The Sneaky Independent – Issue #5: Master of One

I started my business back in 2008. It was a great time to jump into “internet marketing”, as technologies were new, systems were ripe and traffic was plentiful and cheap.

Google would hand out rankings to anyone who could produce the most content – EzineArticles in this case – and I easily built a 3 grand a month affiliate based business off of the technique of churning out 500 word articles daily.

Well, that and spamming YouTube, which was fairly new at the time.

But then my income dropped because I began to experience the “shiny new toy” syndrome many of us do when we are first building a publishing business online. There are so many ways to grab traffic, sales and build up a steady income that we simply can’t manage it all, even if we tried.

Boy did I try, though. I bought ads with Google, I tried solo ads, newsletters, Yahoo ads, article marketing, SEO, and a half dozen other traffic gathering methods, all at once.

You know what happened?

I failed, miserably. As in I racked up 2 grand in credit card debt trying desperately to expand my business at a faster rate than I could handle by myself. It wouldn’t be the first time I made that mistake.

In 2011, I opened an SEO service and it took off. I had a team of employees in the Philippines and a small team here in the United States. But I tried to grow it too quickly, as several large affiliates jumped on board and blew it out of the water, adding hundreds of customers to my system before it was capable of handling the load.

So it collapsed and collapsed spectacularly.

I had others like that – I could spend all day talking about the glorious businesses I’ve started that have crashed and burned spectacularly, but, well, we don’t have all day. There is, however, a lesson I believe I have learnt that might be applicable to you and your publishing business.

Go Too Wide, Too Fast and Fail

Whether it’s greed, shiny object syndrome, or just plain “I don’t know what works and I want to try it all”, trying to take on too much will always cause you to fail.


You cannot possibly hope to build a successful publishing business by trying out 30 different things…

Maybe you’ve tried:

  • Low content books
  • Short books
  • Long books
  • Kids books
  • Fiction
  • Non-fiction

Or…perhaps tried millions of different traffic and sales strategies:

  • Book launch
  • Facebook
  • Book promo sites
  • Fiverr Gigs
  • Article Marketing
  • YouTube
  • SEO
  • Cross promotions

Combine these with the various types of books and you have bazillion different combinations of systems that, really, all will work in some way to bring in the money.

The only problem?

You have to really master the system in order for it to work for you. And mastering takes time.

I’m About to Break Your Heart…

What I’m about to say isn’t really sexy at all. It’s not, and it certainly doesn’t produce warm fuzzy feelings, but it needs said all the same.

You cannot win at the self-publishing game by trying things out.

You have to work a single system to death.

You have to learn the ins and outs of the system.

You have to master the moving components before you move on to an additional system that supports the first system.

You have to constantly improve your system, in baby steps, until you get the results you want to achieve. This requires a lot of patience, trial and error, and effort.

And it requires you to focus on a single method or system exclusively, at least for a while.

How Sarah Does It – The #1 Thing All Successful Self-Publishing Masters Do

I’ve been talking about Sarah in the last several paid products of mine and I’m doing that for a reason. First, her system is rad, and second, she’s a testament to what laser focused work can achieve over time.

The one trait that all successful self-published authors share is the ability to drill down a single system and work it to death, before adding additional income or traffic streams.

Sarah’s example comes to mind:

  • Short books only.
  • Primarily short, semi-erotic romance
  • A tiny few, very cheap traffic sources
  • The ability to contact previous customers.

That’s it. That’s all she does – period. She doesn’t do fancy book launches, she doesn’t paid oodles of cash to expensive promotion techniques.

She doesn’t like risk and she doesn’t have a lot of time on her hands, so she’s tailored her system to match her needs. This means short books and cheap promotions.

She works that system over and over and over again.

It took her 7 months. Seven. Bloody. Months….before she even began to see any sort of money out of it.

Talk about persistence. Why did she persist?

Because she was occasionally making a sale here and there for an occasional book. She knew that eventually, she’d hit a winning combination of niche, traffic source and writing style, which she could then milk over and over again.

But her system was always the same: short book, cheap promotion.

It fit her style.

Sarah Isn’t the Only One

While Sarah’s system is working for her, she’s not the only one who uses laser focused systems to make money.

In fact, every successful business owner makes money by concentrating on just a few key tactics:

  • A singular product line (digital books, washing machines, a club or bar…)
  • A way to get traffic (paid ads, free ads, word of mouth, social media)
  • A way to contact the previous buyers (email list, social media list, etc.)

A successful self published author will focus on one technique for each:

A short book in the romance niche, with all free, SEO based traffic sources and an email list. They will keep working that system until they are making money, enough to set it up for someone else to work and then move on to additional income streams.

I do this everyday in my business. I focus on these three key aspects:

  • Producing content that will get read and will sell.
  • Building partnerships with people who have lists of buyers.
  • Building my own list of buyers for future sales.

That’s the gist of my business, in a nutshell.

When The Business is Ready to Expand, Do It Slowly and With Meticulous Care

Eventually your self-published business will be ready to expand. Now what?

You can do all sorts of things: add new traffic sources, such as paid ads or SEO. But the same principle is the same: you add ONE THING to your system and work it until it’s profitable.

If, after so much time, it fails to be profitable, then you drop it and move on.

But the one thing you don’t do is attempt to add two or three (or more) things on at once. Each system you build takes care and needs mastered before you move on to the next one. And you always need to keep in mind the singular focus of your business: you are selling books, of whatever type it is (fiction, non-fiction, information, low-content)…so the traffic and promotion systems need to support it.

This is the Same Thing as Single-Tasking – But On A Grand Scale

I’ve covered single-tasking in products and in a previous blog post. It is no different here – your business should be single-tasked and focused on just a few key items. If you attempt to multitask, you’re going to fail.

It’s no different than writing a book – try to write and cook at the same time, you’re word count is going to go through the floor and you won’t feel productive at all.

And you certainly don’t want that.

So don’t cut yourself short! Stay single-tasked and focused on one key aspect for each of the three points of your business and you’ll experience success as well.

See you in a future edition!

Follow me!


Owner at Sneaky Fox Publishing
Rob has been self publishing books, videos, software and courses for over 8 years. His expertise includes sales, marketing, coding and music.
Follow me!

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *