Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What Happened To The Man Behind The Curtain?



Yeah, I have to apologize. I invite you to come along with me for the ride, and then I abandon my post, for a really long time. I could tell you I've been working on a book, but that wouldn't be a good reason. I didn't so much as say goodbye, or here's how things are going before I dropped off the planet. You came, you read, and you supported me, and then I just fell down.

I'm sorry. I struggle with this kind of thing. While I had a lot of page views, it was hard to see that anyone was getting anything out of it, so I just let go. My sincere apologies.

I'll be back next week with a more comprehensive post to cover what's happened during my absence. The quest for a gazillion dollars continues.

Anybody out there have exciting news to report? Anyone make their own gazillion while I was away? I hope so. Remember, a gazillion isn't a bunch of zeroes. It's just what you need to make the ride enjoyable. Happiness isn't found in more, but it may be easier to find in "enough."

Good luck. See you next week. Got it marked on my calendar.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty

Alright, enough with the philosophy, already. Let’s see this stuff in action, right? If it’s not that hard (physically), and it’s really just mental fences we’re clearing, then we should be on our way, doing the deed, making good things happen. Let me be up front and say that even so, sometimes it’s hard. Really hard. Between motivation and know-how and learning and thinking harder than I’ve had to in a good long while, this hasn’t turned out to be the easiest thing to do. Also, check your notions of “fairness” and “originality” at the door. I will try to be fair, whatever that means to me, but really, both of them are taking a beating while I sort them out. You’ll see what I mean.

Without further ado...

Got some real projects on the burner now. Of course, all the different podcasts and books on the subject are saying that you shouldn’t multitask, but it seems to me that this is exactly what I should be doing. While I’m waiting for this to be done, I can spend some time doing something else. None of them are time-intensive so that I can’t do them, so what’s the harm?

For the record, these are just some of the things I’ve got going on right now...

BookCycler -- Had this idea a long time ago, but never followed through. As an avid reader, I gotta think that lots of people have books that are just sitting around, taking up space. So I thought I might offer a free service to go pick up books. Why not? I get to leaf through donated books, sell what I can, give to charity, save books from the landfill, and find them new homes in the hands of readers like me. Reduce, reuse, recycle. It's all there, and it involves books! Will launch officially on FaceBook soon, but the website (free through Weebly.com) and the online form (easily constructed -- again for free -- on Wufoo.com) are up and running already at www.bookcycler.com. Waiting on a logo purchased through Fiverr.com (see below for more), and then will look at getting the word out. Oh, and by the way, it could be very feasible, since I did some extensive internet research. Original? It was to me, just so happened another guy did it before I did, in another state. Should that stop me from trying? Discuss... :-)

Fundamental Questions -- This is a book I wrote a couple of years ago, part memoir, part biblical exposé, and while I haven’t done anything as far as marketing with it, I have managed to sell a few dozen copies (not much money in it, I'm afraid). Not too bad for a no-namer like me, but I think it needs a little push, not so much for money, but for discussion. This was a labor of love, and not one for commercial viability or critical acclaim. Will check out sites devoted to this subject and see what I can manage about getting the word out. Did just redo the cover for the Kindle version, though, and I like that one (see info on Fiverr below). 

(By the way, you can get an affiliate link for products from Amazon, either as text or a picture, and insert them into your blog! This means that if someone clicks on this link and purchases my book, not only will I get my normal 30% from Amazon for the sale, but I will also get a referral fee. How crazy is that? It ain't much, but every penny counts for somethin', right? Here's an example of a text link, and then I've got a picture link at the bottom of this post for the other book. Feel free to click and purchase, if you like!)

Fundamental Questions: Challenging The Notion Of Biblical Perfection

I’ll Just Have One...Cookie -- This is a tiny tome on Amazon, about 15 pages long, devoted to five recipes for making one (awesome) cookie at a time. I figure it's good for weight control, because you're not making five dozen cookies at a time, or buying an entire package at once, but also, sometimes I just want a good homemade cookie, chewy and hot and full of as much chocolate as I can put in there. 

The book has pictures I took with my iPhone (not the best quality, really, but people like pictures, and I thought it would be cool to see the end product). 

Then I went to Fiverr.com and had a book cover made for $5. Fiverr has a lot of junk to wade through, but if you sort by rankings, you’ve got a good chance to find all kinds of helpful services for $5. Really. Logos, graphics, pictures, research, voiceover work for commercials, it's all there and for a five spot. Check it out. 

Anyway, back to the recipes. I started a blog for it (makejustonecookie.blogspot.com), and will continue to publish on that, but still need to generate some traffic and reviews on Amazon. May make 2nd edition bigger, but right now just trying to get the word out. 

Also started a Facebook page (specifically for a book), but need to launch that, too. Want it to be bigger than just a post on Facebook. Maybe free copies in exchange for honest reviews? Hmm. That sounds like a great idea...a really good idea...

Friday, June 29, 2012

An Idea For Your Thoughts?

Tell me, what do you think about the following ideas for products and/or services? Any winners? Losers?

  • A website for music teachers that keeps track of students.
  • A site devoted to selling CDs of sound effects.
  • An application for smartphones that lets you crop photos (and that’s all).
  • An educational video selling tie-dye secrets.
  • A DVD of instructions for installing security cameras at storage facilities.
  • Home-baked gourmet dog biscuits.
  • Yoga for executive women.
  • Instruction manuals for any of the modern tablets & ereaders.
  • Instruction manual for Microsoft Excel.
  • Instruction manual for the smartphone app Evernote.

I could lace them with Benadryl!
Any clear winners? Any of them seem like silly ideas? Here’s a hint: They all did really well. Some of them still do. Did any of them sound really out of reach? You can hire someone to program an app, and not for that much money. Can you tie-dye? Figure out good placement for security cameras? Write your own clear instructions for how to operate a new electronic device? Of course you can. And if one seems out of reach, that’s fine, bake some dang dog biscuits and call it a day! Seriously, if these ideas can help bring in money -- the Excel series of instruction manuals I read about is pulling in more than 130K a year, net -- then why not? Why not try? Yes, it’s scary, and yes, it might take some hard work, some hard thought, and yes, it may take a while before the rewards are in hand and in your bank account. But if you could, would you?
If not, why not?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Crunch Time...

So, I'm probably not supposed to go into details here, but all that pining for the chance to do something else? The chance to translate my skills into an opportunity to make a difference while making friends with money? Well, I guess "the universe" heard my plea, and recently secured a speedy "divorce" from my last job. (It wasn’t me, it was them.) So then. Time? Check. Opportunity? Check. A smidgeon of fear and a dash of instability? Check. Temptation to find a factory job, pronto? Check. Wondering how we’ll pay these bills? Double check.
I don’t say these things as a means of inspiring pity: Everybody’s got their own problems, and mine aren’t anything special. But I want to get them out there to say, “Hey, I’m excited about doing something else, but it’s a scary proposition.” All of the stories we hear are centered around the “stable” job, one with a future, one that demands more than a third of our waking life (at least 10 hours a day with commute and mirror time, five days a week). Working our way up to a comfortable living, putting up with jerks at the office, careful not to make too big a stir for fear of what might happen next. And yet...
I'm sorry, but we're doing really well. Good-bye!

I worked at a big law firm a few years ago, and when the economy went sour, the company’s numbers were actually looking up. I smiled at the news, and was glad to be working in a “safe” place, my position secure, my five years a near-guarantee that I would be there for a long-- “Yes, David, we’re sorry, but we’ll have to let you go. They’re bringing their own people in for the merger, and...” In the end, some forty-five people were relieved of their positions at the company. And that was one that was doing well!

What positions out there are really stable? Which ones won’t cut you out when it comes to the bottom line? I understand their position somewhat, because when their money runs out, how can they pay you? But as the story above illustrates, even when a company is doing well, there are no guarantees. And even when you’re doing well, there’s still that chance that you’re messing up the books, or that someone up top doesn’t like you, or that...

I don’t tell you this to scare you, but to even the playing field a little. Companies operate (usually) according to a budget, and a plan, and when they let you go, it’s just “business.” However much they attempt at making you feel like family -- a commonly prescribed practice for companies looking to get more out of their employees -- when the numbers demand it, it’s going to happen. So doing something a little crazy, like opening up your own business, or finding a way to build/make/write something that people want to buy can be scary, yes, but in the end, if you’ve done well, who’s to say that it’s any less stable than this topsy-turvy economy?

All this to say that if you’re feeling weird about this, if what holds you back from doing something spectacular is fear, then now’s a good time to let it go. Take it from the jobless guy that’s writing late night posts for a blog he’s not sure anyone will read anyway. He presses on, deluded but happy, and searches for summat better.
Now, about those article ideas...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Interlude: I'm Busy, But I'm Still Here

Okay, so you know I’m you, right? Not specifically you, I don’t mean that, but I’m the you that wants to get out of the rat race. I’m also the you that gets caught up in - life. I have the wife, and the daughter, and the dog, and the drafty window, and the dishes, and...you get the drift.
"I'm still here, still truckin', and lookin' forward to makin'
friends with Monsieur Green."
Anyway, it’s been a few days, and I have a gazillion other things to do tonight, but I wanted to be sure and put out a note that says, “I ain’t give up, yet, dern it. Don’tchoo worry yerself none, I’m still here, still truckin’, and hope yer still here, too.”
This will take me all of fifteen minutes to write and post, but I’ve got to keep some of the momentum going, and that’s just what I’m doing, one step at a time.
I will tell you that over the weekend, with an hour and fifteen minutes of my Saturday morning, I made it to the library, found some books on a few of those subjects I dreamed up for the last post. Next, I’ll take some of the better bits and try to write a little post.
I’ll keep you apprised as the progress keeps on.
Thanks for reading along with me. I appreciate your attention, and hope this will help both of us in the long run. I think there’s plenty for all of us to do and generate some income, a lot of it, and it would do me well to think that you took some initiative and saw your efforts rewarded, too.
Any ideas on what you want to start with? Is there a library close at hand? Or the internet? 
Just sayin’.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Here’s the Thing - Part III

Okay, so what did you come up with? 
We’re thinking about something small, something inexpensive to make, but valuable to others, and possibly even something you can trade for money more than once. Any ideas?
How about this? 
“Quickstart Guide To Canning Tomatoes At Home”
Or this?
“For The College Grad: Living Green On The Cheap”
Or these?
I wanna know how to do this, and
I'm probably not in the target audience!
“Nerdcore DeeJaying Made Easy”
“Magic Tricks For Meeting Girls”
“Dining In Style #1: Napkin Folding In A Hurry”
“How To Refurbish Antique Lamps”
Catching on yet? Yes, it sounds too easy but that’s because in the grand scheme of things, it is very easy(And maybe you think it’s hokey, too, but just hold on),  
Think of writing a short guide in terms of cost, both in time and money. You spend a few hours - yes, I mean a few hours - combing the internet and/or your local library for information that you can condense into a short, accessible guide that teaches certain people how to do certain things. The guide can be anywhere from a few pages (formatted with wide spacing and lots of pics), to a ten page report (still lots of space and pretty pictures), to an entire novel-length book, depending on your scope and hope. The research, by the way, is free outside of internet charges, which you probably already have or can get for free at your local library. Heck, you can even use the computers at the library to write the thing, if you want. And if by some miracle you don’t have a computer at home, then you can go old school and write it down by hand! By the way, so far you haven’t spent anything outside of a few hours of time devoted to research and typing.
Then of course, there are lots of ways of getting the thing out there that will cost nothing or next to nothing, but that’s another part of our process, and I’m not sure you’re convinced about writing as a way to really make money. 
I can hear you now. “But writing? Writing? I hated writing papers when I was in school. I’m no good at it. No one would want to read what I wrote. I don’t have the expertise or the talent. And writers don’t make anything, they’re always starving! I saw that once or seven times on television. Also, I kind of like not doing anything that would make me uncomfortable or break the inertia I have going here. Dang,” you say, “why does it have to be so hard?”
And I would agree, in a way. “Hard” is the right word. But don’t for a moment confuse that concept with “difficult,” because difficult it’s not. It’s just outside your comfort zone, and it’s not something you’ve ever tried before, so of course you’d meet it with resistance. Maybe you’re even ready to walk away now, say “Thanks a lot, but it’s not for me.” If you did, though, you’d miss out on a tiny little step that will mean bigger things for you later. Writing these small guides is just a start; after a time, you’ll find that you’ve been learning baby steps for the pièce de résistance, your passions and your meaningful projects. This is about making money, yes, but it’s about much more than that, too. It’s about making positive change, one step at a time. The writing, and making a little money at it, are just doorways to bigger things. Once you get your foot in one - the door, I mean - there’ll be no stopping you. So don’t go just yet, alright? We'll start with pennies but end with gazillions, right? Or at least, I will. Love to have you for company, but I've already said I'm gonna, so this is the way I'm starting.

Stick around, and next time we'll talk about whether or not something like this can really sell. You'll see, I think, that it can and most likely will, against your better judgment.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Here's the Thing -- Part II

Step #1: Think of a product.
Remember step one? We have to think of a product, a product we will eventually sell. And there are all sorts of products that we can make that will sell on the market. A rocket, for instance, or a train axle, or nylon nets for children’s stuffed animals. For each of these, though, there will be a good bit of time invested in each one, and the amount of your trade will be based on need or desire plus how many you make and have available. Also, to make something like a train axle, you’ve got to have a pretty substantial piece of real estate, plus the smelting pots, really good oven mitts and the like. Too complicated, and too expensive, at least to start. One day, maybe...
These things...trains gotta have 'em... Somebody's makin' some good dough doin' that, you know?
So we need something smaller. Something that doesn’t cost so much to get up and running. Something we could turn out pretty easily, but that also trades for a decent sum (i.e. we should make something valuable). Maybe something that can be traded more than once, even, generating some income each time a transaction is made, and therefore frees us up to a) live life or b) make more things to trade.
Can you think of anything that fits the description above? Anything that is dense in value, and is something you could trade more than once? Anything that’s pretty easily done, but can still be high in value for the right person? Something that’s small, and inexpensive to manufacture?
Think about that, and we’ll talk more in Part III about what I have in mind. 
A gazillion dollars sure does sound good after the day I had today... Anybody else feel that way?