Hugh MacLeod


with Hugh MacLeod


Our guest for today’s show, Hugh MacLeod, knows a thing or two about differentiating yourself, finding your niche, and going for it. If you’re struggling to find clients, or just interested in an inspiring story of one man’s unlikely path to success, then this is the show for you.

Watch the Video

Win Prizes

Hugh is giving away a copy of his book Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity for our prize today! To enter, just comment below and tell Hugh what is the hardest thing about your chosen profession. He will swing back in a couple of weeks to pick a winner and award the prize!

Show Notes

Hugh is a cartoonist, creative director and co-founder of Gapingvoid, a company that transforms business through art. He is intensely interested in what makes people tick, and combines that with the biggest part of most people’s lives: what they do for a living. This is why his artistic focus is on the work environment, instead of making art for people’s homes or other places. And he’s been hugely successful in doing so.

Growing up, unlike a lot of kids who wanted to be an athlete or an actor, Hugh thought he might like to become a cartoonist. And so he did! He really enjoyed drawing as a kid, and he also enjoyed reading Dr. Seuss and Peanuts and later, Doonesbury. By the age of 9, he was reading and drawing cartoons constantly.

Fast forward to 1995, it’s the early days of the Internet and the very pioneer days of blogging. As a struggling artist, he realized blogging was a tool that could help him earn a living by reaching people directly with his work.

He no longer needed to be “discovered,” as had always been the traditional path for an artist. He simply needed to find his 1,000 “true fans” ala Kevin Kelly, and he would be set. Blogging gave him a powerful medium to reach his audience.

Hugh believes passionately that the right location, the right office, the right layout, and the right décor can be incredibly powerful. And art is really the key. Art disrupts and drives behavior, because it bundles together our primary drivers as human beings: love, hate, fear,  beauty, sadness.

There is much more to this episode with Hugh, be sure to tune in to hear it all!

Please join us in thanking Hugh for being with us today, and thanks to you as well for joining us. We’ll see you next time on WordPress Elevation.

Elevation Round

Q: What’s the #1 thing any freelancer needs to know?

A: Know when to say no.

Q: What’s the best thing you’ve done to find new customers?

A: I started a newsletter. And go after the gigs nobody else wants. We weren’t interested in the guy who has a lot of money. We were interested in people with real problems.

Q: How do you stop competing on price?

A: We had very unique offerings so we didn’t have to. If you’re competing on price you’re not differentiating your offerings enough.

Q: Any tips for writing better proposals?

A: Be clear about what you want.

Q: What’s your favorite CRM tool?

A: Gmail and Basecamp is what we use.

Q: What’s the best way to keep a project and a client on track?

A: Practice! You have to be vigilant. Be realistic when setting deadlines. Build in time for unforeseen events. Constantly communicate with clients.

Q: Any ideas for getting referrals from existing customers?

A: Art is there all the time. It’s just hanging on the wall. People see it, and they ask “where’d you get that?”

Q: What’s the #1 thing you can do to differentiate yourself?

A: Go after a niche nobody else has thought of. Too many people are trying to sell the same stuff to the same people.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank Hugh on his Twitter @hughcartoons or at his company’s website,

Suggested Guest

Hugh suggested I interview the CEO of MailChimp, Ben Chestnut. He’s super successful, a lot of fun and a real gentleman. Check your Inbox Ben – we’ll be sending you an invitation soon!

Competition Hint

To enter the competition, just comment below telling Hugh the hardest thing about your chosen profession.

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Troy Dean

Troy Dean

I am the Founder of Agency Mavericks. The reason I get out of bed every day is because I love helping people to grow their web design or digital marketing businesses. I do this through coaching, creating courses, speaking, consulting and heading up our awesome community.

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