In Episode 33 of So you want to be a writer, Why typewriters captivate authors, Amazon gets in on the crowd-writing game, the one big reason why blogs succeed, first class train travel for 24 lucky writers, the book ‘Blog It! The author’s guide to building a successful online brand’ by Molly Greene, Writer in Residence and blogger-turned-blogger Chris Ducker, peek into the mind of your website users, how to organise time off as a freelancer, and much more!
Writer in Residence
Chris began his career in the sales and marketing industry, back in his hometown of London, UK.
In 2000 he up-rooted himself, and moved to the Philippines, where he has resided since. He continues to oversee the daily operations of his call center company, the Live2Sell Group which he started in originally as a sales training company in 2004, which is based in Cebu and houses over 300 full-time employees.
In 2010 he started another outsourcing-based company, Virtual Staff Finder, which focuses on match-making busy entrepreneurs with high-quality, home-based Virtual Assistants in the Philippines.
As someone that has the uncanny ability to emphasize extremely well with other like-minded entrepreneurs, Chris is also a highly sought after ‘new business’ consultant and public speaker, as well as being a popular blogger and podcaster.
Chris has been featured in Entrepreneur Magazine (twice), on the cover of Globalization Today (the Outsourcing Industry periodical), on Forbes Online, The Rise to the Top ‘Unconventional Entrepreneur’ List (along with Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin) and CrunchBase, as well as many other media outlets.
Working Writer’s Tip
When you work for yourself, with multiple deadlines, it can be difficult to take time off – particularly when you’re not paid for that time. How do you organise yourself?
Answered in the podcast!
The Mapmaker Chronicles is released 14 October 2014!
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podcast at writerscentre.com.au
Thanks for joining us today, Chris.
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
We’re actually sitting in QT Hotel on the Gold Coast in Australia because you’ve been here to talk at the Problogger Conference. I have been following your podcast for awhile now, I’ve read your book, it’s an awesome book,
Virtual Freedom. For those listeners who aren’t familiar with your book, can you tell us what it’s about?
Well, it’s the essential field guide for entrepreneur in terms of learning how to really find, hire and train and work with virtual staff to build their business. I mean it covers everything, it really is the essential field guide — and those aren’t my words, those are somebody else’s words. Somebody else said that on Amazon, which I thought was kind of cool.
You’re an entrepreneur yourself, why would you want to write a book?
I was approached to do this book, this exact book actually, in late 2010, but I turned it down because I was in the process of building my business, Virtual Staff Finder, at the time. A couple of years go by and I got approached again by another publisher. I thought, “OK, now is maybe the time to look at it seriously.” I got an agent over in the US, literary agent, we put a proposal together and she pitched it to 16 publishers and she got four offers within a week. I thought, “Well, if four publishers that think the book should be written, obviously I need to write the book,” that’s really what happened.
We signed the deal December 2012 and the book came out 14-15 months later, traditional publishing.
I think that’s interesting because you actually lived in Cebu, in the Philippines. How did you get an agent in America?
Just people, your contact, your network. I just fired off a couple of quick emails. It was actually from Srini Rao at that time the Blogcast FM podcast, which is now known as the Unmistakable Creative podcast, which is doing unbelievable well.
I knew he had interviewed a lot of authors on the show, so I reached out to him. I said, “Do you know of anybody?” He said, “You’ve got to speak to this lady, her name is Christina Holmes, she’s fantastic. She runs her own agency, have a chat and see what comes of it.” I knew within 15 minutes that I wanted Christina to represent me, she just got it completely, she’s an entrepreneur herself as well. I genuinely, genuinely felt that she had my best interests at heart. She got me a great deal as well. She delivered.
Speaking of podcasts, you have your own podcast, the New Business podcast, which I really enjoy. When did you start podcasting? And did you start it because you knew that the book was coming out and it was part of a strategy?
I started a long time before the book came out. My first podcast was Virtual Business Lifestyle, which I started in April 2010, just three months after I started blogging. We got up to episode 50 with that podcast, right the way through the beginning of 2012. I went, “I hit 50, it is what it is, I’ve covered everything I want to cover here, I want to put it on the backburner and forget about it.” Then I went through a whole rebranding thing with VirtualBusinessLifestyle.com which was my first blog, and we switched everything over to ChrisDucker.com, rebranded everything, focusing in on the personal brand a little bit, and the whole theme of the new brand and the new site and all the rest of it was new business, it was the new way of doing business. That’s when we just launched a new podcast.
I think we’re at episode 70, something like that now. We’re about to switch. We were biweekly, we’re about to go to a weekly show coming in September, and looking forward to that.
We also launched, as part of the marketing plan for Virtual Freedom, we also launched the Virtual Freedom podcast as well. We knew going into that that it was going to be like a nano type podcast. We knew there were only going to be 25 episodes and we timed the perfectly. We launched with five, immediately right out the gate, immediately went into ‘New and Noteworthy’ in iTunes, so got lots of exposure. Then we drip fed two a week or something like that between when we launched at the beginning of — I think it was February or something like that through until the end of April, which was when the book came out in the beginning of April. We kind of were really very, very strategic.
Two, three months after the book came out I can honestly say to you I don’t think there was a day that went by where we didn’t get a tweet or an email or a message on some kind of social network saying, “I listened to the podcast and picked up the book,” so it totally worked. I mean it’s a great strategy. It’s not just for book marketing, if you’re launching a new product, if you’re doing an event, if you’re putting together a new service or experience, if even if you’re just launching a new blog — hell, jump on that ‘New and Noteworthy’ bandwagon that iTunes gives you and record 20 episodes and just slam it up there. You’re going to get thousands of new eyeballs on it that would have never seen it before. Even if it doesn’t stick around that long, you’ve still created a lot of traffic in a short period of time.
It’s a great strategy. You also have a really good blog post, which I followed when we launched our podcast. We ended up not only in the ‘New and Noteworthy’ section, but extremely high ranking, we were like number 13 in Australia for all podcasts. Basically it came down to your blog post, which I have shared with other people since.
I talked to a lot of writers who say that they really want to focus on the craft of writing and they don’t have the energy to blog or podcast — certainly not podcast, but a lot of people have a resistance to blogging. How important was your blogging to launching your book and getting the word out there?
It was important before, during and after, it’s still important now. It was important before because obviously I’m creating content that I know my audience desires from me, which is related to the book, and now I’m getting them interested in the subject for which the book is focusing on and I’m converting them through an opt-in to get their email address as well. When the book comes out I know I’ve got 4,000, 5,000, 7,000, 10,000 people to email as soon as the book is available on Amazon. You get a flood of sales, you’ve got the Amazon rankings, you get lots of additional exposure, et cetera, et cetera.
It was very important before, it was remarkably important when we were in the process of launching the book. I think I probably put 35 percent of Virtual Freedom in some way, shape, or form, from the book, directly on my blog the month before the book came out. I was doing excerpts, we did the Definitive Guide to Training Virtual Staff, a 4,000-word blog post, lifted entirely word-for-word from one section of the book. It went viral, people loved it. Again, these are hundreds, if not thousands of people, who wouldn’t have come across it if that blog post had not been created from content from the book.
I was listening to an interview awhile back, I can’t remember the guy’s name now, but he was saying that you should target 70 percent of your book to be on the internet, out there, before your book even comes out and goes live, which is an incredible percentage of work from the book, but I kind of get it. I saw it myself. Even the Virtual Freedom podcast, which is still up in iTunes, it’s still discoverable to this day, we still get hundreds of downloads everyday, but even all of that content was based off of content from the book as well. There was kind of like that teaser, that trailer that we were giving people at the same time.
I think blogging is incredibly important. I went into the writing process as a blogger. I was a blogger first and an author second. I think if you’re writing a book, writing a blog post is a million times easier. When I accepted that book offer I genuinely thought, “You know what? I can get like 60-70 blog posts, stick them all together — boom, there’s my book.” How wrong was I? How ridiculously insane was I to think that? It was way harder. The writing process was way harder for me than I thought it was going to be. Once I got into my groove and I started knocking out a couple of thousand words a day it didn’t take me very long to complete the first draft of the manuscript. It was tough at first.
Let’s talk about that a bit more. When did you start writing? What time period did you write over? Did you have a goal? ‘X’ number of thousand words a day or ‘X’ number of hours with your bum in the seat? What strategies did you put in place for the writing process just to get the book to the stage that you were happy with it?
I started out saying, “I’m going to do 1,000 words a day. I’m going to do 1,000 words a day first thing in the day,” it didn’t work. I discovered after about three days that if I didn’t want to write that morning nothing was going to come out of my fingertips, it wasn’t going to happen. I kind of put that strategy on the back burner.
Then I figured I was going to spend Saturday morning away from the house in a café somewhere writing — all Saturday morning, four or five hours, really crank it out… awful, terrible strategy. Can’t do that.
So I resigned to the fact that I was going to write when I felt like writing, plain and simple. I had a deadline in place. We accepted the deal December 2012. I was traveling extensively in January and February of that year, of 2013, so I didn’t do anything, hardly anything at all, maybe a little bit of research and that sort of stuff, but hardly any writing at all. Then I really launched into it in March.
My deadline was June with the publisher, they were pretty aggressive. I actually ended up getting an extension to the end of July, because I couldn’t knock it out that fast. I resigned to the fact that I couldn’t schedule it, I had to just write when I felt like writing. The funny thing was that once I allowed myself to have that freedom with the writing it became a lot more natural for me to sit down and not just knock out 500 or 1,000 words, sometimes I would sit and write for three hours and knock out 6,000 words. I did that several times. When you’re done you’re like, “Whoa, that was a monster session,” but you feel so productive at the end of it and you weren’t forcing yourself into it and the words just flowed, it was much, much easier.
If you resigned yourself to the fact that you were just going to write when you felt like writing didn’t you freak out like you might not ever feel like writing?
That’s a good question, I mean I kind of felt like that a little bit at first, but like I said, once I got into it and I ended up just rolling into the writing mode, pretty much on a daily basis anyway, it wasn’t as much of a concern, however, I was concerned about hitting the deadline. But, I’m a sales guy, like at heart I’m a sales and marketing guy. I’ve worked towards targets and goals my entire career, so I knew if push came to shove it was, “Let’s boil the coffee and we’re doing some all-nighters,” if push comes to shove. Luckily I didn’t have to do it, not with the writing process, but the editing process, that was a different ballgame.
Before we get to the editing process, in the writing process did you have any routines or did you have any incentives or rewards? “If I write 6,000 words I’ll be able to do ‘X’,” or whatever?
My son, my youngest, he’s five, he comes back from school about 4:00 PM, so my incentive was to try and get a good amount done each day where I felt like I was done for that day before he came back at 4:00 so I could play with him, hang out with him — just a simple daddy thing. I love my daddy time. I truly — if I could never work another day in my life and just play with Lego all day long I’d be the happiest daddy in the world, trust me. Yeah, I mean that was really the incentive, spending time with him, because there were some times where I couldn’t, when I was in a groove, when I was in a writing groove, and I had to write through to 5:00 or 6:00 or 7:00 PM because it was just coming out of me. But, really the incentive was to try to get it all done by the time he got back from school.
Let’s move on then to the editing process. You pained when you mentioned that before. Why?
Because it’s bloody painful, that’s why.
I did something that is quite rare for traditionally published authors, I’ve been told anyway, I went ahead and hired an outside editor to go over my manuscript before I sent it to my publisher.
Because I knew that as good as that first manuscript was, I knew that if I had somebody else’s eyeballs on it that I could get more out of myself by their feedback before I got it to the publishers. It did pay off, it cost me $3,000. I hired the guy, it cost me $3,000 and he came back with 312 comments on my Word document, almost all of them were developmental comments, hardly any grammar or spelling or punctuation, Word does all of that stuff for you.
I spent about another two weeks reediting, rewriting, dumping certain parts, putting ideas together. There’s two parts of the book, other than the how-to parts, which is obviously free flow and throughout the book; we have the case studies, which is around 1,500 words. I think there’s 11 or 12 of them, then we also have the freedom spotlights, which are shorter bite-size chunks where we talk about one particular entrepreneur, that virtual spotlight was his idea, because even though the case studies were good, and they were good, in fact some of them were amazing, we actually had to cut a couple of them, because they were just too wordy, unfortunately, in the final cut. But, the spotlights were cool, because you could dump them into a little gray box on one page in the book and it was kind of like a bite-size kind of narrator in the head, kind of reaffirming that part of the book, that section of the book. We’d talk about training and we’d talk about the importance of training and blah, blah, blah. It just worked really, really well.
Then I sent it to the publishers and the publishers came back to me and they said, “Your manuscript is so strong already, we’re just going to straight to line edits. We don’t feel like we need to do any developmental edits with you.” So the $3,000, for me, was money well-spent, because now I’ve impressed my publisher as well, which is saving them money, which means we can get the book out quicker, and so on, so on, and so on. The initial launch date was actually July 2014. I believe it was because of that and a couple of other things that happened, but mainly because of that we had it pushed forward to April 2014, so it worked.
Now in April of 2014 there were few places I could go without seeing people who were tweeting about Virtual Freedom or talking about your podcast, or the fact that there was various prelaunch activities. Apart from the nano-podcast, where you released those 20 episodes in the lead up to the book, what do you think were some of your key marketing strategies when it came to your book launch?
We decided very early on, when I say ‘we’ I mean me and my campaign manager and my team, we decided very, very early on that we were going to focus clearly on two major marketing strategies, both concerning podcasts. The first one was the
Virtual Freedom podcast, where we had 25 episodes and we were going to drip fed them out and drive lots of traffic, we used SoundCloud as the host, because you can embed SoundCloud URLs directly into Twitter, directly into Facebook and they’ll play right there on those sites, it doesn’t have to open up another tab or another website, which is huge. I mean you could listen to it on Twitter on the Twitter app — it was huge for social sharing. That was the first part of it.
The second part was to get me on as many big podcasts as possible in the whole business, productivity, entrepreneurship space. I think we ended up doing 42 different interviews in the space of like 2.5 months. It felt like I was doing sometimes two a day, sometimes it was one every other day, but we were on every major podcast out there.
I want to clarify it wasn’t as simple as just contacting the podcast host and saying, “Hey, I’ve got a cool book I want to talk about with your audience, can I come on your show?” That rarely will work, rarely will work I’ll tell you right now. When those emails come to me from people who want to be on my show, they go directly to a ‘maybe’ folder, and I very rarely look in my ‘maybe’ folder. The people that I have on my show are people that I have relationships with. Therefore, I knew if I wanted to get on other people’s shows I’d have to have relationships with them. Over the course of the 4.5 years that I’ve been active online I’ve been very blessed to create some very, very important relationships with some really, really big influences. Obviously they were more than happy to help out, because I was a buddy.
The plan is kind of aligned, you didn’t necessarily cultivate those relationships because one day you thought you were going to have a book out?
No, I’m a people person anyway. I’d much rather hang out in person than be tweeting all day long and have a coffee and do all of that sort of stuff.
When I was in the US, I’m lucky because I have businesses that work a lot with
US-based clients, so I would go to the US and if I had a scheduled client meeting I would go, “What conferences are on?” “What shows can I visit?” “What events can I go and hang out at?” And that’s how I got to meet all of the people that I got to meet. When you have a combination of, say, Pat Flynn, Lewis Howes, John Lee Dumas, just those three guys alone have well over 2 million downloads a month on their podcasts combined. That’s just three out of 40-something that’s kind of in the same.
That was actually the biggest strategy of all, was to get me on other people’s podcasts because we were so sure that I could do a good job on selling the book that I wouldn’t have to rely on other influences to do it for me — “Let me do it, let me provide great value to your audience and as a result hopefully as a knock on effect they’ll go out and buy the book,” and they did. A lot of them.
Give us an indication of that, because I remember when it launched it just shot up the Amazon lists. I don’t remember the numbers, can you give us an indication of some of the numbers?
The highest rank we got on the whole of Amazon, millions of books, the highest rank we got 113 out of all of them. I was so gutted —
Why?! You’re nuts!!
No, I was genuinely gutted because I really wanted it at 100, I was just like, “Oh, please, somebody buy 1,000 copies.” Do you know what I mean? I really wanted it at the top 100, because they say that amazing things happen when you hit the top 100 on Amazon. It was like, “OK, let’s shoot for that.” So that was the highest we got, 113, which I’m not baulking at, don’t get me wrong, but I was a little gutted at the time.
We did that, we were #1 in four separate business categories, we have since been #1 as an audio book in the business category. I believe up until last week we were #1 in business management for awhile as well.
With Kindle, rather with the Amazon ranking, it’s updated every hour, so it goes up and down, if I do a little bit of a push for the book everything will go up. When the audio book came out I recorded a couple of hours extra audio, we gave bonuses away, then obviously tons of Audible sign ups come through the door and all of that stuff. We did that.
A funny little story about the numbers, actually, on launch day we did a live
Virtual Freedom Google Hangout. Let me backtrack, before we got on the Hangout we looked at the Amazon book rank, it was like 3,200, or something, which in itself is like — I was already, “Oh my god, I’m 3,000.” I was like, “This is pretty cool.” But we hadn’t really done a whole lot other than send a couple of emails out, a few things like that, obviously all the podcasts that I was on and then we did the live hangout.
We did it at 1:00 AM in the Philippines, because of the time zone difference, a lot of my readers are on the West Coast in the United States, so I needed to do it in the morning their time, I couldn’t do it sort of 6:00 AM or whatever, so we started at 1:00, we finished, it was just at 2:00 in the Philippines. I was in my office, I had a few members of my team there, we were messing around, we had cake and champagne and balloons, all of this stuff. There’s a link somewhere on my site to the video, if anybody wants to watch it.
We were packing up and then my mobile phone goes and it’s Pat Flynn. Pat and I are very close friends, but he never calls me on my Philippine mobile number, like never, it just doesn’t happen. So I’m thinking — instantly I’m thinking, “Oh my god, something has happened to the kids,” because his kids are like my kids, we’re that close as families. So, I’m instantly thinking there’s something wrong with one of the kids.
I pick up the phone, “Dude, are you OK? Are you all right? Are you all right?” He’s like, “Dude, have you seen your Amazon rank?” I was like, “Oh my god! Are you serious? No, I haven’t seen my Amazon rank.” He said, “You need to check it, bye,” and he hung up on me. I’m like, “What’s going on, we fire back the iMac back up again — boom, it was up to 500-and-something. We went from 3,500 in a matter in the hour and a bit. I don’t know exactly how many books you need to shift for that, but it’s a lot.
Actually, that launch week, from what we could tell, from publishers and from receipts that we were receiving — and I’ll give you an amazing tip for getting Amazon reviews in a minute, like oh my god this is a game-changer — we figured around 7,500 in the first week.
Paperback and Kindle. Since then it’s obviously gone right up. The last update that I’ve had from my publishers was about three weeks ago and we were at about 17,000.
Wow. Fantastic. Awesome.
Going on those Amazon lists, what are the things apart from the podcasts that you were doing, the Hangout, you also did offer some bonuses. In fiction that’s not very common, for some of the listeners who aren’t familiar with that strategy can you just give us an overview on why you did, because it was really smart.
What you need to do is you need to give people, “What’s in it for me?” “Tell me why I should be buying your book, why?” You can’t say, “Because it’s a good book, it will change your life.” That’s not good enough anymore, people are too smart for that, they’ve had that over and over again. I was all about just providing an insane amount of value, like I just wanted to put it right out of the park.
I contacted companies like 99designs and LastPass and a few other companies that I knew had software or services related to working with freelancers and virtual staff. I said, “Can you give away this?” Or, “Can you do that?” “Can you do that?” I think we had a year free on LastPass, it was only $12, but it’s $12, right? We had the 99 Power Pack from 99designs, which is huge if you’re doing any kind of design, contest on 99designs. There were a few other bits and pieces. I can’t remember now all of them.
Then the big difference was I started bundling me. The one thing that I’ve really seen since I’ve built up my personal brand online, people will pay for access. If you take the access away, very, very strategically remove the access away to not be so interactive on social, not necessarily do too many free Hangouts, and do all of these things, quite strategically right after that event, people will pay for that access.
We wanted everybody who came to the site to at least buy a book, one book. We made it a no-brainer. If you buy a book you can send us your receipt you’ll get the book direct from Amazon and you’ll get access to three extra case studies that weren’t included in the book, and this and this and this. There were like three or four things that had like an $80 value attached to them. We know there was a very large likelihood that everybody that came to the website that week, and it was only a one week promo that we ran, everyone that came that week was going to buy one book, that was the number one focus. Then we had a five book, then we had ten — we had a 25, a 50, 100 and I think that was were we stopped.
I only sold a handful of 100s, and they were mostly for speaking engagements or coaching engagements and things like that, mastermind groups, stuff like that, but we did sell a ton of the 25 and the 50 books, because if you bought 25 books you got this, and this, and this, and you got fifteen minutes on Skype with me. For 50 books you could have 30 minutes on Skype with me. I was really busy. April and May were probably two of the busiest months of my life, because we had way more box sales come in than we anticipated.
It was great. It was great! But, I mean it really did drain me energy-wise. I was like, “I’m done.” But, it was a great strategy because people will pay for that access.
Now if you’re a fiction writer maybe there’s something you can do where you can bundle your older books as part of a package, right? Particularly, if it’s a series — let’s use 50 Shades of Gray for example, like three books in that series? Let’s say you’re coming out with Part 3, “Buy Part 3, or preorder Part 3, and we’ll give you Part 1 and 2 for free in eBook format,” or a PDF format. It’s nothing for you. You’re not losing any money.
This is the problem, as online marketers we sometimes think when we give stuff away for free that we’re losing money — it’s electronic, it’s not costing you anything. So what if you’re giving away five videos? You shot them, they’re on a server now, what are you going to do with them? Give them away — to everyone! Give them away, get them out there, get people consuming them.
So a fiction writer I think they could do that. They could also give away access to an exclusive Google Hangout, where they talk about the process of writing fiction and breaking down that writing process and all the rest of it. There’s plenty of ways to skin that cat, you just have to get creative.
You just teased us before on getting Amazon reviews, please do spill.
This is a goodie. I don’t know whether I came up with this or not, but I certainly didn’t get it from anyone else. I’m sure I’m not the first smarty pants to come up with the idea, but I certainly didn’t get this from anyone else. What we did is whenever everybody purchased the book in that week we got them to send their receipt, their Amazon receipt to us, because if we didn’t get the receipt we had no proof they bought the book, therefore we couldn’t give them the bonuses. So we get their Amazon receipt — great, they get the bonuses. But, now we’ve got their name and email address.
A couple of weeks after we email them and we say, we’re already assuming that they’ve finished the book, “We hope that you enjoyed Virtual Freedom, as an added bonus as a loyal Virtual Freedom reader Chris has put together a six-page swipe file of 101 tasks that you can give to virtual assistants to help build your business for you. It’s 100 percent free, all you got to do to get it is post an honest review on Amazon and then send us a copy of that confirmation email from Amazon so we know that you’ve actually done a review.”
So good. Let me just wave my own flag — like so good. Not only do I get a lot of reviews, more important when it comes to rankings I’ve got a lot of verified Amazon purchased reviews, because they bought the book on Amazon in the first place and now they’re reviewing the book on Amazon — massive difference.
I think we’re at like 235 five star reviews, plus a load of others. I mean it’s pretty impressive. What are we at? April, May, June, July — we’re like five months out. There’s some New York Times Bestsellers that have been out for a couple of years and they haven’t got that many reviews. The real review strategy is if you don’t ask you won’t get.
Yeah, very true.
People don’t feel obliged to leave a review after reading your book. They bought the book — do you know what I mean? They don’t owe you anything, right? But if you give them a reason, an incentive, to write that review a lot of them will do, a lot of them will.
You’ve written the book, it’s been a great success. It’s gone really well in the rankings. What kind of doors has it opened to you that weren’t opened before or were harder to open before?
Speaking. I mean I’ve been speaking pretty consistently for years, but once the book comes out and does well you can instantly up your speaking fee, which I’ve done. So you make more money out of that.
I actually had a client from Australia that I’m seeing on my trip here in October, he reached out to me and said, “Do you do coaching? We’re an accounting company and we’ve got to jump on this virtual bandwagon. I’ve picked up your book at the airport, I read it in one sitting — it was great. I need to hire you as a consultant to work out the best way to do it for our company. Do you do coaching?” I said, “Well, I do, but my schedule is so jam packed right now with… I can’t really do anything until January.” He said, “I can’t wait that long.” I said, “I’ve got America, then I’m coming to Australia…” “Whoa, whoa, you’re going to be in Australia?” “Yeah.” “When?” “October.” “OK, are you coming to Sydney?” “Yes, it’s my first stop.” “All right, spend one more day extra. Tell me what you need to come to my business for one day.” I dropped him a ridiculous number and he didn’t even baulk at it. That happens as well. I mean that’s almost like an advance for writing another book. Like, I’m not blowing my own trumpet here, but it was a lot of money that I quoted.
There’s things like that happen. What else has happened? Press. I’ve been featured in Forbes, Inc, Entrepreneur magazine like five times in the last few months. Radio interviews up the yazoo when I was in America. I was almost on the Today Show in the US, but I missed it by a day. I was almost on the Fox and Friends show with my buddy Clayton Morris who’s an anchor on that show, but something happened with his family and he wanted to the be one to interview me. I was like, “Oh my god, I’m in New York.”
It opens up doors. But I think it’s just like anything else in life, it’s not going to fall in your lap. The phrase that I use all the time is chase it down, whatever ‘it’ is for you. If it’s a best selling book, if it’s a multi-book deal with a publisher, if it’s just getting a really cool cover done for your next book, chase it down — chase it down and go after it. Don’t give up until you get what you want. I think that’s really what it comes down to anything else.
My publishers didn’t think an audio book was needed for Virtual Freedom. I said, “You’re mad. People are asking for it, everyday they’re asking for it on social media.” “Prove it.” “Oh my god, are you serious?” Screenshot, screenshot, screenshot, screenshot, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. I mean what do I need to do to tell you that we need to put an audio book together?“ OK, great. We’ll do it.” I chased it down because I wanted an audio book out there. Now it’s up on Audible. Now there’s a six CD version of it as well, all on Amazon. That wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t have been a relentless SOB with the publisher and just chased it down — you’ve just got to chase it down.
This whole year was about the book. I want to make this clear as well. It wasn’t just about the prelaunch and the launch in April, the entire year of 2014 was 100 percent dedicated to Virtual Freedom — 100 percent. All of my speaking gigs, all the book signings, all the parties, all the meet ups. I’m running myself ragged this year, because I want to make sure the book gets into as many hands as possible.
If 2014 is about this book, Virtual Freedom, are you already planning 2015? What’s next for you? Once this chapter closes, in a sense, what’s the next big thing that you’re going to be chasing down? Is there another book?
First of all, I love the fact that you’re now saying ‘chase it down’ — see how quickly you adopted it as well? It’s so good.
And it’s a lot better than ‘crush it’ quite frankly.
It is, right? And ‘crush it’ is so bloody over used, it’s overrated. Sorry, Gary. He’s my buddy, but he’s not going to like me now.
I do have another book idea. I have another whole brand idea, actually, which will come out sometime next year. As for the book, I don’t know, you’re probably looking 2016 for that. One major difference I think will happen unless I get offered a really big advance from a publisher, I believe I will self-publish my second book.
Because as good as my publishers were, and they were great, BenBella Books, brilliant little publishing house, not the biggest on the planet, but very into the book, very into the projects and all the rest of it. Again, unless I get a lot of money for an advance I know I sold this book. I was the one that drove all of those sells. The entrepreneur inside of me screams out when I realize what I could be making if I self-published it rather than traditionally published it. There are pros and cons, the distribution is tougher with a
self-published book, but you can still get it if you’ve got a good enough platform.
The other thing is this, I don’t even think I would have got the book deal if it hadn’t been for my online platform, the Twitter followers. It’s all vanity numbers, it’s silly. The Twitter followers, the mailing list, the Facebook likes, all of this stuff, in the grand scheme of things I could have self-published Virtual Freedom, I probably would have sold just as many copies as I have done traditionally publishing, but I think what it was as a first time author I really wanted to go down that traditional route because I don’t know, maybe it was an ego thing, maybe it was just a goal that I wanted to achieve, whatever. I don’t know. Now I’ve done it and I know plenty of people that have gone the self-publishing route and they’re killing it. They’re making so much money, just call me old-fashioned, but I like making money. Do you know what I mean? I don’t know. It’s going to be an interesting situation when it comes about, whenever it may be.
Yeah, I can’t wait to see what you end up deciding.
You mentioned that you’re going to be back in Australia in Sydney and Melbourne in October because you are running some business masterminds. Now that’s not necessarily for writers, but there are business people who listen to this show as well. Can you tell us a little bit about what you are going to do in October, in case people are interested in booking?
I started doing these one-day business mastermind events two and a half years ago when I was traveling around. I was like, “Well, I’ll do one in London, I’ll do one in New York, I’ll do one in LA.” I did that in one year. They sold out in a heartbeat. It’s just another perfect example of listening to your audience and genuinely providing a solution to a problem.
I knew that entrepreneurs are lonely people at the core of it. They are just gagging for like-minded people to hang out with and talk with and brainstorm with and a lot of us don’t have that in our peer group. So why not bring a lot of people together? So that’s what we do. It’s a one-day event. They’re limited to twelve people at the table. We rent a nice conference room or co-working space, one of those virtual offices or whatever. We get together, we do coffee in the morning, coffee in the afternoon. You can have as much coffee as you want, actually. But, a light lunch, not a too heavy carb, heavy kind of lunch where you want to go to sleep at 2:00. And we just crack into each other’s businesses one by one by one, we go around the table. Everybody offers feedback.
The overall premise of it is that you walk away with a real plan of action in place to be able to do this, this and this in the next 30 days, at least in the next 30 days. It’s all very well turning up and having a good day and hanging out with like-minded people and getting some ideas, but there’s no point in any of that unless you actually take action and chase it down.
We’ve been doing them for awhile, they’re very successful. I’ve got to be honest with you, I might be wrapping them up at the end of this year, because of what I’m planning already for next year. I can’t scale it. I want to help more people in this way. The only way I can do that is by doing group coaching. There’s probably that on the horizon. However, in October Sydney and Melbourne, if people want to check it out they can go to NewBusinessMastermind.com, however, Melbourne is now officially sold out. Sydney, I believe, there’s seven seats left in Sydney. We’ve had a slow uptake in Sydney.
I think listeners of this podcast might be interested to know that Chris is actually hold this at the Australian Writers’ Centre in Sydney, so you can pop in and say hi to me, if you end up enrolling.
You’re in Australia. After speaking at the conference you’re going to be taking some time off and relaxing?
This conference here? No, I’m going to America again. I am literally going to go from Sydney to LA, LA-Cleveland, Cleveland-San Diego, San Diego-New Orleans, New Orleans-Nashville, Nashville-Boston and then home.
Speaking gigs and book events. This is it. This is the end of it. This is the end of the tour, this is it. Otherwise I might not have a wife when I get home. She might be off.
What do you enjoy about the speaking gigs and the book events?
It’s not an ego thing. I know a lot of people say, “Oh, he likes to be up on stage because he likes all of the attention.” A lot of speakers are like that. I know a lot of speakers and they are all ego whores, they really are. I, particularly this year, since the book has come out, I’ve been able to experience when I meet people who have read the book and I talk with them and they tell me how the book has impacted their lives, that for me is the buzz that I get. In the space of two weeks in America we did San Diego, we did Portland, we did New York, and at each of those three events there was a standout somebody that came up to me.
The first one there was a lady who said that the book had literally changed her life and she could directly attribute $6,000 in additional earnings in one month to her VAs coming on board and helping build her business — huge, massive, right there.
The second one was a single dad who works from home, his wife passed, works from home with his five or six year old little girl, takes her to school, does her school run, works from home, has two or three VAs to help him run his business online so he can spend more time with his daughter and not have to worry about getting somebody to come and look after her everyday. Life changing — life changing.
The last one was a guy came up to me in New York, I was signing somebody else’s book at the time and he came up to me and said, “Chris, I’ve got to go,” a typical New Yorker, always in a rush, “I’ve got to go, but I just want to say your book saved my marriage.” I said, “What?” He said, “Yeah, I was doing 15 hours a day, six days a week, my wife was that close to leaving me and we hired a VA in the Philippines and she’s doing great and now I’m back to 40 hours a week and I spending more time with my wife. We have a date night every week now and she loves it. You saved my marriage!”
I said, “These are great testimonials, I should be getting these on video.” But, I dropped the ball on that on each occasion. For me, that’s the buzz. That’s what it’s all about, for me, to get that feedback. I love being on stage, I like putting on a bit of a show. I look at it as a performance, it’s not just me talking to a crowd, I do rehearse. I ad-lib a lot when I speak live, you’ll see in a couple of days from now. Ultimately, I want to provide value. If I can answer questions and solve people’s problems by doing that, then all the better.
On that note, thank you so much for your time today, Chris.
It was as pleasure to be here. Thank you.