I mean, there’s bills to pay, client projects to work on, and real work to be done, right?
Writing is great for sharing ideas and telling stories, but it seems like that’s just time taken away from getting things done. You know—things that pay the bills?
These are all things I used to believe.
I think you can tell from this image. Do you see where that thinking got me?
4 years of nothing. I worked harder and harder but got absolutely nowhere.
I was working hard, but I was working on all the wrong things.
- I wasn’t writing.
- I wasn’t being proactive.
- I was being passive.
- I didn’t know what to write about.
Don’t get me wrong though: I was working incredibly hard every day. I worked 10-hour days for those first four years—and even some weekends! It was nothing to shake a stick at.
But I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Have you experienced painfully slow growth like this? You work harder every year, but the returns never seem to come.
This was me. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting anywhere. I thought you were supposed to work hard and then you’d see results.
In part, that’s true. You do need to work hard. But it turns out that working hard at the wrong thing doesn’t do you a whole lot of good.
It took me five years to figure it out. Hopefully I can save you some of that time.
Teaching What I Knew
There was one good thing about those four years of head-down work. I wasn’t making much money (because I didn’t know about Value-Based Pricing) but what I did gain was experience.
I knew a TON.
I had a tremendous amount of experience that others in my field didn’t:
- I’d done five-figure jobs for clients as an artist.
- I was selling physical products with my own designs every single day.
- I’d taught lettering fundamentals to more than 200,000 artists over the course of just one year through a free guide on my site.
Not to mention I’d previously run a computer repair business and partnership web firm.
I knew how to communicate with clients. I knew how to write contracts. I knew how to price with confidence. I had experience with marketing.
And what was I doing? Just sitting on the information.
I was too thick to see it. It took getting five emails a day from people repeatedly asking the same questions over and over for me to realize I should be teaching what I knew.
Obviously, I saw good results when I shared the free guide (200,000 visits to that page in one year), so why did I stop? People were clearly hungry so why wasn’t I giving them more?
Why wasn’t I teaching what I knew?
So that’s what I set out to do.
Six Figures in Three Days
In 2013, you see a little bump in revenue. That’s not because I did anything special. I still didn’t know how to sell and I wasn’t writing. So why did I make more that year?
Because I busted my butt.
I worked 18-hour days for months on end. No fun, no parties, no days off, nothing but hustle. It was brutal. But I had a purpose: I was working insanely hard and taking on a ridiculous number of clients because I wanted to save up as much money as possible.
I wanted to save up so I could quit client work completely.
But I didn’t want to quit for no reason—specifically, I wanted to quit so I could use the next six months to write a course called Learn Lettering.
The free guide had performed phenomenally well. This time, I wanted to go into master class depth.
I spent most of 2013 working harder than I had in my entire life. You can see that in the revenue chart—that tiny little bump. That extra hustle cash was enough for me to spend the next six months into 2014 producing the Learn Lettering course.
You probably know the story. If you don’t, you can read this in-depth case study on how the course made $10,000 in the first 30 minutes, $80,000 in the first 24 hours, and broke six figures in three days (I literally share every detail on exactly how I did it in that case study).
Oh, and then I did it again.
What I mean is, launched a new version of the course and it too made six figures—only the second time, I did it in just 26 hours. But that’s a story for another time.
The point is…
The results speak for themselves. Writing accelerated—no, let me take that back—writing SUPERCHARGED my business.
Everything changed when I started writing.
Well, no. That’s not entirely accurate. Nothing happens overnight. You heard how I busted my butt for six months. Then I spent six more months actually producing the course!
What I mean is…
Everything began to change when I started writing.
Writing was the high-voltage electric shock my business needed—like the defibrillating jolt administered by doctor to patient in a cardiac arrest.
It was alive.
Once I saw what writing could do, I decided to write more and more. What started as 1,000 words a day turned into a million words a year.
I now write well over a million words a year.
Once you understand the connection between writing and revenue, it changes everything for you.
Do you know what it’s like to wake up in the morning and see you made two $699 course sales? I can’t even describe the feeling.
This changed everything for me. Once I saw that I could write something and produce it once and continue to make sales, it radically altered my thinking.
- It changed the way I woke up in the morning.
- It changed what I worked on.
- It changed the way I valued my time.
It changed the way I saw life!
But I still didn’t quite know what I was doing…
Keeping the Sales Going
By this point, I knew writing was powerful.
Writing had indeed supercharged my business, but I was still stumbling around—not unlike a Padawan clumsily wielding his first lightsaber.
After the novelty of launching and big revenue spikes wore off, I was trying to figure out ways to keep sales going. I didn’t want to run discounts though. I knew there had to be a better way.
I was throwing words up at wall and seeing if anything would stick.
I did make a few sales, but I was still guessing.
Six figures in three days sounds great, but that was the launch revenue. Everyone knows the sales don’t continue like that forever (the course doesn’t make me an extra six figures every three days, unfortunately).
I’d come to the point where I had a product that I knew was solid. The product was a tremendous value and it had done really well. Everyone who had signed up for the course was a raving fan.
Students were now charging thousands for their work. Their clients were finally treating them like professionals. They got a 10X return on their investment almost immediately.
But what about all the people who hadn’t signed up? What about the people who hadn’t bought?
I tried writing sequences and blog posts to help things along, but nothing came out of it other than little spurts. I was guessing again.
I was hoping for sales.
Don’t Hope for Sales – Write for Them
You don’t ever want to be hoping for sales. There shouldn’t be any guesswork. This took me years to figure out.
You want to be generating sales intentionally. Every single thing you write must serve a purpose.
It took me years to understand exactly what to write and that everything I did needed to move the needle.
(Fun fact: I found out not everyone is familiar with the expression “moving the needle.” It’s referring to the needle of a measurement instrument; moving the needle means to make a significant change.)
This will make your English teacher cry:
Writing for the internet sometimes means structuring things in a way that breaks rules you were taught in school.
It’s not that you shouldn’t respect proper writing. It’s that sometimes you have to bend the rules of writing to sell in the online realm where people have short attention spans.
- You were taught to write academic papers.
- You were not taught to sell.
Read that again.
Do you want to be proper, or do you want to make money?
Everything You Write Should Serve a Purpose
No, I’m not talking about your personal journal. You can write about whatever you want in your spare time.
But if you want to make money, if you want to make sales, if you want to convert prospects into buyers, everything you write needs to serve a purpose.
If you’re just checking the box of “I wrote my blog post today” or “I sent a newsletter” or you’ve found yourself up until the late hours of the night throwing something together because it’s due to publish the next morning, you’ve already lost.
There’s nothing purposeful about that. You cannot be surprised that you’re not making sales.
You need a plan. You need to understand that there are two types of things you need write.
You need both.
Most people don’t think about either of these two things. Even those who do often mix them up.
Not knowing the difference will completely destroy your sales.
What are the two types? Let me tell you what they are.