I write three product guides per week, each 2,000 to 4,000 words.
This forms the foundation of my monthly income, and it also takes up more time than just about anything else I do project wise.
1,000 words generally takes me an hour, so simple math says the articles should take me about nine hours per week.
But I’m also responsible for creating graphics, finding YouTube videos, editing, formatting, embedding the media, and creating social media posts for each guide. It’s fair to say this takes at least an additional 90 minutes each. That means the three guides take an average of 13.5 hours per week liberally speaking. 15 hours is probably closer to the mark.
I Thought I Was Optimized to the Hilt Already
I’ve maintained a similar schedule for a long time. In fact, with all my other projects, 5,000-word days are often the norm.
So, I’ve had a lot of time to experiment and look at this problem from different angles. There are many known and predictable factors with something like a product guide (more on this in a moment), and it’s gotten to the point where it’s less of a creative challenge and more a matter of just putting the hours in.
I’d looked at all the angles, spent time outlining, created templates, batch processed, and experimented with other tricks and hacks. So, despite the desire to get this work done more efficiently in my weekly schedule, I was already optimized to the hilt.
Or so I thought.
Here’s What I Realized Today…
An article is made up of different parts. It seems kind of obvious, but how often do you think about it?
A product guide is essentially made up of:
- List of individual products (usually five to 15)
- Shopping tips / FAQ
The parts that tend to move rather quickly are the introduction, shopping tips and FAQs section, and conclusion. In other words, everything other than the list of products, which is the most research and labor intensive, time-consuming part.
So, the Weird Mental Hack I Discovered Was This:
I started telling myself that I was just writing product descriptions. And if I dedicated myself to that task, for all three guides, without worrying about the other parts, I would have 80% of the work done. The remaining 20% of the articles would basically take care of themselves.
So, that’s what I did today. I focused on writing product descriptions, which basically amounts to summarizing what the developer says about them and inserting some personal thoughts into the equation.
Today, in the time that it usually takes me to barely write one full guide (in other words, about 3,000 words), I was able to write nearly 5,000 words. As result, one guide is nearly 80% complete. Another is about 70% complete. The third is started.
Because, as I said, 80% is not about the word count, but rather a matter of whether the product list has been developed in full. The other 20% takes less time and is much easier to write – so, this part is better left to later, when my creative energies are waning, as opposed to when they’re at their height.
Here’s Your Takeaway:
If you live in a create on demand world like I do, then doing your work more efficiently is the difference between finishing your weekly to-do list and not. It’s the difference between earning an extra $200 to $500 per week and not. It’s the difference between falling behind on your tasks and having a head start on next week.
The takeaway, then, is to identify the different parts of an article and to understand which sections take the greatest effort. These are the parts that you want to tackle first. And, if you can look at them through a new lens, it could boost your productivity too.
In my case, instead of looking at each product guide as a self-contained article, I identified the commonalities and began work on the most challenging parts before worrying about the rest. My lens was transformed from “a list of individual products” to “product descriptions.” That changed the way I thought about the guides.
Basically, the top-down approach to writing articles might not be the most efficient method. We know that we’ll need an introduction of some kind. We know that we’ll need a conclusion too. But starting at A and ending at Z might stifle your creativity instead of unleashing it.
And it’s the same thing with any other type of project you might be working on. Anything you do for a long time, even things you enjoy, can become familiar, and as they say, familiarity breeds contempt. You may be at the point where you’re working on the same things you’ve worked on for years, and you might think there’s no room left for optimization.
If you can reframe how you think about it, though, you might be able to squeeze enough efficiency out of your new approach for it to be worthwhile.
I see everyone on Medium talking about their process for writing an article per day, two per day, five per week, and so on.
I applaud everyone’s effort and understand that it takes something to put together long-form posts that will be read, appreciated, shared, and so on.
But I can tell you right now that one or two articles per day probably isn’t your limit (unless each one is 4,000+ words), and with enough practice, and enough of a reason to write, you will write immeasurably more than you think you can.
I, for example, write at least 3,000+ words most days, and 5,000+ words on some.
How is this possible? It’s simpler than you think.
Commit to Deadlines & Follow Through
I’ve had weekly publishing commitments since 2011. Yes, for 10 years, I’ve had duties ranging from publishing three blog posts per week, to fulfilling on three or four client pieces ranging from 600 to 1,200 words per day (in addition to any publishing I was doing on my own blogs at the time).
Deadlines may not light you up, but when “like to” or “should” turns into “must,” I can almost guarantee you’ll find something to write about, even when you don’t feel like it.
Before Leo Babauta started blogging exclusively for his zen habits, he had a swack of writing deadlines to meet. These commitments were quite extensive as I understand it, but because he had to, he learned to complete his work with velocity.
Turn your casual commitments into non-negotiable deadlines. Then you will naturally write more.
Take on More Profitable Work
This goes hand in hand with my previous point. When you take on more, you’ll find a way to fulfill on it.
I’m not telling you to work at a burnout pace. I’m suggesting being a little unreasonable. Stop trying to survive your workload and look for ways to thrive in a little chaos. Transform your relationship to work.
Great leaders know how to deal with chaos. They know how to communicate, problem solve, and work with others to generate the desired result. They remain open to possibilities they may not be present to and allow others to contribute.
Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader now, but if you want to create at the level we’re talking about here, at minimum, you will need to learn to lead yourself well.
And if you’re going to take on more, you may as well seek out profitable work and benefit from the extra load you’re taking on.
When you have less perceived time to do your work in, you discover new ways of solving seemingly impossible problems.
Be Impeccable – be a Professional
If you don’t know what it means to be a professional, read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art (affiliate link).
The best way I know to articulate it is that professionals treat their work like a business.
They open their doors daily at the same time. They’re consistent in their commitment to produce great work and please their customers. They show up even when they don’t feel like it.
Some people fear this level of commitment, but as I’ve been discovering, there is great freedom in it.
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (affiliate link) author Mark Manson says:
Commitment gives you freedom because you’re no longer distracted by the unimportant and frivolous. Commitment gives you freedom because it hones your attention and focus, directing them toward what is most effective at making you healthy and happy. Commitment makes decision-making easier and removes any fear of missing out; knowing that what you already have is good enough, why would you ever stress about chasing more, more, more again? Commitment allows you to focus intently on a few highly important goals and achieve a greater degree of success than you otherwise would.
I could not have said it better myself.
Build Out Your Tool Stack
Marketing guru Dan S. Kennedy said:
Walt Disney didn’t start Disneyland with a blank page; he started with already proven, profitable amusement parks and began subtracting things he disliked, adding things he thought could be done better, further plus-ing new ideas on top of the rearranged old ones.
The point? Don’t start from scratch!
You should never succumb to blank screen syndrome when it is so completely avoidable.
Keep notes, create swipe files, save references, develop idea sheets, and so on.
Here are a few tools I use to ensure I have a starting point for all my writing:
What infrastructure do you have in place to support your writing?
Could you start collecting industry stats? Relevant quotes? Resources the reader would find helpful? Maybe you could create blog post templates for different post types…
If you’ve got the right infrastructure in place, you will never need to start from scratch, and you will be far more efficient.
It’s not about writing more. It’s about having a reason to write more. When you’re committed to the cause and there are no alternatives, you will find a way to make it work.
Process is secondary to your reason for doing what you do. If you’re clear on your purpose, the details tend to fall into place.
There are no limits, and there are no requirements. There are only the commitments you make to yourself. And the better you become at following through on those commitments, the more you’ll trust yourself, and the more confident you will become in your own abilities to create and deliver.
For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my email list.
In late December 2019/early 2020, I started reviving DavidAndrewWiebe.com.
It was never entirely “dead” per se. I continued to update it with my latest music and shows through the years. But something inspired me to pick up the slack and start building out the site again.
That is another story for another time, but suffice it to say, 2020 was a big year for my personal website and blog. Especially since I started publishing daily towards the end of July.
Here, I’d like to share what I think are my best articles from 2020.
What is a Personal Assistant?
Read What is a Personal Assistant?
Early year, I started receiving a variety of questions relating to entrepreneurship and business. So, I started answering them on my blog. If people were asking for it, then there must be a demand for it, or so I thought.
And with this article, I felt I was able to answer the questions thoroughly and concisely.
How to Generate More and Better Ideas
Read How to Generate More and Better Ideas
It’s not about how good ideas are. It’s about how well you execute against them.
This is true, and there’s no value in just being an idea person. At the same time, ideas can foster inspiration. And that can lead to breakthroughs in your work. So, you can’t underestimate the value of ideas. Just remember to store them or use them. Otherwise, they’re of little use.
Why You’re Not Achieving Your Goals
Read Why You’re Not Achieving Your Goals
A simple, concrete, hard look at why people don’t achieve their goals. Hint: It’s not because they didn’t set SMART goals.
First, you must set your goals. Second, your goals must be written down. Third, you need to create a strategy to accomplish your goals. And finally, you must action your strategy.
Have a read through the article for more detail.
Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose Book Notes
Read Killing Marketing by Joe Pulizzi & Robert Rose Book Notes
I do quite a bit of reading, and one of the ideas I was beginning to explore early year was publishing my book notes. Based on how this piece turned out, it makes me think I should do it more.
Killing Marketing was an interesting read. Mainly because I didn’t find much value in it until I reached the middle chapters. Which makes me glad that I started speeding through the introductory chapters to get to the better ones.
First Step to Building Excitement for Your Music Release – Issuing the Release
Read First Step to Building Excitement for Your Music Release – Issuing the Release
This post was an outgrowth of my interest in project management. And even though I’m not sure all musicians understand just how useful and powerful issuing their release is, if they want to learn the ins and outs, there’s always this article.
How to Make Viral TikTok Videos to Build Your Music Career
Read How to Make Viral TikTok Videos to Build Your Music Career
You’ll often find me experimenting with social media. That said, I rarely deviate from my core focus, and this year, that’s Medium, Twitter, and to a lesser extent, YouTube.
Still, I felt it important to cover this timely topic for musicians, especially while I was still publishing my experimental newsletter, Music Career Tips Weekly last year.
How to Get Your Live Streaming Concert Game Down Pat
Read How to Get Your Live Streaming Concert Game Down Pat
This was another timely piece aimed at musicians. Since the live music industry was (and continues to be) affected by COVID-19, I felt it important to highlight tactics musicians could action to grow their music career, even in 2020.
Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Musicians
Read Beginner’s Guide to Affiliate Marketing for Musicians
As creators we’re often quick to say, “the money doesn’t matter.” But when push comes to shove, we quickly come to the realization that making a living from our passion is not a sin.
In this guide, I share a simple, integrated way musicians can start making more money from activities they’re already engaged in.
You Were Only Ever Meant to be You
Read You Were Only Ever Meant to be You
In this short piece, I share a simple message on being your fully expressed, authentic self.
How to Create Systems as a Creative
Read How to Create Systems as a Creative
SYSTEM stands for “Save Your Self Time Energy and Money.” It’s a reality artists often aren’t too quick to embrace, but if they do, they’ll find themselves with more time, energy, and money to work on the things they care most about.
Alternative to Bandcamp, Nimbit & Gumroad?
Read Alternative to Bandcamp, Nimbit & Gumroad?
An article in which I highlight the value of Sellfy of which I am an affiliate. But honest to god, it’s an easy-to-use eCommerce platform for all creatives and creators.
How to Get a Booking Agent
Read How to Get a Booking Agent
After my podcast interview with Jack Forman of BiCoastal Productions, I put together this piece to highlight his and my perspective on getting a booking agent. It’s mostly written with musicians in mind, but even if you’re a dancer, actor, public speaker or otherwise, you will find this valuable.
4 Insidious Music Entrepreneur Myths Debunked
Read 4 Insidious Music Entrepreneur Myths Debunked
Here’s a post with a lot of attitude. I wanted to address some of the naysayers who don’t properly understand music entrepreneurship, which is exactly what I did in this popular piece.
Productivity in Music – Does it Matter?
Read Productivity in Music – Does it Matter?
At the time of its publishing, I boldly declared that this was the best piece I’d ever published on productivity. And you know what? I still stand by it!
Setting Goals for Your Music Career
Read Setting Goals for Your Music Career
A piece about the importance of setting big goals and how to make them a reality.
The Shiny Object is Often Just a Distraction in Music Entrepreneurship
Read The Shiny Object is Often Just a Distraction in Music Entrepreneurship
In this article, I share some of the most critical things a musician should know about money. These lessons were hard earned.
Why I Don’t Think 1 Cent Per Stream on Spotify is Going to Save the Music Business
Read Why I Don’t Think 1 Cent Per Stream on Spotify is Going to Save the Music Business
The title kind of says it all. But I cover several things that appear to be coming down the pike that creatives may not even be aware of.
Should I Start with a Single, EP, or Album for My First Release?
Read Should I Start with a Single, EP, or Album for My First Release?
There are certainly more than a few voices covering this topic. And opinions are quite diverse.
Here I share what I think is the best way for musicians to get started, because it creates more opportunity.
4 Myths That Stop Musicians from Building Their Team
Read 4 Myths That Stop Musicians from Building Their Team
I’m sure I’m not the only one that is sometimes stopped by the prospect of building a team. I’m a Sigma male through and through, and that goes a long way towards explaining my lone wolf tendencies. But I know I’m not alone.
This piece got quite a bit of traffic throughout 2020, and I think it’s a great tool for discovering where you might be stopped in collaboration and working with others.
The 4 Pillars of Success
Read The 4 Pillars of Success
This article will probably live on as an underrated, “oh that’s so obvious” kind of resource. But I still believe 100% it was divinely inspired. Spirit showed me what I didn’t understand about success. And I continue to return to these pillars when I feel lost.
Do Musicians Still Need a WordPress Site?
Read Do Musicians Still Need a WordPress Site?
This article is basically about sales funnels and tools you can use to build them. But the key takeaway here is threefold:
- Having a centralized website (funnel hub) that leads to all your funnels is still wise.
- Funnels don’t serve every type of customer. Some are even turned off by multi-step sales funnels that keep throwing more and more bonuses at them.
- Don’t just create funnels. Create products too. And sell them in a genuine, authentic, value-adding way.
What’s the Best Way to Get My Music Videos on Vevo?
Read What’s the Best Way to Get My Music Videos on Vevo?
Music videos aren’t just a great promotional tool. They can also help musician make money – directly, and indirectly.
Vevo is a well-recognized entity in the music video space, so it’s no surprise musicians want to know how to get their videos on Vevo.
YouTube Marketing for Musicians: An Up-to-Date Guide
Read YouTube Marketing for Musicians: An Up-to-Date Guide
I am sometimes asked what my best tips for YouTube are. I have a few channels with small, engaged followings, though I certainly wouldn’t say I’m the king of the Tube.
Still, my best advice for today is summed up in this guide, and it was inspired by people who are doing far better on YouTube than I am.
Getting Your Music Featured on Spotify Playlists
Read Getting Your Music Featured on Spotify Playlists
The mere mention of Spotify lights up musicians everywhere. And the fascination has a lot to do with widely publicized success stories (rare) and algorithmic exploitation (Spotify will be putting an end to that soon, if they haven’t already).
But getting playlisted is still worthwhile, and in this guide, I share some unconventional, outside the box techniques.
Making it to the Next Level
Read Making it to the Next Level
It’s human to want more. But the question that follows is, “how do I make it to the next level?” That’s what I elaborate on in this piece, from a spiritual perspective.
Stop Reinventing the Past
Read Stop Reinventing the Past
As creatives and creators, we tend to make ourselves look as good as we possibly can. We sugarcoat the past and glorify the present. Which is almost always coming from how we listen to others and wanting to look good or avoid looking bad.
I still contend that you can be successful in your chosen industry or niche by being fully authentic and genuine. There’s no need to constantly remind yourself of a horrific past, and the future is whatever you want it to be.
How to 4X Your Medium Traffic in 80 Days or Less
Read How to 4X Your Medium Traffic in 80 Days or Less
As noted earlier, Medium is a core part of how I’m building engagement right now. And in late October/early November, I started to see huge growth in traffic to my Medium articles. While this sudden surge didn’t last, I have held steady at about double the traffic I had before it happened.
So, in this article, I talk about several things you can do to grow your Medium traffic faster.
I’m Worried About Posting Too Often
Read I’m Worried About Posting Too Often
When I talk about publishing daily, inevitably there are those creatives and creators who feel like they would be overwhelming their friends, followers, or audience by posting so often.
Now, right now I can tell you that I probably tweet 30 to 40 times per day on Twitter. Not daily, but even on lesser days I probably tweet at least 10 times. So, that should tell you something.
Anyway, if you need a little perspective on this, have a read through this piece.
How I Accidentally Weaned Myself off Social Media
Read How I Accidentally Weaned Myself off Social Media
Now, in some ways this is the opposite of what I just said about posting more often. But the truth of the matter is that this is more a lesson in curating your social media feeds (a topic I promised to elaborate on in the future) than anything.
What’s the Best Funnel Builder?
Read What’s the Best Funnel Builder?
The best funnel builder, in my opinion, is the one that allows you to build an all-in-one website, membership site, course platform, forum, and more. Have a read through this article to find out what that is.
How Dare You Call Me “Unlimited”
Read How Dare You Call Me “Unlimited”
“How could you possibly say that I’m unlimited when everything is going wrong for me?”
It’s an odd question, and I’m not even sure it was sincere. But in this post, I look at how this is true, at least from a spiritual perspective.
Do You Still Make Music?
Read Do You Still Make Music?
Apparently, some people thought I was becoming all about my books. So, in this article, I wanted to address that.
But people found this commentary especially interesting. Maybe because it’s not the type of article you often see out there. Either way, that’s why I included it on this list.
Meditation – What Works for Me
Read Meditation – What Works for Me
Meditation became a major focal point for me, especially in the last few months of the year. So, I thought it prudent to cover my discoveries and thoughts on meditation at length.
The Mirror Principle
Read The Mirror Principle
The mirror principle is always at work. It’s the idea that our outer world is always a reflection of our inner world. Understanding this at a deeper level allows you to navigate life’s challenges with greater ease.
A Powerful Morning Routine I Stumbled on
Read A Powerful Morning Routing I Stumbled on
Although it’s fair to say I don’t follow this routine to a tee anymore, I still live some variation thereof. I have found exercise, meditation, and reading to be valuable in any routine I live out.
5 Simple Habits to Support Your Creativity
Read 5 Simple Habits to Support Your Creativity
This one ended up becoming a bit of a favorite too. Maybe because it’s a listicle?
But honestly, there are some good tips here. Have a look for yourself.
How to Get Your Side Hustle off the Ground
Read How to Get Your Side Hustle off the Ground
It’s not as complicated as you might think, and in this article, I cover exactly what’s involved in starting your own digital side hustle for some extra dough.
Priority vs. Productivity – Which is More Important?
Read Priority vs. Productivity – Which is More Important?
It’s possible to get many things done in a day. But what’s the point? If you can’t answer that question, then all you’re doing is getting things done.
But if you prioritize and put first things first in your day, you will achieve more of what’s important to you.
How to Boost Your Creativity with a Journal
Read How to Boost Your Creativity with a Journal
There is more than one way to use a journal, and it can be a powerful tool for boosting your creativity too. Find out how.
3 Ways to Stop Frustration & Keep Growing Your Business
Read 3 Ways to Stop Frustration & Keep Growing Your Business
When you become frustrated, it’s easy to stay frustrated. So, how do you get out of that harmful, unproductive cycle? That’s what I look at in this piece.
Why Blog? Here Are My 31 Reasons
Read Why Blog? Here Are My 31 Reasons
Seeing as how I publish daily this question is sure to come up sooner or later. I thought I would address it early.
How to Create an Irresistible Offer
Read How to Create an Irresistible Offer
There are offers and then there are irresistible offers. In this post, I cover several ideas that will help you make your offer more attractive to your audience.
7 Recommended Books for Self-Improvement
Read 7 Recommended Books for Self-Improvement
Self-improvement is an area I’ve been focused on since 2009. Naturally, I’ve read my share of books. In this post, I cover what I think are some of the better ones.
How to Overcome Perfectionism in Creativity
Read How to Overcome Perfectionism in Creativity
Something virtually every creative wants to know. Maybe some of my tips will help?
When I started rebuilding my website in 2020, I had no idea what it would grow into. But as I started gaining clarity and momentum, it became more obvious. And you can see from the about page as well as the projects page that I’ve been able to fill in the blanks along the way.
I’m excited for what 2021 holds, and the ways in which the site will continue to grow.
Which article was your favorite? What would you like to read more about?
Let me know in the comments.
Shh… Don’t tell anyone. Only the cool kids are talking about it.
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