UMS Interviews: Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson’s HeadOnce again we bring you one of our interviews with design and web professionals, as always our goal is to provide some educational and informative insight into how people work, what inspires them and how they got where they are. This month we’re talking with Scott Johnson creator of the popular ExtraLife and The Instance podcasts, he is a cartoonist/illustrator and purveyor of everything web-geek.

What is your company called and what do you do?
The company I do everything under is called FrogPants Studios, but that includes the web comic and blog at myextralife.com, the various radio shows I do online (ExtraLife Radio, The Instance, Diary of a Cartoonist, ExtraLife TV, etc.) I am a creator of visual and audio content. Specifically I am a cartoonist, with a thriving freelance business where I do illustration and design. FrogPants also gives me the ability to work with clients that want audio production work, video production work, and other areas of new media.

What was the “big bang” that lead you to start your company?
I started the comic back in June of 2001. The goal then was to just give myself an excuse to keep drawing all the time and continue to build my skills. It was probably 2005 that things exploded for me. Not sure why, but it was a combination of finding a critical mass for the comic, as well as creating the podcasts and radio shows. Been big growth ever since with all sorts of unexpected opportunities.

What makes your product or service stand out in the crowd?
The focus on community and letting others contribute in meaningful ways. We have contests nearly every week, people are encouraged to create segments for the radio shows, sponsor personal appearances in the comic, etc. Community is everything, and that focus has really made a difference for me. I have the best fan base on the planet as far as I’m concerned.

What did you do before this came along?
I worked (and continue to some degree) in various positions of graphic design, marketing, and web development.

What was the single biggest hurtle to getting your company launched?
Mostly just me realizing that I could build what I was doing into something that would provide regular and consistent income. We are often our own obstacles.

What has been the best method or tactic for advertising your company?
Word of mouth, pure and simple.

What’s your prediction for the “future of the web”, what’s the next big thing?
Very hard to predict, but I think the rush of user created content will be where we will look for that next big thing. I will take 300 million really smart and creative people over 2 or 3 any day.

What are the long-term effects of all the “social networking” products going to be?
I think it will continue to fortify the web into what it was always meant to be in the first place: A mechanism to connect many people in many diverse ways.

What advice can you give for new entrepreneurs who are gearing up to produce their big idea?
I call it the PCP: Passion, Consistency, and Patience.

What should they watch out for?
People who like to tear them down in the process. Comments and forums are sometimes your enemy. :)

What should they embrace?
Just the fun and excitement of it all.

What is your favorite book?
The Dark Tower: Book One: The Gunslinger

What is your favorite movie?
The Empire Strikes Back

Who is your favorite musical artist (or What musical artist are you listening to the most right now?)
All time?
Beetles. Into right now? The Crystal Method.

The comic, the radio shows, and the blog are all created and maintained by Scott Johnson. ExtraLife (the web comic) was started in June of 2001. The comic is updated three days a week and continues to this day. The comic itself sometimes features regular characters, but often is more about the subject matter and less about who is there to portray the subject.

In 2003 Scott “technically” started ExtraLife Radio as a stand alone downloadable MP3 file, but things really took off in 2005 when podcasting made this all so much easier. The Instance soon followed, as well as numerous other projects.

Author

Gene Crawford

With over a decade of experience in the industry he has overseen the design and architecture of hundreds of web sites and applications. An active member in the design community, he's the editor & producer of unmatchedstyle.com, the ConvergeSE, ConvergeFL, ConvergeRVA and the Breaking Development conference series.