On June 20, 2009, I was reading Copyblogger and I got a new idea: I should write an ebook.
At that point, my writing and editing business was less than a year old, and I had never written anything that resembled a book.
Could I actually do it?
I knew I wanted to try, so I established a plan on July 1 that would help me write, design, and self-publish an ebook on my website by September 15.
I’m going to share that plan with you today, so you can adapt it to any type of content project you’d like to finish by the fall. You’ll also learn some habits I like to avoid when there is a specific goal I want to accomplish.
Select the right topic
Writing an ebook could easily take a year or two … or five.
But launching it as soon as possible was an important step for my business. The ebook would help:
- Establish my authority as a writer and editor
- Build my email list
- Strengthen my author bio when I wrote guest posts
The last bullet point above was especially critical because I didn’t have my own blog yet. I’ll explain that in a bit.
In order to complete the project by the end of the summer, I decided to create a short guide to avoiding common writing mistakes.
If I had chosen a more complex topic, either the quality would have suffered or I wouldn’t have been able to release it on September 15.
Carefully select a project you have the time and resources to finish.
Set final deadlines
On July 1, I set these deadlines …
- August 1: complete draft
- August 15: complete editing
- September 1: complete design
- September 8: complete guest posts for promotion
- September 15: launch ebook
As you can see, I had a pretty weak promotion strategy. It made me nervous, but since my goal was to produce an ebook, I didn’t worry about it too much.
The project taught me countless lessons about writing, content creation, and marketing that I could apply in the future.
If you don’t try something new because you don’t feel confident about every aspect of it, you’ll never learn those lessons.
Work on weekly goals
After I marked my calendar with my final deadlines, I outlined weekly goals for how I was going to meet them.
Even though I made daily to-do lists to keep me on track, I preferred to measure my progress at the end of a week. Daily goals are often too strict for my creative process.
Sonia recommends forming a support group with other entrepreneurs to help manage your stress and keep yourself accountable. If you’re more of a lone wolf, adopt a no-excuses attitude.
Don’t treat your deadlines as options. Meet them like your job depends on it.
But also recognize that no project goes perfectly. If you have a week that doesn’t quite go as planned, simply reschedule the tasks you didn’t work on.
It’s possible to have a flexible attitude each week and still finish everything by your final deadlines. Find the space where hard work and fun co-exist.
My website didn’t have a blog
How embarrassing is this?
Although I don’t regret spending a lot of energy in the summer of 2009 on that ebook, it would have also been wise to set up my own blog.
I had already been guest posting on other websites, but my online home was a basic “brochure” site that described my services.
I missed out on a lot of opportunities to build my audience (and business) but came to my senses about a year later when I was ready to blog regularly. 🙂
What’s your next project?
It could be:
Think about where you could be one year from now if you start today, and let us know in the comments about a new goal you’re ready to focus on this summer.