Editor’s note: This article began as 19 pages. So instead of sending it to you all at once, I broke it up into a series. Check out Part 1: Should We Care About the Economy? And stay tuned for more on this topic tomorrow.
In each newsletter I will offer some ideas and step-by-step suggestions for how to create a new business or a new “side hustle.”
I don’t like the word “hustle” because it’s not like driving for Uber Eats is going to make a serious living for someone. “Side hustles,” I’ve come to realize, are B.S. unless they can be scaled into businesses. Walking dogs as a side hustle will not make you wealthy. Or even make you a living.
Instead, I will only propose ideas that have the potential to change lives.
Each idea should have the potential for what I call the spoke and wheel.
The wheel might be the core idea, but many spokes can come out of it.
Let’s say you have a philosophy of how fitness should be done and you feel strongly about this idea. That’s “the wheel.”
Spokes for this idea might include:
- An online course
- A newsletter
- Zoom events
- Speaking at real or virtual conferences
- Doing a podcast about fitness
- Writing a book
- Selling activewear that is related to your fitness idea
- Selling equipment
- Integrating your ideas on fitness with diets, supplements, medicine.
- Consulting with other fitness businesses that need to pivot (a “meta” idea)
And so on.
You need a strong idea to create a strong wheel. But it’s the spokes that make you money. Not every spoke makes equal amounts of money but will contribute to the other spokes.
For instance, writing a book might not make money. But it will brand you as an expert and will perhaps lead to more people taking your online course or buying the activewear you put out.
“But how do I create an activewear fashion line? I know nothing about fashion or manufacturing!”
Don’t worry, we’ll cover all of that later in this series.
But first, a 30-day book challenge.
Occasionally I will give one of these challenges. It could be a way to make money. Or it might trigger ideas. Or you could share it with someone else.
CAN YOU MAKE A LIVING WRITING BOOKS? ANSWER: YES
The definition of a book has changed. If you go into a bookstore, most books are about 60,000 words and 250–300 pages. They all fit neatly into one of the topics organized around the different shelves in a bookstore.
This is a relic of the past. A book can be any number of words, any number of pages, and about any topic you want.
A friend of mine, Kamal Ravikant, once wrote a book called Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It. He wrote it in 2012. It’s 8,000 words. Maybe he sold over a million copies. I know he did very well with it. He sold it as an ebook and a paperback on Amazon. He self-published it.
People say: “But isn’t it better to publish with a big publisher?”
Maybe sometimes. Maybe not.
When you self-publish you control the timing of book publication, the content, the marketing, the size of the book, the pricing, etc. And you make a greater percentage of revenues per book sold.
Additionally, as my friend, Hugh Howey (author of the bestselling book Wool) has pointed out, self-published books tend to have higher reviews on Amazon (i.e., they are better on average) and have higher sales rankings on average.
They might not be in the top 10 books, but they are more likely to sell a consistent amount.
One friend of mine writes one or more books a month. I don’t know exactly what he is making today but the last time I spoke with him, about two years ago, he was making $60,000 a month.
If every book you write averages $500 a month (some will make more, some will make less), and you write a book a month, then by the end of the year you will be making $6,000 a month ($72,000 a year) and that’s BEFORE you add some of the other “spokes” we will talk about.
Should you do this? I don’t know. I will be describing MANY business models and ideas in this newsletter. If you don’t like this one, wait for the next issue. But again, this can get you thinking.
30-DAY BOOK CHALLENGE: 10 SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN WAYS TO…
A) Pick a category that you are interested in and that if you learned more about it, your life would be better. Maybe “how to have better habits.” Maybe “persuasion.” Maybe “negotiation.” Maybe “parenting,” “entrepreneurship,” “memory,” “anti-aging.” And so on.
B) Go to SSRN.com or JSTOR.com. Both of these are databases of academic papers. Let’s say the category you are interested in was “entrepreneurship.” I just went to SSRN.com and searched “entrepreneurship” and 9,964 academic papers came up.
C) Pick 10 of them. The 10 that most interest you.
Here’s one that intrigued me: “Foundations of Entrepreneurship” by a professor from MIT and another professor from Toronto.
Looks like the idea of the paper is that, at any given point, an entrepreneur has many choices, TOO MANY choices, about which direction to go when building a business.
And they give some scientifically significant ways of identifying what the choices are, and how to optimize or take action for each choice.
They give a historical example of Walt Disney early on in the paper.
D) Write a chapter:
- Summarize the problem the paper points out
- Summarize their solutions and any studies they did to prove their solutions
- Give 1–3 historical examples, either from the paper or from other entrepreneurs you are interested in.
- If possible, give an example from your own life.
BOOM! You have a chapter.
There were many other papers I found on this particular search that looked fascinating.
The entire point is:
- Scientists don’t write for regular people. So all of these papers need to be “translated” for the layman.
- All of the papers are about real problems that entrepreneurs have faced. Including people starting businesses right now. These papers are written by scientists from respected institutions (which demonstrates “authority”).
- Telling stories of historical examples will allow people to relate and will also demonstrate “authority.”
- Telling stories from your own life will allow people to relate even more (and shows “social proof”).
E) Repeat 10 times. Now you have 10 chapters.
F) Title: TEN SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN WAYS TO BE A BETTER ENTREPRENEUR.
- People like numbered lists: The 10 Commandments, the four noble truths, etc.
- “Scientifically” gives this an important concept in influence (See Influence by Robert Ciladini) called “authority.” People like to read things that have the stamp of authority on them.
- Social proof is another influence technique. By giving historical examples (which can also be “authority”) and by giving your examples, you will establish social proof.
G) Go to 99Designs.com. For less than $100 you can get a nice cover designed.
H) Now you have a 10-chapter book that is about 20–40 pages. Maybe even more. If you do one chapter every three days, you will have a book in 30 days.
I) Make an audiobook. Go to audible.com and look at its suggestions. Audiobook sales might be greater than regular book sales.
J) Upload to Amazon as a Kindle ebook AND a paperback AND an audiobook.
Many people think self-publishing is just an ebook.
Don’t fall into that trap. Just doing an ebook looks very unprofessional. For free, you can also make it a paperback on Amazon. And you can also upload it to Audible, which is owned by Amazon.
For Choose Yourself, a book I self-published on Amazon in 2013, I still make more money per month on the audiobook than on the other versions of the book.
K) Price the ebook, at first, at $0.99, and make deals with companies like BookBub to market your book at launch.
L) You get to pick up to 10 categories for your book. Make them as niche as possible because, for at least a few of the categories, you would like to be #1.
For instance, the No. 1 book in “Textbooks/Business Entrepreneurship” (so it’s a “bestseller”) is ranked #2,859 in the overall Amazon store. That means it probably sells about 50–80 books a day. That’s not a lot.
On the day of launch, if you also have some marketing efforts going and you have all your friends buying, then suddenly you will have a bestselling Amazon book. For other categories, you want to go where there is a lot of demand so people see your book, see that it is a “bestseller” and will take a closer look.
How do you do more marketing for your book?
I will cover this more extensively later on. Marketing a book deserves an entire edition of this newsletter.
But the first rule of marketing a book: Write your second book. You can try the technique I’ve outlined above but in other categories. Or, in future issues of this newsletter, I will outline more 30-day book challenges.
Also, don’t forget the spoke-and-wheel approach. Now that you have a book, you can do consulting around it, speeches (either virtual or, as events start to happen again, at real events), make a podcast around the ideas of the book, etc. Spokes!
And don’t forget to stay tuned for more from this series tomorrow.Share This Post