Robin Bates: How to manage yourself and your time working on your own projects​ - DoodleMeeple
Robin Bates- coaching for geeks
Robin Bates

Founder of Coaching for Geeks: Audience Building for Content Creators and Entrepreneurs

How to manage yourself and your time working on your own projects

Robin is the Founder of Coaching for Geeks: Audience Building for Content Creators & Entrepreneurs. He works closely with people in the tabletop industry and is present at conventions and tabletop events.

Hi Robin, thanks for talking to us here at DoodleMeeple! We met a long time ago at UK Games Expo, and have stayed in touch since. There’s a lot of inspiring content and stories from your own audience on your Facebook group. I love checking in and seeing what’s happening when I get the chance.

meeple

 A lot of people who use DoodleMeeple will be working full time and trying to design and publish a game on the side. 

If you’re like me you can get quite obsessed with new side projects, it’s on your mind day and night, and the progress can become quite addictive. Is this quite normal? Any tips on keeping the two going in equal measure?

We sure did. I didn’t envy you being located next to the neverending giant dice tower! Ah yes, finding the balance. It’s quite normal to become a little obsessive in the pursuit of your dreams, in fact it’s something that will keep you going when you fail a real life skill check, encounter seemingly insurmountable challenges, or start to wonder where your social life went.

Planning and scheduling your project time will really help you to stay focussed. Spend a bit of time on Sunday evening (or whenever you prefer) to plan out what needs to get done this week, then take a slice of it every day. You can join coworking groups for focussed bursts of activity, accountability groups to keep you on track, but make sure you look back over the week you had and if needs be, book in some non-negotiable downtime in the week ahead.

Planning in time for mishaps and eff ups and other people letting you down, so you have flexibility, and don’t burn yourself out.

Robin Bates- coaching for geeks
Coaching for Geeks Turbo is the premium service Robin offers to 'Power up your Progress'. Places are limited so be sure to secure one early.

Doing anything creative commercially, is to make yourself incredibly vulnerable in the public sphere. Sometimes, it’s hard to swallow the thoughts of your critics, even though they are a necessary part of the design process. How can people better handle the emotional side of putting themselves on the line?

"Constructive criticism is a brilliant chance to grow your skills."

Oof, I remember my first Facebook ad. The comments on those are a delight sometimes! Criticism is a gift in disguise, and having a critical look at the criticism, and seeing if there’s anything of value in there that you can learn from, is a solid move. You can dismiss anything factually incorrect or based on personal opinion – I’m not a big fan of most social deduction games, so can dismiss my views on Avalon or Among Us, they’re never going to land with me. Remember, you are not the things you create, people are allowed to think what they like, and you can’t please everyone – but genuinely constructive criticism is a brilliant chance to grow your skills.

Or tell them where they can stick their feedback, sulk a bit, and come back to it. A little pity party once in a while does you good too. 

Robin Bates- coaching for geeks

Those times when you do hit a brick wall, whether it’s designers’ block, something financial that seems insurmountable, or some particularly negative comments, how do you encourage people to overcome them?

Get away from the problem for a while. Go for a walk, listen to some music, head to the gym, go for some drinks, or dinner, or see a film, play a game! Getting out of the space where the problem is and into a different environment will free up some runcycles in your brain, and your subconscious will keep working on a solution. My best ideas arrive in the shower when I give my brain a bit of time off.

And if it does seem properly insurmountable, get some help. A different perspective can often turn up a bunch of ideas you’d missed, and having a bunch of people on your side can take the sting out. There’s loads of help available in all sorts of places, from randoms on Twitter, to the depths of Reddit, via playtest groups, Doodlemeeple, and Coaching for Geeks.

Board Game convention dicebreaker robin bates coaching for geeks
Robin on stage with Johnny Chiodini from Dicebreaker
Robin Bates- coaching for geeks

It can often feel quite lonely at times, when you’re working on a personal project (especially in the past year, where there’s been a gaping hole in most of our social lives), the obvious answer would be, give someone a call, but it’s not always possible. But how can we learn to enjoy times of solitude in your opinion, and make the most of that core processing time?

I love a bit of solitude, I don’t know how people can ever be bored, but I do sometimes run the risk of isolating myself and not doing the social thing. There are plenty of communities – Meetup.com has loads, where people are often around to chat, share memes, talk about games, tv shows, or anything. You already have something in common and it doesn’t always have to be about work. Getting comfortable in your own company and taking real, guilt free, downtime will refresh your body and brain and you’ll come back even more powerful than you ever imagined. Or at least a bit happier.

Robin dressed as an internet troll, while hosting a chat about online trolls
Robin Bates- coaching for geeks

I love how your core principles are around building a community and network at Coaching for Geeks. It’s a core part of the success of any new board game. Once that foundation of engaged followers is built, things seem infinitely easier to do. What’s the secret to genuine engagement, when you’re going beyond just ‘selling something’, but you actually have a relationship with your fans/followers?

"Be human, be real, share the challenges and fails as well as the epic wins."

The million dollar question! Being clear about what your community is, who it’s for,and what people will get out of being a part of it is key. Then creating a mix of education, information, and entertainment posts – people get really caught up in this but people love answering questions, so provide them with questions relevant to your offering to engage with. Then get to know them, find out what they like and don’t like, find out who your cheerleaders are. But most importantly, show up every single day. Be human, be real, share the challenges and fails as well as the epic wins.

Robin Bates- coaching for geeks

I feel like letting your audience know who you are, by working on your personal brand is becoming almost mandatory in social media marketing. Social media marketing is a budget effective way that new publishers can build their audience… but…not everyone is a natural public speaker, or someone who can present their new creation to the world. What’s the secret to boosting your confidence to be more successful in presenting your personal brand?

In the words of a certain training shoe brand, just do it. You’ll never get good unless you try. Grab opportunities to speak; guest on podcasts, YouTube channels, Twitch streams, Facebook Lives. Practice the elevator pitch for your game until it rolls off the tongue. Play roleplaying games and really embody your character. As above, be real, be vulnerable, you don’t have to present a heavily curated ‘best’ version of yourself. There are plenty of ways to get competent at speaking, the confidence comes from putting it into practice. I did just that and in the space of year went from talking in front of 30 people to 3000. Admittedly that was a big day and I had to have a stiff drink after. But it grew my personal brand because it was me up there, being very me rather than what I think a coach should be.

Robin Bates- coaching for geeks

We’ve touched on building an audience, and how that can be pivotal in your success, but when we increasingly need the support of peers in our industry to keep up our momentum and faith in what we’re doing, I’d love to know your take on how to build a great inner circle. A group of people who have similar aspirations who can gee you up to make you better..

"Finding communities where... people who do similar or adjacent things to you, hang out is really important."

Finding communities where people like you, people who do similar or adjacent things to you, hang out is really important. Whether that’s your FLGS, online community, play test group or other, developing friendships with other people who get what you might be going through, can give you some advice, or even help out if your convention volunteers fall through, will keep you going. Much like growing your own community, being friendly, being helpful, becoming known to people really helps. Demo your game and take feedback and play test other peoples. Point them towards resources and individuals who can help. Share news and info and generally be a decent sort. People like that. You have to be present often and not everywhere will bear fruit, so try a few out and see where it feels right for you.

Robin Bates- coaching for geeks
Robin at MCM coaching for geeks
Robin presenting at MCM

You offer a really niche service: a ‘geek’ industry specific coaching, to help people achieve their goals. If you’re coaching someone, what does that look like? I know it’s not sweatbands and whistles, but could you explain a bit about how that sort of motivation works?

Coaching is largely about asking the right questions so someone can figure out their own way through a problem. Listening, asking questions, and making suggestions where appropriate. I do have sector specialist knowledge, so I offer strategy sessions to help someone grow their podcast/Twitch/blog audience, but the coaching wins are where I hold the space for someone else to figure it out for themself. I also have an accountability and coworking group, CfG Turbo, which is all about monthly, weekly, and daily goal setting. Taking the next step every day instead of getting overwhelmed – and this is a big part of everything we do. Figuring out what you want and making a plan of action to get there. Then doing it.

Robin Bates- coaching for geeks
What’s your favourite colour Meeple?

I’m pretty easy when it comes to a standard Meeple and will take whatever’s going. There’s always a fight over blue and red and so I’ll take purple.

Robin Bates- coaching for geeks

Thanks Robin! Great to chat to you! You can find out more about Robin, and what Coaching for Geeks does by clicking below or joining their Facebook Community.

Jamie Noble Frier co-founder of doodlemeeple

I hope you enjoyed reading! I’ll continue to post updates about what’s happening.

Keep making great games!

Jamie, DoodleMeeple

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 or if you’ve got something to add, drop Jamie a line at jamie@doodlemeeple.com

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