This is a Guest Post by Adii Pienaar, the author of Brandiing, a practical guide to content strategy and branding for business. After reading Authority, Adii was inspired to share his own story. Having had some success as a startup entrepreneur, Adii is now ‘paying it forward’ and is launching PublicBeta, a learning platform for entrepreneurs by other (very) successful entrepreneurs. In this post Adii reveals how he used Authority to launch his own e-book and how you too can use his techniques to launch your writing career.
Part of the reason I am releasing my own e-book, Brandiing, is after reading Nathan Barry’s book Authority. In some way I owe it all to him. Well perhaps not all of it.
But I have been heavily influenced by his recommendations on how to launch and distribute my book. I wrote Brandiing because I regard branding as the primary driver in my personal and professional success to date.
I’ve always had a passion for branding and I wanted the opportunity to teach others on how they can use branding implementation to further strengthen their customer relationships and ultimately increase their commercial and financial revenues.
This is not to say I am motivated by money. My ultimate goal is to help other entrepreneurs succeed in living out their dreams and to learn from both my successes and failures, to which I go into more detail in my book.
In this case, I want share how I based my e-book launch strategy, using Nathan’s top tips and modifying them to make them my own:
1. What do people ask you for help with?
Nathan asks this question in Authority and when I read the book, that question resonated with me. At the time I had just started working on my new startup, PublicBeta, and the first course (on branding) that I was gonna offer. I realized that not only was I incredibly passionate about branding, but also that I get loads of Clarity call requests, where I get asked to help with branding strategy and tactics.
That served as a great reminder that I could be passively answering those questions and provide that help, whilst also achieving two, secondary aims: generating some revenue and building more of an audience.
In addition to this, I completely agree with Nathan that anyone can be an expert and you create that reputation for yourself by writing and teaching. This is also something which I’m a big advocate of as it relates to your personal branding (something which I write about quite a bit in Brandiing) and the benefits that it presents.
2. Build an audience by shaping your brand
The first place I wanted to start was an email mailing list (something which I neglected in the past). Using my personal network, my experience at WooThemes as Co-Founder and CEO, and my blog I was able to tease my readers about the impending launch of PublicBeta and the book itself. I used a mix of strategies around bylines at the bottom of my most recent blog posts, to have a landing page already set up for emails to be taken and using my Twitter feed to directly engage with prospective readers.
Although considered a ‘dinosaur’ in terms of a communication channels, I believe email is the most effective form of directly chatting to your customers one-on-one and allowing for open discussions, positive or negative.
This is why using a mailing list will be my number 1 sales channel. In the lead up to the launch, I sent several teaser email to ensure I stayed in contact with those who have signed up and updated on news.
This strategy helped me go from zero subscribers to just over 1600 subscribers in about 2 months. Not bad, huh? :)
3. Writing Consistently
Nathan advocates that writing consistently is a crucial skill and habit. He goes further to recommend that you write at least 1000 words a day.
When I started working on Brandiing, I was able to hit that 1000 word target consistently and it quickly became a habit. I soon found out though that along with the other writing I was doing (other blog posts), it was easy to the target of writing a 1000 words a day; it just wasn’t as easy to get 1000 words a day done for Brandiing.
This meant that some weeks brought great progress, where others were definitely slower. What I did though is to double-down on the times where I was really enjoying writing and when the words for flowing. Some days that meant that I could churn out 2000 or 3000 words in one session (of a couple of hours).
I also didn’t write on weekends. And whilst writing Brandiing, I also went to Thailand on holiday for 10 days, which meant 0 words written in that time.
But writing consistently (at least relative to a week at a time), I managed to complete the 30 000 words in Brandiing within only 6 weeks. What makes that even more impressive (even if I may say so myself) is that this time included edits & rewrites. :)
4. Having the recipe decreases friction
I self-published a book way back in 2008 and the one thing I know now is that having loads of variables (what format should the book be published in, how / where should I publish it, how should I market it, etc.) ultimately adds friction to the creation process. That also means that your perceived barrier to entry is so much higher than it actually is.
With Authority though, I felt like a had a good idea of what a winning plan and recipe would look like. So even though my previous self-publishing experiences were excruciating, Authority helped smooth over those cracks by just giving me the recipe.
Certain things about Brandiing I copied Nathan’s recipe almost verbatim:
The landing page;
Teasing the content before release;
Getting a few guest posts (like this one) published on launch day;
Using Gumroad for payment processing; and
Having pricing tiers.
And that list can probably go on for a while.
The verdict on my success is obviously still out, but knowing that Nathan’s recipe has brought him loads of success definitely leaves me optimistic.
In ending this post, I also wanted to share some of the things that I did to augment Nathan’s approach:
Think about your structure only once. When I started to write Brandiing, I mapped out all of my ideas in a Trello board and categorized them according to broad concepts. These categories eventually became my main chapters and the ideas the different sections within that. After doing that, I mostly left it along and I used it only when I encountered writer’s block.
Get an editor. I used a freelance copyeditor (via Odesk) to specifically help me with spotting any (logical) gaps in my content and to take care of all my edits. I did this, because I know that I’m bad with that kind of thing and it was just going to be a mental drain for me.
Be visual. I’m a bit of a closet designer and lover of beautiful things. I’m also a very visual person. So I hired a designer to help me illustrate some of the concepts within the book, both to be decorative and fun, but also to emphasize some of the most important things I was teaching in the book. The added benefit of this is that visuals like these have the potential to be quite viral and can be used in so many different ways to promote the book (especially via social channels).
When hiring a designer… You should always try balance your finances with any design exercise / project, as this gets expensive quite often. What I generally tend to do is to find a talented, up-and-coming designer via Dribbble and I then make a choice based purely on style (thus, my preference). Using this method I was able to get illustrations for the book and a sales page designed and developer for $1,000.
If you’ve always wanted to publish your own material, then I hope this post has inspired you to stop procrastinating and start writing. Reading Nathan’s book is a good place begin. Plenty of people are dreamers, but by using these practical tips, you too can become a self-published author. If you ever have any self-doubt, follow the JFDI mantra.
The hardest part is always writing that first word.