books & writing

On Finishing A Book

Today I published a book project I’ve been working on for over a year! It’s called Just Live Simple: 30 Ways to Live with Less and Have More.

Here’s the cover:

Just Live Simple Cover

Over a year ago I started to write posts on my personal blog about living more simply, getting rid of clutter, and letting go of the mental baggage I’ve dragged with me for most of my life. Eventually I made a separate blog for these posts at JustLiveSimple.com.

After almost a year of posting on the blog, the traffic has really picked up and I’ve been able to connect with some great people. The whole time I’ve been compiling writing for a longer, novella-sized book about the ideas expressed in Just Live Simple and now’s the perfect time to put it out there. I hope you check it out!

While this isn’t the first thing that I’ve published on Kindle, I learned some more about the process of publishing on Amazon:

  • You will always discover some blatant error that was staring you in the face AFTER you publish your book and wait the six to twelve hours for it to be accepted.
  • Formatting a Table of Contents for Kindle is a mild form of torture.
  • As a self-published author, you feel like an imposter, but everyone feels like this, so get over it and talk about your work.
Standard
projects, technology

My Niche Site Experiment, The Niche Site Awakens

nichesite1

Let me tell you about my latest little experiment in webby stuff…

A few months ago I decided to start an experiment in website development called a “niche site“. I’ve been reading Pat Flynn‘s site, Smart Passive Income for a while and wanted to try out what seemed like such a successful venture for Flynn. Now, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept or with Flynn’s work, a quick debriefer…

Pat Flynn – Super cool internet business guru and smart “passive” income expert. A guy who got let go from his job, made a site dedicated to helping people pass an architecture exam, added a $20 guide and Google AdSense and made just under $8000 from the first month the site was monetized.

Niche Site – A website that is specialized in one particular product, service, or area and is heavily optimized for Search Engine Optimization. The site is then monetized (makes money) through AdSense ads, affiliate links, or the sale of a digital product. 

spi-artwork-rounded-200

Pat Flynn’s awesome site

Building on some original content, simplicity of design, and a structure that Google will love are keys for niche sites. A niche site does not have to be huge. In fact it’s better if it’s small typically. Basically building a small website centered around one thing, adding some good affiliate linkage and ads and watching revenue come in.

I discovered Sean Ogle‘s work on Location180 and creating internet “businesses” in order to travel and to live independently, something that deeply appeals to me, and his creation of an extremely simplistic site about HDRsoftware that brought in about $500 a month. $500! All from a site that was very simple to put together and essentially runs by itself.

Now, do I want to become an internet billionaire and have three yachts and a penthouse apartment in all the fashionable cities in America? HELL NO. If you’ve read my writing on Just Live Simple, you would know that all I really want is to work on projects that are meaningful to me and to have the time to enjoy the good things in life like family, friends, and passion pursuits. I’m sick of working for other people, under other people, and doing jobs that you have to beg to get even though it underpays and no one wants to do it. There has to be more…

And that’s how I came across Pat Flynn and Sean Ogle and others. These were people who were corporate slaves like the rest of us and either got fired or quit and decided to choose themselves by using what they knew and creating value for themselves and not just for the benefit of a giant company.

A “passive” income stream like building a niche site sounded perfect for me to try and exactly what would get be closer to the path I want to be on. I know a bit about web development and WordPress, I’m a social media whore, and I love technology. Perfect fit.

seanogleblurb

Blurb on Sean.

I boned up *snicker* on Sean Ogle’s blueprint for Niche Site design and read through Pat Flynn’s exhaustive and technically complex method. After hemming and hawing on the whole idea I decided what would be good keywording to target and that I would actually enjoy learning and writing about, bought a good deal on first year hosting and started the site.

The site I made was originally created under one domain name that I thought was clever and catchy and I soon found out that was probably a dumb idea. It’s not a bad name, just bad for what I want to do. I should try and sell it for big bucks. But for Googling purposes, it’s best to create a site that contains your primary keywording in the title and makes it really easy for people to understand what you’re talking about at a glance.

That’s how I created the site, DronePhotographyCentral.com.

Am I an expert in Drone Photography? Nope, not even close. But I’ve had my hands on more than a fair share of remote-controlled vehicles in my life and I love photography. Plus Drones and Drone Photography are getting exponential interest from the public so I figured it would be an awesome place to start.

The other advantage of talking about and implementing affiliate links for remote-controlled drones and action cameras is that it fills one of the major criterias for having a successful affiliate site: referring people to purchase low volume/high cost products thereby giving you a much better chance of getting paid for your linkage.

After I created the site and wrote my first few original articles I discovered the beginner’s plateau, i.e. the “this shit is hard” period. It’s hard researching and writing articles in an area you’re not very familiar with, including sourcing images and all the while making sure you’re doing your damnedest to optimize for SEO based on the handful of articles you’ve read on the subject.

That was back in May, after a few weeks of excitement I got frustrated and my work tapered off. A month of looking at stats for a brand new site will kill anyone’s interest. Don’t do it. If you ever just make a blog, or a website, you have to ban yourself from looking at stats for a while. It will just kill your excitement level and that’s something you need to actually work on your project.

Then in August, something odd happened. Someone actually used the Contact page to submit a question. Someone had found the site, as primitive as it was, and wanted to know if I or Drone Photography Central knew of a drone photographer in the area that they could hire. That meant the site was getting picked up somewhere. I looked up some information online and sent a reply. Then, a couple days later, it happened again. Someone found the site and was looking for drone photographers. The writing was clearly on the wall, rather than just talking about drones and referring people via affiliate links, I could dedicate a portion of the site to listing drone photography businesses and the site would gain traffic that way as well.

This all bodes very well for the niche that I selected as Pat Flynn’s own SecurityGuardTrainingHQ niche site has a substantial revenue stream from private advertisers wanting to list their Security Guard Training schools on the site. We’re talking thousands a month. Now, I am no Pat Flynn, but I can see potential there.

A Beginner's Guide to Drone Photography Cover

Free guide I made for DPC.com

So I’ve been working diligently for the past two months on my niche site, writing original content (not all of which is posted yet), creating an email list and a free pdf for drone photography beginners, researching drone laws, searching for drone photography businesses, and implementing AdSense and Amazon affiliate linking on the site.

I fully expected the site to just be sitting there for a while before anything really started to happen, but lo and behold, only a day or so after adding AdSense to the site, I got a “click“.

It’s amazing what 53 cents will do to your work ethic. As the traffic has been picking up the more content I added, the more consistently I’m getting AdSense revenue. It’s nothing that I can buy that log cabin in the woods yet or anything, but that fact that I’m getting paid for ad clicks that can happen 24 hours a day with little or no supervision from me is kind of mind-blowing. I also noticed people were clicking through my Amazon Affiliate links.

The added bonus of Amazon Affiliate referrals are that you also get your commision percentage on anything else that was purchased there within 24 hours of clicking through your link. I’ve already seen this firsthand after using affiliate links to my first Kindle book, “Zodiac” as people purchased the book and then other physical products as well.

Now, niche site creation is like anything else, there are already other people doing it and while that may seem discouraging to most people, I don’t mind. There’s a lot of A LOT on the internet and most of it is done badly in my opinion. Most people seem to be building websites for robots not for people. It’s also a very big planet and a VERY big internet. I think there’s room for a bunch of us.

As of this moment, after having implemented AdSense for about 2 weeks I’ve made around $3 in revenue. I’m actually very pleased with that figure because the site currently has very low traffic and even Pat Flynn’s security guard site made about $4 in its first month and now brings in $8000 plus a month. It’s all about the long tail, creating something that slowly builds and pays in the long run. There are no quick fixes in love or push button results. This kind of project requires hard work, but the kind of work that I actually enjoy, web development and writing.

I’ll talk more about the progress of the experiment as I go and be totally honest about the results. After all, it might be a total failure, but no matter what it’ll be a learning process and that’s something we can all benefit from.

I’ll be collecting the posts on a special section of jameslcarey.com I created just for this at Niche Site Experiment.

If you’re interested in building your own niche site, I recommend reading these posts in particular to see if it’s something you want to invest your time and money into:

Standard
technology

11 Reasons To Use Google +

1. Lots more control over what your posting

When you post something on Google + you can choose who sees it without the tedious creation of a special lists like on Facebook. Just type in the names of the people you want to share it to, or select one of your default circles. You can also disable comments and sharing from posts. Still can’t do that on Facebook, nor will you ever be able to. This means you have the highest level of control of any social network out there over who is seeing what you post.

2. Hashtags actually work

Hashtags make sense on Twitter, though how much they’re actually used to connect with others is debatable. Hashtags were implemented on Facebook as an afterthought and are pretty much useless. So much so that you risk public ridicule for using them. The point of hashtags is to connect to common conversation topics and allow new followers to find you and connect, but on Facebook, we all live in walled gardens surrounding the people we have added as friends.

On Google +. using hashtags is easy and displayed nicely at the upper right of posts so you can easily connect to others. And for those who don’t know quite how to use them or what hashtags are the best to use, Google + will automatically add related hashtags to your posts.

3. You can share links to individual posts without sharing your entire Google + profile

In the upper right corner of your Google + posts is the control menu for each post. There’s an option for “Link to post” which gives you a url that displays a page showing your Google + profile emblem the post in question, and that’s all. For example: https://plus.google.com/+JamesLCarey/posts/ieNCGcxxqyS

4. You won’t be advertised to like you will on Facebook and Twitter (mostly)

Because Facebook’s product is you, the only way they can stay in business is to make money off of your social interaction. This is why we can’t go more than a few posts anymore without seeing sponsored posts or suggested posts. They have to bombard you, they have to get you to buy so they can get more ad revenue from advertisers. This is also why if you have a brand page on Facebook, no one will see it unless everyone who follows it likes and comments on every single post unless you pay to have your post “boosted”. If you didn’t give Facebook money you’re a second class citizen at best.

Twitter isn’t far behind. They’ve realized the only way to make money is good old fashioned ads for crap you don’t want so get ready for it.

Google, however, doesn’t really need to make money off of you from Google + because they are the top name in search and get all their revenue through that portal. They also have so many money-making ventures cooking that they don’t have to treat their social network like an untapped goldmine.

5. You’ll actually want to upload your pictures to it

Uploading a picture to Facebook is often a moral/social dilemma. Do you want everyone to see what you were up to last summer in Cancun? But uploading to Google + is different.

First of all, it works more like a photo backup as opposed to just showing off the pictures you want to the world to see (you can choose to make all your photos private on Google +).

There is an Auto Backup feature built into the Google + mobile app which will upload all of your photos on your mobile devices if you choose to and at Full Resolution. You can choose who sees what photos and you are also given your own photo display page at https://plus.google.com/photos where you can edit photos, tag people, or easily share. You can also redownload full albums

Also, photos uploaded via Auto Backup have no storage limit whatsoever (for photos up to 2048 px). There’s also a desktop client. So upload away.

6. Auto Awesome

Auto Awesome is pretty much what it sounds like. It will select certain photos like a series of portraits or other shots you took trying to find the perfect take and automatically create a gif or a grid. In the case of pictures with snow or small lights like a Christmas tree, Auto Awesome inserts twinkling lights or a snow effect. Grandmas of the world will rejoice. It’s pretty cute. It can also automatically enhance the balance of photos and create panoramas.

Here’s some more features as detailed on lifehacker.com:

  • Snow: adds falling snow to a photo that has snow in it
  • Eraser: removes moving objects in the background from 4+ successive shots (e.g., get rid of passersby at a tourist location—no need for Photoshopping to get rid of tourists)
  • Action: shows full range of movement from 4+ photos of the same scene with something moving (e.g., show a pitcher’s arm in motion while throwing the ball)
  • HDR: combines the best lighting from 3+ photos of the same scene when nothing is moving (e.g., landscape photos)
  • Motion:  creates a short animation from 5+ successive shots of something moving
  • Smile: combines 2+ photos of a group of people so each person looks their best (i.e., smiling)
  • Pano: turns 3+ partly overlapping photos into a wide view
  • Mix: creates a composite, photobooth-style grid from 3+ photos of someone with the same background

7. You’ll run out of things to say before you run out of space on a post.

Twitter has just enough space to have a sliver of a thought and that’s about it. Less if you use hashtags. Facebook has more text real estate but you can’t do much with them. Google + posts can be very wordy. I’m not even sure what the upper limit is, but essentially you could treat a Google + post like a blog post if you were so inclined. You can also bold and italicize and urls are automatically changed to clickable links. What a novelty.

8. Communities

Facebook has groups, Google + has Communities. Besides the page design being much easier on the eyes on Google +, community creators can set their own discussion thread tabs so that when you join a community about DC Comics, but just want to read about Batman, there’s a tab for that. This will let a lot more people participate in a discussion in a huge community that would get lost on Facebook among the never ending stream of posts. You can also control if you see any posts in your Home Stream too.

9. Hangouts

Hangouts is Google’s Skype killer. How? It’s part video chat, part social video platform.

If you have a Google account, which EVERYONE does, you can use Hangouts. Not that many people have a Skype account set up and how much do we really need a Microsoft account? There’s a Hangouts app for every device. You can add up to 10 people to a Hangout so everybody can get in on the action.

Hangouts On Air is a killer feature of Hangouts that allows a people to essentially host their own video talk show. It allows for recording in HD and can automatically upload to YouTube as well. People can tune in to discussions and also meet and chat with experts and celebrities in a way that can’t on any other forum.

10. The design

11. GIFs

Google + is the only social network (besides Tumblr and Pinterest if you count those) where GIFs work natively. So get those reaction GIFs ready!

There’s a bunch more, but I just thought I’d highlight a few of the reasons I really enjoy using Google + as a platform for myself as a writer and someone seeking to connect rather than just a place to share baby pictures.

Thoughts?

Follow me on Google + and Tweet me on Twitter!

Standard
photography

Fall Wallpapers from Radnor Lake

It’s my favorite time of year!

The leaves are turning beautiful colors, every TV channel is full of creepy delights, and rainy days make it perfect for staying under a blanket with a book and a cup of coffee. Plus my birthday is in October. Maybe I’ll skip that this year. Is that allowed?

In most Octobers, when I’m not living a pretend Pinterest lifestyle, I’m trying to write something coherent (not always successful) or taking pictures.

Here’s a couple of free wallpapers from Radnor Lake State Park in Nashville that are phone/tablet ready.

Hope you’re all enjoying your fall days!

IMG_1016

IMG_1018

Standard
reflections

In Which I Am Unemployed

MjAxMi0yZjJkMDQ3ZmQ1NGUxM2Zh_523b1c5ca6d3c

Well, long story short, I am a member of the Recently Unemployed.

It is a good thing, and it was by choice, but nevertheless it’s not really something I was expecting to deal with right now.

While I love writing stories and working on my blog, capturing images, and working on my side project Just Live Simple, I’m like anybody who is doing creative work, I gotta have that regular job to pay the bills. And I’m okay with that, that’s life right now, and those student loans have gotta get paid off somehow so I’m not paying them off when I’m 55.

So when I was offered the most recent job, I thought I had found a challenging, but manageable position that would allow me to do all those things. Unfortunately what I thought would be a great fit ended up being in an abusive, toxic work environment. Humiliation and scare tactics were used on a daily basis to motivate me to do more, to ask for less, and to dehumanize me on every level. I won’t say the name of the company because it’s just not even worth the headache.

After spending the past few months feeling like my life was slowly slipping away from me under stress and depression I finally said enough was enough. It sucks, but sometimes in life you have to stand up and say you will not accept being treated like you are less. Getting a paycheck does not make it okay to for anyone to treat you like garbage either. Stand up for yourself, lean on your support system, and don’t settle.

So what now? Well, I hopefully will not be out of work for too long, I still have student loans to pay. I’m taking steps to make sure that doesn’t happen. But I’ll be honest and say I’m enjoying the rare break. I’m doing a lot of reading and writing too. Throw in James Altucher’s Daily Practice too. There’s some decompressing that needs to happens as well. But I’m hopeful for the future.

In the meantime, if you like my stuff and want to help me out while I’m between jobs, don’t forget my first publication, Zodiac, is still up on the Kindle Store. If you’re one of the awesome people who’ve already picked put it, THANK YOU! You rock!

If you can help me out and leave a review, I will personally thank you. Even if you didn’t like it (but I hope you did!), I appreciate you taking the time to be honest. That’s what it’s all about.

I’m also still selling prints if you need something for that bare wall of yours, you know the one.

I hope you read this and remember that you are a valuable person, you deserve to be respected and if there’s an area in your life where that is lacking, then do what you have to do to either stand up for yourself or remove yourself from a harmful situation.

Take care!

Standard