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How a Walk in the Rain
The comments Susan received from readers in response to her musings inspired us launch another e-zine called Sandpoint Insider in 2004. The Insider featured information about Sandpoint and our experiences here. The Insider Web site included photos of the area on a weekly basis. Subscribers from around the world who had lived in Sandpoint or wanted to live in Sandpoint frequently commented on how the stories and pictures reminded them of home or fed their dreams of moving here. We ran the e-zine through 2007, and the articles live on through the Web site (now called Technohomesteading).
All of this writing was quite a grind. The Logical Web Publisher made it easy to keep the sites updated, but pumping out new content every week was still a challenge. At one point, we were writing content regularly for four active online publications:
In addition, we operated two other publication sites based on our vegan lifestyle and James' most technical articles:
When we decided to start our Publishize newsletter in 2007, something had to give. Giving away free content is nice, but doesn't do much to pay the mortgage. On the other hand, all that writing built an excellent foundation for what would come next.
As anyone who operates any kind of consulting business knows, there's a fine line between being self-employed and being unemployed. Most consultants experience a demoralizing feast-or-famine business cycle because it is difficult to focus on marketing at the same time they are trying to complete a project.
Additionally, being a consultant is a lot like being an employee, because your income potential is limited to the number of hours you can put into billable work. Fortunately, with two of us doing the work and often for different clients, we were able to maintain a reasonably stable level of income, but by 2005, we were ready for a break from the grind.
Most consulting businesses must either grow or die. Growth is required in the form of employees and/or products that give you a way to make money while you are working on getting new customers and projects (or vacationing). Given our desire to remain location independent, we decided to grow by developing and selling information products, and get the support we need from virtual assistants.
We realized that we had a virtual gold mine in all of the content we had produced for our various publications and the knowledge that was behind it. We also saw that our experience and interests gave us the advantage of multiple potential income streams: computing, pets, and veganism. The key was to produce books and information products related to these topics.
Even experienced writers can have a tough time breaking into the traditional book publishing market, and when they do, the financial rewards are often disappointing. Rather than take the traditional route, we decided to add book publishing to our business model. We could have gone with a subsidy (or "vanity") publisher, but Susan's extensive experience in the publishing industry and the availability of inexpensive print-on-demand services made that approach unnecessary and undesirable.
In 2006, Susan published our first printed book, which was a cookbook titled Vegan Success (you can learn more about our vegan lifestyle on our Vegan Resources page). The book is available on Amazon.com and other major online book stores in addition to the Logical Expressions Store. Thanks to print-on-demand technologies, we were able to publish the book for a small up-front investment (under $200) and avoid having to keep a garage full of books that might never sell.
When she published the cookbook, Susan learned how frustrating it can be to collect and organize dozens of articles and new content into a coherent manuscript. James was tasked with providing a solution that would make it easier.
We had actually been thinking about creating a software program that would help us with our many writing tasks for quite some time. We talked about our ideas with a fellow author who was a classic "index card" writer. With this technique, you use colored index cards to record different kinds of ideas, and then you organize them into an outline. The concept behind the method is sound, but it is a manual process that is not supported by typical word processing programs.
We decided that we wanted a software program that gave us the advantages of the index card methodology, but with a computer interface that could easily generate a standard word processing document.
And so IdeaWeaver was born. Believing that IdeaWeaver would be something that other writers would enjoy using, we released the first commercial version of the program in the summer of 2006, and followed it up with a fall release that incorporated changes requested by the initial users.
Susan was able to use IdeaWeaver for our second book Web Business Success. Web Business Success was assembled from our many Web business and Web design articles, along with a lot of new content. Susan was able to use IdeaWeaver's organization tools to make sense of all this information and produce a manuscript much faster than would have been possible with a word processor.
The books were a good start for recycling and re-purposing our content, but we knew we had a lot more to offer. In 2007, we produced various tools under our "what is your time worth" campaign. The idea was to sell the tools we use for productivity in an electronic, downloadable form.
We released a series of templates for Microsoft Word dubbed TimeSaver Templates. We also released an inventory management spreadsheet for Microsoft Excel, a collection of custom mouse cursors, and a software component that helps Web site owners protect certain files on their Web site from being downloaded without authorization. You can learn more about these products on our Computing Resources page.
We had finally figured out a way to make money on all of the expertise we had been giving away free for years, and in a form that had more value to our customers. We learned that a lot of people would prefer to just pay you to give them a solution, rather than tell them how to create their own solution.
Once we had book publishing figured out, Susan didn't hesitate to move forward with more projects. In 2007, she dusted off her Happy Hound and Happy Tabby book projects, which had been lingering on her hard drive in massive Word files for a couple of years. She moved both projects into IdeaWeaver and was finally able to organize them to her satisfaction. You can learn more about our pet-related information resources on our Pet Resources page.
Never missing a beat, Susan launched into her biggest content recycling project of all: She took the hundreds of articles she had written for Logical Tips, and compiled them into a series of four Logical Tips books:
Again, IdeaWeaver was indispensable for this task. By January 2008, she had self-published a total of eight books in a mere eighteen months.
In late 2007, a fellow entrepreneur saw what we were doing with self-publishing and wanted to learn how to do the same thing. He already had a series of e-books, and he even had a few books published through a traditional publisher, but he wasn't interested in repeating that experience. He wanted to turn his e-books into print books, and he wanted to do it himself.
A light went on for us. We realized that a lot of business owners, consultants, and subject matter experts of all kinds could benefit from adding self-publishing to their business model as we have done. As usual, we were ready and able to share our hard-won knowledge.
In November of 2007, we started our Publishize newsletter, which led to Susan's book of the same name. Publishize is a word we made up that combines the words "publish" and "publicize," as in "publicize your business by publishing books and information products." The book has advice on all aspects of self-publishing, from authoring content to promoting your books with a Web site.
Our involvement in self-publishing led us to create the first virtual conference for self-publishers. The Self-Publishers Online Conference brings together publishing experts who share their insights about the ever-evolving business of publishing.
We are always exploring new ways to connect with our market place and provide better service. We've also created membership sites to help us connect with groups we are interested in. We started an organization called the National Association for Pet Rescue Professionals (NAPRP). Members get access to a membership Web site that provides tools to help pet rescues and shelters save more animals' lives. See our Pet Resources page for more information about NAPRP.
That led to two more books from Susan, Funds to the Rescue with 101 fundraising ideas and Publicity to the Rescue, which explains how humane organizations can use the power of publicity to help more animals.
Writing is the one consistent thread that runs through all the things we've done with Logical Expressions. Some of our clients have depended on our services for more than a decade.
For our own projects, the name of the game has become "write once, sell many." We continue to produce new content on a regular basis, and we've learned how to recycle that content into many different forms for the convenience of our customers. Publishing books and other information products has become an important part of our business.
We hope to continue to "Live long and publish!"
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Logical Expressions, Inc. · 311 Fox Glen Road · Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
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