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MTF

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What are in your opinion the best Fastlane opportunities for writers? Which opportunities are exhausted and which ones may still have a bright future? Is writing still a lucrative skill or should writers consider it more of a supplemental skill?

I've been in the self-publishing industry for the past seven years. It's no longer such a gold mine as it was in the past. With no strong competition for Amazon on the horizon, it's becoming more and more of a business dependent on just one company, with thousands of competitors both corporate (traditional publishers) as well as individuals (who often flood the market with cheap, low quality ghostwritten books and manage to game the Amazon's system).

I'm wondering if writers today should still first consider going into book writing/publishing or perhaps try something else and stay away from books.

What are your thoughts on various business models for writers? How would you monetize your writing skill in the most Fastlane way possible?

The way I see it there are three main paths:
  • book publishing - crowded, Amazon-dependent, you can sometimes spend months working on a book only for it to fail miserably (there's no easy way to test a product before creating it),
  • copywriting - may become a career instead of a business, though some copywriters earn incredible amounts of money (like Jay Abraham who's technically more of a consultant),
  • blogging/courses/other digital products not sold as books - this requires a personal brand and narrowing your expertise to one main topic. Also, writing seems to be more of a side skill here, with marketing experience and personal branding being the primary skills needed.
Any other thoughts you have, feel free to post them here. I'd like this thread to become a regular discussion for writers on the forum.

Tagging @ChickenHawk, @MJ DeMarco, @Bekit.
 

MJ DeMarco

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I really think the industry is really crying for some alternative solutions to Amazon's dominance.

Moreover, authors really need help on finding readers at an affordable price.

Everything, right now, has to go through Amazon's ecosystem which makes everything expensive and unfriendly to authors who are authors first, and marketers second.

At the moment, a friend and I are experimenting with a SAAS offering in the space right now. It's too early to see if we will make any impact or traction, but I think it is worth a diligent attempt.
 

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Moreover, authors really need help on finding readers at an affordable price.

Yes, and the worst part is that even if they can find new readers, as you pointed out, usually you still have to direct them to Amazon as there's no better alternative for a seamless e-book reading experience (same with audiobooks and Audible).

Non-fiction is a little better in this aspect as people are more open to the idea of PDFs/other methods of delivery. Theoretically you can ship the print books yourself but many people don't want to buy physical books (me included).

At the moment, a friend and I are experimenting with a SAAS offering in the space right now. It's too early to see if we will make any impact or traction, but I think it is worth a diligent attempt.

Sounds interesting! If you need any help/feedback on it, please let me know.
 

The_MoBiz

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What are in your opinion the best Fastlane opportunities for writers? Which opportunities are exhausted and which ones may still have a bright future? Is writing still a lucrative skill or should writers consider it more of a supplemental skill?

I've been in the self-publishing industry for the past seven years. It's no longer such a gold mine as it was in the past. With no strong competition for Amazon on the horizon, it's becoming more and more of a business dependent on just one company, with thousands of competitors both corporate (traditional publishers) as well as individuals (who often flood the market with cheap, low quality ghostwritten books and manage to game the Amazon's system).

I'm wondering if writers today should still first consider going into book writing/publishing or perhaps try something else and stay away from books.

What are your thoughts on various business models for writers? How would you monetize your writing skill in the most Fastlane way possible?

The way I see it there are three main paths:
  • book publishing - crowded, Amazon-dependent, you can sometimes spend months working on a book only for it to fail miserably (there's no easy way to test a product before creating it),
  • copywriting - may become a career instead of a business, though some copywriters earn incredible amounts of money (like Jay Abraham who's technically more of a consultant),
  • blogging/courses/other digital products not sold as books - this requires a personal brand and narrowing your expertise to one main topic. Also, writing seems to be more of a side skill here, with marketing experience and personal branding being the primary skills needed.
Any other thoughts you have, feel free to post them here. I'd like this thread to become a regular discussion for writers on the forum.

Tagging @ChickenHawk, @MJ DeMarco, @Bekit.

Writing is a lucrative skill. Copywriters can make big money once they get established. I'm a Marketing Consultant, recently just got my foot in the door with my first client doing Technical Writing/Developer Relations (Marketing for Software Developers) blog posts for them. They're nice and paying me well! This may lead to me doing other Marketing work for them too. They're already talking about having me write e-mail Marketing material which is cool!

I've got a couple of projects under my belt now, and am starting to look around for additional clients. With my rate I could be making 6 figures if I can get full time hours. It is a self-employed career, but I'm planning on saving up capital and starting other businesses. I don't know if I'll be doing coding/writing/marketing forever, but it's a good field to be in.
 

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Amazon launched new service recently that offers stories in smaller bytes.
And each byte is available for some small fee.

Basically Amazon is thinking that book can be turned into "TV series" kind experience
and hope to milk that concept.

I'm not sure about it. Imagine paying 12 times to get to the end of 2h movie.

Lets see how it will pan out.
 

Bekit

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What are in your opinion the best Fastlane opportunities for writers? Which opportunities are exhausted and which ones may still have a bright future? Is writing still a lucrative skill or should writers consider it more of a supplemental skill?

I've been in the self-publishing industry for the past seven years. It's no longer such a gold mine as it was in the past. With no strong competition for Amazon on the horizon, it's becoming more and more of a business dependent on just one company, with thousands of competitors both corporate (traditional publishers) as well as individuals (who often flood the market with cheap, low quality ghostwritten books and manage to game the Amazon's system).

I'm wondering if writers today should still first consider going into book writing/publishing or perhaps try something else and stay away from books.

What are your thoughts on various business models for writers? How would you monetize your writing skill in the most Fastlane way possible?

The way I see it there are three main paths:
  • book publishing - crowded, Amazon-dependent, you can sometimes spend months working on a book only for it to fail miserably (there's no easy way to test a product before creating it),
  • copywriting - may become a career instead of a business, though some copywriters earn incredible amounts of money (like Jay Abraham who's technically more of a consultant),
  • blogging/courses/other digital products not sold as books - this requires a personal brand and narrowing your expertise to one main topic. Also, writing seems to be more of a side skill here, with marketing experience and personal branding being the primary skills needed.
Any other thoughts you have, feel free to post them here. I'd like this thread to become a regular discussion for writers on the forum.

Tagging @ChickenHawk, @MJ DeMarco, @Bekit.
This post has prompted a lot of thought for me.

Been chewing on it for a couple of hours with the tab open in my browser.

Fastlane opportunities for writers.

My honest thoughts?

1. Most fastlane opportunities that involve writers are ones where people use the labor of OTHER writers. But those writers are not the ones who are rewarded.

- The business owner who hires excellent copywriters to sell a product.
- The agency owner who hires content writers and copywriters to write blogs and ads and so forth
- The copywriter who steps up from writing the copy themselves to being more of a strategist and outsourcing the copy to other writers.

2. You can probably only get to the fastlane through publishing books and copywriting if you are an outlier.

- For bestselling authors like James Clear, Malcolm Gladwell, or J. K. Rowling, being a writer is a great fastlane.
- For A-list copywriters like Clayton Makepeace, Parris Lampropoulous, or Jay Abraham, being a writer is also an excellent fastlane.
- What are the chances of "regular people" like you or me breaking through to that level? It seems that the chances are smaller than the chances of succeeding at any other random fastlane biz. This could just be my perception. But doesn't it seem like for general business, 1 out of 10 might succeed, while for wannabe authors, maybe 1 out of 100 or 1,000 succeeds?

Basically, I see it like this:
(C) - You're basically handicapped in the area of Control, so you need to make up for it in all the other areas.
(E) - Barrier to Entry is high because of the excellence and skill and command of language that you need to possess.
(N) - Does anyone NEED to read that book (or that sales letter)? You're somewhat handicapped here, too, but provided that your topic coincides with an itch that the public wants to scratch, you can obey the commandment of Need.
(T) - It takes Time to write the book, but it doesn't take that much additional time to sell the second copy, or the millionth.
(S) - Scale depends on your niche. What's the maximum number of people in the market who could possibly buy your book? Trying to write a book that appeals to the mainstream interest is great, as long as you realize that you've probably just ratcheted up Entry by a level of magnitude.

OK, but I'm a writer, and I will always be a writer, and I can't NOT be a writer, and I will continue to write for the rest of my life, whether or not I ever get paid for it. So what about me? What should I do?

I mean...

There's all the general advice that we tell people, right?

- Just take action. Do something.
- Niche down.
- Build an email list.
- Cultivate a group of raving mad fans.
- etc.

But is that enough?

Or when it comes to copywriting...
- Just help someone.
- Raise your rates.
- Niche down.
- Negotiate royalty deals so that you can stop exclusively trading time for money.
- Target better clients
- Market yourself effectively
- etc.

I feel like all this is a way to make a living, but not a fastlane business.

Unless you're an outlier, publishing books and copywriting are going to pay your bills and put food on the table... but to go from the slowlane to the fastlane, there needs to be something more.
 

MTF

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With my rate I could be making 6 figures if I can get full time hours. It is a self-employed career, but I'm planning on saving up capital and starting other businesses.

Well that's the entire problem here. It's a career. Self-publishing is definitely a business compared to this because I don't have to work full hours (or any hours) to still keep making money.

Amazon launched new service recently that offers stories in smaller bytes.
And each byte is available for some small fee.

Basically Amazon is thinking that book can be turned into "TV series" kind experience
and hope to milk that concept.

I'm not sure about it. Imagine paying 12 times to get to the end of 2h movie.

Lets see how it will pan out.

Two problems here:
  • it's Amazon, so you're 100% dependent on them and their policies,
  • the model will reward quantity and most likely recency, so you probably won't be making much money from your episodes published in the past.
 

MTF

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1. Most fastlane opportunities that involve writers are ones where people use the labor of OTHER writers. But those writers are not the ones who are rewarded.

That's true, though the same could be said about many other skills like graphic design, coding, etc. In theory it's always better to hire others to do the job for you since there are more people with skills than people with vision and leadership willing to hire them. But if you absolutely don't want to deal with employees (like me, and I assume most writers, too), then this is not an option.

- What are the chances of "regular people" like you or me breaking through to that level? It seems that the chances are smaller than the chances of succeeding at any other random fastlane biz. This could just be my perception. But doesn't it seem like for general business, 1 out of 10 might succeed, while for wannabe authors, maybe 1 out of 100 or 1,000 succeeds?

I guess it depends on the niche/genre.

I see a lot of fiction writers writing some terribly niche stories nobody would ever look for (and then they complain they can't make any money).

In non-fiction, a similar problem exists only instead of publishing a $4.99 book on a highly-specialized topic you can theoretically sell it on your site as an exclusive "guide" for $99 (but then your job is marketing, not writing).

There are some big genres where I think it's close to impossible to win as a regular person. They include genres like thrillers, mysteries, and crime stories, all of which are dominated by a handful of names who have been in the business for decades.

And the worst thing is that Amazon is pushing their own authors more and more, making it even harder for independent authors to climb the bestseller charts. For example, at the time of writing this, in the category of technothrillers, the first 11 spots ALL belong to Dean Koontz (he has a deal with Amazon).

(C) - You're basically handicapped in the area of Control, so you need to make up for it in all the other areas.

You can possibly reduce this risk is by going international. In some markets Amazon doesn't exist or it's the go-to bookstore. There, most of your income would come from a different, local bookseller. But of course, the translation costs are very high.

Fiction writers are extremely handicapped here as very few readers would buy a fiction book directly from an author instead of from a bookstore. Non-fiction writers have it easier.

(N) - Does anyone NEED to read that book (or that sales letter)? You're somewhat handicapped here, too, but provided that your topic coincides with an itch that the public wants to scratch, you can obey the commandment of Need.

Fiction is definitely not as strong in this as non-fiction, though at the same time many people seem to "need" entertainment more than they need education. As in, they NEED their Netflix subscription but would never spend money on a course that would teach them new skills.

As for fiction, I'm wondering if ubiquitous TV shows and movies aren't slowly killing novels. Roughly a few decades ago, reading fiction used to be one of the primary ways to entertain yourself. These days, very few people regularly read fiction, including those who used to do it in their teenage years or early twenties.

Unless you're an outlier, publishing books and copywriting are going to pay your bills and put food on the table... but to go from the slowlane to the fastlane, there needs to be something more.

I was lucky to be that outlier and go Fastlane with this, taking advantage of the golden years of self-publishing. These days, I'm not sure if it's still possible to go as big as I did a few years ago (my income is 5-6x lower now than in those great years).
 

Lex DeVille

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On the copywriting side, the value is in leveraging the skill. A good copywriter can reach six-figures writing copy. They can do it with a single client if they work with the right client. Since they can only write so much, they have to scale into an agency and leverage other writers, strike a different kind of deal with the client, or expand into different kinds of business models to go beyond.

Some business models that are viable for copywriters to reach the fastlane:

Agency
Requires building a team, and expanding your skillset beyond copywriting. Also requires taking on a leadership role, so it isn't a solo-person business model.

Courses/Coaching
If your copywriting is good, then you can sell your own courses, coaching, and training even to people who have never heard of you. This includes courses and coaching that are not about copywriting. This can potentially reach the millionaire mark before you have to scale into a team of copywriters, VAs and salespeople. You can also team up with companies that need to offer writer training. That way they can sell your training for you as an affiliate. This path requires taking on additional leadership/coaching roles (usually).

External Business Model
A copywriter can build a solo business that is unrelated to copywriting, but is fueled with their own good copy and that can become a huge business without hiring a bunch of people depending on the model. This is the only path where I think a copywriter can "do what they love" while building a big business and not having to go deep into other roles beyond general entrepreneurship skills. They will still probably need to work with a team of freelancers at some point.

All of these leverage the skill of copywriting, but with the exception of direct client work, they're mostly leveraging the skill for other purposes.

As for books/ebooks, I think there's room for niche competition with Amazon. To me, it would be valuable to see platforms focused on specific genres where books are vetted for quality, and authors have opportunities to earn and grow. Can't beat Amazon's name directly, but you might take up the "Erotic Romance Store" position in the market mind.
 

MTF

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If your copywriting is good, then you can sell your own courses, coaching, and training even to people who have never heard of you. This includes courses and coaching that are not about copywriting. This can potentially reach the millionaire mark before you have to scale into a team of copywriters, VAs and salespeople. You can also team up with companies that need to offer writer training. That way they can sell your training for you as an affiliate. This path requires taking on additional leadership/coaching roles (usually).

Is there any way to go about this without you becoming the face of such a business? Write the content but not necessarily plaster your face all over the Internet trying to sell it?

Can't beat Amazon's name directly, but you might take up the "Erotic Romance Store" position in the market mind.

There used to be such a niche store. It was called All Romance eBooks (and sold both romance as well as crazy erotica that wasn't allowed on Amazon). It operated between 2006 and 2016 when it went bankrupt. I suspect that Amazon was the final nail in the coffin, though the way the shut their business also spoke a lot about how it was managed.
 

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@MTF I opened this because your posts are always excellent.

Writing is a skill. Like basketball or music (think a piano player). You can become top 0.01% and earn enough to then just write for fun. But in general, it is still a skill. Recording music and sharing it is just as hard for musicians. What changed is that everyone can become a writer or a musician. But that's not all bad news. Much like @Lex DeVille mentioned, because of internet there are now more people (your customer base) able to access the most niche offerings than ever before. This is probably why you've had a few golden years of earnings in this space.

But is it and has it ever been a true Fastlane? My opinion, no.

Could you ever turn it into Fastlane under CENTS framework? *Sigh* - not without major difficulty. One way is creating a platform, same as @Bekit said, have other writers do the work and create leverage. But you don't want to do that.

The other way is building a single writer platform (you), same as how @MJ DeMarco build this forum and his social media following to then announce his book and instantly have people like me pre-order. But the ironic thing about it is that he's not writing to be Fastlane, he's writing because he enjoys it. He can't re-wire himself and stop thinking Fastlane and the result is his books become a Fastlane for him once again. It's also helpful to sceptical readers like me to see him do what he preaches. Lastly, you have to appreciate just how niche he made his books. He's anti rat race established dogma.

While almost any business has a way to pivot into Fastlane, not all paths there are equally easy, some are harder and I see writing as one of the harder paths.

To sum up, one possible way to Fastlane for you as a solo-writer-entrepreneur is to build a very niche platform and sell there. Otherwise you aren't creating enough leverage and the math is bad.
 

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Is there any way to go about this without you becoming the face of such a business? Write the content but not necessarily plaster your face all over the Internet trying to sell it?

If you mean selling courses, yes, it is possible, but I'm not sure how realistic it is without building a whole platform of content-focused courses. An example of this is Universal Class: Online Courses and Continuing Education where the company has many different courses by instructors nobody has ever heard of (because they hire freelance course creators).
 

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But the ironic thing about it is that he's not writing to be Fastlane, he's writing because he enjoys it. He can't re-wire himself and stop thinking Fastlane and the result is his books become a Fastlane for him once again.

I don't think a lot of people understand this, so thank you for recognizing it.

My publishing and writing is a "passion project" which has paid Fastlane returns. I offer no upsells, no coaching, no big-ticket mentorships, no courses, nothing.

If I was starting over and looking for Fastlane opps, I wouldn't be writing. I write because I can afford to write.

The only thing "Fastlane" about publishing is SCALE and TIME. It lacks Control and Entry, and even some Need.

To be honest, my publishing company is a rare Fastlane that I didn't expect, which means I defied the odds and yes, even had a bit of luck.
 

MTF

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@MTF I opened this because your posts are always excellent.

Thank you.

While almost any business has a way to pivot into Fastlane, not all paths there are equally easy, some are harder and I see writing as one of the harder paths.

It can definitely be harder for an average person but what about an introvert with writing skills? Brandon Sanderson is a great example of a Fastlane author who leveraged this. But I have to admit there's no way I could ever match his interest in books. The guy lives and breathes this stuff.

To sum up, one possible way to Fastlane for you as a solo-writer-entrepreneur is to build a very niche platform and sell there. Otherwise you aren't creating enough leverage and the math is bad.

Do you mean a platform where other authors are allowed to sell as well or a platform for my stuff alone?

If you mean selling courses, yes, it is possible, but I'm not sure how realistic it is without building a whole platform of content-focused courses. An example of this is Universal Class: Online Courses and Continuing Education where the company has many different courses by instructors nobody has ever heard of (because they hire freelance course creators).

Thanks for that example. Damn that website is so ugly and cheap looking lol.

If I was starting over and looking for Fastlane opps, I wouldn't be writing. I write because I can afford to write.

What would you do if you hit your original "humble" financial independence goals through writing? Still keep writing even if you aren't sure if it can take you to the next level?

I sort of feel like I'm the victim of the sunk cost fallacy here but at the same time I can't help but feel that if I'm already so deeply embedded into this industry it's foolish to try something else.
 

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it's Amazon, so you're 100% dependent on them and their policies,

I think the question is how entrepreneurial write is.

I like the thing that George Lucas did when creating first trilogy
of Star Wars.

Namely he didn't want big check for it but smaller one plus 10% of sales of toys, action figures and other things that weren't movie itself.

People in industry hopped on for such a deal and it happened
to be like George Lucas planned: sales of toys and other gadgets related to Star Wars
made him billionaire much faster than directing movies and selling tickets.


So going back to amazon - i wouldn't rely on them but use them as a way to get known and get movie and TV series deal.
Even, write good books for lower price to spread out the word, having end goal in mind.

That's how i would sum up situation of writers.
 

MTF

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So going back to amazon - i wouldn't rely on them but use them as a way to get known and get movie and TV series deal.
Even, write good books for lower price to spread out the word, having end goal in mind.

In theory it's a very good idea.

In reality, your chances of becoming a successful author are slim.

Your chances of becoming a successful author who sold movie/TV show rights to their books are very, very low.

Your chances of becoming a successful author with a movie/TV show deal that is actually produced are almost non-existent. (Many authors sell the adaptation rights but the movies/shows are never created)

Your chances of becoming a successful author with a movie/TV show adaptation that becomes a blockbuster are... Well, non-existent.
 

Lex DeVille

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Thanks for that example. Damn that website is so ugly and cheap looking lol.

I hate their website. But for a long time they were a leading course provider for all branches of the military. I've taken some of their courses, and the quality is hit and miss. The one commonality is that I never really knew who the instructor was. The whole course is usually text with a video for each module, but the video is just the narration of the text. They offer continuing education units in addition to certificates of achievement, so I think that is why a lot of people use them.
 

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The only thing "Fastlane" about publishing is SCALE and TIME. It lacks Control and Entry, and even some Need.

To be honest, my publishing company is a rare Fastlane that I didn't expect, which means I defied the odds and yes, even had a bit of luck.
I think the opportunities in publishing have been declining with the rise of the internet.

In the past, the barrier used to be lack of knowledge. Nowadays knowledge is overabundant, it is everywhere, a lot more knowledge than we’ll ever hope to consume. So selling knowledge when it’s overabundant isn’t smart anymore.

So the barrier to a better life is no longer lack of knowledge. Much more difficult to publish today something about weight loss that will take the market by storm than 40-50 years ago.

Same with publishing about entrepreneurship/getting rich. Guys like Joe Karbo, Ben Suarez, or even Gary Halbert/Dan Kennedy could create an info product and sell it to make millions. Those days are over, especially with the rise of the internet.

Now the market is FLOODED with info products. Everyone KNOWS what to do. But they still don’t do it.

In this environment, the only way to get rich by selling an info product is to OWN the audience. If you get a large number of people to trust you, they’ll buy whatever shit you put out. Some influencers have taken this route.

However, this doesn’t mean that info marketing is dead. But selling a PDF or even a video course, imo, unless you’re an influencer and you own an audience, that’s dead.

What is missing instead is getting people results. There are a LOT of opportunities in that. Basically instead of info marketing, you have coaching, where people get immersed in the activity, learn by doing and are guided. It’s a surer path to RESULTS, which is what is missing.
 

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Do you mean a platform where other authors are allowed to sell as well or a platform for my stuff alone?

I mean only you. You’d need to earn a niche market “celebrity status”, so that your followers have a strong conversion rate when you publish new books.

I used to be friends with Sy Sperling (founder of Hairclub for Men) until he passed away from cancer. He and I spent a lof of time together and I recall this conversation vividly. We were having lunch at a local restaurant in Vancouver and waiting for the food to arrive. Had a few sips of beer:
- Sy, what do you think about doing what you love for business?
- What exactly do you mean?
- I mean the concept of having to love what you do for a business. The concept of if you love what you do, you don’t really work, that kind of stuff.
- You see this salt and pepper shaker?
- Yes
- If I can build and scale a business selling salt and pepper shakers that make me millions while I sleep, it’s the sexist business for me and I love it.

We had many chats like that. He shared how hard it was running three locations and yet how easy it became when he had 30 and national presence.

The relevant part here to writing is this: you love writing and you are trying to do both, create the freedom to write for fun and do so by earning profits from writing. Nothing wrong with that, but it is just not Fastlane.

Platform that sells your books is leverage, it’s like getting a bicycle when before you only had running shoes. You can move a lot faster but it is not a car and definitely not an airplane. Even with a bike you can cover long distances, just slower that’s all.
 

seraphine

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I'm not sure how relevant this is, but this thread reminded me of my favorite example of a successful businessman-writer—Shakespeare! He owned a 12.5-7% stake in his theater company, sold grain, made multiple investments, and bought several properties he was able to rent out. When he came to London, he was probably quite poor (seeing as his father was in debt), but when he left, he was rich enough to buy himself a coat of arms and become a gentleman. From the evidence we have, it seems like he was always looking for ways to turn a profit and was very shrewd about it.

I think to turn writing into a Fastlane business you'd have to be universally appealing, unique, and well-regarded enough to gain significant name recognition, and then you can create your own way of publishing/distributing what you write—something you have ownership over. You'd have to be the kind of writer people would buy a book from simply because you wrote it. For example, I buy almost all of Anne Carson's works, just because no one else writes like her, and I've bought all of MJ's books because I get so much value from them. But even then, there are so many ways people can read books for free on the Internet now—it'd probably be better to create some other, true Fastlane business, and then focus on writing once you're rich enough to not have to rely on it for a living.
 

MJ DeMarco

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What would you do if you hit your original "humble" financial independence goals through writing? Still keep writing even if you aren't sure if it can take you to the next level?

Great question.

Guess it really depends on how I felt about the process.

If it was no longer challenging, plus enjoyable, I might seek other things.

For example, I'm really getting burned out in the business/entrepreneur/finance space as the niche is filled with posers and "trailer millionaires".

I sold my business when I was tired of the process. The challenge was gone and I went from enduring and honing the work, to hating it. That is usually when I get off the horse. <-- That is in TGRRE in the final chapters.
 

sanzen

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What are in your opinion the best Fastlane opportunities for writers? Which opportunities are exhausted and which ones may still have a bright future? Is writing still a lucrative skill or should writers consider it more of a supplemental skill?

I've been in the self-publishing industry for the past seven years. It's no longer such a gold mine as it was in the past. With no strong competition for Amazon on the horizon, it's becoming more and more of a business dependent on just one company, with thousands of competitors both corporate (traditional publishers) as well as individuals (who often flood the market with cheap, low quality ghostwritten books and manage to game the Amazon's system).

I'm wondering if writers today should still first consider going into book writing/publishing or perhaps try something else and stay away from books.

What are your thoughts on various business models for writers? How would you monetize your writing skill in the most Fastlane way possible?

The way I see it there are three main paths:
  • book publishing - crowded, Amazon-dependent, you can sometimes spend months working on a book only for it to fail miserably (there's no easy way to test a product before creating it),
  • copywriting - may become a career instead of a business, though some copywriters earn incredible amounts of money (like Jay Abraham who's technically more of a consultant),
  • blogging/courses/other digital products not sold as books - this requires a personal brand and narrowing your expertise to one main topic. Also, writing seems to be more of a side skill here, with marketing experience and personal branding being the primary skills needed.
Any other thoughts you have, feel free to post them here. I'd like this thread to become a regular discussion for writers on the forum.

Tagging @ChickenHawk, @MJ DeMarco, @Bekit.
I've done some self-publishing, and also used Amazon for it. It's a common misconception that Amazon is the only option, because there are many ways to self-publish and do well without relying on the lack of Control that an exclusively Amazon model has.

There are thousands of (verifiable) self-published authors out there, in both fiction and nonfiction, making high-five and six-figure incomes. They mostly fly under the radar, but you can find them. The majority of them do not rely solely on Amazon. Joanna Penn is a popular example, and she's steadily built a mid-six-figure business out of it over several years. The successful authors are also running *businesses* with multiple streams of income, not merely 'writing books'.

I wrote about my own experience with one book here: What I Learned From Writing and Self-Publishing a Nonfiction Book – James Gill

Is self-publishing a 'Fastlane' business? Maybe; I don't agree with MJ that it can't meet the commandment of Control, but it does require a businesslike approach to developing multiple streams of income and not just throwing ebooks on Amazon. And yes--I'd say it's still just as good an opportunity as it ever was, if--as MJ has pointed out in his books--you provide real value.
 
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I think the opportunities in publishing have been declining with the rise of the internet.

In the past, the barrier used to be lack of knowledge. Nowadays knowledge is overabundant, it is everywhere, a lot more knowledge than we’ll ever hope to consume. So selling knowledge when it’s overabundant isn’t smart anymore.

That's a very good point. That's why some people say that it's best to be a curator rather than create new content. But then to promote your curation business you still have to create new content lol.

What is missing instead is getting people results. There are a LOT of opportunities in that. Basically instead of info marketing, you have coaching, where people get immersed in the activity, learn by doing and are guided. It’s a surer path to RESULTS, which is what is missing.

The drawback here is that it's very hard, if not impossible, to make residual income from coaching. You can write a book and keep making money from it for years. You can't get a coaching client and keep getting paid without actually spending your time coaching them. Unless you make up for it through charging rates that are so high that selling your time is worth it. I guess that most Fastlane entrepreneurs would be fine charging $10,000 per hour of their time lol.
 

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The relevant part here to writing is this: you love writing and you are trying to do both, create the freedom to write for fun and do so by earning profits from writing. Nothing wrong with that, but it is just not Fastlane.

To clarify this a little, I'm already financially independent and that has happened exclusively because of my self-publishing business going Fastlane. I can write for fun alone but it just doesn't work for me. You mentioned MJ's example and him being wired to do stuff the Fastlane way. I'm the same.

Say that I would want to write a book about one of my passions. If I knew for a fact that it wouldn't ever turn a profit, I wouldn't write it, no matter how much I'd want to write about the topic.

Platform that sells your books is leverage, it’s like getting a bicycle when before you only had running shoes. You can move a lot faster but it is not a car and definitely not an airplane. Even with a bike you can cover long distances, just slower that’s all.

There is leverage if you become a bestselling author on Amazon because it can generate organic traffic. I still keep making money from books I published a few years ago and that's not because of my own efforts but because of the leverage Amazon offers.

As for the platform that sells my books, I'm not sure how would this differ from any blog, authority site or anything like that. Is MJ's Viperion Publishing store his platform to sell books? I assume he still sells 90%+ via distributors like Amazon or iTunes. Or is MJ's platform this forum and by a platform you mean any website where you gather an audience? I'm just trying to understand what you mean by that.
 

Black_Dragon43

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The drawback here is that it's very hard, if not impossible, to make residual income from coaching. You can write a book and keep making money from it for years. You can't get a coaching client and keep getting paid without actually spending your time coaching them. Unless you make up for it through charging rates that are so high that selling your time is worth it. I guess that most Fastlane entrepreneurs would be fine charging $10,000 per hour of their time lol.
This is true, but that's why coaches develop group coaching programs. Get all of you into a Facebook group for example, and provide on-the-go content at SCALE, + answer questions live, that type of thing. It still takes up your TIME initially, however, the bigger you grow, the more you can bring other experts into your group, and the less of your own time it will consume. And as you grow, you can even TRAIN other people to coach for you. Then you take yourself out of the equation for the most part. Think of people like Dan Sullivan or Tony Robbins - rarely coach themselves, mostly it's other people. And then you can still offer 1 on 1 stuff... but charge for it so that it's worth it haha... $10,000+/hr!

Again, it's not the knowledge that people are missing, it's applying it. The point of all these programs, even though many are still marketed from the angle of "learn the secrets" is to get you to APPLY what you learn, and have the support of a community... get yourself IMMERSED in it.

For example, let's take marathon running. You know you have to run to train for it, but you don't, or you can't get yourself to run enough. Because what happens... that voice in your head, after you run 3 miles, is like "I can't take it anymore, let's stop and go back. Need to rest, I'm too tired today". So unless you really work on yourself and train yourself to talk back to that voice, you WILL quit. And that's most people. And it happens in the short run (in a single practice session) and in the long run (why am I doing all these runs? I can't do it, I'm not made for it, etc.).

Now take this same person, and suppose a coach is running with them, and when that chatter goes on, he tells them "you actually have more to give, but I know it feels like you can't go on anymore... but you can. Try to find that strength, and let's keep going for 1 more mile". Suddenly, they push themselves. What's different?

In both situations the guy may rationally believe he can keep going, but in the middle of the pain and struggle, when that voice comes on, all the reason goes out the door. Because a different part of the brain, the limbic brain, takes over. A switch happens, and the neocortex is hijacked by the limbic brain. In those moments, it is the limbic brain that uses the neocortex to say whatever it wants to say to you. Now, if you have someone else coaching you, suddenly THEY provide that voice that's required for you to keep going when you can't provide it for yourself. That's all they do. They speak back to the limbic brain, and get the neocortex back in charge.

Here's a classic case... web designer does 20 cold calls, gets zero clients, and the voice starts... "this isnt working man! What are you doing? You're wasting your time here and making a fool of yourself... it's never going to work out". And unless this guy is trained, he can't separate and talk back to that voice. So he will be taken over. Now if he's in a group like the Fox Web School for example, he will say those negative thoughts, and @Fox or someone else will tell him "look dude, you're not doing enough cold calls. You have to keep going, it won't keep sucking if you keep going".

Also, check your avatar. What if the guy who quit had a coach, talking back to his limbic brain when it took over? Will he have quit then?
 
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Ywan

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I think the opportunities in publishing have been declining with the rise of the internet.

In the past, the barrier used to be lack of knowledge. Nowadays knowledge is overabundant, it is everywhere, a lot more knowledge than we’ll ever hope to consume. So selling knowledge when it’s overabundant isn’t smart anymore.

So the barrier to a better life is no longer lack of knowledge. Much more difficult to publish today something about weight loss that will take the market by storm than 40-50 years ago.

Same with publishing about entrepreneurship/getting rich. Guys like Joe Karbo, Ben Suarez, or even Gary Halbert/Dan Kennedy could create an info product and sell it to make millions. Those days are over, especially with the rise of the internet.

Now the market is FLOODED with info products. Everyone KNOWS what to do. But they still don’t do it.

In this environment, the only way to get rich by selling an info product is to OWN the audience. If you get a large number of people to trust you, they’ll buy whatever shit you put out. Some influencers have taken this route.

However, this doesn’t mean that info marketing is dead. But selling a PDF or even a video course, imo, unless you’re an influencer and you own an audience, that’s dead.

What is missing instead is getting people results. There are a LOT of opportunities in that. Basically instead of info marketing, you have coaching, where people get immersed in the activity, learn by doing and are guided. It’s a surer path to RESULTS, which is what is missing.
It is certainly true that there is already more info than one can consume. It's old wine in new skins (most of the time).

So you mean that today you basically have two ways if you want to sell information and info products efficiently.
Either you build an audience first and then sell them customized info products or you offer results in the form of coaching and similar things.

What would you prefer and why?
Do you think that it is necessary to build a personal brand to succeed in either endeavor? Or could a "corporate brand" also be successful without yourself as the face of the brand?
 

Flint

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I sort of feel like I'm the victim of the sunk cost fallacy here but at the same time I can't help but feel that if I'm already so deeply embedded into this industry it's foolish to try something else.
Looks like this is your underlying question/problem statement.

Deep down you know the answer. It's always great to have many opportunities and other skills to leverage. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Good luck!
 

FreeMan

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How about partnering with or identifying businesses where writing is integral to the success of the business but they aren't in the writing business. For example, an ecommerce company may use written content (e.g. marketing, documentation, internal processes) as their key differentiator (and value it nearly as highly as the product) but they make their money on selling products.

I think you mentioned newsletters before, but I follow Stratechery by Ben Thompson and he's built out a pretty decent business from subscribers willing to pay for his analysis on tech. If you don't want to be the 'expert', maybe you could be the writer for another expert who wants to create these newsletters.
 

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I'm not sure how relevant this is, but this thread reminded me of my favorite example of a successful businessman-writer—Shakespeare! He owned a 12.5-7% stake in his theater company, sold grain, made multiple investments, and bought several properties he was able to rent out. When he came to London, he was probably quite poor (seeing as his father was in debt), but when he left, he was rich enough to buy himself a coat of arms and become a gentleman. From the evidence we have, it seems like he was always looking for ways to turn a profit and was very shrewd about it.

That's interesting, thank you for sharing. Some extra details from Wikipedia:

In 1599, a partnership of members of the company built their own theatre on the south bank of the River Thames, which they named the Globe. In 1608, the partnership also took over the Blackfriars indoor theatre. Extant records of Shakespeare's property purchases and investments indicate that his association with the company made him a wealthy man,[53] and in 1597, he bought the second-largest house in Stratford, New Place, and in 1605, invested in a share of the parish tithes in Stratford.[54]

If it was no longer challenging, plus enjoyable, I might seek other things.

For example, I'm really getting burned out in the business/entrepreneur/finance space as the niche is filled with posers and "trailer millionaires".

Ha, I'd rather prefer writing fiction be less challenging than it is. As for enjoyable, writing is that weird activity where sometimes you love it and sometimes you hate it.

I understand getting burned out in the space. Same for my main non-fiction niche. That's why I don't think I can write in it anymore.

there are many ways to self-publish and do well without relying on the lack of Control that an exclusively Amazon model has.

I don't publish exclusively on Amazon and have multiple sources of income. Still, at least 80% comes from Amazon because it dominates the market. Non-fiction writers can possibly escape this by selling their own products, courses, etc. But fiction writers would have a hard time avoiding breaking the commandment of control.

Joanna Penn is a popular example, and she's steadily built a mid-six-figure business out of it over several years.

As far as I know she's making at most $100k a year. It's hardly a hugely successful business considering how much recognition she has as a self-publishing expert.

This is true, but that's why coaches develop group coaching programs. Get all of you into a Facebook group for example, and provide on-the-go content at SCALE, + answer questions live, that type of thing. It still takes up your TIME initially, however, the bigger you grow, the more you can bring other experts into your group, and the less of your own time it will consume. And as you grow, you can even TRAIN other people to coach for you. Then you take yourself out of the equation for the most part. Think of people like Dan Sullivan or Tony Robbins - rarely coach themselves, mostly it's other people. And then you can still offer 1 on 1 stuff... but charge for it so that it's worth it haha... $10,000+/hr!

This reminds me of the Mexican fisherman tale. Go through all this trouble to eventually do the same thing again as you're doing now lol. At least that's how it feels when I imagine doing it myself, currently enjoying a simple life of a writer with none of these headaches.

This was actually an interesting realization for me as I read your post. I'd rather live a simple life as I live now and make less than be so married to a business that I have to do things live, work with other people, etc.

Looks like this is your underlying question/problem statement.

Deep down you know the answer. It's always great to have many opportunities and other skills to leverage. Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Good luck!

My self-publishing business fuels my investments so I'm not really putting all my eggs in one basket. But I do understand what you're trying to say. Thank you.
 

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