Those of you who have communicated with me directly know that I am always eager to engage in a conversation about how people can forge their own unique path in terms of what they do for a living. And now, as my health research has come to an apex of sorts, I find that eagerness growing. It’s been seven years since I signed up to start a mysterious thing called a “blog.” My tech-savvy-ness was pitiful when I began, and I didn’t even really know what a blog was at the time. A co-worker had encouraged me to start one because I had sent him a few of my writings. I had only gotten my first computer with an internet connection a year prior.
So I didn’t come into the 180DegreeHealth project as a knowledgeable entrepreneur or computer wiz. More the opposite in fact. And I had no financial motives when I began. It just seemed like a better way to spend my time. Yes, even hanging out at the beach in Hawaii gets old after a while. It felt like my brain was turning into poi without following through on my interests, developing my skills (girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!), and learning new information.
Flash forward to now and I’ve accidentally built a successful business with two full-time people working with me and a web developer doing some tech stuff as well. I’ve got 15 books on Amazon with another coming out soon. I’ve been picked up by a huge publishing company for a book release coming out, if all goes as planned, in eight days. Yep, I’ll be on bookshelves in bookstores. And just in the nick of time as bookshelves and bookstores are rapidly headed towards extinction.
So, taking a break from the worn out topic of health (not that enjoying your life and work doesn’t have anything to do with your health–it probably has much more to do with your overall health than your diet), here are some things that I would like to share with those who feel stuck, bored, or broke and have an interest in writing. These are some things that led to my success as a writer, and more importantly, my success with filling the hours in my day with things that were interesting to me–taking creative control over my life and no longer being a cog in someone else’s machine…
- Start Learning. The most important thing is that you start doing what you want to do as many hours per day as you can immediately. If you like cooking, great. Cook and study cooking in as much of your spare time as possible. Gain as much knowledge, skill, and expertise as you can. Seek out and learn from the best when feasible. If you like something else, do that instead. I shared some thoughts about how to find what you are authentically passionate about in a video I did a couple of years ago…
- Start writing. I think the biggest mistake people make is not writing, or waiting to get better at writing before they put out their first book. There’s only one way to get good at writing, and that’s to do a lot of it. Do as much of it as you can. Write a book as soon as you can. About anything. It can be 30 pages. Just write. If you don’t think it’s any good, then give it away for free and ask for feedback from readers on how to make it better. In the digital age, you can fix books, change them, add chapters… Don’t expect it to be great the first time. Keep improving it and your writing until your writing is good.
- Start Marketing. I hate to even call it that. Marketing is more of a business word that makes me envision infomercials and popups and billboards and ghastly expenditures. Today, marketing means, more than anything, making connections with people in your field. If I could do it all over again (from a financial point of view), I’d spend more time doing this. The most important thing is that you are genuine. Don’t contact someone and ask them to do something for you. Contact someone and ask to do a favor for them! Like write an article, promote their latest book, or anything else you can think of that isn’t going to cost you any money. Not everyone will repay the favor, but many will eventually, and you’ll build a good reputation and feel just as good about the success of others that you helped as you do yourself.
- Study Amazon Publishing. Maybe you can now write and have a good following and a great group of allies in your field. That’s swell and all, but to truly be a successful writer you’ll probably want to publish your books on Amazon (where most people buy their books). And there is a lot to know about how the game is played there. If you don’t know the game, your book is likely to fall flat, buried in obscurity. Just writing a book and putting it on Kindle is like, as I read in a book last night, “crossing your fingers and hoping to win the lottery.” What makes the difference between a bestseller and a no-seller are truly small, tiny things that anyone can do. It’s just about knowing how to get it right without making rookie mistakes. Everyone who has any desire to be a writer at all would be a complete fool not to read some books on the topic. Some of the most helpful stuff I’ve read have come from Tom Corson-Knowles and Steve Scott.
I have spoken with Tom a couple of times, been interviewed by him, and guest-posted on one of Tom’s sites, and he’s a great and very inspiring young guy. Most of the information you would need can be found in his books, but he also has a publishing “school” and a publishing company for self-published authors. His blog is already an abyss of helpful information and he just started it.
As you can see, there are no magic tricks, and there is nothing complicated about the process. It’s just a matter of doing it and being patient, as it takes a few years to truly become good at anything. I’d be more than happy to field any questions to any aspiring bloggers, writers, or others in the comments.
Matt Stone is an independent health researcher, author of more than 15 books, and founder of 180DegreeHealth. He is best known for his research on metabolic rate and its central role in many health conditions as well as his criticisms of extreme dieting. You can read more of his work in over 500 free articles on the site or in his books HERE.