The Orbit

The Orbit

By Connor Miller
An interview series with creative online entrepreneurs. Utilizing the tools available to them, these artists, musicians, videographers, and more aim to make a living for themselves on the internet. At "The Orbit", we sit down and get the scoop on their process, history, and goals in order to better understand the ever changing small business economy.
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Data Points & Schemas (Tools for Better Learning)
I'm always trying to think of ways to improve my information diet - one strategy is to classify my input as data points and schemas. This simply means differentiating between the various flavors of information that we encounter in books, movies, articles, and podcasts. If we see how information shapes our experience, I believe we can be smarter about how we choose to learn.
13:45
July 22, 2020
Emergent Social Systems in Response to COVID-19
People have been socializing on the internet for a long time - but how has it changed since we've been on lockdown? In this conversational vlog, I discuss the ways I connect with friends, and how others have found similar solutions organically. We'll touch on systems thinking, emergent phenomena, and why video conferencing sucks as I snack on Wheat Thins.
16:23
July 15, 2020
How I Learned to Code for Fun
I'm a hobby programmer - I like making tiny little web apps, cobbling together IoT devices, and investigating CTF challenges. I'm by no means a professional, but I do manage to find joy in learning new things. Code is everywhere, and I think that more people might give it a try if they knew where to start. This is an overview of how I got to where I am today, and what you can do if you're interested in joining me.
24:34
July 8, 2020
How Do I Build an Audience Online?
Finding your audience doesn't happen overnight - it takes sustained effort. In this video, we will discuss content consistency and its role in bringing in new fans and followers. Together, we'll find a process and pace that works for you and your online presence, so that people are motivated to see what you produce next.
12:48
June 25, 2020
What is Ambient Proximity?
Ambient proximity is a fancy way of saying "hanging out but not interacting." It's what you're doing when you study in a cafe. However, in the midst of COVID-19, is there a way for us to create this environment online? In this video, I talk about the benefits of ambient proximity and provide examples of how people are using it for their businesses and projects.
11:46
June 16, 2020
How Do I Pick Which Project to Pursue?
Sarah emailed me a question: "How do you balance being a multi-interested person?" Sarah wants to pursue music as a career, but also has business aspirations and a couple of other projects. How do you pick just one? In this video, I discuss choice paralysis, along with strategies for how to make a decision when you are overwhelmed with options. 
12:42
May 28, 2020
Interview 028 | Alyssum Quaglia
Alyssum brings the weird to the corporate world. As an industrial designer, she often has to communicate a feeling to a team, which is where her Pinterest boards come into play. They're an accumulation of images that Alyssum has collected for years, organized by various themes so that when she works on her next project, she knows exactly where to look for inspiration. In this interview, we discuss her process, her plan, and her passion for implementing art in the real world.   Alyssum's website: https://www.alyssum.design/  Her Pinterest boards:  https://www.pinterest.com/alyssumq/
37:25
May 16, 2020
The Quarantine Diaries
In which I share what I've been doing whilst at home.
15:23
May 12, 2020
Interview 027 | Melissa Blount
In quarantine, the problem isn't just teaching kids remotely - it's getting them access to a computer with internet. Melissa Blount works at a Title 1 middle school, and her job has shifted from being a librarian to being a social support hub for her students. COVID-19 swept the nation quickly, leaving schools with very little time to respond. Melissa and I examine what could have been done, and what mutual aid networks are doing to help.
34:02
April 11, 2020
Interview 026 | Salmonberry Goods
In the months before COVID-19 swept the United States, Salmonberry Goods supplied farm-fresh baked goods to cafes and markets across Seattle. Now their business looks a lot different - they've lost 90% of their wholesale market, had to close their cafes, and now are focused on delivering organic food items to folks at home. In this interview, we talk about what they're doing in uncharted waters, and the response in their community of small businesses and farmers.  You can order from Salmonberry Goods at:  https://www.salmonberrygoods.com/
26:09
April 5, 2020
Interview 025 | Elliott Cost
Elliott Cost makes unique, online experiences that foster a sense of community. Based in New York City, he recently launched a site called "special.fish", a slower-paced social media platform that feels like a collection of rich-text files masquerading as people. Each of his many projects have a simplistic surrealism that encourages the user to explore at their own pace - similar to how we poked through tumblr in the early 2010s. In this interview, we discuss his process, inspiration, and background in making websites using primarily html, css, and javascript.
38:10
March 25, 2020
Interview 024 | Marisa Dodd
Marisa loves Russian literature, so much that she is making her way towards becoming an expert. In this interview, we discuss which books to start with, how to make time to read, and what makes Russian literature so darn good. Marisa is also working on a podcast on the subject, so be sure to stay tuned for more!
37:32
February 17, 2020
Interview 023 | Megan Saxelby
Megan Saxelby has taught middle school for thirteen years and loved it. In this interview, she tells us that there is something wrong with how we think about teenagers, especially when it comes to offering them dignity. This concept, dignity, it what drives her own work as an advocate for people (young and old alike) to have the tools to manage their internal lives. Calling in from Austin, Texas, she tells us about how she is putting together pocket handbooks that we can fall back on in times of need. Check out more of her work at http://megansaxelby.com/.
38:23
February 10, 2020
Finds 005 | CultureBucket 2019
Everyone is a curator, which is why I ask my friends to send me their "Best of" lists every year for a blog called "CultureBucket". In this episode of Finds, Amira and I walk through our top media picks from 2019, thus to clarify our own processes for finding, gathering, and sharing our favorite things.
37:49
February 5, 2020
Finds 004 | Weird Internet
The internet is a lot less weird than it used to be... or is it? In this episode, Amira and I investigate the past, present, and future of apps and websites that exist seemingly for small-scale personal enjoyment. Including mini-games, alternate realities, directories and more, we try to gather some inspiration for creating new projects with quirkiness, personality, and authenticity.
40:38
January 31, 2020
Finds 003 | Sewing Communities Online
Amira loves to sew, and draws inspiration for various YouTube and Instagram channels. Connor, on the other hand, has no experience in this field whatsoever. So, in this episode of "Finds", Amira shares with us quality content from small businesses and bloggers who have a knack for making their own garments.
35:08
January 22, 2020
Interview 022 | Lillian Karabaic
Lillian Karabaic seems to do it all, but assures us that once we get to know her, it will all make sense. Mainly, she hosts a radio show about personal finance for millennials. Drawing from her background in data, statistics, taxes, and more, "Anomalily" makes sorting out your bank account more approachable with a can-do attitude and... well... cats. We discuss how she works and what her goals are for her business and community. (YouTube: https://youtube.com/anomalily/, Podcast: http://ohmydollar.com/tag/podcast/).
39:28
January 18, 2020
Finds 002 | Cannabis on the Internet
In this episode, Amira and I gathered a sampling of cannabis tools and media on the internet. With legalization steadily making its way across the United States, along with the continuous growth of the internet, we found that there are many opportunities to reshape the way we think about cannabis. From influencers to libraries to stuff to watch when you're stoned, toke up and tune in for this week's finds.
39:42
January 14, 2020
Interview 021 | Elliot Murphy
Elliot Murphy is interested in systems, group cognition, and statistics - all of which tie into his security work at Kindly Ops. In this interview, we discuss what the layperson needs to know about staying safe online, with an emphasis on what to do /when/ you get compromised, as opposed to pretending that you can wholly prevent it.
51:22
January 12, 2020
Interview 003 | Aaron Whitlatch
Conversationalist and playlist curator Aaron Whitlatch shares his thoughts on music, joining Twitter, and how in general technology's effects on social situations. As a co-host of the podcast "Talking About Talking About It", Connor and Aaron thought it best to try and cover as many topics as they could. 
54:41
January 12, 2020
Finds 001 | No Code
Crafter/coder Amira Hailemariam (@amirahaile) and I launch this season tackling no-code platforms, or tools that do the work of programming without looking like your typical programming language. 
48:34
January 8, 2020
Interview 020 | Sondre Rasch
Sondre Rasch is a digital nomad - originally from Oslo, Norway, he travels the world as he runs his company, SafetyWing, which provides travel medical insurance for folks who make a living on the internet. He is fascinated by the problems remote workers face, like the way they pick countries like products and how they will need a unique set of benefits that will support them wherever they are. In this interview, we touch on the core ideas behind his business, along with his predictions for the future of work. 
29:54
September 12, 2019
Interview 019 | Sahil Lavingia
Sahil Lavingia is the CEO and founder of an online selling platform called Gumroad. Sahil was 19 when he left Pinterest to start his own venture, and today his business allows creators to sell their products quickly and easily. Like many of Gumroad's users, Sahil is an artist (he writes and paints). Though his social circles are mostly tech entrepreneurs, his interests lie in creative pursuits and continuous learning. From San Francisco to Utah and now Los Angeles, Sahil is still in the thick of his journey, so we asked him about his overlapping lives in art and business. 
39:20
July 24, 2019
Interview 018 | Joann Miller
Joann Miller teaches Microsoft Office and other computer skills at an Adult School in the Bay Area. She also happens to be my mother. We talked about the challenges she faces as she tries to provide an affordable service to folks who need certification in order to do their job better. Sometimes it can be difficult to reach students, and other times navigating the public school system can be more complicated than expected. Together, we talk about what folks of all ages need to to in order to be marketable in the economy of tomorrow.
32:01
June 6, 2019
Interview 017 | Emily Griffin aka Daybrighten
Emily Griffin is an illustrator that does most of her networking on Twitter. Her secret? Being herself. Her art has been featured by Hellogiggles, Tumblr, Glitch, Marie Kondo, and more. With her knack for drawing cute digital comics that have the feel of watercolor, Emily doesn't know where her illustrations will take her next. For the time being, though, it has made her well known in tech circles both in and out of New York City.  For more info on Emily and her work, check out her website:  https://www.daybrighten.com/
33:48
May 27, 2019
interview 016 | Moji Igun
Moji runs Blule Daisi Consulting, which helps small businesses become more environmentally sustainable. Her venture has been live for six months, and she tells us that a lot of her work is education since some folks don't really know what it means to be "sustainable". Through networking, trash audits, and knowing exactly where your products come from and end up, Moji is inventing her career by focusing on a need that means a lot to her.
26:18
May 21, 2019
Interview 015 | Thomas Marnin & Skye Saylor (aka MarninSaylor)
MarninSaylor sell their handmade line of toys, Pastry Pets, in Seattle's famed Pike Place Market. Known for their impeccable retail theater, their rich brand identity, and of course the cutest toy you've ever seen, it is sometimes hard to picture how much work Thomas Marnin and Skye Saylor put into their small business. In this interview, we discuss manufacturing, outsourcing, world-building, and business strategy in order to understand the grittier side of what goes into making such a soft, delightful collection of toys. Intrigued? You can find their most recent shop updates on Instagram @MarninSaylor. 
33:42
May 16, 2019
Interview 014 | Cordero Core
Cordero Core is a jack of all trades. By day he's a computational chemist, and by night he's a baker, an MMA fighter, and an aspiring congressperson. In this interview, we ask him how he pursues his interests and why, in order to figure out how to market and manage ourselves as we navigate our own hobbies and hustles. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Cordero tells us his strategies, passions, and plans with enthusiasm and focus that is certain to inspire.
29:17
May 9, 2019
Interview 013 | Emily Lakehomer
Based in Portland, Oregon, Emily Lakehomer works a tech job by day and runs an Instagram vintage shop by night. Under the handle @shopfruitstand, Emily curates 60s & 70s styles with Western flair and ships them across the United States to paying customers. She manages to make her hobby profitable when she finds the time, and hopes one day to open a physical shop using what she learned on this venture. You can find her collections on Instagram, Depop, and Etsy.  
28:38
April 29, 2019
Interview 012 | Elias Higham
Elias Higham set out to pursue his dream of becoming a screenwriter in Los Angeles, and it hasn't been easy. However, through persistence and staying true to himself, he managed to work his way into the writer's room of an upcoming animated series. In this interview, we talk about the ins-and-outs of getting work in the entertainment industry as a writer, and what it means to Eli in terms of landing the right job.
37:05
April 21, 2019
Interview 011 | Abbey St. John
Abbey St. John (also known as "oatmeat" on Instagram) is an illustrator that is finishing up her degree at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Her drawing style is a bit cubist, really whimsical, and always changing. In this interview, we discuss what goes on at art school, the importance of mentors, and how she goes about each of her projects. 
32:15
April 15, 2019
Interview 010 | Lito Nicolai
This week, we're talking design, art, and reason with Lito Nicolai. As a programmer by day and an art boy by night,  Lito often puzzles over what makes things beautiful. This led him to become interested in the architect Christopher Alexander, who wrote several books that attempt to capture what makes buildings and spaces feel good. One of those books is "The Timeless Way of Building", which outlines a strategy for making things through an emotional argument. Lito combines his personal experience with his reading of Alexander's works to come up with a better understanding of the parts that make up a good piece of art.
25:11
April 13, 2019
Interview 009 | Marshall Steeves
Following his fascination with architecture, inside and out, Marshall Steeves specializes in design photography. Specifically, he is drawn to cafes in Portland, Oregon, which all have a unique pattern language that overlaps with web development trends. Garnering a following of over 7k on Instagram, Marshall's work captures the minimalist beauty of cities in parts. In this interview, we discuss his work and what his plans are as a younger creative looking to carve out a career somewhere in the mix of technology, design, and life. 
35:15
March 17, 2019
Interview 008 | Kevin Wright
Kevin Wright is the founder and captain of Wright Hand Twill, an online storefront with a focus on specialty denim. Kevin has a ton of experience in indigo dying, fabric production, and old-school jeans, and today he talked about what it is like retailing products from small, independent manufacturers. Using his extensive product knowledge and hands-on involvement with his customers, Kevin operates in a niche that very few are able to navigate well. 
26:22
March 15, 2019
Interview 007 | mis0happy aka Nina Nguyen
Nina is an illustrator (under the moniker "mis0happy") that has a knack for product design. Through her online store, she sells t-shirts, enamel pins, prints, washi-tape, and more featuring her own artwork. Though she features some art theft from time to time, she manages to travel North America to set up shop at festivals to sell merchandise to  her community. We talk process, inspiration, and social media in this interview.
28:44
March 7, 2019
Interview 006 | Pikarar aka Angela Nguyen
Pikarar draws doggos in hoodies, remixed Pikachus, and more. Currently she balances her side hustle and her day job, yet manages to travel across the country to various festivals to pop up shop and sell her merchandise. In this interview, she shares her history, challenges, and advice for folks trying to make money with their art.
28:49
March 4, 2019
Interview 005 | Jordan Clark
Jordan makes art tutorial videos on YouTube, a hobby that turned into a business that spans Instagram, Shopify, and Patreon. We talk about her challenges, what she enjoys about her work, and what others in her field can do to optimize their creativity. 
29:09
February 9, 2019
Interview 001 | Trevor Ford
An interview with Trevor Ford on the various subjects of shoes, startups, social media and vision. Herein lie some contradictory (and highly useful) viewpoints on staying positive, ‘making it’ in the world of New Media, and escaping the life of a Barista.
45:11
February 4, 2019
Interview 004 | Cheyenne Barton
Now that they have published their book "Sustainable Loops", Connor and Cheyenne talk creativity, the internet, and entrepreneurship. Cheyenne gained a following through Tumblr and YouTube which allowed her to pursue illustration full time in 2017. Together, they discuss the challenge of running a business by yourself.
27:51
January 28, 2019
Interview 002 | Laurel Schandelmier
Laurel and Connor have a dilemma: they love reading, but increasingly doubt its utility in the modern world. Everyone of us is overwhelmed by the amount of media available to us, specifically book recommendations. What if there was a bigger purpose to reading? To recommending a piece of literature? Does art fulfill a spiritual deficit or does it help us more acutely understand a complex world?
28:19
January 28, 2019