Join the Journey: July '21 Progress Report
It's time for my 7th monthly progress report, published as part of my "Join the Journey" series, available exclusively to Think Better Newsletter subscribers. You can read my previous updates here.
This monthly progress report is an effort to both hold myself accountable to making continuous progress as well as provide insight to anyone else considering self-publishing. It's meant to be the Strava to my book sales...a public record for anyone interested to follow.
My overall impression of July (Month 7?!)
Not sure about you but I watched a heckuva lotta Olympics. It completely derailed my workflow. Being in Japan with sporty, curious daughters it was literally on all the time. I learned a lot about judo. I also was one of a very lucky few who was able to attend some soccer matches as a spectator!
July was front-loaded by an appearance on the Rambling Runner podcast in June that had some spill-over into early July. I also closed a couple team orders during the month!
The back half of the month slowed considerably. I wrote four blog posts on the website, but I didn't make appearances on any other podcasts or platforms. A couple articles I wrote for partner publications were held as they focused on Olympics content.
I ended the month with a couple more team order prospects but those have still not closed, and I've come to appreciate that selling to teams/coaches has a very long lead-time. Team order sales are going to be a bit lumpy.
I met with a PR agency but their rates were too high for me at this point. I will seek out assistance in some fashion but I haven't decided what that should be.
My Monthly Sales (units)
I waited until my publisher, Lulu, fully reported my distributor sales so I'm pretty sure these numbers--and more importantly the previous month compares--are correct! I did accidentally exclude one coach's guide from last month's orders because of my own misplaced filter in my workbook, though. (sigh)
I sold a total of 138 books in July, by far my best month so far. 94 of these units came from 3 team orders, which included books and workbooks for each athlete, plus a few coach's guides.
My reseller (Amazon) sales declined a bit (28 to 20), and while my website sales compensated (19 to 24) I also noted a real lack of sales during the entire Olympic period. I am curious to see if sales return or not. I definitely could have done more to try and capitalize on the Olympic moment but I chose to focus on enjoying the Games with my daughters.
My Marketing Initiatives
I saw a good amount of sales from my appearance on the Rambling Runner Podcast at the end of June. I presume that was the main driver of sales on my reseller channel but I don't have any way to directly attribute those sales currently.
I published four articles on the website:
- Five Non-Running Books All Runners Should Read
- How to Read a Running Book (3 Principles & 1 System)
- Sanya Richards-Ross on the 5 P's of 400 Meter Racing (and Taking on New Endeavors)
- We Went to the Olympics! Observations from Our Rare Opportunity
I was consistent with my Instagram feed in June, posting 34 times. I only gained 19 followers. Facebook had no growth. While I like Instagram aesthetically, I am not sure it's the right platform for me. Or maybe my hashtags/engagement sucks. I'm leaning towards putting my effort into Twitter, as I find the platform more intellectually stimulating (but also more toxic, which has kept me away from it thus far).
I published five newsletters in July and gained 11 subscribers. A few people unsubscribed so that's a net number. It's clear that the newsletter I'm publishing isn't providing the right amount of value. It's not good enough to share and it doesn't drive sales...I think it's stuck in the "meh middle." I'll probably stick with it for at least the year but I'm feeling the itch to experiment and try new things.
I looked up emails to all the college coaches in the state of Washington and I emailed them about my team packages. I only received one reply, but I'll send follow-ups and see how that goes.
My Goals Achieved
I sold a couple team packages but I had some connection to those coaches via friends or business associates. I am still working on selling my first team package to a coach I have no connection to.
My Plans for August
I started a new full-time job on the 16th and with the podcast recordings and my personal writing goals, I'm going to be pretty swamped. I expect August to be very slow as I don't have any appearances or significant articles planned (unless the ones I previously wrote gain traction).
I will reach out to more coaches and try to get some team orders locked down. It takes a couple months from initial contact so new leads wouldn't close until Sep/Oct at the earliest. But I have a couple coaches I've spoken with for the past months who may (fingers crossed) put orders in before month end.
I am speaking with a designer about creating some related products (water bottles, posters, etc) for sale on my store, but I don't expect those to be available this month.
At this point, time and energy management are going to be my two key priorities, so I will be de-emphasizing social media in favor of direct sales for team orders. I don't see social media being the right channel to drive those sales.
It was my biggest month ever! The team packages made the difference and are where I'll be putting most of my limited focus. Very generally, I need to learn how to market better.
I end every one of these updates with the same message, as much for me as for you:
This is a long journey, and I plan to achieve success by following the same principles I lay out in Make the Leap: high quality work, done consistently, that feeds back into itself to create outsized gains. I'm still at the beginning where growth isn't really visible. But the foundation is being laid.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. If you have any advice or feedback, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go Be More,