Meet EmailOctopus’s youngest creator and entrepreneur: author, designer and artist Bodhi Biddle Schneider. During the pandemic, nine-year-old Bodhi combined his love of cats, art and stories to launch a quarterly magazine, Cats Jumping on the Couch. We caught up with him to hear a bit more.
Hi, Bodhi! First up, tell us a bit about yourself.
Sounds like you’re pretty busy with school, hobbies and creative projects. Not many fourth graders can say they publish books and magazines. How did you get started with all this?
I started creating books with my dad. My first one was a simple picture book with speech bubbles, mainly focused on my pet cat who was thinking or saying things. I took lots of pictures of my cat with my iPad and then I photo-edited them. When I was done, my dad did some research and found a good publishing platform called Blurb. Before I knew it, I was working on lots of books and publishing them.
And how did that lead into Cats Jumping on the Couch?
I had the idea for a magazine at the start of the pandemic when I found that the publishing software we were using had a magazine option. I published my first issue in spring 2020. I got friends to do some artwork and I did all the layouts and most of the writing. I asked my parents to proofread and help with some production stuff. I published a new edition every season for one year. The magazine has stories and art, and also puzzles and games.
Where do you get your ideas from? What inspires you?
To answer straight and to the point: my cat! His name is Max Frederick. I have always loved my cat, and he seemed like a great main character to have in my stories.
Who buys your books and magazines, and how do you use email to keep in touch with them?
My readers are mainly my family; I have many relatives on the East Coast. My friends buy them, too. Having a regular email newsletter is a great way to let them all know when I have something new to share. I tell little stories about what’s going on in my life and I give them a behind-the-scenes look of what it’s like to produce the magazine and books. For fun, I sometimes put a link to a Google poll to make it interactive. Once I did one about people’s favourite dessert. My favourite is crème brûlée.
Crème brûlée is one of my favourites, too. Finding the right software has clearly been important to getting your books and magazines off the ground. Why do you use EmailOctopus as your email platform?
I use EmailOctopus because the free plan is great for someone who’s just starting out. It’s also fun and easy to use.
What advice would you give to other people who want to start their own creative projects like yours?
My main advice is don’t overthink it. You can get tangled up. If you want to make a magazine, don’t try to make it perfect. Just get started. People will always appreciate it if it is fun. Making an outline of what you want to cover in the magazine is always a good idea to start. It can be overwhelming if you don’t know where you are going, but an outline is like a map that can help you.
What are you working on next?
My dad and I are collaborating on a book called The Cat’s Castle. It’s a fantasy adventure. We each take turns writing chapters. At the moment, we are about 79% through. The best part of writing the book is that we never know where it is going next.
Find out more about Bodhi and his work, buy back issues of the magazine, or sign up to the newsletter at bodhifun.com.