"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Writing for Passive Income: Small Steps for Big Goals

Small writing steps equal giant passive income results

Hard to believe we're already 16 days into the new year, but here we are! January 1st is a day when we all make goals and resolutions for our "new start" and then generally completely forget about them until months later when we get that "it's too late now" attitude. Freelance writing and writing for residual income are two areas that can make it very easy to fall into this trap since so much work is required before seeing any pay-off. Many writers become overwhelmed, and it's easy to try and convince yourself that reading 5 blog posts and doing some keyword research is a lot of work. It's not. I'm not preaching at you, I'm still often guilty of the same thing. So this is the first update, along with a very happy and special announcement at the end :)

In my last freelance writing blog post I talked about setting some of my own goals after realizing I needed to become much more efficient to reach my goals, and after getting some inspiration from re-listening to Timothy Ferriss's The 4 Hour Work Week (love it - and that is an affiliate link), getting re-charged from vacation, and also being inspired by Kidgas's effort to triple his online income. It's been a very effective trifecta for me and I put down my own goals and dreams, although in a more abbreviated form, and swore I was going to work my tail off to get them.

So how am I doing at this point? All in all, actually quite well. I'm especially impressed considering that I'm split working in multiple directions, no matter how much I wish it were otherwise. I have to drastically increase the amount of freelance work I'm doing to pay for a wide variety of medical bills, lawyer fees, those annoying student loans, and some other major one time (I hope) expenses that are all coming up this spring. In addition, ideally I'd like this to be the first year I'm going to buy a house and get out of the country for the first time in 12 years. So there's the freelancing....then there's the building the business my brother and I are starting, which is almost like three different business focuses in and of themselves, then there's my actual passive income I want to work on...which comes from multiple sources.

In other words, I'm ridiculously busy once again, even with 80/20 applied to my life. Still, I've made some very good progress and based on everything going on, my freelance and passive writing goals are going well so far. Just this weekend I published six new HubPages for myself, with some backlink work to each, finished $400 in freelance work and produced seven hubs for my brother and I's business, all also with backlinks. The outlines to a few e-books are just about complete and I have a very clear idea of what lies ahead for the next couple months. In the first two weeks of January, I've gotten about as much done as I did in any full month last year.

So why is this? Because I didn't let myself get overwhelmed with the sheer mass of things to do. Every single thing that needed to be done, I broke it down into the smallest, easiest steps possible and then I focused only on those small steps. Yeah, I'd love to write 100 new hubs in the next few months, and in my 100% dream scenario write 1,000 total hubs on HubPages this year (BTW - if you are completely new to the make money online or make passive income online, start by signing up with HubPages and making hubs there as you learn how to rank your pages and monetize them. HubPages is the best beginner's place to go by far, IMO).

Will I achieve that goal and many other equally as ambitious? I think so. 1,000 hubs is a huge number and if I try to think about it that way, it becomes overwhelming. What if I fall behind for a few days, how will I come up with 1,000 ideas, how will I find the time to check all those keywords, how will I have time to backlink them all, etc. It doesn't take more than a couple minutes looking at the big picture before it's sheer size is enough to crush you. So I don't worry at all about 1,000 because there's no point to doing so.

There are ALWAYS more markets and topics to write about, and one thing I do have now is a couple hundred good keywords. So I'm working on those one at a time, two to five a day depending on all other surrounding circumstances. Over the course of a year, this will add up to 1,000 hubs or mighty close enough and without the stress, worry, anxiety, and everything else that would come with trying to plan out every detail from the outset. I've also known from watching other people, as well as observing myself, that when you focus on the big picture and try to get a handle on huge goals or huge problems, you tend to not only NOT control the situation, but you get far LESS work done than if you just took the "I'll do 1-4 a day and not worry about the rest" approach to it.

I don't think about having to pay off those $10,000 or so in medical bills early this year, I just think about making an extra $30-50 a day above my average freelancing workload, and over the next half a year that will take care of itself.

Whether you are reading this as a freelance writer, or an internet marketer, or anywhere in between of those two broad terms, then maybe you'll agree with me when I say this is one of the most important lessons I've learned over these past few years: we are our own worst enemies because we overwhelm ourselves so much that we end up accomplishing so little.

The choosing to go for 1,000 hubs this year while doing the backlinking on my existing articles and websites is a decision I made very recently based on a stark observation I made on myself. Back in the winter of 2008 when my job in Austin, Texas, just disappeared, I tried to plan ahead, figured I had 4 months of expenses barring anything going wrong (which it actually did in spectacular fashion, but that's a story for another day), and I was trying to plan looking at the big picture without thought on how to get there or making goals that I couldn't actually directly affect (an example: make $3,500 by March - that's a terrible goal because it doesn't give any clue for as how to get there. A goal like "write for Demand Studios or Guru.com 8-10 hours a day" at least gives me a clear idea of what to do). Obviously even with the terrible economy and hugely changing markets I made my way back and then some, but then the thought hit me: what if I had just wrote 1 single HubPage, 1 single eHow article (until eHow was closed to writers), and 1 single Squidoo lens a day?

That's well under 8 hours of work a day, and on a good day is less than 3. The answer: I would have nearly 500 more HubPages, 500 more eHow articles, and 700 more Squidoo lenses than I have now. Based on the average of what each of those earns me, we're talking about over $2,200 in complete passive income more per month. That would have me in "semi-retirement" mode, living extremely comfortably and in position right now to only work on what I want to do and nothing else while traveling at will.

So how have I worked my butt off for three years to not be at the same place where 1 hub, 1 eHow, and 1 Squidoo lens a day would put me?

Because I made the same mistakes that many other people in this position have made, continue to make, and will continue to make. I didn't make room for that minimal daily effort like I should have, even when "life happened," and I was too easily overwhelmed and distracted by the large goals or big picture to get the daily work done. I'd recommend taking a good long look at your own efforts and see if the same is true.

This time around, I'm not going to make those same errors. This year, there is always time day to day to work on the hubs, to work on the supporting links, and to make sure that by the end of the year there aren't any more years doing work for others that I don't care for. Day by day I concentrate on the good and hit it out one step at a time, one page at a time, and don't worry about the big picture: because that will take care of itself just as long as I keep steady.

Now, the very happy and special announcement: most of you who know me personally or follow this blog know my overall feelings about graduate school and the years of my life wasted there. We'll keep it very understated and say that my overall experience was less than stellar. That being said, there were a few incredibly cool people I met during my time up there who have been very close friends of mine and like family. My life has been permanently blessed and made better simply from having known them. One of these people is Ashley Cowger, who consistently was one of my favorite writers in the program. She started her first year in the MFA program in Fairbanks Alaska when I was finishing my third and final year. Her brother, Justus Humphrey, is a good friend and actually put me up for a brief six week period when I would otherwise have been homeless during the winter in Alaska. Still very much obliged, bro.

Both are remarkably wonderful people, and both are great writers, as well. I'm happy to announce that Ashley's first novel came out this week: "Peter Never Came." I'm waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail, and the next 10 I'll order for friends and family who love good stories and good reading - and even without seeing an advance copy, I can tell you from seeing a dozen plus of her stories or more that I WHOLE HEARTEDLY and without reservation recommend her book. Ashley was an incredibly talented and hard working writer when I first met her, and she continued to get better and better. I can tell you right now when that book shows up, I won't by doing ANY work. I'll be kicking up my feet and enjoying some great fiction.

It's a small press publication and a collection of literary short stories. If you want to read great fiction, buy Peter Never Came. If you want to support an amazing collection of short stories, buy a copy of the book. If you want renewed faith in an amazing up and coming young writer, read Ashley's book. If you love supporting quality literature from a small press, buy this book. Here is a link, it is NOT an affiliate link: http://www.amazon.com/Peter-Never-Came-Ashley-Cowger/dp/1932870466/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1295243965&sr=8-1

I've tried to think what I could do to encourage people to buy a copy of Ashley's book, and I think I've come up with something. This is going by the honor system, but there's a good group following this blog so we'll do this on the honor code. Over the next month I'll be putting together a guide on freelance writing & earning residual income online. This isn't an A to Z complete guide, but it will include a lot of my "tricks and tips" for making passive income, how to set up a HubPage that converts (the set up is huge in determining whether they make money or not), how to maximize results from your online work, and basically sharing my tips and knowledge from six years online in about 20 pages. It's not an encyclopedia of knowledge, but if you're a beginner or just getting started, this will speed up the learning curve quite a bit.

Buy Ashley's book, e-mail me at masterdayton [@] gmail.com with the words "bought Ashley's awesome book" or "peter never came" or anything along those lines. When I'm done with my guide, anyone who buys Ashley's book and sends me an e-mail gets the guide for free. I'll e-mail it right to you.

I'm not going to give a BS sales pitch with a fake "valued at" number, but I will tell you that this is going to have far more value than most of the multi-hundred dollar e-books out there. Hopefully that deal will help move a few more copies of Ashley's book, and I really am ecstatic over her recent success. Sometimes good things do happen to good people.

Hope ya'll liked this post. Now I have a couple more hubs to hit before bedtime, but keep on keepin' on, devote some daily time to your business, and if you enjoy a good book, grab a copy of "Peter Never Came" to celebrate the emergence of a wonderful writer.