In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I cover 7 topics from thinking in terms of opportunity costs to a great use for SMS alerts.

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My two latest Kindle books are free today and tomorrow (Thursday and Friday) 

They’re free because I want people to leave reviews, so please, leave a review on the books that you download. I’d really appreciate it. Note that the books may not be free in all countries.

Tristan's travel books

And now back to the podcast…

  • 1:41 – 1. Measuring with opportunity costs
  • 4:02 – 2. Monetize your free time
  • 5:24 – 3. 1000 Awesome Things
  • 7:27 – 4. SMS alerts
  • 9:19 – 5. Things I think
  • 10:37 – 6. Rapid fire interviews
  • 11:37 – 7. Why I prefer writing ebooks to blogging
  • 13:56 – Featured podcast
  • 15:04 – Featured tool

DPP022: Monetizing Your Free Time, Measuring Opportunity Costs, SMS Alerts, and 4 More Ideas

Before we get started here I just want to say that two of my most recent Kindle ebooks are free on Thursday and Friday, April 4th and 5th. That’s the day this episode goes live and the day after. The books are 101 Travel Tips and 101 Travel Apps. You can find links to both of those by going to and clicking on episode 22. I’d really appreciate it if you downloaded the books, shared the links with your friends, and especially left a review for the books. That would be a big help to me and hey, you get free stuff. It’s a win-win. Thanks.

Hey everyone, I’m Tristan Higbee, and this show is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, from blogging to ebooks to membership sites and more, plus things related to internet business and online marketing. At the end of the podcast I’ll mention my picks for this week’s featured podcast and featured tool for digital publishers. You can find a full transcript of each episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast at

I’d love it if you rated this show in iTunes. Go to and then click the blue “Rate in iTunes” button in the left sidebar to pull up the podcast in iTunes so you can rate and review it, and it’ll only take a minute or two.

Ok! I’ve got 7 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.

1. Measuring with opportunity costs

An opportunity cost is what you give up when you choose to do something else. I’ve been thinking a ton about opportunity costs in the last few weeks, and it’s changed the way I work more than almost anything else that I’ve done recently. Every time I think about doing something that isn’t related to my work, I think about the time that I would spend doing that non-work thing and think about what work I could get done instead.

For example, I usually have a handful of TV shows that I watch every week, but I’ve barely been watching any for the past month or so. Every time I want to watch something, I think about what work I could do instead and weigh the two. Would I rather spend 50 minutes watching the Walking Dead, or would I rather have another thousand words written in my ebook. In this particular case, the Walking Dead wins out because I freaking love the show, but for nearly everything else, I’d rather spend that time writing and get an extra thousand words in.

We hear a lot about your work should be your passion, and there are a lot of nuances and asterisks to that statement that I won’t get into now, but when you’d rather work than watch TV, you can get a lot of work done. You feel totally spent by the end of the day, but it’s a really good feeling. In the month of March I fully wrote and published two new Kindle books, one was 26,000 words long and the other was almost 18,000 words long. I also recorded a full audio version of the 26,000 word ebook, and I also launched a couple new websites. The recipe here is threefold:

  1. doing things you really enjoy doing,
  2. having your butt in the chair for twelve or fourteen hours a day,
  3. always thinking about the opportunity costs of distractions and other activities.

2. Monetize your free time

There’s a pretty popular blog called Postmasculine that I don’t read, but I did read one of the articles there that came up in my Twitter feed. The article was titled 33 Things Every Aspiring Entrepreneur Should Know, and the second point in the article really stuck out to me, and goes along with what I was just talking about regarding opportunity costs. The second point was to monetize your free time, and here’s an excerpt of what came after that:

“If it feels like you’re giving up your free time to work on a second job, then youíre screwed before you even start. Take what you love to do anyway—basketball stat analysis, home gardening, furniture carving, whatever—and simply monetize that. That’s your most obvious starting point.”

It’s not quite as easy as “simply monetize that,” but again, this idea of doing things that you really do enjoy doing is so important. Instead of “needing” to carve out an hour here and there to work on your project, you need to carve out an hour from working on your project to eat or bathe. That’s when you know you’re on to something that you can stick with.

3. 1000 Awesome Things

Book of AwesomeI ran across a great site this week called 1000 Awesome Things. It’s a daily countdown of 1000 awesome things, and every day a new awesome thing is posted to the site. These are usually experiences, and they range from watching something download really fast to the feeling of wearing your favorite old, comfy t-shirt. There have actually been two countdowns from 1000 that have already been completed, and the person behind the blog turned each batch of a thousand into a book, creating The Book of Awesome and The Book of Even More Awesome, both of which became bestsellers. There is also The Book of Holiday Awesome, The App of Awesome, The Calendar of Awesome, and The Journal of Awesome.

All of those stemmed from the blog. According to the author’s bio on Amazon, he has an office job, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes the equivalent of a full time living off of all of these things. This model where you write a series of posts and then turn them all into a book is a fantastic one, and one that I think could be applied to a ton of different niches. An obvious one that comes to mind first is travel. You could make something along the lines those 1,000 Places to See Before You Die books. You could do it for songs. You could do it for famous people in sports, or interesting buildings, or businesses that you think are unique, or photos of amazing graffiti or classic paintings. It could be anything.

The number doesn’t have to be 1000, either, and you don’t have to blog about it every day. You could do it once a week for a year and then create a book of 52 awesome paintings or interesting buildings or whatever.

4. SMS alerts

Please ActivateBack in the day when I was commenting on tons and tons of blogs in order to get traffic, I remember buying a little program for Windows that alerted me whenever a new Problogger post went live, because then I could go be one of the first commenters on the blog and get a bit more traffic because my comment was higher up.

I’m not that crazy about commenting these days, but I’ve been using something in that same vein for the last couple weeks. Last month I created Travel Knowledge Database, which is a site that curates and indexes articles from about 140 different travel blogs. I mentioned it in a previous episode of the podcast. Every day I come across a couple travel-related blog posts that I want to comment on and I do. I’ve been keeping an eye on my stats and noticed that I consistently get more traffic through the comments on some blogs more than others. And so I figured hey, if I’m going to comment on these blogs, I might as well be the first one to do it and maybe eke out an extra click or two. So I set up an alert using IFTTT. IFTTT ( is something that you’ve heard me talk about in almost every recent episode, and it’s one of my favorite online tools. I set up a couple alerts so that whenever a new post on one of those blogs goes live, I get sent a text message. When I get the message, I go to the site, read the article, and leave a comment if I have something to say.

This might not make a huge amount of difference, but I am convinced that it does equate into at least some extra clickthroughs.

5. Things I think

I recently saw a blog post by an angel investor named David Lee where he mentioned a weekly column by Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, and the column is called Ten Things I Think I Think. I actually couldn’t find any good links to King’s columns, but David Lee, the angel investor, created his own Ten Things I Think I Think article. He wrote about ten things he thinks about the technology and startup spaces, like how Google is the LeBron James of technology and that 3D printers are overyhyped in the short term but underhyped in the long term.

I really like this “things I think” blog post format. It makes clear that you’re not making bold predictions or assumptions, and you don’t necessarily need to go into a ton of detail that back up what you’re saying; it’s just what you think. Because you’ll probably be creating a list of these, you can just write a couple sentences about each one. It’s a good way to get ideas out that probably don’t warrant their own separate blog posts.

6. Rapid fire interviews

I’ve noticed a trend of blog interviews that consist of many questions that are designed to be answered in just a phrase, or a couple sentences at most. Most of the interviews consist of the same set of questions emailed to different people, who then respond to the same set of questions. Travel blogger Johnny Jet calls them his Travel Style series of interviews. Copyblogger has a How person X writes series.

These types of interviews are great for everyone involved. It doesn’t take forever for the interviewee to answer the questions, there are enough questions that the readers find them interesting and helpful, and all the interviewer has to do is email some predetermined questions.

7. Why I prefer writing ebooks to blogging

Last week I read a blog post by Craig McBreen titled Hey blogger: Please don’t quit. He talks about how before you quit a blog, think about all of the thousands of hours you’ve spent and why you started the blog in the first place. And that you should ignore the “success” you see others have, because who knows if they’re really as successful as they make themselves out to be.

I love blogging, and I’ve been doing it for almost ten years. But Craig said something in the article that I think highlights why I now spend more of my time these days writing ebooks than I do blogging. He said:

“With blogging, there is no finish line.”

That right there is the beauty of blogging and also the reason why so many people quit their blogs. It’s great that a blog can be a continuous thing that grows with you over time. But it’s bad that there’s no finish line because you feel like you always have to do more. Always get more subscribers, always write more blog posts. With ebooks, there is a defined finish line. You get to a point where you are done with an ebook. When it’s published, you’re done. As someone who has trouble focusing on one thing for a long time because I have a lot of ideas and interests, creating ebooks is something that very much gels with my personality. I like being able to say, “Ok, I’m done, and now I can move on to something else that interests me just as much.” And the great thing is that it never gets old.

So my recommendation is yes, to blog. I love blogging and I will never stop blogging. But pick up some projects that have distinct starts and finishes. The feeling of accomplishment is great, and it takes pressure off of your blogging. Blogging becomes fun again instead of a chore.

Featured podcast and digital publishing tool

And now it’s time for this week’s featured podcast and featured digital publishing tool. My pick for featured podcast is called the Russian Rulers History Podcast [link]. I think that the first time I had a podcast pick of the week was in episode three of this podcast, and it was for the amazing History of Rome podcast. The Russian Rulers History Podcast is a similar style of podcast. In roughly every episode, the host talks about a different Russian ruler, though it can often take a few episodes to get through one ruler. As of recording this, there are 112 episodes and the podcast has gotten as far as Boris Yeltsin and the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I’ve been to Russia and lived in Ukraine for two years and Kazakhstan for six months, and will be heading to the former Soviet republic of Georgia next month. So Russia is a place near and dear to my heart, but this is a great podcast that should also be interesting to people who like history in general.

Russian Rulers History PodcastMy pick for featured digital publishing tool of the week is called Compfight [link]. That’s one word, and it’s at It’s a search engine for photo sharing site Flickr. The great thing is that the photos are all under creative commons licenses, meaning photos that you can use in blog posts. You can also have it show only photos that can be used for commercial purposes. I’ve written a couple posts this last week that I needed photos for, so I went to Compfight, typed in the words, and easily found a couple photos to use. It’s great, and it’s easier to use than the default Flickr search. Just be aware that the top couple rows of photos that show up in the search results are stock photos that you have to pay for; they link to Shutterstock and iStockPhoto. Below that are the rows of Flickr photos.

You could also use the site to get travel photo inspiration. If you’re going to Moscow and want to see what kinds of photos other people are taking of Moscow, go to Compfight, type in Moscow, and see what photos come up. Compfight also has a free WordPress plugin, making it easy to find and insert Flickr photos right from the WordPress new post screen. I tried it and it does work pretty well. It’s easy to use.

Final words

And that’s all for episode 22 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out for complete transcriptions and other blog posts there at the blog. And remember that my two travel ebooks are free today and tomorrow if you’re listening to this on the day the podcast goes live or the day after. Just go to, click on episode 22, and look for the links.

Please don’t hesitate to email me any question you might have regarding digital publishing. I love talking about this stuff, and I’d love to help you out. You can follow me on Twitter by going to That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. And again and as always, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed this podcast, and thanks for listening.

Note: This article contains a handful of Amazon affiliate links. If you click through and buy something on Amazon, I make a very small commission. This in no way affects your shopping experience.