At the end of June 2009, I was reading Copyblogger and I got a new idea: I should write an ebook.
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 (in the Northern Hemisphere).
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 about 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.
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 to meet deadlines
After I marked my calendar with my deadlines, I outlined weekly goals.
Even though I made daily to-do lists to keep me on track, I preferred to measure my progress at the end of each 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 like me, adopt a no-excuses attitude.
Don’t treat your deadlines as options. Meet each one like your job depends on it.
But also recognize that every project has unexpected hiccups. 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.
My website didn’t have a blog
Although I don’t regret spending a lot of energy on that ebook in the summer of 2009, it also would have been wise to set up my own blog.
I had been guest posting on other websites, but my online home was a basic “brochure” site that described my services.
Without a blog, I missed out on a lot of opportunities to build my audience and business.
But about a year later, I got serious about blogging regularly — and it was great to already have the ebook to offer new readers.
This simple system still works in 2019
In March of this year, when I decided to start two YouTube channels, I knew that it could also take a year, or two, or five — if I let it.
So, I remembered the simple plan I like to use to get things off the ground sooner rather than later.
I set my deadlines, worked on weekly goals, and stayed as calm as possible when I encountered challenges. 😉
By the middle of May, I had a home on YouTube that I’m continuing to build weekly.
What’s your next project?
Think about where you could be one year from now if you start working on a new project today.
Because once you finish that project, you’ll have more experience and confidence to tackle your next one. And the next one after that.
If you feel that you need some direction, Creative Content Foundations is our focused, four-week course for content creators that helps you build any digital asset on a rock-solid foundation.
You can use these techniques for blog posts, podcast episodes, videos, or any other content marketing projects.
- Meeting your deadlines, whether for clients or just for yourself
- Becoming more prolific (while still creating good stuff)
- Polishing your content to a high professional standard
- Working strategically, so that your content serves your goals
- Mastering the foundational SEO that every web creator should know