a small object like a coin or ring into a small wooden box and close the lid. You can hear the object rattling inside, and yet when the box is opened, the object has completely vanished!
The box is nicely constructed out of wood and opens easily. As you'd expect, it is heavily gimmicked, and while I'd be reluctant to hand it out for examination at the risk of someone discovering the secret, you can certainly show it openly from all sides, because there's nothing to hide. What's more, after having vanished the small object, you can give the box to your spectator to shake, so that they confirm for themselves by the absence of a rattling sound that the object has indeed vanished. As an extra convincer, you can make the object reappear at will, easily producing it from your pocket or another location - this of course takes away any heat from the idea that there is a secret compartment hiding the object.
Along with brief written instructions, you get access to a two minute online video that shows you exactly how to do the routine. You will need to be able to hide the object in your palm, but the box is so cleverly designed that you don't need the skills usually required for coin magic and similar effects in order to accomplish this. I was pleasantly surprised how easy this was to accomplish, as a result of the box's ingenious design. Due to how it all works, you'll have the object tucked away very early on, but your spectators will be completely convinced it's still in the box, so there's no risk of getting caught. I highly recommend this one!

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The Haunted Key
Is it really possible to move objects purely with the power of your mind? That's the premise of telekinesis, which has long fascinated curious spectators around the world. And it is into this exciting world of mystery that we enter with the help of The Original Haunted Key. Can we move this with our mind? Do ghosts exist and do they have the ability to make things move?
What you get with this product is a package containing a fairly large key. It feels quite solid, and has a classic and antique look, which adds some credibility and authenticity to whatever background story you choose to use. An initial inspection reveals nothing unusual about it whatsoever, and one strength of this trick is that the key is fully examinable both before and after the effect. But when placed on the palm of your hand, moved by apparent mind-power, the key slowly rolls over by itself.
The key comes with some written instructions that tell you the basics of what to do. A link is also provided to online instructions that give some additional information, including a five minute video that shows a performance and also teaches how to do the magic. I like the fact that there are different possible handlings, one of which can even be done using the spectator's hand, as you can see from the performance video here (also see the official trailer here). It's not difficult, because it's all about balance, but it is worth a little practice in order to be able to do it consistently, smoothly, and slowly. Like many magic tricks, the strength of this will depend mainly on adding a good story to the easy technical moves, and performing this with an entertaining presentation.

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*** CLASSICS OF MAGIC **\*
Magic Ball & Vase
One thing I've learned over the years is that a good magician can make miracles happen even with the simplest props, and that's especially true with classics of magic. The Magic Ball & Vase is often found in magic kits, and some might scoff at its simplicity, while others will overlook its potential. This is a very inexpensive item, and while you may have come across this before in a kids magic set, don't make the mistake of thinking that it's a waste of time. The average member of the public will not have seen this done before, so this trick is ideal for budding magicians or even for the amateur looking for a small item to have fun with.
What you get is a small box, inside of which you'll find a red plastic vase, along with a set of written instructions. The vase is made out of relatively shiny plastic, but it's slightly larger and looks to be of better quality than similar products I've seen in magic sets, so it doesn't immediately scream cheap and nasty. The concept is simple: you remove the top of the vase to reveal a blue plastic ball inside. After replacing and removing the top again, the plastic ball has vanished! You can do this multiple times, and with ease you can even make the ball transport magically to your hand or your pocket.
The instructions included a link to a free instruction video, but Magic Makers has recently given their website a complete overhaul, so that link is no longer functional. Fortunately written instructions are provided, and it's simple enough to follow and perform. You can also check out the promo video here and a sample performance here. Despite the simplicity, In the right hands and with the right presentation, this can be a fantastic and fun little trick.

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Jumping Dots
Almost every magician will have come across the classic Hot Rod, which is a staple of magic. In its usual form, a magic stick is shown to have six dots in different colours on each side. After one is apparently chosen randomly, with a single wave all the dots change into the chosen colour. There are many variations of this effect, and Jumping Dots is a solid addition that builds on this classic tradition.
There is plenty of scope for different routines, but a typical performance would begin by displaying both sides of two shiny metal rods that have no markings on them at all. Magically, a dot is produced at the end of one of the rods, and the dot can be made to move from one rod to the other. Next the dot appears on both rods at the same time, until it `moves' onto the top and then bottom of a single rod. Now the dots move together, and as a finale, change in colour from black to red. View the official trailer here to see a sample routine along these lines.
Like the Hot Rod, this trick relies on the simple paddle move. The product comes with a link to a publisher page with online instructions, which consist of a performance video and a seven minute tutorial video that explains how to do the moves required. There's more going on with this trick than with the Hot Rod, so Jumping Dots has the advantage that there are multiple moments where you can create amazement. It does mean that there's more to remember than with the Hot Rod, especially if you use this to perform a longer routine, so I wouldn't recommend this for a complete beginner. But if you like the premise of the Hot Rod and have always wanted to turn it into a larger routine, this is perfect. The two rods that come with this trick are high quality, feel solid, and have an attractive and shiny chrome look. This product is a fine variation on the classic Hot Rod that will enable you to do a relatively simple routine that is highly visual, and with real potential to amaze.

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*** NOVELTIES & PRANKS **\*
Pea Can
Magic is all about entertaining as well as amazing, and there are tricks that do a great job of entertaining by getting a good laugh. A fine example is the Pea Can Trick, which will amuse as well as amaze.
A metal canister is displayed, and emptied to reveal four different coloured peas: green, black, white, and yellow. Your spectator can return them into the can, which is corked, and then secretly thinks of one of them. Now for the magic: you promise that when you open the canister, all the peas will disappear except the one that your spectator is thinking about. You can even have the spectator say "I want my pea!" as you open the can and empty it into their hand. The peas have completely vanished, and instead out onto their hand spills warm water: "You wanted your pee!"
The secret of course lies in the prop itself, and I don't think I'm giving too much away by saying that it has two chambers, one of which you'll be using to store the warm water. The product comes with written instructions that give you all the information that you need, including some diagrams. The canister is made of what seems to be a brass, and feels solid and durable. This trick is super easy to perform, making it ideal for beginners, although you do have to use the prop carefully enough so that no sounds give away the secret. But quite frankly I think the big moment is the prank itself, so it wouldn't even bother me too much if the spectator discovers the method afterwards. This trick can create some magic, but it's really about the laughs of creating that completely unexpected moment that the spectator doesn't see coming at all, and you'll certainly accomplish that!

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Fake Barf
If you enjoy fooling people with magic, then it's very likely that you also have a streak of mischief. If you're anything like me, you'll also get a kick out of pulling a good prank on those around you. If you're looking for something a more light-hearted, then the Fake Barf may just be the thing for you.
This product is exactly what it sounds like: fake vomit. It's around 7 x 4 inches in size, and the base is made of a soft rubber plastic that ensures that it stays in place wherever you choose to put it. It's so realistic that I find it hard to study and describe it without ... well, throwing up! Even checking it out closely can give you the urge to start heaving, because it's that realistic! It basically looks like a gooey liquid full of half-digested food bits, much like a pavement pizza of sorts. Adding some water can make it even more convincing, but I found it did the job just fine as is. It's super realistic, and there's no sense of actually recognizable foods that would immediately give it away for someone who hasn't eaten those particular kinds of foods. In fact, I pranked my family with this so convincingly that a couple of my family members literally ran screaming out of the room in disgust, when they came across me making retching noises in the kitchen and found the fake puke on the floor. Not for a moment did they even think I was having them on!
So when might you use this? Well the potential for pranking is limited only by your imagination. Check out the official trailer here here to see what it looks like in action. You might put it beside a choice location, like the toilet or garbage can, or you might leave it in the middle of the kitchen floor or on a table for others to stumble across. Talking about feeling sick or making some suitable noises ahead of time can be an excellent convincer. Yes this is disgusting, and I felt somewhat juvenile pranking people with this, but the satisfaction was oh so good! I'm sure that the child in all of us can appreciate a terrific product like this!

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*** CARD TRICKS **\*
Knockout Deck
I love card tricks, and I have a special fondness for gaff decks. A gaff deck is typically a full deck of playing cards which seems to be a regular deck but is in fact a "trick" deck. Using gimmicked cards allows you to accomplish miracles that simply wouldn't be possible with a standard deck, and some of the world's best card tricks are accomplished with gaff decks, with classics including the Svengali Deck, Stripper Deck, Invisible Deck, and Mental Photography Deck. The Knockout Deck, at one time also marketed under the name Sneak-A-Peek Deck, fits well in this category. To get an idea of its potential, view the official video demo of a performance here.
You start by showing both sides of the deck, and all the backs are shown to be blue-backed, while all the faces are shown to be different. Your spectator chooses a random card, which first jumps magically to the top of the deck. But it gets better: now you change all the cards in the entire deck so that they are the chosen card. And as a final kicker, you reveal that all the cards have changed from blue-backed to red-backed. It's a brilliant effect that would be impossible to accomplish with a regular deck, and there are multiple points of increasing astonishment and surprise leading up to the final revelation.
What you get is a deck of standard looking Bicycle rider-backed cards, packaged in a normal looking box. Aside from initial appearances, the cards are of course anything but standard, and are heavily gaffed in order to accomplish the effect. But it certainly looks like a perfectly regular deck, and the use of Bicycle rider-back design and traditional faces is a good choice that helps you avoid immediate suspicion about the cards. If you really wanted, you could secretly switch the deck with a regular one before or after the performance, to make it appear that you have used a normal deck all along. Besides written instructions, you also get a link to online instructions, with a performance of the effect, and a 12 minute video explaining how to do it. The difficulty level is very easy, and if you can evenly spread a deck of playing cards, then you can do this trick. Considering how simple this trick is to perform, with the gaff deck doing all the work for you, it's a great gaff deck that lets you create a wonderful and impossible illusion that will really amaze.

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The Ultimate Card Trick Collection
Playing cards are a magician's bread-and-butter, and there's a whole category of card tricks that involve smaller sets of cards called "packet tricks". Instead of using regular playing cards, some packet tricks use pictures or have unusual artwork, which offers an entertaining change-up from regular card magic. In this category, few are better than the Ultimate Card Trick Collection created by UK magician Paul Hallas. Paul is a highly respected authority on packet tricks, even having written books on the subject. In The Ultimate Card Trick Collection, we have no less than seven different sets of packet tricks packaged together: Fortune Deck, Cloned, Vampire Dawn, Not Another 3 Card Trick, Handy Tricks, Water to Wine, and Something From Nothing (click the links to view a performance of each routine). This product comes with over 50 novelty cards which are gaffed and completely custom, and you also get several plastic card wallets which you can use for storing or carrying the packet tricks.
Also provided is a link to online instructional videos, which show Paul Hallas demonstrating each effect, and then immediately explaining how to perform it, sometimes along with a couple of variations. To give you some sense of how much material is included, the video instructions run for almost two hours in total. So you get a large amount of high quality teaching materials, and a huge number of different routines to perform. The Fortune Deck, for example, consists of ten different cards featuring fortune-style pictures, and there's over half an hour of video teaching for these, with a whole series of routines that these cards alone can be used for. Of the other tricks, I especially enjoyed Cloned, where four animals are cloned one at a time, then each fade away and turn blank, with a final kicker producing a failed experimental clone that combines all four animals! Not Another 3 Card Trick is another strong and easy-to-learn routine, where four blank cards are turned into 3s one at a time, with a twist at the end as the final card is printed on the reverse.
While relatively easy to learn and perform, these tricks aren't geared for complete beginners, because they do require technical skills with fundamental sleights like the glide, double lift, and the elmsley count. These moves are all covered and explained in the video instruction, and the handling is quite straight-forward, but they are most suited to someone who already has some experience with handling cards. But the real strength of this collection is the novelty element of the cards, which you can use for some entertaining and light-hearted magic, with potential for some fun patter too. With the right presentation, you can produce some strong reactions, and really entertain. It's terrific value considering that you get seven completely different sets of gaff cards, with a tremendous variety of different packet tricks in the one package.

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*** MENTALISM WALLETS **\*
Invisible Peek Wallet
Mentalism is the branch of magic that deals with magic of the mind, and typically a routine is presented as an act of mind-reading. The beauty of mentalism is that it gives a lot of scope for acting and working on a entertaining presentation. But in order to accomplish the mental magic you will need some tools of the trade to help you along. One such is the Invisible Peek Wallet.
The way this looks from your spectator's point of view, is that they write down some secret information on the back of a business card, such as their favourite food, colour, or a random number. They put this face-down in the wallet, which is closed and put in the mind-reader's pocket. Now the mind-reader works his mysterious magic, and impossibly reveals the secret that was written down!
The black wallet comes nicely packaged and wrapped in a well-presented box. I'm not sure if it's made out of actual leather, but it certainly has a leather look, feel, and smell. If you wanted to, you could certainly use it for regular use as a wallet, because it has a number of pockets for credit cards and other compartments. The name of the product is a strong clue to the method, and the wallet lets you get a "peek" in a very easy way requires minimal skill and effort. It also comes with complete written instructions, which are replicated exactly at an online link that is also provided, which includes the promise of "video coming soon". For the experienced mentalist the method will be obvious, and this is all about having a quality product like this Invisible Peek Wallet which enables them to add their own creative presentation.

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Magician's Mentalism Wallet
Another option for the mentalist is the Magician's Mentalism Wallet. This is a different style of wallet, with a more slim and sophisticated look, that gives the impression of a narrower coat wallet belonging to a gentleman. It functions as a rectangular flip wallet with a single fold in the center. It has a fine black leather look, feel, and smell, and makes an immediate positive impression of class and style.
The effects possible with this wallet are similar the ones possible with the peek wallet, but the different design and style does open up different possibilities. This is a Z-fold wallet, which allows access from both sides, each appearing identical. My only criticism is that the leather Z-fold mechanism in my wallet wasn't cut quite cleanly, causing it to occasionally "catch" when opening or closing, but this was a minor issue and would pass unnoticed by any audience. One nice thing about this wallet is that it is larger and more rectangular in size than the Invisible Peek Wallet, which means that you can insert bigger things such as a standard playing card. It also has a bill-fold look, and when opened one side has a small pocket in which you can insert a dollar bill, to use as a convincer that both sides are identical, or to use for making a "bet" that you'll read the spectator's mind.
The Z-fold design is typical of a Himber Wallet, which also means you can use this for more standard magical effects like card vanishes and switches. This gives it an extra element of flexible use, and if you wanted you could even just use this as a Himber Wallet. Little is provided in the way of instructions or routine ideas, but most mentalists and magicians will already have plenty of these in their repertoire, and are simply looking for a quality product that enables them to perform their arsenal of tricks. Certainly this is a fine product that will help accomplish exactly that goal, and I'm very pleased to have it.

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*** VIDEO INSTRUCTION **\*
MasterMagicTricks.com Streaming Video
Magic Makers has recently also begun a new project, by rolling out a website that has unlimited streaming of many instructional videos, that literally includes 1000s of tricks. You'll find it at mastermagictricks.com. Subscription is around $13 for a month or $100 for a year, but you can do a free trial for three days, which gives you access to all the content. There is a section with a small section of some free content here, but the free trial is the best way to check things out.
Besides what you see on the site right now, more content is being added on a regular basis. Whatever you might think about Magic Makers (and let's not get into a debate about that here), the fact is that they have produced some useful material over the years, typically with high production values. The current selection they are making available in this way does include some good videos, like the ones from Simon Lovell. Streaming online video instruction does seem to be the way more sites are going, rather than the traditional "video" model, so this is a welcome addition to the options available for magicians interested in getting access to solid learning materials at a very affordable cost.

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*** CONCLUSIONS **\*
What do I think?
Range: As you can see, Magic Makers has a wide range of different magic related products, and what you see here is only a small taste of the kinds of things they offer. Besides these items they have a good collection of magic essentials like wands, sponge balls, silks, rings, custom decks, gaff decks, packet tricks, card tricks, accessories, instructional videos and more, so there's a lot to choose from.
Target market: They do have items that will appeal to the professional magician, and many of their tricks require an intermediate ability in magic. But a great deal of their range is especially suited to relative newcomers to magic, or to people who are looking to enjoy magic as a fun hobby without breaking the bank - people like me!
Quality: Typically the products I've had experience with have all been good quality. They're manufactured at an affordable cost, and keeping the prices down sometimes means that they aren't going to be the highest end version you'll find on the market. But considering the price, they are more than satisfactory, while some of them are really outstanding.
Instructions: I especially like the fact that most of their products come with a link to online instructional videos that teach you how to perform. The video quality of these is typically very good, and the instructions are easy to follow, making them ideal for people learning magic or just enjoying it casually.
Value: Some products are on the more expensive side, but most of their products that I've had experience with are available at a reasonable price. I find them good value especially given that you're not just getting the trick, but access to video tutorials that teach you everything you need to know. That makes them especially good value for amateur magicians like me, and even for complete beginners.
Availability: Because they are a large wholesaler, their products are typically available from a range of websites and online retailers, including big names like Amazon and eBay (I've used both as a source).

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Recommendation
So what is the bottom line about the above products from Magic Makers? As you can tell from my enthusiasm, I've had a lot of fun with these tricks - otherwise I certainly wouldn't bother spending the time to write about them.
What will be of interest to you will depend on your own personal taste and interests in magic. But whether you're a typical amateur like me or a serious magician, you're almost certain to find something that you'll enjoy and get good mileage out of! Enough said - it's time for me to get back to having fun playing with my tricks!
submitted by EndersGame_Reviewer to Magic [link] [comments]

How to be a digital nomad

TLDR; I'm a digital nomad who's achieved the 4-Hour Workweek. I've lived across Thailand for the last two years. And in this post I'll share:
And just to be transparent, affiliate links are used in this post. So if that bothers you for whatever reason, navigate to external websites manually.

Being a digital nomad is not a career path, it is a lifestyle.

If you’re looking to become a digital nomad, then surely you already love to travel. What you need to focus on is seeking a job that can be performed from anywhere. You’re most likely to find such a job on the internet.

Location independent jobs

You want a job that can be done from anywhere, and the digital world, like the real one, has many fields of work.
Let me list some potential moneymakers:

My Story

What kind of computer skills did I need?

Since elementary school I was heavy into computers and video games. I was the kind of kid who would come home every day and spend hours at a time on the internet.
But other than a basic programming class in 10th grade and a MS Office class in university, I had no more of a formal tech education than the average kid of modern generations.
In 2008 I graduated with a degree in history. I didn’t exactly choose a moneymaker of a major, or so you’d think, but it would prove useful for a career in freelancing (back to that later).
Like many recent graduates I faced unemployment and the prospect of working minimum wage (which I did for about four years).
For that last year, though, my friend got me a job managing a local store's e-commerce website. In that year I learned the basics of how to operate a CMS (content management system, like WordPress) and of Photoshop.

Time to travel

In those years following graduation I wasn’t happy with the direction in which I was heading.
I needed to break away and go on an adventure.
I decided to go on an adventure across Asia:
A lesson learned as a backpacker
Like countless other backpackers, the trip was an illuminating experience.
It taught me what I wanted in life, but I found myself no closer to knowing how to achieve it. So I came back home and got a job as a waiter.

Lesson 1 in becoming a digital nomad

SECURE A STEADY SOURCE OF INCOME Whether it’s as a waiter or a bartender. Whether it’s a high-paying or minimum wage job, secure a steady source of income.
(More money-talk coming soon.)

Lesson 2 in becoming a digital nomad

CHOOSE A PATH TO LOCATION INDEPENDENCE This means choosing a location independent career that will suit you. Start working on or towards that career in your free time (as soon as possible).

A Recommended path to location independence

Allow me to suggest a route to becoming a location independent digital nomad: FREElancing.
Freelancing has to be one of the most accessible and broadest fields of online work. There are downsides to it like everything, but it’s also one of the quickest ways to make location independent money.
What is freelancing?
Simply a different method of getting hired. Instead of part-time or full-time work, it’s work on a per project basis. Freelancing is bad in terms of relying on consistent pay. And it is good for those opposed to commitment. Potential jobs can be found in all of these fields according to Upwork.

How I earned my way to becoming a digital nomad

Elance, which has become Upwork, was where I began freelancing. In my first week I won a simply job. All I had to do was perform a face swap on some family photos. For less than an hour’s work I made $15 or $25.
The next week I won a $1200 job. An agency in Argentina hired me to build their website.
I did that without even knowing how to code. Nowadays you don’t need to know programming to make a website. I’ll get into that later.
After these two jobs I went on to have a successful freelancing career, going through highs and lows that can be expected with freelancing.

What 3 factors contributed to my success?

I was born in the personal computer and internet generation. This means I’m better with computers than the average member of older generations (a large group that hires freelancers). And it makes it easier for me to learn new computer skills.
Being born in America made me a native English speaker, which provides a big advantage over foreign competitors. And having grown up in America it allowed me to know the type of customer service those hiring me (other Westerners) would expect.
My education was important because it gave me skills people would pay for. Learning history taught me how to write, how to do research and how to be organized. My previously mentioned computer job provided me with an education too. Because of it I’m comfortable with using Photoshop and content management systems (which would be very useful when learning WordPress).

What you should do now.

Go to Upwork.com, browse their job categories and job boards and see where you will fit in.

Become a better you.

Lynda.com is home to amazing tutorials that teach work and computer skills . Seriously, the teachers over there are awesome. The site even has career tracks, which are essentially playlists of tutorials. These career tracks will fulfill the skills needed to work in various positions.
You may actually have free access to Lynda through your university. If not, you can grab a free 10 day trial here. See if it will help you.
Monthly plans start at $25 (I pay $37.50 for premium membership, which comes with exercise files).
I cannot speak highly enough of Lynda.com, but they’re not the only option for learning. YouTube has so many great, free tutorials. And I’ve heard Code Academy is the place to go to learn how to, you guessed it, code.

Lesson 3 in becoming a digital nomad

MONEY By this time in the guide you should already have a steady source of income and the path to location independence. What you need to do now is get your money right.
What to do:
  1. Get health insurance if you don’t have it (my fellow Americans) because medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in America.
  2. Work on eliminating or managing any debt you have.
  3. Build an emergency fund, which you can define as X months of savings in case the world decides to fuck you in the ass. personalfinance is a helpful community.

Lesson 4 in becoming a digital nomad

TRANSITION FROM A CATERPILLAR TO A BEAUTIFUL DIGITAL NOMAD
Before you can become a digital nomad you have to finish getting your money right.
Ask yourself this: Is your location independent work paying enough to sustain a monthly travel budget?
The decision is up to you, but practice patience. I’d suggest waiting to pull the trigger on traveling if going prematurely would put you in a precarious position. And no one wants to find themselves in a precarious position after coming prematurely. (clears throat)
Once you are confident in your finances, start planning your trip or your move. My only tip here would be to make sure you have the ability to work where you go (I’m mainly referring to good Internet).
*Nomadlist is supposedly a useful resource for nomads looking to research destinations.
Other travel sites and resources I recommend are:

CONGRATULATIONS!

By this point you have become a digital nomad.

But we’re not done. Since this is the astabooty method I need to keep on teaching. Keep reading to learn:

How to excel as a freelancer

Let’s make it clear, as a freelancer you are not just a designer, business analyst, writer or what have you. As a freelancer, you are also a business person.
And as a freelancer it can be argued that your most important task is to win jobs.
Once a job is won, your interactions with the customer are as important as the actual work you provide. It can also be argued that the human element of your project is more important in terms of getting repeat customers than the technical elements.
Long story short, put yourselves in the shoes of your (potential) customers and think about how you can serve them well.
TIP: Your success as a freelancer is dependent on your profile and review scores. If you provide a good service/product and good customer service, you will do well (YOU MUST DEMONSTRATE THE QUALITY OF YOUR WORK WITH A PORTFOLIO).

Making more money as a freelancer (part 1)

  1. You’ll be able to make more money as you become more efficient, which will come with experience.
  2. Also with experience, you will come to know what types of jobs and clients pay more.
  3. Knowledge is power. You can make yourself more valuable by: i. Learning how to market yourself better. ii. Learning new technical skills: ----a) For instance, most college students/graduates have the ability to write research papers. This is a skill that translates well to working online (getting hired to write blog articles or other written content). That’s a useful skill, as it can translate to $.10-$.15 / word at minimum. This skill can be built upon and made more valuable by learning the basics of: --------SEO (onsite search engine optimization, in this specific case for writers). --------email marketing. --------press releases. --------sales copy (basically, the text you see in a print or image ad). ----b) With just a couple of weeks of learning (on Lynda or elsewhere), a good writer could become a competent (and more valuable) internet marketer. These people could also make such transformations: --------business and accounting students/graduates. --------software programmers. --------web designers. --------graphic artists. --------video makers. --------sound engineers. --------and I bet many others that I cannot think of.

Where to find work

Upwork.com
Upwork.com has a pretty shitty reputation. Many freelancers believe customers there are cheap and unpleasant to work with. Freelancers also criticize Upwork for taking a large cut out of their earnings. So why do I recommend Upwork?
  1. There is money to be made there because there are good clients. The filtering tool (when browsing through job postings) is your friend. Learned, use it, find good paying jobs. Good luck.
  2. I think of Upwork.com as a lower-level league like as seen in professional soccer. It is a great learning ground where you can develop your skills - skills that translate very well in other arenas. When you’re ready to venture outside of Upwork, you’ll be prepared to actively seek clients online and in the real world.

My story as a freelancer

My first two jobs as a freelancer were a face swap using Photoshop and making a website with WordPress (this I'll teach you soon). Back then I was chasing any job that I was capable of doing. Since the portfolio and a five star review score are so important to getting hired, I would offer extremely discounted prices to potential customers. This is something I did until I had built up a decent portfolio and review score.
By that time I wanted to make more money. I saw that website projects were bringing in more money for me than graphic design ones, so I decided to focus my attention there.
At the time I could already make a visually appealing website using WordPress themes and stock photos, but I still had lots to learn.
On Lynda I took courses on typography (learning how to choose the right fonts and text styling on websites and in graphics), content writing and SEO fundamentals. These were skills that made me a more valuable employee for clients.
What I’m about to say may seem to conflict with what was just said, but bear with me.
Even as my skills continued to improve as a web designer, I felt like I was trying to play catch up against other freelancers, many of which would work for lower prices.
I could have continued on the path I was on, but I decided to pivot and go in a different direction.

How to transition from a freelancer to having your own agency (part 1)

In a moment of self-awareness I realized that however good I was, there were better and cheaper web designers out there. But I still believed I held an advantage over them when it came to winning jobs and providing good customer service.
So what did I do?
I decided to start getting freelancers to work on the projects I had won. My client would pay me X and I would pay a % of that to the freelancer.
That means that after the job was won, I'd act as a project manager.
During this period of my career provided me with many obstacles, beecause it was during this time that I was learning how to act as a manager.
So yes, there were difficulties, but they were worth it. By taking on this new role and acting as an agency, I was allowed to scale my business by being able to take on more work.

Advice on hiring freelancers

To be frank, I’ve learned that I’m not a very good manager. At least not a good micro-manager, which is needed more times than not with the freelancers I’ve hired.
I’ve only had two successful hires, but they were life-changing. The reason these hires worked is because I was lucky enough to hire two very proud and self-sufficient people - the type of people who can take direction and run with it independently.
So with that out of the way I’ll share more of the story and offer some advice.
When I started hiring freelancers, I was only working with two types of professionals: graphic artists and web developers. The professionals I was hiring were South Asians (Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans) hired off of Elance.
NOTE: To hire Indians are not?
India has a somewhat deserved bad reputation with outsourcing. This bad reputation usually comes from issues with communication and customer service standards.
There are a lot of shit Indian freelancers out there. But that’s because there are a lot of Indians . It’s just a numbers thing. On the other end of the spectrum, India has amazing agencies and individuals available for bargain prices. It’s up to you to decide if you want to a) bridge the cultural divide and b) sift through the bulk to find the gold.
TIP: A great, cheap country to hire from.
The Philippines! Native English speakers in many cases and great non-native speakers in other cases. Super affordable prices: 3 to 6 dollars an hour for a well trained professional. Talented and warmhearted people. Onlinejobs.ph is the best Filipino job board I know of.
TIP: Negotiating prices with foreign workers.
The best way I know how to negotiate when hiring is to:
  1. Gain knowledge of prices by shopping around and
  2. Have candidates compete against one another on their prices.
I believe in finding a balance, though. Negotiating prices with a foreigner is a mental battle of sorts:
Will we set the price at my country’s standard, yours or somewhere in between?
I think a fair standard is starting right in the middle and then moving either way within 20 percentage points. This way it is not too extreme in either direction.

How to transition from a freelancer to having your own agency (part 2)

A client hired me to not only build them six new websites, but to write content for them as well. Because it was an important job, I did all the work myself. And luckily, the client proceeded to hire me for a long-term position.
This goes to show the value of writing in the world of freelancing.
The job was to build and maintain a blog – I’d have to produce fresh content every week. The pay was great, but the project ate up much of my time (I was not yet outsourcing any work on this project). Like most digital nomads, I cherish free time, so the work situation wasn’t ideal for me.
Freelance college students
What I did to resolve this issue was post a writing job on the University of Florida job board. The candidates who responded were good writers and really affordable. I hired a handful of them, until one rose to the top and replaced all the others. That writer is Ashley Lombardo, who I have since traveled the world with (this trip is what became the G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia - more on that later).
Not only did Ashley take over all writing duties, but in exchange for a raise I trained her to run the site by herself. It was this move that moved me closer to achieving The 4 Hour Workweek.

My story: becoming a digital nomad

I was still living in Florida at the time. And I not traveled “big” in years. As usual, I was looking for bigger and better things for my business. I had a big idea to source top quality, affordable talent from India. This would again allow me to take on more work.
It was time to go on an adventure.
Starting in January of 2015 I spent six weeks in India. Instead of making a number of superficial networking connections, I cultivated a strong business bond with just one individual. While this was not the original plan of the trip, this connection later proved to be another life changer.
During those six weeks, I had been speaking quite frequently on Facebook to a young lady from Thailand. We became very interested in each other over this time. So much so that soon enough I suggested the idea of me flying over to go on a date. She was receptive to the idea and told me to come on over. She and I dated for only a short time, but that is how I moved to Thailand.

Achieving The 4 Hour Workweek

Let’s now jump to the year 2016. By this time in my business career I had committed myself to one client. For $1200 a week I had location independence, consistent work and flexible hours. What I did not have too much of was free time.
As you could guess, that was something I wanted to change.
As an aside, this job was a Facebook moderation position offered by a former client. The the job essentially was for lead follow-up sales (interacting directly with people who commented on my client's Facebook ads). I bring this up only to illustrate a point to you that jobs can evolve organically over time as a freelancer.
Back to the story, the only person I could trust to help with this job was my connect back in India. I offered them the job and a doubling of their salary, which was 25% of my salary.
That was done in mid-2016. Since then I’ve achieved The 4 Hour Workweek. Sitting around would be boring, though, so I’ve been working my ass off on something new.
What have I been doing?
What I’m about to do is give a complete dissection of what I’ve been working on: Graduate & Live, a travel blog that promotes location independence. This will hopefully give you insight into making G&L and launching a business.
But before that, let me catch you up in the story.

Building a business

In late 2015, Ashley was finishing her last year of college. You remember her, right?
(The freelance writer running a website for me). I’ll come back to her in a moment, but first back to me.
I had an idea to create a guide to freelancing.
To be frank, even today I’ll admit I was not an expert freelancer. But what I did have then, as I do now, was the ability to share years of experience in a simple fashion. So I wrote the guide. And with the editing help of Ashley, it became a really useful resource. This was the product creation phase of what is now Graduate & Live.
But who the fuck was I and why would anyone care what I have to say about freelancing?
I’d need to develop a brand.
Years ago there was a TED Talks presentation discussing Apple’s marketing strategy. My mom shared the link with me. The point I took away from the video was this:
Apple would market the feeling their product would give to the customer.
Apple’s ads were artistic, fun and stylish. In their iconic iPod commercials we remember colorful people dancing, white earbuds dangling from their head and good music being supplied by the iPod. What we do not remember is Apple discussing technical specs of the iPod’s hard disk or anything like that. That’s because Apple didn’t discuss that in their ads.
This whole lesson taught me not to be like so many other digital nomads. Most competitors in this niche can’t articulate anything besides the benefit of location independence and how to achieve it.
All they really talk about is work, work, work. And who wants to listen to that? Sure, it can be exciting at first, but it gets boring quickly.
People become digital nomads not because they want to work, but because they want to travel and experience life.
Ashley and I discussed this and created Graduate & Live together. Following her graduation we would go on the G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia - experiencing culture throughout India, Thailand and Vietnam.
The goal was to create a travel blog that illustrated the experiences that could be had thanks to location independence, opposed to simply talking about the freedom of working online.
One quick little side note: Before graduating, I helped Ashley secure a job with the client I had her working for. It was a full-time, location independent position. After our trip was over she would go on to work for them.
Back to business… I had already created a product, a brand name and an idea for a website. Next I…
I envisioned who the customer would be for both the freelancing guide and the website.
Reminded by the saying that “if everyone’s your customer, then no one is,” I decided to focus on a niche or two:
  • Backpackers, who would like perpetual travel and
  • College students and graduates in need of work.
By April 2016, I had a product (The Modern Guide to Freelancing) and a brand (Graduate & Live), a website (graduateandlive.com) and an itinerary for travel.
From May to July of 2016, Ashley, my girlfriend (Aom) and I traveled. We had a great time that I highly recommend you read about later (bookmark this link so you can read it later).
Ashley took charge of creating content for the website. And I handled freelance work in order to fund the trip for the three of us (this was just before the Indian connect started working for me).
After two months of travel, Ashley had built an extensive travel journal and had taken a boatload of great pictures. Her journal and photos would go on to be the brand’s centerpiece for launch.
But before launching I’d have to develop the website and create a marketing plan.

How to build a website

I BUILT GRADUATEANDLIVE.COM WITHOUT KNOWING HOW TO CODE Check out the website so you can see what I'm talking about.
It takes skill to make good food, but anyone can cook.
Nowadays the same is true for webpage creation. Knowing how to code provides more freedom in building a website, but I’ve gotten by without knowing how to do it. And so could you.
Why anybody can build a website
Programmers have developed DIY website creators for normal people. Speaking in terms of difficulty, I’d say anyone who can use Microsoft Word can make their own website.
There are actual website creators like Wix, Squarespace and many others. There’s also what I use, premium WordPress themes.
To explain quickly:
WordPress is a website/blogging manager. At a click of a button or three you can add pages, images and all sorts of content to your website. WordPress is not exactly a self-explanatory software, but neither is Microsoft Word. It is, however, easy to get the grasp of, also like Word.
Website developers make WordPress themes, which are essentially website designs that overlay the WordPress software. Premium themes exist that come with a bunch of features, easy control and beautiful, niche specific designs (like for a restaurant, spa, or a gym website). The theme that G&L was built upon cost only $59 (a one-time fee). The theme, called BeTheme, is the best one I’ve ever used.
TIP: Bookmark themeforest.net That site and the whole Envato marketplace (which ThemeForest is a part of) just may change your work life.
As I’ve done and as many others can, you could go ahead and buy a theme, follow the instructions it comes with and make a website. It takes time to get accustomed to, but it’s not that hard.
Now, the above will give you a website, but will it give you a good one?
Let the learning begin because I’m about to drop some knowledge!
  1. Why do you or your client want a website? Every website should have a number one goal, i.e. get people to call the store, to make sales, to promote a video, to campaign for cause, etc. Until this question is answered, a website should not be worked on.
  2. A website needs to talk to the visitor. To say that in a less douchey way, you need to think of the website and its content as a form of communication. ----What is it that you want to say to the visitor? ----What messages should be prioritized? ----Is there an obvious organization that can be used to group these messages together? Think of this as the site map. What would be found in the site’s navigation menu? ----Remember you can communicate with words (text and audio) and visuals (site design, pictures/graphics and videos). ----Think about what you want to say and say what you mean.
  3. Where to find good content. Just like website themes can be bought, so can stock pictures, video and audio. These can help you if you need content for a website.
  4. First impression: the landing screen. Going back to #2, what is the number one message you want to communicate? The very first time someone goes to your website you only have a few seconds to convince them to stay.
  5. Quality control ----Go over your website in waves to find improvements and errors. ----Try getting a second pair of eyes to overlook everything. You can get a free 5-minute video review of your website at peek.usertesting.com. ----You can also check how your website will look on different screen sizes, phones and tablets at quirktools.com/screenfly. And before I get to #6, let me say I respect web designers and you should too. This is an art one could probably spend a lifetime trying to perfect. Needless to say, this guide is only sufficient in giving you the basics of making a good website. Ok, onto the #6.
  6. Arguably the most important of all of these: How in the fuck are you going to get people to visit your website? There’s many ways to procure visitors. There’s SEO, PPC advertising (Google, Facebook, YouTube and so many other places), traditional advertising, social media marketing, PR and countless options I can’t even think of.
What I’m going to do now is break down the Graduate & Live marketing plan to you, step-by-step.
Marketing Strategy Mind-Map
If you’ve actually made it this far, know that we are almost done. For shits and giggles, here’s a photo of what I’m looking at while writing these words. This is a view from my office complex here in Chiang Mai.
Okay let’s begin:

The G&L Marketing Plan

SEO keyword content creation

The goal of SEO is to get your website ranking near #1 on Google for a specific search query (keyword). The point of this is to get not only traffic to your website, but targeted (the right kind of) visitors to your site.
To do this you need to research what people are looking for. You can also learn how many people are making those searches and how easy or difficult it would be to rank for them.
TIP: Moz.com is a great, free resource to learn SEO basics.
What your keyword research essentially does is give you a list of topics to write about. If you write about them and follow basic SEO principles you can improve your chances of getting targeted visitors.
For Graduate & Live I have three keyword lists themed around:
  • “digital nomad”
  • “how to freelance”
  • “college jobs”

Link Building

When a website links to yours, Google treats this as an endorsement. The power of the "link juice" is weighted depending on the power of the site giving it to you (e.g. a link from CNN.com would have more influence than from a barely-visited blog).
Long story short, you want to get (good) links pointing to your website. Here’s my plan:
  • Press releases.
  • Blog outreach.
  • Directory submissions. Online directories exist that organize the websites of the web. You can submit your site to them and if it’s relevant they’ll accept you and link back to your website.
  • Children International (Children.org)
  • Children International is a charity I support and have a pretty good relationship with. Around the world I support nine kids, but in India there’s three that I’ve gotten the chance to meet. Ashley wrote a story about when she, Aom and I met them during The G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia. I’m going to reach out to Children International and see if they will link to the story.

Public Relations

I have two public relations goals. The first is simply to get links from websites covering my story. This should help with SEO. The second goal is to get media outlets to cover a story involving Graduate & Live. This will hopefully drive traffic directly to the site.

Press Released

A press release is a way the media receives news from outside sources. The actual press release is a specifically formatted one page document created by individuals or organizations trying to share a story.
Good press releases are distributed through paid services. I’ll be using PRWeb.com and selecting two of their packages: The $159 Standard service and the $369 Premium service.
Why two press releases?
The first and cheaper release will be used for SEO purposes. To take advantage of this opportunity, it’s important to include keywords in the release itself and in its title.
The second release will pitch a story that will hopefully be picked up by major media outlets. In theory this and the first goal could both be accomplished in one release. However, it’s easier for me creatively to separate them. An example story I may pitch is something like this geared towards parents: How a new generation is making a living while traveling the globe.
Beyond news release services, I have four PR strategies to pursue: Hometown news, University newspapers, National Geographic Traveler and Tim Ferris’s podcasts.

Hometown News

Maybe the local magazine, newspapers and new stations will cover a story involving a local person (me). So after grabbing their email addresses from their websites I will just go ahead and pitch them a story directly.

University Newspapers

College students are people I want to connect with. Wikipedia has a nationwide listing of university newspapers. I’ll pitch stories to each and every one of them and see what happens.
TIP: Email marketing. If you’ve just been paying attention, you just learned email marketing (but you should still learn the spam law).
Step 1) Find or create a list of people to target. Step 2) Email them.

National Geographic Traveler

It would be so cool to have a story mine published by Nat Geo. That’s reason enough to want to write for them. If I am lucky enough to write for them, it may also help build my brand. They even have a digital nomad section.
The trip I’m thinking of suggesting to them is “Survival in the jungle: exploring the wilderness with a Thai soldier.”

Tim Ferris's Podcast

Tim Ferris is author of The 4 Hour Workweek. His podcast gets a huge amount of listeners. Since I can be considered a success case of his, maybe he’d be interested in having me on. Via social media I hope to improve my odds, which I’ll talk about later.

Blog Outreach

This is simple, the first step here is the actual blog outreach. I’ll use Google to find blogs related to what I’m doing (travel blogs). Then I’ll check out the sites and sign up for their newsletters. If something interesting pops up, I’ll join in or start a conversation with the blogger. If at some point it feels right I can let them know about my website and hopefully they’d choose to link to it one day.
The second step is to look for and enter blog contests. Hopefully I’ll win and get new viewers and links.
The third and last step would be to join in any relevant forums/message boards. For me that would be digitalnomadsforum.com and nomadforum.io.

Social Media

That brings us to the last step of the marketing plan and the last part of this blog post: social media.
The G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia produced a lot of great content. I have an abundance of really nice travel videos, stories and pictures. A good way to make use of these is to share them on the proper social media channels.

Instagram

Branding your account Artistically, my goal is to make a unique and entertaining Instagram account. A$AP Rocky is someone I look to for inspiration here. You can see his account here. See how the row and sections (row groupings) take priority over any individual picture? Stylistically I plan to copy this approach.
Adding quality content I’m so excited to launch the IG profile because it will give me a chance to share some unique content. Using a website called Magisto I’ve created 15 awesome music videos using travel footage.
Sticking to A$AP Rocky’s IG style, I am going to use the videos to tell a story of traveling through Asia. Actually, I've already designed the IG gallery and have enough content to post every day for about three months. It's a really great account I think. Here is the link if you want to follow along.
Getting Followers And lastly, I’ll follow people who liked images of certain hashtags. I’ll be doing this because following people is maybe the best way to get followed yourself.

Imgur

This image sharing site is great for getting images to go viral. In the past I’ve gotten tens of thousands of views from just a handful of galleries and individual images that I have posted.
As part of the G&L marketing strategy, I’ll publish about 100 posts to Imgur. I actually already have a spreadsheet made detailing the post titles and image(s) to use. These aren’t just any old images either; these are the top 3% from over 7000 travel pictures.
In these posts I’ll include a link to my website with a call to action, like “if you want to see more travel stuff then check out my website, graduateandlive.com.” Honestly I don’t know if Imgur users will even click through, but at worst it will be cool to see that hundreds of thousands or millions of people have seen my posts.

Reddit

Reddit is my favorite website and the best place I know of for things to go viral. The most important thing here is to follow Reddiquette and the rules of individual sub-reddits.
What I’ll be doing on Reddit is posting the same content as on Imgur, but without a link to my website and without a call to action, as those are against the rules here. Hopefully other Redditors will take interest and spark up natural conversation of what I’m doing in the comment section. This would then then allow me to share my info with them.
On Reddit it’s key to find sub-reddits that suit you. I’m mainly going to share with travel, digitalnomad, solotravel and pics. Although there are two posts I hope to make on other sub-reddits.
GetMotivated The goal here is to motivate people with a story of mine. This really has nothing to do with G&L, but it would be cool if people get motivated. Plus it may help me get more known on Reddit.
IAmA This is the ask me anything sub-reddit. I hope to post a “IAmA (I am a …) 4 Hour Workweek success story, AMA (ask me anything)”. If it gains some traction, maybe that could help get me onto Tim Ferris’s podcast.
TIP: Stick to social media platforms you’re familiar with. I’ve never been a Twitter person, so even though it’s a large platform I’m going to avoid it.

Youtube

Using clips from the trip, I've created a mini-travel series. Most of the videos are long by Youtube standards. And to be quite frank, it's asking a lot from a first-time viewer to invest more than a few minutes in a video, so to address this I've created trailer that's less than a minute long.

Facebook

Facebook will be the place where people I actually know follow me. Maybe this will prove to be helpful in spreading the content (through likes and shares).
I’ll be treating FB as a social media headquarters for G&L. In order to tell a story (of G&L, the trip to Asia, and working online), some unique content will be created for this platform. Otherwise the FB page will be used to share content created for the website and other social media sites.
Off the actual page, one method of gaining likes is by joining other communities and conversations. So I’ll look out for travel pages and interact with them way makes sense.
That’s a wrap for the marketing plan.
And that’s it for this guide too. I’d obviously love it if you bookmarked Graduate & Live, follow the Instagram account (@GraduateAndLive), like the G&L Facebook page and subscribe to my Youtube channel. Sharing is caring, so if you see something you like, please share it.
If you are interested in freelancing and really want to up your odds at success, I'll be giving away 7 review copies of the Modern Guide to Freelancing. Ask for a review copy in the comments.
Until next time, Astabooty
submitted by astabooty to digitalnomad [link] [comments]

How to be a digital nomad: Astabooty’s technique

TLDR; I'm a digital nomad who's achieved the 4-Hour Workweek. I've lived across Thailand for the last two years. And in this post I'll share:
And just to be transparent, affiliate links are used in this post. So if that bothers you for whatever reason, navigate to external websites manually.

Being a digital nomad is not a career path, it is a lifestyle.

If you’re looking to become a digital nomad, then surely you already love to travel. What you need to focus on is seeking a job that can be performed from anywhere. You’re most likely to find such a job on the internet.

Location independent jobs

You want a job that can be done from anywhere, and the digital world, like the real one, has many fields of work.
Let me list some potential moneymakers:

My Story

What kind of computer skills did I need?

Since elementary school I was heavy into computers and video games. I was the kind of kid who would come home every day and spend hours at a time on the internet.
But other than a basic programming class in 10th grade and a MS Office class in university, I had no more of a formal tech education than the average kid of modern generations.
In 2008 I graduated with a degree in history. I didn’t exactly choose a moneymaker of a major, or so you’d think, but it would prove useful for a career in freelancing (back to that later).
Like many recent graduates I faced unemployment and the prospect of working minimum wage (which I did for about four years).
For that last year, though, my friend got me a job managing a local store's e-commerce website. In that year I learned the basics of how to operate a CMS (content management system, like WordPress) and of Photoshop.

Time to travel

In those years following graduation I wasn’t happy with the direction in which I was heading.
I needed to break away and go on an adventure.
I decided to go on an adventure across Asia:
A lesson learned as a backpacker
Like countless other backpackers, the trip was an illuminating experience.
It taught me what I wanted in life, but I found myself no closer to knowing how to achieve it. So I came back home and got a job as a waiter.

Lesson 1 in becoming a digital nomad

SECURE A STEADY SOURCE OF INCOME Whether it’s as a waiter or a bartender. Whether it’s a high-paying or minimum wage job, secure a steady source of income.
(More money-talk coming soon.)

Lesson 2 in becoming a digital nomad

CHOOSE A PATH TO LOCATION INDEPENDENCE This means choosing a location independent career that will suit you. Start working on or towards that career in your free time (as soon as possible).

A Recommended path to location independence

Allow me to suggest a route to becoming a location independent digital nomad: FREElancing.
Freelancing has to be one of the most accessible and broadest fields of online work. There are downsides to it like everything, but it’s also one of the quickest ways to make location independent money.
What is freelancing?
Simply a different method of getting hired. Instead of part-time or full-time work, it’s work on a per project basis. Freelancing is bad in terms of relying on consistent pay. And it is good for those opposed to commitment. Potential jobs can be found in all of these fields according to Upwork.

How I earned my way to becoming a digital nomad

Elance, which has become Upwork, was where I began freelancing. In my first week I won a simply job. All I had to do was perform a face swap on some family photos. For less than an hour’s work I made $15 or $25.
The next week I won a $1200 job. An agency in Argentina hired me to build their website.
I did that without even knowing how to code. Nowadays you don’t need to know programming to make a website. I’ll get into that later.
After these two jobs I went on to have a successful freelancing career, going through highs and lows that can be expected with freelancing.

What 3 factors contributed to my success?

I was born in the personal computer and internet generation. This means I’m better with computers than the average member of older generations (a large group that hires freelancers). And it makes it easier for me to learn new computer skills.
Being born in America made me a native English speaker, which provides a big advantage over foreign competitors. And having grown up in America it allowed me to know the type of customer service those hiring me (other Westerners) would expect.
My education was important because it gave me skills people would pay for. Learning history taught me how to write, how to do research and how to be organized. My previously mentioned computer job provided me with an education too. Because of it I’m comfortable with using Photoshop and content management systems (which would be very useful when learning WordPress).

What you should do now.

Go to Upwork.com, browse their job categories and job boards and see where you will fit in.

Become a better you.

Lynda.com is home to amazing tutorials that teach work and computer skills . Seriously, the teachers over there are awesome. The site even has career tracks, which are essentially playlists of tutorials. These career tracks will fulfill the skills needed to work in various positions.
You may actually have free access to Lynda through your university. If not, you can grab a free 10 day trial here. See if it will help you.
Monthly plans start at $25 (I pay $37.50 for premium membership, which comes with exercise files).
I cannot speak highly enough of Lynda.com, but they’re not the only option for learning. YouTube has so many great, free tutorials. And I’ve heard Code Academy is the place to go to learn how to, you guessed it, code.

Lesson 3 in becoming a digital nomad

MONEY By this time in the guide you should already have a steady source of income and the path to location independence. What you need to do now is get your money right.
What to do:
  1. Get health insurance if you don’t have it (my fellow Americans) because medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in America.
  2. Work on eliminating or managing any debt you have.
  3. Build an emergency fund, which you can define as X months of savings in case the world decides to fuck you in the ass. personalfinance is a helpful community.

Lesson 4 in becoming a digital nomad

TRANSITION FROM A CATERPILLAR TO A BEAUTIFUL DIGITAL NOMAD
Before you can become a digital nomad you have to finish getting your money right.
Ask yourself this: Is your location independent work paying enough to sustain a monthly travel budget?
The decision is up to you, but practice patience. I’d suggest waiting to pull the trigger on traveling if going prematurely would put you in a precarious position. And no one wants to find themselves in a precarious position after coming prematurely. (clears throat)
Once you are confident in your finances, start planning your trip or your move. My only tip here would be to make sure you have the ability to work where you go (I’m mainly referring to good Internet).
*Nomadlist is supposedly a useful resource for nomads looking to research destinations.
Other travel sites and resources I recommend are:

CONGRATULATIONS!

By this point you have become a digital nomad.

But we’re not done. Since this is the astabooty method I need to keep on teaching. Keep reading to learn:

How to excel as a freelancer

Let’s make it clear, as a freelancer you are not just a designer, business analyst, writer or what have you. As a freelancer, you are also a business person.
And as a freelancer it can be argued that your most important task is to win jobs.
Once a job is won, your interactions with the customer are as important as the actual work you provide. It can also be argued that the human element of your project is more important in terms of getting repeat customers than the technical elements.
Long story short, put yourselves in the shoes of your (potential) customers and think about how you can serve them well.
TIP: Your success as a freelancer is dependent on your profile and review scores. If you provide a good service/product and good customer service, you will do well (YOU MUST DEMONSTRATE THE QUALITY OF YOUR WORK WITH A PORTFOLIO).

Making more money as a freelancer (part 1)

  1. You’ll be able to make more money as you become more efficient, which will come with experience.
  2. Also with experience, you will come to know what types of jobs and clients pay more.
  3. Knowledge is power. You can make yourself more valuable by: i. Learning how to market yourself better. ii. Learning new technical skills: ----a) For instance, most college students/graduates have the ability to write research papers. This is a skill that translates well to working online (getting hired to write blog articles or other written content). That’s a useful skill, as it can translate to $.10-$.15 / word at minimum. This skill can be built upon and made more valuable by learning the basics of: --------SEO (onsite search engine optimization, in this specific case for writers). --------email marketing. --------press releases. --------sales copy (basically, the text you see in a print or image ad). ----b) With just a couple of weeks of learning (on Lynda or elsewhere), a good writer could become a competent (and more valuable) internet marketer. These people could also make such transformations: --------business and accounting students/graduates. --------software programmers. --------web designers. --------graphic artists. --------video makers. --------sound engineers. --------and I bet many others that I cannot think of.

Where to find work

Upwork.com
Upwork.com has a pretty shitty reputation. Many freelancers believe customers there are cheap and unpleasant to work with. Freelancers also criticize Upwork for taking a large cut out of their earnings. So why do I recommend Upwork?
  1. There is money to be made there because there are good clients. The filtering tool (when browsing through job postings) is your friend. Learned, use it, find good paying jobs. Good luck.
  2. I think of Upwork.com as a lower-level league like as seen in professional soccer. It is a great learning ground where you can develop your skills - skills that translate very well in other arenas. When you’re ready to venture outside of Upwork, you’ll be prepared to actively seek clients online and in the real world.

My story as a freelancer

My first two jobs as a freelancer were a face swap using Photoshop and making a website with WordPress (this I'll teach you soon). Back then I was chasing any job that I was capable of doing. Since the portfolio and a five star review score are so important to getting hired, I would offer extremely discounted prices to potential customers. This is something I did until I had built up a decent portfolio and review score.
By that time I wanted to make more money. I saw that website projects were bringing in more money for me than graphic design ones, so I decided to focus my attention there.
At the time I could already make a visually appealing website using WordPress themes and stock photos, but I still had lots to learn.
On Lynda I took courses on typography (learning how to choose the right fonts and text styling on websites and in graphics), content writing and SEO fundamentals. These were skills that made me a more valuable employee for clients.
What I’m about to say may seem to conflict with what was just said, but bear with me.
Even as my skills continued to improve as a web designer, I felt like I was trying to play catch up against other freelancers, many of which would work for lower prices.
I could have continued on the path I was on, but I decided to pivot and go in a different direction.

How to transition from a freelancer to having your own agency (part 1)

In a moment of self-awareness I realized that however good I was, there were better and cheaper web designers out there. But I still believed I held an advantage over them when it came to winning jobs and providing good customer service.
So what did I do?
I decided to start getting freelancers to work on the projects I had won. My client would pay me X and I would pay a % of that to the freelancer.
That means that after the job was won, I'd act as a project manager.
During this period of my career provided me with many obstacles, beecause it was during this time that I was learning how to act as a manager.
So yes, there were difficulties, but they were worth it. By taking on this new role and acting as an agency, I was allowed to scale my business by being able to take on more work.

Advice on hiring freelancers

To be frank, I’ve learned that I’m not a very good manager. At least not a good micro-manager, which is needed more times than not with the freelancers I’ve hired.
I’ve only had two successful hires, but they were life-changing. The reason these hires worked is because I was lucky enough to hire two very proud and self-sufficient people - the type of people who can take direction and run with it independently.
So with that out of the way I’ll share more of the story and offer some advice.
When I started hiring freelancers, I was only working with two types of professionals: graphic artists and web developers. The professionals I was hiring were South Asians (Pakistanis, Indians and Sri Lankans) hired off of Elance.
NOTE: To hire Indians are not?
India has a somewhat deserved bad reputation with outsourcing. This bad reputation usually comes from issues with communication and customer service standards.
There are a lot of shit Indian freelancers out there. But that’s because there are a lot of Indians . It’s just a numbers thing. On the other end of the spectrum, India has amazing agencies and individuals available for bargain prices. It’s up to you to decide if you want to a) bridge the cultural divide and b) sift through the bulk to find the gold.
TIP: A great, cheap country to hire from.
The Philippines! Native English speakers in many cases and great non-native speakers in other cases. Super affordable prices: 3 to 6 dollars an hour for a well trained professional. Talented and warmhearted people. Onlinejobs.ph is the best Filipino job board I know of.
TIP: Negotiating prices with foreign workers.
The best way I know how to negotiate when hiring is to:
  1. Gain knowledge of prices by shopping around and
  2. Have candidates compete against one another on their prices.
I believe in finding a balance, though. Negotiating prices with a foreigner is a mental battle of sorts:
Will we set the price at my country’s standard, yours or somewhere in between?
I think a fair standard is starting right in the middle and then moving either way within 20 percentage points. This way it is not too extreme in either direction.

How to transition from a freelancer to having your own agency (part 2)

A client hired me to not only build them six new websites, but to write content for them as well. Because it was an important job, I did all the work myself. And luckily, the client proceeded to hire me for a long-term position.
This goes to show the value of writing in the world of freelancing.
The job was to build and maintain a blog – I’d have to produce fresh content every week. The pay was great, but the project ate up much of my time (I was not yet outsourcing any work on this project). Like most digital nomads, I cherish free time, so the work situation wasn’t ideal for me.
Freelance college students
What I did to resolve this issue was post a writing job on the University of Florida job board. The candidates who responded were good writers and really affordable. I hired a handful of them, until one rose to the top and replaced all the others. That writer is Ashley Lombardo, who I have since traveled the world with (this trip is what became the G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia - more on that later).
Not only did Ashley take over all writing duties, but in exchange for a raise I trained her to run the site by herself. It was this move that moved me closer to achieving The 4 Hour Workweek.

My story: becoming a digital nomad

I was still living in Florida at the time. And I not traveled “big” in years. As usual, I was looking for bigger and better things for my business. I had a big idea to source top quality, affordable talent from India. This would again allow me to take on more work.
It was time to go on an adventure.
Starting in January of 2015 I spent six weeks in India. Instead of making a number of superficial networking connections, I cultivated a strong business bond with just one individual. While this was not the original plan of the trip, this connection later proved to be another life changer.
During those six weeks, I had been speaking quite frequently on Facebook to a young lady from Thailand. We became very interested in each other over this time. So much so that soon enough I suggested the idea of me flying over to go on a date. She was receptive to the idea and told me to come on over. She and I dated for only a short time, but that is how I moved to Thailand.

Achieving The 4 Hour Workweek

Let’s now jump to the year 2016. By this time in my business career I had committed myself to one client. For $1200 a week I had location independence, consistent work and flexible hours. What I did not have too much of was free time.
As you could guess, that was something I wanted to change.
As an aside, this job was a Facebook moderation position offered by a former client. The the job essentially was for lead follow-up sales (interacting directly with people who commented on my client's Facebook ads). I bring this up only to illustrate a point to you that jobs can evolve organically over time as a freelancer.
Back to the story, the only person I could trust to help with this job was my connect back in India. I offered them the job and a doubling of their salary, which was 25% of my salary.
That was done in mid-2016. Since then I’ve achieved The 4 Hour Workweek. Sitting around would be boring, though, so I’ve been working my ass off on something new.
What have I been doing?
What I’m about to do is give a complete dissection of what I’ve been working on: Graduate & Live, a travel blog that promotes location independence. This will hopefully give you insight into making G&L and launching a business.
But before that, let me catch you up in the story.

Building a business

In late 2015, Ashley was finishing her last year of college. You remember her, right?
(The freelance writer running a website for me). I’ll come back to her in a moment, but first back to me.
I had an idea to create a guide to freelancing.
To be frank, even today I’ll admit I was not an expert freelancer. But what I did have then, as I do now, was the ability to share years of experience in a simple fashion. So I wrote the guide. And with the editing help of Ashley, it became a really useful resource. This was the product creation phase of what is now Graduate & Live.
But who the fuck was I and why would anyone care what I have to say about freelancing?
I’d need to develop a brand.
Years ago there was a TED Talks presentation discussing Apple’s marketing strategy. My mom shared the link with me. The point I took away from the video was this:
Apple would market the feeling their product would give to the customer.
Apple’s ads were artistic, fun and stylish. In their iconic iPod commercials we remember colorful people dancing, white earbuds dangling from their head and good music being supplied by the iPod. What we do not remember is Apple discussing technical specs of the iPod’s hard disk or anything like that. That’s because Apple didn’t discuss that in their ads.
This whole lesson taught me not to be like so many other digital nomads. Most competitors in this niche can’t articulate anything besides the benefit of location independence and how to achieve it.
All they really talk about is work, work, work. And who wants to listen to that? Sure, it can be exciting at first, but it gets boring quickly.
People become digital nomads not because they want to work, but because they want to travel and experience life.
Ashley and I discussed this and created Graduate & Live together. Following her graduation we would go on the G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia - experiencing culture throughout India, Thailand and Vietnam.
The goal was to create a travel blog that illustrated the experiences that could be had thanks to location independence, opposed to simply talking about the freedom of working online.
One quick little side note: Before graduating, I helped Ashley secure a job with the client I had her working for. It was a full-time, location independent position. After our trip was over she would go on to work for them.
Back to business… I had already created a product, a brand name and an idea for a website. Next I…
I envisioned who the customer would be for both the freelancing guide and the website.
Reminded by the saying that “if everyone’s your customer, then no one is,” I decided to focus on a niche or two:
  • Backpackers, who would like perpetual travel and
  • College students and graduates in need of work.
By April 2016, I had a product (The Modern Guide to Freelancing) and a brand (Graduate & Live), a website (graduateandlive.com) and an itinerary for travel.
From May to July of 2016, Ashley, my girlfriend (Aom) and I traveled. We had a great time that I highly recommend you read about later (bookmark this link so you can read it later).
Ashley took charge of creating content for the website. And I handled freelance work in order to fund the trip for the three of us (this was just before the Indian connect started working for me).
After two months of travel, Ashley had built an extensive travel journal and had taken a boatload of great pictures. Her journal and photos would go on to be the brand’s centerpiece for launch.
But before launching I’d have to develop the website and create a marketing plan.

How to build a website

I BUILT GRADUATEANDLIVE.COM WITHOUT KNOWING HOW TO CODE Check out the website so you can see what I'm talking about.
It takes skill to make good food, but anyone can cook.
Nowadays the same is true for webpage creation. Knowing how to code provides more freedom in building a website, but I’ve gotten by without knowing how to do it. And so could you.
Why anybody can build a website
Programmers have developed DIY website creators for normal people. Speaking in terms of difficulty, I’d say anyone who can use Microsoft Word can make their own website.
There are actual website creators like Wix, Squarespace and many others. There’s also what I use, premium WordPress themes.
To explain quickly:
WordPress is a website/blogging manager. At a click of a button or three you can add pages, images and all sorts of content to your website. WordPress is not exactly a self-explanatory software, but neither is Microsoft Word. It is, however, easy to get the grasp of, also like Word.
Website developers make WordPress themes, which are essentially website designs that overlay the WordPress software. Premium themes exist that come with a bunch of features, easy control and beautiful, niche specific designs (like for a restaurant, spa, or a gym website). The theme that G&L was built upon cost only $59 (a one-time fee). The theme, called BeTheme, is the best one I’ve ever used.
TIP: Bookmark themeforest.net That site and the whole Envato marketplace (which ThemeForest is a part of) just may change your work life.
As I’ve done and as many others can, you could go ahead and buy a theme, follow the instructions it comes with and make a website. It takes time to get accustomed to, but it’s not that hard.
Now, the above will give you a website, but will it give you a good one?
Let the learning begin because I’m about to drop some knowledge!
  1. Why do you or your client want a website? Every website should have a number one goal, i.e. get people to call the store, to make sales, to promote a video, to campaign for cause, etc. Until this question is answered, a website should not be worked on.
  2. A website needs to talk to the visitor. To say that in a less douchey way, you need to think of the website and its content as a form of communication. ----What is it that you want to say to the visitor? ----What messages should be prioritized? ----Is there an obvious organization that can be used to group these messages together? Think of this as the site map. What would be found in the site’s navigation menu? ----Remember you can communicate with words (text and audio) and visuals (site design, pictures/graphics and videos). ----Think about what you want to say and say what you mean.
  3. Where to find good content. Just like website themes can be bought, so can stock pictures, video and audio. These can help you if you need content for a website.
  4. First impression: the landing screen. Going back to #2, what is the number one message you want to communicate? The very first time someone goes to your website you only have a few seconds to convince them to stay.
  5. Quality control ----Go over your website in waves to find improvements and errors. ----Try getting a second pair of eyes to overlook everything. You can get a free 5-minute video review of your website at peek.usertesting.com. ----You can also check how your website will look on different screen sizes, phones and tablets at quirktools.com/screenfly. And before I get to #6, let me say I respect web designers and you should too. This is an art one could probably spend a lifetime trying to perfect. Needless to say, this guide is only sufficient in giving you the basics of making a good website. Ok, onto the #6.
  6. Arguably the most important of all of these: How in the fuck are you going to get people to visit your website? There’s many ways to procure visitors. There’s SEO, PPC advertising (Google, Facebook, YouTube and so many other places), traditional advertising, social media marketing, PR and countless options I can’t even think of.
What I’m going to do now is break down the Graduate & Live marketing plan to you, step-by-step.
Marketing Strategy Mind-Map
If you’ve actually made it this far, know that we are almost done. For shits and giggles, here’s a photo of what I’m looking at while writing these words. This is a view from my office complex here in Chiang Mai.
Okay let’s begin:

The G&L Marketing Plan

SEO keyword content creation

The goal of SEO is to get your website ranking near #1 on Google for a specific search query (keyword). The point of this is to get not only traffic to your website, but targeted (the right kind of) visitors to your site.
To do this you need to research what people are looking for. You can also learn how many people are making those searches and how easy or difficult it would be to rank for them.
TIP: Moz.com is a great, free resource to learn SEO basics.
What your keyword research essentially does is give you a list of topics to write about. If you write about them and follow basic SEO principles you can improve your chances of getting targeted visitors.
For Graduate & Live I have three keyword lists themed around:
  • “digital nomad”
  • “how to freelance”
  • “college jobs”

Link Building

When a website links to yours, Google treats this as an endorsement. The power of the "link juice" is weighted depending on the power of the site giving it to you (e.g. a link from CNN.com would have more influence than from a barely-visited blog).
Long story short, you want to get (good) links pointing to your website. Here’s my plan:
  • Press releases.
  • Blog outreach.
  • Directory submissions. Online directories exist that organize the websites of the web. You can submit your site to them and if it’s relevant they’ll accept you and link back to your website.
  • Children International (Children.org)
  • Children International is a charity I support and have a pretty good relationship with. Around the world I support nine kids, but in India there’s three that I’ve gotten the chance to meet. Ashley wrote a story about when she, Aom and I met them during The G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia. I’m going to reach out to Children International and see if they will link to the story.

Public Relations

I have two public relations goals. The first is simply to get links from websites covering my story. This should help with SEO. The second goal is to get media outlets to cover a story involving Graduate & Live. This will hopefully drive traffic directly to the site.

Press Released

A press release is a way the media receives news from outside sources. The actual press release is a specifically formatted one page document created by individuals or organizations trying to share a story.
Good press releases are distributed through paid services. I’ll be using PRWeb.com and selecting two of their packages: The $159 Standard service and the $369 Premium service.
Why two press releases?
The first and cheaper release will be used for SEO purposes. To take advantage of this opportunity, it’s important to include keywords in the release itself and in its title.
The second release will pitch a story that will hopefully be picked up by major media outlets. In theory this and the first goal could both be accomplished in one release. However, it’s easier for me creatively to separate them. An example story I may pitch is something like this geared towards parents: How a new generation is making a living while traveling the globe.
Beyond news release services, I have four PR strategies to pursue: Hometown news, University newspapers, National Geographic Traveler and Tim Ferris’s podcasts.

Hometown News

Maybe the local magazine, newspapers and new stations will cover a story involving a local person (me). So after grabbing their email addresses from their websites I will just go ahead and pitch them a story directly.

University Newspapers

College students are people I want to connect with. Wikipedia has a nationwide listing of university newspapers. I’ll pitch stories to each and every one of them and see what happens.
TIP: Email marketing. If you’ve just been paying attention, you just learned email marketing (but you should still learn the spam law).
Step 1) Find or create a list of people to target. Step 2) Email them.

National Geographic Traveler

It would be so cool to have a story mine published by Nat Geo. That’s reason enough to want to write for them. If I am lucky enough to write for them, it may also help build my brand. They even have a digital nomad section.
The trip I’m thinking of suggesting to them is “Survival in the jungle: exploring the wilderness with a Thai soldier.”

Tim Ferris's Podcast

Tim Ferris is author of The 4 Hour Workweek. His podcast gets a huge amount of listeners. Since I can be considered a success case of his, maybe he’d be interested in having me on. Via social media I hope to improve my odds, which I’ll talk about later.

Blog Outreach

This is simple, the first step here is the actual blog outreach. I’ll use Google to find blogs related to what I’m doing (travel blogs). Then I’ll check out the sites and sign up for their newsletters. If something interesting pops up, I’ll join in or start a conversation with the blogger. If at some point it feels right I can let them know about my website and hopefully they’d choose to link to it one day.
The second step is to look for and enter blog contests. Hopefully I’ll win and get new viewers and links.
The third and last step would be to join in any relevant forums/message boards. For me that would be digitalnomadsforum.com and nomadforum.io.

Social Media

That brings us to the last step of the marketing plan and the last part of this blog post: social media.
The G&L 2016 Summer Tour of Asia produced a lot of great content. I have an abundance of really nice travel videos, stories and pictures. A good way to make use of these is to share them on the proper social media channels.

Instagram

Branding your account Artistically, my goal is to make a unique and entertaining Instagram account. A$AP Rocky is someone I look to for inspiration here. You can see his account here. See how the row and sections (row groupings) take priority over any individual picture? Stylistically I plan to copy this approach.
Adding quality content I’m so excited to launch the IG profile because it will give me a chance to share some unique content. Using a website called Magisto I’ve created 15 awesome music videos using travel footage.
Sticking to A$AP Rocky’s IG style, I am going to use the videos to tell a story of traveling through Asia. Actually, I've already designed the IG gallery and have enough content to post every day for about three months. It's a really great account I think. Here is the link if you want to follow along.
Getting Followers And lastly, I’ll follow people who liked images of certain hashtags. I’ll be doing this because following people is maybe the best way to get followed yourself.

Imgur

This image sharing site is great for getting images to go viral. In the past I’ve gotten tens of thousands of views from just a handful of galleries and individual images that I have posted.
As part of the G&L marketing strategy, I’ll publish about 100 posts to Imgur. I actually already have a spreadsheet made detailing the post titles and image(s) to use. These aren’t just any old images either; these are the top 3% from over 7000 travel pictures.
In these posts I’ll include a link to my website with a call to action, like “if you want to see more travel stuff then check out my website, graduateandlive.com.” Honestly I don’t know if Imgur users will even click through, but at worst it will be cool to see that hundreds of thousands or millions of people have seen my posts.

Reddit

Reddit is my favorite website and the best place I know of for things to go viral. The most important thing here is to follow Reddiquette and the rules of individual sub-reddits.
What I’ll be doing on Reddit is posting the same content as on Imgur, but without a link to my website and without a call to action, as those are against the rules here. Hopefully other Redditors will take interest and spark up natural conversation of what I’m doing in the comment section. This would then then allow me to share my info with them.
On Reddit it’s key to find sub-reddits that suit you. I’m mainly going to share with travel, digitalnomad, solotravel and pics. Although there are two posts I hope to make on other sub-reddits.
GetMotivated The goal here is to motivate people with a story of mine. This really has nothing to do with G&L, but it would be cool if people get motivated. Plus it may help me get more known on Reddit.
IAmA This is the ask me anything sub-reddit. I hope to post a “IAmA (I am a …) 4 Hour Workweek success story, AMA (ask me anything)”. If it gains some traction, maybe that could help get me onto Tim Ferris’s podcast.
TIP: Stick to social media platforms you’re familiar with. I’ve never been a Twitter person, so even though it’s a large platform I’m going to avoid it.

Youtube

Using clips from the trip, I've created a mini-travel series. Most of the videos are long by Youtube standards. And to be quite frank, it's asking a lot from a first-time viewer to invest more than a few minutes in a video, so to address this I've created trailer that's less than a minute long.

Facebook

Facebook will be the place where people I actually know follow me. Maybe this will prove to be helpful in spreading the content (through likes and shares).
I’ll be treating FB as a social media headquarters for G&L. In order to tell a story (of G&L, the trip to Asia, and working online), some unique content will be created for this platform. Otherwise the FB page will be used to share content created for the website and other social media sites.
Off the actual page, one method of gaining likes is by joining other communities and conversations. So I’ll look out for travel pages and interact with them way makes sense.
That’s a wrap for the marketing plan.
And that’s it for this guide too. I’d obviously love it if you bookmarked Graduate & Live, follow the Instagram account (@GraduateAndLive), like the G&L Facebook page and subscribe to my Youtube channel. Sharing is caring, so if you see something you like, please share it.
If you are interested in freelancing and really want to up your odds at success, I'll be giving away 7 review copies of the Modern Guide to Freelancing. Ask for a review copy in the comments.
Until next time, Astabooty
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