An Entrepreneurâ€™s Autopsy Published by Jonah Jones at Smashwords Copyright ÂŠ 2013 by Michael Jones All rights reserved. All brand names and product names used in this book are trademarks, registered trademarks, or trade names of their respective holders. We are not associated with any product or vendor in this book. First edition Disclaimer: This book is published for the purpose of general reference only and is not intended to be taken in as a substitution for independent verification by the reader. Although the author has made every effort to ensure that all the information contained in these pages was 100% accurate at the time of publishing, the author does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result for negligence, accident, or any other cause. See More at AnUnfairEdge.com
Do 9 out of 10 Businesses Really Fail in the First Year? You have heard it said that 9 out of 10 businesses fail in the first year, so don’t be an entrepreneur. Just like everything else you’ve been told about money most of your life, this too is a big fat lie. The statistic is based on nothing and in fact there is much more evidence to the contrary. You hear that statistic all the time from experts, coaches, accountants, reporters and government officials, but they never seem to cite the original source for it. This isn’t from a study done by some reputable bureau. I conducted a very long search looking for where that statistic comes from and I couldn’t find the original source. It might as well have been made up by someone random and it just stuck around. The real facts are these: According to the credit reference checking agency Veda Advantage, less than 2% of businesses shut down after the first year. However, 32% shut down by the fifth year, and another 21% shut down by the ninth year. So overall, the statistic should be 5 out of 10 fail in 9 years. And many of the ones that fail end up getting started back up again and become successful, because the entrepreneur learned from what went wrong and fixed it. I know this because I was one of the ones that failed, but started right back up again and became successful. Many successes in business were failures at first. But here’s the difference between the failures and the successes: the successful have looked back at their experiences, failures and success, and have written about what worked and what didn’t, why they failed and why they succeeded, and why they were wrong and when they were right. After I had crashed and burned with my first attempt to make the Unfair Edge brand (a failure that cost me $3,000), I went into depression for a few days. My ego was destroyed (and that was a good thing, because my ego was blinding me) and my website fell to the back of search engine results pages (which makes an online business invisible). I couldn’t sell any copies of my original eBook. After I crawled out of my depression, I began working on a new eBook. I figured I could at least write about why I failed and warn others who aspired to do the same thing I did. So as I conducted an autopsy on my failed business, I kept a journal of all I found. But as I learned what I did wrong, I also learned what I should have done instead to make it right. I found out how I could re-launch my enterprise and reclaim my dream. So after I made those corrections, I decided not to sell this journal, but rather give it away for free. This eBook is not the complaints of a failed entrepreneur warning you not to try and achieve your business dream. This eBook was published for the purpose of giving you an additional edge by showing
you what didn’t work for me at first and then what finally did. I want to save you some time in the early stages of planning your business’ launch, and also steer you from the stress that would inflict you if your business were to fail. I want you to jump right into the marketplace after reading this and become successful right away, without learning the hard lessons I had to. When you become a success, it will not only help you, but everyone around you. Even if you’re looking to be a competitor to me, that will help me out too because competition forces us to get better. The way I look at the whole landscape of the business world is that whether we know it or not, the actions we take to get rich (so long as they’re legal and ethical) will always help the economy grow. When the overall economy grows, that helps all of us. So it’s in our best interest to push each other upward. Now, perhaps you already launched a business and it failed or isn’t doing as well as you expected. It’s a hard time, I know. It’s very difficult to pull yourself out of the downward spiral you feel you’re in when things don’t go as planned. You put in so much hard work into launching and you just can’t imagine yourself doing it all over again. Thinking about the heavy burden of work I’d have to do over was what nearly killed me in my depression. But as I contemplated giving up and just going back to working a regular job, there were four things that scared me far more than the work load:
Living with regrets (the pain of discipline is easier to bear than the pain of regret) Never being paid what I’m worth (because only we can determine what we’re worth) Reaching age 50 and looking back at my life only to see a string of jobs that has consumed my life with nothing to show for it (because we want our lives to be about working for and enriching ourselves, not others) Spending the entirety of my social life between alarm clocks and time clocks.
If those things frighten you more, continue reading and I’ll do my best to alleviate these worries from your mind.
Why My Business Failed Years of hard work writing what I thought was an amazing eBook, building a website that I thought was the best ever (yeah, my ego was out of control), and editing video advertisements that would stream on YouTube (which my ego told me were so brilliant, they’d be spreading virally across the internet), was finally complete. I was ready to publish everything and I did. Now, all I thought I had to do was sit back and watch the money pour into my PayPal account. The first few days went by. No money came in. It’s normal, I told myself. Nobody’s found it yet. I’ll just wait a little bit longer. A few more days go by. Still no money. No hits on the website. And no views on YouTube. Hmmm. I wonder what’s taking so long. Maybe the Google spiders haven’t found my stuff yet. Two weeks passed and nothing happened. Okay, now I’m mad. It was time to take some extreme (and frankly desperate) measures. The eBook was published on Kindle Direct Publishing. I decided to enroll it in the Kindle select program and let people download it for free for 5 days. This was difficult for me to do. I had the thing priced at $9.99 (mistake #1). I thought if I commanded the highest price possible, people would think it was loaded with gold or like the Cadillac of the fleet. The five days go by. 300 people downloaded the book. But as far as I can tell, none of them read it. Here’s how I know that. There were hyperlinks to my website all throughout the book, and according to Google Analytics, no one was clicking on those links. The readers probably didn’t go past the first 10 pages. The 5 days ended and the downloads ceased. No reviews were posted. I couldn’t even find out what I was doing right or wrong. No one would tell me. So, there went $3,000 down the drain. I had a book out that nobody bought, a website nobody visited and a YouTube channel nobody viewed. Two years of planning and learning seemed to have been a colossal waste of time. What went wrong? After my early denials and rationalizations (“People are just too stupid to buy my stuff!”) had recessed and I returned to my senses, I decided to take a closer look at the enterprise and perform sort of an autopsy to figure out just what went wrong. The website and book cover were beautifully designed. The videos on my YouTube Channel were lovely pieces of eye-candy. The problem was not the style. My
friends complimented me very much on the appearance of these, which I loved very much. But this was a tremendous disservice to me. The people meant well, of course. I don’t begrudge them. But the things they said had given me a big head and an undeserved ego, which set me up for a bigger fall than if they had told me the whole thing sucked. The problem was not the style. The void was substance.
Why the Website Failed Starting with the website, I had gotten a great web template. It was basic HTML and CSS, but an absolute pain in the butt to update. It wasn’t as easy as it is in WordPress or any other PHP type of content management system. With this design I had, nothing was automatic. If I had written a new article, I’d have to manually put it on the index page and move everything else back a slot. You know how on WordPress, when you write a new post and publish it, WordPress automatically makes it appear on top of all the older posts? I couldn’t do that with this. It had to be done manually, which would cause me to lose at least 2 hours each time I’d update it. Also, the website would not automatically archive things, which I wanted it to do. I’d have to create those archives manually myself. That would be another nightmare on the horizon. The art of the site was wonderful. But the science of it, the functionality and maintainability, was a disaster. The web is not an art gallery people visit. It’s a library they frequent to find useful information in a usable medium. Looking back on it now, the substance of the website was very bad too. The useful information a site needs wasn’t there. I had 14 articles written, all of them were generic and on different topics that no one person would have a unified interest in altogether. A few articles were on ways to save money. A few were on Real Estate investing. A few were on entrepreneurship. All of these were topics related to my book and what I want the company to teach others about, but there didn’t seem to be much relation among them. In reviewing each of them, I caught myself doing the thing I despise, the thing that made me want to start this business in the first place. I spoke too generally all throughout the article and then promoted my book at the end. This is a very horrible practice and I should have known that from the very beginning. I remember reading in David Meerman Scott’s book (The New Rules of Marketing and PR) that people don’t go to the web to see advertisements. They go there to find specific solutions to their problems. How did I not remember this when I was writing these? I should have been writing very specific stuff (which I had a lot of to write about) and earning the trust of my readers before I even attempted to promote any kind of sale item to them. I have also since learned from Pat Flynn that it’s okay to give information away for free and then sell that same information later somewhere else. Take note of this. If you want to sell an eBook or something on Kindle, it’s perfectly okay to copy the content from your own blogs and articles and paste that into the eBook for sale. Some might object to this thinking that it’s dishonest. Well to that I say this: if you believe in the free market like I do, you know that the consumers in the market will correct any
wrongs and punish those who swindle and screw with them. Many bloggers that write books reuse and resell the same content they gave away for free on their blogs. When they sell these eBooks of recycled content, their consumers are able to get refunds for their purchases, but they rarely ever claim them. That means the consumer doesn’t feel cheated or swindled. The eBook is an organized and a more convenient way for them to digest all of the aggregated information in the book. So they don’t mind paying a little bit for them. It’s better in their minds to pay a few bucks for all of the information organized in one place than to spend hours looking for it all on a blog’s archives. How much are they charging for these eBooks? $2.99 tops. That seems like a reasonable price to pay for information that was already given out for free. The difference is that in the eBook, the information is more organized and focused on. There might even be more detailed additions to it. So if you’re looking to start a business like mine, an info-product business, it’s okay to resell the information you’ve already given out for free. You have to give great information out for free just to even get started in this business. When you do that, you’re earning people’s trust. You’re showing them that you’re not some uptight info-hoarder that will speak generally about their problems but then say, “Hey, if you want any help in solving them, you better give me your money.” When you take that counter-intuitive approach, you’re giving people the idea that you don’t care at all about them and you’re just the kind of jerk that’s only after their money. MOMENTARY TANGENT: What you are reading, this chapter of the book, is a blog posting I made a while back. Not on the Unfair Edge website, but on a blogger blog. I kept another blog as a journal as I was rebuilding my business. I recommend you do the same, because it will help you with your search engine ranking when you have another blog talking about and linking to your businesses website. A great marketing teacher I had once told me, “You want your customers and clients to think you are ROTTEN. And that means you want Relationships Over Transactions, Ten times out of ten.” (May a more fitting acronym would be ROTTTOON, but that’s nit-picky semantics). The point is, earn trust first, then seek sales. Also, the more good content you have on your website, the more search engine crawlers will have to read and index. You want those crawlers to spend a long time on your website. Don’t hide good information behind the walls of transactions. Put it out there for all to see, especially search engines. It will only benefit in the long term. Another dumb thing I did was a podcast. Not that podcasts are dumb, but mine sure was. When I did it, I spoke very generically again. I was afraid that if I gave out too much useful content away for free, people would take that content and leave. They wouldn’t even bother to buy my books. But what really happened was that people wouldn’t even bother to listen to my podcast. All I did was talk and talk and talk about why you need my company. I spent very little time speaking about things that people would
actually tune in to hear. It was so bad, I didn’t even enjoy doing it. So if I didn’t enjoy doing it, how could I ever expect people to enjoy listening to it? I also didn’t take advantage of the indexing the podcast in directories or even on iTunes. So it’s no wonder that nobody listened to it. I didn’t even know there were directories for them out there on the web. For a list of these directories, head on over to our Cheat Sheets page and download the Podcasting Cheat Sheet. The last thing about the website that sucked was the two tools I made as free give-aways. The idea behind them was good, but the execution of them was terrible. The first idea was sort of an entrepreneur’s toolbox. It was a list of all the great resources and services out there for entrepreneurs and small business. Things like free money management software, accounting tools, online marketing aides, lead generators, services that can help a small business being ran in a garage look like a top-notch Madison Ave company. The other tool I had was what I call the “Tax Lien Machine”. It was a clickable map of the United States where you click on a state and it will take you to a webpage that shows you all the information on buying and investing in tax liens in that state. It would tell you the rate of interest, the length of the redemption period, the number of counties selling off the liens, notes about how easy foreclosure is, and links to where you can get more information. Pretty cool idea, hey? The problem with these two ideas is that I built their webpages in Adobe Fireworks, which is a great program and I don’t mean to knock it here, but it made the final draft of the page a coding mess. When it comes to SEO, you don’t want search engine crawlers to have to move through a total mess. And furthermore, if I ever wanted to update the thing, it would have been an absolute pain in the butt. This website would have had a tremendously difficult time getting people to find it. And if I was lucky enough to get found, the website would never have kept people on it.
Why the Book Failed Moving onto the book, the only thing I had to sell, I had never gotten so angry in my life. I uploaded it into the Kindle store after spending years writing it. That’s right. Years. It had undergone so many changes and improvements. I was so pleased with the finished project, I didn’t feel pompous at all charging $9.99 for it. I actually wanted to charge a lot more for it, like $29.99 (my horrible ego again). But if I want 70% royalties on it, Amazon would only let me charge a maximum of $9.99. So I had to settle. I also paid $300 to have a professional designer do the book cover. She did an amazing job. I still can’t get enough of the work she did for such a low price. I thought the cover alone would sell books. I thought my book was so great, it would sell itself. That’s the dumbest thing an entrepreneur can tell themselves; that something is so great it will sell itself. You can write the greatest book ever but that
doesn’t mean people will buy it. It’s just like this: you can cook the greatest dish in the world, but that doesn’t mean you can run a restaurant. Every day, when I logged onto my Amazon sales account, I was pissed off. Only 2-3 sales per month. No reviews. After 4 months of this, I would have even appreciated a negative review, so I could at least know what I did wrong. After the 5th month, I stopped banging my head against the wall, hoping something great would come out of it, and started researching the problem. The problem was that I didn’t understand the Kindle market. I wrote this big book that was 270 pages, which ended up being 350 pages when read on a Kindle. People don’t buy those kinds of books for their Kindles. The book covered several different aspects of finance (earning more money, negotiating for a raise, saving more money, getting good bargains, managing money, picking the right banks, investing, real estate, entrepreneurship, stocks, tax liens, commodities, inflation, taxes, etc.). That’s not something that will sell very well in the Kindle market. The way this market works is like this: People have a specific problem they want a solution for. They are willing to pay a small price to the person offering a quick solution for it. My book covered way too many problems and solutions. It was too expensive. It was too long. What I should have done was break it up into a series. I should have made one book on earning more money, one on managing it, another on investing it, and the last one on protecting it. If I had done this, I would have had more entries on Amazon, thus a greater presence there, making it easier to be seen. I would have created for myself my own long tail (I knew about the long tail too when I was doing this, why didn’t I remember?). And I could have made a great promotional deal out of this. I could have charged $2.99 for each of the books in the series, and then charge $9.99 for all the books combined into one big book, making that price look like a bargain. Another problem I had was the title. The Unfair Edge: Revealing the Best Kept Secrets of the Rich seemed like a great title to me at the time. If I were a big name author, that would have worked wonderfully. If I was a household name, that would have been an ideal title. But I was neither of those. Instead, in the Kindle market, the title has to make the content of the book more obvious, especially for non-fiction. It needs to be something like How to Do X, Y and Z or Guide to Doing X, Y and Z or How I Did X, Y and Z. People want to know exactly what they are paying for when they buy from an author that isn’t a big, well known name. Doing that in the description space isn’t good enough. Most people won’t even look at it. If they do look at it, it’s because they’re already interested in the book. If they’re already interested in the book, it’s because they are turned on by the title. I failed to put myself in the shoes of the buyer.
Why the Channel Failed I was particularly cocky with my YouTube channel because I have a background in video editing and messaging (one of my college degree was in Digital Media and Video Production). And I have a
successful track record with YouTube. I once made one video about the Scientific and Business Innovations done by the Israeli’s that got 48,000 views in a month. I didn’t even put that much effort into it. So I thought I was just some big YouTube badass. When I went to get the same results for my business, I turned out to be a YouTube dumbass. The videos I made for my business were works of art in my own mind. I made 3 for the about page of my website. And I made 3 advertisement videos. Really though, all 6 of them were ads. Like I should have known before from reading David Meerman Scott, people don’t search the web to be bombarded with ads. People want useful information. My videos didn’t provide that. When I look back at the success of my Israeli video, I found out the reason it was successful wasn’t because of my production skills. It was because Israel is a topic of much debate and thrown around a lot like a political football. People argue about it all the time. The people on the Israeli side found my video to be very helpful to their cause, so they picked it up and spread it around virally. The bottom line is that it contained information they found to be useful. So from now on, when I upload a video to YouTube or even start to think about making one, I’ll have to ask myself “Will people benefit from watching this? Will they find it useful? Will they share it with friends?” The answer to this question is never a yes when the video is just an ad. Unless it’s a superbowl ad, unless it’s hilarious, they won’t give it their time of day. What a fool I was to think otherwise.
The Bottom Line When you’re a nobody, the first thing you must do is earn trust. You don’t become a somebody by making killer sales. That doesn’t mean a nobody can’t make killer sales, Amanda Hocking sure did. But it’s so unlikely and an unreliable way for an entrepreneur to go about building their startup. You can’t delude yourself into that wishful and overly-optimistic thinking. A nobody first has to build credibility and earn respect by showing he’s not some dummy with a web domain just trying to make a quick buck. The nobody has to put out great content for people to absorb and consume. Once you’ve done this for a while, you’ll have earned enough trust and credibility to then seek sales. The real standard of measurement should be this: are you making the internet a better place? Are you putting content on the web that helps people? Are you making videos that benefit people? Are your books clearly defined by their titles and does the consumer have an obvious idea what they’ll get from it? The purpose of each business is to make money, no doubt. But how do they even do that? By making life easier for others. The honorarium theorem! Damn it, how did I not remember? If your website makes the internet a better place, visitors will remember you as someone genuinely trying to do good. That’s who they want to do business with. That’s who they want to buy from.
Changes Made from the Lessons Learned Now that I’ve highlighted the problems and causes of my failure, I share with you the solutions that were put in place to fix them. Making the switch from what doesn’t work to what does was easy for some of them (particularly WordPress!), but for others it took a little bit of extra work. The bottom line though is that the work load I imagined myself having to go through wasn’t as enormous as I thought it would be originally. It’s like this, building and launching the business is only half the battle. Now, after you’ve crashed or ran into a problem, you’ve got to get to plan B. That’s why they wrote the book, Getting to Plan B, because almost everyone has to go there. So, to those of you that haven’t even started, don’t let this be discouraging to you. Don’t take this the wrong way because I’m not saying you have to fail and suffer after you’ve put in so much hard work getting started and off the ground. If you’re reading this far, pat yourself on the back, because you’re getting information and solutions I wish I had from the very beginning. You might not even have to fail after launch. But if you do, that’s okay. I did, and I look back on it now as one of the best things that ever happened to me.
WordPress Website Change #1, the website went from being a collection of static HTML pages to a dynamic WordPress PHP website. PHP stands for personal home page (originally it stood for hypertext preprocessor) and all that means is that the latest updates made on the website will appear on the homepage and appear on top of the old updates. And everything will be archived automatically. I chose WordPress because I really do believe it is the best Content Managing Software (CMS) out there. And it was easy to install on my site because my hosting is with iPage. So from now on, when I make a new blog post, it gets added to the top automatically instead of me having to manually put it on the top. The navigation is also automatically generated too. All I have to do is set the buttons and their labels (things like “about”, “podcast”, “videos” and “contact”) and I’m done. I don’t have to manually put the code for a navigation bar on every single webpage. So why didn’t I do this before? Ego. I thought my HTML designs were just too great to not use. Even though they were very difficult to work with, I wanted to keep them because I thought they were just so amazing and I had put so much work into them. Much of the work though was behind the scenes, fixing the code and making all the links live (which is the most annoying and irritating thing a web developer could ever have to do). With WordPress, we have plugins! And there’s a special plugin that can look for broken links in your site for you (BrokenLinkChecker), so you don’t have to manually check each link yourself.
The thing I didn’t like about WordPress at first was that it gives you a very crappy template to start out with. There are other templates (which they call themes) they give you for free, but personally I think all of them stink. But what I learned later on was that you could get better themes elsewhere. I eventually bought the theme that I use now from WPZoom.com. It’s the theme called Magazinum. I wanted it mainly because it featured a slide show on the homepage and had space available in the sidebar for ads. It also allows me to use embedded YouTube videos for the “Featured Image” of the post. When you make a post and give it a featured image, that image shows up next to the headline of the post on the index pages of your site. Now, I could have a video. But the real gem when it comes to WordPress is that there’s a plugin for everything. A plugin is basically an extra widget or feature that you can add to your entire site without the hassle of inserting it into the complex coding of the pages. I made a list here of what I think are the most essential WordPress plugins for stellar performance, functionality and user experience for all websites: 1. All In One SEO Pack: First time I worked on a WordPress website, I noticed that the meta tags were empty. A website with no meta data is going to get ignored on most search engine results pages. People will skip right past it. To keep this from happening, we have this little plug in that allows you to enter in whatever you want to your meta tags so you can control what the user sees on a search engine results page. It lets you do this for every page and post of the site. 2. Google XML Sitemaps: An XML sitemap allows the search engine spider to easily crawl through your site and index each page as well as the content that appears on it. If you don't have one of these, it would take forever for search engines to index your whole site. 3. Broken Link Checker: I already touched on this one earlier. This is one I simply can’t do without. 4. Ad Injection: Advertising is the way that blogs make money. This plugin injects any kind of advert (e.g. Google AdSense, Amazon Associates, ClickBank, TradeDoubler, etc) into the existing content of your WordPress posts and pages. You can control the number of adverts based on the post length, and it can restrict who sees adverts by post age, visitor referrer and IP address. Adverts can be configured in the post (random, top, and bottom positions) or in any widget/sidebar area. There’s support for A:B split testing / ad rotation. And the dynamic restrictions (by IP and referrer) work with WP Super Cache, W3 Total Cache and WP Cache. 5. BackWPup: Exactly what its name implies. It backs up your site's files, pages, posts, and plugins. You can send the backed up data to any file folder you want, an FTP site, or even an email. If you have to update WordPress, there is a risk of losing all of your data, so running this will be a good idea before you do that. You can also schedule automatic backups as well. 6. Facebook Comments for WordPress: Nothing looks sadder than a blog with no comments. You work too hard on your content to let it look irrelevant. It's just that people get frustrated each and every time
they have to give their name and email address to a website. After installing this simple plugin, your readers can interact with your site using their Facebook (or Yahoo!) account. This allows them to post their comments along with their Facebook name and photo. 7. Spam Free WordPress: There's a lot of jerks out there that build robots specifically to spam WordPress websites in their comments sections. This plugin helps you stop those. WordPress has Akismet installed automatically, which is a spam-fighting plugin for comments too. But Akismet gets a little annoying when you constantly have to approve or disapprove of suspected spammy comments. This one right here doesnâ€™t annoy you for approval. It somehow knows spam comments when it sees them. Before my blog even went live, I was getting asked by Akismet to approve or disapprove of suspected comments on the one live post. But when I installed Spam Free WordPress, all spam was stopped and I never had to approve or disapprove of suspected comments. 8. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin: Notice how at the bottom of every post on my site, there are links to related or similar posts? That's because of this plugin right here. It allows you to display a set of manually selected items related to your post. I chose this one specifically because itâ€™s recommended by Dr. Andy Williams, the author of SEO 2013 & Beyond. 9. Shareaholic: If for some reason you don't like the ShareBar (like if you're as chickened as I was to show how few people shared my content), this social media widget works just as well. It inserts a list of social networks and bookmarkers into each of your posts. The networks that get displayed is totally up to your customization. 10. W3 Total Cache: Load times must be kept as short as possible, because if the page takes too long to load (as it did with my original HTML site), many viewers will just click off and go away.This plugin speeds up the loading time of each page. 11. Wordfence Security: Maybe Iâ€™m just overly paranoid, but I always worry about the security of my site. So I added on this plugin to make it more secure. It scans your site for viruses, malware, trojans, malicious links, and protects your site against scrapers, aggressive robots, fake Googlebots, as well as brute force attacks. It can repair infected core, plugin and theme files. Also, it shows you all your traffic in real-time giving you situational awareness to help your security decision making and shows you detailed data on traffic including reverse DNS lookups and city level geolocation. 12. Bulk Watermark: If you are a professional photographer, infographic-designer, or just have photos you don't want people stealing without being reminded of where they came from, this plugin will allow you to watermark the photos with anything you want. I'd use the website domain name on mine, so in case anyone saves them to their computer, they will never forget where the picture came from. Another amazing feature with WordPress is that if I wanted to have other bloggers or even my readers write and submit articles for me, I could set up an account for them to do so on my site. With
WordPress, you can give them log in settings that only allows them to see, edit and alter only the small part of the site that you allocate to them. You don’t have to worry about them messing around with anything else and wrecking your site. You can control what they’re able to access. This is a feature I plan to fully exploit as I attempt to grow AnUnfairEdge.com into an authority site. When you have an authority site like that, you certainly get a lot more exposure and definitely a better user experience. Think about it, would you read a magazine that had only one author? Of course not. You’d want a variety of articles from many different authors. And from the perspective of the site owner, if you can bring in a blogger to write for you that has an audience already, you also get the chance to bring in that audience with them. After the author posts something on your site, they’ll probably link to it on their blog and share with their followers on their social network profiles. It’s an awesome opportunity I want to take full advantage of and I could only do that with WordPress. So with all of these free goodies, you can see why a WordPress website is clearly a better choice than a static HTML one.
Podcast Practices I didn’t know what I was doing when it came to podcasting. I thought all you did was just talk and talk and that was it. But there was a lot more to it for sure and it was about time I learned how to do it right.
I needed to also know in real time if I was successful in venturing out into this avenue of content marketing. Since time is precious, you need to know if your efforts spent on podcasting are actually effective. The ways you can do this are to: 1. 2. 3. 4.
monitor your web logs and determine the number of times the audio file is downloaded, monitor the referrals from podcast directories, count views (if hosted on a podcast site) and by counting the number of subscribers to your channel (on iTunes).
If you want more precise metrics, there is third party hosting that provides tracking analytics. Many of the podcast directories feature a ratings system that allows users to rate and comment on podcasts just like they can do the same for videos on YouTube. But the real big problem with podcasting, and probably the reason why people didn’t listen to mine initially, was because the quality of the audio was bad. I didn’t have a professional microphone. I figured if I could eliminate all of the room noise in Audacity (sound recording and editing software), everything would be set. And I also thought professional microphones were wildly expensive. But I was wrong. They are priced pretty affordably. The one that I use, and recommend all podcasters use, is the Blue Yeti. This is a microphone that attaches through USB. It actually makes my voice sound much better and less hollow.
People have told me that I don’t sound as cool in person as I do in my podcast. And that’s entirely because the Blue Yeti is such a great microphone. And because of its simplistic design, it doesn’t need a mixer or any sort of external amplifier to make it work!
Another thing you’ll need is a pop-filter, which is basically a piece of fabric that keeps you from recording pops when you use words that start with the letter P. You’ll notice that the microphone picks up a pop of some sort because you breathe out hard when you say words that start with the letter P. I suppose you could make one of these yourself, but recommend you use a professional one as well, which is also priced very affordably too. The next thing you’ll need is Audacity, the best free audio program out there. This can make you sound like a professional because it’s very easy to eliminate “room noise” with it, equalize the audio and compress the sound to make listening easy on the ears. There’s also a bunch of cool effects you can do in this software and there are hundreds of tutorials for these effects on YouTube. Best of all, this awesome software is totally free! Another thing I invested in was a theme. If you’ve listened to the Unfair Edge Podcast, you may think we’ve invested quite a bit of money into the intro music. It sounds pretty top-notch, but in reality, I only spent $20 on it. I went to AudioJungle.net, picked out two songs and mixed them together with other sound bites we found on YouTube. And all of that mixing was done in Audacity. The final step after recording the podcast was putting it out through distribution channels like iTunes and other directories. It’s like uploading a video to YouTube instead of just making available for download on your website. You have to put your content out where the audience is. Take some time to map out which directories and distribution channels you want to use if you plan to do a podcast too.
Lastly, there’s something to be said about consistency. I don’t recommend you always record a podcast on a weekly deadline, because if you record and release one that doesn’t contain highquality content, your listeners might get turned off from your program and unsubscribe. It’s better to only put out high-quality content and do so infrequently than it is to be consistent with releasing new episodes, but inconsistent with the quality of your content. Once your listeners subscribe, they tend to stay subscribed as long as you have continually deliver good content. However, one practice that I’ve adopted is that once I’m done recording, editing and distributing an episode, I immediately get right to work on preparing and researching the content for the next episode. I do have a schedule set for myself as far as when I try to have a new episode ready for release, but if I can’t deliver good content quality by the deadline, I don’t put one out until I can.
As long as you force yourself to stay in the game, and get preoccupied with the next episode right after you finish the last, you’ll be in good shape, I think. But if you rest and relax after publishing an episode, you might fall out of the game. So stay in it, but don’t release low-quality content just to maintain consistency. More resources for Podcasters: iTunes Tips for Podcast Fans Podcasting Tools Podcast Alley How To Podcast How to Make Podcasts Like a Pro Podcast Answer Man
Books Broken Down Originally, I had only one book and it ended up being 350 pages long on Kindle. That’s not a good upload to the Kindle store. First off, that’s going to be a big file and Amazon charges more for their digital delivery fee when the file is larger. Also, the book was loaded with pictures and charts, which is good, you should always use illustrations when possible. But these pictures had huge file sizes because I didn’t compress them and that made Amazon charge an even higher delivery fee. So the first thing I did was break the books up into a four part series. The book covered five topics: (1) earning more money, (2) managing your money, (3) maximizing your money, (4) protecting your money and (5) maximizing wisdom. The way the Kindle market works is that people are looking for a specific solution to a single problem, not general overviews of solutions to five different problems. Also, the title, The Unfair Edge: Revealing the Best Kept Secrets of the Rich, didn’t indicate very much about what the book contained. The title itself was too general. So when I broke it up into four books, the titles also got more specific. Book #1: Everything You Know About Money is Wrong! Debunking the Myths and Revealing the New Rules for Riches. This book covered the “maximizing wisdom” part of the original big book. I also added into it a little bit of the other four parts because this was going to be the start of the series and I wanted to give readers a preview of what would come later. The two big chapters that I added to it where “How to raise your earnings” which gave out negotiation scripts for getting a raise and “How to clean up your credit report” which took readers through a step by step process of getting negative items removed from their credit reports. The biggest and best decision I made with this first book was to release it for free. At any time, anyone could download it for free. This pretty much guaranteed people would read it and hopefully would like my writing style and the information I was giving out enough to continue reading the series.
Book #2: 135 Ways to Make Money Online: All of the Legitimate Online Companies that will Pay You to Work from Home. With this book, I went into “earning more money”. I did a lot of research looking for legitimate companies that actually do pay people to work from home and listed them as scam-free. Because we’ve all seen the scammy websites out there that promise you a good work-from-home job like online surveys or others that just end up being MLM and network marketing scams. The main selling proposition of this book was that I did all of the screening and investigation so that the reader wouldn’t have to. I wanted to release this one because a lot of other gurus in the “making-money” niche just seem to assume that you already have money set aside for investing and starting businesses. What they don’t realize is that people come to them because they’re already feeling the pinch when it comes to money. I thought that by showing people how and where they could at least temporarily earn more money by working from home so they’d end up having some to play with when it comes to investing and entrepreneurship. I finally put my ego away and didn’t command a high price for the first book for sale. Instead of $9.99, I only charge $2.99. That’s a more reasonable price that people are happier to pay. When you put yourself in the buyer’s shoes like I should have in the first place, you start to re-evaluate your thinking. When I look through the Kindle store as a buyer, I’m a big skeptic. When I look at a specific book, I think to myself, how long did the author spend on writing this? Did they really spend a lot of time researching the subject matter or are they just somebody trying to make a quick buck off of a keyword phrase? You take a risk either way, but when the price is reasonably low, the risk is reduced. Book #3: The Recession Survival Guide: How to Save Without Suffering, Clean Up Your Credit, and Live Large on a Light Wallet, I focused on “managing your money” by showing all of the savings tips that I had in the original big book and even added some new ones. I also spent time on how to successfully sell stuff on eBay, Craig’s List or even old-fashioned yard sales. So as you can see, this content of this book is targeted for a specific group of people and the title indicates that to them. That was the main problem as to why the original book wasn’t selling. There was too much content and it wasn’t targeted. I priced this one at $2.99 as well. Then with Book #4: Realistic Passive Income: 5 Proven Ways that Work, I got straight to the “maximizing your money” content from the original, by focusing solely on 5 sources of passive income, how to get them and manage them. Topic-focused, and no generalities. That was what was needed from the beginning. I priced this one at $3.99 to make it stand out from the others as far more beneficial too. Finally, the last thing I did was make one big compilation book that contained the best parts of the three being sold. I sold this big compilation book for $7.99, which seems like a deal when you consider how you’d have to pay $10 for the three being sold if you bought them individually. I did this mainly because I didn’t want to let the beautiful design for the original book go to waste and also to have a greater presence in the Amazon Kindle store as well.
That’s another thing that every Kindle author should know. One book is never going to be enough to make an income for you. You have to continually write and write book after book. Keep them coming and eventually, a livable income will come out from them.
YouTube Tutorials The problem with my YouTube channel was that it contained nothing but video advertisements, which people don’t even pay attention to. That’s not the reason why we use YouTube. It’s actually the second most used search engine and even YouTube videos rank very high in Google search. So I had to find a better way to take advantage of that. I decided that with my video channel, from now on, I would only post a video that was a tutorial of some sort that would benefit the viewer in some way. Now that I had good screen recording software, I could do that. “How to” is entered a lot into the YouTube search engine (and search engines in general) because people are looking for solutions to their problems, not ads. But here’s the neat thing, at the end of a video tutorial, you can place a call to action that directs the viewer to do something else, such as visit your website, subscribe to your email list or follow you on Facebook. People are more inclined to do something like that for you once you’ve provided value for them in some way. I could write a whole new book just on how to do YouTube better, but instead I posted the most beneficial information in these two posts on my blog: 6 Simple Tricks to get more from YouTube Marketing 7 Very Effective YouTube Video Marketing Practices
Getting Social Social media was really the last thing that was on my mind when I was building the business, because if you don’t have the time or effort to invest into it, it shows and that looks very bad. Then there’s also the hole that I was putting myself in, I was only trying to sell a book and social media isn’t very effective for doing that. People don’t follow to be sold to. The point of social media is to be social, duh! So who do you reach out to? I felt like a pest, bothering others to follow me if all I was trying to do was make a sale. But there’s a more clever way to do this. What should have been obvious to me all along is that there were at least a million other people out there in the same position I was in. Maybe they weren’t self-published authors, but they were info-preneurs of some sort. They had YouTube channels with only a few videos uploaded, blogs with only a few subscribers, or perhaps podcasts with only a few listeners and no reviews. So I put the Honorarium Theorem to the test again.
If I subscribed to their YouTube channel, their WordPress (or even Blogger) blog, or podcast on iTunes, they may return the favor to me, or at least give me a good glance. If I left comments or reviews on their media platforms, they’d do the same. I specifically looked for those small-time bloggers that were just starting out. Sure, I could have reached out to the big name bloggers, but because they were already big, they could have easily ignored me. But the little guy or girl blogger that just launched their venture, they would be grateful for every new subscriber or person that would just interact with them in general and certainly would not ignore me. They’d be at the very least, willing to start a mutually beneficial relationship and at most, become a fan for life. The way I interacted with these newbies wasn’t with spammy sounding comments (like “my blog covers this subject too, here’s the URL”) or with comments that didn’t add anything (like “Nice post. Very insightful”). Instead, I’d try to add something new to the conversation that compliments what they had already written. If they did a post about SEO tips, I’d dish out a few of my own in their comments section. So I theorize that many aspiring info-preneurs look at social media in a backwards way. You shouldn’t just build your site or publish your books, then set up social network profiles and expect people to follow just because it’s you. The interaction with people has to come first. Go out to find your followers and interact with them while their small, then they’ll find and follow you on the social networks. Even Jesus had to find and call upon his followers. And they were all quite small and obscure in their beginnings. When you start out small and recruit the small, you will be a fisher of men, as opposed to a phisher that pretends to be bigger.
Conclusion The main lesson I had to learn was that the online businesses that succeed are the ones that “make the internet a better place”. That’s going to be my overall goal for the Unfair Edge. So how do we even do that? As bloggers, podcasters, video producers, publishers, or marketers, we need to ask ourselves a few questions before we post, upload or publish:
Will this fill a need or solve a problem? Am I saying something that hasn’t been said before or am I just rehashing things I found somewhere else? Does this deserve to rank on the first page of Google for that particular keyword? Is this aligned with the reader’s understanding of the subject matter or is it over-laced with jargon and gobble-dy-gook? Is the tone of the content positive and uplifting or is it something that will just tear down and destroy? Have I been specific enough without getting tangential or is this too general? Is it believable or over-laced with bold claims?
The first two questions should be answered before you even begin to create your content. It’s obvious to most of us that we should always be as useful and unique as possible. And if that’s what we are, then there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be on the first page of Google’s search results. However, that does not mean you can’t say things that have been said before, so long as you say them differently and better. Really, every idea has been done before, but can it be done better? Take a look at movies as an example. The movie The Thing has been remade a second time (someone seriously thought they could do better than Howard Hawkes and John Carpenter). And apparently, not many people went to see it (it only grossed $16 million at the box office) because there wasn’t much left to add to it. I remember Spiderman was remade (The Amazing Spiderman) only 10 years after the original came out. It grossed $261 million, which is only a little more than half of the original ($400 million). But when things are reinvented rather than just remade, like Christoper Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, they do much better. Nolan’s trilogy earned more than all of the previous Batman movies combined ($1.1 billion versus $704 million). And each of the new Star Trek movies have made at least double what each of the previous ones did. The reason why is because they take a whole different and better approach to the subject matter. Question number four really requires you to understand who your audience is and where they are at. Are they intermediate or advanced? I struggle with this one because I don’t want to talk down to people like they’re idiots but I also don’t want to sound like some conceited smarty-pants that takes pleasure in
talking over people’s heads. But the best practice I’ve found is to speak in the way that you would if you were to explain something complex to a friend. You obviously wouldn’t talk to them like they’re a dummy. And in the online world, if something really is that complicated and they don’t understand, they’re smart enough to look it up. And I found it safe to assume that the really advanced, smarty-pants people weren’t coming to me, a new guy on the scene, to begin with. Next, question number five is about the tone. It’s easy to be negative, yes. But does that benefit anyone, really? Sure, there are songs we just can’t stand. There are celebrities we think are a total waste of space. We disagree with other people’s politics and religious beliefs. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people complain about stupid people and think that helps to make them look smart. This isn’t quite so black and white all the time. Some of my posts, particularly the Rip-off Alert ones, certainly aren’t positive. But here’s the difference: those do help people and save them money. And helping people should be the overall goal behind everything we do. The content of those posts are based on actual experiences; whereas just hating on a song, celebrity, religion or politician is based on an opinion. One reason why people share their opinions is to persuade others to have them. You can’t be very persuasive when you’re very nasty and negative. The last two questions really go together, at least in my niche. The reason I started this enterprise was because there are gurus out there that make bold claims and promises, but offer nothing up but broad generalities. The way you can be more specific is to share more of your personal experience, and by doing that you’re not making bold claims, but just sharing what worked for you or what didn’t. And that’s a good disclaimer. What you’re reading right now is what didn’t work for me originally and then what finally did work. A dumb thing I could have done was to say it’s “the only business book you’ll ever need”, or even title it that. Remember from earlier that titles have to be specific too. Finally, after debunking the statistic that 9 out of 10 business fail in the first year, and after showing you everything I learned from my failure, are you at all afraid to fail? If the worst that can happen is that you’ll learn a lot, there’s no reason to be afraid.
Other Books By Jonah Jones
All Four Books Rolled Into One:
About The Author
Michael Jonah Jones is the founder of Unfair Edge Inc., a financial education company that teaches investment strategies and tactics for passive income as well as entrepreneurship in the digital age. Jones offers up weekly podcasts, articles, presentations and other media downloads free at AnUnfairEdge.com. Jones is a graduate from the University of Central Florida and Saint Petersburg College with degrees in Mass Communication and Digital Media. He was born and raised in St. Petersburg, FL. He had spent most of his working life in manual labor jobs like cooking in restaurants and working in retail. It wasnâ€™t until 2012, after his third college graduation, that he began more meaningful work such as market consulting and webmastering for Lavan: Body, Mind & Soap. For a more in-depth look into Jonesâ€™ unique story, go to www.AnUnfairEdge.com/jonah/ Friend Him on FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/michael.j.jones.12 Add Him to You Circles on Google+ http://www.gplus.to/jonahjones Follow Him on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/AnUnfairEdge
Published on Oct 9, 2013
The fear of failing often paralyzes many from starting a business. But is that fear justifiable? How often do new businesses fail? Even if f...