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ASP 37: What It Really Means to Build a Business with Your Books

Quote of the day:

“The problem is that many entrepreneurs start with good intentions to create a new mindset system but then slack off. The solution is to make that system part of your daily routine.” – Lisa A. Mininni

The ever-changing landscape of Amazon and the self-publishing business in general means that authors need to think beyond their books. They need to learn how to build a sustainable business with multiple streams of income. But what does that really look like, and how do you make it happen?

In this episode, Steve, Ron, and Barrie give you the insider’s view on becoming an online “authorpreneur” and growing your business to the next level.

What’s happening in self-publishing that is forcing the book biz model to change?

The self-publishing landscape is constantly changing. Before, it was pretty easy to “manipulate” Amazon. Nowadays, Amazon is going after those who game the system, so the best strategy is to create quality content. You also have to build assets, email lists, blogs, etc., in order to build and maintain business.

Amazon will soon be the only game in town, with rumors that Nook is on the way out. So find ways to maximize your exposure on Amazon without compromising yourself by trying to game the system.

Is it still possible to make a six-figure income with book publishing alone?

It’s still possible if you really understand your audience, but it is starting to become a bit harder. The important thing is to diversify your sources of income and scale it up. For example, on Barrie’s Live Bold and Bloom blog, she has numerous courses that make up a big part of her income source.

Why do you need to expand beyond books to build an email list and a platform with multiple income streams?

You want to develop a platform where you give good content and enhance the reading experience of those on your email list. Remember, your email list is not just a place to make sales pitches. If you don’t provide value, no one will want to be on your email list. You also need to build a street team to help you push your books when they hit the market.

How do you increase “clean” traffic to your platform that will ultimately convert to sales?

It is important to differentiate between traffic and “clean” traffic. If people are coming to your site but aren’t interested in your content or have no intention of becoming a customer, their visit isn’t really worth much. Fortunately, there are strategic ways to bring the right people to your site. First, write quality blog posts with good SEO titles. Help people find what they are looking for. Next, boost your Facebook posts. (This costs $5 and is pretty simple to do. Simply put the URL into your timeline and FB will pull up the info. Then click the “Boost Post” button and fill in the form.)

fb-boost post

You can also use YouTube and guest posts to attract new, relevant visitors. Also try to leverage sites like Huntington Post and Quora (more information available at Michal Stawicki’s Quora Profile and How to Use Quora To Increase Book Sales). Finally, funnel readers to your sites through calls to action in your Kindle books.

Here is an example of a great “beefy” blog post: 10 Ways Bloggers Leave Money On the Table When They Don’t Self-Publish

You should also install Google Analytics on your site so you know where your traffic is coming from.

Some of the best streams of income you might consider:

How long does it take to build your business, and where should you focus your time and energy?

It takes at least six months to a year to get that initial traction.

Again, you are looking to build a relevant, convertible readership, not just attract visits. Check out Kevin Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans for more on this.

For authors, you might want to find 10,000 true fans. Focus on creating a quality catalog of books, build an email list, and diversify your income streams with courses, public speaking, and ads. True fans are those who engage with and trust you, and will ultimately buy from you.

Check out ASP 25: Kevin Kruse on Street Teams, Chapter Upgrades, Content Syndication, and His Author Journey to $225K

There are niches where it’s easier to sell or charge more. Topics that teach people how to make money tend to do better, so consider implementing that into your offerings. You can use skills that you learn while building your business and turn those into something that you can share (and sell) to other people. Finally, pay attention to the question that people are asking. These are the questions that they want answers to, and they are likely willing to pay for those answers.

What skills does an author need to hone in order to think like an entrepreneur with a growing business?

First of all, carve out your writing. This is your foundational activity, so identify the one task that will move the needle. Then identify connections and send one email every day. Make contact with your potential market. In the meantime, be open to learning new skills. You can’t grow if you are stagnant. Finally, from time to time, step back and refocus/reconfigure your goals and vision so that they stay relevant to your market and the trajectory of your business.

How do you reduce overwhelm and intimidation when considering scaling up your business?

Every time you have a great idea, jot it down and leave it for later (Evernote is a great tool for this.) You don’t need to act on every idea you come up with, but having them written down is a good first step. Then, revisit your ideas when appropriate. Practice just-in-time learning. In other words, only learn things that you need to learn in the moment. Don’t waste your time learning superfluous skills until you actually need them and they are no longer superfluous.

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