Self-publishing

Now You Can Publish Kindle Ebooks as Paperbacks Through Kindle Direct Publishing

Now You Can Publish Kindle Ebooks as Paperbacks Through Kindle Direct Publishing

If you’re a Kindle author and haven’t logged into the KDP website recently, you may notice a new option on your Bookshelf.

There is now an option to publish your Kindle e-book as a print-on-demand (POD) paperback via the KDP site. This is quite separate from publishing on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, incidentally.

I spent some time looking at what is on offer today, so here are my thoughts so far. To start with, it’s not just the case that you click a button and a paperback version is produced from the e-book. Some information is obviously carried over (book title, author name, publishing rights, and so on). However, the text and cover artwork have to be uploaded separately as new files. It does surprise me a bit that you can’t just import the existing text and format it for print, but there we are.

You can download various templates for your book from the KDP website info pages and edit these in Word or other software. Some guidance is provided for doing this, including a downloadable PDF manual. In my case KDP recommended that I use a 9 x 6 inch template. Both blank templates and templates with sample text are available via the KDP website.

Likewise, you can’t just automatically import your existing e-book cover. You have to either create and upload a print-ready PDF (you’ll need software such as Photo Shop to produce this) or use the KDP Cover Creator tool. The latter can produce cover designs suitable for paperback books (front, back and spine) and will import your existing e-book front cover if you wish (and it’s suitable). If you want a consistent look across both the e-book and print version of your book, however, you may face a few challenges.

You can set your own price for the paperback version of your book and receive 60% of the price paid once print costs have been deducted. This is obviously worth doing in order to reach the substantial audience of people who still prefer print books rather than electronic ones.

The KDP paperback creator is still in beta and additional features are promised in due course. One major thing lacking at the moment is any way of purchasing a sample print copy of your book so you can see for yourself what buyers will receive. This is clearly a drawback compared with CreateSpace. Neither do KDP published print books currently receive the extended distribution of CreateSpace titles.

If you currently publish on CreateSpace I can’t therefore see any compelling reason to switch to KDP at the moment. However, the likelihood is that once everything is working as it should KDP will become Amazon’s main hub for both e-book and print self-publishing. The future for CreateSpace after that is uncertain. For this reason if no other, it is a good idea to at least take a look at KDP’s paperback creator tool now.

I have made a start on converting one of my Kindle e-books using the KDP paperback creator, and will post here again once it is available. But I’d love to get your comments and feedback as well, especially if you have tried out the service yourself. Please leave any comments below as usual.

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Why Now is the Time to Start Promoting Your Amazon Affiliate Links Extra Hard

If you are reading this blog, it’s quite likely you have a book or e-book on Amazon. If that’s the case, you should be promoting it extra vigorously right now. And, specifically, you should be promoting it as an Amazon Associate (as Amazon calls its affiliates).

There are various reasons why promoting your book as an Amazon Associate is a good idea. The obvious one is that any sales generated through your link will attract commission from Amazon. Assuming you’re earning royalties on sales as well, in effect that means you’ll be getting paid twice over for every sale.

But there’s another particular reason to promote extra hard via Amazon just now, and that’s because you will receive commission from Amazon for ALL purchases made by a customer who visits the store via your link.

And in the coming weeks, in the run-up to Christmas, Diwali and Hanukkah, many people will be buying multiple items as gifts. If they do some or all of their gift shopping via your link, you will earn multiple commissions.

Admittedly, Amazon doesn’t pay a fortune to Associates. Commission starts at just 5 percent, rising to the dizzy heights of 15 percent for some products. By way of comparison, affiliate commissions paid on downloadable products are often over 50 percent, and in some cases up to 100.

Even so, if someone spends a lot of money on a visit (and it happens at this time of year) the returns to you as the referrer can be substantial. Darren Rowse (aka Problogger) regularly lists surprising products people have bought from Amazon on visits via his links. Here’s one eye-opening list he posted a while ago.

If you’re not an Amazon Associate already, you can easily join by scrolling down to the foot of the Amazon homepage, clicking on Associates Program, and following the instructions to sign up. Note that you will need to join each national store’s Associates Program separately to promote there.

Once you’re in, Amazon have a huge range of banners and widgets you can use on your blog or website. They include, of course, simple image ads such as the one below for my latest Kindle e-book on Amazon.com…

You can also have all manner of other widgets, including slideshows, word clouds, best deals boxes, and so on. Here’s an example of a seasonal banner that is automatically updated by Amazon.

Of course, it’s possible that all you want is a simple text link. Oddly enough, this isn’t as straightforward as you might think with Amazon. For text links Amazon give you about five lines of code which are designed to display your link in a pre-formatted, Amazon-approved style.

If you don’t want their complicated and largely superfluous formatting, here’s a simpler alternative. Use the following framework to construct your link:

—-http://www.amazon.com/dp/ASIN/?tag=yourAssociatesID—-

Or for Amazon UK use:

—http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/ASIN/?tag=yourAssociatesID—-

The ASIN is the unique identification number every product on Amazon has – you will find this in the product details. My own affiliate ID on Amazon UK is nickdawswriti-21, so a basic text link for my e-book above for the UK store would look like this: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00DP8HKLQ/?tag=nickdawswriti-21

One slight drawback of this method is that if your visitor is located somewhere with a different national Amazon store, they won’t automatically be redirected. If you are targeting a multinational audience (very likely online) you might therefore like to use the free Geniuslink or Booklinker service.

Both of these are run by the GeoRiot organization. They create a single link that detects where visitors live and automatically forwards them to their own national store, with your affiliate link included if you have entered it for the store concerned.

I wrote about Geniuslink in this recent post, and Booklinker in this one. Geniuslink has a few more bells and whistles than Booklinker, but once your links are generating over 1,000 clicks a month you start paying for the service. Booklinker is a more stripped-down service, but it is free however many clicks your links attract.

Here is a sample link created with Booklinker for my Kindle e-book on plotting: http://mybook.to/ThreeGreat. Click on this and it should take you straight to the appropriate page of your own national Amazon store. Do try it and see 🙂

Good luck on Amazon, and I hope you sell lots of book, e-books and more expensive items as the festive season approaches!

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Editing

Do All Writers Need to Hire an Editor? Here’s Why I Say No!

A trend I’ve noticed recently among writing blogs and websites is a growing consensus that to succeed as a writer, you MUST engage an editor for your work.

This is an assertion that I feel needs to be challenged. Yes, a good editor is a wonderful thing to have, but there are two major stumbling blocks.

First, finding a good freelance editor isn’t as easy as you might think. Bear in mind that anyone can call themselves an editor. As well as the genuinely good ones, there are plenty of deluded amateurs and some out-and-out fraudsters. Sorting out the good from the bad and the ugly is by no means a simple task.

And even if you are lucky and find a good editor, their services aren’t cheap. For a full-length book you can expect to pay several thousand pounds/dollars. If you are self publishing – on Kindle, for example – you need to think carefully whether any boost in sales that may result will cover this.

Self-publishing authors sometimes believe that a freelance editor will be able to help them with the deeper, structural aspects of their book as well. This is akin to the role performed by developmental editors in traditional publishing houses. Whether a freelance editor can realistically offer this service is in my view very doubtful, however.

Developmental editing tends to be a slow, iterative process. The editor typically reads and reflects carefully on the manuscript, then raises queries and offers suggestions to the author. The author duly reflects on this and gives his/her reactions, and so on. This can work very well with a salaried editor who is employed by a publishing house, but it is not really compatible with freelance editing, where you are charged by the page or the hour. If you hire a freelance editor, what you are basically getting is a copy editor. They may (or may not) make the odd structural suggestion as they go, but it is a long way from the in-depth feedback you will get from a developmental editor in a publishing house.

My advice is therefore to ignore anyone who tells you that you MUST hire an editor. Instead, I recommend a two-pronged approach. First, be sure you are fully up to speed with the basics of grammar and punctuation (my course Essential English for Authors might be helpful here – just saying!). Aim to be your own best editor (and proofreader) rather than relying on someone else.

And second, make full use of free and low-cost resources such as beta readers (other authors are often happy to reciprocate in this role) and online forums such as myWritersCircle. Off-line resources such as writers’ groups can be a big help as well. By this means you can get a lot of valuable feedback about your work without spending a fortune.

If you hear of a good editor and can afford their services, by all means use them too. But be realistic about how much benefit you are likely to get from their input, and weigh this carefully against the costs involved.

Remember, also, that with e-book (or POD) publishing, if someone tells you about a mistake, it is a very simple matter to correct and republish. Getting everything 100 percent correct before publishing, while still desirable, is therefore no longer so essential.

Of course, if you’re aiming to get published by a traditional publishing house, some of the above comments may not apply. But still, bear in mind that in-house editors provide their services free of charge if the publisher sees potential in your work. Your objective as an author should therefore be to ensure that your manuscript demonstrates such potential. No freelance editor will be able to ‘fix’ your manuscript if it is basically unpublishable. But that won’t stop them taking your money, of course.

So that’s my view, but what do you think? Should all aspiring writers be told to hire an editor for their work, or is this (as I think) unrealistic in many cases? Please post any comments you may have below.

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Puzzle Publishing Profits

Review: Puzzle Publishing Profits by Amy Harrop

Puzzle Publishing Profits is the latest writing product to be launched by my prolific colleague Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful self-published author, and publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

Puzzle Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing puzzle books of all types, probably using Amazon’s CreateSpace print publishing platform. It is being sold via the popular and well-established WarriorPlus platform. The main guide is a 60-page PDF.

As you would expect with any of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with graphics and screen captures where relevant.

In the manual, Amy explains how you can capitalize on the huge market for puzzle books. She starts by discussing the wide range of such books and reveals the various target audiences for them, from children to the elderly. She also discusses current trends in the puzzle books field. The manual covers crossword puzzles, Sudoku, logic puzzles, maze puzzles, word-search, graphic puzzles, math (or maths) puzzles, brainteasers, and many more.

The latter part of the manual then discusses how readers can write, publish and market these books themselves. Amy recommends publishing in print rather than Kindle e-book form, as in general people like to complete puzzles using a pen and paper, not on a tablet or e-reader. As mentioned above, she recommends using Amazon’s CreateSpace POD (print on demand) self-publishing platform.

Clearly covering how to do all this in detail would require a much longer book, so what Amy has done is link to useful resources throughout the manual. Some of these resources she has produced herself, while others are from external websites. An example of the former is a six-page spreadsheet listing sources of online puzzle-making software (free and paid for), puzzle-making resources, forums, Facebook Groups, Yahoo Groups, and Pinterest pages. The forum, groups and Pinterest pages strike me as being more relevant for puzzle aficionados than for puzzle-book makers,. but the software and resources websites are certainly worth knowing about.

There is some good advice on publishing your puzzle book using CreateSpace, again with links to other resources for finding out more. The manual closes with an 8-page discussion of how to promote your puzzle book. This focuses especially on writing a good description of your book for the Amazon store, and using social media to build your following and help spread the word. I thought there were some very good tips here.

When preparing puzzle books, Amy advises strongly against referring to actual product and brand names. While I understand her caution, personally I think it’s a bit excessive. While I would agree that producing a Frozen puzzle book is a bad idea and would likely attract the attention of the Disney company lawyers, simply mentioning the name of a movie or TV show in a broader-based book is unlikely to cause problems. If that were not the case, most trivia quiz books (such as the one pictured below that I wrote a while ago for my clients at Lagoon Games) would never see the light of day. The key thing is to be sensible and only refer to high-profile, trademarked productions in a broader context. In a themed puzzle book about movies, for example, you could (in my view) have a wordsearch puzzle featuring the names of well-known characters from children’s films.

TV trivia quiz book by Nick Daws

As well as the main manual, buyers of Puzzle Publishing Profits get two bonus items. I didn’t actually receive these with my pre-launch review copy, but here are the descriptions from the sales page:

Amy Puzzle Book Bonusese

It sounds as though these will add value to the main manual, especially the CreateSpace publishing guide.

In summary, Puzzle Publishing Profits is an eye-opening guide to a field that appears crammed with potential right now, and it has definitely inspired me to think about trying it myself. It is currently on a launch special offer for $17 (about £14), after which – as is Amy’s usual practice – the price will be rising to $27. If you want to broaden your publishing portfolio with something that is fun and not too time-consuming, it is definitely worth a look.

If you have any comments or questions about Puzzle Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Remain Tee-shirt

Lessons Learned from My First Teespring Publishing Project

In this post a few weeks ago I revealed that I had tried publishing a tee-shirt design on the popular Teespring platform.

The campaign is over, so I thought I would take this opportunity to reveal how it went and some of the lessons I learned from it.

Of course, the main aim of the campaign was to make some sort of profit. Unfortunately, the profit I made barely covered the money I spent advertising the shirt on Facebook. Still, at least I didn’t make an overall loss!

So one thing I learned straightaway is that making money on Teespring isn’t as easy as you might think. I thought I had a witty, topical idea and a snazzy design, but the great British online public (whom I targeted) thought otherwise.

Here are a few more lessons I learned along the way as well, in the hope they might help anyone else who is considering trying their hand at this…

1. In many ways Teespring is a great platform for designing tee-shirts, but some aspects of the way it works aren’t especially intuitive. For example, initially I assumed that with any design potential customers would be able to choose from the whole range of shirt colours. That is not actually the case. You have to specify what colours you want your shirt to be made available in, and there is a maximum to the number you can choose.

2. Just because your design generates interest and “likes”, it doesn’t automatically mean people will want to buy it. As you will see from the image above, my shirt had a political message, on a topic that in the UK is still generating a lot of controversy. One comment I received was that even people who sympathized with the message might feel uncomfortable going out wearing a shirt that others could find provocative.

3. You must expect and be prepared for some negative comments and even trolling. I got my fair share of this on Facebook from people on the other side of the Brexit argument. There were also some people who appeared outraged that I was attempting to make money in this way.

4. If you advertise your tee-shirt on Facebook, bear in mind that people will comment in ways you can’t control. Neither can you delete negative comments made in response to the ads. Of course I am not against freedom of speech, but it is somewhat frustrating when your carefully prepared Facebook ad on which you have spent good money is effectively defaced by abuse and obscenities.

5. if you hope to make money selling tee-shirts on Teespring, you need to have a way of targeting potential buyers as precisely as possible. Facebook can be your friend here, as you can select by interest, age-group, geographical location, and so forth. In my case I selected an audience of young people (age 20 to 30) in the UK. It quickly became apparent that this was far too broad, and my advertisement was being shown to a lot of people who disagreed with the message, to whom it came across as a red rag to a bull (see points 3 and 4, above).

So would I try tee-shirt marketing on Teespring again? The answer is yes, absolutely, but I would probably steer clear of political slogans! A lot of people who have succeeded in this field target a very precise niche market, e.g. dachshund owners. Come up with something that appeals to these people and you should have a much better chance of making a profit while avoiding a torrent of personal abuse.

I also realise that to succeed in this field you need to hone your skills in targeting people who are likely to buy your design. With my anti-Brexit shirt, I realise now that my targeting was hopelessly broad. While I could have narrowed it down a bit by targeting people interested in Europe (for example), precision targeting buyers for this shirt would still have been difficult – at any rate using Facebook advertising.

So that was my experience of setting up a tee-shirt marketing campaign on Teespring. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to post them below. I would also be interested to hear from anyone who has tried out this sideline moneymaking method for themselves.

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Pop Culture Publishing Profits

Review: Pop Culture Publishing Profits

Pop Culture Publishing Profits is the latest writing guide to be launched by the prolific Amy Harrop.

Amy is a successful Kindle author, and publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

Pop Culture Publishing Profits is a guide to making money by publishing e-books (or books) that leverage the popularity of high-profile movies, TV shows, video games, and so on. The main guide is a 41-page PDF.

As you would expect with any of Amy’s publications, this is well written and attractively presented. It is illustrated with screen captures (mainly of Amazon reviews) where relevant.

In the manual, Amy explains how you can capitalize on the huge interest in popular culture. She reveals how you can create books and e-books that will appeal to people interested in the shows and products concerned. One example she gives is a Kindle e-book on the subject of The Vikings, which appeared to have been written to cash in on the popularity of the TV show of the same name.

The big advantage of writing and publishing books related to popular culture is that there is a large group of people interested in these matters, who in many cases are actively seeking more information about them. If you can publish a book that comes up high in the results when they are searching (either online or on Amazon), you could potentially generate a lot of sales.

Amy discusses a variety of niches in which this could work. As well as the movies, TV shows and video games mentioned above, she includes politics, sport, music and books. Unfortunately (from an author’s perspective!) the latter is not as big a niche as the others mentioned, but it is certainly possible to write books/e-books that capitalize on the popularity of current or forthcoming titles.

Speaking of which, one thing that impressed me about Pop Culture Publishing Profits was how Amy reveals ways to find out about forthcoming productions likely to have lots of people talking about them. Certainly, if you can write a book that ties in with the next blockbusting movie (for example), you could be on the way to generating large numbers of sales.

Although the guide is fairly concise, it includes links to other resources – some by Amy, some by other people – covering specific issues and questions. There is a link to some additional training by Amy herself on how to get reviews for your books, for example.

The manual also covers the tricky subject of avoiding copyright and trademark infringement. Amy advises writers to use public domain content as much as possible, e.g. if a forthcoming movie is based on an old fairytale which is out of copyright, you could publish your own version of the tale by adapting a public domain version. Note that Amazon won’t allow you to simply republish public domain content, so you will need to rewrite/adapt it in some way to make it original.

As well as the main guide, there are various bonuses. These include a publishing guide, writing outlines for a variety of books, and a research and writing guide to help you publish quickly.

In summary, Pop Culture Publishing Profits contains some eye-opening ideas and information, and has definitely inspired me to think about trying this approach myself. It is currently on a launch special offer, after which the price will be rising to $27. If you are interested in this opportunity, it is well worth a look. It doesn’t go into the actual mechanics of publishing a book or e-book, but there is plenty of good advice about this available elsewhere (Geoff Shaw’s Kindling, my number one recommended resource for Kindle e-book authors, for example).

If you have any comments or questions about Pop Culture Publishing Profits, as always, please do post them below.

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Remain Tee-shirt

My First Teespring Publishing Project!

As you may know, Teespring is a website that lets you design and publish tee-shirts and other garments and make money if they sell.

It’s a site I’ve known about for a while, but never got around to exploring. But after the result of the recent Brexit referendum here in the UK, I saw a golden opportunity to try it out for myself.

As you doubtless know, the outcome of the Referendum was a narrow (52 to 48 percent) vote for Britain to leave the EU. A lot of people who voted for Remain (which includes me) were shocked and disappointed by this, all the more so when some of the consequences of this decision started to become apparent.

So I decided to try my hand at designing a tee-shirt on Teespring aimed at disappointed Remain voters. You can see the result above and click through here to visit the Teespring sales page. The campaign will run for seven days from today, and I am promoting it in various ways (including some paid Facebook advertising).

I am doing this as an experiment as much as anything, and will report back in due course on the results I obtain. I must say that I was impressed by how easy it was to design my shirt on Teespring and set up a campaign for it, but of course the real test will be whether anyone wants to buy it!

  • Have you tried making money as a Teespring publisher? I’d love to hear how you got on! Please post any comments or questions below.
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3 Minute Journals Review

3 Minute Journals is the latest writing product to be launched by the prolific Amy Harrop, in association with her regular collaborator Debbie Drum.

Amy is a successful author, and the publisher of many guides and software products for authors. She was kind enough to allow me a review copy, so here’s what I found…

3 Minute Journals is a software tool and training course for creating print journals for publication on CreateSpace and other print-on-demand services. For those (like me) whom this trend has largely passed by, journals are print books where most of the content is supplied by the purchaser. They take a variety of forms, including diet journals, prayer journals, dream journals, and of course writer’s journals!

Journals and other types of interactive print books are very popular right now, and this product is designed to help you publish your own. Essentially, all you have to do to create one is add some artwork and page borders and perhaps a few inspirational quotations. Once your journal is published it can be a source of ongoing royalty income, potentially for many years to come.

Like many of Amy’s products, 3 Minute Journals is accessed via a password-protected WordPress site (so don’t lose your log-in details). This has the advantage that that you can access it from any computer with an internet connection, and it can also be easily updated and expanded.

The members area is divided into six main sections, each of which contains training videos, PDF guides, and so on. You can also download the 3 Minute Journals software from the “Creating Your Journal” page. The full list of sections is as follows:

  1. Welcome
  2. Why Journals
  3. Creating Your Journal
  4. Formatting Your Journal
  5. Publishing Your Journal
  6. Getting Exposure for Your Journal

As you will gather, the training takes you from a discussion of journals and why they are an attractive outlet for self-publishers, through creating your own (using the 3 Minute Journals software in conjunction with Word or similar), to publishing via Amazon’s CreateSpace platform, and then to publicizing and promoting your journal/s. The training is largely video-based, although there is some written content and there are also PDFs you can download.

The 3 Minute Journals software runs on Java, and it is important that you have the latest version installed on your computer. It turned out that I didn’t, so the software didn’t initially work for me. Once I had updated my version, however – which is straightforward enough – everything worked without a hitch.

One other thing to note is that the software doesn’t actually install to your PC. You simply double-click to run it. This makes it straightforward to use and (I believe) reduces the system demand on your computer. You do need to save it somewhere sensible on your PC, though. The desktop would be a good choice for many people.

The software is essentially a structuring tool for your journals. It lets you decide how many pages your journal will have, the page size, chapter headings, number of pages per chapter, number of ’empty’ pages, and so on. You could do all this in Microsoft Word, of course, but the software makes it quick and easy to create a basic journal structure, which you can then export to Word to add images, page borders, and any other bells and whistles. Here is a screen capture of the software with a sample project in progress.

3MJsoftware

The training covers pretty much everything you need to know to use the software and publish your journal on CreateSpace. One thing I did notice, though, is that some of the resources refer to other types of product than journals, including ordinary books. I assume these have been borrowed from other training courses that Amy and Debbie have created. It’s not really a problem, although ideally it would be nice if all the resources were solely about journal creation and created specifically for this product. On the other hand, if you plan to publish other types of print book as well, I guess you would find this useful.

Overall, I thought 3 Minute Journals was a high-quality guide to creating and publishing a type of print book that has good long-term selling potential. Inevitably there will be a learning curve, especially if you have never published on CreateSpace before. Once you are up to speed, however, there is no reason you couldn’t publish a range of journals very quickly. It is definitely an opportunity any entrepreneurial writer should consider.

Finally, I should note that 3 Minute Journals is on sale at a launch offer price of $27 until 24 June 2016, after which the cost will almost double.

As always, if you have any comments or queries about 3 Minute Journals, please do post them below.

 

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Aweber Free Guides

Two Excellent (and Free) Email Marketing Resources from Aweber

If you plan to use email to keep in touch with your fans, readers or potential clients, you’ll almost certainly need to open an account with an email marketing/autoresponder service.

These services allow you to sign up new subscribers to your list in such a way that you can never be accused of spamming people (i.e. sending unsolicited emails). A good service will also handle change of address and unsubscribe requests automatically, saving you many hours of tedious updating. They will provide detailed stats on how many people are opening your emails, clicking on the links in them, and so on. And much, much more besides.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of Aweber, which is one of the leading email marketing platforms. I used them myself for a number of years, and would certainly do so again if I decide to launch another email newsletter.

Today, though, I want to highlight a couple of free resources from Aweber that you can download, whether or not you choose to sign up with their service.

The first is a PDF guide titled Growing Your Business with Email Marketing. Aimed at anyone who is considering using email as a marketing tool, it takes you through setting up your mailing list or newsletter, creating a sign-up form, writing and sending emails, and measuring the success of your campaigns. It’s a beautifully produced (and very well-written) guide, with lots of tips that would be useful for anyone getting started in this field or hoping to improve their skills.

The other freebie is titled What to Write in Your Emails. This consists of a seven-day email course plus 20 fill-in-the-blank email templates to make getting started even easier. The two together provide a complete introduction to email marketing, and I recommend downloading them both.

Both these guides are aimed primarily at small businesses, but there is no reason why entrepreneurial writers shouldn’t make use of this method as well. It’s worked very well for me over the years!

Finally, although the guides are obviously promoting Aweber’s service, they do so in a low-key way. Much of the advice would apply equally if you prefer to use a different email marketing service. Once again, here are links to download pages for both items…

Growing Your Business with Email Marketing

What to Write in Your Emails

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below.

 

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Money

How One Blogger Made £100,000 Working from Home on the Internet

I saw an interesting article last week about a UK-based blogger called Emma Drew who is making an impressive income working from home on the Internet.

A little surprisingly, the article was on the Daily Mail (UK) website. It opens as follows:

A blogger who turned to online money-making schemes to make ends meet while unemployed has been able to quit her job after earning £100,000.

Emma Drew, 28, from Littleforth, Cambridgeshire now makes around £3000 a month from activities such as mystery shopping, risk-free betting and online lotteries, which she documents on her blog From Aldi to Harrods

Her husband Tony has also been able to given up his job to work alongside Emma, and the couple were able to splash out almost £30,000 on their dream wedding and honeymoon last year without a second thought.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3553368/Blogger-earns-100-000-money-making-schemes-quits-job.html

Working from home is a particular interest of mine, and of course I write about such opportunities for my clients at More Money Review.

Quite a few of the money-making opportunities Emma pursues I also do myself, or at least I have some knowledge of.

I thought it might therefore be of interest to add my own thoughts, and also include hyperlinks where appropriate (for the most part these are not included in the Mail Online article). I have adapted the list of headings below from Emma’s Top Tips list in the article. Note that not all of these may be suitable for people living outside the UK.

  1. Blogging

Obviously this is something I do through my Entrepreneur Writer blog. I also ran My Writing Blog for nearly ten years on behalf of my publishers, WCCL.

Like Emma, I make money from my blogs in various ways. The most important is affiliate marketing. I do this in (I hope) a fairly low-key way, with occasional banner ads and affiliate links to products I recommend.

I don’t make a fortune from this, but some reviews have undoubtedly been remunerative. One review on my old blog (for the Brain Evolution System by Inspire3, if you’re interested) has made me over £5000 in commission since it was written.

I also have Google AdSense ads on my blog, although as they aren’t very prominent you would have to look quite hard to find them! Nonetheless, they earn me a few pounds a month as well.

I notice that Emma has about six different blogs, all targeted at extra income seekers. That seems a good way to boost your earnings, although of course it does involve a lot of extra work.

2. Matched Betting

This is one of those methods you can only apply if you live in a country where online gambling is legal. The idea is to make use of bookmakers’ special offers to generate a guaranteed profit. This is tax free in the UK.

To give you an example, a bookmaker might offer a £20 free bet as an incentive to sign up for an account on their website. Using the matched betting method, you bet on the opposite outcome as well on a different website, adjusting the stakes so that whatever happens you are guaranteed an overall profit. Emma has a more in-depth explanation of how the method works on her blog, incidentally.

I have only ever used this method in a small way myself, but it is perfectly do-able, and gives the lie to the oft-repeated claim that you can’t take money from the bookmakers. You do need to be well organised and resist the temptation to place any speculative bets, however. In addition, over time the number of opportunities may diminish as you use up more and more of the bookies’ introductory offers.

Nonetheless, Emma seems to be making this method work for her. As well as the service she mentions, many members of the More Money Review website recommend another well-established advisory service called Bonus Bagging.

3. Complete Online Surveys

This is another genuine online moneymaking opportunity, but the rates of return vary considerably. In some cases you can end up being paid as little as 50p for a survey that takes over an hour to complete.

As I value my time more highly than that, I don’t generally do online surveys now. Still, if you have the time to spare, they can certainly provide a bit of pocket money. Here are links to Prolific Academic and MintVine, two survey sites recommended by Emma in the article.

4. Mystery Shopping and Research

This is a money-making method I haven’t tried, but the opportunities are certainly there for those who are interested. Nowadays they are typically based on smartphone apps, so if you don’t have one of these your options may be limited.

There are various apps you can download free of charge to help you make money. You are unlikely to make a fortune from any of these, but they can generate a useful sideline income for you.

Yoobic is one of a number of apps that pay smartphone users for performing simple research tasks in shops and other retail outlets. For example, you might be asked to take photos of products or rank a store’s marketing displays.

Missions (as Yoobic refer to them) typically pay between £4 and £8 for 10 minutes’ work, with payments via PayPal. If this prospect appeals, download the app from the iTunes store or Google Play, create an account, and search for missions near you. You can reserve up to ten jobs at a time, and must complete them by the stated deadline.

Streetspotr is another app for both iOS and Android that connects market research clients with users who carry out small tasks. Most tasks pay about £5, though some offer as much as £15. Jobs can involve anything from photographing supermarket product displays or checking restaurant menus to ordering a hot drink in a muffin shop!

Some apps are for iPhone users only. One such is Field Agent. Missions are sent via the app, and can include checking product prices in stores, taking photos, writing reviews, and so on. The company typically pays £4.50 per task, but it can be between £2 and £10.

Task 360, another iPhone app from the same firm, offers a wider range of tasks, and typically pays £5 to £10 for 15 minutes’ work. To download Field Agent and/or Task 360, just search for them in the iTunes store.

If you enjoy sharing your opinions, VoxPopMe could be for you. They will pay you for recording short (15–60 second) video clips on set topics on your smartphone. Payment is via Paypal once you reach £10. Both Android and iOS versions are available. One possible downside to VoxPopMe is that they say that they may use your video for their clients or themselves, and that they own the intellectual property in your video the moment you upload it.

Finally, Quostodian pays you to read offers and occasionally download an app onto your phone. You can earn extra by referring your friends and family too. The minimum payout is £10 via Paypal or BACS, with payments processed weekly. Unusually, in addition to iOS and Android, this app is available for Windows phones and Blackberries too.

  • Emma’s number one recommendation for mystery shopping gigs is Market Force. She also recommends the website usability testing service What Users Do.

5. Write an E-book for Sale on Amazon

Clearly this is something that I do and recommend myself. You are unlikely to make a fortune publishing Kindle e-books (though it’s been known), but even a moderately successful title can generate a useful sideline income for you for years to come.

Two of my own Kindle e-books you might like to check out are my humorous sci-fi novella “The Festival on Lyris Five” and my guide for writers “Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay“.

Basic advice on how to write a Kindle e-book can be found on the Kindle Direct Publishing website. For more in-depth advice, my number one recommendation is (of course) Geoff Shaw’s Kindling.

6. Free Lottery Websites

A growing number of websites offer the opportunity to enter free daily or weekly prize draws, with the prizes financed by advertising. You simply register for each site and enter the details required, whether it’s your postcode, your birthdate, your phone number, or whatever. Then all you have to do is check them every day to see if you have won. Here are some of the top such websites:

Free Postcode Lottery

The Selfie Lottery

Lucky Phone

Ashleigh Money Saver

Date of Birth Lotto

Note that these lottery sites are generally open to UK residents only, but if you live elsewhere a search for “free online lottery” may prove productive.

7. Investment

The main site Emma refers to in this category is RateSetter. This is a person-to-person (P2P) or crowdlending service. In the case of RateSetter, you will be lending money to businesses rather than individuals (as with Zopa).

With all such services, your money is lent to a number of borrowers, and you receive interest plus return of your capital as the loan is repaid. Lending to businesses is arguably riskier than lending to individuals, but the potential returns are greater.

I don’t actually use RateSetter, but I do belong to a similar service called The Lending Crowd. I currently have around £1000 lent out to about 40 businesses, at an average interest rate of around 11%. So far there have been no defaults, but if this did happen I would still be doing a lot better than with a bank savings account.

Of course, the drawback of this type of service is that if you need all your money back quickly, it won’t be as straightforward as with an ordinary savings account. Nonetheless, in my view (and experience) if you have a bit of money you can afford to lock away for a while, this type of service can offer much better returns than a standard bank account.

  • As mentioned, my own experience is with The Lending Crowd, and I am therefore happy to recommend them. However, RateSetter (as mentioned in the article) are a well-established company and currently offering a bonus of £100 with investments of £1000 and over, so they are definitely worth considering as well.

8. Buying and Selling

Although this is referred to in the article, it doesn’t say very much about it. But of course buying and selling, typically using online auction sites such as eBay, is a very popular way of making money from home.

Many people (including myself) start by selling things from around their home that they no longer require. If you want to turn this into a sideline business, of course, you will need to buy products cheaply (e.g. from a wholesaler) and sell them on for profit.

An excellent resource I recommend for online auction traders is Salehoo. This is both a directory of suppliers and a comprehensive training programme. You can read my full blog review of Salehoo here.

9. Reviewing

I’ve already mentioned that I make some money publishing reviews on this blog. In addition, I am paid by my clients at More Money Review to review home business opportunities.

Additionally, I am an Amazon Vine reviewer. That means Amazon offer me a wide range of products to review. In exchange for doing this, I get to keep the product in question. Over the years I have received some quite valuable products, including a lawnmower, a vacuum cleaner, and a £1000 mattress.

Unfortunately you can’t just apply to become an Amazon Vine reviewer. You have to wait for the call! However, if you regularly post product reviews on Amazon, there is a good chance you may be asked.

One thing I discovered from the Mail Online article is that there is a growing number of websites where you may be able to get free or heavily discounted goods in exchange for reviewing them on Amazon. The site mentioned in the article is AmzReviews. This is only open to UK residents, but you can find a long list of sites seeking reviewers for Amazon on this webpage.

10. Freelance Writing

Finally in the article Emma mentions freelance writing. This is obviously something I do as well, and it is still by a distance my largest source of income. I have a small number of regular clients, and others I work for occasionally when required.

I can’t really go into detail here about how to get freelance writing work, but one tip would be to apply proactively to any publishers or other potential clients you think you could provide a service to. To sustain a career as a freelance writer you really need a few clients who will keep you going with regular work rather than an endless stream of one-off projects. Any of the latter that arise will then be icing on the cake for you.

This post has gone on rather longer than I anticipated, but I hope you found it interesting. In addition, I do recommend reading the Mail Online article that inspired it, and also clicking through to read Emma Drew’s blog.

If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please do post them below.

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