Leaving Work Behind

Introducing My New Project: an Information Product for Freelance Bloggers

Written by Tom Ewer on August 15, 2012. 72 Comments

My New Project - Will I Fail or Succeed? [Case Study]I’ve been focusing on highly actionable posts over the last couple of months on Leaving Work Behind. Whether it’s been setting and achieving goals, blogging, or negotiating freelance rates, there has been something for just about everyone.

Whilst I love producing those posts (and there will be plenty more to come in the future), today I want to take you back to where it all started.

Those who have been LWB subscribers from the start will remember the blow-by-blow accounts of projects I was working on through 2011 and early 2012 – from niche sites, to authority sites, to freelance writing. Well, I have been working on a project for a few weeks now, and today I want to introduce it to you.

Trapped

You may recall from a recent post on business inspiration that I had come up with many interesting ideas on holiday in Bulgaria back in May. And yet, it took until just a few weeks ago for me to finally start work on any of the projects that I had dreamt up.

This kind of procrastination is extremely damaging (but also extremely easy). I was effectively floating along, achieving little. Sure – I have a healthy freelance income which pays the bills and then some, and the blog is growing, but in terms of setting up independent income-generating assets, I was going nowhere. I was caught in a form of what Corbett Barr calls “The Blogging Trap“.

I realized that without a project to work on – something more than just the freelance work – I was quickly slipping into mere “existence”, rather than “advancement”. And that is not the Leaving Work Behind way.

So I have decided to take a big jump out of my comfort zone and release an information product, and I want you along for the ride. This is the first post in a series in which I will share every step of my journey – from the first word, to the final launch, and beyond. You can expect the same level of candidness as you have ever witnessed from me on other projects.

Why Decide to Create an Information Product?

If you have read my recent post on business inspiration you will know that I am certainly not short of ideas. When I finally came to the decision to pull my finger out and get something done, there was a considerable selection of potential projects to choose from – blogs, membership sites, plugins, and other miscellanea.

So why did I choose an information product? Simple – because I wanted something that acted as a convergence point between the following:

  1. What I’m good at and can teach
  2. What my existing audience wants

Whilst I could have started a new blog (I’ve got an idea that I am completely in love with) or developed a WordPress plugin, doing so wouldn’t really be making the best of what I already have. I decided that it would make most sense to produce a product that my existing audience might want to buy.

Convergence

Convergence is key.

Finally (and perhaps most importantly), I felt that I had spotted a gap in the market.

A Guide to Freelance Blogging

Which leads me to the announcement of my upcoming information guide, which will be a guide to freelance blogging.

I believe that freelance blogging specifically (as opposed to freelance writing generically) is highly underrated and undervalued. Not only can it pay well (I earn the equivalent of $100 per hour from some clients), it can also lead to an enormous wealth of opportunities.

Freelance blogging can lead to:

…and so on. Not only that, it gives you the absolute freedom to run your day as you see fit – whether that is doing just 3-4 hours of writing per day (as I do), or treating it as a full time occupation and earning yourself a six figure income (as I could). You can effectively quit your job, work half the hours and earn the same amount of money, freeing up an enormous amount of time to pursue other projects (or have a round of golf).

And with my audience, I believe that I have a glorious mix of people:

  1. Those who are already interested in the concept of freelance blogging
  2. Those who are not interested, but might be if they understood just how lucrative and freeing it can be

I am really excited about releasing this guide – not only to help those who want exactly what I am offering, but also for those who are struggling to figure out how to quit their job and build a life on their own terms. For those struggling bloggers, the answer is staring them right in the face, and I can’t wait to open their eyes to it.

My guide is not going to be a 20 page pamphlet – I plan for it to be a comprehensive resource that will teach you everything you need to know in order to become a successful freelance blogger. If you consider the effort I put into some of my blog posts (such as my recent goal setting guide) and multiply it by a number of times, you will have an idea of what to expect.

Will It be Worth It?

In short – I don’t know (who ever could?). However, I am reasonably sure that it will be.

In putting time and effort into this guide, I am taking a calculated risk. My viability calculation is as follows:

Time Taken * Desired Hourly Rate = Necessary Break-Even Point

So for instance, say the guide would take me 30 hours to produce, and my desired hourly rate (i.e. how much I would like to earn for each hour I invested in the project) was $75:

30 * $75 = $2,250

In order for me to consider the guide a success, it would have to earn a minimum of $2,250 in its lifetime. If I were to offer the guide for say $47, I would need to sell just under 50 copies in order to break-even on my time investment.

Although the above numbers are not the ones I used to calculate my break-even point, they are indicative of the process I went through.

Since I have never released an information product before, I can have no accurate expectation of how it might perform. However, I am relatively confident that it will do well enough in the long run for me to recoup my investment. Only time will tell.

Fear of Failure

The idea itself and the calculation of viability were the easy parts. Actually creating the guide, and subsequently marketing it, is where things will get tough.

In short, I don’t know what I am doing. This is one of the key factors that kept me procrastinating for so long. I had the idea, but I feared failure. What if the guide is a flop? What if I get it all wrong?

The $100 Startup

I would happily recommend this book to anyone.

The answer finally came to me whilst I was reading The $100 Startup, in which Chris Guillebeau essentially gives you two options:

  1. Continue to procrastinate and get nowhere
  2. Embrace the chance of failure

I chose option two. I am embracing the chance of failure. The worst case scenario is that I sell a handful of copies of the guide, make a few hundred bucks, and learn a great lesson regarding how it all went so wrong. Best case scenario, I meet or exceed my expectations, grow my blog’s following, and kick my business up to another level.

It rather sounds like a win/win, doesn’t it?

What Next?

I have been writing for a good few weeks now, and the guide is already well over 10,000 words long. I basically jumped in without planning the book out in detail, which was a bit of a mistake.

Now that I have got a good start on the guide, I plan to step back from the day-to-day writing and focus for a week or so on planning. I also need to think about an actual launch date – I am hoping for sometime in October, but am not quite ready to publish a formal date yet.

I need to map out the chapters, headings, and subheadings, coordinate interviews and case studies, and consider pre-launch marketing and affiliate networking. I need to decide in what format I will release the guide (PDF? Kindle eBook?). All of these things are completely alien to me. I don’t know what to do. But I will do something, and I’ll either screw it up or do a decent job. Either way, I’m going through with it, and you will have a front row seat for the whole experience.

Who’s coming along for the ride?

Creative Commons image courtesy of h.koppdelaney and uxSears

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72 Responses to “Introducing My New Project: an Information Product for Freelance Bloggers”

  1. David Shaw
    August 15, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Go for it Tom, I see this stuff been done a thousend times stateside and they are making big bucks in some cases as you well know! You one of the early adopters here in the UK! whats the worst that can happen!

    Looking forward to hearing your progress

    David

  2. Samar @ The Writing Base
    August 15, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Tom, brilliant idea. The beauty of freelance blogging is that the demand for blogs just keeps on growing. While there have been a few info products on freelance blogging (namely Ali Luke’s), I feel there hasn’t been enough written about it.

    I transitioned from a freelance writer to a freelance blogger and 90% of my income now is made from blogging. The other 10% is ebook writing for clients but I’m taking on less and less of those projects.

    Good luck with your project! I’ll be here rooting for you every step of the way :)

    Let me know if there’s any way I can help.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm

      Hey Samar,

      I wasn’t aware of Ali’s guide – I knew that there must be something out there, and it is reassuring in a way to know that there is. Thanks for your support :)

      Cheers!

      Tom

  3. Halina Zakowicz
    August 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Tom! The ebook idea is great, but what made you decide to go the ebook route instead of traditional publishing? I’m in the process of writing a novel and prefer finding a literary agent and publisher because I think it’ll lead to better marketing overall even if I do take a hit on earnings. Also, not to scare you or anything, but I think that Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income is also in the process of writing a blogging guide/book.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      Hey Halina,

      To answer your questions:

      1. I admire your ambition! But I want to be in control of how and when my guide is published. I think that traditional publishing would be one hell of a hard slog.
      2. Pat’s book is going to be all about his “Be Everywhere” concept – i.e. blog promotion.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  4. Bernardo Camejo
    August 15, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Mate,

    I think it’s a great idea. My first, and only, product online is an ebook and it sells pretty good. Plus the emails I get every day from people who have got positive results is further proof.

    And even if Pat Flynn comes up with another similar book, I wouldn’t care too much about it. At the end of the day, you’ve got your own voice, and I can see that your audience is growing very fast.

    Keep it up mate.

    I’ll stay tuned

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm

      Hey Bernardo!

      I’m not worried about the competition – competition is good :) Pat’s book isn’t going to be anything like mine though – for starters, he isn’t a freelance writer ;)

      Cheers,

      Tom

  5. Niall
    August 15, 2012 at 5:15 pm

    Hey Tom,

    This is an excellent idea, I think an ebook would be great. One thing I would ask of you when doing this though is really tell us what it takes, if you can.

    I have read numerous so called ‘guides’ that say you should do this and that but very few actually drill down to the how.

    Tell us how you actually set up the ebook and automated it, how you chose images etc etc. I think this will make people come back to your blog over and over- I know I would.

    And for what it’s worth my inexperienced opinion would be there is nothing to stop you from doing both a PDF book and a Kindle book, infact you’ll probably make more money!

    Good luck with it and I look forward to hearing more about your journey!

    Niall

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      Hey Niall,

      Absolutely – my intention is to go into great depth regarding every stage of the development. This was more of an introductory piece (which was long enough as it was ;)). There will be plenty more to come!

      As for doing a PDF book and a Kindle book, I’m not sure if that would fly. People might be rather peeved to discover that they’ve just purchased say a $47 PDF that they can purchase for $4.99 from Amazon!

      Cheers,

      Tom

  6. David in Norway
    August 15, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Great stuff Tom and I wish you all the luck in Warwickshire! I’m very confident you’ll do well, because you’re actually doing what you’ll be writing about – there’s far too many eBook authors out there where that isn’t the case!

    Looking forward to following the journey :)

  7. Benjamin Thompson
    August 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Tom,

    Great post, way to go with a challenge and affirmation of action! I am doing similar with my first fiction book but have grand plans for a non-fiction ebook for the blog. Great way to encourage readers/email signups, plus as a lead product to other sales late.

    Good luck with the writing and keep us informed with how it goes. My tip is to just free yourself from distractions and just bosh it out!

    Best regards
    Benjamin
    (fellow Brit but in Ireland)

  8. Deacon Bradley
    August 15, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Great idea Tom! I’m always inspired by your willingness to go try something new. Thanks for always bringing us along for the journey.

    I love $100 startup myself and in the middle of launching my own potential failure, hah. One thing I know about you and I though – we won’t quit till we WIN!

  9. Jeffrey Trull
    August 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Exciting, Tom! I like this, especially the analysis of the break-even point. Is the math correct? Who knows, but it does help put things in perspective quite a bit more.

    I hear ya on feeling a bit complacent and just freelancing along. That wasn’t my goal when I quit my job, either, so I don’t want to simply settle for that because I’m doing what’s easy again.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 11:18 pm

      Hey Jeff,

      It’s not intended to be an exact science (after all, who can quantify the value of experience in the event of failure?), but it’s an indicator if nothing else.

      Freelancing is such an easy way to make money and affords so much flexibility, “settling” for it is certainly not a bad thing. But I like to keep myself on my toes ;)

      Cheers,

      Tom

  10. Tory
    August 15, 2012 at 6:40 pm

    Good luck man! Btw, whatever happened with your niche sites or the site your dad helped fund?

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 11:20 pm

      Hey Tory,

      Nothing ever came of the niche sites unfortunately. Not a single one performed. I didn’t pursue it any further because the business model really didn’t align with what I wanted anymore (something more stable and long term).

      As for my dad’s site, it got hit hard by Penguin and never recovered. It still makes money, but nowhere near as much as it did, and its value will have dropped through the floor. He’s basically written it off (to be honest, I think he forgot about it the day after he bought it – he was just bored one day ;)).

      Cheers,

      Tom

  11. Tim
    August 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    Hey Tom,

    Good post — interesting stuff. I look forward to reading more about your eBook experiment.

    You might want to double-check “prevaricate” in the dictionary. You used that word a few times, but I think you’re confusing it with “procrastinate.”

    Good luck!

  12. Marc
    August 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Hi Tom,

    I think this is a great initiative on your part and no doubt your E-book will be a wealth of information that will be usefull to many people.

    I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months and I really like the approach you are taking. it’s very refreshing and honest.

    In terms of the format for your E-Book I would consider going with something that will reach the majority of people.

    A kindle format might scare away a few people if they first have to download and install an App to be able to read your work.

    Just a thought!

    Keep up the good work.

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 11:25 pm

      Hey Marc,

      Glad you like the blog!

      Interesting argument, but I think the Kindle format would actually attract a far bigger audience (I do believe that is the key reason why people go into Kindle publishing). The downside is that Kindle books sell for far less, and Amazon takes a chunk of the profits. That is my limited understanding, anyway :)

      Cheers,

      Tom

  13. Jennifer
    August 15, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    Hey! Tom,

    I have recently taken great interest in becoming a freelance blogger and leaving my J.O.B. (Just Over Broke) behind. Its gonna take work and committment, but I truly believe it will. I can’t wait for your new e-book and the start of an awesome life to come!

    See You At The TOP,

    Jennifer A

  14. Yasmin
    August 15, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    I am excited about your upcoming e-book.I think you should publish the PDF version, run a contest to allow the winner to win the book at a discounted price (9.99) on Kindle for the launch of your book and also a giveaway of your choice. I have actually participated in events such as this with publishers that I know of. Which in turn grows your audience and grow interest towards any of your future products!

    • Tom Ewer
      August 15, 2012 at 11:27 pm

      Hey Yasmin,

      Excuse my slowness but I’m afraid that I don’t really understand what you mean. I should publish a PDF, but run a contest so that a winner can buy it for $10 in Kindle format? I don’t really follow…

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • Yasmin
        August 16, 2012 at 5:39 pm

        Meaning you can do both, publish your book in PDF format. You can in addition have a contest to help promote your book, such as an internet drawing in which the winner will win a discounted copy of your book in a Kindle edition.

        which gives you the opportunity to sell the kindle format as well.

        I was just giving you an idea of how the book can sell in both formats!

  15. Julie
    August 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    It sounds like a great idea for an E-book! It sounds like you would know a lot about the topic too. I do a small about of freelance blogging and would love to do more.

  16. Financial Samurai
    August 15, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Definitely worth it!

    I recently wrote, “How To Engineer Your Layoff: Make A Small Fortune Saying Goodbye”, where I teach people how to make money quitting their jobs. I negotiated 6 years worth of living expenses and want to empower others to do the same.

    It’s sold hundreds of copies and has brought a new audience of traffic to my site. WELL WORTH IT!

    Best,

    Sam

  17. Running from the Runs
    August 15, 2012 at 10:37 pm

    Hi Tom!

    I was thrilled to read this post – I think you will do a fabulous job with this as your content is always pertinent and useful. I will be following along avidly to see how it goes!

  18. Steve Rice
    August 16, 2012 at 12:41 am

    That’s really exciting Tom. Wanted to recommend Peggy McColl’s “Viral Explosions” (you can Amazon it).

    It’s a great book with a clear plan for creating an effective launch and giving yourself a good chance of creating a “viral” explosion when you do launch. Hope you’ll take a look at it as you do the planning for this launch.

    Sounds like you’re well on your way, but just wanted to pass along that little resource!

    Best wishes!

  19. Kelly McCausey
    August 16, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Good move! I’m so glad you’re going in this direction. It’s SMART!

  20. Alexis Grant
    August 16, 2012 at 3:20 am

    Love it! Like Kelly said, SUCH a smart move. I’m on my 5th guide now and LOVING it — both the creation and promotion process, as well as the financial benefits. Let me know if you have any questions I can help with!

  21. Alexis Grant
    August 16, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Oh, also, Dave’s Launch the **** Out of Your Ebook is worth reading. Here’s my affiliate link if you end up buying: https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=174103&c=ib&aff=155253&cl=40769

  22. Pierre | Internet Business Generation
    August 16, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Tom, I think this is something people would be interesting in reading. It will also help to establish your corner in the IM world, even if it doesn’t make you millions. ;)

    Fail fast and fail often.

  23. Ruth Zive
    August 16, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Tom, I think this is the perfect project for you! I do a LOT of freelance blogging, and I’ve never come across an eBook focused entirely on this niche of corporate writing, so I agree that there is a gap. Try to line up some guest posts and interviews the week the book launches – depending on your timing, I would be happy to do one for you. My business is in MAJOR transition (as you know), so my relaunch is slated for mid-September. Stay in touch!

  24. Mike
    August 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    I think this is a great topic and you’ll be great resource! Plus, where’s the harm if it flops (which I’m sure it won’t)? You’ll have accomplished something new, learned a ton in the process, and will have organized your thoughts in ways that you’re sure to profit from!

    One of my medium-term tasks in an e-book and I’ll profit from your experience! Thanks!

  25. Yahaira C.
    August 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I’d read it. There are way too many how-to’s on the market that just double-speak and present unrealistic scenarios. That you speak from personal experience gives your project integrity and solid standing. Also, isn’t the freelancer’s credo “nothing ventured, nothing gained?”

  26. Nick
    August 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Tom,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a month or two, and have probably read the whole thing from top to bottom by now.

    I’ve set a date for my own escape from work (July 1, 2013…the day after a bonus comes in). I’ve taken a somewhat different approach to you (more by accident than design), paying off my mortgage in full and building up a website on the side that is now making a decent sum of money. By the time I leave, I’ll have no debt and enough savings to live off for 3-4 years if necessary (more conservative than your approach, I know…but my wife’s currently pregnant and I don’t want to spend the inevitable sleepless nights worrying about income).

    Before setting a date, I’d been suffering from the same afflication that you had: a lack of belief that quitting was really more than a pipe dream. When I set up my website, it was more out of hope than expectation, and I almost couldn’t believe it when real money starting rolling in earlier this year (after 2 years of sustained, if sometimes misguided, effort). I can honestly say that your blog has played a huge part in convincing me that working for myself and doing something I love is truly a viable option – to the point where I really wonder what the hell I’ve been doing sitting in this job for the past 9 years (since I left university).

    I’m so glad you’ve started this project. An e-book (and this blog) are a much better investment of your time than “niche sites”, which add so little value to the Internet and (in my opinion) are little more than a get-rich-quick scheme peddled by a handful of Internet Marketing gurus. This blog is a long-term asset that I’m sure will generately real revenue (as well as client referrals) for years to come.

    Thanks for the inspiration, and I’ll look forward to buying the book.

    Nick

    • Tom Ewer
      August 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm

      Hey Nick,

      First of all – awesome site! When I was 15/16 I started what would now be called a blog named Florida Facts, in which I reviewed theme parks, attractions and so on. I loved that site and spent a huge amount of time on it, but never saw more than a trickle of traffic. If only I had persisted – who knows what it would be like now! It’s actually pretty depressing to think about it…

      I’m so glad my blog has been of help to you, and I am truly excited for your future. I definitely shared the whole “What the hell have I been doing with my life” mindset, but now it’s time to look forwards!

      Cheers,

      Tom

      • Nick
        August 31, 2012 at 12:19 pm

        Many thanks for the kind words, Tom. The site isn’t quite where I want it to be yet, but I’m excited about what can be achieved when I have more time to spend on it.

        I think we all have a few of those “if only I’d stuck with it” stories! In your case, though, persistence seems to have paid off with LWB and your freelance writing career…I hope can emulate some fraction of this :-)

  27. Joe
    September 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Sounds like a good idea for an ebook. I stopped checking this blog for a while but see you are back to your best again. Looking forward to checking out the ebook when it drops.

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