Let’s Celebrate My Blog’s First Birthday!
Posted: September 4th, 2013 by Ashley Saunders
So, it’s been just over a year since I started this blog and the site. I’ve sold over a 1000 books in the time, launched 2 free books, plus I’ve written, edited and posted over 100 blog posts. I’ve also sent over 2000 tweets. Plus I’ve received some great reactions to what I write from Facebook, Twitter, amazon reviews and by the old fashion email!
While that all sounds impressive, I’ve learnt a lot – scrub that, I’ve learn a HUGE amount. So, in honour of today’s post (Post 100!) – I’m going to reveal how I failed, yep. I know I’m forever telling you how great I am and how much I know. However, this post will be about how I sucked, didn’t try hard enough, slacked off, fill the blank!
I’m doing this in order that you, dear reader might learn something.
Lesson 1: Not having a plan
This is only partly true; I kind of had a plan. It was simple and didn’t have many details or any depth to it. I’ve realised now, that you really need to have a clear idea of what the objectives are and how they will be achieved. On this one, I’ve failed and done so majorly.
Now, I have a solid content plan which is in place and being worked on. This post – it’s part of the new plan!
The other thing about planning, is it’s quite easy to plan and think big and act small (usually its acting big and thinking small), and not have any of the details or the tactics and just have a lose outline. It’s easy then to mould the plan around what you would like to not what you have planned to do. Sure the plan needs to be flexible to change but you need some concrete ideas which are then adhered to.
It can be however, easier to “just do it” (thank Nike!) or as Richard Branson would say – “screw it, let’s do it!”. You and I both need a plan, with goals in place that can be used to track progress and focus you when it all goes wrong or doesn’t work out as planned.
Lesson 2: Do what matters not what could look good
I’ve spent way – and I mean far too much time on design, changing the font colour by one hex colour – didn’t change that much – so wasn’t changed in the end. I tried to build a metronome – which failed! This plan is still in place – and I’ll release it as a freebie!!
Also, I spent days working on a cool drop down box, so to simplify the amount of countries seen when looking on a product page. It looks great now, but took way too much time. Plus, after wasting days, I ended up using a bit of code I’d already written and used on another site I own – it only took a few hours to implement.
Most of the above failed to make it past even just the first stage yet it took days/weeks to get to the point of failure. If we look at it from an opportunity cost point of view, it took way too long to show a result. I could have used the time to write more blog posts, more guitar eBooks or worked on marketing this site better. I sucked at limiting/managing my time properly and defining exactly what it was that I was trying to achieve.
The other thing is while people I admire were building there business by writing content, offering cool giveaways or doing speaking gigs – I was up to my eyeballs in code! It’s changed now but a lesson learnt the hard way.
Lesson 3: SEO isn’t what you think!
I learned early on that SEO is a dark art, smoke and mirrors, sleight of hand – if you will. Well, that’s what the majority of so called SEO experts online want you to think. They usually sell you a product which contains out of date information that is likely not to work and to set you back further.
I don’t have this perfectly down, but good SEO is about writing great content that connects with people and so they share it and talk about it. It’s not about trying to game Google or Bing or whatever search company you use.
For example the BBC website ranks well (this just means they pop up in the first three results when you search) as they are constantly posting, the news items are well written and they happen to be long and descriptive. The same goes for most news sites and for sites like Wikipedia and About.com.
The people who try to game the search companies are getting banned (meaning their sites won’t appear in the search results). A lot of the so called SEO strategies that worked a few years ago no longer work – actually they harm the site and hamper progress.
I wasted hours reading up on “the dark arts” only to learn most of it was out of date and didn’t work any more. This time could be used to write new books, connect with you or write some more posts on this blog.
Lesson 4: Believing other people story (without knowing the full facts)
There are a few people who have reported selling over a million eBooks using amazon. As the say goes – never let the facts stand in the way of a good story.
While there are a few who have sold a large volume of books based on merit (or price!) and therefore it can’t be repeated, the majority who claim to being selling a truck load a day either aren’t and are trying to sell you something or have gamed the system in one way or another.
There is author who claims to have sold over a million eBooks, who has openly state that he has paid for review on amazon. Positive reviews on amazon push your eBook up the results page as their search system believes that more (and real) people purchased and preferred that book over yours (or mine) and therefore it must be a better book and because its superior, more people will want to read it rather than try their luck on a book with no reviews. The company who was (and still could be) offering review was blocked by Google’s adverting program.
To be clear, I’ve only ever asked people to write honest reviews of books I’ve written. I want you to get a balanced view of what the book offers and whether you can learn something from it or not.
Lesson 4: Keep writing
This is a big one. I really should be at 200 to 350 posts by now. Instead this is post 100. Why should I have double (or triple) the amount of posts? I should have shared more with you, like cool videos, gear I’m using, my motivation for play guitar etc. I should have written more and design/programmed less. Like I said above, this would have sky rocketed my traffic and book sales too. I kinda feel dumb writing this – but this is honesty in action!
I now realise that some of the people I look up to, who are making money using the internet is that they have the site done and then they fill it with great content. They don’t tweak the layout much or try to add cool little feature (that no-one uses!)
I’ve started to write at least one post a day to share with you from now on. So get ready for some great content.
Lesson 5: Promising not to write and release anything new…
Then releasing two books. Yep, I wasn’t planning on releasing any new books this year. So far I’ve released two new books: “40 Guitar Tips” and “Free Music Theory”.
By the way both those books took only a few hours to write, format and release. One of the books being released first as a series of blog posts then in eBook format.
So, will there be more books? Well, the answer is maybe, I have three books I wrote last year that haven’t been edited or formatted. I might get round to getting sorted and out by the end of the year. I, as always I have some ideas for books I’d like to write. So, who knows?!
Lesson 6: Launching an eBook with pay by tweet/FaceBook post
Another clever idea, until it turned into a dumb one! I thought that my market was people in their teens to 30s.
Instead, most people who downloaded my “free music theory” eBook, were older, didn’t have Twitter/FaceBook or didn’t understand why I was asking them to take an action based on either website. So didn’t want to allow the software I used to Tweet or post on their FaceBook wall.
I used this method so I could track who downloaded it. I always wanted to be able to thank them and ask for feedback. Plus if others could see that they have downloaded a free and useful book, then their friends might get the book for themselves. Which is great as people who download the book would become my marketing effort. Free PR for me! Again great idea, until it died slowly!
Since changing the product page to a standard PDF download, it’s been downloaded several hundred times vs. the hand full of Tweet’s which I got sent to let me know people have downloaded it.
I did get some nice feedback on some forums and via twitter – which helped to soften the blow of it not working out how I expected it too.
Lesson 7: Not letting people know, that I’m happy to send PDF
I’m more than happy to send you a watermarked PDF of any books you have purchased through amazon. Simple email me a copy of the invoice – and I’ll email you a watermarked PDF. I’m thinking about how I can do both Kindle books and PDF in the future.
I plan to trial a buy PDF button in the near further, giving you more options to buy my stuff!
Lesson 8: Trying to be on every platform and not managing it well
I’m talking about Google plus, FaceBook, Twitter, Pintrest, forums, other blogs and my blog. Phew!
I really do suck at this, so I’ve chosen to be on here (my blog), FaceBook and Twitter. That’s all. Any new blog posts get automatically posted to FaceBook and Twitter – nice! That’s a bit of working smart!
I will try and stop in on forums and other blogs now and again but that’s not part of the plan.
I also tried to be on every eBook platform. Another dumb idea! Amazon has worked the best for what I’m trying to achieve. Google Books has sent some viewers to this site, and has allowed me some extra publicity but I haven’t sold a book – not a single one! I’ve clocked up a few thousand views on Google books and still nothing!
Other sites are not worth talking about – mostly because I sell educational book and not novels or chick-flicks! There’s a load of forums, site and places to meet if you write the latter but only a few that cover the former.
Again it comes back to the Kindle, which for me and my objectives has helped me sell books and get some of you who are reading this now. A double win!
I’ll keep trying! Stay tuned!
Wow, I didn’t mean to write a fresh book detailing my failures, problems and general dumbness! Sorry for writing over 2000 words!
Hopefully you can see I’ve made a lot of mistakes, tried a lot of dumb things and learn a huge amount over the last year. About 18 months ago when I started this, all I knew was how to build a decent website. I knew nothing about writing a great blog post, and I’m still working at this!. SEO was just a buzz word and WordPress was a program, I had heard of and barely used on another site I used to own (which is a long story).
See these are all skills you can pick up along the way and spend time learning and refining. Exactly like playing music or riding a bike.
The main lesson that you should take from this is: I tried something, I failed, I read up or asked someone for help, I tried again.
Failure will harm you for as long as you let it. If you fail then take a day or two to feel sorry for yourself then you pick up the pieces and try again – than you haven’t failed, you’ve just hit a bump. The more you fail the less you’ll feel it and the more quickly you’re likely to try again. If you fail and you let yourself be overcome with shame or spend too much time looking at how high the wall is that you’re trying to climb – you’ll truly fail as you won’t get back on the right track and try again.
I hope you learn from my mistakes and I hope you get inspired to start your own blog, write that book you’ve be dreaming off or learn to play guitar better.