Today I was speaking with my neighbour about what I intend to be doing over the next five or so years, which is, to expand my website activities to the point where they will be providing me with a full time income. At present, my main website brings in a substantial second income and, over the past year, I have advanced my knowledge of how to make money online to the point where, in the very near future, I believe it will be possible for me to make considerable changes to my lifestyle.
The reason I wanted to mention this conversation is because, as we were chatting, it struck me that what I had envisioned, perhaps fourty-odd years ago, is about to become my reality. I was explaining to my neighbour that I had always seen myself as a writer first and foremost, and that I had always imagined myself as simply writing my own daily column and writing my books. Even in my teenage years, I knew that writing was something I loved doing and, as early as then, I wondered if it would be possible for me to become a successful writer.
It would be about twenty years ago when I wrote my first book <em>Genesis and Spacetime</em>. It was an attempt at coming to a synthesis between the Biblical description of creation and what we understand from received wisdom about the age of the Earth. It was never published. I would send it off to publishers and wait patiently for the rejection letters. When they arrived, I would wonder what was wrong with it. I would then rewrite it and send it off again; and so the process would continue, ad infinitum.
Now, I learned a lot from the experience of writing my book and trying to get it published. First, I would never go about it in the same way again i.e. first writing the book and then seeing if there was a market for it. One of the main lessons I have learned in recent years is that, if you want to succeed in selling your writing, you have to first determine if there is a market for your proposal and only then think about sitting down to invest effort in creating it. That’s the main reason I haven’t yet started the book that I, someday, would like <i>Simon and Schuster</i> to publish.
One day, I will approach <i>Simon and Schuster</i> with my proposal for my new book – it is one of my goals to get a book published by them because, over the years, I have read and listened to so many of their programs – and I am confident that they will welcome the proposal. Why? Because, I will not only have a great product for them, I will also have done the necessary market research to be able to demonstrate to them why the product will sell. That is exactly what I should have been doing all those years ago with that first book, at the proposal stage.
What has changed things for me, and for many other very successful writers, is the web. These days, you can become successful as a writer without having to sell your ideas to a publisher. You can simply get on with the business of publishing your own work and there are a variety of ways you can do it. By the way, blogging is just about the easiest way to get your writing out there and to earn money from dong it. When I say that, I don’t mean to imply that you can create an online income overnight. Actually, on reflection, you probably could, but I have not been able to do that. What I have been able to do though, is steadily increase my online income by doing what I love to do.
For those interested, you can self publish your books on Amazon very easily. You can use print on demand services like Lulu to get yourself into print if that’s what you want. And, of course, you can start your own website and sell your books from it. All of these methods are very doable for the average person. The only real difficulty is the marketing. You can easily enough get to grips with the technology and get your work into print (ink) or virtual ink if you prefer. But selling it is an entirely different matter, and that’s where the marketing comes in, of course.
When I wrote my second ebook <i>The Deepest Desire of Your Heart</i>, I thought it would be relatively easy to sell it from my site, so I did what many people do. I wrote it, compiled it to PDF, created a cover graphic and sales page and banged it up on my website. Did it sell? The answer is no, or at least, it sold in very low volume. Was there anything wrong with it? No. Today, I sell copies of that same book almost every day. So what has changed? The answer is the marketing. The best decision I made was to find out why that book wasn’t selling and address the issues before writing another.
The five year diversion into internet marketing has been something of an education. Now I know what type of books I can sell relatively easily because I understand my target market. By focussing on my target, market and producing what they want, I know I can now produce a new product and sell it in quantity immediately. That is the fruit of the marketing education I have received over the past few years. My advice to anyone who wants to sell their writing online is to get to know their market first, before writing anything.
So, is it possible to make money online by not understanding how to market your product i.e. without going through that education in internet marketing? My answer may surprise you. The answer is yes. You can absolutely become a successful writer even if you are a terrible marketer, by blogging. Why is this? Because adding an income stream to a successful blog is extremely easy these days. You can do it via Adsense, for example, at the drop of a hat. The difficulty is not generating the money, it is creating the successful blog. But if you love writing, you already have the main thing you need going for you i.e. the ability to dispense words.
If you want to become a successful writer, blogging is a great way to start. Whilst you are blogging, you are generating traffic; you are doing what you love, you are writing about whatever subject you find interesting and, perhaps most importantly, you are honing your writing skills. The problem for many people who try this method is the results. What usually happens is that you spend a lot of time and effort creating your blog – perhaps years – only to find that the return amounts to just a few dollars per day. People then often get discouraged and many just give up.
The successful writers simply carry on. Persistence is truly the difference between success and failure when you are blogging. Those few dollars per day from Adsense, for example, is residual income i.e. it comes in every day, without fail and without effort. Sure, you are not rich, but if you persist for another couple of years, your passive income will be rising. Eventually, you will get to the stage where you are earning a regular income for doing very little indeed. That’s why blogging is what I would describe as a writer’s dream. It is the method I recommend for anyone starting out to create an income online. Provided you love writing and you can be patient and persistent, you cannot fail.