A big “Done” on the alpha courses. And got another mega-course done as well. Funny what happens when you realize you have the resources already…
The Great Writing Business Challenge – Week 36 Results
Instafreebie/PW: 95/302 (Actual vs. Reported: 31.5%) 3 non-IF subscribes. 5 no-openers moved off. 127 in 90 day inactive, 1 in 180-day inactive.
Overall Total: 3350 (Continuing slow growth. New giveaways producing new readers. 3 new giveaways started Sept 1 and are producing more than others, right according to strategy.)
Book sales this week:
Note_1: Amazon Fiction – 2/30 (Email traffic produced those sales. CYL sales “raised” by dropping price to .99 – Needs real promotion. Otherwise, it’s just “race to the bottom”. Have to update that backmatter again, and use it for a loss-leader everywhere. Amazon “pump-priming” is temporary tactic.)
Note_2: Amazon Non-Fiction, like Lulu, is far more profitable. Fiction publishing is similar to PD, most don’t sell as way too much competition (broad genres, unknown authors). Give me 6 years and I’ll have a comparative… Meanwhile, build my own audience and go where they go. Amazon isn’t a platform for discovery, you build your audience before you promote to buy your books there.
Lulu sales for June: 4 ebooks, 141 paper/hardback (avg per week – 35 | avg. royalty – $3.40) only one fiction out of that, and only reprints (none mine). Next report (for August) Sept 15. Do a monthly from everywhere then.
Published Words Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 0, Medium: 0, Wattpad: 0
– paid – Book Outlets: 0, Medium: 0
Published Words Non-Fiction:
– free – Own Site: 1456 this blog, Else: 0 (Medium)
– paid – Book Outlets: 0, Medium: 0
Fiction Books re-published with updates:
- Total: (maybe) 167 to go. (sigh. No recent progress – still back-burnered.)
Books In Progress:
- “Felicity”, “Sitting Felicity”, “Their Eyes” – a trilogy now.
- “Walkaway Blues” sequel “Walkaway Diner Doubts”
- “The Case of Death’s Demise”.
Courses in Progress:
- “Strangest Secret”,
- “Get Everything You Want Out of Life”,
- “If You Can Count to Four…”,
- “Completely Change Your Life in 30 Seconds” – all in alpha (see below).
New Podcast Episodes:
- 0 (Did get a new set burned to hard drive for processing…)
Unless I’m surprised with the statistics, Amazon has shifted something to make it still harder to find and buy books. Probably that advertising tax. Meaning: concentrate on Kobo when I start on running promotion. Amazon is simply too complicated (and too greedy – at least my paperbacks guarantee my royalty regardless of how they drop their price by algorithm.)
Instafreebie/PW Subscribers Increase
IF/PW subscribers have increased – concurrent with my own new giveaways starting, as well as a lot of others. Looks like I have this streamlined now. (Getting “Verified” Status enables more opt-in’s, roughly 50-70% of them from other’s books. Key is to not make a big scene of non-promoting authors [50% won’t anyway] and then running these ultra-long so that my own ranking is higher as an organizer and stays within their specs, but doesn’t require I work for IF/PW.)
Meanwhile, the statistics are staying as predicted – I’m getting only 30% new opt-in’s out of the claims, and expect only a third of those to remain over the next year. This keeps the cost at around 5 cents each, which is still remarkably low. Meaning that I need to routinely (probably every 3-6 months) start new giveaways and replace earlier ones. Have to run rates of opt-in’s over time to see how long-running giveaways produce.
In December, I’ll have several that are completing. I have one that will replace a same-name/graphic giveaway to get “new blood” into that giveaway. All while I can always get more (all possible) books entered into these giveaways that I organize.
As well, all these books need to be updated soonest to get people subscribing through the reader magnet – squeezing whey from cheese, but see the courses scene below – this gives me new options for readers to buy my books.
Courses for the main “decoder ring” reader magnet will be offered in the backs of these books as well. Work from the largest anthologies backwards in the series, and all the IF books already up there first. (Something like that…) Meaning that I can eventually get into recycling giveaways every quarter and keeping them up for a year – four each in SF, Fantasy, and Mystery. And also meanwhile entering every giveaway I can that others organize, all those who don’t mention that people need to promote.
That’s just the way this game can be economically played. I still hold that roughly 70% of those that stick around are freebie-seekers only. The way to upgrade these is to increase direct sales through advertising and backmatter offers. Promotion as mentioned below is still the strategy of pushing through Bookbub to Kobo, while building audience through Medium (non-fiction) and Wattpad (fiction). I don’t have a direct or cost-effective way to promote for list-building without paying somewhere north of 50 cents per subscriber. Organic subscribers are best – and these are gotten through promotion on other people’s platforms. (Medium/Wattpad/ book bloggers/ podcasts with actual traffic.)
The Alpha Courses Adventure
This is a short version of the breakthrough I had this week on courses. (Like I ever talk or write anything short…)
Key point was getting these built on my own site for testing. When I went into the ghost-town forum, I found very supportive comments about their LMS. So I checked it out and found out that it is indeed very simple to set up. Right now, I have four alpha-version courses up and running. One of them a major one. But let’s back this up…
The three courses I wanted to set up were all simple. Three had seven lessons, the other had eleven. And I already had the audio for these, only needing to split it into pieces. In my editing, these were each originally either long chapters or a transcript for a speech. And I’d already split them to make the reading easier. So, those were my lessons. Copy/paste those sections in and I was only needing to edit the audio into shape. (I’m writing this on a Friday, so should dig into this tomorrow for the first course out of this set.)
I really saw a need for a mega-course in addition to three mini-courses. Something to upgrade people to – to give them their next step in learning. I thought this was going to be a big deal to work up – until I realized I had most of it already there.
Let’s back up a bit. To the “idea-container” idea. And the point of hub-and-spoke publishing. I have a core perennial-selling book. And I invested in getting an audiobook made for this. It was already published as ebook, paperback, hardback, and deluxe hardback. I also have four more books in that series which are mid-publishing (due to Amazon restrictions) and also a series of short books that were all created out of that set of chapters, dividing the content up into short-reads.
Additionally, all these audio chapters were put up as podcast episodes, and so I had the artwork for each chapter.
What does that mean?
When I looked up the audio, I found that the files were all labeled by their chapter title. So I could simply upload them and then assign to the lesson. And I had the text for each lesson. The only thing missing right now is producing videos fro each of those audio files by adding in slides.
Looking a bit deeper into how that LMS was set up, I found that they had a “bulk create” option, where you can create the course, module, and lessons if you already have an outline. Nice.
In my case, those individual books were already the modules. The articles inside them were the lessons. All I had to do was line them up by logical demand and usefulness (pretty much by sales) and shortly I had an entire course that just needed to have the data dropped in.
Once I fiddled with the template to have a generic sidebar for courses (instead of a different sidebar for each course) I was then able to get some nice graphics built in Bookbrush (you could do this in Canva) and it was just a matter of copy/paste the text, link up graphics and audio, and I was done in 24 hours (had to get some sleep and do farm chores in the am). That course, and the other three are now all up as alpha.
The mega-course has the audio in it. Tonight/tomorrow, I’ll start splitting each big audio file for the mini-courses into their own audio and then uploading and linking them.
After that will be creating video, which is a bit finicky, but pretty simple once you get rolling. In three weeks, I should have them all created (maybe four). That will put them all in beta and we’ll be ready for phase two.
Phase Two – Course Syndication
I mentioned that my LMS has it’s own scene going. So I can simply require people sign up to a subscription to get access to beta. And then I turn on their pay scene and start enrolling people onto them. One trick is that I’m having to do all these myself and do the backend work with subscribers and refunds. I ran into this when I was setting up a new subscription for an Advance Reader Club. It simply didn’t work and I resorted to just password protecting the page. I’ve done it before, but couldn’t simply work that up again, for some reason.
Now, places like Teachable and Thinkific already do that backend for you. While my LMS only accepts Stripe, they have a wide variety of payment scenes. Everyone who signs up gives their email, which you receive. And both of these have coupons (although Teachable requires having a paid plan to access this feature). Teachable allows you to have unlimited free courses, while Thinkific limits you to three. Since all four of these courses will be paid options, then that’s not a problem. (Thinkific has better styling options and was built to be best-of-breed, while Teachable was built out of the frustration with Udemy – so has that legacy modelling in their background.)
Since I won’t need to have the alpha courses on Thinkific, I can simply let them do the heavy lifting. The only thing is how many courses I can create on a free account with Thinkific. I know Teachable is unlimited – they simply take 10%, like I’m used to with Gumroad. So there’s that homework.
I’ve covered this background before – Udemy and Skillshare are better as paid lead-generating areas (you get one link to your site). This is where the three mini-courses will be syndicated as well. And I’ll also have the mini-courses available through Gumroad for local purchase of all the material as an ecourse. Udemy and Slideshare push their members to buy courses, but won’t give you their emails. Thinkific and Teachable don’t have communities and won’t promote for you.
The general concept is to upsell these readers who come to my site onto the mega-course. Obvious. And/or offer bundles of the mini courses. Before I forget, you might also see that each of these modules in the mega-course can be split off as their own mini-courses and also syndicated to Udemy and Slideshare.
What I’ll do when I get the courses out of beta is to simply put them on Thinkific and put discount course coupons in the back of each book for that course. Reader Magnets.
Book Upgrades Upcoming
This puts the full “idea-container” concept in play. Books sell courses, courses sell books. Backmatter in every book has coupons that can be tracked (Scientific Advertising) so you can see where your sign-ups are coming from. Books also link to the audiobooks – and to paperback/hardback versions. You should be able to sell the textbooks directly on Udemy and Skillshare, which then gives them the other links in that book. If you sell the book through your own site (Gumroad) then you’ll get that email. So, that link needs to be in the backmatter as well.
Gumroad, Teachable, and Thinkific all allow you to contact your students through their own broadcasting scene. Independent of your own mailing list.
This means that all the textbooks for these courses get content and meta-data upgrades as part of this promotion.
Book courses will be first, and with those in place, I’ll then upgrade all the books. Promotion to the books will then get course sign-ups, and additional sales. Similar for audiobooks and print versions.
So I have to crank through alpha to beta and then give a special sneak-peek to interested readers and have them test all the links and leave comments for improvements. I’ll do the beta-testing on Thinkific itself, then upgrade my own LMS original to fit – which will have it’s own pay-access-subscription enabled once it gets out of alpha. And disappear off my menu bar, replaced by the Thinkific link.
And later – Webinars
This is a logical extension – building up the Jeff Walker “sideways sales letter” to have an evergreen webinar that I can launch at any time to sell the books and courses. That’s the last part of this scene. And that collection of videos can be sold through Gumroad itself as an instant-access bundle. Technically, those webinars can be made into their own mini-course, with a bit of attention to detail.
We build that just as in “Backwards Book Publishing” where you start with the course first, writing and recording as you go. In this case, you’d be building three 14-minute “TED talk” videos, then cutting those into lessons and using the transcript as text for the book. Each video above would split into three smaller videos, so you’d have three modules with three lessons each. Since people remember things easier in three’s, you’re set. Three sets of three.
Obviously, you do your research for this subject and build the 14-minute videos so they have three parts. Even build them with the three-act structure, where you really deal in four parts, but the second act has two of them. (Where your fiction training helps you write better copy.) Consider breaks where you end up with four 3-minute-plus videos. All written in a serial format, of course.
Where you’ve already written a text (years ago, perhaps) then looking that over for revision with the above in mind is pretty sensible. Consider a text to be really a series of short stories. (14 minutes at 200 wpm is 2800 words.) So you can consider reorganizing your book to flow in a more logical sequence – one you can record as you re-write it, using the recording to streamline your revision and make it more personable. Again, you build backwards from the result you want.
I’ve got a few perennial-selling books that I need to revise, and so will be testing this out in the near future. Because the next three areas are not so straight-forward as this one.
Before I get into them, I’ll be working up Bookbub promotion first (to Kobo, of course – keeping it simple, scholar.)
Larger Promotion Plans
This has to do with building a premier training experience. And revisiting my work in creating podcasts out of Nightingale recordings. The idea of pushing goal achievement, particularly through the writings of Nightingale, opens up Medium as a means of generating prospects for the courses and books. So these need to be started up again.
And, of course, these can be re-configured into additional books and courses. Tricky stuff, as it’s not public domain – orphan. (Another story for another day.)
But as promotion for N-C corp and my books…
The larger goal is to evangelize goal achievement to millions. Again, another story for another day.
Longer Range Content Publishing Plans
I have started a back-burner study of successful content marketing operations. Mainly, Copyblogger (Brian Clark) and Content Inc. (Joe Pulizzi). Both have actually moved off into other areas in the last year. And left their content marketing base to run on its own. Both generated an 8-figure income before they moved along. So the timeline to study is that beginning three years for each, which were both simultaneous to each other. In Content Inc, I have to study the non-social media approaches, as these match the scene. In both Pulizzi and Clark, they were guest blogging their specialty content. In fiction, this compares to the authors who leveraged Wattpad and/or specific genre forums with their original fiction. And Amanda Hocking with her book bloggers. Hocking isn’t known to be advertising, while Pulizzi does mention this. A study of the Copyblogger site and their Authority premium-access site should bring comparatives to Pulizzi.
The studies I have are either/or. No one splits their traffic like I do, except for some fiction authors who made it there and then have diversified into courses. I’ve found no one who has started out in non-fiction and then diversified over into fiction. Can be done through advertising, though. Again – Wattpad and Medium publishing would be first moves to build audience. Instafreebie for fiction is a false front to get subscribers, as noted. Still, they are cheaper, and simple enough to keep these weeded and pruned into eventual buyers. And not as time consuming or expensive as ads. Just no immediate results in sales
All in the incredible amount of free time I have…
You can see that I’m destined to conquer both types of writing income sources.
Saturday was productive. Got all the audio split and installed. Next (coming week) will be building the downloads (handouts), which also gives us the takeaways and action steps for each lesson. After that, building the videos. Hopefully, I can get these cranked out in a week – or two or three. Hopefully. With video, the courses go beta. That’s all very quick to implement.
But then, you know I can get a lot of stuff done when I get going at it. And that proves the model.
The trick is to do that first with the mini-courses, then repeat for the mega-course (which has as many or more audio files and lessons than the mini’s combined. The later one will be better quality and faster.
The faster I can get these courses up, then I’ll next update all the books – and then onto promotion. Set the party and invite the guests.
Again, wrap all these courses up – including syndication to get them live – and then the books, and then start promotion rolling via bookbub ads (missing anything to promote the courses directly except for all new subscribers – probably via an email course sequence.
But…the thing on our farm that I want to do on Thurs is to clean out some old machines and whatnot to get to the auction and get something from stuff that might be useful to someone else. So I’ll need to be spending some time in the now cooler mornings working on that.
Last week’s to-do’s:
- Emails out – blitz (Sun/Mon) – Yup
- Three courses in alpha with audio and text – Yup!
This week’s to-do’s:
- Emails out – blitz (Sun/Mon) –
- Strangest Secret videos created and uploaded –
- Strangest Secret pages with action steps and downloads (to beta) –
Also published on Medium.