153: Why Meaningful Work Automatically Attracts an Audience: Interview with Mark Frauenfelder

One of the biggest challenges any creative faces is what to make and who to make it for. How do you determine if an idea is a good fit for you, or if anyone will pay attention?

153: Why Meaningful Work Automatically Attracts an Audience: Interview with Mark Frauenfelder

Being a full-time writer doesn’t necessarily equate to writing “full-time”. I don’t sit at my desk for eight hours every week day and pound away at the keyboard writing books and blog posts. There’s a bit more complexity to running a successful blog, launching books, and operating a digital business.

However, and more importantly, I’m interested in more than just writing from both a professional and personal standpoint. I enjoy speaking, drinking great coffee (not from Starbucks), reading, making guacamole, singing karaoke, playing with my kids, and travel among other things.

But I don’t write about all of these topics because that would be confusing to even the most loyal reader.

So how do you decide what to pursue when you feel bombarded by ideas and a collage of interests?

This week on The Portfolio Life, our guest is a modern day polymath, and basically created the Internet as we know it today (at least in my book). He’s been involved in magazine publishing since the 80’s, served as the Editor in Chief of Wired.com, started a podcast network, unknowingly cofounded the Maker movement, and designed a Billy Idol album cover.

Listen in as Mark Frauenfelder and I discuss the theme of his creative pursuits, why he doesn’t work on anything that doesn’t pique a personal interest, and how he came to write a how-to book on card tricks.

Listen to the podcast

To listen to the show, click the player below (If you’re reading this via email, please click here).

Show highlights

In this episode, Mark and I discuss:

  • Starting a print ‘zine in the 80s
  • Getting recruited by Wired
  • Taking a ‘zine digital in the 90s
  • How his editor thought blogs weren’t going to be viable
  • Identifying the common thread through diverse experiences and interests
  • Avoiding being a jack-of-all-trades while embracing opportunities to explore
  • Dealing with the tension between daily life and a creative career
  • The origins of the Maker movement
  • Why some comics are unreadable
  • What artistic style he subscribes to

Quotes and takeaways

  • “Make sure you give yourself time to do deep work.” –Mark Frauenfelder
  • Pursue work that is personally meaningful to you and an audience.
  • Embrace new ideas you enjoy, but stay grounded to a common theme.

Try not to fall in love with your first idea.

Mark Frauenfelder

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Click here to download a free PDF of the complete interview transcript.

What is the theme of your creative work? How can you combine your interests to make something meaningful to others? Share in the comments.