How To Profit From Your Passions

Transcripts from our interview with Jeff Korterba. How to profit from your passions! 

Matt Tompkins: Hello and welcome back to the Omaha podcast, where Omaha’s most successful entrepreneurs help your business grow. I’m your host, Matt Tompkins of Two Brothers Creative. And I want you to imagine an artist, a painter, a sculptor. Now, there’s a good chance that in our heads right now we have an image of a starving artist. But the reality is that you do not have to be a starving artist if you simply take a different approach. On today’s episode, we are joined by Jeff Koterba, who embodies the artistic passion that we admire so much, as well as how to make a living doing it. Today, we’ll learn exactly how to turn your passion into profit with all the resources for you to make it happen today. We’ve all Been in that place. A lot of people, they find their passion, what they love to do. It can be any form of artistic expression. And there’s the old saying about, you know, you have to be a starving artist, or that’s the image we have and that isn’t the only option. There’s a lot of things you can do, a lot of really effective things we’re going to talk about today to turn your passion into profit. And that don’t even involve actually selling your physical art. There’s just a lot of opportunities and outlets right now joined by a good friend of mine, I think. Still, right?


Jeff Koterba: Yeah, of course. Yeah.


Matt Tompkins: Where are you again? No, Matthew, this is Christopher and you’re on the Omaha podcast. No, I’ve done no Jeff for a long time. Most people know your name. You know, you’re the award winning cartoonist for work for. For better or for worse, I got to kind of hang out with you more when my wife had a book and you had a book and, you know, everybody has a book, but yours is really interesting. I learned that and apparently I didn’t remember it, that you didn’t get struck by lightning twice. That’s not in your bio just once.


Jeff Koterba: It’s just once. And it’s so funny because it it truly is. It has become an urban legend. And when I tell people, when they ask me, they say, hey, what was it like getting struck by lightning? So I tell them the story, which I think is pretty entertaining. And then they say, okay, tell me about the other time. And so that was just the once. And they’re like they’re like disappointed.


Matt Tompkins: Like maybe. Oh, you just don’t remember the other.


Jeff Koterba: Yeah, I don’t. Yeah, that’s a good I mean.


Matt Tompkins: Yeah. Getting struck by lightning. The odds of that are, you know, astronomical. But then twice it’s like, yeah, when you preface it that way, you got struck by lightning only once.


Jeff Koterba: Only once. I know. And it’s weird, though. It has taken on a life of its own. And people that I’ve never met will ask me about the second time.


Matt Tompkins: So. Well, you know, Jeff, I want to talk to you. We want to talk to you today about what you’re doing now with Patreon and some of the just really fascinating ways that artists can make money doing what they love. Start off, we started off both of us in industries that have been gutted. I mean, the radio industry and print obviously is you know, there’s lots of layoffs and firings. So you have to find alternative ways to make a living and do what you love. How did you even get the notion or where did you start once you left the World Herald to kind of find your outlet that works.


Jeff Koterba: Yeah. And I didn’t leave on. Was it my choice? It was their choice. And that’s fine. It was about two years ago when they gave gave the call and said, You’re done, basically. And I had no chance to say thank you goodbye to readers after having been there 31 years in about 12,000 cartoons later. And I know that because my mom clipped every single one of them out of the paper. So I was I was heartbroken in the way that that had happened. But honestly, I got the call. It was a Friday morning and I said, okay, I’m going to be I’m going to allow myself to be angry today. And it was mid-afternoon when I realized, I’m not even angry. I’m still hurt because I wanted to say I people weren’t sure what happened, but I felt liberated, honestly. And my my my son, who’s a creative and an entrepreneur, he’d already been encouraging me. I could see the future. I knew the future. I knew what was coming. I was one of maybe 20 ish, full time newspaper cartoonists left in America. Right. So it wasn’t it wasn’t a huge it was still disappointing, but it wasn’t a huge shock. And I knew that eventually that day would come and and my my son kept saying, dad, you know, let’s talk about Patreon and some other things. And and and I had been following a good friend of mine, Oliver G, who has a podcast called the Eiffel Tower. He’s he’s an Australian based in Paris. And we’ve become good friends and I’ve kind of been following what I’d been following what he was doing. So really it was within hours after that phone call from the editor of the newspaper that I thought, well, I guess I guess I got the, you know, the kick in the pants that I needed. And within within a week or so, I had Patron up and launched. And it it it’s been doing really well actually.


Matt Tompkins: And for anybody who doesn’t know Patreon, it’s a subscription platform and they have everything from podcast videos, art, really anything. And I think, I mean the, there’s the other one only fans that’s known for other, other types of expressions of art. Right. And they take a pretty big cut. I think they take like 20%. So with Patron, it’s a lot better take take away, take home for the the artist when you’re putting stuff up. It’s fascinating to watch you and so many other talented people in radio, television and print specifically who were let go due to budget cuts or constraints and have turned into these major success stories going out, finding a way to do their own thing. And I just think back, I mean, it seems like industries don’t think ten, 20 years in advance. So it’s kind of up to us or you to do that. Do it yourself.


Jeff Koterba: Absolutely. And it’s these old school models, you know, whether it’s. And there are there are certainly. Ayers and those who are thinking ahead, obviously. But some of these old school models and I would include some traditional book publishing in that as well. And I went through that when my memoir was published in 2009. And there are a lot of these places are still doing things the old way. And I remember even at the newspaper that it took a long time for some people at the newspaper to fully accept that this thing called the Internet was coming. And so I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. That’s what led me to become a cartoonist. I didn’t really go to school for it. I studied art in journalism in high school, in college. But I pretty much carved my own path, in part because there really isn’t a place to go to college to become an editorial cartoonist. And also, I’m stubborn and I like to do things on my own. So I already feel like I had that entrepreneurial spirit. And and again, it was so liberating, you know, launching on Patreon, because suddenly I had as much freedom as I wanted and I didn’t have to worry about, you know, being being edited.


Jeff Koterba: And, you know, some might use the term censorship. I’m careful with that word because to me, that applies more to a government censoring what what can be said. But having said that, I was I was limited quite a bit actually, in what I was able to say. So Patreon allows me to be free. I’m still not making the kind of money that I would have been making at the newspaper, but it’s allowing me to continue drawing cartoons and then that I’m able to send those cartoons out to 700 plus other newspapers around around America. So now I get, you know, I’m still getting hate mail. It’s just I’m not drawing drawing local stuff, which is also weirdly liberating because now I can just live in Omaha and enjoy the city. Yes, I have my frustrations with certain things, but I don’t have this obligation. I don’t feel this obligation that, Oh, I’m mad about something in Omaha. Now I have to comment on it. I can just be I’m just an Omaha citizen who happens to be commenting on things around the globe.


Matt Tompkins: I like to call Jeff every now and then, just say, Hey, what are you angry about right now? Like, tell me, write, draw it for me. Christopher, you’ve worked with a lot of entrepreneurs to artists who have to figure out their path. And I’m curious if what you’ve seen lines up with kind of Jeff’s process of because you don’t know again, if you don’t know what you don’t know. So people that don’t know where a subscription service even is, how to build a website, how to properly do social media. I’m curious kind of how your process works, Jeff, and if that’s similar to what you’ve seen?


Matt Tompkins: Well, that was that leads right into a question that I had. So when you got that kick in the seat, like a lot of entrepreneurs do or some people, they they in a similar situation where maybe they’ve left a job that they’ve had and or they have a passion that they want to pursue. What did you have to learn or how did you overcome the overwhelm of needing to learn all of that new information?


Jeff Koterba: I’m still learning at two years in and I’m still going back and tweaking and but I allowed myself to to be open and and not stuck in my ways. And I, I actually I feel like there there are things, at least for me, cartooning is one of them. I feel like it keeps me young and I feel like having an openness to the world in terms of that entrepreneurial spirit and learning new things keeps my brain by thinking fresh. And so I certainly had multiple conversations with people with whom my son and my girlfriend and others about, hey, what, you know, what should I be thinking about? And then I talked to my friend Oliver, the podcaster in Paris, and I did a lot of reading. And I asked around and I studied and was observant and I did the work. That’s the thing. Like as an entrepreneur, you know, you still have to show up and probably even work hard ten times harder, you know, to make it happen. But, you know, having the freedom to do what I want to do and and work from anywhere, and especially since I made the jump to drawing digitally. And I was actually speaking of Paris, I was in Paris a year ago. I’m going to be going there again soon. And I’m literally making my deadline. I’m on a train in France on an iPad making drawing my cartoon. And it’s amazing. And I’m making my deadline. But, you know, it’s again, it is it’s that hard work. And and, you know, maybe one of the difficult things for me with Patreon has been educating folks, especially those who don’t know what Patreon is. And I’ve had some people say, well, why don’t you just put a donate button on Facebook? So, well, no, I’m not asking for donation. This is a subscription model for an actual thing that you are receiving.


Matt Tompkins: So you’re needing to spend time and resources educating people on how to even access your work.


Jeff Koterba: Yes. And it yes, it sort of reminds me of drawing a cartoon, especially when I was drawing a lot of local cartoons at the newspaper. There might have been a news story that was covered locally but didn’t have a lot of. Coverage. So a lot of people didn’t know about it, but it was important. So I would have to find a way to quickly educate the reader very quickly and then make a comment on it. And that tends to slow things down a little bit. So I’m finding there have been times when I’ve had to do the same thing with Patreon, like, Hey, support me on Patreon if you’re not already doing so. But by the way, here’s what Patreon is, and it’s finding that balance of and also not being heavy handed. Like, I try to be gentle in my nudges on social media and I’m I’m truly grateful to those who are supporting me, and I don’t want it to feel like you got to do it. And I feel awkward. Like I had coffee with a friend the other day and he says, I’m sorry I haven’t subscribed yet. I was like, It’s okay if it’s not for you, that’s fine. I don’t want it to be a thing. But I really do hope all my friends.


Matt Tompkins: People may not even know if it is or isn’t for them. Because, like Matt said, I don’t think that enough people actually know what the platform offers.


Jeff Koterba: Right, exactly.


Matt Tompkins: We’re going to make this super easy. You know, I talk we talk about show notes on podcasts. Today’s show notes are literally the best I think I’ve ever put together. In fact, Wendy shared it with her entire class at UNO because it is 16 different sites, platforms, places where it’s either subscription models, and that’s not including Patreon. These are all other ways any artist can find freelance work and find opportunities, jobs, all that stuff. So we’ll have that in the show notes here as a resource. What kind of what I was hearing there that perhaps the first two things you have to do is believe it’s possible. Number one, because I had that same thing in radio of all places. They said, oh, there’s no future in podcasts. Like, you know, you would think they’re the first to see that. So you have to believe it, believe in yourself, and then you have to treat treat it like a business. You have to treat your social media like a business and you have to take it seriously and put in the time. Was that hard for you to adapt and I guess maintain that?


Jeff Koterba: No, that’s a great question. But I consider myself a hard worker anyway. I’m a dreamer and I, you know, for whatever reason, I have been instilled with tons of dreams and ideas. And I know lots of people. I’m sure we we all do. Lots of people who have great ideas and they don’t do anything with it. And it’s so frustrating. I know artists and other creatives who are ten times funnier than I am, but they don’t do anything with it.


Matt Tompkins: I think. Would you agree that today and Chris, you’ve seen this probably more than me, even just in person. We are in kind of a content creator, gold rush. It is in demand probably more than any industry right now, and you can do it from anywhere. The trick is being good. A great original content for marketing or whatever it might be, commercial use or just like you’re doing with your subscription service. But I think that that’s that’s a motivating factor to me to think, okay, there is a reason this is so popular and effective. It’s because a lot of people need it. A lot of people want it. I mean, there’s more options for content now than ever before.


Matt Tompkins: There’s a high demand for it. And the gig economy has become obviously very popular. You know, people aren’t looking for that 9 to 5 any longer. They want to be able to have the flexibility to to work on the train if they want to, or work from work from a hotel room or a balcony overlooking overlooking the ocean. You know, I don’t know how often you get an opportunity to do that.


Jeff Koterba: No, not as often as I’d like. But it’s the the freedom is there. If if if the possibility if the opportunity presents itself. The only thing is I can’t do any quiet quitting on my own business. So because I know that’s kind of the catch phrase lately and and I do it’s funny because I, I actually had a chance to live in Europe for a couple of years while still working at the newspaper. And it was sort of a it wasn’t like a secret, but I didn’t make a big thing of it. And it was weird because I was able to draw about Omaha and Nebraska issues from the Alps, which was kind of mind blowing in and of itself. And it gave me this whole different perspective, not only on Omaha and on Nebraska, but on the world and on Europe. And I love the European model of, you know, in some countries it’s like illegal to check your email or have your boss email you after hours or on the weekend. And that’s so civilized. And I love I love the concept of, you know, your work is your work, but you really, you know, I love France and all that. And I love the idea that we don’t define ourselves by our jobs. And I think that’s highly important. So it’s maybe a little bit ironic or whatever that I’m working so hard, but I try to keep that in mind that I am not defined by by my work. And yes, yes, yes, you have to work hard. You have to put in the time. But my gosh, you also have to just enjoy your kids and grandkids and and family time and reading a book. And recently I actually started reading a book again and it was like this secret joy of holding a physical book and with a cup of coffee are so great.


Matt Tompkins: I think having disciplined that was probably the biggest or has been continues to be the biggest challenge for me as an artist. You know your mind. He’s always going like 24 hours a day, but having the discipline to follow through consistently on the practical, the boring stuff. People look at it that way, you know, like, I have to do this, I have to do it right. I have to continue doing it every single day. I think discipline is probably the kind of the third key there that at least I recognized was a discipline hard for you to commit on the business side of things. And I mean, because I know you’re always doing the art and the, you know, the expression 24 hours a day, probably.


Jeff Koterba: You know, it’s a great question. You know, weirdly, weirdly, as as far as the business part of, you know, Patreon and all that stuff, actually, I’d actually almost rather do just that. The creative part sometimes is exhausting, and I love it. I love creating a cartoon that I’m proud of, and it’s the reason that I’m doing this. But, you know, when I get up in the morning and I don’t have an idea and I’m looking at the news and, you know, the news hasn’t always been pleasant lately, in case we had noticed. And it’s like, okay, what am I going to draw about today? And what can I what thing can I find that’s meaningful in in today’s news and not personally get depressed? Right. And so sometimes that is a challenge. And honestly, weirdly, just working the business side, sometimes it’s almost like I’ll go to a coffee shop with my laptop and I’m like, Oh, I’m just emailing people because their credit card expired. That’s, you know, hey, hey, Joe. Hey. Good, good.


Matt Tompkins: Is that how you type? That is exactly.


Jeff Koterba: How I type. It’s how I draw now that I’m.


Matt Tompkins: Trying to get married. Yeah. Marionette puppets tied to doing this taping for him is why do I just.


Jeff Koterba: Yeah, but people see me walking down the street like, well, it’s because you get hit by lightning.


Matt Tompkins: And it’s just that business.


Matt Tompkins: That business, part of what you’re doing is a whole different mindset. It’s not the creative side at all. It’s just doing tasks and completing tasks. But your your business is also your passion. So you’re really blessed in that regard. But we, we on this podcast, we talk a lot about how we can help small business owners and entrepreneurs and what kind of lessons could somebody that’s looking to take that leap. Take from your experience that you’re experiencing right now?


Jeff Koterba: Yeah, great question. Listening to people, regardless of what it is and I would you know, I don’t actually see what I’m doing as a cartoonist to be any different than any startup, than a food truck or anything else. It’s like you’re providing a service. You’re and you’re listening to people. What are the customers want? What are they? What are they needing? But also, I’m a big believer in that and listening, but also trying to see a little bit into the future. And you do that by, of course, observing and keeping your ear to the ground and reading and consuming, but also walking, taking a breath, being silent, just just living in the world and observing and seeing what’s happening, like what problems need to be solved in the world, with the product, with with the restaurant, whatever it is, and being open to all those things and somehow letting that letting your subconscious brain sort of work out some problem solving for you. So that’s how I see it. I just happen to draw cartoons and do other things, but it could easily be any other any other startup.


Matt Tompkins: You mentioned quiet quitting on yourself or not quite quitting on yourself. Can you explain that?


Jeff Koterba: Yeah. I mean, this whole idea of quiet quitting and that, you know, that rather than employees just quitting, they can they are like, no, I’m not going to hustle 24 seven for you, boss. I’m going to shut my laptop laptop off at 4:00. I’m not going to be answering your emails in the middle of the night or on the weekends. And there’s a part of me that really I mean, I really do understand that and I appreciate that, especially if you’re you know. Yes, I believe in hard work and all of that. But it’s also, again, important to take time for yourself. And I do think that when you do that, when you take quiet time. My cousin, who was an artist in Boston when I was a kid, she taught me this phrase fertile indolence. And I love it because, yes, work, push through. You don’t have an idea. You keep going. You keep going. Every once in a while, the best thing you can do is stop. Take a walk and do nothing. And allow your mind to quiet. Be more mindful. Allow those. Allow your your brain is still working on your behalf like a supercomputer. And, you know, it’s that light bulb moment. And so I do think that it is important to build time into your schedule to maybe quiet, quit and little micro doses. I’m also a big believer in naps and I think that’s important too.


Matt Tompkins: But quiet quitting when you have a job is possible. Yeah, but when you are your boss, you can’t. You just can’t.


Jeff Koterba: Know. And that’s what I’m saying, like, right. Because I am pretty much working non-stop, but I try to be mindful to to put little mini breaks into my day throughout the day if I can. Even if it even if it’s literally just a five minute close my eyes or 20 minutes of reading and I will go to a coffee shop or someplace without all of my devices and with a book or with a notebook to just sit. And it’s uncomfortable. But I make it happen because I do think that that is actually part of the it’s part of the work. It’s part of the creativity. And you need that. You can’t. We’re not machines. We can’t just keep going. 24 seven But again, having said that, you can’t you can’t do those that quiet quitting micro dose for you know you can’t do that for like weeks at a time. Otherwise the money runs out very quickly.


Matt Tompkins: Right.


Matt Tompkins: There’s actually science that backs that up. They’ve studied that with elite athletes. There’s a great book and I recommended to Christopher called Micro Resilience, and it’s about things like multitasking or not taking a break. They are actually make you 40 to 50% less productive and stress you out more and make you more exhausted. So it seems counterintuitive to say I need to take a nap because I’ve got a ton of work to get done, but it actually does help. So one big area, I think a lot of anybody who’s doing something on their own, if it’s their first time or they’ve been doing it a while, is establishing what is your value like? What are you going to charge people for this? What is my worth? I think as artists we are our identity is attached to what we’re doing. And so we’ll sometimes fold. You know, I’ve done that where you have somebody say, Oh, I don’t want to pay you that much. I’ll pay you this, you know? And it’s like, Oh, okay, I’ll take it because you just feel like you have to. So how did you establish your value and then how do you maintain that, maintain the the commitment to yourself.


Jeff Koterba: Before I answer that, can I just take a quick micro dose nap now?


Matt Tompkins: Can we all do that?


Jeff Koterba: No, that’s that is tough. And especially I mean, you know, as a freelancer or again and that’s how I started out. Of course, when you’re starting out, you’re like so grateful. And of course the old adage like, well, we can’t pay anything, but you’ll get exposure. Yeah. Oh, wow. Well, I don’t I still have people say that to me. Well, I can’t pay like. No.


Matt Tompkins: But I’ll post something for you.


Jeff Koterba: Oh, yeah, that’s right. Yeah, that’s right. It is tough. And especially, you know, like I don’t for what I’m doing, I don’t have a lot of comparisons actually. So and there are only a few editorial cartoonists on Patreon, for example. So I’ve kind of had a feel my way through that. And when I take on a freelance project, I try to kind of gauge what it’s worth. And again, I go, My son is so great about this. He’s like, Well, you know, we have these discussions about what my time is worth and what I’m willing to, you know, what do I want out of this? And it is interesting, as a side example, when I had when I was playing in my my swing band a lot, I actually didn’t enjoy like I love playing in bars, concerts, outdoor festivals. I didn’t really enjoy playing weddings and I, I never charged enough. And I always felt like I don’t want to be that guy. Like, Well, it’s a wedding. I’m going to charge you triple. That’s not fair. But I didn’t like playing weddings, so I actually tripled what we were asking. And people still paid it because it’s like, I don’t want to do this, but if I’m going, if you really want me.


Matt Tompkins: To, made it worth it to you.


Jeff Koterba: Yeah. Yeah. And so I’ve kind of taken that as a lesson a little bit with like especially with freelance, with the, the editorial cartoons, I was just kind of feeling it out, just trying to figure out like what the different tiers would be and what value I can offer at those various tiers. And it was just sort of this organic process. I don’t have like a set answer that I still I still don’t know.


Matt Tompkins: It’s, it’s weird. It’s like a blind faith because we did the exact same thing back when we were playing in a band. And it, I don’t know, you probably have more experience with a specific process to determine that. But what I found is kind of what you said is you just establish this is what my time is worth for. Every hour I commit to anything. And then how many hours is it going to take me to get this done? You know.


Matt Tompkins: You’ve probably heard it before where you can offer you can offer a consumer a choice. You can get it fast, you can get it cheap, you can get it good. You can choose two of those things, but you can’t have all three. So if you want it fast and cheap, it’s probably not going to be good. If you want it cheap and good, it’s not going to be fast. So, I mean, it’s, there’s, there’s ways to be able to create that value.


Matt Tompkins: Yeah. So I put together some of these different tips and I kind of want to run these by you almost like five. You know, it’s like it’s not clickbait, five, five things to make money doing what you love. No, but they are helpful and they hit on a lot of things that you’ve talked about today. So you may want to write these down. You might have. You can I’ll give you a copy before you leave. I want to show notes. So first you have to know about the different ways that you can make money with your art. Like discovering Patreon, there’s subscription blogs, you can create your own website, a lot of opportunities there. You treat it like a business, especially social media, because that’s a major driver for for someone who’s doing art specifically, I would think, right?


Jeff Koterba: Oh, absolutely. And I don’t really have any other I don’t love being on social media. It is. But it’s a business. Yeah, it’s a business. And I work it as a business and try to give value. It is about giving value as much as you can before you go in for those asks, you know.


Matt Tompkins: But determining your value, which we just talked about, what is your rate? What are you going to charge? And then don’t quit your day job just yet. That’s an important one. I think. You know, people we get excited. So, all right, I’m going to do it. I’m going to take the leap. We quit everything and we we go home and we start working. And all of a sudden, the panic sets in. Well, I have all this money saved, but, man, it took me years to build that up. And what am I going to do? And you start questioning your own artistic process so your work isn’t as good as it could be. So, I mean, did you have kind of a track record leading up to I mean, you didn’t decide to leave, unfortunately, but did you kind of build up some different work and freelance opportunities?


Jeff Koterba: Yeah, I mean, I have always had always done some of that anyway and had always thought in the back of my mind, I mean, when I was hired at the newspaper, they they hired me on a quote unquote trial basis. And before that, you know, throughout my twenties, I was hustling. And before before there was the Internet, I was like trying to figure out ways I created my own. I was drawing sports cartoons for the Kansas City Star, and they weren’t paying me very much. So I thought, Well, how can I monetize this? So I created a a syndicate, a sports cartoon syndicate with a P.O. box in Ralston, but they didn’t nobody knew it. And my I read all these sales books, and I’m not a sales person. And my first customer was the Los Angeles Times, which was amazing. I sent off like these mailers, you know, they sold brochures with the phone number. And I actually started getting clients and I and I had little index cards, you know, but like so I’d always had that entrepreneurial spirit. My dad had that. And my family, everyone in my family sort of has that. So I, I had that mindset and, and when I was hired on a trial basis at the newspaper, I in the back of my mind, I always thought, well, I’m sort of on this long term trial basis of 30 years and at any day it could end.


Jeff Koterba: And it did. And so, you know, so in the back of my mind, I kept thinking, okay, and even before Patron, it was like, well, what else could I do? And it’s not like I could just go to another newspaper because there aren’t there aren’t other cartoon jobs, cartooning jobs in America. There haven’t been for a long time. So I knew that it would be something else. And but I also thought that would not be the worst thing that would be actually exciting. And what other kinds of things, you know. So I write, I edit, I do other things, I play music. So what else could I do potentially? And just keeping an open mind and honestly thinking maybe it’s something completely different. Maybe it’s, I don’t know, just becoming a barista or which I mean that in the best possible way. Like I fantasize sometimes about being a barista or a bartender.


Matt Tompkins: Me too. I fantasize about you being a barista.


Jeff Koterba: I didn’t say, Well, I’ll make you a coffee. I love I love connecting with people and I love talking with people and I love serving. And and I think that truly, it’s a passion of mine to serve. And that just like I appreciate a good coffee shop or a good bartender. And I just think it’s so important to serve others, whatever it is we’re doing to be kind and to listen to others. And whether it’s cartoons or serving coffee.


Matt Tompkins: Well, you’re serving a gift, you know, in what you do. But it sounds like you were you were a gigging and hustling before gigging. And hustling was cool before the newspaper. Did you have a day job or were you always pursuing this passion?


Jeff Koterba: I was always pursuing it. I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something with art or cartooning. I didn’t know exactly what that looked like. I didn’t think it would be politics. I don’t like politics. I’m not some insider, but I think that makes me a better political cartoonist. But yeah, I had been I was bagging groceries at Baker’s and I didn’t like going out into the cold. That’s back when. You carry groceries out for others. So I got onto sign duty and apparently I was encroaching on someone’s territory and they told the manager that I didn’t have artistic ability, so I was fired from making signs at the grocery store. But I worked.


Matt Tompkins: Your arrows went the wrong direction.


Jeff Koterba: Yes, apparently, I guess. I don’t.


Matt Tompkins: Know. Read down this.


Jeff Koterba: Everything’s free. Score everything 100% off. I’m not good at math, but. No, like. And I was working at. Yeah. Tons of odd jobs. I was a janitor. I played in bands. I, you know, did all these worked at various little weekly newspapers doing paste up. And that’s back when you actually physically paste it up a page, worked at an insurance company and customer service. So yeah, it did all kinds of odd, quirky jobs and yeah, and I, you know, and I guess I, I’ve never stopped thinking that way. Even when I had the full time job, I was still taking on little side hustles. I don’t know, just just because I don’t know.


Matt Tompkins: And I think that there’s there’s more to this than I think people give it credit. And that is, you know, when you’re taking these side gigs or just even your full time gig, but you want to do you know, you’re passionate about art or music or whatever it might be, you want to do that full time and that alone. In the meantime, though, it is fulfilling to a large degree to do a form of what you love. So, you know, you may not. I didn’t when I first started radio, the first FM job was on a modern country music station and play and Taylor Swift. And she was like brand new. And there was even a country pirate phase like pirate country music guys. They dressed up like pirates. Are you sure? Yes, sure. That was I. Oh, I know. We had to play it, like, twice an hour, every hour. I didn’t love that format necessarily. That was it for me necessarily. But I was doing radio. I was in front of a microphone. And, you know, you have to you have to make those you have to make those sacrifices if you want to call that and not be so rigid. No, that’s not you know, I’m a purist. I’ll only do what I want to live to do. And that’s it, you know.


Jeff Koterba: Well, and that goes I mean, I said it mentioned I was doing sports cartoons and I, you know, I was an average sports fan, but I wasn’t like some big sports guy. But I had this opportunity to freelance these sports cartoons, and I was doing that one. I was bagging groceries. So I would come I would come home. I was playing in the band and whatever, but I would be drawing these cartoons in the middle of the night, you know, basically wrapping up around three or four in the morning, maybe getting an hour nap and then heading to the grocery store to stock baby food on the shelf. So back to that hustle, that hustling spirit, like losing sleep, you know, which I struggle with that whole concept again, like, yes, you have to push through. You have to work hard. You absolutely do. But it’s important to take time for yourself. But again, I don’t think I would have I believe I made a lot of my own breaks. I’ve had I’ve had some luck come my way. But you really do create that. And you do that by working hard and putting in the time and and probably losing sleep.


Matt Tompkins: And, you know, I think a lot of artists to take can take away from this or any entrepreneur that there are so many new opportunities that we’ve been talking about today. A bunch more in the show notes. I mean, you don’t have to have a publisher or put out a physical book. You can just write a like a children’s book or whatever it might be and post it on Amazon and sell it or start a YouTube channel or write an e-book book that you can explain or do tutorials or YouTube channel. There’s so many ways to do what you love or a form of what you love and your proof of that. So I appreciate you coming on the show. I’ll put all these links for you in our show notes I keep mentioning I put a lot of time into these jobs just for.


Jeff Koterba: You know, I appreciate it. You know, I’m also I’m starting a new platform for for my books and it’s just going to be in cartoons via telepathy. Oh, so you don’t even have to you just sweep.


Matt Tompkins: Well, we have to your brain, you’re seeing the future.


Matt Tompkins: We have your website, we have your patron, everything linked in the show notes so people can check it out and hopefully you understand what Patreon is. We may not fully understand the Turbo, but, you know, take a couple more decades. I don’t know. You can hear them on k k vino, right? You’re killing it. You’re in there for Otis 12 here locally in Omaha, of course, on your website and doing all kinds of you got another book coming out. Maybe.


Jeff Koterba: Possibly.


Matt Tompkins: Possibly, yeah. Okay. You’re not going to break the big announcement here.


Jeff Koterba: I’ll come back into that if you’d ever have me back.


Matt Tompkins: Yes. Yes. We would love to have you back. Thanks so much.


Jeff Koterba: Yeah, thanks so much.


Matt Tompkins: Big thanks to Jeff Koterba for joining us here today on the podcast. You can find out more about Jeff and you can find all those extensive resources for you in our show notes on the next episode of the Omaha podcast. We’re going to learn when to take the big risk as a business.