First of all, thanks so much to everyone who signed up to come out the Unconventional Book Tour this fall. My goal was to put this out there and see how people responded.
Well, respond you did! 450 people signed up in the first few hours, and hundreds more over the weekend.
All 63 cities across North America are now represented. NYC, San Fran, L.A., and Vancouver have been fighting it out for the most signups thus far, but people will be out in full force almost everywhere. If you use Twitter, you can search for hashtag #ubt and see some of the other readers who are coming to various cities.
My investment tip for the year is: buy stock in cupcake companies! Business will be good this fall.
A big debate about city choices also broke out in my Inbox, with numerous arguments about whether Oklahoma City is better than Tulsa, why I’m not also going to Canada’s three arctic territories (hint: I’m already going to every state and every province! one thing at a time), and so on.
Thanks as well for your online pre-orders, which helped take the AONC book to the Top 1k on Amazon two months in advance of release. We are also working with local bookstores all across both countries to ensure they know about the book as well, and I certainly encourage you to support your own if you have one. I’ll have much more to say about this whole four-month process later.
For now, let’s talk about solutions to problems. If you’re trying to figure out a good idea for a small business, start by looking at a problem that you can provide the solution to. I thought about this last week when I sat down with Charlie Gilkey, longtime friend, new Portland resident, and my business partner on the upcoming Unconventional Guide to Freelancing.
“What’s the number one thing you want people to know about freelancing?” I asked Charlie.
“It’s simple,” he said. “Whether through this guide or something else, the most important thing is that freelancers should view themselves as solution providers instead of just service providers.”
The difference is crucial. If you’re in business for yourself or want to be, you need to think about what kind of solution you’re offering. If you’re solving a problem or relieving a pain, that’s a good start. If you’re just “doing stuff,” you may need to adjust.
The Freelancing Project
If you’re new here, the first half of 2010 has been accelerated, even by my “why not do everything” standard. Last fall I said that 2010 would be the year of scale and reach, which has certainly held true. We’ve built out the business to a more sustainable level, with the flagship Empire Building Kit and upgraded affiliate program. Site readership has nearly doubled from December, along with almost all of the other metrics I track.
As promised several times, after this launch I’ll be retiring from active business development for the rest of the year. The store will still be open, and I’ll still post Sunday Store Updates at least a couple of times a month with news about existing products, but my focus will be on the book tour, Ethiopia project, and the writing I do every day.
Anyway, enough preamble. Here’s the deal: the Unconventional Guide to Freelancing is a one-stop, “Freelancer’s 301” guide to running a service-based business. Our ideal customer for this guide is someone who knows how to do their craft but struggles with running the business.
Important: Charlie and I don’t know how to tell someone to be a web designer, a bookkeeper, a consultant, an agent, or any number or other kinds of specific professions. There are plenty of resources in any one industry to cover that.
But we do know how to condense a wealth of knowledge into a package that freelancers of all kinds can benefit from. That’s what the guide is all about.
In April I went to a higher-price point for the Empire Building Kit because it made sense for that project. (An Empire Building project shouldn’t be super cheap.) For this guide, I’m returning to the lower price point that we’ve used for a few of the earlier guides. I’m happy to do this so the price won’t be an obstacle for anyone who fits the target market.
The launch will kick off on Wednesday morning at 9am PST / 12pm EST. This will be a long-lasting launch, meaning that the guide won’t go away after 24 hours or a week; it will continue to be available in the store on a long-term basis. However, to encourage early participation, Charlie talked me into doing a special Q&A call with the first 150 buyers who pick up the guide on Wednesday.
I make an average of one phone call a day and listen to my voicemail about once a month, so I’m not a big conference call guy. But I agree it will be important to help people who are especially excited about their freelancing biz, so I blocked off an afternoon next month for the call to respond to questions and share a few ideas from the many people we talked with while producing the guide.
(After the Q&A call fills up, we’ll remove notice of it from the launch post—that way, you can tell whether it’s still available or not.)
If the guide sounds like a good fit for you, I’ll look forward to serving you with it on Wednesday. If not, that’s totally fine and I appreciate your time and attention.
By the way… I still can’t believe that so many of you are coming out to visit during the Unconventional Book Tour this fall! It’s going to be epic.