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The Smart Passive Income Podcast

AP 1003: What One Thing Should I Focus On?

AP 1003: What One Thing Should I Focus On?

By Pat Flynn on

About This Episode

Today’s call is with Jackie Bolen, who needs help deciding what part of her business to focus on. I coach her through the different aspects of her business (websites, ebooks, etc) to help her choose an area of focus. We also discuss the possibility of Jackie hiring a VA or content writer and what steps she might take to sell some of her websites, and Jackie realizes what she wants to focus on in the future.

What You’ll Learn: How to define what areas of your business to focus on and how to think about those decisions in terms of the future.

AskPat 1003 Episode Transcript

Pat Flynn: Yo. What’s up everybody? Pat Flynn here. Welcome to Episode 1003 of AskPat 2.0. If you’re not familiar with it, AskPat 2.0 is a coaching call between myself and somebody who has a business who applied for coaching at AskPat.com.

In exchange for coaching—this isn’t a deal where they’re paying me anything—in exchange for having a free coaching call, they’re allowing you to actually listen in on that coaching call too so you can learn and also implement. I would love for you to listen all the way through and take this information and apply it. Share the show if you enjoy it as well. It’s one of my favorite things to do and I’m excited to talk to Jackie today to help her through an important decision that she had to make. She knows that she needs to do something but she just doesn’t know how. I’m going to help her through that and you’re going to hear it too.

By the way, if you want to get your business potentially talked about and coached through here on this show, all you have to do is go to AskPat.com and apply right there on that page. It’s free to apply. All you have to do is tell me some stuff that’ll make it interesting for me and everybody else listening. The questions are all there for you if you go to AskPat.com. Check that out.

Before we get to Jackie, I do want to also thank today’s sponsor. Actually, it’s a sponsor of this entire show, and that is FreshBooks, one of my favorite companies because they help me not just manage my business finances in terms of helping me keep track of what’s coming in, what’s going out, but also with invoicing. They can make invoicing super simple for you. Literally, in less than thirty seconds you can have a very professional invoice sent to the person that you coached or to the company that you’re consulting for or whoever it is that you bill out there. You need to make that easy because that’s the moment at which you’re about to get paid.

Not only should it be easy to create, but it should be easy to A, understand who has already paid you and who has yet to pay you, but B, also who has even yet to open that invoice. I think this is one of the most powerful features of FreshBooks. It’s actually been really helpful for me too because I can go and reach out to person A if they didn’t yet even open that email and I can talk to them differently than somebody who had opened the email and didn’t pay. Probably be more upset at the person who did open it and didn’t pay but anyway, we’re not going to go there.

For now, if you want to check out FreshBooks for free for thirty days, all you have to do is go to FreshBooks.com/askpat. Just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. That’s it. That’s all you got to do.

Alright. Now here’s today’s coaching call with Jackie.

Jackie, thank you so much for being on AskPat today. I appreciate it.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Pat Flynn: Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about what you do.

Jackie Bolen: Sure. I was an ESL [English as a second language] teacher in South Korea for ten years. During that time, I started an old blogger blog. I was the only one talking about teaching in Korean universities. I just ended up writing an ebook based on that blog and then I started a couple self-hosted websites related to ESL teaching. Then I wrote more books. That’s how I got my start in the online business world. I just kind of fell into it. Now I live in Canada; I moved back to Canada. At this point in time, I have around thirty books that are self-published on Amazon. They are mostly related to ESL teaching. I have three websites and a big email list related to that niche. That’s one thing I’m doing.

I also during that time started some Amazon affiliate sites. I have about six of them that I actively—well not actively, but that I keep up to date, kind of. The question I have for you today is, I’m making about the same amount of money on both of those things, but my problem is that I kind of feel torn between the two things and I don’t actually think I have time to focus on both of them. I just would appreciate your thoughts on which direction to go or if there’s another way I could actually do both of those things.

Pat Flynn: Why do you feel like you don’t have time?

Jackie Bolen: Because I feel like I’m really good at starting things—like actually writing the book I’m quite good at, or starting the website and getting a bunch of content on it, but I’m not good at things like promoting my books. I feel like with actually some marketing and not writing any other books, I could actually double or triple or four times my income quite easily with within say a year. The websites I also feel the same thing. I could even ten-times my income probably in a couple years from the websites, if I focused on things like outreach and guest posting and that kind of thing. So, I’m way better at just starting than actually seeing things through until they actually make some serious money.

Pat Flynn: Why do you think that is?

Jackie Bolen: I think part of it is that I’m a bit scared to do outreach. Yeah. I just find it easier to just put something out there and then hope people notice it.

Pat Flynn: That’s the common thing between these two projects. It’s get started and go and kind of automate versus get started and then follow through with the reach out. You’re absolutely right. I think you nailed what you’re scared about.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. For sure, it is. Yeah, I’ve always thought that was my weakness. I just haven’t really done anything about it to overcome it. I’ve always had a day job actually, so I didn’t actually depend on this income, but about a month ago, I decided to go full time on the online business thing. I quit my job and now it’s actually—

Pat Flynn: Congrats.

Jackie Bolen: Thank you. Now it’s actually kind of serious. I need to make more money from this and it’s not just a fun hobby that I had.

Pat Flynn: Do you believe that if you were to focus 100 percent, or at least more percent, on one of these, versus evenly dividing your time and attention to both, that you would be making more money?

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. I think I would because there’s so much room for improvement on both of these things that by dividing my attention, I don’t think I have enough time and energy to really do that. Yeah, I think it would actually make a big difference.

Pat Flynn: I think so too. Why do you think you haven’t yet made that decision to choose one over the other? What’s stopping you from making that decision?

Jackie Bolen: I kind of like having both of those things to do. Sometimes I feel motivated to write books. Sometimes I feel motivated to work on my websites. I like both of those things. At this point in time—I just, actually before this call, added up my income from both of those things from the previous year and they are almost identical.

Pat Flynn: No way.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. Books are averaging $800 US a month and then the websites are about $750 a month, so it’s like actually identical. That’s why I’m so torn, because I like both of them and I know my weakness—why I’m not doing better at both of them—is the same, and I’m making the same money.

Pat Flynn: This is kind of cool. This is a unique situation because many people I’ve spoken to who have multiple options like this, there’s one that’s obviously doing better than the other and so that helps inform the decision, or there’s one that person has obviously more passion for and that informs the decision, but this is a very interesting case. I think it’s almost a good problem to have. You have freedom to choose.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, for sure. I don’t feel like it’s a bad problem; I feel optimistic about it. Just my thing that I was thinking was to devote maybe the next few months or even a year to improving one of them. I currently have chosen one of my websites to work on and I’m just out doing outreach and trying to get guest posts and it’s actually going really well. I’d focus on one thing and then sell it and then go full time on the other thing. That was kind of my plan, but then I don’t know if that’s great. Why not just keep it in my portfolio? But then it’s back to the same problem, I guess.

Pat Flynn: What, ultimately, would you like to achieve here? What’s your ultimate goal?

Jackie Bolen: My ultimate goal is to instead of earning—like right now I earn about $1500 a month for my online things—I would love to earn a full time salary. Something like $4,000 to $5,000 a month. I would be really happy with that.

Pat Flynn: What I often suggest when a person has two options that are equally great, now they seem very great . . . This is very common in my podcasting course, for example. They have two ideas for a show. What I often do in that situation is I go, “Okay. Both of these ideas are great. You have equal passion for both and you can see yourself doing both. Okay. Let’s actually plan ahead a little bit for both.” With the first one, we actually begin writing out all the content that would be there and imagine what life would be like a year from now if that was the choice. Then we go the same route with the other one. Every single time during those exercises, there’s some moment where that person goes, “Oh, well then yeah. Now that I’m thinking about this and putting more detail into it, it makes complete sense to go down that route”, or sometimes it’s the opposite. “Oh well, now that I’m going a year ahead of time now and realizing this, I realize I don’t have actually as much content to share in this space, so it’s obviously the other one’s much better.”

I think thinking a little bit ahead . . . Let’s do some thought experiments really quick. If you were to choose ESL and focus on that niche—The other beauty of this, I think, and correct me if I’m wrong, Jackie, is that although you might focus on one, the others aren’t going away. They’ll still be there making passive income at least. It’s not like you’re removing that income. You’re just . . . Right?

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. That’s 100 percent correct, especially with the books. The books, I actually don’t really do anything. I have a huge autoresponder series and just some websites related to that, so they kind of sell themselves actually. I think the websites are a little bit less passive in that you have to keep adding new content to stay high in the rankings and stuff like that, so for sure the books are more passive.

Pat Flynn: Okay. Let’s talk about the books. Let’s say you devote the next year to the ESL niche that you’re in. A year from now, what would be the result of you focusing on that space? What would be there that’s not there a year from now?

Jackie Bolen: I think that I am a little bit tapped out for content that I have. I have a co-author, so between her and I, we’ve covered most of the possibilities in that niche. It’s not such a big one. I think in a year from now, I could be earning more money from the books with promotional efforts, but in terms of new content that I could write in a year from now, it wouldn’t actually be that much, so I would have to expand into other areas I guess.

Pat Flynn: How would you feel about that, knowing that, “Okay. I’m kind of tapped out for content here, so I’m not writing new books. I’m just focusing purely on the outreach of these books?” How do you react to that, if that’s what you’re doing? You just said you’d be running out of content. You would focus on that part that you know would make you more money, but for you, is that something you want to do?

Jackie Bolen: That actually didn’t give me a good feeling, when you were saying that. I like writing and creating and doing new things, like even just writing a blog post on one of my Amazon affiliate sites and doing some research and learning some new things. I’m excited about that. I like that part of it, so just focusing almost solely on promotion of those books that I have, I don’t think I would be happy doing that at all actually.

Pat Flynn: Interesting. Let’s go the other way. Let’s say that we focus on the Amazon affiliate sites. A year from now, what’s new? What wasn’t there before?

Jackie Bolen: I think my websites are going to be bigger, just in terms of more content for sure. I think outreach—I think that I will have way more connections in my niche and doing things like podcasts and guests posts and focusing on link-building through different methods, which I think is quite interesting actually. I listen to a lot of podcasts and do a bunch of reading about that kind of stuff. Yeah, that actually sounds way more interesting to me than book promotion. Actually, when I listen to podcasts and stuff, that’s the kind of thing I listen to; I don’t really listen to self-publishing podcasts.

Pat Flynn: What would you say, based on just this quick thought experiment, would be the right direction for you?

Jackie Bolen: I think that focusing on the websites would probably be the right direction. I think I actually could still keep earning money from the books, like even three or five years down the road, even with very little effort. That’s not the case for the websites for sure.

Pat Flynn: Personally, I think that the books are a great, almost like a safety net in case something were to happen with . . . My only worry with the Amazon stuff is, for example, you’re relying on Amazon. Amazon, or Google or whoever, can change anything at any time. If that were to all go away, that wouldn’t mean everything goes away because you still have this passive business that is pretty much where it needs to be with the content. Then you could potentially, at least in the meantime, begin to start pouring more time and effort into that if something were to happen. Where would you be the most happy?

Jackie Bolen: Just in this past month since I went full time with my online thing, I chose one website that was earning the most money and I’ve been focusing on that. I’ve been doing outreach. It’s been really fun. I’m actually really excited about it and I’m seeing some good results. I think I would just be happiest doing that.

Pat Flynn: You mentioned earlier that you weren’t so keen on doing the outreach and that’s something that you wouldn’t want to do with the books, but now with a website that you are excited about, you’re actually doing that.

Jackie Bolen: The books, I feel like is more personal. It’s my . . . I don’t know. It’s just kind of my journey or my things that I did in the classroom. It’s more personal, I guess. It feels harder to have that rejection, but for my Amazon affiliate sites, it’s like I just review content or review products on Amazon or give informational tips about how to use those products or whatever, so I guess the rejection doesn’t hit me as hard. If I get a negative review about my book on Amazon, I feel like, “I put so much time and effort into that.” I think that’s the hard thing for me about the books.

Pat Flynn: It’s so interesting when you talk about the Amazon stuff versus your books. Even—I don’t know if anybody can hear it, but I can hear it—there’s a tonal change in your voice, the breathing. It’s really interesting. I know what I feel like I would recommend you do and I’d love to hear . . . You even said it yourself, I think, already. You know that you’re going to spend a little bit more time on the Amazon stuff. If you are saying yes to that, what does that mean you won’t be doing on the book related stuff?

Jackie Bolen: It means that I probably will not keep writing new books. I’m just finishing up one right now with my co-author, but I think after that one is done, then I’ll just be done with that.

Pat Flynn: . . . are there some noises in the spot that you’re in?

Jackie Bolen: Sorry. It’s just the washing machine.

Pat Flynn: Oh okay.

Jackie Bolen: It’s done right now.

Pat Flynn: I was like, is somebody rapidly knocking on the door behind you?

Jackie Bolen: No, no, no, no.

Pat Flynn: Like a woodpecker or something?

Jackie Bolen: No. It’s good.

Pat Flynn: No, no, no. It’s fine. This is real life stuff here, so that’s totally cool. You said that you wouldn’t be publishing more books?

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. I wouldn’t be doing more books and I probably . . . Yeah, that would be about it, I think. I would just let the rest of it just go as it would normally, and maybe I would do a blog post on all my websites, those three websites, like every couple months or whatever, just to keep things up to date, but that would be about it, I think.

Pat Flynn: Very cool. How do you feel?

Jackie Bolen: I feel good. I feel kind of relieved actually that that’s . . . It’s been weighing on my mind, about this question. Actually, my girlfriend agrees. She actually thinks that I should focus on the affiliate websites.

Pat Flynn: I’m glad we’re in alignment.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. She really feels quite strongly about this.

Pat Flynn: She won’t be mad at me.

Jackie Bolen: She was super curious to hear what you had to say. I love it.

Pat Flynn: You’re the one that said everything; I was just guiding the conversation, I think, just to point out that it was really you who made this decision, not me.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah. That’s true. It’s true. Actually, I have a question for you.

Pat Flynn: Absolutely.

Jackie Bolen: Is it worth building up the books or just—even at this point in time—selling them on a place like Empire Flippers? I actually saw recently, Empire Flippers had a couple listings for KDP, the self-publishing things, where they’ve never had that before. People are actually selling these self-publishing businesses. I don’t know if it’s worth it or not. I go back and forth in my head about that and would appreciate your thoughts on that.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. Again, I always use the, “Okay. A year from now, what would that be like?” Also, what are your goals with that? How much would make sense for you to sell it off if you were to sell it off, just assuming that that is something that you can do on Empire Flippers? Then a year from now, how would you feel if that wasn’t there anymore? You had this cash injection. Would that feel . . . For some, it might be, “I feel amazing knowing that that’s in somebody else’s hands. They’re taking care of it and I don’t have to worry about it anymore and I have this money.” Some people might be like, “You know, I just . . . ” It’s like for me with my security guard site. I could sell that, but that’s my first niche site that I shared with the world. There’s some sentimental value there, so I wouldn’t do that. I don’t know. What would you say a year from now if you sold it? How would you feel?

Jackie Bolen: I kind of have the sentimental thing too, because those websites and those books are how I earned my first dollars in the online business world. I have thought that—

Pat Flynn: It doesn’t mean that you need to keep them though. I know that that’s the case for me too; I’ve been challenged by that too. I think that it really—we might not be able to get into it today, but it really goes into, okay, what are your goals? By selling this, what does that allow you to do that you couldn’t do?

Jackie Bolen: I think selling it would allow me—or just give me a chunk of money to invest into my Amazon sites for sure, like hire a VA or hire content writers or just—

Pat Flynn: If you were to hire a VA and a content writer, what would that allow you to do?

Jackie Bolen: I think if I did that, it would just allow me to scale it up. Instead of focusing on only one website like I’m doing right now, I’m devoting forty hours a week to this one website; I could be focusing on two or three or four websites. A VA could be doing all the guest posting outreach and then I get guest posts. Then a content writer writes them. It would just be a lot more automated, I guess, than it is now, because now it’s just me doing it. I think I could just grow the business a lot faster.

Pat Flynn: That sounds . . . It goes back to what your initial goals were, which was to pick one of these that you can grow faster.

Jackie Bolen: Yeah, yeah. I think it would help me. It would give me a cushion of money instead of dipping into my savings to fund the websites. It would just be straight money from my online business, which I would actually feel a lot better about reinvesting that money, instead of using my savings from my day job, I guess.

Pat Flynn: Mm-hmm. If you were to go down that route, if you choose to explore it, consider how much you might want to get for it as a multiplier of what you’re making per year. For example, you could earn two years worth of income and get two years worth of income from this website in one sale. Is that, and you don’t have to answer this, but does that sit right with you? What if somebody paid just what you could make in one year? Is that enough or do you need five years?

Jackie Bolen: No.

Pat Flynn: Know where that is for you because once you start to sell it, then it’s about negotiations and all this outreach and all this people stuff that can be hard for some people. It can get to that awkward, car-salesy, “What if I paid you this?” Know what that number is so you can walk in there with confidence if you choose to sell it. It just becomes a very clear yes or no for you.

Jackie Bolen: Okay, yeah.

Pat Flynn: Cool. Let me ask you, to finish off, what was the most useful thing that you discovered today?

Jackie Bolen: I just think it was super useful thinking about a year from now and picturing myself sitting, I guess, in front of my computer and what do I want to be doing. I don’t want to be doing 100 percent book marketing, certainly not, where doing the Amazon sites, I think it’s still going to be fun and interesting and there’s always new things to discover and new things to learn about that. I think I’m going to still love it in a year from now. Yeah, that was the most useful thing.

Pat Flynn: I love it, Jackie. We’ll check in with you at some point mid-year and just see how things are going. I’m excited. Thank you for taking the time.

Jackie Bolen: Awesome. Thanks so much, Pat, for your help.

Pat Flynn: Absolutely.

Alright, I hope you enjoyed that call with Jackie. Jackie, thank you so much for coming on. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress. One thing that I was thinking of doing, I don’t know what you guys think about this, but perhaps six months down the road or maybe even next year, bringing some people back. Like on Shark Tank they have those updated stories of people who were selected by the investors to work together with them. Then they come back in the future. Always got to put a Back to the Future reference in and that’s where this one lies in this episode. You know how they always do a recap of how that went after that decision was made? I think we should do that here on AskPat. After these coaching calls, several months down the road, bringing a few of them back, maybe per your request even, I’ll figure that out later, but to do an update, to see if either A, they implemented or not, and B, what were the results of either doing it or not doing it. What are some of the struggles that are still there? What are some of the struggles that came out of nowhere that you didn’t even know about? That would be really, really fun, and I’m so excited for that.

Obviously, this show is not going anywhere, so I would recommend subscribing. If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do that now. If you’re digging the new format, the way that I would love to know that you’re digging it is through a review on iTunes. Let me know. I read each and every one of them. I’m stoked to hear what you think because I always want to improve and I think that this is already, from the feedback that I’m getting from others since the coaching calls started in Episode 1001, people are really loving this format because they don’t normally get access to this kind of conversation like this. If you enjoy it, please subscribe, please leave me a review, and if you want to get an application in to potentially have your business coached as well, just head to AskPat.com and you can apply right there.

Thank you to FreshBooks for sponsoring this show, because FreshBooks is a lifesaver for me because they help me manage my business finances. I’ve been using them for quite a while now, especially with billing and invoicing. Like I said, it just makes it super simple and it’s just one of my favorite tools, so go ahead and check them out. If you want to get a thirty-day free trial, a thirty-day free trial, then check them out. Go to FreshBooks.com/askpat, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section.

All good. Alright guys. Thanks so much, I appreciate you. I look forward to serving you in next week’s episode. Until then, my name is Pat Flynn. I’m here to help you make more money, save more time, and help more people. Keep crushing it guys. Take care. Bye.

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