Content Expansion - Why I'm Writing a Book

Every morning, I write or rewrite or edit 500 words. Right now we’re past the first draft and we’re in the process of reaching out for endorsement deals for the book. I’m also trying to get forewords from influencers to help promote it.

I want to talk about why I decided to write the book in the first place, and the route that I’m taking. Keep in mind that this is a work in progress, so I’ll continue to give updates on this over time.

It all started when I did a podcast interview with the founder of Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi.

Joe Pulizzi Content Marketing Institute

At the very end of the interview, I always talk to people about tangential stuff. Joe happened to say at the end that publishing a book is a game changer. Once you do that, it changes everything.

It got me thinking about the progression of my professional life. I have Single Grain, a growing and profitable business. I also have two podcasts now (Growth Everywhere and Marketing School), and I’ve spoken at different events.

What’s next? Write a book.

How I’m Writing My Book

It’s been over a year since I started writing Level Up, and the process began with me taking a bunch of Post-Its and throwing all my topic ideas together. I figured out what I wanted to write about in each chapter, and then I just started talking into my phone every morning and recording my thoughts with Rev, and that was how I got the ball rolling.

At the same time, I started listening to this podcast by Copyblogger on how to publish a book, which was really helpful. What I’ve found is that most successful books go through more than five drafts. That led me to decide whether I should self-publish and get it out quicker, or try and wait for a big publisher.

Related Content: How to Repurpose Content (And Write Your First Book!)

E-book or Publisher Route?

Neil happened to be releasing his first book, Hustle, and I asked him, “Hey, can you introduce me to the guy that helped you with your book?” And that guy’s actually helping me with my book now, and we’ve decided to take the publisher route.Hustle Neil Patel

Having a physical hardcover book is powerful. People tend to treat it more seriously and respectfully compared to an e-book. It’s something that you can hold in your hand, and having it backed by a big publisher is serious validation, so I’ve decided to go down that route. 

How Do You Pitch Your Book to Publishers?

The first step to approaching a publisher is to put together a book proposal, which is basically an outline of your book, and why it’s unique. It includes a marketing plan as well. You need to show potential publishers that you have a plan for marketing your book on your own before they’ll help you. This is where you include details like how big your e-mail list is and how big your website is.

Publishers want to know what firepower you can put behind the book to help push it, because they’re interested in selling as many copies as possible.

What Level Up Is All About

The concept of Level Up is that gamers actually learn a lot of the skills needed to become an entrepreneur by playing games. In other words, playing games can actually help you level up to playing the game of life and business. At the end of the day, you can gamify just about everything, and in fact the most successful people do gamify their lives.

The ultimate game, I think, is eventually “beating” the game of business and moving on to philanthropy. One of my favorite books, The Billionaire Who Wasn’t, is about Chuck Feeney, the main founder of Duty Free Shopping, who’s given away nearly his entire fortune of $7.5 billion during his lifetime. 

The Billionaire Who Wasn't Conor O'Clery

He indirectly inspired Warren Buffett, and in turn Bill Gates, to try and do the same thing with their Giving Pledge.

The Giving Pledge

So the premise of Level Up is, how do you go from gamer to entrepreneur? And how do you then play the game of business really well, to the point where you build up your wealth enough to move on to the game of philanthropy?

I’m hoping that because there are so many gamers out there, this book will inspire some people.

Related Content: How to Create Quality Blog Posts that Convert Customers

Current Progress: Still in progress

Right now, we’re done with the first draft which is about 60,000 words. It’s still a really rough draft, but the process has been really enjoyable. Very excited to see what happens with it. For now, my goal is to reach out for endorsement deals and forewords.

Fun fact: I got Mark Cuban to respond the other day. Unfortunately, he’s not going to be a part of it, but at least he responded. We’re trying to get endorsements from studios and producers like Electronic Arts and Sony, too.

Ultimately, if I were a parent and my kids were playing a lot of games, I’d want to give them this book. My parents used to think gaming was a waste of time, and to an extent it can be. If you overdo anything, it ultimately is unproductive, and can become harmful. But if you do it in moderation, you can learn a lot.

When I look back at my gaming history, I would say I probably did overdo it, but it’s the same thing with a lot of entrepreneurs, right? We’re all obsessives, and it’s partially why we succeed.

On Being an Author

If you haven’t read it before, definitely check out Seth Godin’s 19-point checklist Advice for Authors. One of the key points? If you’re writing a book, don’t expect to make a lot of money. It’s just good to get it out there for your personal brand, and if it takes off? Cherry on top.

If you create a lot of content already, I highly recommend that you think about writing a book, because you probably have a lot of the content published anyway. I think it’s going to be really rewarding.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

Figure Out What Works and Focus On It Until You’ve Mastered It

Let’s dive into the concept of focus. When I look back on my past accomplishments, whenever I’ve been able to do really well, it’s because I’ve been really focused and consistent with just one thing.

What I Did When I Was Most Successful

When I was learning Internet marketing, I had my internship and I was really focused on that even though I had a full-time job at the time as well. That’s how I was able to learn a lot really quickly. I was able to absorb a lot of information. I downloaded a lot of courses. My internship had a lot of courses built into the onboarding process, too.

When I look back at my Treehouse days and my startup days, I was successful because I was able to focus under very strict timeframes in order to hit specific goals for the company. Everything was all-in and it wasn’t just, “Hey, we use paid advertising to succeed.” It was more like, “How do we build up our content marketing strategy, email marketing strategy, perfect our SEO and manage a social team?”

Then, when I look at the times when things weren’t going so well, that was when I was trying to do multiple things at once. For example, when Single Grain was still recovering and we were trying to pivot into multiple new areas, I tried to switch us into a remote work environment even though people were used to being in an office.

Related Content: 10 Ways Successful Entrepreneurs Stay Productive All Day Long

Single Grain digital marketing agency services

Changing all these things at the same time, and starting a podcast (Growth Everywhere), and trying to figure out a way to refer our business out—it was all just too much. I was just doing too many things at once and one person can only do so much before they become inefficient and burn out.

Now with Single Grain, it’s night and day because I’m focused on one major thing at a time. Every time I focus on one specific goal, things start to look up again. 

Some Great Resources on Focus

There’s this fantastic book by Gary Keller called The One Thing. I think it puts you in the right perspective and it’s actually required reading for people who go through our career tree and are trying to advance.

I was also watching an HBO documentary about Warren Buffett called Becoming Warren Buffett (also on YouTube). Someone had Warren Buffett and Bill Gates write out what makes them so successful, and they both independently wrote one word, the same word: “focus.” I think that’s incredible.

Becoming Warren Buffett

It’s the same thing with Apple. They started with desktop computers first. Then they moved on to other things like the iPod, and then the iTouch, and eventually the iPhone and the iPad. They were hyper-focused on one thing at a time. Same thing with Google; they started with search first and now they’re doing all these different things. Now they’re called Alphabet and they’re looking into everything from global Internet to AI.

Neil talks about this too in one of our Marketing School podcasts. When you’re trying out different marketing experiments, you’re basically throwing spaghetti at a wall. You don’t want to keep doing that. Your goal is to see what sticks, and then double down on that. It’s all about focusing on one thing at a time, one thing that really works.

In every case, you have to get the one thing right first and then you move on to the next thing. In practical terms, hire a general manager to take care of that one thing you got right, and then move on to figuring out and mastering the next thing.

Learn More: The Importance of Leveling Up One Day at a Time

Some Food for Thought…

Let’s say you’re eating dinner and steak is the main course. Are you going to focus on the sides before moving onto the main course?

steak dinner

Maybe. Some people actually do that. They like the delayed gratification of eating the main menu item last. But, practically speaking, this isn’t the best idea because you might get full and before you know it, you ended up eating everything except what you really wanted to eat.

A much better strategy is to start with the main course and then pick away at your side dishes. You’ll quickly decide on one side dish to focus on and the cycle repeats itself. That way, you’re prioritizing in the most practical and optimal way possible.

I think that from a marketing perspective, when companies are first starting out, they try to do too many things. It’s more about focusing on that one thing that’s going well.

Let’s say you have Facebook ads working well for you already and you haven’t maxed out that channel yet, and you know you could be doing more with it. Do not give in to the-next-shiny-thing syndrome. You probably shouldn’t be thinking about SEO or other ad channels yet. Try to max out what you have going on with paid advertising first, and then you can start to transition into these other channels and diversify.

Personally, I try to do a lot of different things because I get bored easily, but the older I get and the wiser I become, the more I realize that having a singular focus is the best strategy.

Get one thing right first and then move on to the next thing.

This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:

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GB 110 - Book recommendation warren buffett and the interpretation of financial statements

Today I’ve got another book recommendation: Warren Buffett and the Interpretation of Financial Statements.

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zuckBillionaires have a fair amount of useful advice when it comes to building a solid lifestyle. Whether it’s reading voraciously like Warren Buffet or learning to diversify like David Koch, you’ll find that one thing is true: all the billionaires maintain a pigheaded discipline when it comes to following their own rules.

From Warren Buffett to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to Microsoft’s Bill Gates, the infographic below has a strong cast of people that you can’t help but respect in some shape or form.

Take these practical tidbits and apply them to your life and see how they affect your future.


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