In this post and podcast episode, I’m sharing two equal and opposite errors: over-investing (and in the wrong places) AND not investing any money but thinking that you can make money.
*mostly specific to writing and being an indie author, but this will also apply and I’ll share some examples from blogging and platform-building as well
I hear and see both of these mistakes a LOT in various Facebook groups where people share that they have spent sometimes thousands of dollars and have not made any money. Or maybe they JUST made that money back, but no profit. I also see people who are frustrated that they aren’t making strides, but will say that they have NO money to invest to help make those strides.
We need to invest. Period. (Well, assuming that you’re doing more than a hobby!) If you are trying to bring in income or if you are building a business and being professional, you will have to make some investments. That does NOT mean you have to go crazy! We have to find the right places to invest and then invest wisely, invest over time, and continue to invest where it makes sense.
LISTEN TO EPISODE 149 – Over-Investing and Under-Investing
OVER-INVESTING & INVESTING IN THE WRONG PLACES
People say you need to invest when you start up and I agree–there will be some costs. But your success will NOT match dollar for dollar what you put in, especially if you put it in the wrong places. I’ve seen multiple posts lately from people talking about how they’ve put in literally thousands of dollars into blogging or writing books and aren’t seeing any return.
- Make sure you have a solid product first – beta readers, ask for advice from others, if there’s a cheap coach who will do a session with you ($100 or less), free call with Jim Kukral, ask in a FB group. If you run ads on a book and the cover is terrible, you’re setting your money on fire.
- Make sure you ask the right people – This is hard. Go to a Facebook group and everyone has a different opinion and you don’t know who to trust. Look at book rankings. Look at social proof- the numbers. See if others have given reviews of their product or services, etc. I see people all the time giving advice, but then in another thread they’ll say they are struggling.
- Make sure you aren’t just buying everything – I feel like we should all go in with a little bootstrapping. You’re learning as you go and if you invest like crazy up front, you’ll be burning your money because you haven’t honed your voice, your brand, your product. My books got good last year by book four. Yeah, I liked the first three. But they don’t sell as well, get as good reviews, and weren’t as solidly written to the market. Invest a little up front, then as you get better and see where that ROI is, then invest more.
- Make sure you aren’t just doing what everyone else does – I hired out AMS ads and paid a ton of money for two months– and did not see enough return. There isn’t a high enough margin in AMS ads to pay someone $200 a month, no matter how many ads they are running. Other people did it, I knew I should invest in ads, so I did it. Did not pay off. I knew it was a test and I did it for two months, then stopped. Made more money the next month, spent less.
- Make sure your goal isn’t just to spend the most to make less profit – I hear people talking about how much they made. Gross or net? And yes, I get confused and had to google these so I didn’t sound like an idiot. Gross is the total, net is after expenses what you keep. Some people claiming these giant amounts also have expenses. So they may say, “I made 20k last month.” But then they’ll say, “I spent 12k.” Still positive! Don’t want to downplay that. But when it comes to throwing down money, that makes me nervous. I want to scale up, but at what cost? I’ll make just over 8k this month and my expenses are under $1k. I’d rather be there, even though that other person and I made the same amount. Are you chasing a number? A status? So you can say you made x amount? Be practical.
A helpful post might be: Six Questions to Ask Before You Invest
As people start out, they often will say that they don’t have money to spend. Bootstrapping is a reality for many! You have little to work with and you’re trying to stretch it. That’s okay! But sometimes people say they have NOTHING or are unwilling to spend some at the beginning to build something that is lasting. Investments made at the beginning sometimes take time to bring in a return.
- Invest, but wisely – I know that email sells. I know that I don’t run amazing FB ads YET. So the best bet for investing in my books’ marketing is in email newsletter services like Robin Reads, E Reader News Today, etc. They do the work, they have the audience, no learning curve. If you have to learn it or test it to get it to work, wait a bit. Maybe don’t START with FB ads.
- Don’t complain if you can’t invest – We all can’t invest, but don’t complain about your lack of profit if you aren’t. Books that you throw up on Amazon won’t just sell. Typically. Newsletter swaps are free, so if you can’t pay for ads, partner with other authors. Build a community. Help each other out for free.
- Invest so it hurts – Author Jami Albright wanted to launch her first two books with the right covers. She couldn’t afford them. She literally sold plasma to pay for the covers and editing. And her two books made (gross) $50k in one year and allowed her to quit her day job.
- Invest realizing there is ROI – I hear authors a lot saying they can’t afford to pay for the email promos I talked about. I can’t NOT afford them. I did less at the beginning when I had less money. This past time, I tracked the results. Not only did every one (except for one) make more money that day than I spent, it was often double or triple. Plus it increased my rankings and visibility in Amazon.
Invest believing in yourself – If you want to do these things professionally, you have to invest something. Maybe it’s not a ton. But SOMETHING. And if you don’t, it’s a hobby. Sometimes you’ll invest and it’s still a hobby because you want it to be. I pay for some things because I like them, not because they’re paying my bills. If you want to get serious, you DO have to spend money.
Go back to Stop Wasting Your Money to make sure you are making the right choices where it comes to invest!
To conclude: Can’t spend money thinking that every dollar will be two dollars back. Can’t not spend money and think you’ll make money.