When it comes to forming an effective daily routine, you must triage mercilessly.
No matter who you are, and no matter what level you operate at, 20% of your effort creates 80% of your results.
This isn’t to say the other 80% is wasted effort, but it certainly pales in comparison to the 20% that’s creating all the results.
What this suggests is that you can assign a value to everything you do. If you aren’t sure what’s driving results, the Effectiveness Diagnostic is a tool worth utilizing, and one you should return to periodically.
Now, our tendency will always be to think in terms of work and work only.
But who’s to say Thursday night Netflix binges aren’t fueling you up, giving you the energy and inspiration, you need to engage in Friday meetings?
Productivity isn’t just about getting more done. At least not at a high level. It’s also about optimal performance – being able to bring your best self to everything you do.
Many people try to do too much, and don’t share in responsibilities or delegate enough.
As result, their schedule is overloaded from the moment they begin Monday morning. If they were to take on one more project, their life would quickly turn to organized chaos.
First, unscheduled time isn’t a sin. Just as a blank canvas beckons, you can leave space in your life for spontaneity, and even have time available for a project you desire to take on.
Second, you need a mental model to determine what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to. If you’re just getting started, then you will deal out your share of yesses, but as your project quiver grows, you’ll need to begin saying “no.”
And, to call it a mental model would be an exaggeration. What you need is a gut instinct. A primal response. “Hell yeah!” or “no.”
Stop saying “yes” to anything you’re less than stoked to take on.
More importantly, iterate on your routine as necessary. As noted, some routines may not be workable over the long haul. Closely examine whatever you’re giving your time to, and pay attention to whether it adds to your quality of life.
Once you have your routine sorted out, you can begin implementing additional productivity hacks. Until then, it’s like trying to solve the entire puzzle when all you need to do is connect the first piece.
Self-mastery isn’t necessarily easy, and it does require discipline. But the benefits are enormous.
If you have a sustainable routine that you’ve been living by for more than a year, I can already guess with a fair bit of certainty that you have a fulfilling, happy, enjoyable life.
Routine may seem boring at first. But once you’ve experienced just how powerful it is, you’ll internalize and appreciate its value as you never have before.
With my growing involvement in podcasting, I’ve also made the foray into wearables / merchandise. You may have seen my first T-shirt design.
Today, I wanted to share a couple of new additions to the inventory. I will be adding these to a new page on the website as well.
The New Music Industry Podcast Unisex T-Shirt
The T-shirt has been available for several weeks, but I didn’t get around to announcing it in an official capacity until today – in the latest episode of the podcast, and right here on the blog.
The T-shirt, donning the latest, longest-running iteration of the podcast artwork, is available in S, M, L, and XL, as well as in multiple colors – black, dark grey heather, asphalt, gold, and white. I’m especially excited about the gold, though it might be too “loud” a choice for some.
The New Music Industry Podcast Unisex Fleece Zip Up Hoodie
The hoodie became available just today. I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of hoodies, and they are my go-to in the fall, and the winter (depending on how cold it is, of course – a hoodie won’t be quite enough to keep you warm during cold Calgary winters).
The hoodie, donning the official podcast artwork, is available in S, M, L, and XL, and you can find it in a few simple colors – black, charcoal heather, and white.
Will there be more to come? Yes, there will be! I’m big into T-shirts and hoodies myself, but you’re welcome to let me know what you’d like to see. If it exists, there’s a good chance I can add my design to it.
And if you do choose to patronize my store, thank you in advance. I do this for the love of it, not for the profit of it.
In a world obsessed with stats and results, it’s easy to get caught up in the wrong thing.
Though it’s worthwhile to evaluate results periodically, a fixation on outcomes can be unhealthy, and even detrimental to your progress as a creative or creator. Because process is the part you can control, outcomes are not.
Therefore, filters are crucial to your survival. Without them, you will take on too much, burn out, and get caught up in an unhealthy game of comparison that steals your happiness.
We need to be able to put our blinders on, even if it’s only for a short duration, to focus long enough on the process that we see desired results flow in.
Every “Overnight Success” Was 10 Years in the Making
I find it easy to fixate on the results, even unprompted. Even when there’s virtually no reason to.
I needlessly check in on my Medium stats, even on days where I know I’m not going to get any love… all I can expect are a couple of claps.
It’s not always like that. I have stories that have done well. Stories that continue to captivate and engage.
But this is perhaps one of the dark sides of publishing daily… That every day you publish, you almost expect your next big break to happen… When it has literally never worked that way.
The Beatles weren’t an overnight success. It took them 10 years. Some things take even longer than that.
The Six-Month Window
Lately I’ve run into many proponents of the “stick to it for six months” crowd. Their opinion appears to be that success only takes six months.
Which has me looking at myself and wondering if I have done something wrong.
There are some things I have been doing for 10 or 20+ years that I can honestly say I haven’t really seen the ship come in on.
Of course, you will see some results in six months. But will they be the results you’ve been hoping for?
So far as Medium is concerned, I have been publishing for over 230 consecutive days. That’s over six months already. I have not achieved “success.”
I guess that means I should stop writing and try something else right? RIGHT?!
A Breakthrough for Everyone
The the “six months” idea isn’t going to resonate with anyone who’s given it their best and haven’t yielded the expected results.
There’s a breakthrough available to everyone. But it might not come in the expected form. And that’s where some sensitivity is required.
The universe will sometimes make that subtle, quiet call towards an endeavor where you would do well. But you’re not going to notice if you stubbornly insist on your own way. Because it will probably mean adjusting.
Put Your Blinders on
So, is it worth worrying about the results?
Should you be checking in with your stats all the time?
Should you put a hard, six-month deadline on success?
Maybe it works for some, but I can’t recall anything I’ve done that gave me a huge ROI in six months.
Instead, put your blinders on and do the work.
You’ll want to make sure you have rails for the project, of course. You could end up resenting anything you keep grinding out, without any sense of when to stop, evaluate, and course correct.
But within those rails, only come up for air, as necessary.
The temporary discouragement you allow yourself to feel could hold you back from your eventual success. It’s a distraction.
It could have you doubting yourself and your project constantly, and that can’t possibly add value to you or your project.
Comparison is unhelpful, since it puts the spotlight on someone you don’t know, whose results you haven’t verified, and who may have put more work and effort into their project than you’ll ever know.
And most importantly, it steals your happiness, which is worth protecting.
The only score to beat is your own, and even there, you must practice accurate thinking.
Accurate thinking is not based on emotions or feelings. It’s based on quantifiable data.
Go hard within established rails. Then look up and see whether you’re further ahead than where you started. If yes, go to next square. If not, consider whether you want to continue. Yes, then keep going. No, then start playing a new game!
A Beginner’s Mentality
I seek to disappear any notion that I’m seasoned or experienced. At the very least, I don’t see it as an unfair advantage, because if it were, I would have figured out this “six-month” thing by now. Maybe I’d be able to do it in three months!
A beginner’s mentality is fresh. It’s open to learning. It remains curios. It doesn’t lose focus or interest.
Every day, we can start with a beginner’s mentality, or focus on a thousand yesterdays where we didn’t see the ship come in. We can maintain excitement for what we’re doing or make a meaning of our failures.
Although it’s good to acknowledge the ships that didn’t come to pick you up, focusing on them long-term is sure to be detrimental. You’ll just keep waiting at the docks and prove yourself right, even as ships come and go!
On the journey to success, you don’t want to keep proving that things don’t work for you. You want to begin finding proof that you’re going to make it. And you want to do this daily.
In saying all this, I’m mostly preaching to myself.
I’m looking to get those blinders in place instead of evaluating my progress day to day, or moment by moment. There isn’t much positive that can come from being a dopamine junkie.
If you were promoting a $100 product, for example, and you were promised a 25% commission, you should be earning roughly $25 on every sale.
I say “roughly” because fees can add up, whether it’s processor, PayPal, or bank fees. But considering the potential upside, that’s not bad. There’s always some cost to doing business.
Here, we’ll get into:
The upsides and downsides of affiliate marketing
How to choose what products to promote
How to get started
The ever-changing landscape of affiliate marketing
How to promote products and earn commissions
Whether affiliate marketing works
Upsides to Affiliate Marketing
The primary advantage to affiliate marketing is that you can earn an income on products you didn’t have to create.
Having published 44 songs, seven books, three courses, and a great deal more, I’m quite familiar with the man hours involved in developing a variety of products.
But if you want to earn an income from your own creations, you can’t just built it and hope they will come, can you? There’s a great deal of legwork involved in marketing, and if you’re not a marketing savant, you’ve got a mountain to climb to get to where you want to go.
Contrast that with affiliate marketing. You can promote a product you didn’t have to put any man hours into creating and start earning commissions as soon as your affiliate account is approved.
You can also use your existing media (website, email, social media, etc.) to promote products.
If you need a little inspiration, check out this quote via Bo Bennet:
Affiliate marketing has made businesses millions and ordinary people millionaires.
You get to earn commissions on product you didn’t have to invest 10s or 100s of hours of your own time to develop.
You get to earn commissions promoting things you already use and love!
You can use your existing media to promote products on autopilot.
Affiliate programs generally supply you with plenty of marketing materials, including graphical banners and email sequences.
It’s easy to incorporate affiliate marketing into your existing ecosystem, especially if you’re already creating content.
Downsides to Affiliate Marketing
There are many upsides to affiliate marketing. But every rose has its thorn, right?
(I know, I know.)
Here’s the thing…
As an affiliate, you’re not in control of the products you promote. The creator may discontinue the product or affiliate program. Their product may get pulled from virtual store shelves. They might raise or lower the price, affecting your commissions in the process. Anything can happen.
If all your eggs are in one basket, you could lose all your earnings at a moment’s notice (which is why it’s good to diversify).
If anything happens to the affiliate program you’re a part of, you may not get paid for units already sold. You may even get chargebacks (it sucks losing money you worked hard to earn).
Additionally, if you don’t abide by the terms of the provider, you could lose your account.
Finally, although you can earn commissions on the products you sell, you’re never going to earn 100% on something you didn’t create. Sorry.
You are a musician, though, and chances are you’re already in the process of setting up a couple of viable income streams, which is wise. This can help you avoid single source dependency.
Affiliate programs are sometimes discontinued or shut down.
The terms and conditions of the affiliate program can change.
The commission structure of the affiliate program can change.
If the program gets shut down suddenly and without notice, you may not get paid for units already sold.
If you don’t abide by the terms of the affiliate program, you could have your account shut down.
Generally, there aren’t any opportunities to earn 100% commissions on units sold (but they do exist!).
How to Choose What Products to Promote
Basically, you can promote whatever you want. But just like The Beatles had haters, trying to appeal to everyone is a losing battle.
I would recommend promoting products you understand, personally use and would happily recommend to others. That’s the best way.
Your seal of approval is worth more than you might think.
If you recommend good products and people love them, you’ll build a strong reputation. If you recommend everything under the sun and your followers end up returning a bunch of products, they’re probably not going to come looking for recommendations again.
As for what products to choose, consider the things you already use every day. Musical gear is a good example.
Whether it’s guitar strings, drumsticks, accordions or otherwise, there’s a good chance you can promote it and make money.
But keep in mind that focusing on low-ticket items is generally a losing battle, because you’re only earning a percentage on them. This doesn’t mean you can’t promote low-ticket items passively. What it means is you should dedicate more time to promoting high-ticket offers, because that’s where the income is.
You know Amazon, right? They’re only the top eCommerce behemoth in existence. You probably shop with them already and may even have a Prime account.
Amazon is home to a ton of products, not just books. They have thousands of commodities in these categories and many others – arts & crafts, automotive, electronics, home & kitchen, toys & games…
So, finding products to promote is easy.
For instance, one of my favorite guitar amp heads is the Peavey 6505 MH mini head. So, once my Amazon Associates account is set up, I can simply search for that product, grab the link that Amazon gives me, and then share that link with my audience.
(And, by the way, I’ve already done this very thing.)
Now you know how affiliate marketing works. It is that simple!
The Ever-Changing Landscape of Affiliate Marketing
I know I said earlier that Amazon Associates is a good place to get started for beginners. Well, while it is a good place to learn the ropes, it probably isn’t the best place to earn an income on your referrals.
This is the bread and butter of an affiliate marketer, however, so get used to it. We’ve all got to roll with the punches.
The good news is that there are tons of companies with affiliate programs, so opportunities aren’t in short supply.
This is a beginner’s guide, however, so I won’t be getting into other affiliate programs here.
How to Promote Products & Earn Commissions
Now that we’ve got a solid working foundation, we’re ready to start promoting.
Here are five simple ways to start earning juicy affiliate commissions:
Share Your Link on Your Blog
It’s best if you mention products in the natural flow of content instead of forcing them in.
But when you’re writing about your latest stop on tour and mention your favorite multi-effects pedal, that’s the time to link it up.
Here’s an example of where I’ve injected a link in the natural flow of the content.
I don’t recommend sharing your link out of context. For instance, don’t start talking about what you had for lunch and then sneak in your affiliate link promoting something entirely unrelated. It’s bad form.
Share Your Link on Social Media
If it makes sense, you can share your affiliate links on social media.
Again, as with sharing on your blog, you don’t want to spam your followers or post deceptive links, as this isn’t going to help you earn a dime.
But if something naturally comes up in the flow of the post, share away.
Share Your Link in the Description of Your YouTube Videos
Know it or not, many YouTubers are affiliate marketers already. These days, they depend on sponsorships more than affiliate commissions, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t actively generating multiple sources of revenue.
Hmm… something fishy going on here. Just kidding! That’s an affiliate link.
Think of it this way:
You’ll be doing your viewers a solid by including links to products mentioned in your video. If anyone’s interested, they can simply click the link to find out more about said products.
Create a Resources Page
Many marketers and entrepreneurs, such as Chris Ducker and Pat Flynn have resource pages on their website.
You could just as easily call these “money pages” because they only feature links to products and services the business owners have the potential to earn an income on.
I like the sound of “money pages” myself.
You can do the same. While you might call your resources page something else, there’s nothing stopping you from making one.
Here’s an example of what a resource page might look like:
Make Product Reviews
Product reviews are a great way to make product recommendations. Of course, they do take time and effort to create.
But one of the main ways, affiliates earn money is by making reviews for their favorite products. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a blog post, podcast audio, video, or other type of content. All forms of content are fair game.
Affiliate Marketing Best Practices
Search engines (like Google), email service providers (like MailChimp) and even some users don’t always look kindly on affiliate marketing (you can’t please everyone).
Here are a few things you can do to make sure you aren’t overdoing your affiliate promotions:
Abide by the terms and conditions. If you start earning some serious money and get your account banned because you ignored their terms, your life is going to suck. So, do things by the book. This usually means avoiding black hat tactics, whether it’s recommending products you don’t know anything about, keyword stuffing, low quality content, baiting and switching, and so on.
Let your users know when you might earn money on a purchase. Say something like, “if you purchase through this link, we may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you” (you saw me do this earlier). But if you know you’re going to be adding links everywhere, you should have a notice in the sidebar, footer or somewhere visible. I’m not an attorney, so if in doubt, please consult a qualified professional. They can help you do everything by the books.
Use a link cloaker. I like to think of this as a link shortener rather than a cloaker. If you’re using WordPress, check out a plugin called Pretty Links. If not, there are plenty of great catch-all solutions like Bitly. You can turn your affiliate links into something short and easy to remember/type in and track the number of clicks that are coming through. That’s the main way I like to use these.
Never spam. Just don’t do it.
Does it Work?
I don’t intend to show off all my earnings or affiliate relationships (not that they’re a big secret), but you can see I do okay (and I do mean okay, not amazing) with Amazon Associates:
I’ve easily earned thousands on my various affiliate marketing efforts mind you.
Final Thoughts on Affiliate Marketing for Musicians
What I’ve shared here is just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s so much more you’ll want to learn if you want to be a great affiliate marketer, such as content distribution and syndication, SEO, advanced marketing tactics, and more.
So, if you enjoyed this guide and would like to learn more about affiliate marketing…
A few nights ago, I had a conversation with Spirit.
I expressed some dissatisfaction with where I was in life.
I was expressing how badly I wanted the dream. The same dream I’ve been chasing for years and years. Only to be met with frustration and disappointment.
But I want the dream more and more each day. The desire grows and I spend all my time and energy on it. It consumes me.
And I want it more and more, not because I want it for me, but because of the things I know it would allow me to do for others.
Spirit responded with the four pillars of success. They are simple. Perhaps nothing you haven’t heard before. But they are nuanced. And no success is built without each pillar firmly in place.
I’ll share what these pillars are as well as what they mean to me.
Pillar #1: Hard Work
Every success is built on hard work.
What this means to me: There are no flukes. You can’t be successful without putting in the work.
People are quick to point to “exceptions.” Yet, these so-called exceptions, if you observe them closely, have an insane work ethic. Or, they are short-term successes at best.
A trust fund baby isn’t a success by default. They may have certain advantages their parents worked to earn. But some of these kids end up living in the shadows of their parents.
If there’s something you want, you’ve got to put in the work to earn it. No exceptions.
Pillar #2: Persistence
Every success is built on persistence.
What this means to me: You’ve got to get going and keep going.
This doesn’t mean you won’t need to readjust and pivot from time to time. If what you’re doing isn’t working, keep adapting and iterating!
Your audience is already giving you feedback. Listen.
But you can’t give up on yourself and expect to get anywhere. Keep your vision (see next pillar) and persist.
You will encounter challenges. You will be rejected. You will feel like giving up.
Instead, knock and keep on knocking.
Pillar #3: Commitment to a Vision
Every success is built on a commitment to a vision.
What this means to me: See in your mind’s eye what you want to achieve – not just what you’d like to do in your career or business, but also how you’d like your life to be.
I recommend the following meditation:
Focus on the people you want to impact. The amazing life you want with your friends, family, and soulmate as well as all the people who will benefit from the difference you make in the world.
What’s the legacy you’ll leave behind?
If you can visualize it, it’s already a reality.
Pillar #4: Belief in Self & Your Product
Every success is built on a strong belief in yourself and your product.
What this means to me: If you believe in yourself and your product (it doesn’t need to be a literal product – it could be art, a service you offer, volunteering, etc.), you will do more, be more, invest more, and take more chances on your dream.
If you’re lacking belief, you will do less, be less, invest less, and take fewer chances to get to where you want to go. Disappointment will follow.
Observe your actions. Are you doing everything in your power? Having conversations you don’t want to have? Making financial investments you’re scared to make? Taking daily actions even when you’re tired, exhausted, and overworked?
Or, are you holding back?
If any of these pillars are out of balance, you can’t achieve at the level you desire. Even the success you’ve built will seem to fade rather quickly.
But now that you know what the pillars are, you can identify where you need to reinforce and fortify.
For me, pillars #1 and #2 were not a problem. Pillars #3 and #4 is where I saw significant room for improvement.
Traditional education is not the be-all end-all of higher learning.
I ended up choosing an unconventional path a year out of college, which meant I had to blaze my own trail.
In my formative years, if I’d had mentors or coaches who recognized my gifts and helped me foster them, that, to me, would have been a more valuable education than schooling could have ever provided.
Which is why I wish they taught these skills in school:
Music is taught in school, sure, but there’s a serious problem with the system, namely that the “talented” kids get to play all the fun instruments, and the less talented kids end up on boring instruments like the triangle or tambourine – which is exactly what happened to me.
Although I did demonstrate a lot of interest in music (no one noticed), I didn’t seem to have a knack for it – that is, until I discovered the guitar, and surpassed my teacher in a matter of a few lessons.
I have been playing guitar since I was 17, and I’ve written hundreds of riffs and songs (it’s probably closer to 1,000 by now). I’ve recorded and published 44 songs, and I also have considerable experience as a session player.
If only someone had helped me discover this passion sooner.
2. Personal Development
I started my personal development journey in 2007 and although it has been a bumpy road, nothing has had a greater impact on my ongoing growth and learning.
I’ve interviewed many of my heroes – Derek Sivers, Tommy Tallarico, Pete Lesperance, David Hooper, James Schramko, and Bob Barker, among others.
I’ve started a dozen or more businesses, published over 500 podcast episodes, wrote over 2,000 articles and blog posts, and self-published seven books.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but looking back, I’m not sure any of this would have happened if I hadn’t taken self-improvement seriously.
Much of what I needed to know, I didn’t learn in school – I learned in books and audio programs.
I didn’t come into this world knowing that I would become a freelancer or entrepreneur.
If there was anything that tipped me off, it was my unwavering interest in homespun, DIY projects, be it music, audiobooks, blogs, podcasts, videos, or otherwise.
Even as I was offered multiple employment opportunities (some very lucrative and promising), I kept finding myself drawn back to my various personal projects. At first, I thought there was something wrong with me. Turns out creating my own job was of greater interest to me than being gainfully employed in any capacity, even if it meant sacrificing income short-term.
I know that entrepreneurship can’t really be taught. I’ve seen the way universities approach it, and it’s kind of backwards. But I certainly wouldn’t be where I’m at today without countless mentors and coaches, which just goes to show that, even if it’s just building awareness for opportunities outside of jobs, the education system is failing people who don’t fit into the system.
I spent about four years in network marketing discovering the importance of leadership, that if something wasn’t quite right with a community, business, or organization, it could usually be traced back to the leader.
Then, in 2019, I engaged in a three-month leadership program that transformed my life. Starting later this month, I’m headed into an intensive, yearlong leadership and management program to further hone my skills.
Note: As of January 2023, I’ve completed the first year of the leadership program and I’m completing the first quarter of the second year in February.
It’s safe to say I don’t have leadership figured out yet. But I do know how critical it is, and I also know that I want to build structures and a team around me so that I can be more effective in my business and community efforts.
I know full well that there are programs based around communication. But that’s different. What I’m talking about here is the ability to connect with others, no matter who they might be, hold a conversation with them, and build a true connection.
Some people are naturals in this area, but the reality is, most of us learned what we needed to know about making friends and connecting with others through books like How to Win Friend and Influence Peopleand Influence(affiliate links).
I’ve picked up many skills in communication by attempting to build a network marketing business, listening to podcasts, and observing mentors. But knowing how to communicate with others earlier would have made a big difference for me in the areas of friendships, relationships, partnerships, and more.
Having lived in Japan and observed firsthand how the culture is more community minded, I can honestly say we’ve got a lot to learn in North America. Not to say Japan can’t learn a few things from us, too, mind you.
I certainly can’t discount the notion that because of school, I discovered what I didn’t want, and didn’t like. There’s a lot of value in knowing that, because it can help you move in the direction of what you do want and do like.
And I’m certainly not saying that the education system is all bad. I believe the teachers of the world should be some of the highest paid individuals, given that they hold the future in their hands. If they were equipped with the right tools, and empowered with the right skills, they could do so much more to impact generations.
But remember – if school didn’t prepare you for everything in this life, it’s because it was never meant to. What you truly need, especially if you’re on an unconventional path, is ongoing self-education and personal development.