I’m on the last leg of The Writers’ Road Map: only four more steps stand in the way of my earning a living as a writer, the Jeff Goins way.
So, in the words of Jeremy Paxman*, ‘let’s just get on with it, shall we?’
Step 9 is to get a thousand subscribers. I think we know I’m not going to do that. However, you may want to give it a go, so I’ll summarise. It all goes back to those guest posts (step 8) which should generate traffic to your blog. He argues you want at least 100 visitors per guest post, if that’s not happening, he says, you’ve chosen the wrong blogs. Thus you must make another list of blogs to guest post on, and begin step 8 again. Your 100 visitors should ‘convert’ to subscribers at a rate of 5-10%. If that’s not happening you need to a) ensure your ‘opt in’ form is prominent, and/or b) tweak the ‘promise’ of your ‘lead magnet’ or manifesto. You shouldn’t have to go as far as rewriting anything, you just need a seductive title and/or introduction.
Step 10 is: conduct a survey. My understanding of this is that he wants me to ask my one thousand subscribers what they want, and then give it to them.
Step 11 is: ‘Launch your first product.’ Product? Yes, product, by which he means some piece of writing you can sell. His consisted of two PDFs that amounted to no more than ten thousand words which he bundled together and sold for $4.99, offering a $2 discount for the first week. They were both about how to make it as a writer, cobbled together from a keynote speech he’d given and his recent experience of landing a book deal, and five hundred people bought them. He sent out an email on Friday, by Sunday he’d made $1,500. So, if you can bring yourself to go through all these steps maybe you too can make fifteen hundred dollars/pounds/euros in a weekend.
Step 12 is: Make your first ten thousand dollars. How? I’m going to let you find that out for yourself by reading The Writers’ Road Map which you’ll find on Goins’s blog.
I’ve rather lumped these final four steps together because by now I’ve realised that Goins’s way isn’t ever going to be my way. I am not a manufacturer, I’m a writer. I’m a writer because I have something to say that needs to be wheedled out by the intense, concentrated manipulation of language. I can’t see it’s even possible to write what people want, even if they tell me very precisely what that is. Actually, if they can tell me very precisely what it is, they can probably write it themselves. I guess I’m never going to make that ten thousand, or get a dozen, let alone a thousand, subscribers. However, I don’t want to give the impression I’ve gained nothing from this attempt to follow Goins’s Map.
The first step, to ‘clarify [my] world view’ has helped me to see my main concern, which is equality. We need all of us, all our different skills, talents, perspectives. Different than doesn’t mean less than. I’d like my writing, be it fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, to reflect this by showing the small details of ordinary life without judgement. I’m working on that.
The second step, to pick my platform personality, saw me change the name of this site from Puffer Fish on a Stick to Curious-Authentic Ink, which, I hope, says slightly more about my practice, and has helped me focus further. In my writing I explore alternative perspectives, and I hope I do this out of a curiosity that is authentic and not exploitative. And although steps three, four, and five were of little help, step six – publish a manifesto – was both fun and useful. The manifesto I wrote is a manifestation of my world view, and I hope it’s authentic. So this has been a useful exercise on the whole, and if you want to increase your blogging presence I reckon you would do well to give it a go.
Next week I change tack somewhat and try to emulate Frank O’Hara’s process. This will be the first of an occasional series in which I pick a writer, research their working practice, and have a go at their method.
*On University Challenge