Want Some Unsolicited Advice?
Just start. Whatever idea you have, it’s time to make it happen.
Just Start: My Story
About eight years ago, I started a blog about teaching in a Korean university on Google’s free platform, Blogger. I don’t remember exactly what my motivation was, but I think I just wanted to talk teaching, share my victories, and talk about my struggles to whomever wanted to read about it. I had no idea what would eventually come of it, but I just started, something.
A few months ago, I moved that site to a self-hosted one and updated many of the posts. See: My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.
That original blog on Blogger was what motivated me to write my first book: How to Get a University Job in South Korea because I was so tired of answering the same questions again and again. Believe me when I say that I TRULY had no idea about self-publishing, but that I was stumbling along, figuring it out as I went. Much to my surprise, people bought (and liked!) that book and it motivated me to write a lot more.
Now? I’m moving to Canada in two months and my plan is to go full-time with the books and the websites and to hopefully make a living, of sorts off of it. See: All-In on the Digital Entrepreneur.
The Moral of This Story
So if you take anything away from this little story of mine, it’s that you need to just start. I started my blog years ago, never envisioning that it would morph into a full-time job working for myself. While some people are freakishly good at the Internet marking thing and can start making serious money in a few months, most people stumble along for years, and years until they finally figure it out. For every day that you don’t just start something, the longer it’ll take for you to learn what you need to learn to make it work.
The Three Fears
I talk to people all the time who see my little corner of the self-publishing and website world and want to get the same thing for themselves. They often have quite good ideas, but doesn’t everyone?
Ideas are a dime a dozen, while those who convert those ideas into something are very, very rare.
I think this reluctance to turn ideas into action comes down to these three things: Fear of putting yourself out there, Fear of failure, and Fear of Change. I’ll talk about each in turn. My goal is that you’ll muster up a bit of courage to just start, something.
Fear of Putting Yourself Out There
The days of big, anonymous companies selling things to people seem to be coming to an end. People want to buy things from a person. They want something with a story behind it. It’s really, really hard to make money online without being a real person behind whatever you’re selling. However, by putting yourself out there you’re leaving yourself open to criticism.
I totally get it. I have plenty of haters here in Korea who don’t like what I have to say about the Korean ESL industry, and they are certainly very vocal about it. But, like Pat Flynn says, if you don’t have haters then your message probably isn’t bold enough. See: Negative Criticism and How I Deal With It.
Consider it a growing experience. I’m a bit sensitive and really hate criticism from people. But, through putting myself publicly out into the world, I’ve developed a far, far thicker skin and a negative review on Amazon, or a mean comment on Facebook really doesn’t get me down like it did at the beginning. I’m learning to listen to myself.
Fear of Failure
I’m going to let you in on a little secret! Everyone fails. Everyone trying to figure out the passive income thing has a bunch of losers before they have a lot of winners. I’ve:
-bought a ton of stocks that were not winners. I sold them and not have a very solid dividend stock portfolio.
-tried to make my own book covers. That was certainly embarrassing. Even worse, some of them are still hanging around in various place on the Internet. These days, I pay someone who knows what they’re doing to make them for me.
-deleted my entire website and had to spend hours on the phone with my host trying to get it back.
-forgot page numbers in my print books and didn’t know until I got negative reviews about it. Who forgets this? I did.
-made horrific YouTube videos. I had the wrong camera angle and looked like I was looming down over people in a really scary way.
-spent hours and hours and written a book that I though was awesome but which nobody actually wants to buy. It’s: Life After ESL, by the way.
-paid for sketchy SEO that was not on the up and up.
Now, those are only the things I listed off the top of my head in two minutes. I could dig a bit deeper and come up with a list of a hundred. You’re going to fail. Trust me. But, you’re also going to learn a lot in the process and you’ll eventually figure it out.
Fear of Change
Sure, it’s way easier to just work the 9-5, go home, cook dinner and watch a bit of TV than it is to make a change. A big change. Writing a book or starting a website is going to change your life. It’s not easy. You’ll have to struggle, feel frustrated, learn new things.
You’ll also have to give up something. TV. Watching YouTube videos. Cruising Reddit. Hanging out with friends all the time. What’s it going to be? There are only so many hours in the day and something needs to go. It’s scary. I totally get it. But, if you want some passive income awesome in your life, you’ll need to make time to get it.
All Good Things Come from Leaping
Like Seth Godin says, all good things come from leaping. Time to take a leap and just start whatever it is you have an idea for. Block out a few hours. Put your cell-phone away. Sit down. Make an outline for a book. Buy a domain. Make a YouTube video. Whatever it is, do it today. It’ll take time before it’s awesome so it’s better to start along that process now, instead of six months or a year later.
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