Wednesday, 15 February 2017

HDTV 004: Dog Poo | Injuries | Course Testing



In this video, I share some of my ups and downs over the last couple of days. 

I present a behind-the-scenes look at one of my course lessons, and update you on some upcoming testing for my course. 

My Vlogging is still in its infancy, so please let me know what you think. Are they entertaining? Interesting? Pointless? 


Saturday, 4 February 2017

Monthly Goal Update: January 2017



I've committed to tracking the progress of my goals on a monthly basis. These posts have been inconsistent in previous years, so I plan on recording 12 of these for 2017. 

I record these videos to keep myself accountable and show others how I've gone from A to B. I hope in time, I can help to inspire people to become accountable for their goals too.

Dr. Gail Matthews conducted a study that found you're 39.5% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. She also found that if you send progress reports to others - friends, mentors, coaches, accountability partners etc. you were 76.7% more likely to achieve those goals. 

Writing them down significantly weighs the odds of success in your favour, but providing regular updates almost doubles the chances of success. 

I have 9 Goals for 2017. They're spread across different areas of my life. Each month I record an update video charting my progress. 

Let's get to it!

1. I will easily create and launch an online course by 31st December 2017.

This is my priority goal for the year. If I fail all others and achieve this, I'll be delighted!
I'm continuing to make progress on a daily basis on this one. At the moment I'm writing up lesson objectives and making sure the whole thing flows. Hopefully in the net 10-14 days, I'll finish that job. I plan on recording and uploading Module 1 onto the website to see how it all works. 

I asked for testers, and they came! I've agreed to offer lifetime membership to 20 people who put their names forward. Now I just need to make the course. Having people wait for it is reassuring and helps to put a bit of the right type of pressure on me to keep going. 

So far so good on this goal!


2. I will easily set up a charitable fund, promote it on my Blog, and donate 10% of my course profits to ‘Building Schools For Africa’ by 31st December 2017.

I wouldn't say I have a fund as such. I have a savings account where I'm storing the money. At the end of this month the total stands at £1,069. Just the £19,000 to go! :-)

I've had two people reach out and offer donations which is awesome. I'm currently working on setting up a more official receipt / donation slip to provide to people who wish to donate. Currently, it's just a case of sending me money. I'd like it to be a little more formal, as it involves people's money. 

I've set up a page on this very blog, I've written a post about the fund, and I just need to release the course in order to fund it. 

I'll continue to put my contribution allocation into this fund each month, so we've achieve this target by people buying my course, and by funding it myself. 

Another positive start for this goal. 

3. My Investment portfolio will easily pay me £6,000 (£500 per month) in income in 2017.

I want to earn enough passive income from investments (that require no work), that cover my living expenses. Now that we're mortgage free, Lou and I live on around £300-£400 per month. I would like to earn over £500 per month by the end of the year to more than cover the basic living expenses. 

This income does not include money I make from Kindle - which is also mostly passive. 

For Jan I earned £166.26 in Dividends and £184 from Saving Stream and MoneyThing, producing a combined total of £350.26. This is a solid start. By looking ahead, I should expect this to be one of my lower months for the year. 

I don't use any of this income currently. It goes right back into buying more assets, and I continue to put more money into investments each month. 

Ultimately, I would like to create a large passive income source of around £2,000 to £4,000 per month for just sitting on my arse. This total would cover a more than comfortable living expense with fun thrown in. 

I plan on living on my kindle income (and other ventures) for as long as possible to allow my passive income stream to grow to a considerable level. 

Summary - Although I'm behind on target, it's forecast as a lower paying month, so I still remain confident that I can achieve this goal by December. 


4. I will easily create and launch my new Blog with 500 email subscribers by 31st December 2017.

I'm eager to get cracking with this one, but I'm purposely holding myself back until I complete my course. I've bought the URL and I hope to get it up and running in 3-4 months. 


5. I will easily read or listen to 16 books by 31st December 2017.

I'm on track with this one so far. I've read one book. Listened to another. I'm about to finish reading a third in the next few days. 

I've thoroughly enjoyed every book I've read in 2017, and I'm enjoying my current reads. I'd happily recommend all of them. 

Completed Books:
1. ‘Screw it, let’s do it’ by Richard Branson. 
2. 'Influence' by Robert Cialdini

Currently Reading/Listening to:
3. 'The Checklist Manifesto' by Atul Gawande
4. 'Tools of Titans' by Timothy Ferriss
5. 'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg

Ahead of schedule on this one. 


6. Lou and I will easily have at least one ‘date night’ a month for the whole of 2017. (12 ‘date nights' in total) 1. Jan – The Golden Ball. 

One month, one date. We went to 'The Golden Ball' a couple of weeks ago. It's a nice country pub. We've passed it a couple of times and we both decided we'd like to check it out. So we did!

This is an easy goal to achieve, whilst being an easy one to overlook. It's important for Lou and I to take time out for each other. We think this is the least we can do for each other. 

So far so good on this goal.


7. I will easily attend 3 x different clubs/classes in Cambridge area by 31st March 2017.

I set this goal, with a limited timeframe, to make me get out there and meet people. I have limited friends in the area, and I hope by putting myself out there I'll meet like-minded people. 

I've been attending Improv lessons in Cambridge, which are highly entertaining. I'd love to film them, but I can't for confidentiality reasons. 

I've booked and paid for an acrobatics and juggling course in March (with Lou). I haven't attended it yet, but I just need to turn up. I'm excited about this one!

Lou and I signed up to a gym, which I haven't done in years. We've committed to attending every morning to keep fit, spend more time together, and hopefully meet people. 

I've almost achieved this one, but I'd like to push the boat out and join more clubs to continue meeting people. Once my rib is back to rights I'll start training in MMA / BJJ which I've always wanted to try. 


8. I will easily record 52 new Youtube videos and have 2,000 Youtube subscribers by 31st December 2017. 

You've probably noticed a lot more activity than normal on this platform. I'm really enjoying Youtube, and I plan on growing my channel and developing skills along the way. 

For this actual video I started doing some editing, adding images/text and even music (which I'm not too sure about!). I had fun putting it together, and I look forward to experimenting more with my Youtube production. In order to get 2,000 subscribers, I need to put out fresh content that interests and entertains people. Please keep providing feedback on what you'd like me to film and what you think. It means a lot!

I released 5 videos in January, and 2 in February so far. This puts me slightly ahead of schedule. I'm not getting too carried away as my record would show that I lack consistency in this area. 

My subscribers are now up to 281. So I have a LOOOONNNGGG way to go yet. 

I will say once again that I'm enjoying the production of videos far more than I ever had. I'm actually looking forward to creating more content. 



9. I will easily complete 26 x bi-weekly reviews to track my progress in 2017. Jan - 2

I set myself 26 instead of 52 to allow myself chance to make up for missed sessions. If I have early starts on Saturday or I stop away for the weekend I tend to forget about them. Giving myself a week to 'catch-up' so-to-speak is helping to keep me motivated. 

So far, I've done 5 in January, so my plan is working out. 


Summary

I'm encouraged by my start to the year, but there's a long way to go yet, so I'm not getting too excited. As I mentioned above, I have a track record of going through these phases. I just hope that my phases increase in length, and the work I do when I'm in 'the zone' is enough to get me there. Only time will tell. 

A quick tap on the back for me, and that'll do. Time to get back to work and prove that I can produce positive results on a consistent basis. 


How about you?

Now we're 5 weeks into the year, how's it gone for you so far. 

Are you on track?

Are you already losing motivation?

Or, are you smashing it out of the park?

Either way, let me know how things are going for you in the comments below. 

Have a fabulous Feb!


Music for Youtube video:
Moments by Sappheiros https://soundcloud.com/sappheirosmusic
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported— CC BY 3.0 
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
Music provided by Music for Creators https://youtu.be/haiMw3ve1lg

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

FIRE Escape 6: Upgrading to bigger location??

In HDTV 002, I said that I was checking with the owner of Weaver Cottage to see if she would allow more people to stop over (above the listed 8) on sofa's etc. She wasn't sure if it was allowed, but she said she would check. 

She said she owns another property that is fairly close that can sleep 15 people if I was interested. It wasn't scheduled to be sold on 3-5th March, so she was going to see how much it would cost for the weekend. 

Anyways, I spoke to her this morning and she said that by having anyone stop overnight - above the 8 people - it would invalidate her insurance policy, so unfortunately that's not an option.

She also confirmed that despite her enthusiasm for the second property, she forgot that the stairs won't be fitted into it in time for the weekend, so that's no longer an option either. 


Who's been allocated rooms at Weaver Cottage?

Room 1: Huw and Lou
Room 2: Cora and Helen
Room 3: Eva and Valerie
Room 4: M & Martina 


What about the rest of us?

I take full responsibility for not renting a bigger location. It's quite difficult to know in advance how many people would be interested. In hindsight, I should have gone for 6-10 rooms, and I will do in future. 

I'm sorry to everyone else that has asked to stop over, but there's no room at the inn. 

Hopefully, there's enough time for you to book alternative accommodation near to the cottage. 

RE DONATION: If you book alternative accommodation, let me know how much your accommodation is and we'll review the donation amount. I don't want anyone paying more than they have to, and I'd like everyone to attend. 

If you're stopping in the cottage, it's going to be around £65 each for the 2 nights. I'm not going to ask for the money yet, as we're likely to have people stopping by and donating. Once I have a better idea of how many people will be attending, I'll let you know the amount. 

One again, I'm SO SORRY to everyone that had hopes of stopping over. I commit to renting more rooms next time around, I promise!


Any questions?

If I've missed anything, please leave a comment below and I'll answer it as soon as I can. 

Have a great day!


Tuesday, 31 January 2017

HDTV 002: New Morning Routine | FIRE Escape upgrade | Chocolate Protein Porridge



In this 'day in the life' video I talk about my new morning routine, how my course is developing, possibilities for a FIRE Escape upgrade and my chocolate protein porridge recipe. 

This is my second attempt at Vlogging. I'm keen to do more of these, so please let me know what you think of it. 

Are there are things in particular that you would like to see me do?

Are there are things you're bored / not interested in?

Please Subscribe to the channel if you haven't already. The more people that subscribe and 'like' my videos, the more Youtube will 'suggest' my videos to others. 

Have a great day!

Friday, 27 January 2017

FIRE Escape 6: Dates and Location Confirmed!

Image result for weavers cottage thurlestone
Welcome to Prison!

With one window per bedroom, you can see that this years FIRE Escape will rival any caged chicken egg-business. 

Only joking of course! Can you imagine if one of those windows represented a bedroom each! Ha ha... 

OK, the cottage might not pull you in from the external pictures, but I encourage you to check the internal photos before judging. It's a beauty. 



Where is it?

Weaver's Cottage is a detached, stone-built, Grade II listed, three-storey property in the village of Thurlstone, close to Holmfirth, Sheffield. 

Weaver's Cottage can be found on Leapings Lane, Thurlstone, Sheffield, S36 9QP. 


Why did you pick this Cottage?

I like going to different parts of the UK. I wanted to keep it fairly central to allow more people to attend without alienating too many people. 

The building itself matters less to me, but essentially I'm looking for a place that has nice open-spaced rooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and a moderate number of bedrooms. Anything else is a bonus. 


What are the dates for the FIRE Escape?

Friday 3rd March to Sunday 5th March

These dates are confirmed, booked and paid for. 

Arrival is from 3pm Friday, departure is 10am on Sunday. 

Don't worry, you don't have to attend the entire thing, most don't. There's always a mix of people that attend for the whole weekend, and the rest come and say 'hello' at various points throughout. 


Can I stop at the Cottage?

As you can see from the link, there are 4 bedrooms, fitting 8 people in total. Lou and I have already taken 1 room, so there are 6 beds (3 x bedrooms) up for grabs. 

If you're interested in stopping over, drop me a note in the 'contact' section of this Blog on the right hand side or if you have my personal email, send it direct. 

Let me know who's attending with you, and the number of nights you're interested in stopping over. 

Due to the limited bedrooms set up, I'll prioritise who I select to stop over by considering the following:

1. People that come in two's and are willing to share beds
2. People that want to stop for 2 nights over 1.
3. People that travel the furthest to get there.  


Can I still come along without stopping overnight?

Of course!

You can still join us for the whole weekend by stopping in a local hotel/B&B, or outside in a campervan. A few people have done on previous FIRE Escapes. 

You can also come and say hello for a couple of hours if you wish. 


How much will it cost to attend?

As in previous years, it'll depend on the final numbers. I've paid for the whole accommodation which was £548. If we get 8 people (inc. lou and I) stopping over it'll be exactly £68.50 each for 2 nights, which is pretty reasonable. But if we get 'Day Guests' it'll come down further. 

The weekends are non-profit. We just cover the cost of accommodation. The people that commit to stopping over at the location make the weekend go ahead. For that reason, I ask attendees to contribute a fee they deem reasonable. 

In previous years I've asked for donations between £20-£30 if you're joining us for the Saturday only. If you're only coming for 2-3 hours, or stopping Fri evening to Saturday afternoon etc. Let's assess it on a case by case basis (which is always negotiable!). 

The £20-30 suggested donation goes directly back to the people stopping overnight, which I'll separate between the 8 of us. Your £20 donation divided by 8 people will be £2.50 each. This also helps to compensate people that purchase food, bread, milk, tea coffee, cakes etc, 

Ultimately, I don't want anyone to not attend due to the cost. Nor do I want piss off the people that have committed to stopping over and paying for the location. I try to find a reasonable balance between the two, which I believe I've achieved in earlier FE's. I'm always happy to discuss your attendance cost. 

If you have any pricing questions, just let me know. 

I'll ask for payment, when I have a better idea of the numbers (and cost). 


What do you do during the weekend?

Aside from human sacrifices, drugs and taking over the world... we talk about all things money. 

This weekend is a safe place to come and talk about Personal Finance, becoming Financially Independent and Retiring Early. It might be Investing, Matched Betting, Kindle Publishing, Self Sufficiency, Frugal Living or any similar topics. 

It's totally informal, and it usually ends up with a 50:50 split of new people a regulars. 


Do I need to be rich to attend?

Not at all!

We've had a range of attendees in previous years. From people that have already retired (or could), to people that are in debt and looking to clear it, and everything in between. 


Are you interested in joining us?

Please leave a comment below so others can see. 

If you've been before, give a brief summary of how you found it. 

If you haven't been before, feel free to ask any questions in the comments below and we'll answer them between us. 

That's it from me, now it's over to you....


(Picture credit: Taken from www.sykescottages.co.uk)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Inside the Creation of 'Innovative Self Publishing' (Part 1)

So, how am I getting on?


The video shares a brief update, whilst the Blog Post offers more insight and detail - Take your pick!


Doesn't time fly! We've just been through 3 weeks of January. How have you found 2017 so far?

Mine's been pretty hectic but I've really enjoyed it.

I've been working full time on creating my course. Completing this bad boy is my number one priority this year, so I've made little time for anything else. 

I didn't succeed at releasing the course last year, despite publicly declaring it, so I want to give it some extra attention this year and make sure I follow through on my commitment.  

I'm going to use this Blog to document my progress as I edge towards the completion of it. Once I've produced the content for the first module - and have a better idea of timescales - I'll publicly declare a launch date. The difference this year is that I'm going to launch it no matter what happens..... even if it's not finished!


What a difference a Coach makes

I've now had 3 x coaching sessions in 2017 and I've been delighted with the investment so far. Not only is he a lovely man and a pleasure to work with, but I've noticed a significant increase in my drive and work output. I wish I had done it earlier.... but at least I'm doing it now. 

So why the noticeable difference?

As most of you know, I work from home on my own, and have done since October 2015. I love my new existence and couldn't imagine going back to employment, but it's not been all bells and whistles

One of the biggest challenges I've found to solo working is not having any expectations set for me. I miss that! I used to love it when my manager would set me tasks to do. I'd do my best to achieve those tasks, and I'd try to find a way to over-deliver if I could. I got a real kick out of doing more than was expected of me and I believe it brought the best out of me. 

Coaching has brought this element back into my life and I'm grateful. 

During our sessions we discuss the progress I've made, he offers feedback, and we work together to create tasks for the week ahead. I then set the deadlines for the tasks and I do my best to surpass them. 

After just 3 sessions, I feel more positive, confident and satisfied about creating this course than I can remember. Let's hope the feeling continues!


The Course Website

One of the biggest decisions I've made during these last 3 weeks was deciding against using 'The Ebook Investor' name and URL. I like what it stands for, but I thought it added confusion by having a separate course name - 'Innovative Self Publishing'. I decided to simplify things and go with 'Innovative Self Publishing' for the course and URL. 

That might not seem a big deal, but it stressed me out for a few hours... which Lou could testify! 

The decision meant that I needed to set the site up again from scratch. The initial thought of redoing days and days of work took its toll but I was convinced by the advice from a book I've been listening to - 'Influence' by Robert Cialdini. I'll paraphrase (or more likely butcher) the said point...

Robert suggests that many of us continue on unsatisfactory paths because we feel obligated to follow through. We fall into a subconscious 'commitment bias'. He suggests that when you feel uncomfortable about a certain action or decision, but feel compelled to continue, you should step back and take a moment. He recommends asking yourself:

"What would I do if I had this information beforehand? Would I still do it?"

Whilst fighting the urge to undo days and days of work I had done on the previous site, I decided that if I could go back and do it again, I wouldn't have set up 'The Ebook Investor' name and a separate course name. I would have just stuck to a single name that represented the URL and course name. So with that, I bit the bullet and started from scratch on the new URL - Innovative Self Publishing

The site is still under construction, but you're welcome to check it out if you like! If you do, please let me know what you think!


The Purpose of Innovative Self Publishing

Now I had the URL and basic site set up, I went to back to creating content. I've created pages and pages of content on Self Publishing already, but there are some areas I haven't started yet. 

My coach recommended I start from the beginning once again and reevaluate everything. I was hesitant about doing that initially, but now I'm glad that I did. It was time well spent, and I have a clear understanding of what I want to produce, and most importantly.... why.

I've been able to define my course Purpose/Hook into the following:


 INNOVATIVE SELF PUBLISHING HELPS YOU BUILD A PROFITABLE BOOK-BASED BUSINESS FROM THE BEGINNING

I believe my course's unique proposition is the following:


Innovative Self Publishing shows a complete beginner how to publish their first book, and how to turn that first book into a Business. 

Many courses teach how to launch a book from scratch or how to improve your sales, but I'm yet to come across one that delivers zero to book-based business. 


Creating the Modules & Lessons

I've already created a lot of content from last year which I based on the feedback I'd received from surveying coaching clients, fellow publishers and friends. I used that as my base and added other lessons I felt were appropriate for someone starting out. 

Next, I compared my content to the current competition. 

I reviewed the lessons in the publishing courses I had access to, and also did some youtube snooping and google searches to identify any I hadn't had access to to cover a broad spectrum. I wanted to make sure I was at least offering the same level of content (or value), but ideally, I wanted to offer more! :-)

It was tough comparing the courses on a like-for-like basis because of the variety of the content. Some were perfect for beginners, but lacked depth. Some were ideal for advanced publishers but lacked the basics. Others lacked quality, but touched on great points. So, I created a monster spreadsheet which recorded the lot. 

I proceeded to fill the squares with every lesson, from every course I knew. I even added my original 'The Ebook Investor' content to top it off. 

I started with the best course for overall content (beginner to advanced), which was Steve Scott's Authority Pub Academy. This was my reference point to what 'Good Looks Like'. I then added a new column and filled it with the next best course and its lessons, and I just repeated that process until I had recorded every lesson from each course.   

I then matched up the like-for-like lessons on the same row and created a new row for any unique lessons. The idea behind this was to chunk together popular or 'must have' content, and isolate the unique lessons or the 'little gems'. 

I worked through the 'little gems' and decided on which ones would add value to my course, and which ones I could do without. 

This was all quite a large undertaking but totally worth it. I now had a comprehensive list of lessons that matched the content from other leading courses, plus a full collection of 'little gems' that no other course could offer. (Insert Evil-Laugh)

Some people still might prefer other courses to mine, but I don't think anyone could say that my course has less or inferior content. I feel confident that my course material could now rival any in the field, and that there's a strong case for it being the best. But, you'll be the judge of that, not me! 

In the last few days I've made a start on plotting the 'Lesson Objectives' for my extensive list. I'm writing out the purpose of each lesson, the key learning points, as well as how it links to the previous lesson and moves onto the next. It's a ball ache of a job to be honest, but once again, immensely useful! I've scrapped, added and combined some of the lessons as a result, but the biggest takeaway for me has been linking the process. 

My layout now has a smooth and logical flow that takes someone from:


Zero Experience  First Book Release → Book-Based Business

I've set myself the goal of completing the 'Lesson Objection' write up in the next 2 weeks, which is going to be challenging, but doable. I've then committed to my coach that I'll record and upload Module 1 to the site and test it's functionality before doing the rest. 

There's still plenty of work to be done, but each day I'm getting that bit closer. 



Would you like to test the course?

Once I've finished setting up the entire course (not just Module 1) - which is likely to be in end March/April - I'm going to be looking for some people to test it before it goes live. 

I'd like between 10-20 people to use it and provide feedback for me in exchange for a very low price. 

The testers will become my Founding Member's. What an honour! :-)

That essentially means lifetime membership (including any future updates at no extra cost) for you in exchange for feedback for me. 

I'm going to offer a substantial discount for the Founding Members to encourage volunteers. I've not confirmed what the final course price will be yet, but it'll be in the region of £400-£600. The Founding Members will have full, lifetime access to Innovative Self Publishing for £99.

That's between a 75% - 83% discount off the course price - Which I think is pretty fair for what I'm offering. 

If you're interested in becoming a Founding Member please email me at the address below, leave me your name and publishing experience to date. I'm looking for rough numbers at this stage to see how viable it is. 

If I have less than 20 (likely!) - you get the gig. 

If I have 50 volunteers (unlikely) - I'll have to run a competition or something. 

If you're interested, email me your name and publishing experience to:

support@innovativeselfpublishing.com

Thanks to everyone that's offered support for this project. I promise I won't let you down (this time!)

I hope you have a cracking week!


Sunday, 22 January 2017

I'm gonna Build a School




In previous years, I've not really thought too hard about contributing to charities. In 2014, I was embarrassed looking back at my annual expenses and noticing that I'd only donated £25 for the year! 

In 2015, I committed to dramatically improving that number and I set the goal of donating £250 in 12 months. I ended up donating £254.88 to 7 different charities. In 2016, I decided to raise the bar to £500 for the year. I ended up donating £750 across 2 charities. 

In 2017, I want to make a bigger impact with my contribution, even if it takes me 2-3 years to get there. So, I decided to build a school. 

I've been fortunate enough not to have anything serious happen to my immediate family. I don't have any strong feelings towards one charity over another - they're all good causes in my eyes. But this year, I want my contribution to have one focus

After doing a bit of research online I decided to work with a charity in the UK who help to build schools for children in Africa, they're called Schools For Africa. Here are some photos of what the schools look like before and after the funding. 

Before

After

school costs £20,000 to build, which is going to take a lot of effort. So, I've committed to donating 10% of my course profits directly to Schools For Africa. I'll also personally donate my profits from elsewhere to help get to that target. 

I'll set up a Blue Peter style thermometer on the main page (if I can work out how) to give you a visual representation and I'll update the total each month in my Monthly Goal Updates. 

I don't have a timeframe currently, but once the course is released for a few months, I should have a better idea of how long it'll take to get there. At that point I'll set a goal to achieve it by a certain date and share it with you. 

If you're interested in donating to help fund the project or have any questions, please contact me direct on the contact form of this Blog. Alternatively, you can help fund the project by investing in the Publishing course I'm working on. 


UK Registered Charity (Number 1127661)