Posted on

Your Interest Is More Important Than Market Demand

Generally speaking, as writers we’re responsible for choosing what to write about. Obviously if you’re a freelance writer this may not be the case but if your goal is to write a book you are immediately confronted with the question of what to write about.

There are plenty of authorpreneurs today that would recommend finding a market that is looking for information or a solution to a problem. Additionally, the next step would be to write to that market giving them what they want and/or need.

This is a logical perspective. One that I completely agree with.

Until you determine that your goal is to be a successful, self published author. In other words, to be successful author you need to be able to grow an audience. To do this you really need to understand who your targeting. So far this aligns with the values of the authroprenuers mentioned above. However, if we targeting a group of readers that have a particular interest and we’re successful then chances are we’re going to be writing quite a bit within that particular niche.

If this is the case, which I believe it to be, then it is imperative that we may make our own interests and passions the priority.

How can we write high value, helpful/entertaining content if we’re only moderately interested in the subject. Moreover, how can we write multiple books on a subject that doesn’t excite us?

In my opinion, we can’t. It will lead to inauthentic work that readers will see right through therefore any potential success will be short lived despite a high market demand.

Alternatively, I propose that we first identify topics, subjects, niches, categories, that we’re genuinely interested in and passionate about. After we compile a list of these items then we’re finally ready to take the authorpreneurs advice.

To clarify, any methods that I offer to help you identify whether or not there appears to be market deman for your book(s) are being offered with the assumption that only your true passions and interests are assessed.

If you agree then the next step is to identify your interests.

To do this think about your hobbies and day to day routines.

Are you a neat freak to the point where you love delcuttering?

Do you love cooking? Exercising? Learning languages? Reviewing products? Movies?

Give yourself time to think of questions such as the above. Reflect on what you enjoy doing and how you enjoy living. These are the topics you should be considering.

To reiterate, if the goal is to be a successful author which I assume it is, then you don’t neccessarily need to be an expert. Instead, you need the insight to ask the right questions and find the answers (if possible). This insight is most likely to be attained within a your genuine interests and passions, not within a random high demand niche that you aren’t particularly excited about or knowledgeable within.

Some might disagree, but I stand firm in this position.

Knowing where you stand, whether you agree or disagree will help you through the idea derivation process.

If you’re unsure, take some time to ponder this before you begin coming up with and pursuing your ideas.

Posted on

When The Brain Dump Isn’t Cutting It

So maybe you’ve tried the whole brain dumping process and your experience was less than positive.

Or maybe you just don’t buy into the thought of sitting in front of a blank piece of paper with the hopes that you’ll magically begin producing high value ideas.

If this is you, no problem. There is another way to trigger your creative mindset to help generate some ideas with real potential.

More specifically, I’ll offer you two specific methods to utilize when you need to begin coming up with ideas for your next book and you really don’t feel like brain dumping.

The first approach is the Category approach. The idea is that we’re going to use books that are currently available on Amazon to get our creative mind active and then we’re going to prompt ourselves with guiding questions to enhance and improve upon these topics.

Category Idea Generator 

1. Visit Amazon.com.

2. Click on Departments towards the top left.

3. Click on Kindle Books under Books & Audible.

4. Towards the left hand side you’ll see a bunch of categories with grey numbers next to them. These numbers indicate how many titles are available within that particuar category.

5. Click on a category that you may want to focus on.

6. Within that particular category will be subcategories (also towards the left). Again, click a subcategory that you may want to write about.

7. Click on a book that intrigues you.

8. Take a look inside the book and review the table of contents.

9. Record the book and the parts of the book if you believe it is something you may want to write about.

10. Repeat steps 1 – 9 for at least five more books.

Before moving onto the next strategy it is important to point out that the topics you’ve identified within a table of contents could be the sole topic of your book. In other words, just because a particular author chose to only offer one chapter of information for that topic it does not mean a further in depth look would not be helpful. Moreover, this indicates that there is a potential audience as well.

Secondly, we will discuss the Keyword Approach prior to discussing the prompting questions because both the Category and Keyword Approaches will bring us to the same guiding questions.

Keyword Idea Generator

1. Create a Google Keyword Planner account.

2. Click on “Search for new keywords using a phrase, website or category.”

3. In the box under “Your product or service” type in a few topics that you’re interested in. Then click “Get Ideas”

4. Under the “Keyword Ideas” you can begin recording keywords that are of interest to you. It would be helpful to note the monthly search volume as well. This number can serve as a quantitative way to differentiate your ideas if you later become stuck between multiple potential topics.

5. Repeat steps 1 – 4 for as many initial keywords that you can think of.

Between the two approaches you should have no problem coming up with a list of potential topics to write about. However, if you’re looking for a third option you can always do a combination of the two.

More specifically, you can begin taking the Keyword Idea Generator steps to come up with a bunch of keywords that have potential. Armed with these keywords you can begin searching these terms in the Amazon search bar (within the Kindle eBooks and/or books department) and follow the steps from the Category Idea Generator for books that come up that intrigue you.

Whichever method you choose you want to put it through a filtering process via the following prompts/actions:

  • Highlight the top ten ideas/topics based on your level of interest. The rest can be discarded for now.
  • Answer the following question for each of your highlighted ideas: On a scale of 1 to 5 how excited am I to write about this topic (5 being the most excited you can be)?
  • Answer an additional question for each of your highlighted ideas: On a scale of 1 to 5 how knowledgeable are you within this topic (5 would indicate that you’re an expert).
  • Average the two scores for each topic.
  • Choose the topic with the highest average.

Note: if you’re feeling like your highest average topic isn’t the right one and there is another specific topic pulling you in another direction then follow your instinct.

Conversely, if you’re feeling like your highest average topic isn’t the right one but  you don’t have any particular topic pulling you in any direction then accept that you need to commit. Choose your greatest average topic and move forward.

So there it is. A specific set of steps that can help you derive high value ideas without having to use your own mind to do a brain dump.

Do you have to make some subjective choices?

Yes.

If you struggle with that thought then you need to ask yourself if your focus should be writing. In other words, if despite going through these two approaches you still find nothing that you want to focus on then maybe you should focus your goals on guest blog post writing.

Doing so can result in great networking opportunities, help you hone your writing skills, and validate whether or not you have a genuine interest in a particular topic. After a month or two of actively guest blogging (or writing on Quora.com or Medium.com) I believe you’ll know what focus you want to take as you establish yourself as an author.

 

Posted on

Create An Idea Generating System

If you haven’t gathered yet from my previous posts, I am a huge fan of creating systems for everything.

If it has to happen more than once, whatever it may be, then I am encouraged to approach it in a way that I can define my steps, fine tune the steps, and complete the related task efficiently.

The other added benefit of establishing a systematic approach is that it promotes viewing things as an experiment. In other words, take strategic and thoughtful action, observe results, and adjust accordingly until desired results are achieved.

Rather than blaming yourself for poor results you have the luxury of blaming your system. This can pay divdends when you begin feeling down on yourself as you inevitably slip up on your writing productivity.

Why am I talking about all of this?

Simple, because I believe as writers we need to create a system that helps us easily and quickly generate ideas. Once we have the ideas we then need to develop a method to effectively filter these ideas so that our chances of creating content that is helpful and valuable increases.

As a result, I am going to share a two part system with you.

1.) Idea Generation

2.) Idea Filtering

It is important to point out a couple of thoughts before sharing. First, it is helpful to have a general topic to implement these systems within. For example, when I generate ideas for books that I want to write, because my target audience is comprised of writers, I’m going to focus on topics that potentially align with the needs and wants of writers. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge that this should not be a limiting attribute throughout the process. When in doubt record the idea. We will determine the value when we filter the ideas.

Second, each part of this system woaks for me when I need a jolt of ideas. This is in no way a guarantee that they will work for you. In fact, I would argue that it is likely that this system (as is) will not work for you the same way it does for me. Therefore, you need to be open to adjusting each system to make it fit for your lifestyle and schedule.

I believe in providing step by step instructions because there is tremendous value in carefully laid out steps for a person new to a process, however, do not feel married to these steps. Adjust them and tweak them as you need to.

Make each step work for you.

Part 1: Idea Generation (a.k.a. Brain Dump, Brain Storm)

Required Supplies: Writing utensil and a large piece of white paper (think poster board for sizing). Secondly, a timer. I recommend your smart phone.

Step 1: Take 15 minutes or more but not a second less to write down any and every potential subtopic you could write about within your general topic.

In my experience, I often hit an idea lull after 5 minutes or so. If you encounter such a lull do not let it stop you. Continue to write as many ideas as possible. Do not worry about them being good or bad. Do not even worry too much about whether or not these are relevant within your overall topic. For now just write it down.

The Idea Filtering System

Required supplies: a writing software, preferably a cloud based software (i.e. Google Docs, Evernote, etc.) and a highlighter.

Step 2: Highlight the ideas you like.

Step 3: Categorize each higlighted idea into one of the following three categories: Excited, Neutral, Not Ready. These categories represent how you feel so it is important to follow your instincts as you go through this process. In other words, when you look a potential book idea do you feel excited, neutral, or not ready at the thought of writing an entire book about it? Listen to that inner voice to answer this question for each idea.

Step 4: For now, ignore the ideas that fall into the Neutral or Not Ready category. Narrow down your ideas that fall within your Excited category. To do this, use the Google Keyword Planner tool to assess the demand for that topic. Simply see which topic has the greatest average monthly search volume.

Step 5: Pick the idea within your Excited category that has the highest search volume.

There you have it. You now are equipped to come up with a book idea that hopefully has a decent number of people making related searches each month.

It should be noted that this strategy makes your interests the priority. Some people might disagree with this and only pursue ideas that have a huge potential market. Though I do understand why a person might do this, I personally believe that if you’re going to invest your time into something you should be excited about what it is you’re doing.

I write on a regular basis in addition to a full time job. There is no way I could stick to such a schedule if I felt as though my writing time was a sacrifice. I love the process of writing and genuinely enjoy discussing writing strategies, so writing about it is something I look forward to.

Notice that the previous paragraph was about my personal experience. Remember what I stated earlier about making adjustments to meet your needs. Continue to keep that in mind because just because it was something that worked for me, does not mean it works exactly the same way for you. Adjust and adapt to meet your specific needs. 

Later on in a future post, we’re going to discuss how to take the idea that we just derived and develop an outline to help guide our writing process. I’ll also most likely be writing some posts about how to accurately assess the demand of a topic that take Step 4 mentioned above into much more depth. Additionally, we’ll discuss strategies to use this step to identify strong keywords which will pay dividends later on when we move from the writing process to the self publishing process. So be sure to check in again for more information.

Happy writing!

 

 

 

Posted on

Are You Willing To Endure Frustration?

For years I exercised consistently yet my body didn’t appear to make any significant changes. For years I attempted to create businesses and the ones that weren’t short lived still ended in an ugly demise.

This pattern is true since as far back as I can remember. When I was kid I always thought I’d be a good actor. I’d participate in a talent show here or there but that was pretty much it. I didn’t act in the plays in high school because I couldn’t sing, so I focused on sports.

As an athlete I was serious about basketball and football. I had it in my head that I was better than most athletes, however, I never seemed to be on teams that were undeniably successful. Moreover, I was never the “star athlete” to the external world that I thought I was.

In fact, I didn’t realize I wasn’t as great as I thought until my adult life when I was able to accurately reflect on my athletic career. In reality, I was a mediocre athlete due in large part because of my speed. I was not particularly skilled.

At no point in my athletic career did I practice developing my skills before or after practice. I simply attended practice then went home. I wasn’t lazy but I did not go beyond in anyway.

I share this because I believe it sums up who I have been for the majority of my life.

A person, unafraid of hard work, but quick to accept my limitations. Unaware that if I chose to challenge myself further then I maybe I could rise above those limitations.

For years I was content with complacency, not even realizing I had another option.

What changed this?

When I invested a large sum of money in a business.

I stopped playing it safe and invested an amount of money that was not going to cause bankruptcy but would have really hurt if I lost.

I positioned myself in way that required success. In my mind, failure was not an option. Not with that much on the line.

What did I learn?

That when failure is not an option, excuses go out the door. You do anything and everything you can to make it work.

I had a very simple metric for success. Earn my investment back. Anything beyond that was a bonus.

What I didn’t realize was by giving myself a metric I hyper focused my efforts. My success was based on one thing and one thing only, earning my money back.

There were days where I felt overwhelmed with panic because things were not working the way I anticipated.

There were days where I felt like a rockstar because I was earning more way more than I thought possible.

Where am I going with this?

Simple.

If you want to truly grow in any area of your life you must set measureable metrics and continue to increase it each and every time you achieve your measureable goal.

This can be done in business, writing, exercise, you name it.

For writing, how many words do you want to write this week? 2000? Sounds good, when you succeed, push for 2100 the next week. Keep raising the bar.

You’ll reach a point where you are close to driving yourself crazy because you feel so stretched already. What should you do when this happens? Raise the bar further.

The key is to find the balance of constant growth without burning out.

A great exercise for this to get yourself into this mindset, is the push up challenge.

Identify a number of push-ups that you can easily do.

Let’s say it is 7.

Each day increase that number by one until you get to 100.

The key is don’t over do it.

Just increase once per day every day until you hit your goal.

Who cares how long it takes. Just increase one push up per day every day until you get to a 100.

Try this exercise so you can teach your mind and body how to enjoy the frustration that accompanies a refusal to settle.

Then apply it to your writing and everything else you want to improve upon in your life.

Be willing to endure frustration on a regular basis.

Be proud of it.

 

Posted on

Change Your Angle To Crush Your Rut

We’ve all been there. No ideas, no motivation, no energy, no self discipline, or all of the above.

I was there yesterday.

I know exactly what triggered it too. It was the break in my Sunday routine. Normally after my wife and I take my daughters to their swim lessons, we get the grocery shopping out of the way, then I head to the gym for my measurement workout (more on that for another post), I come home have a delicious peanut butter chocolate protein shake then enjoy the rest of the the day with my family.

Instead, after swim lessons, my wife took our youngest shopping with her and I took our oldest to see the highly educational Angry Birds movie.

Coincidentally, I’ve been doing a great job avoid sweets, until of course my little one and I were sitting watching a movie.

Enter some chocolate grossness, buttered popcorn, and diet soda.

Now the experience with my daughter was completely valuable so I wouldn’t change this, but I allowed this special treat to throw off the rest of my day.

When I got home I was of course incredibly nauseous and completely lacking in my motivation to exercise.

I skipped it for the day because I felt awful and tired as a result of binge.

In turn, I felt discouraged that I allowed a change in my routine to cripple my productivity for the day.

Needless to say it wasn’t a “good” day for me in terms of making most of it.

What did I learn from this?

A couple of things.

1. A change in a routine is okay but should be strategically done.

2. When you’re in a rut you need to change your angle.

Let me clarify the second item.

I felt mad at myself all day for implementing a sequence of actions that resulted in laziness and feeling lousy.

Until I came across a great lesson from the movie Big Hero 6. Yes another animated movie with my daughters, don’t judge me.

The protagonist was stumped for ideas and needed to come up with something quick. As he was verbally punishing himself for being a failure who couldn’t come up with anything his older brother picked him up, hung up over his shoulders so that he was upside down. The brother asserted that when you get stuck you need to change your angle.

In other words, change the way you’re looking at things.

This moral felt like a slap in the face waking me from my woe is me ways for the day.

I realized that I needed to change my angle.

I had been writing the day off as a waste before the day was over.

Why?

I still had a few hours left before I went to bed.

What did I do?

Maxed out on push ups, put my head phones on and tidied my house. Yes my wife and daughters thought I was a little weird, but I realized I needed to change my angle.

To do this I took a quick dose of productivity and energy.

This shook me out of my funk.

As a result after quickly tidying and feeling a quick pump from push ups, I sat down with my family again and started listing on blog post ideas via Evernote on my phone.

27 potential topics.

One of which I’m writing about right now.

Did I waste yesterday? A little bit.

Did I get to enjoy a fun little date with my daughter? Yes.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Did I allow it to ruin my day? Thanks to Big Hero 6, no.

I ended the evening with my goals set for the upcoming week and 27 topics to write about.

This momentum carried over into today.

As I write this, I’ve already worked out and I haven’t yet began my work day. Yesterday built momentum and motivation for today. There is nothing wasteful about that.

Next time you’re in a rut or funk or whatever you want to call it.

Do something to shock your system and change your angle.

It can change the trajectory and help you produce some great things.

 

 

 

Posted on

5 Reasons To Love Writing

I was sitting back relaxing, leaving myself open to inspiration. Sitting on my deck, enjoying the sun on my face, with the RHCP Pandora station pumping at the ideal comfortable volume.

In this moment I was intentionally thinking about my experiences with no particular goal in mind.

This is part of my process. I don’t go out of my way to come up with ideas for writing, I simply allow myself to be open to anything then I capture anything with potential potential (not a typo) via Evernote on my phone.

When I sit down to write, assuming I’m not coincidently inspired (because my schedule and creativity don’t always work hand in hand) I have a database of ideas to choose from.

On this particular day I felt an abundance of ideas. Idea after idea to the point where I couldn’t keep up.

When I had exhausted this surge of inspiration I felt good.

Nay, I felt great.

I was excited to write.

I couldn’t help but think about why I love writing.

Now I know that there are a ridiculous amount of reasons why writing is painful and horrible which actually is a reason to love it (see the second reason below).

Many of those reasons serve as topics for this blog because I attempt to find solutions or at least strategies to combat these pain points.

Then I write about them.

This time around lets discuss why writing is awesome.

Prompts reflection. As a person who writes consistently I often find myself needing to delve deeper into a topic. If I didn’t, I’d be out of ideas in a week. This puts me in a position where I have to answer questions such as:

“Why is this important?”

“How can I solve this problem?”

“How can I teach somebody to solve this problem?”

“Am I being effective? How do I know?”

Asking yourself these questions or questions similar to these prompts a genuine level of reflection. Moreover, consistent writing requires consistent and honest responses to such questions.

Writers live and die by their grit and persistence. Writing is without a doubt an art form. I need to make that clear before I explain this reason further because it may sound as though I’m ignoring the creativity and skills needed to be a great writer.

Alternatively, one factor that should be appreciated (but is most often hated) is the grit required to complete a manuscript or to regularly update your blog. The reason this needs to be appreciated is because it levels the playing field.

In other words, I believe there are tons of potential Hemingway authors out there, but what separated him from all the aspiring authors who didn’t make it happen was the fact that in addition to his genius he forced himself to write.

He used practical strategies to maintain his writing momentum. He found his strategy that enabled him to write consistently.

I appreciate this because unlike Hemingway I’m not a genius. I’m very average writer, however, I’m successful because I write consistently. I write on the days that I want to write but I also write on the days that I don’t feel like writing.

Are there better writers than me? Yes, but there could be way more if following through with a book idea wasn’t a challenge.

I’m grateful for this advantage.

Creates opportunities to meet other writers within a wide range of topics. When I first began writing it was just me in front of computer day in day out. It was lonely. Once my work started reaching readers (and believe me my audience still has plenty of growth needed) people started reaching out to me.

I’ve been interviewed multiple times via varied formats. I’ve joined writing groups and met some amazing, inspirational authors.

The reality is if you write on a regular basis you put yourself in an exclusive group because so many people don’t. Combine this with the magic of social media and you’re connecting with others all the time.

Requires very little tools. As stated above when I first began writing it was just me in front of a computer. This is still the case. All I need to write is a computer. If I didn’t have one I could supplement with a pen and paper. I don’t need a ton of money. I don’t need a fancy suit. I just need my computer.

Add an Internet connection and I can share it with the world.

Think about how amazing that is. A writer can create something with one device that has the potential to change the world. Think about your favorite book. I’m referring to one of those books that had the power to change your perspective forever.

Some person did that using only his or her words.

Amazing.

Freaking amazing.

There is a rush when you see the impact it can have (big or small). I get emails and I get reviews. Not a ton but some. When one of my books gets a new review I can’t help but smile even if it is a negative review.

That is right, I now smile at negative reviews.

Why?

Because somebody was moved enough by my words to put pen to paper. Somebody cared enough to comment about my book.

When it is a positive review I literally feel a wave of emotion pass through my body (no tears though because I’m tough). The fact that somebody enjoyed my words so much to the point where they want to share what they liked and why they liked it consistently bewilders me.

When a person emails me asking me for help. I’m immediately complemented and proud of the thought that somebody read my words and thought, this person can help me.

There are better feelings, but not many.

So the next time you find yourself drowning in the abyss of the lonely writer’s lifestyle. Just remember, writing is powerful for the readers and the writers.

Let’s enjoy it.

 

Posted on

Taking An Experimental Approach

To my fellow authorpreneurs, I don’t know about you but for the first three quarters of my life I always knew there was an entrepreneurial spirit inside of me but I didn’t know how to channel it in a way that produced results.

Moreover, I didn’t know how to visualize a desired end result and therefore didn’t know how to create goals and action steps to help me get there. What good is a car if you have no idea where you’re going or how to drive?

For years I would make short lived attempts at creating an income stream. Service companies, drop shipping, selling information (before that actually became realistic and before I had any information to offer), you name it, I tried it.

The obstacle I consistently could not overcome, however, was when I built up a business and nothing would happened. I had the service or product but no customers.

Immediately in my mind I would cope by saying “I’m just not cut out to have my own business, some people are and some people aren’t and I’m not one of them.”

Think about what I’m saying for a minute.

I would start a business, then tear myself apart because I didn’t have any customers.

Now we can head in two different directions from this point. We can talk about how all I needed to do was learn about marketing and lead generation or we can talk about where my brain went when I encountered less than ideal results.

I’m going to focus on the mental side of things because I think there is a greater lesson to be learned taking this route (not that there isn’t in the previous).

Let’s review the sequence of events.

1. I thought of a business idea.

2. I created a business accordingly.

3. I mentally abused myself upon “failure”

4. I quit that business until my entrepreneurial spirit forced me to try again.

But why? Steps one and two are actually pretty cool and something to be proud of. Why did I quit so soon?

After reflection and thought I came up with the fact that I made it personal. I immediately associated the failure with my being. The reality is I just needed to learn a little bit more and/or try a couple of things out.

What finally helped me get through this was taking an “experimental approach”.

I started to view everything I did as an experiment that was completely external from me.

I’d start a business, assess the results, then determine whether or not I liked the results (notice that I’m not making it about me).

If I didn’t like the results I’d identify what I didn’t like about them. When I started my Amazon business, I started selling units like crazy only to learn that my marketing costs were eating all of my profits. I didn’t penalize myself. I simply calculated the profit I would like to make based on the sales volume I had seen, then set a marketing budget accordingly.

The results, my profit margin widened and my sales decreased to a depressingly low amount.

No big deal. I’ll just have to try another experiment in the form of a question.

What if I increase my unit price by $2.00 and increase my marketing budget accordingly. All of a sudden I started to see a slight volume increase while my margins remained consistent.

This is progress.

From this example and many more I learned that small, thoughtful tweaks and adjustments followed by assessing the results eliminated my mental agony.

I began viewing everything as an experiment.

If I didn’t like the results, I would tweak the actions and review.

To this day this is my mentality with everything, business related or not.

In my previous article I spoke about auditing my writing process. When I start to produce less than ideal results, I take an audit of my process. I do the same with daily routines that I’ve implemented and everything else.

Moral of the story:

Stop punishing yourself when you don’t succeed in the way you had hoped. Instead start creating with an experimental perspective knowing that you have your hypothesis but you could be wrong.

Accordingly, you can adjust.

 

 

 

Posted on

Is Your Morning Routine Helping Your Writing?

Maybe the title of this blog is a bit presumptuous. I should first be asking, do you have a morning routine?

If your answer is no I must respond with a dumbfounded look on my face followed by another look that tries to pull back on the judgement because I wouldn’t want to hurt your feelings. Regardless, my word choice would be somewhere along the lines of “Why not!!!???” Or “Hmmm…so you’re happy with your level of productivity?”

The reason I wonder whether or not you have a morning routine is because it can become such an asset if you choose to use it to your advantage.

Some people might think that they have to wake up so early already that they couldn’t possibly add anything into their routine other than getting ready for work.

My response to that is a simple request to keep an open mind.

As I write this I have a full time job, a pregnant wife, a 4 year old and a 2 year old daughter. To make it to work early and still (along with my wife) get my kids ready, my wife wakes up at 5AM and I have to be showering no later than 5:30AM.

For a long time I simply laid in bed and enjoyed the extra 30 minutes after my wife got out of bed to shower.

Eventually I realized that I wasn’t sticking to my writing schedule because I was too tired by the time I got home from work and spent time with my family and exercised.

Therefore, as much as I loved the 30 minute post sleep cat nap, I accepted that it had to go. Not a fun choice, but a neccessary sacrifice to achieve better results.

Since reaching this conclusion I’ve adjusted my morning routine and the results have been great.

Currently, I set my alarm for 4:38AM. I hit snooze once which brings me to 4:47AM. I get out of bed and get into my gym clothes which are laid out the night before. I go the bathroom and brush my teeth and head to the gym at 4:55AM. It takes me approximately five minutes to get to the gym (which is extremely convenient) and it opens at 5AM.

I give myself 25 minutes to exercise so I focus on full body exercises that maximize the value within the short amount of time that I allot.

I’m back home at approximately 5:30AM which is when I showered anyways.

Additionally, after I finish my daily tasks for work instead of going home I write for 30 minutes. I don’t stress over output, I just write for 30 minutes and when my phone alarm goes off, I’m done. Whether I wrote 5 words or 500 words, I’m done.

I arrive home feeling super productive and energized to play with my kids and enjoy the evening with them and my wife.

When they go to bed, if I’m not exhausted I write for a little more but I keep the perspective that it is “bonus writing”.

I put zero pressure to force this bonus writing.

I find that I’m usually looking forward to finishing what I started earlier in the day, but if I’m behind on Game of Thrones I give myself the freedom to watch an episode before going to bed instead.

A couple points I’d like to make before closing:

1. It is important to follow a strict routine but also to allot opportunities to relax without feeling guilty.

2. Embrace that with any routine, you will be required to adjust to something that throws it off. Don’t stress, just get back to it the next day.

3. Give yourself time every now and again to reflect on the routines you have in place. Have new variables in your life created opportunities to increase productivity? Are you in a routine rut? Should you change it up just to keep yourself sane?

Consider these points and questions as you assess your routines and remember don’t listen to me, don’t listen to anybody, before you listen to yourself. You are the most qualified to determine what works for you.

Adjust as YOU see fit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on

Audit Your Writing Process

For the over a year now I’ve been following the same scheduling process for my writing.

Put simply when I’m writing a book or writing an article each Sunday night I reference my monthly goals (i.e. Complete 20K words towards book, complete 6 blog posts, etc.) and I create weekly goals.

My weekly goals, will include 3000 to 6000 words depending on my schedule and an article or two. This has always worked well for me and more importantly I’ve been able to stick to it.

Which by the way should not be underestimated. If you can stick to 1000 words per week compared to an inconsistent 2000 words per week you’re better off focusing on the thousand.

The problem is that I love creating content despite my lack of time. I’ve always felt the need to write more, create more.

I’ve convinced myself to stay patient and just continue to chip away. Though I’ll continue to take that approach it doesn’t hurt to also focus on taking some time to audit your process.

A few weeks ago I decided to change things up so I could begin creating more courses to help aspiring writers. This means that I have to write a post per week, write towards my current book, and create content.

This is a ridiculous amount of work if done inefficiently.

To address I took some time to strategize. To audit my writing process.

Here is what I came up with.

From this point on I’m going to continue to use my goal setting process but I’m going to develop a system where I can create one form of content then outsource the remaining forms based on my creating.

More specifically, I’m going to create presentations (Keynote) that includes important bullet points. Then I’m going to record the audio of myself talking about the concepts covered in those slides.

With that content I’m going to do two things:

1.) Send the slides and the audio to a video editor to put it all together into one video.

2.) Send the slides and the audio to one of my editors who will then transcribe my words, edit them into a blog post and a section of a book.

After a month I should have course, tons of content of the site, and a book that all go hand in hand.

I’m creating one thing and utilizing others to repurpose this content. You might be thinking that it sounds expensive.

It is more affordable then you think.

I found a guy from Romania via upwork.com who will complete my simple edits at $6 per video (roughly 7 to 8 slides over 8 minutes of audio). Nothing fancy but valuable, helpful content.

I have a great editor who I have worked with multiple times and because of the regular work I provide I essentially will be able to get all of this done for $.01 per word of the longest form of content. In other words, if the blog post is longer than the relative section of the book then we will use the blog post.

The key is to acknowledge that I have no idea if this will work out. In fact, it most likely won’t.

But I’m going to try it, keep an open mind, and make adjustments as needed.

When was the last time you audited your writing process?

Posted on

Picking Your Niche and Your First Book Topic (that won’t bore you in two months)

If you’ve been paying attention to the Amazon Kindle world then you may have noticed that self-publishing is becoming a more viable option for authors. You also may have noticed that there are some independent authors (authors without a publishing company) that are making a very decent income off an eBook based business model.

What you may not have realized is that many successful self-published authors don’t initially earn a significant amount off their royalties. If you’re a newcomer with an email list of zero then you before you can begin earning a real income you need to grow your following.

To do this you need to start with the right niche and create topics that solve problems within that niche.

In other words each and every book you write should be a lead generation tool that brings readers to a lead magnet that captures their email on your subscriber list. If you can’t focus on one niche (which I’ve learned the hard way) you’ll have a hard time doing this.

The following ten steps are going to help you figure out what you should be writing about and will help you narrow down your first book idea and begin by creating a writing schedule.

I want to preface these steps by warning you to not allow a lack of expertise to stop you from choosing a focus. You’ll see criteria below, but be advised that expertised can be developed if you have a passion or a genuine interest in the topic. Your skill can be obtaining valuable information and presenting in a clear and concise manner. Over time, if you do this enough, you’ll naturally become an expert.

Regardless, follow the ten steps below to help narrow down your brand focus. Yes you are creating a brand. The idea is to grow an audience that associates your author name with a particular focus. For example, my focus has become self-publishing/writing. I have other strengths and these strengths caused me to become distracted which made it difficult to grow a following.

I currently have three books available on Amazon that have a lot of common ideas but don’t necessarily appear to be focused. Check out my author page to see what I mean.

As with all step by step guides, be prepared to adjust these steps to meet your specific needs.

I am not going to be one of those mysterious Internet personalities that claim to know the perfect sequence of actions that will yield success for everybody.

View these steps as a guide and plan accordingly to address the variables in your life.

Step 1:
Brainstorm everything you’re interested in – do this for at least 15 minutes and write everything down that pops in your head even if it doesn’t make sense.

For this action you can use a piece of paper (the bigger the better), a white board, a word document, or a journal if it makes sense.

Set a timer to 15 minutes and just start writing and try as hard as you can to avoid not writing (this will get very difficult after a couple of minutes).
Step 2:
With your list pull out at least 3 viable ideas. A viable idea meets at least two of the following criteria:
-You’re interested/passionate in this topic
-You’re knowledgeable about this topic
-There appears to be brand potential.

In other words you can easily think of multiple related problems/pain points that require a solution. For example one of your potential topics is that you’re considering is Fitness for Men 40 and over then one pain point may be finding time to exercise. You could write a book that focuses on strategies to stay in shape in a small amount of time. Additionally, you  may also know that muscle soreness becomes a serious concern after 40 and therefore you write a book that aims to help readers minimize their muscle soreness when exercising. Lastly, motivation to exercise might be a common issue. You can write a book that helps solve that problem.

The key is to choose a topicthat you won’t get bored with or lose interest so you can write about it consistently over a long period of time with enough varied ideas to keep your readers coming back for more.

Step 3:
Assess whether or not people are interested in this topic by doing a keyword research, via Google Keyword Planner. Don’t worry too much about competition just focus on the potential audience size. Anything with 5000 or more searches per month per keyword is adequate (though this is subjective).
Step 4:
Based on the results pick your topic. Find a balance between which one interests you the most and/or you’re most knowledgeable combine with a high amount of potential interest by searching comparable book’s best seller ranking on Amazon.
Step 5:
Now that you have your general topic utilize the Keyword Planner to pick your next book idea. You may have to play around with this tool to get a sense of what people are looking for. Once you have the idea you’re ready to build the parts of your book.

Step 7:
Brain dump all potential topics within the book. Same drill as step one only this time you’re focused on one book idea.

Step 8:
Highlight all the ideas that you want to include then order these ideas in a sequence that appears to be beneficial (as you write your book you may find that it makes sense to change it so don’t stress too much over this process).

Step 9:
Based on sequence identify chapters and chapter topics.

Step 10:
Create your weekly word goal. In other words, how many words do you want to type for this book each week.

For example, as a father of two an entrepreneur with many projects time is slightly limited. Therefore I allow myself up to 3 days to not write. I understand this isn’t typical and goes against the common advice of writing everyday, but it works for me and my schedule and I’ve been able to stay consistent.

This leaves me with four days that I allot one hour per day to writing. Generally speaking I average about 1,000 words per hour which means my weekly word goal is 4,000 words.

I recommend you begin writing for an hour and track how many words you typically cover. Then based on that number you can begin to create a consistent schedule for yourself.

Once you have your schedule you’re ready to go.

The next video will be focused on Developing your description, picking the right keywords, and selecting the right categories for your book, but none of this really matters if you can’t follow through with writing your book so be sure to get a consistent schedule implemented as soon as possible. Bare in mind that you’ll most likely have to make many adjustments as you get to know yourself as a writer if you’re new to this. Don’t let this discourage you. Just identify a realistic amount of words for you per week then make sure you get that amount every week. Even if it means you write for 10 minutes a day. It doesn’t matter. The key is to take consistent action. After awhile you’ll be amazed at how your progress adds up.

Remember this is one approach. This certainly isn’t the “right” approach and it most definitely isn’t the only approach. As you develop your own approach, if you have any questions in the mean time just send me a tweet @maranimichael or email me at mike@maketimeforwriting.com.

See you soon.