You guys know that I like to keep busy.
I’m a full-time CEO and full-time author.
I also keep a dedicated Netflix schedule, I’ll have you know.
But back in August 2019, I went through a “drought” in my business and had to return to a part-time job for what was meant to be six months, but quickly turned into ten.
That meant that I was:
- Writing and publishing books (with deadlines from my publisher).
- Managing my clients, creating new programs and growing my business.
- Running the marketing department for an entire company.
…and, somewhere in between all that, sleeping, eating, trying to keep up with regular human functions.
At first, it was an adjustment, but I did learn a lot from the experience that I think could help a lot of aspiring authors out there currently working a 9 – 5, raising a family, or dealing with responsabilities like college.
So let’s dive into it:
Lesson #1: I am not made of energy, and neither are you.
I like to think that I can do it all and then some more, but in reality I burn out way too often.
At first, I would wake up at 8am to work on my biz, take a 10 minute lunch break around 12pm, then race to the part-time job and work another five hours straight, commute back home, and by 6pm I was flopping into bed like a dead fish.
After a while, I got better at managing my time and energy, but it was still a lot to juggle and I realised I just didn’t have energy in the evenings anymore. That meant book writing had to happen on Saturdays, or before 8am, or just not at all. And forget working on Sundays–even though it happened more often that I want to admit, the work was not my best efforts by the end of the week.
The big takeaway here is to be mindful of how much you take on and how you manage it.
I realised a few months in that I had to scale back some of my business committments. I couldn’t always meet my podcast deadlines so that went on the backburner. I remember one day I had tech issues and nothing was going to plan–so my limited four hours of biz work went out the window and I had a mental breakdown making a sandwich and sliced my hand open trying to cut an avocado (yeowch!)
It definitely wasn’t easy, and I had to priotise and delegate as needed, but it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be everything and do everything all at once. What kept my biz going and got me back to full-time was focusing on the tasks that were non-negotiable and essential for growth, and ignoring the rest for a short while.
That being said, I’m so happy and grateful to be back at full-time, to be able to churn out more free content weekly and create a month’s worth of social media content for my biz and book accounts again. But during those ten months, I had to accept that I couldn’t do it all, and that was okay.
Lesson #2: I would not have gotten this far without automation and scheduling.
Ever since day one, a lot of my biz has run on automation–and the reason I survived is because I set that up early when I actually had the time to set up my automation systems.
I avoid manual, repeatable tasks and to-dos like the plague and love to batch my content, find shortcuts and simplify my processes.
If you only have a certain amount of time each day for authorship tasks, use it on the most important things. Don’t waste it on manual tasks that you could be automating or outsourcing, like social media posting or email marketing.
Remember, you are the only person who can write your books the way you desire them to be written. You have a zone of genius to work in, so if it takes you all the time you have to write and edit, then automate your marketing. Purchase a book blitz to generate readership and hype. Don’t be afraid to get some support behind you.
Lesson #3: My first year in business was a mess.
I wouldn’t have ended up back at a day job if I had invested in a coach from day one to teach me how business works.
My finances were a mess.
My strategy was a mess.
My mindset was a mess.
And yes, I grew and learned through it all, but if I’d known with certainty what income streams to implement, where to focus my efforts, and had full belief in myself? I would have been further along by now.
I’m not saying any of this to compare my progress or to discredit what I’ve learned and achieved along the way. The point I’m trying to make is that it shouldn’t have taken me going back to a day job and having to scale everything right back to figure out what worked in my business and what didn’t.
Plus, I’m sure that if you’re on a mission to go full-time in authorship yourself, the last thing you want is to end up back at a day job yourself only two years into it.
The truth is that, looking back, it’s no wonder my first year was a mess. It was inevitable with the amount of knowledge and skill I had at the time. But it didn’t have to be that way, and going back to a day job only further reinforced how unsuited I am for that life and how much I desire the freedom of being my own boss.
You don’t have to do things the hard way, or learn lessons the hard way. You’re allowed to invest in help when you need it.
Juggling a day job with my books and biz gave me no choice but to get crystal clear about absolutely everything so that I could move out of ‘struggle street’ for good. It was that or fail, and failure wasn’t an option.
Part of that process involved hiring coaches, and to be completely transparent, I invested in at least 8 coaches and programs during those ten months. I spent $10,000 on coaching, business and personal development, and it resulted in:
- My highest income year in business to date.
- Signing 8 clients in the middle of a global pandemic (when “nobody was buying”)
- Solidifying five working income streams for my author brand alone.
- Being able to go back to my books and biz full-time.
So was it worth it hiring those coaches? Absolutely.
And if you’re currently trying to juggle your books with a million other things, but you’d really love to create more freedom in your life, I would recommend hiring coaches and taking courses too.
There are lots of places you can start, but if you’re interested in working with me, I recommend sending me an email (via firstname.lastname@example.org), letting me know what outcome you’d like to achieve, and I’ll recommend a program or point you in the right direction to some resources that can help.
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Written by Pagan Malcolm
Pagan is a copywriter and coach helping fiction authors tell & sell their story.