In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I cover 6 different topics, including the best way to deal with side projects taking over your life and a smarter way to write multiple ebooks.

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You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s about 16 minutes long.

  • 0:52 – 1. Putting side projects in their place
  • 3:11 – 2. A YouTube experiment update
  • 4:15 – 3. Getting more from newsletter subscribers
  • 6:06 – 4. Pre-announcing newsletter emails
  • 7:06 – 5. The smart ebook portfolio
  • 10:39 – 6. Narrow-niche fiction
  • 12:35 – Pick of the week

DPP032: Dealing With Side Project Overwhelm, Smart eBook Writing, and 4 More Great Ideas

Hey, I’m Tristan Higbee, and this podcast is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, including blogging, ebook and video creation, podcasting, and other things relating to internet business and online marketing. You can find a full transcript of each episode of this show at DigitalPublishingPodcast.com.

I’d really appreciate it if you rated this show in iTunes. Just go to itunes.digitalpublishingpodcast.com and then click the blue “View in iTunes” button in the sidebar rate and review the podcast in iTunes.

OK, I’ve got 6 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.

1. Putting side projects in their place

I think I might be the king of side projects. I’m always starting new ones and shuttering old ones. I’ve talked about several of my side projects over the course of this podcast’s life, and all of those aren’t even half of the ones that I start.

One thing that I struggle with a lot is side project creep. It’s when the side projects grow to a point that they start to infringe on the time I can spend on my main projects. They take over. This has always been a problem for me and it’s been especially bad this year, but I think I’ve finally managed to figure out a way to keep the side projects separated from and subordinate to my main projects.

It’s pretty simple. I’ve just told myself that I can’t work on the side projects until after 5pm. That’s it. That gives me all day to work on the big stuff I have to work on and still a whole bunch of time in the evening to work on whatever I want. Doing this has been remarkably and almost embarrassingly effective. I end up working more on my main projects and don’t feel guilty about working on the side projects.

But what if you have a 9-5 job or are a full-time student and also have a main side project, and then side projects separate from your main side project? You could do the same type of project segregation, just do it on a more compressed scale. So, for example, you get home from work, work for 3 hours on your main side project and then dedicate an hour to tinkering around with your side-side projects.

Again, I can’t stress enough just how effective this has actually been for me, and I highly recommend it if you have a lot of things going on. There’s even a Chrome extension that you might find useful that let’s you block certain websites at certain times. It’s called Website Blocker (Beta), and I made a short link for it at http://bit.ly/siteblocker.

2. A YouTube experiment update

YouTube failTwo episodes back, in episode 29, I talked about creating multiple YouTube videos from one podcast episode. The idea was that I take each topic that I talk about in each of my episodes here and turn each topic into a separate YouTube video with just a static image that you would see in the actual video part.

I did this for three weeks, so three podcast episodes’ worth, and I can report… that it didn’t really work. The handful of views the videos got weren’t worth the time it took to make them. So for me and my podcast, this isn’t something I’ll continue with, though I will start uploading whole episodes to YouTube because that’s pretty easy to do. But if you have a podcast, you should still try it out for a little bit and see if it does work for you, because who knows, it just might.

3. Getting more from newsletter subscribers

It’s great when people sign up for the newsletter or list that you have on your website. For a lot of people with blogs and websites, that’s the goal, to get people to sign up for the newsletter. The idea is that people subscribe to your newsletter and then you send them emails with product promotions or just emails to keep them engaged with you and informed on what you’re doing.

But there is something else you can do to get more value out of newsletter subscribers, and I heard someone talk about it in a podcast last week (and unfortunately, I’m not sure which podcast it was). But you know how every email newsletter has a thank you page after you click through and confirm that you want to subscribe? The tip I heard last week was that you should put a survey on that page to find out why people subscribed. Do they want to keep up to date with what you’re doing? Do they want the information you will provide? Do they just want your free ebook and nothing else?

Of course, not every person who subscribes to your newsletter will fill out the form or survey, but some might, and every little bit of information helps.

And even if you don’t want to put a survey on this thank you page, you should put something else there. I feel like it’s an underused page in general. Put a link to your social media accounts. List a handful of your best articles or blog posts, or have a list of recommend products or apps. Anything to make the thank you page more useful for you or for the people that end up there.

4. Pre-announcing newsletter emails

Speaking of email lists, here’s another interesting thing that I saw last week. I was on Twitter and saw Patrick McKenzie (who is @patio11 on Twitter) tweet the following:

“Emailing my list in ~2.5 hours about using tactics from consulting companies to sell SaaS. Not on it yet?”

And then he included a link to a newsletter signup page.

I think this is really smart. It’s a good way to show people the kind of thing you send to your list. It’s a preview. And then of course if your preview is good enough, people will see that tweet and sign up for your list. It’s a great idea.

5. The smart ebook portfolio

I’ve written more than 40 Kindle books. I think I’m at 41 right now. Most of my ebooks are spread out over a variety of niches and interests, from children’s books to rock climbing books to books about Google Chrome and traveling. There’s no one thread that connects them all, because I have a lot of interests and like writing about whatever I’m interested in and want to write about. But this really isn’t the best way to do things if you want to maximize the amount of money you make.

If you want to make more money as a Kindle author, your plan of attack should be to write a bunch of books that all have the same audience. Now I’m talking about nonfiction here because that’s what I have experience with, but I think this applies to fiction, too, and I’ll talk a little bit more about fiction later.

So one of my ebooks that consistently sells well is about rock climbing. It’s called 101 Rock Climbing Tips and Tricks. If I were smart, I’d write a bunch of complementary books, like 101 More Rock Climbing Tips and Tricks, or books about more specific sub-genres of climbing like doing really long climbs or crack climbs. I could even write books about hiking or camping and they’d still be in the same general sphere of interest. I’d say at the beginning and end of each book that if you like this book, I have these others that you might be interested in, and I might also list those other books in the book descriptions on Amazon. And then any person who buys any one of those books is a good potential customer for the rest of the books. It makes it easier to sell more books and therefore make more money.

TrailersteadingI saw a great example of this recently. I read a Kindle book called Trailersteading: Voluntary Simplicity in a Mobile Home. (I loved the book, by the way, and can definitely recommend it if it sounds like something you’d be interested in, plus it’s only $1.99 on Amazon.com.) The author of that book, Anna Hess is her name, has a bunch of other books that are all somewhat related to each other. I guess homesteading would be the niche. She’s written 20 books relating to homesteading. She has a book of homesteading guidelines for each month of the year, which is a pretty great idea, and then she has one master book that is a compilation of all of those individual monthly books. She has several books about raising chickens. She has a book about making your own hummus. And I’m sure she’ll continue to write more books about this kind of thing. And of course, to complement all of her books, she has a homesteading blog at waldeneffect.org.

That is a very smart way to make money as a Kindle author. It’s also something that I’m going to be thinking about more as I continue to write more Kindle books. And it does apply to fiction, too. If you write a zombie novel and it sells well, you’re probably better off writing another horror or zombie novel than you would be writing something along the lines of Little House on the Prairie.

6. Narrow-niche fiction

So that last topic was mostly about nonfiction, but I also want to talk about niche fiction a bit more. I don’t think that’s something that many of us think about very often. As you probably know by now if you’ve listened to this podcast for a while, one of my main websites is fkb.me, which is a free Kindle book site. As part of running that site, I look at hundreds of Kindle books every day, and I see a wide variety of books. One that stuck out to me recently that was a free bestseller was called Running from Love: A Story for Runners and Lovers. It’s a romance novel for people who love running, written by someone who loves running. It doesn’t get much more niched down than that. And like I said, it was a bestseller on Amazon. If there are enough people out there who want fiction about running, there are probably enough people out there who would want fiction about whatever things you’re interested in. That’s just something to keep in mind if you’re a fiction author.

And this is kind of a tangent, but it’s easy to market books that have narrow niches like that. If you wrote a romance novel about running, not only could you post it to book forums or whatever, but you could go to running forums and say, “Hey, I’m a runner, and I wrote this book about running. Check it out.” If you just wrote a general romance novel, you wouldn’t have that option.

Pick(s) of the week

And that brings us to my pick of the week. This is where I pick one useful thing to share, and it can be an app, a website, a podcast, or anything else I find valuable.

My pick of the week this time is a Twitter account that you should follow if you’re a writer. It’s called @hourlyprompts, and it’s at twitter.com/hourlyprompts. It tweets out a new writing prompt every hour on the hour. And that’s it. The prompt is just a word, like “standoff” or “possum” or “hardship.” Those are some of the ones that I see now looking at the account. Not only is it a good way to get a stream of writing prompts and ideas, but it’s just a good reminder in general to write something. Nearly every time I look at my Twitter feed, I see a tweet from @hourlyprompts and it’s a gentle reminder to write, even if I don’t want to write about that thing listed in the prompt.

And then I’m going to cheat this week and add one more pick of the week because I think it’s very timely. This one is a Chrome extension. As you may or may not be aware, Google Reader is shutting down for good next week. I’ve been using Feedly as my RSS reader of choice for the past couple months, and it does nearly everything I want it to. One thing I wish it had, though, is filtering capability. Right now, for example, I’m pretty sick of reading about the whole NSA, PRISM, and Edward Snowden business. No new information is coming out and I’m tired of reading the exact same thing written in pretty much the exact same way, so I really wished I could apply a filter to Feedly that would remove all articles with the words NSA, PRISM, or Snowden in their titles. That is currently not a function that Feedly has, but I did find a way to still get the job done. As I said, it’s a Chrome extension, and it’s called Reader Filter [link]. It works with the Feedly web app, and it also apparently works with The Old Reader, which is the name of another Google Reader replacement. So I installed the extension, put in a few keywords of things I didn’t want to see in my Feedly feeds, tweaked a couple of other settings, and voila. My Feedly inbox is now Snowden-free. You can search in the Chrome Web Store for Reader Filter, or I made a short link that you can type it that will redirect you, and that’s bit.ly/readerfilter.

Final words

And that’s all for episode 32 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out digitalpublishingpodcast.com for complete transcriptions and other blog posts there at the blog.

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 twitter.digitalpublishingpodcast.com. That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. If you do follow me there, be sure to say hi. 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.