Day 63 Back in the Saddle

ACTIVE SPRINT

For 8 weeks I make one thing my focus and work it until completion.

Goal – Publish The Ultimate Salon Marketing Course by 19th Apr 19

Progress made today

I got two hours on the course today, and most of that was spent on a lesson I realised I don’t need and doesn’t make sense to include.

I made the mistake of going online during a break to check my messages and lost time going back and forth with a lead for an exciting client. Nothing that could not have waited to suit my schedule better but rushing to chase down that next lead is a hard habit to break.

Lessons Learned

Write 100 times. “Do not check Facebook messages until AFTER your sprints are done.”

Tomorrow’s Plan

Let’s try this again, shall we? – 5am. Course work (3 x25 Minute sprints) – 7am. Take doggo for a walk – 8.30am. Shower, dress, breakfast – 9am. Course Work (7 Sprints) – 12.30pm. Lunch – 1pm. Client Work – 4pm. End of Day Routine – 4.30pm Blog Post – 5pm. Stop

Other Goals

The aim of the 8-week sprints is to be able to work exclusively on one thing, but life isn’t like that and somethings need to be done all year round for self-care and paying the bills while trying out new things like 8-week work sprints.

Goal – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

Today’s Progress

10,940 steps which aren’t as important as building up the 5am start habit. 

Lessons Learned

Sleep is everything. Get that right and life is a nicer place to be. And Ambient music. I’m listening to Ambient Soundbath as I write and I can feel it loosening the knots in my head.

Plan for tomorrow

Up at 5am and get round to ordering trainers.

Goal – Make a £30,000 Profit from Marketing Business

The main piece of work on this is the Salon marketing course but to sustain credibility that course has to be fed with experience and results from current, successful internet marketing campaigns.

Fixed Fee Lead Clients

Progress made today

Built out a full sales funnel for a Tanning Salon. It’s quite lovely because it connects to a suite of other related products so that if laying on a sunbed isn’t your thing to get a golden brown skin tone there are other options to choose from.

Lessons Learned

Rather than tie everyone up in meetings, I walked through the whole funnel using MakretPlan.io, recorded the whole thing and sent the video link to the client. They can watch at their own leisure, mail me any questions and see the updates on the plan

Tomorrow’s Plan

Start work building out the funnel with landing page content, keywords, and Ad copy. The nice thing is I can do that inside the planning tool.

I’m also writing SEO rich product titles and descriptions for a category of industrial tools to improve a Google Shopping campaign for an e-commerce client. I’m writing those in a shared spreadsheet so the client can see them getting built and offer input in real time. 

Goal – Finish on Time, Weekends off and 6 Weeks Holiday

Progress made today

Settled on my daily routine with what looks like a nice balance of self-care, family time, projects and client work.

Lessons Learned

Time off, true time off with no peeking at work feels good.

Tomorrow’s Plan

Finish at 5pm. The only people who complain about clock watching are those trying to get you to work for free.

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

Reading

  • Promised Land by Robert B. Parker. I’m not half-not-feeling this. There are strong moments of connection where the MC tackles his environment but wanders off into monologues on feminism while the events around the supporting cast strain suspension of disbelief. There is a steady flow to the writing that’s keeping me in there, and I hope it is building up to a satisfying payoff.
  • The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman. A solid idea and highly recommended for any creative/, but as we head towards the end of the book, Herman is repeating a lot of content from other chapters. A reminder that editors are not optional and a good one could have made this the next War of Art.

Finished Books

  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Ask the Dust by John Fante

Goal – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

In Progress

  • Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization by Issac Rudansky
  • No Fear Funnels by Dave Foy

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018 by Issac Rudansky

Project Hopper

Options to feed the next 8-week sprint.

Goal – Sell 20,000 Novels

Project – Planet Killer

Today’s Progress

Lessons Learned

Plan for tomorrow

Pay Per Lead Clients

Progress made today

Lessons Learned

Tomorrow’s Plan

Day 62 – Life Stuff

Life has a way of kicking over the tables and stamping the pieces on the floor. Life stuff happened in the past few weeks. Big distracting life stuff that demanded attention, thinking time and choices. It all started the day after I made the grand announcement about heads down 8-week sprints because fuck it the universe needs a laugh as well.

Everything that needed to be done has been done, and more stuff will need doing, but the initial chaos has been processed. Someone will ask me about what messed up my first sprint at a panel or the bar afterwards, and the answer will sound like a Harold Lloyd sketch. Onwards and upwards.

ACTIVE SPRINT

Publish The Ultimate Salon Marketing Course by 19th Apr 19

I’m messing about with the blog layout to make the current sprint the top goal. It’ll look ugly but it’s Sunday night, and there’s time to get something that flows better in the weeks to come.

Progress made today

None. I’m sticking to the rules of the sprints. Set hours every day and weekends off.

Lessons Learned

Lose the phone at the weekends. Let the family know to ring the landline if they need me, switch to paperbacks or the first generation Kindle for reading. Stay off the web, the news brings me down and spending uninterrupted time with loved ones feels deeply satisfying as does Alexa playing every track that pops into my head. (I made her play Sigue Sigue Sputnik 3 times because the pronunciation made me laugh)

Tomorrow’s Plan

  • 5am. Get up and work on the course until the Taxi of Dad is needed to get the Kinder to an early shift.
  • 7am. Walk but not for much longer. Running training starts soon.
  • 8.30am. Shower, dress, breakfast
  • 9am. Back to work on the second module on how to build a one-page website. This could take minutes, but it’s a natural point to get the basics right and build the foundations for a light, fast, analysed website. Too many people, me included, are guilty of throwing up a website with the intention of making it better later, except we don’t and we wonder why it’s not doing what we need it to do. The end result will be one page ‘coming soon’ website but under the hood will be supercharged.
  • 12.30pm. Lunch
  • 1pm. More course work.
  • 3pm. Client work
  • 5pm. End of day routine
  • 5.30pm. Stop. Just stop. No hanging on to see if I get an answer because the work and the world will still be there the next day. Go and make dinner with NotOnTwitter, read, listen to music, play with the dog or free write in a notebook. Go outside!

Active Goals

Goal – Weekends off and 6 Weeks Holiday

Progress made today

This is the first true weekend I took off in a looonnnng time, and it feels great. So much so I’m thinking of making Friday afternoons the time when I do my prep for the next week and keep Sundays 100% offline. Nope, not thinking about it, done. I’ll write these on Fridays and schedule to publish on Sundays or something like that.

Lessons Learned

Time off is important and not in that lip service way. I’m so chilled out.

Tomorrow’s Plan

Finish at 5.30pm No matter what.

Goal 4 – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

Progress made today

Worked out my dates today. The Portsmouth Marathon is 42 weeks away. – 8 Weeks of 5k training – 30 Weeks of Marathon Training – 3 Weeks flex for injuries or illness Which gives me 2 weeks to get ready for the switch from early morning walks to early morning runs.

Lessons Learned

It’s easier to write about running than to do any.

Tomorrow’s Plan

I need new trainers, and at long last UK, Gear has PT–1000’s back in stock. Order tomorrow just in time for the start of the running schedule.

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

  • Reading Promised Land by Robert B. Parker
  • Listening to The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman.

Progress made today

I’ve allowed my reading to fragment and splinter over too many different books and just like work I don’t multi-task well. I’m ok with an audiobook for walks/runs and text for the house but not more than one of each at any time.

Lessons Learned

One book at a time.

Tomorrow’s Plan

  • Carry on reading Promised Land by Robert B. Parker
  • Keep listening to The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman. Most self-help books are shit. Herman’s Alter Ego Effect is a practical guide to dealing with imposter syndrome. Could have been half as short with some diligent editing but I recommend it for any creative.

Finished Books

  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Ask the Dust by John Fante

Goal – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

Progress made today

None

Lessons Learned

I need to figure out where learning time fits in my day.

Tomorrow’s Plan

Look at your schedule for 30 minutes of learning time every day. One course at a time.

In Progress

  • Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization by Issac Rudansky
  • No Fear Funnels by Dave Foy

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018 by Issac Rudansky

Project Hopper

This is what will feed the next 8-week sprint.

Goal – Sell 20,000 Novels

This is where I’m struggling the most. NOT working on the books but I’ve committed to 8 weeks sprints, and that means novels will get their turn as well. I’d make them first, but bills have got to be paid.

Day 48 – 8 Week Cycles

I have 3 income streams

  1. Royalties from my novels
  2. Revenue from my online courses
  3. Income from my Internet Marketing Clients

There are issues with these 3 income streams.

  1. Only the last one brings in any money because I haven’t published any books or courses.
  2. I’m no good at multi-tasking.

No one is good at multi-tasking. It’s not a thing anyone in the world can do. Some people are really good at switching between tasks. They can put down one project, pick up another, then go back to the original without losing their workflow. I’ve never learned how to do that very well no matter how hard I’ve tried.

That’s a problem. 3 income streams and only one of them is streaming income. The other two never get finished because getting, delivering and maintaining client work uses up the majority of my time. If I keep this up, I’ll be here this time next year no novels, no courses, and no more clients than I have now. That’s not acceptable.

Last week Dave Foy shared an article on using 8-week work cycles to boost productivity and lower stress that goes like this.

  • 6 weeks working with a focus on one or two projects
  • 1 week as an “open work week” that’s used as a buffer to tie up loose ends, work on miscellaneous things, and prepare for the next cycle.
  • 1 week vacation / sabbatical

DING! DING! DING! DING!

Bells went off in my head as I remembered the advice in business books including The Effective Executive, The One Thing, and Essentialism that matched up to my most significant project successes.

Focus on one thing at a time.

I do well focusing on one thing. It gets into my head, sets up shop and thrives while I work it to completion. What doesn’t work for me is asking that one thing to move out, bring in new tenants, give them enough time to get comfortable before moving them on to bring back the original work again.

But 6 weeks on one thing? Is that even possible? Yes, it is. In fact, I’m kicking myself; I never tried it before.

  • Planning, writing, or editing a new novel takes me about 6 weeks (the last one is a guess but feels right)
  • Setting up new clients from scratch takes about six weeks (That’s not constant as there is waiting time, but that means I can have blocks of onboarding new clients)

The question is what do I do first? For that, I went back to Gary Kellers advice

“What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

Gary Keller

The course. Creating, publishing, and selling the Ultimate Salon Course makes everything else easier.

  • It activates another income stream
  • It promotes my internet marketing business reducing the amount of time I spend on prospecting
  • It proves 8 week cycles work
  • It enables 8 week cycles for writing

Definitely easier.

Here’s my schedule for the next 8 weeks.

  • 18th Feb to 29th Mar – Create the Ultimate Salon Marketing Course
  • 1st to 5th Apr – Wrap up and plan next cycle
  • 8th to 12th Apr – Week off

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Be excellent to each other

Bill and Ted

Day 42 – Tasty

Goal 1 – Sell 20,000 Novels

Project – Planet Killer

Today’s Progress

  • 4 Writing sessions
  • 12 Chapters of 80 Edited

Lessons Learned

Too late and too tired to wax lyrical about this but learning to keep editing and rewriting separate is a wonderful thing.

Plan for tomorrow

Up at 5 am to write. Nothing else. No email, no cheeky checks of social media. Write until 7 am.

Goal 2 – Make a £30,000 Profit from Marketing Business

Project – Ultimate Salon Marketing Course

Progress made today

Outlined the first lesson. Went down a rabbit hole, spotted where I went wrong and ran out of time before I fixed it. However, it set a solid foundation of the course, and that’s to use a fictitious business as an example. Always easier to relate to something that looks like what you do.

Tomorrow’s Plan

In the first lesson introduce the example for the entire course.

Fixed Fee Lead Clients

Progress made today

Spent too much time solving a specific problem for a client but it highlighted that I don’t have a publicly available dev site that I can use to show clients what changes look like before I do them. Now I do.

Tomorrow’s Plan

  • Add a project task to configure Sales Funnel tracking on GA for a client
  • Add a sub-task to integrate Google Ads conversions into that tracking
  • Add a project task to build a report on the 100 most expensive keywords for a client and if they need to be paused, added to a negative keyword list or left alone
  • Add a project task to update the landing pages for the same client for a new campaign that also needs
    • Google Ads – review and confirm the budget
    • Facebook Ads – review and confirm the budget
    • Retargeting – review and confirm the budget

Pay Per Lead Clients

Progress made today

Completed many unplanned tasks. This is not good. Busy work that stops progress.

Goal 3 – Weekends off and 6 Weeks Holiday

Busy week and WILL NOT be working this weekend.

Goal 4 – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

11,512 steps this week. I have also discovered Tasty.com, and I’m working my way through all their dinner recipes. Here’s the rest of the week.

  • Tue- https://tasty.co/recipe/chili-beef-noodles
  • Wed – https://tasty.co/recipe/fajita-chicken-and-rice-dinner
  • Thu – https://tasty.co/recipe/veggie-garlic-noodles
  • Fri – https://tasty.co/recipe/easy-beef-and-broccoli
  • Sat – https://tasty.co/recipe/lasagna-soup
  • Sun – https://tasty.co/recipe/slow-cooker-stuffed-peppers
  • Mon – https://tasty.co/recipe/one-tray-garlic-primavera-pasta

They are simple, straight forward and tasty (now I get it!). Nice site for a kitchen novice like me.

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

Reading

  • Promised Land by Robert B. Parker
  • The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
    Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers

Finished Books

  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Ask the Dust by John Fante

Goal 6 – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

My morning listening time is taken up with The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman, but it’s a substantial trade-off. Highly recommended for anyone who ever struggled with imposter syndrome.

I’ll finish this off this week and jump back into Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization by Issac Rudansky.

In Progress

  • Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization by Issac Rudansky
  • No Fear Funnels by Dave Foy

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018 by Issac Rudansky

Day 41 – Everything has a process but it’s not always easy for me to find.

Goal 1 – Sell 20,000 Novels

Project – Planet Killer

Today’s Progress

  • 4 Writing sessions
  • 10 Chapters of 80 Rewritten

Lessons Learned

I like structure and routine. These are things that make sure I always know what I’m doing the next day, and that helps me show up with the right mindset. I know what I’m doing, and I work through getting it done. Easy.

Well, easy when you know what you’re doing. Not so much when you don’t. That is a massive sticking point for me because writing novels is still new. New as in I haven’t written and published one yet.

Getting caught up in details and the mechanics of writing hasn’t helped me either. I’ve spent as much time worrying if I’m doing it wrong as I have written.

I was listening to The Alter Ego Effect today and there was a reminder of the importance of a plan. I work well with plans; they are divine shorthand for routine. Even when I’m forced off plan I have a foundation to reference, adapt for progress and update for when I work on a similar project next time.

I have never rewritten a novel before. I know the manuscript has issues and I have a fair idea of the tools I can use to fix those issues (The Story Grid for scene structure and Motivation-Reaction Units for paragraph structure) but I didn’t have an order, process or plan on how to use them. So I fixed that today.

  1. 1st Edit – Story Grid
  • Print off the manuscript read through it and check each chapter to ensure it has the following
    • Does it have an inciting incident
    • Does that inciting incident match the story grid?
    • Does it have a progressive complication?
    • Does that PC match the story grid?
    • Does it have a crisis?
    • Does that Crisis match the story grid?
    • Does it have a Climax?
    • Does that Climax match the story grid?
    • Does it have a resolution?
    • Does that resolution match the story grid?
  • Make a note of any scene structure issues, differences to the story grid or any other issues to the manuscript. When you’re done, add all the issues to a fix list on a spreadsheet.
  • DO NOT FIX ANYTHING. THIS IS EDITING NOT WRITING
  1. 1st Re-Write – Story Grid
  • Go through the fix list and update the foolscap
  • Go through the fix list and update the story grid
  • Work through the fix list and rewrite the manuscript
  1. 2nd Edit – MRU
  • In Scrivener break down the scenes into motivation-reaction paragraphs.
    • External motivation
    • Main Character (MC) Reaction
      • Feeling
      • Action
      • Speech
  • Does the paragraph begin with External motivation?
  • Does the paragraph HAVE the MC’s reaction FEELINGS to external motivation?
  • Does the paragraph NEED the MC’s reaction FEELINGS to external motivation?
  • Does the paragraph HAVE the MC’s reaction ACTIONS to external motivation?
  • Does the paragraph NEED the MC’s reaction ACTIONS to external motivation?
  • Does the paragraph HAVE the MC’s reaction SPEECH to external motivation?
  • Does the paragraph NEED the MC’s reaction SPEECH to external motivation?
  • Make a note of any MRU issues in the comments linked to the paragraph. What do you think is missing and why do you think it needs to be fixed?
  • BE SPECIFIC – Why does the MC need to FEEL, TAKE ACTION, OR SPEAK IN REACTION TO THE EXTERNAL MOTIVATION.
  • DO NOT FIX ANYTHING
    THIS IS EDITING NOT WRITING
  1. 2nd Re-Write – MRU
  • Work through the fix list comments and rewrite the manuscript

Repeat at least once more before moving to the next stage EDITING.

Plan for tomorrow

Up at 5 am and start the 2nd Edit – MRU. I’ve already split down the MRU’s and started the rewrites of the first ten chapters, but I committed the cardinal sin. I tried rewriting while I was editing. My feeling is that’s why I’ve struggled so hard with this phase.

Tomorrow I’ll start with Chapter 11 and edit the MRU’s. I’ll capture what’s missing and why it matters. I’ll leave practical notes for when I have to rewrite.

Goal 2 – Make a £30,000 Profit from Marketing Business

Project – Ultimate Salon Marketing Course

Progress made today

Invites have been sent to the Beta Students.

Lessons Learned

This is a slower way to build the course, but it is a way to involve the target audience, discover their main issues and create the course that solves those issues.

Tomorrow’s Plan

Outline the first lesson and share with the group for feedback.

Fixed Fee Lead Clients

Progress made today

Nothing today. It’s Sunday.

Tomorrow’s Plan

  • Add a project task to configure Sales Funnel tracking on GA for a client
  • Add a sub-task to integrate Google Ads conversions into that tracking
  • Add a project task to build a report on the 100 most expensive keywords for a client and if they need to be paused, added to a negative keyword list or left alone
  • Follow up with a client about a landing page
  • Add a project task to update the landing pages for the same client for a new campaign that also needs
    • Google Ads – review and confirm the budget
    • Facebook Ads – review and confirm the budget
    • Retargeting – review and confirm the budget

Pay Per Lead Clients

Progress made today

Product list has been sent. Open up a new project for this.

Goal 3 – Weekends off and 6 Weeks Holiday

Today is the last Sunday I am ever working. Unless it’s something to do with superpowers, then I’m all in baby!

Goal 4 – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

Cranked out 8,541 steps today.

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

Reading

  • Promised Land by Robert B. Parker
  • The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
    Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers

Finished Books

  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Ask the Dust by John Fante

Goal 6 – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

Nothing here today.

In Progress

  • No Fear Funnels by Dave Foy
  • * Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization* by Issac Rudansky

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018 by Issac Rudansky

Day 40 – Losing time

You take your eye off a thing, and it slips away from you. I’ve been wondering if a daily blog was a good idea, took a weekend off and bam! Ten days have passed, and my goals fell off the radar.

I could lament and self-shame but that’ll do no good other than make me feel like crap. The lesson learned is that daily goal blogging works for me. More goal blogging not less keeps me focused.

Goal 1 – Sell 20,000 Novels

Project – Planet Killer

  • Zero writing sessions today
  • 7 chapters of 80 chapters rewritten

Writing every day is good for me, but I feel guilty for doing it because it’s not bringing in any money. Writing before you know if you’re any good at it, let alone before the rest of the world decides if you’re any good at it does not pay.

This makes me always feel I should be doing something else first to bring in money before I do any writing. Makes sense so far but when you open the door, even just a crack, to the outside world it sets off a chain reaction that finishes anytime between 6pm and 10pm with no writing done.

Blindly chasing jobs to pay the bills is chaos and doing what I’m doing means I’ll wake up every birthday promising that next year will be different, next year I’ll get the novel written. Fuck that. Fuck that all over the place because that’s my fear getting in the way and stopping all the good stuff from happening.

My happy future is writing, publishing and selling books that people read, enjoy and come back for more while telling their friends they should read them as well.

I want to see those books become audiobooks, comics, TV Series, movies, plays, fan fiction, and cosplay as they build their own universe.

As recently as yesterday I would shy away from that admission. I’d say I wrote books that I hoped people liked enough to buy, but that false modesty wasn’t moving projects forward, getting work done or building up a body of work. It wasn’t doing anything at all. It was hedging my bets, not fully committing to what I write and building in a back door to excuse failure ahead of time. That can go fuck itself as well.

I want a lot out of life. I want to be a best selling author, build a successful business, and most of all be the most positive, supportive presence I can be in the lives of my family, friends and community.

To make that happen the first thing that has to happen is to satisfy that need to write, publish and promote my books. It’s not a job, it can’t be switched on and off. Writing has to be done every day and before anything else.

Stick with me on this next bit because it’s new to me as well. Even though I want writing to secure my financial future, I’m not depending on it. I’ll write every day because it’s good for me. Writing every day helps me better connect and understand the world around me. Writing fiction, exploring how characters react to other people, the world around them and the conflicts they face helps me interact with the world. Writing fiction, making stories work is intensely satisfying and useful for my emotional and mental health. The most important thing is every day I’m writing, learning about writing, and improving my writing. If that makes me money that’s a machine I’ll never get tired feeding.

  1. Write everyday
  2. Read everyday
  3. Finish what you start
  4. Publish what you finish
  5. Promote what you publish
  6. Go to step 1

That’s the writing life I’ve been hiding from because of fear, imposter syndrome, low self-esteem, anxiety and any other wedge that can slip between the cracks of my joy and bust it apart. Blogging as therapy dear reader? Who knew?

That’s the whys out of the way but what about the hows?

Getting up before everyone else when the house is quiet and the world doesn’t need anything from me is an excellent time to write. Before I do anything else, even take the dog for a walk, I should write. Shuffle across the hall into the office, turn on the laptop and start writing. This has me thinking about a daily routine that gets me writing and earning.

  • 5am: Wake up and write
  • 7am: Walk the dog
  • 8:30am: Shower, dress, and make breakfast.
  • 9am: Write
  • 11am: Online course work
  • 12:30 Lunch
  • 13:00: Client work
  • 17:00 Prospecting
  • 17:30 End of day routine

Tomorrow is Sunday which means I finish work when I finish writing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Goal 2 – Make a £30,000 Profit from Marketing Business

Project – Ultimate Salon Marketing Course

Progress made today

Nothing today but I haven’t been idle. I can bore at the drop of a hat. Give me a topic I know something about, and you’ll wish I didn’t. Maybe it’s a tech support background or the tempoarary liberation from obscurity, but a simple question will get you diagrams, detailed explanations and analogies whether you want them or not.

This is not a desirable quality when building out an online course because it will make it an overly long, joyless experience for students who will not go and rave to others. They’ll hammer virtual warning signs around me warning others not to engage.

How will I avoid this? With Beta Students. I posted online asking for Beta students for the course as it was built. I’ll share the outlines, the lessons and the downloads for their feedback. Equally important is that as I build eh course it’ll force me to rewrite/edit the lessons before I release them to the betas

  • First draft is for me
  • Second draft is for them

Plan for tommorrow

I’m setting the group up for the Betas tomorrow and asking what they most want out of the course to help me build the outline.

Fixed Fee Lead Clients

Progress made today

As it’s the weekend, I’ve not done anything on this, but I’ve had a lot of thinking time about this whole part of my life.

I’m not an arts grants kind of guy. I applied for one once, got rejected and told by those more experienced than me that I’d been too honest. You get individual artists grants by applying for what the governing body wants, not what you’re really going to do. I couldn’t be arsed with that.

I gave up halfway through the setup of a Patreon account because the art I create (novels) has the potential to pay for itself and I’d no idea what to use as incentives. Besides who needs that pressure?

I’m happier having stress free space to write, publish, and promote. To get that stress free space I need an income, and that’s where the marketing business comes in.

If you’d have asked me before the weekend what was the plan for the marketing business I’d have said it was there to pay the bills until the writing money began to flow in. That was a lie I was telling myself. I really want it all.

  • Happy Family Man
  • Best Selling Fiction Author
  • Managing Director of a successful Marketing Business

Nothing else will do.

The best way I know to create a successful business is with a solid plan.

  • Plan the work
  • Work the plan

Business planning falls under the Anniversary Rule. Something you do at most once a year and usually not very well. I haven’t business planned very well at all for the Marketing Business. Guess what I’m doing for the next week?

Pay Per Lead Clients

Progress made today

None today but I did make a great find. The secret to making Pay Per Lead work is getting leads for less than I sell them for.

If on average it costs me £40 for each lead and I sell them for £50 that’s a nice profit. But if I can get leads for £1 and sell them for £50, that’s amazing.

I get leads by bringing visitors to a website and presenting them with an irresistible offer in exchange for the information the client needs. This is usually name, email address and whatever niche information they require that indicates buyer intent from the person submitting their information.

The four ways to attract traffic to a website are.

  1. Getting found on search engines
  2. Social Media
  3. Direct Mail
  4. Paid Traffic

The first three require planning and time from someone carrying out the work. The fourth option needs planning, time, and advertising spend. It makes sense to build a steady flow of leads from the first three options before spending money with Google, Facebook and everyone else.

To make the first three work you need content and way to distribute it that is measurable and sustainable. What are you going to publish, where are you going to publish it, is anyone reading it and how do you make sure you’re getting it out on time?

There are apps that don’t quite do all of that, and it’s always the one or two pieces they are missing that you need. What I found was a paper-based system that does all I need to build a steady content flow. I got in at the Kickstarter level, and it’s proving to be an invaluable tool. See me soar as a Content God, a one-man BuzzFeed and the next generation of HuffPo.

Goal 3 – Weekends off and 6 Weeks Holiday

This hasn’t been happening, and I’m suffering because of it. I’m writing tomorrow. Giving beta students access to the secret Facebook group and then I’m up, up and away for Sunday/weekend downtime.

Goal 4 – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

Got new boots. Minimalist footwear and stony Nothern Ireland footpaths do not mix. Walking until the end of this month then onto 5k training.

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

Reading

  • Promised Land by Robert B. Parker
  • The Alter Ego Effect by Todd Herman
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff
  • Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers

Finished Books

  • The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy.
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • Ask the Dust by John Fante

Goal 6 – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

Nothing here today.

In Progress

  • No Fear Funnels by Dave Foy
  • Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization by Issac Rudansky

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018 by Issac Rudansky

Day 29 – Enough is Enough

Providing more value to fewer clients for less stress is the way ahead.

I’ve spent so long on busy work for not a lot of money that I’ve got used to it. What killed me was I allowed clients to make their issues my problems to fix for free.

  • Shite website (harsh but true)
  • Lack of Budget (“I can’t spend more than $5 a day on Ads, but you’ll get me 4-5 x $350 bookings every day right?)
  • “The ads have been running for nearly two days where are my results?”
  • “I don’t have time to help you with the creative brief. Isn’t that what I pay you for?”
  • etc

This isn’t a moan about clients. I was cool with all that work when I was starting out. It was a badge of honour that I ran successful campaigns for little to no ad spend. Until I couldn’t.

What the client saved in ad spend I made up for with my time. That was ok at the start, but I reached a saturation point, and the work suffered. I lost my appetite to take on low pay/long hours, stopped enjoying it and that showed in the results.

I freelance so I can write novels except I’m not getting a lot of writing time because my lack of clarity on my services is confusing me as much as clients. Prospects came to me to solve a problem. I took on too much for too little money and dug myself into a hole of zero fun & satisfaction. That’s my fault, not theirs.

To get out of the hole, I’m writing my service catalogue that lays out what I do and for how much money. This first draft is for me, to set boundaries of what I need to pitch in my own sales funnels to get more clients.

Fixed Fee Lead Clients

Fixed fee lead clients pay a set price at the start of the month plus their ad spend to Google and Facebook. These services are included in your monthly fee (this applies to direct and white label clients)

  • Creative Brief (updated monthly)
  • Google Ads Management
  • Facebook Ads Management
  • 24×7 Online reporting
  • Monthly Account Management Call
  • Email support

Your fixed fee is based on your ad spend. The more you spend on ads, the higher your monthly management fee.

  • $299 – Upto $2,999 monthly ad spend
  • $499 – Upto $4,999 monthly ad spend
  • $750 – Up to $9,999 monthly ad spend
  • $1000 – Upto $20,000 monthly ad spend

The following services are available to fixed fee lead clients at additional cost on a case by case basis.

  • Landing Page Design & Build
  • Website Design & Build
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Social Media Management
  • Blog posts
  • Images for ads
  • Videos for ads

Pay Per Lead Clients

Pay Per Lead clients do not pay for anything other than leads. All services are included in the monthly bill for captured leads.

Price per lead is agreed before the campaign begins and is based on the amount of information to be gathered, the size of the target audience, and amount of competition.

Capturing an email address from a potential audience of hundreds of millions in a low competition environment will be a lower cost per lead than gathering many details from a specialist audience in a highly competitive environment.

I’ll pick 2-3 niches with good spend in them and translate the service catalogue into the niche’s language on landing pages. I’ll send targeted cold traffic to lead magnets that filter out the tire kickers leaving those who engage with the offer and book an initial consultation. That should feed the Fixed Leads Service Funnel to bring me steady work and steady income for less stress.

I’m trying out the pay per lead service with a current fixed fee client. It’s a UK and Ireland wide campaign, decent sized target audience with an ok amount of info to be gathered. It’s got healthy margins for the client, so the price per lead starts at £50 each. Lots of work but lots of potential as well. Done right I can use the fixed fee service to identify potential Pay Per Lead clients.

And the novel I’m resetting my life around?

“A teenage soldier is the Galaxy’s only hope for salvation from the brutal Alien Empire that trained her.”

How does that sound?

Day 25 – Kick Up The Arse

I had two very different conversations today.

The first conversation was with a client who is making $12 profit for every $1 they spend on internet marketing. That’s like you giving me $1,600 and me handing you $19,200 back. Nice right?

Not so much. I had 30 minutes with this client complaining I cost too much, and their ad spend is too high. I walked through the example above, and they told me that wasn’t the point. What that client wants is to pay half the money for double the profit. That’s soul destroying.

The second conversation was with one of my beauty business clients. I’ve been letting them all know I’m thinking of launching an online course that shows salon owners how to run internet marketing campaigns. I’m not asking permission, but I don’t want anyone being surprised when it happens.

I took her through the course outline and told her the plan was to launch in 3 months. Here’s how the online chat went.

“I don’t want to wait that long.”

“It’s going to take me that long to record all the lessons.”

“Yeah, but you could open the course, let people join, and they could watch them as they come out. Nobody is going to watch them all in a day anyway are they?”

“Hmmm, that’s not a bad idea.”

“How much will it cost?”

“$499.”

“What’s that in my money?”

“About £370.”

“You could do a discount. The earlier you sign up, the more discount you get.”

“You think people will sign up?”

“Only if they want to make money. I’d want you doing all that stuff for me but can’t afford it. This is the next best thing :-)”

And that was the kick in the arse I needed. I have choices every day. I can write or not write. I feel shite when I don’t write, so I write.

I can listen to a client try to guilt me into working more for less which makes me feel bad or I can create a course that people want and feel good.

So I posted this to my Facebook Group.

Early Warning – Who wants in?
Tomorrow I’m launching the first lesson in the Ultimate Salon Marketing Course that will show you how to get more leads, bookings and sales than your fiercest competitor.

When the course is finished, it will have over 50+ hours of beauty business specific tutorials on all of this.

  • Building a salon website
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation
  • Link Building
  • Copywriting
  • Ranking No1 On Google & Bing
  • Social Media Management
  • Mailing list Management
  • Google Search Ads
  • Google Display Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Yelp Ads
  • Pinterest Ads
  • Twitter Ads
  • Retargeting Ads
  • Intelligent Chatbots
  • Messenger Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • SMS Marketing
  • Google Analytics
  • Facebook Pixel
  • Add e-commerce to your website
  • Sales Funnels
  • And more

This course is so big with detailed step by step videos on how to do everything it’s going to take me 3 months of adding lessons every week to finish.

Students will have lifetime access to the course which includes 12 months membership to a dedicated Facebook group for coaching and feedback on your marketing campaigns.

There’s more.

The internet is an ever-changing thing, and so is the course. When all the lessons have been added, I’ll update the course at least once a month so you’ll always have the very latest hacks to keep your appointment books full and expand your business.

This course will be your go-to guide for years to come.

When it’s finished the course will cost $499, but for this weekend only I’m going to offer early doors access for only $49.

Early adopters will get lessons as soon as they are released and extended access to the Facebook Group.

After the weekend the price goes up another $49 and another $49 every week after that. I’ll never offer this course at this price ever again.

Sign up link goes live tomorrow.

Who wants in?

Day 24 – Baseball Bat and a Meat Cleaver

Goal 1 – Sell 20,000 Novels

Project – Planet Killer

I rewrote a chapter and a half today. Rewrites are a muscle that needs to be used every day. This has a knock on effect later.

Goal 2 – Make £30,000 Profit from Marketing Business

Project – Ultimate Salon Marketing Course

Fired up a new project and spent 20 minutes brainstorming tasks that need to be completed to get this up and running. I’ve got all the right notes I just need to get them in the right order. That’s the next step.

Fixed Fee Lead Clients

I use Plutio to track my work. It’s a project management tool with a developer who never seems to sleep or stay in one country for more than a day. Maybe he’s funding the whole thing with international jewel thefts, but it’s packed with features and more are added every other month.

I’ve created entries with custom tags to keep track of everything.

  • Goals
  • Clients
  • Projects

Everything that comes in is either added as an entry tagged as a Goal, a Client or a Project. It’s a new system, but it’s taken the mountain of marketing work and divided it up into who needs what. The next part is figuring out all the whens.

Pay Per Lead Clients

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a critical part of getting leads, but it’s a massive pain in the arse to do for Fixed Fee Lead Clients because it takes time.

It can be weeks but usually, months before the benefits of SEO take effect and doing that takes a lot of work. This causes a problem. Clients are paying me now and want to see results now especially local business tight on budget.

Pay Per Lead is different. I can take my time, run low budget paid ads to flesh out audience figures and keywords while I build up significant volumes of SEO traffic. Less spend on ads longterm means better margins on each lead.

I’ve just spent 3 hours I don’t have to research Syndication Networks, Google Drive Stacks, Citations, and Press Releases for SEO. They must be right because everyone wants a few grand for courses to show me how to build them. They are big, complicated and an ideal candidate for sourcing out to other people. Life is way too short to lurk around SEO groups deciphering the acronyms.

Goal 3 – Weekends off and 6 Weeks Holiday

The knock on effect I mentioned earlier is I want my weekends off, but I need to build up my rewriting skill. That means weekend writing time for the foreseeable future, but I don’t see it as a hardship as long as it’s done early and doesn’t interfere with family plans.

Goal 4 – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

I’ve got an insomnia thing going on and waking at three am. I knocked out 10,275 steps in this morning with the dog, but I’m dead on my feet. I took the night off, sleep and back at it all in the morning (not 3am)

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

My first exposure to Margaret Atwood was The Handmaid’s Tale so I was reluctant to tackle anything similar at the same time as The Road.

I don’t have the emotional armour to take on all that dystopia at once which was highlighted by the nervous laughs I provoked today when sharing my choice of post-apocalyptic-Brexit weaponry (Baseball bat, medium sized meat cleaver).

Six chapters in and The Penelopiad is sharp, witty and packed with imagery that’s been pleasantly my head all day. How did I not know how amazing Atwood is until now?

Reading

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers
The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Finished Books

  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Goal 6 – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

  • Listened to 6 lessons this morning taking me to Lecture 16. There’s focus on the Fogg Behaviour Model

“Behavior (B) happens when Motivation (M), Ability (A), and a Prompt (P) come together at the same moment.”

BJ Fogg, PhD – Behavior Scientist at Stanford University

(You can get people to do what you want if you make it attractive, comfortable and a clear starting point – There’s more to it than that I’ll need to finish the other 34 lessons to find out).

In Progress

  • Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018

I’m closing my eyes and hoping they don’t open again until 6am.

Day 23 – The Sunsets Are Bloody Marvelous

Goal 1 – Sell 20,000 Novels

Project – Planet Killer

I’m six chapters into the fourth rewrite of the 80 chapter novel. None of that was done today.

I’ve reached analysis paralysis with my goals and planning. Time to start doing.

I know that the best thing I can do for my writing is to do it before anything else. No email, no checking messages, the news, nothing. I’ll get up in the morning at 6am, take the dog for a walk, have breakfast get ready and start writing at 8am.

Goal 2 – Make £30,000 Profit from Marketing Business

Project – Ultimate Salon Marketing Course

I have an outline for the course. It’s rough, but it’s a start. I’ve shared it with a Beauty Professionals Facebook group but no feedback yet.

This morning I thought about what style, of course, do I want it to be? More importantly, what type of class does my target audience want it to be?

I love deep dive, detailed technical courses that get under the hood but I’m not feeling it for this.

This is a practical course where each lesson

  • Tells you what it’s going to tell you
  • Tells you with a step by step walkthrough
  • Tells you what it told you

Short lessons that stay on point with clear expected outcomes are the order of the day.

I need a plan to get the course built, published, reviewed and selling. This will help answer questions like

  • How much to charge?
  • Which platform?
  • How to promote

This isn’t to plan it to death but to make sure I’ve got the basics covered.

Fixed Fee Lead Clients

Onboarding clients is difficult. I need a lot of information upfront which can be challenging to get as clients are busy. I have gone months waiting on a client to send me information, approve access to an ad account or write content for the website. What’s worse is that it’ll often arrive in the middle of another project and the client, correctly, wants a fast turnaround. After all, they are paying for a service and want the benefit of it as soon as possible.

Today I’ve torn down my old onboarding sequence and rebuilt a new one from scratch.

This new sequence is untested and will need a few manual applications before I look for places to automate. This is not a major drama as the No1 most powerful thing about it so far is that it clearly lays out what I do and how I do it.

Tomorrow I’ll start with Client A and work my way through the list. I’ll update the notes as I go along until finished. Them I’ll start over with Client B, C, etc. This is going to take up most of February.

Once all the clients are set up the same and the reports are showing results I’ll be ready to convert the document into one of my process management tools. Which one I use will depend on what the process looks like after the current client set-ups.

This is not an exciting thing to do. Stopping after each part of the set up to validate/update notes is dull, but it’s powerful as it will create a measurable, repeatable process that will help quickly onboard clients and get them leads.

Pay Per Lead Clients

I’m going to initially set this up in the same way as Fixed Fee Lead client. Speed is of the essence as the faster this is set up the sooner it will generate income.

Goal 3 – Weekends off and 6 Weeks Holiday

I have booked off a week in March for my Birthday Plenty of time to arrange cover for clients.

I’ll also send a reminder to clients that support is Monday to Friday – 9 to 5 with no responses over the weekend.

Goal 4 – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

The dog and I walked over 18,000 steps today, and I took this picture.

This view always reminds me of the scene from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman where Lucifer grudgingly admits he’s enjoying the world his father created.

The walking is to build a routine, get him used to the lead and ease me from sedentary to mobile. We’re going to do this for the next six weeks before the running begins. Tomorrow I’ll create the long term running plan to take me all the way up the marathon.

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

I’ve been reading too many dudes recently. Time to break it up with some Margaret Atwood.

Reading

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers
The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

Finished Books

  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Goal 6 – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

Listened to the first ten chapters of the Landing Page Course while walking the dog. The instructor does a great job of audio imaging, so I don’t need to look at the screen.

When I get back in tomorrow, I’ll download the supporting slides and make a point of looking through them during my breaks.

In Progress

  • Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018

It’s late. I’m still figuring out how to get these done in a shorter period of time and stop them sounding like a shopping list. Getting there.

Day 22 – The Why of the Goals

I’ve set goals to cover these areas.

  1. Self-Publishing
  2. Marketing Business
  3. Self-Care
  4. Fitness
  5. Reading
  6. Learning

There are family orientated goals as well, but I won’t be posting those online. I’ll keep the online spreadsheet updated with hard numbers as they come in, but I’ll share daily progress in these posts.

Goal 1 – Sell 20,000 Novels

The 20,000 copies goal is mental. When I talk to other indie-authors, the first thing they ask is how I’m going to manage it. A smaller sub-set insist it’s impossible. This worries me but doesn’t slow me down for one specific reason.

Why can’t I sell 20,000 novels this year?

Say I don’t publish the first book until the end of June which only gives me 6 months to sell 20,000 copies.

To hit the goal, I have to sell 110 books every day for 182 days.

That’s a lot, but I don’t know how much of ‘a lot’ that is.

I’m writing in English which means I can sell ebooks through Amazon to the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. That’s about 461 million people.

To meet my target this year, I have to sell my books to 0.004% of the population of eligible countries.

I’ve thrown out that statistic a few times and naysayers are quick to point out flaws.

  • Not everyone reads books
  • Not everyone reads ebooks
  • Not everyone uses Amazon
  • Insert more flaws here

I don’t see these as flaws. They are problems to be solved. I’m planning to sell 20,000 books this year. If I don’t, the results and data will tell me where I went wrong and help me build a better plan for next year.

Project – Planet Killer

I only work on one piece of fiction at a time. Maybe that’ll change with experience, but for now, if I work on more than one piece, it’s an exercise in procrastination.

Planet Killer is on its fourth rewrite. I’m editing at the paragraph level making sure that every beat has a motivation (internal or external) for the main character and a believable response from them. This is a guide rather than a rule, but it’s a bloody good one. Entire sections have been taken out because they did nothing for the story.

It’s my first time editing like this. It is difficult learning a new skill but satisfying. I’m aiming to have a readable copy by the end of February to share with my alpha readers.

Goal 2 – Make £30,000 Profit from Marketing Business

I have made more money in previous years, but 2019 is about balance. I want to write fiction and build a solid business in a stress-free environment.

In the past, I’ve grabbed every piece of work that came my way. That killed my writing goals and raised stress levels. I’m avoiding that by focusing the marketing business in three areas.

  1. Online Courses
  2. Fixed Fee Clients
  3. Pay Per Lead Clients

Project – Ultimate Salon Marketing Course

The majority of my marketing clients are in the Beauty Industry, so it makes sense to build my first course aimed at them. Providing an online course brings 3 advantages.

  1. It is an excellent objection handler
  2. It is another income stream
  3. It promotes other services

The most common objection I get from prospective clients is they can’t afford my fees or the advertising spend. This objection is usually from start-ups less than 2 years old. And they’re right. They can’t afford professional internet marketing, but they can’t afford not too either. It’s a catch 22 situation.

An affordable, regularly updated, and comprehensive online marketing course is a perfect option for Salons and Beauty Professionals who have more time than cash flow.

Creating the course is a lot of work upfront and needs updates on a monthly basis to keep it current. When it’s ready, I’ll publish multiple sales funnels to generate sales 24×7 and subscribe students in a dedicated Facebook group to aid their progress. I’m invested in their development because students who go from Time Rich/Cashflow Poor to Time Poor/Cashflow Rich are warm leads for the other services I offer.

Fixed Fee Clients

These clients pay a fixed fee + advertising spend every month for me to bring them leads which include.

  • Bookings
  • Messages
  • Calls
  • Emails

In the past, I used the client’s assets (website, ad accounts, and analytics) but this came with a lot of overhead and stress. Sites would be slow with no clear calls to action. Advertising accounts would be personal versions instead of the business type and analytics, if they were recorded at all, were always untagged. This all increased setup time and clients got frustrated that something they paid for wasn’t bringing them results right away. Now I use a measured, repeatable process when setting up services for Fixed Fee Clients that includes the following.

  • A new website built with WordPress, Astra Pro, and Elementor Pro and custom templates
  • A new Google ad account
  • A new Facebook ad account
  • A new Google Analytics account
  • A new Google Search Console account
  • Online report of the amount of generated leads

If the client has a website, I create the new one under a variant of their primary domain name. For example, I’d use Beautysalon.co instead of BeautySalon.com.

I’ll meet with the client for 30 minutes twice a month to walk through results and discuss seasonal promotions or upcoming events.

Pay Per Lead Clients

This is a brand spanking new service I’m trialling with a long term Fixed Fee client.

We’ve agreed what constitutes as a lead for his business.

  • Full Name
  • Location
  • Contact Number
  • Email
  • +3 answers to service specific questions

At the end of every month, he’ll pay me an agreed amount for every lead I bring him. And that’s it. I cover the cost of the website, ad spend and supporting software/services needed to generate leads. He only pays for the leads I bring him.

The risk is I’m making a long term investment of time and money into this new service that may not pay off. I could spend 2019 on design, content, SEO, Social Media, direct marketing and paid traffic for no return.

The reward is that if it works as planned, I’ll be feeding leads from a national campaign to a client who will pay for as many as I can bring him.

Big risk. Big reward. That’s why I’m trialling it with only one client.

Goal 3 – Weekends off and 6 Weeks of Holidays

I do not have a great history of making time for the essential things in life. Self-care, family, friends and community.

Too often I’d sacrifice personal time to get one more task done. But there are always tasks to be done, and they’ll still be there after I’ve spent time looking after myself and the relationships with those I love spending time with. Of all the behaviours I’m trying to improve this is the one I have the worst track record with, and it’s why it gets its own goal.

Goal 4 – Finish Dec 19 Portsmouth Marathon

I enjoyed running. It supports and builds my mental health as well as the physical. It’s another of those things I allowed to stop over the last three years of trying to do too many things at once.

Marathons and training for marathons take me to a special place where I get perspective that helps with all aspects of my life. And I’m shite at all other sports, so it’s this or get my jaw wired shut.

Goal 5 – Read 24 Books

Reading

I get headaches from binge-watching Netflix, and an always-on connection to my phone messes up my sleep.

Reading chills me out, expands my horizons and satisfies me at a deep level of contentment. Finishing a good book feels good.

Right now I’m reading Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers and listening too The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

I’ll keep a list below of books I’ve finished and maybe, maybe link through to some kind of review. We’ll see.

Finished Books

  • Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamsun
  • Post Office by Charles Bukowski
  • Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky
  • The One Thing by Gary Keller
  • A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov

Goal 6 – Complete 12 Marketing Courses

Internet marketing always changes. New platforms, new rules, new algorithms, new behaviours. Always changing.

A vital part of staying current so I can continue to bring as much value as possible to clients (and help me sell my novels) is with excellent quality courses and ongoing education.

This year I’m focusing on the core components.

  • Landing page conversions
  • Google Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Analytics

In Progress

  • Landing Page Design & Conversion Rate Optimization

Completed

  • Ultimate Google Ads 2018

Wrap up

It’s almost 5pm. I’ve been writing this post all day, but that’s ok. Goals need a reason why they exist and today has been my way of breathing life into these 6 goals. These are no longer arbitrary characters on a spreadsheet. They’re alive with meaning and purpose demanding to be worked on and kicking the shit out of anything that gets in their way.

Focus on your goals. Everything else is just noise.

The Mantra of Getting Stuff Done

  • Items feed Goals
  • Goals Feed Projects
  • Projects feed Tasks
  • Tasks schedule time
Stephen Gordon The Mantra of Getting Stuff Done

That’s my mantra of getting things done today.

The past few days I have gone through all my post-it notes, letters, articles, and scraps of paper and put them in an in-tray. I took all of that with all my emails, notebook notes, task management app entries, social media notifications, bookmarks, weblinks and courses and asked one question.

Does this support my 2019 Goals?

Where the answer was no the item was binned, gone, never to be looked at again.

Next, I looked at which project to allocate the item or if it should go to the Google Keep service I use as a Clippings tool. I’ve no need for these clippings right now, but I have a strong feeling they’ll be useful for a new story or business opportunity in the future.

Once I know which project the item belongs too I add it as a task.

All project tasks start with a verb to make it clear what has to be done with this item.

  • Research this article for conversion rate improvements for Client X
  • Add this tool to the Book marketing process
  • Edit the latest draft with these ProWriting Aid settings
  • Schedule this promotion campaign

The final step is to work through each project and schedule each task taking dependencies on other tasks into account. This gives me a start and finish date for each project.

Setting this all up is not a fun process. I’ve added over a thousand items to my project tool and binned half that again. Listening to Cormac McCarty’s ‘The Road’ with matching weather outside isn’t making it any more fun, but it is essential.

  • All unnecessary tasks have been binned
  • Profitable projects are highlighted
  • New income streams have appeared
  • Always shoot first in a post-apocalyptic environment

Tomorrow I’m ordering all the projects according to profitability. There’s always going to be a book project with a daily amount of time set aside leaving five hours a day for marketing projects.

I’ll use this available time to schedule current client work, prospecting, and another project I’m long overdue kicking off.

I’ve another 2-3 days of this. By the end of the week, I’ll have my workload for the year with expected income sketched out. The further out it goes the less confidence I’ll have in the forecast, but I’ll update projects weekly to avoid surprises as much as possible.

This is not the fun creative stuff, but it’s what builds the structure for the fun creative things to happen.

(Insert witty sign off here – I have planning numbness).

What Gets Measured Gets Managed

What gets measured gets managed. Peter Drucker said that. Drucker was brilliant about getting things done and that one quote has been coming back to me a lot over the last few months.

Stephen Gordon Peter Drucker What gets measured Gets Managed 600x600
Peter Drucker

Unless you’re new here, you’ve heard this before. Three years ago I gave up my corporate job to write novels.

Writing stories, let alone making a living from them is a harder gig than I bargained for, so I started freelance marketing on the side to avoid being thrown into the street to starve. I would write novels in the morning and freelance in the afternoon.

Making these two things balance was harder than I thought.

I panicked, grabbed any work that came along, undervalued what I did and let my priorities slip. I punched significant gaps in my writing schedule and defeated the purpose of leaving my day job in the first place. This could not continue, so I took time out in December to reassess.

I read, talked things through with family, friends, and other writers and marketers. I realised that in business terms I lacked products, goals, and planning.

  • I had no novels or clearly defined freelance marketing services to sell
  • I had no goals for what I wanted to achieve with those products
  • I had no plan on how to reach those goals.

For the first 3 weeks of January, I fixed the goals and planning parts, but unmeasured goals have a habit of slipping, especially when I’m the only one looking at them.

Writing and freelancing is a solitary pursuit. This has advantages.

  • No commute
  • Cups for tea that Derek from accounts hasn’t licked when no one else was looking – you dirty bastard Derek.
  • And most recently justification to get a new dog.

One of the downsides is lack of accountability. It’s too easy to let goals slip or get written off when the only person you’re explaining it to is yourself. Public accountability occurred to me but it was a ballsy move I wasn’t ready for but seeing someone else do it clicked it all into place.

I give you my 2019 Goals.

This also solves my ‘what the fuck do I blog about?’ problem.

Every day I’ll work on tasks from a plan towards completing one of the six 2019 goals. Then I’m going to tell you about it in a blog post. Some days will be a joyous exploration into the discovery of a new skill. Others will be caps locked swear fests aimed at anything getting in my way. Sometimes that thing getting in the way will be me.

It’s late, I’m tired, and I have a lot to do tomorrow.

Later alligators.

An Overwhelming Tide of Chaos Is Coming to Kill Us All

It’s not but it’s felt that way for a while. Something no one tells you when you leave your 9 to 5 office job is that you have to do everything. And there’s nowhere to hide.

I’d be awesome at a 9 to 5 job now because it’s the easiest thing in the world. Someone, at the top decides what the big goal is.

SELL MORE STUFF – MAKE MORE MONEY

And that filters down through Group Presidents, Vice Presidents, Directors, Regional Managers, Managers, Supervisors and on and on. Each one taking the goal from the person above, adding their own extra goals and details until the time it gets to you it’s a fraction. It’s an alcove of activity I never realised the simplicity of until now. Or maybe I did and worried too much.

Lot’s of goals split into multiple tasks spread across hundreds, thousands and hundreds of thousands of people. Easy.

Now it’s hundreds of thousands of tasks piled onto one person (me) and for a while, I’ve felt like giving up my day job to write full time was the single worst thing I did ever. Until today.

I never expected making a living from writing to be easy but I didn’t realise how much I had to learn (A Creative Writing degree DOES NOT teach or adequately prepare you to write a novel). The only thing I’ve definitely learned is that there is a very real possibility that I’ll never make a living out of writing books. And that’s ok.

It’s ok because I’ve developed a side gig of internet marketing that takes care of shelter, food, heat, light and internet access. It got better today because I joined these dots.

Ideas > Goals > Projects > Tasks > Clippings > Dead

From the top down an idea becomes a Goal, a Project, a Task, a Clipping or it dies.

Every day I pile up post-it notes, emails, web links, articles, clippings and notebook entries that grow over time and don’t go anywhere. Unlike my old day job these cover EVERYTHING

  • New idea for a book
  • Car Tax
  • Business Bank account
  • Renew Grammarly
  • 2019 forecast
  • Create Novel Marketing plan
  • Buy new shoes Update Ad Scripts
  • Draw new sales funnels
  • New page builder options
  • A broadcasting radio station no admits to owning

That’s the last 20 seconds and I know my life isn’t any different to anyone else. I’m just a slow adjuster to the responsibility for creating money instead of someone else handing it to me. When I stopped having a job I got caught up in the chaos and forgot the basics.

Ideas become goals, projects, tasks, clippings or dead.

Throughout the day I write things down that occur to me. Today I went through them all and asked

  • Does this belong to a current goal, project, task, or the clipping folder?
  • Is this a new goal, project, or task?

When the answer was yes added the idea to the right place. When it was no I scrapped it, gone, never to annoy me again. I’m still not finished but the clarity and stress relief this has brought me feels like the tide is going out. Tomorrow I’m going to clear all the ideas and look trhough my goals, projects and tasks.

  • What can I do in 2019 towards my long term goals
  • What projects (with start and end dates) do I need for the 2019 work?
  • What tasks have to be completed to complete those projects?
  • What’s big and flexible enough to have a massive clippings folder I can get anytime I want?

Routine Rules

We’re well into the period of anyone saying ‘Happy New Year’ gets, at least, a withering look while the rest of us plough on with life. Christmas and New Year’s were chilled out, happy and relaxing but the longer it went out the more of an itch I got underneath my skin as routine was disrupted.

This is a new thing for me. Setting periods of time off and staying away from anything that looks like work. I never worked for an employer that encouraged it and the habit hasn’t taken yet. But it will.

After a headlong rush into some marketing work for a new client (bills have to be paid) I’m back into my strict routine tomorrow and I can’t wait. The world will make sense again.

The Best Writing Aid

I’ve written about Buddy before. He’s a rescue dog rehoused twice before he came to us. Dog’s Trust emphasised that neither of the returns was his fault as the circumstances of each family changed. I suspect Buddy was the circumstance.

Buddy Is Always Watching You

He needs a lot of gradually increasing exercise, regular attention and reassurance that someone is always there. He’s perfect for a writing lifestyle.

I wake up and take him for a long walk. This is the best way for me to start the day. Movement, thinking time, and unconnected to the rest of the world. When we get back he patrols the house and checks everyone is ok as they get ready for the day. He has a whimper at the front window as each of the family leave but that’s lessened as he learns they are coming back.

Morning exits complete he comes up the stairs to where I work, checks I’m there and settles down to a routine of ear scratching, toy chewing, drinking, napping, and going outside every 25 minutes when I take a break. I used to allow deadlines and client demands to pressure me into missing these breaks but when the sprint timer chimes he’s a pain in the arse until he gets outside. Buddy likes routine.

Lunchtime we play fetch for a while on a local field as the rest of the family start returning home. These are joyous events at least 3 times a day. If everyone on the planet greeted each other the way a dog does advertising wouldn’t exist. This cheers me up every time.

The afternoon repeats the morning and everyone is getting used to me talking work things over with the dog who is a patient listener as long as there’s a belly rub now and again.

We wrap up the day with another walk. Because I know there’s another one a few hours away late-night Netflix or gaming binges are dying a death. Better sleep means better work and less stress.

It’s developing into a great deal. I’m exercising more, spending better time with people, less stressed and writing more. Buddy’s loving it as well. There’s always someone engaging with him all day until he ambles away to his bed in the warm kitchen for the night where he sleeps knowing he’s home.

Social Media Selection

If a tree falls in a forest and there’s no-one there to listen does it make a sound? Probably but I don’t know for sure. I do know that if a book is published without marketing no one will read it.

I’m nowhere near ready to promote a book that’s only in revision but I’m getting ready to outline the marketing plan which includes pulling all the courses, books, emails and notes I’ve gathered over the years into one place for research.

One school of thought I’m picking up is the need to have a presence on every social media platform for MAXIMUM EXPOSURE!

The theory is that being everywhere all the time means more people looking at your posts and buying your books.

That’s bollocks. I don’t buy stuff from randoms who only appear in my timeline when they selling their latest book. If that’s the only thing I see that person is gone. I like social media with a purpose, being social and interacting. That’s impossible to do across too many channels without sacrificing creative time or hiring someone. This got me thinking where I want to spend a set amount of social media time each day.

  • This Blog
  • Soundcloud (I’m paying for it may as well use it)
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Goodreads

I haven’t touched Twitter and Goodreads for a long time but they’re text platforms which suits me better than the visual mediums of Instagram and Pinterest. How many pictures of my keyboard, post-it notes and notebooks can anyone take?

Expect badly formatted posts on all channels as I relearn everything all over again.

https://soundcloud.com/stephen-gordon-774642219/social-media-selection

The Iron Triangle of Editing

My sleep is erratic. My daytimes have slumps where I have to force myself to get up, stretch, move around and wake up as I get used to a new working routine.

Tiredness brings bad habits including arsing about on social media.

In a self-publishing Facebook group an author asked how to get a high quality editor for a low cost.

You can’t.

Every project, including publishing a book, has to abide by the Iron Triangle made up of three factors.

  • Quality
  • Time
  • Cost

Every successful project delivers a result, in a period of time, for a cost. The dream is to deliver a project that is…

  • Good
  • Fast
  • Cheap

But it’s impossible. You only get to pick two.

You can have an edit that is…

  1. Good + Fast (But expensive)
  2. Fast + Cheap (But low quality)
  3. Good + Cheap (But will take a long time)

The third option needs a professional editor prepared to take on a book for low to no pay. Unless you’re the favourite grand daughter of a retired Big 5 editor it’s not going to happen.

Your editing options are

  • Good
  • Fast
  • Cheap

Pick 2.

I Broke My Dog

Buddy the Devil dog has been downgraded to ‘scamp’ after developing a limp.

A quick trip to the vets and he’s all better with Doctors orders to take it easy. Since he arrived at the end of November I take him for two walks a day (about 8 miles in total every day) and last week we added a lunchtime fetch session at a local field with a tennis ball.

That was too much and I broke him.

At 7 months old he’s the physical equivalent of a toddler about to start nursery in preparation for primary school. You don’t just chuck kids into Primary School aged five and hope for the best, it’d be chaos, burnout and wet pants every where.

It was too much too soon and from tomorrow we’re cutting the walking distance in half and shortening the fetch sessions to five to ten minutes.

Riveting stuff for those in the Gordon household but not so much outside of imeediate family. But stick with me this is going somewhere.

Buddy limped because his muscles are still developing and the daily mileage was too much. He’s a big, bouncy, bitey, hairy baby who is still growing up and needs to build up towards 10+ miles every day. He’ll get there in a few months and we can add running to his daily exercise.

This blog, me writing this blog is just like that. I love writing this almost as much as that black and white demon loves getting outside. He doesn’t care that it’s hurting him because he knows that a bit of rest, development and experience will make him better, stronger, and faster.

This thing, this blog is limping because I’m not me here yet. Each day, each blog has elements of other pieces from other writers that have stuck in my head and I lean into making this more like them. I’m trying to copy the cool kids but it feels like a bad impersonation that impresses no-one, especially myself. I don’t have my blogging voice yet.

And that’s a thing. Not just for blogging. For any kind of creative endeavour. Everyone has to find their style, their voice in everything they do. It becomes a signature so that even with out a piece of work being signed or attributed anyone familiar with that writer, artist, poet whatever will recognise the work. I don’t have that yet.

I’m still trying to figure out what’s me on the page. Up to now it’s been a mix of me, others I’ve read, or something that isn’t really me but I write it because I think it sounds cool or interesting.

Do I say fuck, try to be high-brow, or chase controversy? Not the last one because who needs the hassle of pissing in the wind over social media but the others? I don’t know.

The dog will get better and so will this blog or at least it’ll get better at being me (now I liked that bit, that was all me).

This was not the deal

Back at work. Half of December was spent figuring out how to make 2019 less stressful, more writey and disconnecting with the internet doom machine.

I love the internet. It’s the best non-medical invention in my lifetime but it’s a shitstorm of conflict and shouting around the social media and news sites.

I’ve had a nice holiday away from that and I’m sticking with social media and news updates once a day. And never, ever, reading the comments. It’s where sense goes to die.

My routine should have been to wake at 5 am, take the devil for a walk and be back in the chair to start writing by 8 am. Instead, I’ve been up since 3.30 and I know I’ll crash at some point. I know better than to fight it and when the mind-haze kicks in I’ll sleep for 30-90 minutes.

This week I’m reading Growth of the soil by Knut Hamsun and Lost Connections by Johann Hari. I’m on the last 20 or so lectures of Issac Rudansky’s Ultimate Google Ads course.