[Average read time: 4 minutes]
I received an email from an aspiring writer the other day…
He opened with, “I recently came across your Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You article on LinkedIn and I wanted to pick your brain about writing and blogging. I’m ready to start my blog and I’m trying to decide which content management and email marketing tools you use or recommend.”
I paused for a minute – I remember when I started writing my first book, Divorced Before 30 back in the day, I had grand visions and no clue on how to make them a reality. I would create massive to-do lists which became so overwhelming, I would feel discouraged and the day would end without a single task being completed.
It didn’t take long for me to burn out – it was unsustainable – I had to change.
I decided to tell him what worked for me.
5 Tips to Starting the Right Way
1) Slow your roll
Starting anything new is exciting, but it takes longer to get up and running than you expect. And once you get started, it will take even longer for people to notice you.
Forget about developing a business plan or mapping out the next 6 months – just get started. The first step is the only thing that matters. Once you’ve done that – now it’s time for the second step.
Don’t overthink shit. Just do. The smallest of actions generates infinitely more results than the most well-crafted business plan.
When starting out, your brain is going 1,317 different directions. If you don’t control what you focus on, your surroundings will decide for you.
When I first started this blog, I wasn’t sure which direction to go. Then I decided to focus on my life and past experiences. There is one topic that everyone is an expert in – yourself. You have a story only you can tell – why not tell it?
3) Don’t cut corners.
There is a lot of pressure to produce results in the beginning – mostly self-inflicted, but building a solid foundation is the entire game.
I knew I wanted to make writing a cornerstone of my life, so as I continued to write my first book, I began learning the basics about WordPress, different writing styles, and other popular blogs. Learn as much as you can about as many topics as you can. You will set yourself up to take on any obstacle that gets in your way.
If you do things the right way, you will move slower at first, but this will allow you to scale in the future. Daily and weekly goals that lead to action are essential, but thinking about the long game will guide you to making better decisions today.
This is my 33rd article and it took just over two years. That’s because I’ve been building my foundation for the future, all while self-publishing 7 books and growing my full-time career. My website, WordPress backend, email marketing, and process for distributing my content are all in place now.
It took me over two years to write my first 33 articles and reach just over 100,000 people across all platforms (blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Medium) – the next 33 will take months, not years.
4) Don’t bullshit
People can see a douchebag a mile away. Don’t bullshit your clients, partners, or fans. The most underutilized asset today is authenticity. Be real with people and they’ll respect you for it.
I’m a divorced 32 year-old dude who has two cool kids and writes about business and shares way too many personal stories. If you don’t believe me, check out Coffee, Tinder, and Whips.
I know who I am – some will relate to me and others won’t. That’s okay, because trying to please everyone is the best way to please no one.
5) Work your ass off
Results will not come easy at first – don’t get discouraged – hard work compounds over time.
I published my first book on my 30th birthday – October 15, 2015. I let all my family and friends know and even shared the exciting news on Facebook. During the next few weeks, I sold a few dozen copies which felt like a dream come true.
But then November came…and went.
Soon after, a royalty direct deposit from Amazon had arrived. I login to my account and for the entire month of November, I made a whopping 30 cents. 30 cents!
Did I really just spend hundreds of hours of my life on this book and the universe values it so little that it tells me loud and clear, “YOUR STORY IS ONLY WORTH 30 CENTS!”
In all honesty, the first cover I designed was terrible! I continued to tweak and adjust – it didn’t take long to see results. I quickly learned what matters and what doesn’t. I became a better marketer.
As I created subsequent books, my writing improved each time, my book covers were 10x better, and my network grew as more and more people joined my email list or followed me on social. This accumulation of effort over the last few years has allowed me to create a better product much faster and get it in front of the people who want it.
Unfortunately, I don’t know any life hack that will eliminate the hard work, but maybe this will help…
Work your ass off today so one day you won’t have to.