Tuesday, January 24, 2012

TUESDAY TIP 3 Startups to Watch

Oops, forgot to switch this over from "Draft" to "Scheduled." Sorry for the delay in publication this morning!  Thanks to Mashable for a review of 6 startups to watch this year. I'm only going to share 3 of them with you but feel free to check out the others at Mashable's site or follow Pete Cashmore (@mashable) on Twitter and get the links first hand (haha) Click through the jump-break to read more.

1. Get Paid for What You Know
Skillshare could be a secondary source of income if you have the time-management skills to make your courses mesh with the rest of your life and "side jobs." Skillshare is a great way to turn the things you're good at doing into a revenue stream you control. It's even easier than writing another book because you prepare a course syllabus and lesson plan and voila, you're done. Yeah, okay, you should be available to actually teach the course and answer questions, but if you teach something you really, really know, how hard is that?

For those who've never taught before--or who have and are nay-saying my simplification of it--I've done this kind of online teaching "canned coursework" 3 or 4 times since 1992 (when I was still in college and just afterwards) and it's super easy. If you're organized and self-disciplined and able to time-manage your life. If you lack one of those skills, I'd be far more concerned than any lack of vast experience in the subject matter you intend to teach. Anyone can teach--not everyone should--but only extremely self-governed people should become self-employed. Being your own boss and your own employee at the same time is burden. In fact, it's one of those things that trips up Indie Authors more than the sales activity!

2. Get Paid 100% of Your Royalties
Dwolla could be the alternative to PayPal that you've been wanting. PayPal charges fees to sellers; in fact, PayPal charges fees to buyers sometimes! PayPal was the first and is one of the most widely-used online payment services but it's not the only one out there. Finally, black market money laundering has come above board in the online world. It's barely even grey anymore!

Why would you care? Because you should be selling your books! Even if you sell books via Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and the iTunes store, you still should have a "Buy!" button on your web site/blog for your customers to buy direct from you. I don't (oops) but then I don't really have a book out yet.

If you sell your books directly, you actually get 100% of the royalties. It's not an either/or thing, it's an in addition to situation. You should sell your books wherever you can. Every last sale counts so get every last one you can catch.  Having a "Buy!" link is a passive means of converting visitors into buyers--especially impulse buyers. If you don't want to get into the fulfillment process fine, but at least put a "Buy!" link up with a picture of your book's cover and link it to somewhere that does sell your book.

Some customers won't want to have to create a customer account on a bookseller's site (like Smashwords or Amazon, etc.) You'll lose their sale because of it. They might ask where they can buy the book in paperback--and still not buy it if it's only available online from CreateSpace and/or Lightning Source. Some customers actually don't like giving out their personal data to large, impersonal stores. Imagine that!

You can get around the problem by selling direct. Of course, you have to either offer all of the popular formats or pick one to sell and have links to stores that sell the other(s). If you have ePub and Mobi/Kindle, you've pretty much got it all covered nowadays. Even Sony Reader takes ePub now.

Also, you really should require them to create a customer account with you. In fact, in addition to emailing them a copy of their invoice (and a link to their product download location), you should be sure to have a checkbox where they can opt in or out of being contacted with future offers or news of future releases by you. It's a sales opportunity; use it.

There's a lot of work that goes into fulfillment of orders--you need to self-destruct the link once it's been used, you need to have a secure server on which to store the book, etc.--but if you maintain your own site already anway, just do it. Dwolla acts as a middleman and streamlines the process even better than PayPal. Or offer both! ^_^

3. Get the Skills to Build Your Future eStore
If you don't know how to create a web site or do all of the scripting involved in making those self-destruct links for one-time downloads, there's help out there. CodeAcademy can teach you JavaScript even if you're a technophobe of the worst kind. Armed with a little JavaScript knowledge, you can download and use FREE ready-to-use scripts from places like JavaScript.com or a number of others (try this search for a few good sites).

Not everyone wants to learn JavaScript nor do many authors want to get involved in site design and management, but some do. Today's Tips were intended to empower you to control your business, be in business--become the Company you want to keep.

What's Next....
Next up will be another SciFiSaturday snippet from Friday. Stay tuned to the Phoenician Series Blog for more deets.

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