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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Information Marketing : Eliminate Reduce Raise Create Grid

Eliminate
- Ebay
- Blog
- Affiliate Marketing

Raise
- Model success
- Ideas for generate successful products quickly
- Market research

Reduce
- Stories
- Fluff
- Public Domain

Create
- ERRC grid
- Lifestyle design
- Checklists
- Work book
- Distribution : SRDS, Amazon, B&N

How to Figure Out What Information to Sell

1. What do people always ask you about?
2. Do you have special knowledge others would like to know?
3. Have you experienced certain setbacks in life and overcome them?
4. Have you succeed in a career that many people fail at?
5. What subjects interest you the most?
6. What hobbies do you enjoy most?
7. What jobs have you held?


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Building an online community

Most of us netizens know how to build an online community. In fact, with the advent of the smartphone, it is possible for us to be logged in 24 hrs a day, and most of the time, the updates that we get are from our network – both personal and professional.

What this means is that most of us already know how to build a network, and most of us already have an existing network of friends and family.

So why then do we need to learn how to build a network, especially our professional network?

Well, to be perfectly honest, most of us who have a personal network, build it up in a very arbitrary manner. There isn't any plan, or even a pattern to it, and this is just not acceptable when you're building a professional network.

And this is where your learning comes in useful. I just spent a solid hour going through the “Building an online community” course by Justin Seeley and  I learned a lot of information that makes online marketing so much easier. Such as for instance identifying your target audience and then spending some time in finding out where exactly they hang out.

So for example, if you are selling a business service, spending a lot of time in professional networks such as Linkedin is a good idea because your target market is there, whereas if you're more B2C, personal networks like Twitter and FB are a better choice.

I'm not saying that you should concentrate on only one network and leave the rest. No. In fact this too is explained here, where you identify three networks for you to concentrate on and basically divide every hour that you spend on them as 30/20/10 in order of priority.

Then comes how you prioritize your website and designing, how you create a good profile and how you engage with your network. Considering that you will probably go through the module twice which means that you spend at the most an hour at it, the number of ideas that you come away with is just great. I spent the first half hour in just going through it. The next one, I took notes and created a chart in my calendar on what I need to do for the next few days to plug the gaps that are there right now.

It's a great course that I recommend to every body who's looking to build an online network.

And of course, don't stop with just one. Get as much as you can out of it, make your notes, and then go on to the next one.

And I'll tell you what I learned from the next course when I get done with it.

Why you need to learn

One of the things that I learned with regards to writing a book is that if you are interested in selling it, then you need to do a lot of legwork before you start selling it. While doing my research, the one common idea that came out of most published authors is that they market their books in any way possible.

Although each person can have a different take on this marketing thing, most of the time, the underlying theme is fairly straightforward.

1. You create a site for yourself which hosts your book(s).

2. This site will form the center of all your marketing campaigns and all traffic will be directly routed here.

3. You build a wheel of sites with your home site as the hub, with spokes (links) linking back and forth between them.

4. You slowly create a fan base of loyal followers and start engaging with them, slowly building your traffic organically.

5. You may not see much sales in the initial few months, but if you persist, this is the best way for you to ensure that you not only sell the book that you have already written, but also the books that you will write in the future.

The basic theme as I said before, is pretty straightforward. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, you find that there's still a lot you don't know.

For example, how are you going to create your own site? If you have the money you can get a professional to do it, but what if you don't?
Since I am already a writer, writing articles and other pieces of content is not that difficult, but what of video content for youtube? You cannot afford to ignore youtube which is the second largest search engine in the world. And video editing software isn't cheap either.

Finally, if you do get all of this done, how much time do you spend in directly marketing yourself? Most sites say that you should not be spending more than an hour every day, but having done it myself, I know that this just isn't enough. Maybe if I already have a fan base of a few thousand people, then an hour a day to engage with them is good. But I'm not there yet. I am in the process of creating the network, and I can't get much done in an hour a day.

So I thought; why not learn from professionals? I purchased a membership into Lynda.com and it's one of the best investments that I have made.

There's pretty much anything and everything that you will need there. And you don't just get one person's perspective, like in other training sites. You get multiple perspectives from different people, and this is what I was looking for.

Not only is the site very intuitive to use and user friendly, they have the option of either going with a video tutorial or reading the transcripts. I've been going through as many tutorials that I could find and already I have a lot more thing that I have to do on my list.

I'll be posting on how my learning went and what I got out of it.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Self Publishing Ready Reckoner

In my research into getting as thorough a background on self publishing as I could, I recently came across this book - Self Publishing Books 101 by Shelly Hitz. I specifically want to write about this book because it is one of the best books that I have read on the subject of self publishing, and it's so short that you can get through it in less than an hour.

Now if you're the sort of person whose interested in good English prose, then this may not be your cup of tea. To be perfectly frank, I felt that the author kept repeating information throughout the book. And I don't get what's with the constant upsell for CreateSpace.

CreateSpace is owned by Amazon, comes first in almost anyone's list and probably doesn't require any upsell from anyone. The book leaves you wondering why the author does this because it seems quite a stretch to think that she's actually getting something out of promoting CreateSpace.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a professional book critic and I should probably be the last person to be criticizing any piece of literature, but in the interests of giving an honest review, I'm just writing down what struck me, and the impression that I came away with was that there is a lot of useful stuff in the book, but the book as such could do with a little more polishing.

And this is where I come to what I want to tell you all, which is that there really is a lot of good stuff in the book. It gives you all the information that you will want to know as a first time self-publisher, and you get it all quickly. You don't have to go through 200 pages of in-depth analysis, because you really don't need it. All you want is general information and that's what this book gives you.

I'm sure that no self respecting author (and I consider myself one) will ever just follow instructions given by another author without checking for themselves. In fact, most of the information available in the book is also freely available online. All you need is some time and you can get all the information that you want from your browser itself.

The problem is that until you publish your first book, you really don't know what to search for. You find the answers to one set of questions only to find another set of questions cropping up. This book is a sort of ready reckoner that gives you all the information in one place.

The parts that I really liked were the ones that gave me pricing details on how much it costs for everything. In fact, the author goes on to say how she published her first book for $7, and that too only because she bought her first copy herself. She tells you how you can basically publish your book without spending a dime for it, and as an author who doesn't have too much of cash lying around, this is very important to me.

You also get a lot of down to Earth advice on what you need to do to get your book published, and how you can format it. You also get a number of templates that the author gives for free if you are willing to subscribe to her newsletter, but then she tells you how to do it yourself. So unless you're really lazy, you don't even need to download the template.

Also the author gives you options on free software that you can use. Once again, this is in the interests of saving you money.

Granted, the book does not give you any in-depth details and barely skims the surface, but I really don't
need anything more. It did a good job of showing me the way, and I've been able to follow up on it.

For example the suggestion to use free software prompted me to do a bit of researching into the subject and it opened a whole new world up for me. I'll write about this later, but you get my meaning, right?

The book does not do any hand-holding. What it does is point you in the right direction and give you a shove.

And who could ask for anything more?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Should I send my book to a publisher?

Most die-hard self publishers will probably tell you an emphatic NO to this. Being a pragmatist, let us consider the merits of this question.

Why does a person send their work to a publisher? To get published of course.

Even in this day and age where self publishers have a lot going for them, not too many of them manage to make the kind of sales that the regular publishers do. So while self publishing may give you 10,000 sales with a 70% royalty on sales price, a publisher may manage 100,000 books sold with a 15% - 20% royalty on it. Ultimately the amount of money you make is probably the same. Of course you may very well sell 100,000 copies when you self publish, but not too many can hit this mark. I'm just being a realist without putting anyone or their work down.

So if it isn't the money, then why would you want to send your book to a publisher?

Whether you believe it or not, a publisher has his uses. Many of them will give you feedback on how you can improve your writing, or where they think you've got it wrong. Now this feedback may or may not be right, and it is after all their impression, but considering that their job relies on them finding a hot selling book, putting in some careful thought into their feedback will only benefit you.

Not all publishers do this, but then, everything comes down to your approach and how you interact with them. Even those who don't have a lot of time will still at least give you a one or two line feedback that will give you an industry person's perspective on your work.

This is important because I believe that before you go the self publishing route, you need to ask as many people as you can to go through it and give you their feedback. And the wider your sample size, the better the nature of your feedback. If you include a publisher or two into the mix, you'll have a lot of solid data that you can use to fine tune your book before you self publish.

Self publishing is a gamble where you throw the dice hoping for a 6. Doing this sampling just ensures that you have a better chance of hitting this than if you don't. That's all.

Once again, this is just my opinion, and there may be a number of people with different opinions. That's ok. Like I said, self publishing is a gamble and each person has their own way of trying to beat the odds. I think that this is a good idea which is why I'm telling you about it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

How to choose what to write on?

Each author is unique and each one has their own way, not only of writing, but of approaching the whole writing thing. There are some who decide on the title first and then start on the book. Others write the book and then put in a title that makes sense. Still others keep changing both their initial title and the body of the text itself.

And there are probably as many different ways of writing as there are authors out there. I am therefore going to tell you how I chose what to write on because that's the only thing that I can talk about.

Actually the decision for me to write my own book was not a difficult one to make. I've been writing for more than 5 years, although what I concentrated on was on website content. Here and there I did take up book writing projects, mostly for sale on Amazon. One of the unfortunate things with being a ghostwriter is that you don't retain any rights to your book and the buyer can pretty much do anything he or she wants with it. And so the title that I put in them may not be the same ones under which they are sold, nor can I even say that the body of the book will remain the same. It could very well have gone through innumerable edits/changes. I just didn't know.

So for a long time I really didn't know how good or bad a writer I was.

And then I wrote a book for a person who actually gave me feedback. He was a publisher and after I finished my book, he came back to me with just one request for edit, and that was to shorten my introduction a bit. Beyond that he was very happy with the book and told me that he has never had an author edit and proof their work so well that he did not have to do it himself.

Now this kind of feedback will obviously lift you up somewhat. I was on cloud 9 for a couple of days until I came back to Earth with a bump. And the bump was that I may be the very best writer out there, but it's not going to do me a bit of good till such a time as I write and publish under my own name.

And this is what prompted me to start writing a book. At this stage, there were a number of thoughts running in my mind on what to write on, and I hadn't decided on anything till I got an inquiry for a ghostwriting project to write a book on Diabetes. I did some research on the subject first before responding and what I found was fascinating.

The contract did not come through, but I had all the notes that I had made, and the subject also fascinated me. I've never been very interested in diabetes although there's been a history of the disease on both my parents' side. My first brush with reality came with my first child when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It wasn't very high, but I had a tough time managing my sugar levels just with diet and exercise.

Now, I'm having my second child, and I've once again been diagnosed with gestational diabetes. This time however, it's much easier because I know more about the problem. Also I started being careful 5 yrs ago when I had my first child and this is paying me rich dividends now.

And unlike the last time, I still do have sugar, I have ice creams, chocolates and everything else that I want to eat. I just ensure that I manage my sugar intake in such a manner that my blood sugar does not spike to dangerous levels. And as of now (I'm in my 7th month) I've been fairly successful.

Anyway, that's beside the point. My decision to write the book was made at a time when my second child was not even a thought in either mine or my husband's minds. And the reason why I decided to write it is because so many people in my family have high blood sugar.

They all take medication as though it's a sort of panacea for their disease. You know, there's a world of difference between taking a pill because you feel a fever coming on, and you taking a pill because you feel that you blood sugar is going up. All of them know the dangers of having disease, including the long term effects, but for some reason the math just doesn't add up in their heads.

It's come to a point where they pop a pill when their blood sugar levels increase. And if it increases some more, that's no problem, there's the insulin pump which solves all problems. In fact these days people prefer the insulin pump to pills because it helps them manage their problem quite well. It's like technology is a replacement for good old fashioned common sense, and that technology solves all problems, including health related ones.

And this attitude isn't strange, nor is it rare. And I thought that the reason for this attitude is a lack of knowledge on the subject. And my idea is that if I can explain the why's and the what's of the disease, and if it helps even 10 people, I'd be happy.

I'm not saying that I don't want my book to be successful. Not at all. I'd be really thrilled if it became a best seller. But that is not in my hands. What is, is writing the best book on diabetes that I possibly can, and that's what I'm concentrating on doing right now.

If any of you have any questions, either on writing or on diabetes in general, please do leave a comment and I'll answer to the best of my ability. Maybe it will also help me identify a few more chapters that I need to include in my book.