One of the things I’ve always meant to do was to use one of my daily posts to answer some questions that I get on a semi-regular basis. I probably get a couple of responses every day from people to these posts. Some people just tell me what they think, others tell me how something I said resonated with them and I get asked some questions, so I figured why not take the time to answer a few of the most asked questions publicly.
Without further ado, let’s crack into it…
Where do you get the ideas for these posts every day?
Absolutely, this is the number one question that I get from people via email and in person – in fact, last night at a local meetup here in Sydney, I had three people ask me that exact question.
Truth is, I answered that question in a post a few months back and strangely, that post was generated by people at the same meetup group asking that question. That’s kind of funny now that I think about it. That post told the story about how I was listening to a conversation between these two ladies on the bus and this one woman said to the other, “You know Linda is a dominatrix, right?”
That’s one of my favourite stories I’ve ever told in a blog post.
Basically, the short answer to the question is, I’m an “active listener”. That’s a nice way of saying that I eavesdrop in public sometimes, but also, when someone talks to me, I am actually listening intently to what they are saying and thinking about it.
Being an “active listener” is a pretty good skill to develop because it means that you remember things and contextualise conversations in a deeper way so they have more relevance and meaning for you. Also, people “know” when you’re really listening so it makes you easier to talk to because you’re more “present”.
I’m using a lot of “quotes” in this post, sorry about that.
Anyway, by listening to people all the time and thinking about what they say, I have ample things to write about.
How do you write so much and so often?
I recently passed 200 days of consecutive blog posting, I’ve written over 300,000 words this year, wrote a book and produced over 50,000 words of extra material in the eight issues of the Casual Marketer Monthly Newsletter that I’ve written so far. And that’s just what I’ve written for this project – if you factored in how much I write on Facebook, in forums, at work and in our other businesses, it would EASILY be north of one million words in 2016.
First things first, it doesn’t write itself. Like anything in life, if you want something, you have to put the work in. I made a pact with myself that I’d write a blog update every day before I went to bed and since I started 7 months ago, I’ve not missed a single day. Consistency of effort delivers success.
With that said, I like writing and without sounding boastful, I’m pretty good at it. I have never had trouble being able to sit down, think about a topic and just write off the top of my head. I know people that are seriously good writers that SLAVE over their writing and really battle with themselves to get their ideas out. I’m fairly blessed that I can just sit down and start writing – I just have an idea and off I go.
On that point though, writing is a mental exercise and like any exercise, the more you do it, the more intensity you put into it, the stronger that muscles get and the more powerful the muscle memory becomes. Because I write so often, it becomes easier to write, I can write more and the quality goes up.
In a nutshell, if you want to get better at writing, just write more often.
What is the most commented on email you’ve sent?
Again, that’s easy – the post that I wrote in April about Hopium Dealers has generated by far the biggest response of anything I’ve written in my daily emails or this blog. Honestly, about 25% of everyone that looked at it on email responded to it.
I’d heard the term “hopium” used by my online friend Victoria Judge that day and it made me laugh out loud. I immediately started writing the post in my head because when you talk to people about their business and taking it to new heights, you can’t help but stumble across those individuals that are selling a fantasy based on hope.
Thinking about that, I put it together and came up with the idea that people who “sell the dream” are nothing but drug pushers or Hopium Dealers.
The response was 100% positive, every single person that responded thought it was funny and the vast majority of the knew exactly what I was talking about.
How is Casual Marketer doing?
This is one of those questions that comes in more than you might think.
The overarching feeling behind this question is genuine curiosity about the business model behind the Casual Marketer idea. There are some physical newsletters out there in the market, but they are pretty rare. As a result, people are interested in whether or not this kind of business does well financially.
It does pretty well actually, probably a bit better than I was expecting if I’m being totally honest with you. I didn’t really have much in the way of expectations when I started this business, I was really doing it so that I could just have a reason to write more and create more content. I put together some numbers to make it sustainable and I wanted to hit those targets in the first six months. Truth is, I did those numbers in the first 45 days.
That’s been good and bad. The good part is that it made me realise that as a concept, this had more legs on the business side than I’d originally thought. On the downside, I probably got a bit complacent – I’ve not had to work as hard.
I’m going to caveat that last comment with the fact that the last three months, I’ve been super busy moving house and travelling a lot for work, so my time has been limited. On the other hand, I need to refocus, stop letting excuses appease me and get back on the horse with growing this business – it could be a six-figure business inside twelve months if I put it all together properly.
Is it hard to publish a physical newsletter every month?
This question is related to the previous one and I get it more than regularly than I probably thought I would.
The short answer is, it’s not the easiest thing in the world I’ve ever done.
The long answer is that I kind of knew it wouldn’t be easy when I set out. I’ve run a few businesses online before that had a fulfilment element to them so I had an inkling of what I was getting into. That doesn’t make it any easier.
I knew while I had less than 100 members, I was going to have to do most of the fulfilment myself – get them printed, stick them in envelopes, print the labels and take them to the post office. The truth is, I probably need to get to somewhere around 500 members before it would be cost effective to have the whole process outsourced where a company would print and ship for me. The plan is that we can probably do 200 ourselves, over that we’ll hire people on Airtasker to help us put them together and when it gets to 500 I’ll start looking at proper fulfilment services.
There have been a couple of missteps along the way.
A couple months back I tried a new printing company and they royally screwed up the printing of the newsletters. The newsletter is basically A3 double-sided, collated, folded into an A4 booklet, stapled and drilled. Once we get them back from printing we stick in them in an A4 envelope and put a printed label on them. The envelope stuffing gets time-consuming, so I spoke to a company that said they could print, stuff and label the envelopes in the small batch size we run for about the same price as our current printer just does the printing, folding and stapling process.
This new printer pretty much screwed up every element of it. They printed it A4 folded to A5 (so it was half the size) and then they folded the newsletter and stuffed into traditional letter envelopes. Oh, and they were late by a week on their anticipated delivery. I had to get the newsletter rush printed by our original printer and then get them shipped quickly.
We’ve now decided to stick with our original and existing print, pack and ship process internally because it works.
Another misadventure happened in June while we were moving. I got the newsletter ready to go early in the month because I knew that with us moving we’d struggle to have everything we needed to pull the newsletter together and ship it.
About the second week in July I started to get emails asking where the May newsletter was because people hadn’t gotten it. I did a bit more asking around and literally every person I asked, nobody had gotten the June issue.
I was stumped, how do they LOSE everything?
Sitting at my desk, I walked through the chain of events and then it dawned on me. Mailing the newsletters requires us actually putting on stamps on envelopes and paying for airmail stickers for shipping overseas and stuff. It takes about twenty minutes to a half an hour just putting the stamps and stickers on everything.
For the June newsletter, I went to a different post office because I had a day off and was running errands. The very “helpful” man who sold me the stamps and airmail stickers told me not to worry about placing them on the envelopes his staff would do all that stuff for me. So I turned over the box of envelopes and left.
The only thing I can think of is that they just didn’t do it. They kept my money and tossed my envelopes in the bin. There’s absolutely no other explanation.
Anyway, when I worked it out, I had a whole new June print run made with the July run and sent the two newsletters out together.
So in summary to this question – yes, right now while it’s still a bit of a small business, it’s a fair bit of work to run it logistically, but we’re talking less than a half day on a Saturday once a month. In truth, it takes way longer to write the newsletters than to print, pack and ship them.
What else do you do? You seem really busy.
I probably get this question/comment at least once a week in some form or another where people are asking about the other online businesses we run or about my full-time job.
I have a pretty good full-time job. I’m one of those rare humans that really enjoys his career, gets paid pretty well to do it and doesn’t mind the structure of being employed by someone else.
I work for a large IT systems integrator and I’m a consultant in the datacentre and cloud space – so I work with CIOs, CTOs and senior IT executives to help them develop a strategies and transformation plans for the next generation of their technology infrastructure. Most of the clients I work with are large businesses, banks and government departments that are looking for expert advice on what things like cloud means to them.
The job itself is interesting, suits my skill sets and provides me with an intellectual challenge pretty much on a daily basis.
For the last eight weeks, I’ve been travelling to Brisbane two days a week for a project and that’s been good fun, but physically tiring. By the end of the week, I’m looking forward to the weekend and having a good rest.
On top of that, my wife and I have a pretty successful SEO and Content creation business that she more or less runs on a day to day basis. I help out a bit on dealing with clients, closing new business and on the SEO side from a thought leadership perspective, but for the most part, she manages it. We’ve had the SEO business for about seven years and the content business for about four years. They both do well financially, but we mostly only take referral clients on now because we focus on higher quality at higher prices.
I also have some online courses mainly on Udemy. Those do ok, but that’s becoming a harder and harder platform to succeed on. I’m a big fan of info products and online courses as a business model, so it’s something I want to spend more time on over the next twelve months. These should be a good front end part of your overall funnel and I need to sort this out this year.
And of course, there’s Casual Marketer.
What tools do you use and recommend?
This question, in its various forms, comes in a lot. It’s too hard to answer in this post, but what I am going to do is put together a “Resources” page one the Casual Marketer site that people will be able to go to, see what I use or suggest, click and link and make up their own mind.
Do you have an affiliate program for Casual Marketer?
At this time, no. However, it’s something that I’m putting serious thought into. Remember above where I said I need to put some work into growing Casual Marketer over the next six months or so, well one strategy I’m considering is to get some affiliates onboard to start promoting the newsletter. That plan is still in the formative stages and if/when I do launch it, then newsletter members will get a slightly higher tier commission if they want to promote it and everyone on my email list will have a chance to become an affiliate if they want.
So watch out for that!
And with that, I think I’ve covered a ton of ground. If you have any other questions or comments or you’d like to share your thoughts with me on something, then just hit reply to any of my emails, they all come to my inbox and I respond to everyone personally.