Sunday, December 13, 2009

Now published on Smashwords

So far, I've sold 25 books on Google using their Adwords system. Unfortunately, it has cost me so much to advertise them, that I'm not yet turning a profit. What are the pros and cons of this scenario?

Pros
  • I've only had one refund request, so I know the book is a quality product, and the claims I make on my website are grounded in reality.
  • Using Clickbank makes it easy for people to buy and download the book, and the 3 bonus items, and they feel safe about the transaction. I also used Clickbank to refund the one unsatisfied customer, and their money was back in their account in a few minutes. Safe and secure!
  • It's still early days, and there is a lot of optimization of my website, and my Adwords campaign to be done, so there is plenty of room for improvement and hopefully, sales that make a profit.
  • Now that I have one book published using this system, I'm on top of the learning curve, and I could quickly create another, similar product.
  • I own the copyright, so I am free to publish the book using other methods.

Cons

  • The obvious one, of course, is that using Adwords can be expensive, if you haven't quite got your niche market information correct. There is no doubt it's the quickest way to get to the first page of Google, but beware the cost.
  • Because Google is constantly looking for ways to improve the experience for their users, you are at their mercy in terms of trying to optimize your information. Just when you think it's right, something changes.

What does all of this have to do with being published on Smashwords?

I'm trying out the other options i.e. self-publishing using various platforms. Smashwords was recommended to me as the easiest to get up and going, and it really was very simple. Once you have our book formatted to their guidelines, it's on their website within half an hour, and on Barnes & Noble catalogues as part of the Smashwords Premium series. And the best part was that it didn't cost me anything upfront. Smashwords take a small commission on each sale, leaving the bulk of the sale price for the author - me!

Payment comes via PayPal, so they haven't reinvented the wheel - just used the reliable systems already available.

Smashwords also allow a reader to sample part of the book, so you know what you are buying. Here is the link if you would like to check it out: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/karenpayne

Friday, October 30, 2009

It's been a while, but things have been happening! My ebook has only been marginally successful so far. I'm still struggling with my Adwords campaign and starting to face the fact that my chosen subject may just be too competitive. But I'm not giving up, and I'm looking at alternative ways of selling the book online.

I am also now doing regular freelancing work, writing articles for clients in the U S and also Australia.

And surprisingly, in this age of the internet, I have another regular writing gig that came the traditional way - from an ad in the local newspaper.

So all in all, when I look back to where I was in January, I may not have achieved exactly what I set out to do, but I'm happy with my progress, and what I have learned along the way.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I've just spent two days at a workshop at Surfers Paradise here on our beautiful Gold Coast (weather was glorious but it was lost on me because I was indoors for the whole 2 days). This was an amazing experience for a number of reasons:

1. I arrived with my laptop as instructed, expecting to be running on batteries for the 2 days, to find that the organisers, Andrew and Daryl Grant, had not only arranged plenty of table space to spread out our stuff, but power for all of us - approx 120 people.

2. By 10.30am on the first day we had already brainstormed our headlines, and had them critiqued in small groups, looking for the "so what" factor.

3. Morning and afternoon tea were provided (food is very important to the budding copywriter) free of charge.

4. By the end of the first day, half our sales letter was done, albeit that it still needed some polishing. And we understood the theory behind the components, so we could replicate the process.

5. Day two was just the same - straight into it, practical information then the application and critique by peers, and at the end of the workshop, I had a completed sales letter.

The workshop was professional, informative, interesting, a great networking opportunity, and above all - IT WAS FUN!

Bret Thomson, one of Australia's leading copywriters, did the presentation and led us, step by step, through the process he uses to earn a six-figure income through preparing outstanding copy that gets results. He has a great sense of humour, so laughter was compulsory, which just adds flavor to the learning experience.

Thanks, Andrew and Daryl for the faultless organisation and Bret for sharing his knowledge freely in a most relaxed environment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

How To Heal Your Heartbreak

What on earth does healing your heartbreak have to do with this blog? After all, my stated aims when I started in January 2009 were to chronicle my journey from full-time employee to full-time freelancer. Where does this fit?

Well, actually, it fits quite well. You see, it's the title of my first ebook and it's available to purchase from my web site www.Heart-Break-Gone.com.

If you've been following me, you'll be thinking I'm all over the shop - and I suppose I am. My stated goals were to start bidding for work, but here I am with a completed ebook and website to sell it from! What's going on!

What can I say except that it was a project that I started over 18 months ago, that crept along very slowly but finally came to fruition before my other goals. I still have a lot of work to do to improve the volume of traffic to the site, so I won't be tossing it all in to laze around at Airlie Beach any time soon.

I haven't given up on my other goals, either. The internet has provided so much opportunity to earn a living as a writer that I'm having trouble maintaining focus. A mentor described it as "the bright, shiny object" - being constantly distracted by this method or that opportunity instead of choosing what I'm good at and working in that niche.

How lucky am I to be spoiled for choice.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another goal achieved - website is GO!

As websites go, www.karenpaynewriter.com is probably not all that flash. It doesn't have multiple pages, clever graphics, video links or any of the other "bells and whistles" common to most commercial websites. However, at this stage in my journey, I am happy just to have a page out there in cyberspace. It fulfils the following immediate needs:
  • A presence on the web that I can reference in my resume.
  • Links to some examples of my writing work already on line.
  • Contact details easily available for potential clients.
  • Gives a detailed summary of my writing experience.

I used GoDaddy.com as my web host and found them to be quite inexpensive and very helpful when I backed myself into a corner a couple of times and had no idea how to get myself out. I used their "starter page" option, and once I understood what I was creating, it was actually very easy - just a "connect the dots" exercise.

Now I am ready to concentrate on the next phase of my declared goals - bidding for work! Wish me luck - and visit my website and tell me what you think.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

SMART goals - what does that mean?

Early in January I took pen in hand (old fashioned, I know, but sometimes it just works!), and scratched down the following goals for 2009 in my diary:
  • create a vision board
  • write some affirmations around my writing
  • write my first ebook
  • bid on at least 5 jobs a week
  • be involved in an affiliate program
  • submit 2 articles a week to 2 article directories
  • by 30 June (end of the Aussie financial year), be earning $1000 a month from writing

I posted them to makemoneyfromwriting.com where Debbie reminded me, by suggesting a change, of the value of making them SMART goals.

And what's a SMART goal? A goal that fulfills all the following criteria:

S ustainable; M easurable; A chievable; R ealistic; T ime based

Research into goal-setting has found that people who set goals meeting the SMART criteria are much more likely to achieve them, than if the goals had been broad, vague or just plain wishful thinking.

So how do mine stack up?

S ustainable - given my commitment to a full-time employer, do I have the time and resources to achieve these goals. Yes, I do. I have a fully equipped home office and a retired husband who looks after the house and cooks the meals. And no - you can't have him.

M easurable - I think so - 1 vision board, a "few" affirmations (this could have been better - I'm making this 4), 1 ebook, 5 bids a week, 1 affiliate program, 2 articles a week, $1000 a month by June 30. By assigning a specific amount or number to each item and setting them up in a spreadsheet, I can review my achievements weekly to monitor my progress.

A chievable - Yes. I have the knowledge and skills to do every one of these things.

R ealistic - Totally! I have kept the goals within my reach - not too easy that I become complacent, but also, not so outrageous that I lose motivation because I have set an impossible task.

T ime based - Yes. I have set weekly targets, a time frame of 6 months to complete, and a dollar value to my goals. I should have broken the $1000 down into weekly amounts, so I will do that in my spreadsheet.

I also plan to do a monthly review of my position, as well as the quick weekly check, to see if I can bring some of the goals forward, or tighten them up, if I am achieving the targets faster than I thought.

Goal setting is a very useful skill to master, and it's really quite simple. Don't make the mistake of thinking that it's too time consuming, and that you can keep simple goals like these in your head. Research also shows that once goals are written down and a review schedule set up, you are far more likely to keep focused and working towards them, than if you had not. I know that since I set these goals early in January, I have not wavered in my application to my writing. I now have a plan to follow, and for someone like me who needs structure, this has been worth the effort.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

If you just don't know where to start

Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if you use it well, and learn from it without berating yourself until your self-esteem has shrivelled beyond recovery, you will become very wise.

I feel a little wise right now. You see, I know HOW to write. I have written thousands of words over the years for my corporate bosses - reports, letters, submissions, procedures, policies, resumes - all sorts of stuff. I even had a serious go at magazine writing some years ago, and had several articles published.

Why am I telling you this? Because just having the desire and ability to write isn't enough for you to make a career out of it. You need drive, motivation, and in this new world of on-line writing, some signposts to guide you. You need to know WHAT to write, and WHO to write it for. And most important of all, you need to know how to get paid!

After my first post about procrastination, I thought a lot about why I had messed around so long, and what had been the catalyst to get me to start this blog. Two words - Debbie Dragon. Debbie is a writing coach - www.makemoneyfromwriting.com - and, in hindsight, signing up to her writing program gave me the signposts. Debbie sends me weekly eclasses, many of which have assignments, one of which was to set up a blog.

So, if you are like me, you feel you have some talent, but with all the conflicting information available on the internet, you just don't know where to start, check out Debbie's course. She knows where to steer you because she has been there herself.

My next assignment is to set up my webpage. In hindsight, I should have done that years ago, but I am not berating myself. I'm just going to do it.