Featured Paul Jarvis

A Conversation with Paul Jarvis

How are you, Paul? How about starting this conversation with a little intro of yours?

Paul: Hey Darshan, I’m Paul Jarvis. I work at the intersection of creativity and commerce, which is really just a fancy way of saying I help folks who use their brains to make money. Currently, my main areas of work are: writing, podcasting, teaching courses and building software.

Who is Paul Jarvis

What got you into design in the first place?

Paul: To be honest, I stumbled into it. I was in university for Computer Science, but I hated it and wanted to quit. I didn’t want to leave without having a plan though, so it was dumb luck that an agency contacted me about some websites I had been creating while in school and asked if I could do similar sites for their clients (this was the mid-90s).

I figured being a web designer was better than being in school, so I dropped out and did that. I’ve always loved layout and typography, I just never figured I could make a living doing it. The internet changed that, which was good.

You write incredibly well and are very consistent with it, where does the energy comes from?

Paul: It’s actually not energy at all, it’s consistency. I don’t wait until I feel like writing or have the motivation or energy to write — I just sit down and write. That gives me a lot to choose from, so I can throw out the crappy parts (i.e. 90%) and what’s left is something worth publishing.

Paul and his Rat

Your email list – Sunday Dispatches is very popular amongst budding designers, marketers and creative folks alike. Not to mention, it’s my personal favorite as well. What made you start it in the first place?

Paul: Originally, I started it to get design clients. So, I was writing mostly about how to find web designers and how to work with them. Over time, as I stopped doing client work, the focus shifted to much broader. I kept consistent with it, and emailed every Sunday, which I think helped with the growth a lot.

How has the response been from your readers? Do you remember of any memorable and funny incidents in particular?

Paul: I get both a massive amount of praise and criticism. People either love my writing or hate it, and both works for me. The people that hate it would never buy anything from me (and they tend to be awful people who hate puppies and smiling) so I’d rather not pay for them as subscribers.

There are people that print out my emails and put them on their fridge and then there are people that take to social media to threaten me. Which I find totally silly – I’m not writing about politics or religion, I’m writing about creativity and business…

Paul in his Garden

In one article, you talked about finding and knowing your rat people, what’s the impact it has on an individual’s personal growth?

Paul: I think every creative person needs to find their right audience. Even if it’s a small audience (for example, people that love pet rats). Once you find those people, you can pay attention to them, what they want and need, and then start to be in service of them with products and client work.

Failures are always disheartening, job rejections make you question your credibility as a professional. How do you recommend handling it?

Paul: Unless it’s an embarrassing death, it’s not the end of the world. And if your failure results in dying in some asinine way, you aren’t there to be embarrassed. Any failure leaves with you the ability to try again, or try something new.

Unless you fall of the toilet and die, totally naked, while picking lint from your belly button (one of many embarrassing ways to die) – and it’s somehow televised on YouTube.

I (and I’m sure many others too) become very impatient when clients take too much of time to get back to me on something or keep me waiting, which in turn delays/breaks my creative flow. What would you suggest doing in such situations?

Paul: Put timeframes into contracts. Tell clients in writing and verbally that they have X amount of time to get back to you or the project gets delayed or they lose their spot in line. If you don’t establish boundaries up front, other people will establish boundaries (or a lack of them) for you.

Rats and Tattoos

What do you do to keep your creative juices flowing?

Paul: I work. I don’t think creativity follows motivation, I think it’s the other way around. You start working, then your creative juices flow. If I waited around for creativity to strike, I’d be in bed most days, binge-watching Netflix re-runs.

Any new upcoming projects from you that we can look out for?

Paul: I just launched growyouraudience.co – where I share my process of marketing for people that think they hate marketing.

Grow Your Audience
Grow Your Audience

You’re very opinionated about what you do and inspire a lot of people out there (including me), what piece of advice would you give to those who want to be creative in their respective professions?


Be yourself. First, it’s easier. Second, if someone wouldn’t want to work with you if they knew who you really were, why would you want to work with them in the first place?

Paul's workspace

Rapid Fire Round

Commerce in Creativity is like _____.

Rats are best when _____.
They’re cuddling.

What if rats could design?
They’d only design food websites.

Writing helps you with _____.
Figuring out what you think about a subject.

Your idea of a perfect day?
Not being on a computer.

3 words that define you aptly?
Asshole, Empathetic, Tattooed.

Favorite mode of e-communication except for emails?
Not communicating at all 🙂

The first thing you would do if aliens invaded Earth?
Welcome my new alien overlords.

Your idols in life?
Idolizing anyone is dumb. Everyone’s just a person with screwed up stuff buried just below the surface.

Darshan is ______.
Asking me questions right this every second.

Paul is an incredible guy who teaches how to make money out of creativity. For those creatives who often struggle with getting their business right, I highly recommend subscribing to Sunday Dispatches. Paul used to write for Fast Company, Newsweek, Forbes, LifeHacker and BuzzFeed. Now he only shares his articles with his mailing list, every Sunday.

I love how Paul speaks his opinion loud and clear. I’ve learnt a lot from reading his articles, and I’m sure you’ll too. I also have him listed on Product Disrupt.

You may find Paul’s archive of the articles here. You may find the products he has to offer here and listen to his weekly podcast here.

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