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The Winning Hand

Success Doesn’t Involve Luck, it Involves Skill

Building the winning hand involves skill, skill, and more skill. Luck is irrelevant. I’m not saying a few don’t get lucky, but skill is the name of the game.

 

I have one pet peeve about those who can’t succeed. Here are a few redundant excuses.

 
1. He had help along the way I didn’t have.

 
2. He inherited the money I’ll never inherit.

 
3. He had connections I’ll never have.

 
4. He got lucky.

 
5. He had natural talent, I don’t.

 
I can go on and on, but it would take a few thousand words and I know few of you are willing to read that much. What I’m saying is people will play the excuse card time and again. Truth is, the winning hand involves doesn’t involve luck, it involves skill.

 
During my days as a trainer, I knew people, clients and members alike, state they couldn’t lose weight and get lean because they didn’t have the genetics.

 

Okay, some people have poor genetics; most don’t. Most have average genetics which are capable of one attaining a lean look.

 
And most can succeed in their given field if they put their mind to it. Here’s another list…people like lists, so I’m making lists here. To uncover the winning hand, one must:

 
1. Find your passion.

 
2. Research how you can make money in the passion (we live in a society where one can make a living selling ideas. How cool is that?).

 
3. Put together a daily task list to perform. Do this every day until you make a habit.

 
4. Develop a five-year plan.

 
5. Get a “pay the bills” job.

 
6. Start earning money in your passion.

 
7. Evolve.

 

8. Build the winning hand.

 

Find Your Passion

This is easy. If something can wake you up on a Monday morning like it’s a Saturday morning, what would it be? What do you look forward to doing every day? Again, it’s easy. What do you find yourself doing, or wanting to do?

 

Research How You Can Make Money

Yeah, I know, money isn’t the primary goal, it’s the lifestyle. For me as a writer, I’d much rather work from home (in the morning and evening), a library (yes, they still exist), or a place that offers Wi-Fi.

 
Second, I’d rather not work for anyone except a loyal list of email subscribers curious to see what kind of work I come up with next. Not just that, I want to set my own numbers, earnings, and reach a goal. I want to build my own dream rather than work really hard to build someone else’s while making them a lot of money.

 
Last week, I discovered there are more than seventy ways for writers to make money. So, I chose about five niche areas I knew I’d enjoy and started researching them in addition to blogs and websites I’d like to write for.

 

Check out The Write Life, they have a boatload of information.

Put Together A Daily Task List to Perform

You know if you don’t put together a daily list, especially early, it’s going to be near-impossible to succeed in this.

 
So, after you research start putting together an action list. This action list needs to consist of eight to twelve tasks that take thirty to sixty minutes to complete.

 

Don’t worry, because even if you work a full-time job, this might consist of research more than anything else. Choose reputable sources and research them.

 
I do this even today. My go-to is The Creative Penn, but I also like Just Publishing Advice, Self Publishing Advice, Jerry Jenkins, and ALLi.

 

Develop the Five-Year Plan

I derive this from the classic professional sports team model, which includes:

 
1. Three years of building. This is by far the toughest climb and during this time, few people will understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

 
2. Playoff appearance. This relates to you breaking even, maybe quitting the ‘bills job’ which I’ll explain in a moment, and becoming a minor authority in your field. This is the point where you’re going to look back and be proud of how crazy you were for going against your better judgment.

 
3. Contention for the championship. This is where you’re recognized on a national and perhaps international scale. It’s where you’re profiting to the point you can live the lifestyle, fire your boss for good, and soar to new heights.

 
Where am I in this journey? Between Year One and Year Two, so much of this derives from tips I’ve learned via my own research. In many instances, I’m in Year One. My Freedom Flame is headed into its eighth month, I have two books published, one of which is a perma-free novella called Fighting Tyranny, and the other is my first full-length novel called Northern Knights.

 
Though I’ve been writing consistently for a little over three years, I’m still very new. If there’s one thing I’m headed into Year Two over, it’s knowing how to write fiction for the masses. Take Northern Knights, where many of my first readers never would even have picked up an urban fantasy novel, and it’s garnered good early reviews, four out of five stars on Amazon thus far.

 

Get A “Pay the Bills” Job

This is the not-so-fun part, but the good news is you only need to work enough hours to pay the bills. What’s your rent, utilities, car fuel, food, and other expenses?

 

Do the math and give yourself an extra one to two-hundred dollars per month to break even.

 
The good news for us writers is we can pitch ideas to websites, blogs, and a myriad of other outlets and we may get picked up by five to ten percent of them. This can serve as our pay the bills job.

 
Others, whose fields may require a year or so of seasoning, may need to get a dreaded normal job for a time, but that’s okay, because you may only need to work twenty hours a week if the job pays well.

 
If I were to stick with fitness for a bit, I’d love to land a gig at Orangetheory, who pay their trainers $40 to $55 an hour, depending on location and experience. This means my own pay the bills job would consist of fifteen hours a week, and that’s at the low end!

 

 

Even ten hours a week at the high end.

 

Start Making Money in Your Passion

Okay, so yeah, you’ve written a masterpiece….this is if you’re a writer. You’ve written the masterpiece and few, if anyone, is buying the book.

 
I’m cackling right now, because it’s where most question themselves and give up. Don’t even think about it.

 
Here’s why no one’s buying:

 
1. You have one book out. Why the hell would any avid reader take a chance on a new author?

 
2. You have no reviews.

 

Why the hell would any avid reader take a chance on new author if they haven’t proven themselves?

 
So, what do you do?

 
Well, in the world of writing, and if your passion isn’t writing, relate what I’m about to say to your passion, is to do something I learned twenty-three days ago and is already generating positive results.

 
1. Create something for free. Yeah, I know, it sucks, but it doesn’t have to. I enjoyed writing Fighting Tyranny; it was the one work where every character, scene, and the story came naturally.

 
2. Put an ad for something in front and in the back of the book inviting them to join an email subscriber list. Yes, you need to get an email provider. MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

 
3. Make sure you give them an additional reward for signing up. I gave those downloading Fighting Tyranny a second free novella consisting of how the main characters met.

 
4. Put an additional ad in front and back of your book of the product you’re selling for money. If people like what they read, they may pull the trigger and buy. If they sign up for a subscription, it means they’re interested in buying from you.

 
I know what you’re asking: Why do I need to give something away I worked hard on?

 
Because, if you write like I do, where I’m writing both fiction and working on a nonfiction piece, you’re going to create a nice little backlist.

 
Know why Netflix ran Blockbuster out of business?

 
Because people could binge watch at home.

 
Well, these days, people can binge read at home.

 
What’s not to say five years from now (five-year plan) you have a list of twenty books?

 
Each book is priced between $2.99 and $4.99.

 
You must make between $60 and $100 from one person.

 
What if they prefer hard copy?

 
You just made a lot of freaking money.

 
We live in a binge culture, people. People binge.

 

Why do you think TV networks play marathons?

 

Why does NFL Sunday play a game at one, four, and eight?

 
We’re trained to binge!

 
And that’s why you put in the time and effort to create something for free.

 
So, I’ve been selling Northern Knights for one month and have made $20 in one month!

 
Fantastic, right?

 
Actually, it’s more than seven-figure indie-author Mark Dawson made in his first six months, as he jokes about bringing in $10 in royalties during his first six months as an indie-author.

 
Look, I’m happy with $20.

 
I wish I used something like Freebooksy or Books Butterfly, which may have generated me more handouts, but that’s okay. You live and learn.

 

Evolve

And the final step is to evolve. Let’s use my works, Northern Knights and Fighting Tyranny.

 

How do I get the word out on these two books?

 
Here’s what I’ve done:

 
1. I open-published Fighting Tyranny and set it for free everywhere. I used the aggregators Draft2Digital and PublishDrive to reach different online book stores. For Draft2Digital, I hit Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Overdrive, Tolino, Biblioteca, Scribd, and Playster.

 

On PublishDrive I hit iBooks, Google Play, and a few places Draft2Digital can’t reach. The goal is to place Fighting Tyranny for free on as many sites as possible. It’s also listed on Amazon at 99 cents, but I’m looking to convince them to price match.

 
2. I set up a free giveaway on InstaFreebie, a site where authors can give away books to gain exposure. Not just that, you can connect it with MailChimp and build a subscription list. Within forty-eight hours, my subscription list is over thirty, and this is over a span of two days. USE INSTAFREEBIE IF YOU’RE A NEW AUTHOR!

 
3. Like I explained earlier, I have a catchy orange and brown (don’t judge me, Steeler fans) ad in front of my books for Northern Knights for all sites except iBooks, which won’t allow links to Amazon due to it being a close competitor. This will funnel readers all over the world to Amazon to purchase the Northern Knights e-book.

 
4. Understanding globalism. While I’m no globalist (see my global affairs posts) I do understand the internet is a pipeline to a global market.

 

When I check my blog stats, I see that I’ve reached people in sixty-five countries within eight months, with my main countries outside the United States being the UK, Ireland, India, Australia, Canada, and Sweden.

 

This means I have people coming to and back to my blog in these countries, so they’re ideal marketing candidates!

 
5. Continuing Education. This involves both free research and some investment in courses. Yes, I know we hate investing our money, but look at people who invest for a living. Investors realize one thing: They can get a Return on Investment, or ROI. Think of paying as investing with hopes of getting a return.

 
6. Understanding I’m an Entrepreneur. Yes, if you’re an indie-author, you’re an entrepreneur, which means you better know how to reach others and market your work.

 

No, it doesn’t mean blasting continual buy links to social media. I do this once a week, if that, and only if I’m running a promo. Be engaging, post interesting and informative content, blog, and make your website attractive. Not just that, contact local business owners and see how they continue to stay in business. They can be in any field, not just yours. They’re full of knowledge and they WILL help you out, especially if you’re a writer like I am and pose zero threat to stealing customers.

 
I’d like to thank everyone for coming across My Freedom Flame, please come back soon.

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