In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (of which there is a full transcript below, as usual), I cover 12 different topics from mistakes ebook authors make to how to make money with interviews and a whole lot more!
The podcast is on iTunes here. It would be awesome if you rated and reviewed the podcast in iTunes. Pretty please. If you’re using something other than iTunes, the podcast’s feed is http://blog.osmosio.com/feed/podcast/.
You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player right below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s about 21 minutes long. Note that the podcast contains my pick for featured podcast and and digital publishing tool of the week, but I don’t include them in the transcript below.
DPP005: Kindle and PDF Publishing Mistakes, Selling Interviews, and 10 More Ideas
Welcome to episode 5 of the Digital Publishing Podcast, which you can find online at DigitalPublishingPodcast.com. I’m Tristan Higbee, recording today in sunny, warm, and pleasantly humid Cancun, Mexico.
This show is all about things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, from blogging and ebooks to membership sites and apps. Also covered are things related to internet business and online marketing. Stick around till the end of the podcast and I’ll mention my picks for featured podcast and featured digital publishing tool of the week. This podcast is brand new in its current form and I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and left a review. I’ve got 12 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.
Topic #1: Niche app review blogs
I think that a great idea for a blog is to talk about apps for a particular niche. Earlier today I tried looking for a blog all about business apps for iPhones but couldn’t find one. I found lots of blog posts that regurgitated the same 15 apps over and over again, but I didn’t see a blog dedicated wholly to the idea. And business is just one niche that I think an app-centric blog would be great for. A blog about travel apps would be great. So would a blog about apps for university students or doctors. Or maybe you could even have a blog about apps just for certain geographical areas, like San Francisco, New York, or London.
You could monetize the site by being an affiliate for the iTunes store, though I don’t think you’d make much that way. You could be an Amazon affiliate and sell accessories for iOS or Android devices. You could create and sell an ebook along the lines of “The 50 iPhone Apps Every Entrepreneur Needs.” And if you have a blog that’s all about apps for lawyers, for example, you could get advertisers who also have products or services that lawyers would be interested in.
If you like blogging and like mobile apps, I think building a niche app review blog is a great idea.
Topic #2: A newsletter rating and review site
So I go to your website or blog. I like what I see and I notice that you have a newsletter opt-in form. You’re tempting me with a free ebook that I’d like to read. But I don’t have enough time to read the ebooks I already have, plus I don’t want to get spammed by you three times a week and have my email address sold to Nigerian scammers. I decide it’s not worth it end up closing the tab and checking Facebook instead.
This is a scenario that has been played out millions of times online, but there is something that could lead to a happier, mutually-beneficial ending. Someone needs to create a newsletter rating and review site.
Let’s say I go to JohnsAwesomeBlog.com and see his newsletter signup form. I want to see if his ebook or course or whatever signup incentive he has is any good. And I want to know how often he sends out an email. So I go to, say, NewsletterReviews.net and search for John’s Awesome Blog. I find it and see that people say that his ebook is great and he only sends out an email once a month, and he never sends affiliate links. That’s good enough for me, so I sign up for the newsletter and everyone lives happily ever after.
Someone needs to build this site. It would essentially be a searchable directory for newsletters. It would let people vet newsletters before they sign up for them and also find high-quality newsletters that they might be interested in. And who knows, it might even be an incentive for newsletter owners to not spam people as much.
Topic #3: A multi-author podcast
Most of us have come across multi-author blogs before. Instead of being written all by one author, the articles on the blog are written by multiple authors. I think a podcast along the same lines would be pretty neat. The podcast could be around a topic like travel, for example. One person would run the podcast and other people would record episodes and send them in. Like with a multi-author blog, the podcast owner would have final say over what gets published and what doesn’t.
But there’s another way to run a multi-author podcast, and I think it’s actually a bit more interesting. Instead of multiple people recording themselves—something that would result in a wide variety of recording qualities and volumes—the podcast owner would record him- or herself reading other people’s blog posts. Blog authors could contact the podcaster directly and request that their articles be added to the podcast, and/or the podcast owner could reach out directly to authors of blog posts he or she found particularly interesting or valuable.
There are several advantages to this model. The podcast owner wouldn’t necessarily have to create any content himself, since the podcast would essentially be an audio roundup of the best blog posts in a niche. The benefit to the bloggers is that they gain access to a wider audience without any further effort or expenditure of time on their part. The podcaster could potentially put out multiple episodes a week, as he wouldn’t have to worry about creating new content.
Topic #4: Stupid questions
I saw an article the other day titled Can Introverts Be Great Entrepreneurs? Am I alone in thinking that this is an incredibly stupid question? Are they going to ask next if women can be great entrepreneurs? When the answer is so obviously yes, why bother asking the question at all?
In a broader sense, this is one of my biggest pet peeves of online content. If the average reasonably intelligent person in your niche can read your headline and infer what the majority of the content of that article will be, the article is crap and you shouldn’t write it. Every time I see an article like “4 Ways to Get More Comments on Your Blog,” for example, I’m 99% confident that the article will talk about writing “epic” content, asking questions in your post, responding to comments, and commenting on other blogs.
And of course this goes beyond just blog posts and can be applied to videos, podcasts, and all other forms of content.
Topic #5: Don’t forget to add this to your PDF ebooks
I download and read a LOT of ebooks and there’s one thing I often see authors leave out, especially in PDF ebooks. It’s the information about whether people can share your ebooks with others. If the ebook is free only for the people that have signed up for your newsletter, you might want to ask people not to share it. But if you’re giving the book away and want as many people as possible to read it, clearly state both on the download page and in the ebook itself that you encourage people to share it. And while you’re at it, add Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons to the book itself.
There have been so many times when I wanted to share an ebook that I downloaded but it doesn’t say anywhere in the ebook if that’s kosher or not. Whether you want people to share the ebook or not, please say so.
Topic #6: Crowdsourced editing
Entrepreneur, author, and investor Guy Kawasaki is one of my favorite people to hear interviewed. He just seems like a very cool, down-to-earth guy. He’s not one of those annoying, overly energetic marketing scuzzballs.
He recently wrote a book called What the Plus? It is, as you might have guessed, about Google+. In an interview with Andrew Warner on Mixergy, Guy talked about how he essentially crowdsourced the editing for the book. He said:
Basically I crowdsourced content, editing, and copyediting for both What the Plus and my previous book, Enchantment. … I got dozens of bug reports that contained hundreds of issues in them. So I probably fixed three or four hundred bugs that way. I also added 50 or 60 new features at people’s requests. I will tell you that a great copyeditor would have found [the bugs] anyway. The ideas I don’t think a great copyeditor would have found. It would have taken great familiarity with Google+…
I think that this is something that all content creators can (and maybe even should) do. Ask your audience if they want to help you out and preview your content for free. Email sections or outlines to people or post them on Facebook and Google+. Ask for ideas for the content (like other things you should talk about) as well as for things like misspellings and grammar mistakes.
Topic #7: A broad blog idea for different niches
The first line of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina is, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” One idea behind this line is that the unhappy families each have unique stories worth telling. It’s in these unhappy stories that you hear about things like love, loss, struggle, and failure. That’s what Anna Karenina is about, and that’s what a lot of us like reading about and learning from. It’s those “Why My Startup Failed” or “Why I Didn’t Finish My First Marathon” or “4 Faux Paus I Made Last Week in China” articles that really draw us in. All of us desperately want to succeed in our respective endeavors and areas of interest, and one of the best ways to do that is through examining other people’s failures.
That’s why I think a great new blog idea (or maybe just a recurring blog post topic if you already have a blog) would be to focus solely on failures. I know that sounds a little depressing when you first think about it, but also think about how valuable the information on a blog like that would be. It wouldn’t work for every niche out there—I’m struggling to think how it would work for knitting, for example—but it would work for a lot of different topics.
I’ve often used rock climbing as an example niche for different things in the past, and I’ll do it again here. A blog about rock climbing failure could include articles about why injuries happen, why people fail to improve, why people fail to climb their projects, why people fail on long climbs, why and how gear fails, and so on. You could interview people and ask them about their stories of failure, and you could also talk about your own experiences.
Topic #8: The Mixergy model
I talked in the previous episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast, episode 4, about a recurring revenue membership site idea for any niche. The gist of it is to provide a TON of separate-yet-related tutorials around a central topic, and the tutorials act as mini products within your larger product. The idea is that you have so much information there that your customers can’t consume it all in one month, and so they pay month after month for access.
I gave the sites Udemy and Lynda.com as examples, but I missed an obvious one: Mixergy. For those who don’t know, Mixergy is a podcast by Andrew Warner, and he interviews entrepreneurs. All of the new interviews are free in podcast or video form. The way he makes money is through Mixergy Premium, which is membership site. In Mixergy Premium are tons of individual courses relating to business and entrepreneurship, and each course is taught by an entrepreneur with a lot of experience on whatever subject he or she is talking about.
Now the reason I wanted to talk about this is not to just use it as another example, but to take a step back and look at the whole Mixergy experience and funnel and see how it can be applied to other niches. Interviews can be a great way to create content cheaply and easily. Just call someone up on Skype, hit record, do the interview, and press stop when you’re done. And you can do an interview podcast for just about any niche (for example, I listen to interview podcasts about travel, outdoor recreation, and business). So you use the podcast as the main or one of the main marketing tools for your all-you-can-learn membership site.
And that right there is the whole shebang in one package: interviews as the free content you’re giving away and tutorials as the paid product you’re charging for. I heard someone (and I think it might have been Seth Godin, though I’m not 100% sure) say recently that one of the best ways to be successful is to copy others’ business models. They’ve already proven that something will work, so why not just do what they do but do it in a different space?
That’s why I’m talking about this Mixergy model. This whole model is something that I think can be applied to a wide variety of niches. I’m going to yet again use rock climbing as an example here because it is really is not one of the typical make-money-online niches like health and fitness or relationships or anything like that. There is not a lot of money in the rock climbing niche. But good training is something that I think even many climbers would pay for. Your product could be a membership site of a ton of different tips and techniques, and you could market it by interviewing climbers and publishing the interviews as podcasts.
Keep in mind that the exact mediums here can be switched out and replaced with others. If you don’t want to do a podcast, post the interviews to a blog. If you don’t want to create a membership site, write an ebook. The basic recipe to keep in mind here is interviews in some form plus a product of some sort equals an online business.
Topic #9: Interviews as a product
Bear with me as I mention Mixergy one more time. In one recent interview, Andrew said that he tried a bunch of different ways of making money from Mixergy, including charging for extra interviews. He said that that didn’t work too well, though, because people don’t want to pay for interviews. But I know I’ve seen paid membership sites in the past in niches like the stock market that do seem to do well. I imagine it’s different from niche to niche.
Now, whether or not charging for interviews is a good business model isn’t really something I can comment on because it’s not something I have any experience with. But I do want to talk about a couple other times I’ve seen people charge for interviews.
Last week I came across a website that sells interviews with foreign expats living in Cotacachi, Ecuador. There are 4 interviews and each one is $3.99. I don’t know how good these particular interviews are but, as someone who has lived in 6 countries and is currently in Mexico, I think that this type of product could potentially provide a ton of value to anyone thinking about relocating. Moving to a different country is a process and experience that often includes stress, unexpected expenses, and general unpleasantness, so anything that alleviates one of these or any other number of sticking points, I think, is a great product idea.
But there’s another way to make money with interviews in a way that is a bit more indirect. There’s a podcast called Internet Business Mastery. It’s the first internet business podcast I came across a few years ago. The guys behind the podcast make money through Internet Business Mastery Academy, which is their membership site where they teach people how to make money online. Some of their podcast episodes are interviews with people, and one thing that they occasionally do is save part of the interview just for the members of their membership site. So they do the free podcast interview, and then they say something like, “If you’d like to hear the rest of the interview with John Doe and learn about his top five AdWords tips, join Internet Business Mastery Academy.” The interviews in the membership site aren’t the focus of the membership site, but I’m sure the interviews have played at least some part in helping people decide to sign up for the membership site.
Topic #10: Asking for retweets
I just saw an infographic about Twitter on Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout blog. More specifically, the infographic is about getting retweets. One thing on it really struck me, and that was asking for a retweet by saying “please retweet” or “please RT.” I personally never do this and don’t care for it when others do it, but the stats that accompanied this bit of advice on the infographic might change my mind. According to the infographic, the phrase “Please Retweet” has a 51% retweet rate, and “Please RT” has a 39% retweet rate. Using neither one has only a 12% retweet rate.
From 12% to 39% and 51% are significant jumps. I think this is a great thing to keep in mind and use when you have something that you REALLY want people to retweet.
Topic #11: A Kindle publishing mistake
I run fkb.me, which is a site about free Kindle books. I see a lot of books every week. One mistake I see authors do is not include their book’s subtitle (as it appears on the book cover) as part of the official title of the book when they list it on Amazon. I don’t know why they do this; it doesn’t really make any sense to me. The problem is that it’s often the subtitle that really tells someone what a book is about and whether it will interest them.
One example I saw recently is a book called Clueless: Coaching People Who Just Don’t Get It. Well, that was the title on cover, anyway. The title that appeared on the top of the product’s Amazon page was just “Clueless.” If I saw “Clueless” in the Amazon search results, I wouldn’t be impressed or intrigued enough to click on it.
I see the reverse, too. A book has a title and subtitle listed at the top of the page, but the subtitle is missing from the book cover. I’ve even seen a book with a title on the cover and a completely different title on the Amazon page! I don’t know what these people are thinking.
There are a couple different takeaways from this. The first is to just make sure your title and subtitle are consistent between the book cover and the official Amazon listing. The second is to use a subtitle, at least for nonfiction books. Have your title be something clever or eye-catching and then have the subtitle be more descriptive. The subtitle is also where you can add your keywords, which will make a difference in the Amazon search results. When you’re publishing your book on Amazon, type in the title, then a colon, then the subtitle. That’s how it’s been done for years, and it looks just fine that way.
Topic #12: Go deeper with your tools
I’ve been using Photoshop since my dad brought home version 4.0 in 1996. I use it all the time for a bunch of different things, but I’ve only recently found out about a couple of really great features that I’ve been missing out on. The features I’m talking about are the Photomerge feature, which makes it super easy to stitch together photos for panoramas, and the Image Processor feature, which makes it super easy to resize a ton of different photos all at once. All these years I went through using Photoshop without realizing these features existed.
The point I want to make here is that you should go deeper with the stuff you use. Learn what’s in all of the nooks and crannies. Learn about all of the functionality, features, and limitations of the tools of you craft. Watch YouTube videos and read books to learn more. Buying a book about Photoshop for $30 and going through it would have saved me SO much time and effort over the years. Investing time or money in learning about something and learning how to do things the right way will pay huge dividends in terms of time and energy not wasted.
[Listen to the podcast if you want to hear my picks for podcast of the week and digital publishing tool of the week.]
Well, that’s all for this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out DigitalPublishingPodcast.com for show notes and links and additional blog posts there at TheBacklight.com that go beyond what I talk about on the podcast. Since the podcast is so new, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed it. Thanks for listening.
As always, I’m on Twitter.