Book Review: Zillz (@Zillz) & Mr. Shadeed (@MrShadeed) — The Artist’s Quickstart Guide to Building a Brand Online

Zillz & Mr. Shadeed

Artists these days have it "so easy" (relative, I know). With the internet and it’s treasure trove of information at your fingertips, you’ve pretty much run out of excuses for not prospering independently, or at the minimum, getting started in the right direction.

Zillz and Mr. Shadeed released a new eBook this week, titled The Artist’s Quickstart Guide to Building a Brand Online. According to the blurb, the book is geared towards unsigned and independent artists looking to build long lasting careers in entertainment using the new digital business model.

I am not an artist in the traditional sense (i.e. rapper, singer), however found the book to be quite useful. Matter of fact, as I delved deeper into it, anywhere "artist" was stated, I changed it to "blogger". I’m willing to bet that if you’re a producer, model, business owner etc and interested in building a brand digitally the correct way, you can replace "artist" with your title and still find this book to be very helpful.

The Artist’s Quickstart Guide to Building a Brand Online covers a wealth of topics bloggers artists need to be aware of in order to gain sponsorships, build a solid business structure, and handle business responsibilities with the correct mindset.

I’ve read a few books, tons of website articles and attended a couple of workshops on brand building, so I’m not a stranger to getting into information and applying it on how to build a brand. What sets The Artist’s Quickstart Guide apart from the others I’ve encountered is that it’s an actual workbook. Five pages in I stopped to print out a hard copy so that notes could be taken. There are game plans, thought provoking questions and follow up exercises. This is not a book that you should just read once and set aside. Once it’s read once or twice, you should refer back to it regularly to gauge progress and as a follow up and refresher.

In addition to the above, there is a resource section at the end that provides many websites very useful for conducting business online. Samples include social media management tools, press release services, outsourcing tools useful for building a team, music distribution and more. The book also includes a glossary of terms. The Artist’s Quickstart Guide to Building a Brand Online is very comprehensive, and according to the title is the 1st edition. I take that to mean there will be more "digital goodness" (term borrowed from Mr. Shadeed) by both authors in the future.

Don’t get it twisted though, The Artist’s Quickstart Guide to Building a Brand Online is not without it’s flaws. It is written by two people with different ways of getting a point across. If you follow both authors on Twitter (as I do), you get used to the tone of their Tweets and conversations. Both Mr. Shadeed and Zillz are clearly technology and business savvy. Mr. Shadeed typically presents information in a laid back, even keeled, almost zen like manner. Zillz has a harder, more sarcastic edge. Put those combinations in a book and when reading, there are times when it’s obvious who wrote what, in a way that disrupts the reading and processing of information. Imagine listening to the soothing sounds of The Weeknd and then out of no where hearing Waka Flocka Flame yell out "Bow!Bow!Bow!Bow!" There are also a few typos, nothing major, just enough to catch my eye and warrant a re-reading of the sentence for better comprehension.

Mr. Shadeed’s released an eBook late last year, titled The Basics of Building Your Brand. He is a Sharepoint expert and appears regularly as a technology contributor on Mario Armstrong’s Emmy award winning Sirius XM radio show, "The Mario Armstrong Show". Zillz is a web designer and blogger. He’s designed websites for,, and more.

The Artist’s Quickstart Guide to Building a Brand Online is available on Amazon Kindle and at only $7.99, is a great and invaluable investment for a nominal price. As an artist, I’m willing to bet you’ve blown five times that amount on an item and can’t even pinpoint a return on investment. If you’re serious about learning about brand building in the correct manner, being digitally savvy when conducting business online and in need of a game plan and reference guide to set you on the right path, buy this book.

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