The Slight Edge Report Year Six
The last 12 months were unbelievable. I downsized my day job to a half-time gig. My wife quit her day job. I transformed a very fresh business idea into a solid 4-figure monthly venture. My son joined my church community. I joined a mastermind led by my favorite millionaire. I was in the USA for the first time in my life. I gave my first speaking gig – in English!
I always experience some dizziness when I look back at the last year, but this year was exceptionally crazy. It’s like a dream come true.
I have so many occupations now. I’m still a database administrator, half-time. I’m an author. I’m a life coach. I’m a book marketing consultant. Each of those four occupations provides roughly 25% of our household income.
A lot has happened in the last 12 months in pretty much each of the areas.
Downsizing my day job was a huge blessing. My corporate gig was getting on my nerves and I was getting on the nerves of the whole team, starting with my supervisor. In fact, she was the one who initiated the downsizing process and opened the door for me.
Since the last report, my book sold 10,474 Kindle copies and 3,632 paperbacks. This is respectively 23% and 45% progress over the previous year. My free books were downloaded from Amazon almost 5,300 times.
Again, this was with no new releases at all and minimal promotional activity.
Coaching has been going well. I got two new Pay What It’s Worth coaching clients. One of them quit after two months, but he got back to me because he noticed how much he slacked without accountability. I had a whole bunch of new clients on Coach.me who appeared, stayed for a while, achieved their short-term goals and quit.
I also had a couple of unsettling adventures. I got a client with schizophrenia who needed help. That was a tough experience that demonstrated to me how unprepared I was. I can coach healthy, self-motivated adults in the areas I succeeded, but coaching someone who is mentally ill was a totally different story. I was kind of relieved when the Coach.me authorities stepped into and canceled her all coaching contracts.
Then, in April I got this annoying client who was not ready for the kind of coaching I do online. It’s more about accountability and daily actions than about looking for solutions and support. But she avoided every action and felt criticized by me because I insisted on creating the minimal action plan ASAP and implementing it. It lasted for a few weeks and it cost me some emotional turmoil. In the end, I decided to stop accepting new clients on Coach.me at the beginning of May 2018. I have been working steadily with my several paying clients since then and accepted only a couple new ones, including one by accident.
My book advertising service took off like a rocket ship. The beginning was a bit rough, but I got new customers almost every month. The revenue steadily increased. Then, in October 2018 I had an eye-opening call with a marketing expert, implemented his advice in November and got a really good customer in December. “Really good” means that my revenue from AMS service doubled month-to-month.
Figuring out the mysterious secrets of AMS advertising has been a constant struggle and my ads’ performance has been getting worse and worse, but the revenue stayed at the 4-figure level since March, and March was only a slight hiccup, netting almost $900.
An event that really saved this service and my book sales was when Amazon opened the UK market for ads. On 26th of February I figured out how to open an AMS account in the UK and my sales in the UK simply exploded. For example, I sold 241 Kindle copies till the 28th of July and it is always a slow month. I mentioned the decreasing performance of my ads, 240 is not many compared to 840 in March 2018. But without the ads in the UK, I sold only 17 copies in August 2017.
I got 5 of my best customers on that market and UK revenues make up about half of the business now.
I’ve served 30+ customers so far, advertised 60+ books and helped other authors earn about $30,000 dollars they wouldn’t have earned without my help. Unfortunately, AMS reporting is quite poor, so I have only a guesstimation of the number of copies we sold: over 10,000 copies.
And this business opened some new venues and provided opportunities for me. I contacted Martin Meadows and offered to run ads for him at no cost. Now we are in regular contact and I already learned priceless advice from him, like how to leverage Book Bub ads for a book launch.
When I was in the USA, a guy from my mastermind community let me stay at his place for no cost. I partly repaid my debt to him by resurrecting his book. It sold only several copies in 2017. Thanks to my ads it sold about 100 copies in the last three months.
By the way, I was the first author who figured out how to get into the UK market with AMS ads in the huge FB group dedicated to Amazon advertising. Thanks to them I knew it was possible because other authors shared stories about their friends who already advertised on that market. So, I only needed to figure out how to do that. Once I did, I shared my discovery with the group, plenty of people replicated the process and one guy documented it for group members.
My AMS business grew like it did, because I hired a pack of minions to help me out. My eldest son has helped me since autumn 2016. When my wife finally quit her day job for good, she learned how to download my customer’s daily data snapshots and create Amazon ads. Soon, I needed to teach my second son how to create ads. A few months ago, I even hired my 11-old daughter to download ads’ data for further analysis.
Because he started creating Amazon ads for me and my customers, my son was able to buy himself a new gaming computer.
My role came down to interacting with prospects, getting them on board, creating the first template ad for each new book and creating orders for more ads. Only occasionally did I dabble with anything else – ads creation, downloading data of my customers, managing particular ads and the like.
Thank God for minions. I had my hands full anyway. This business begot some unexpected opportunities. For example, I was hired to write four book descriptions for one of my prospects who didn’t finally work on ads with me. I also made a complete revamp of book pages for a few people. It required a high level of trust, because I needed the access to my customer’s Amazon account. I did it mostly for men from my mastermind, but also for one existing customer of Resurrecting Books.
After my visit to the USA in April I also got busy with revamping my Resurrecting Books website. I got priceless advice from Dave Chesson, the owner of Kindlepreneur and hired again the marketing coach. We not only rebuilt the website, but also the whole funnel. Before the new site was up, I had spent a lot of my time providing initial free assessments for my prospects. The sheer volume of prospects saturated my schedule (and inbox). The new process automated my feedback and I contact only those prospects I personally pick, because I see the biggest potential in their books.
While most of the times my service is nothing groundbreaking, and sometimes the advertised books barely break even, I love the cases when it makes all the difference. I love to see books that had 7-digit bestseller rank (meaning they sold a copy once in a blue moon) that are getting a consistent trickle of sales. In their cases, 10 sales a month is the difference between life and death. It is the true resurrection that justifies the name of my service.
A few times, the success stories were more impressive. The “good client” I got in December? He already paid me over $3,000, because my ads earned him twice as much. I got a new customer in July 2018. He had five books and none of them were selling decently. We sold 50 copies in the first two weeks of running his ads.
I got back on Quora in April for good. In the last year, Quora generated over a million views of my answers, pretty nice! I love Quora for what it is. I have a chance to engage with my readers, to get to know their pain points and I have material for a few books ready right there. I only need to put myself together and dig into the 1,000 answers I gave.
At the beginning of 2018, I heard about a website called Fiberead. They translate books and publish them in the Chinese market. I uploaded three of my books there. One of them is already published. So far, I haven’t earned even a dime from it, but the thrill of seeing those strange Chinese characters on the cover of my book is priceless
About a month ago I finally published a few of my books on PublishDrive. This is another eBook aggregator, like Draft2Digital. Their advantage over D2D is that they can publish my books on GooglePlay. So far, I sold two copies there.
I wrote a book. The last time I finished a book was December 2015 and the last time I published one, was September 2016. I’ve already started the publishing process. I was able to write the book and get about publishing it, because I finally got some spare mental bandwidth. The publishing process had overwhelmed me in the past. A full-time job AND everything else I had on my plate was too much. I was on the verge of a mental breakdown for a while.
Now, I have 4 more hours a day “to spare.” Well, I dedicated them mostly to my family and AMS business and I was forced to downsize the amount of writing to half an hour a day. But when I finally put up a new face of Resurrecting Books website I was able to spare some time and energy for a new book.
Darren Hardy wrote a book titled “The Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster.” It is on my wishlist, and the longer I’m involved in business, the more I feel I need to read it.
Business is the realm of high rewards, but also high stakes. I’m not used to playing high stakes. My whole life I played it safely… and was losing most of the time. Often, I sweat about too many things instead of just doing my job.
Transiting to half-time in my day job was a perfect example. I was so anxious about it! I shocked myself. Here I was, dreaming about becoming a full-time writer, but I was afraid to downsize my day job. I prayed about it, ruminated about it and in the end, I was almost forced by my supervisor to do it. She was truly concerned about my sanity.
In the end, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. I worried how will I pay bills, and if I would have to consume my savings. Stupid worries! My side hustle practically exploded when I put more time and attention into it.
Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster. There is a huge unpredictability involved. It triggers those stupid things about giving up and switching to something more reliable. With every project, every customer the output is an enigma. I helped a successful author setup AMS ads. I hoped he will make thousands on ads. He made hundreds. And, truth to say, I was a little angry he didn’t appreciate my help even one ounce. Guess what? Yesterday, because of this connection I doubled my keywords database for ads.
In the middle of July, I took an author on board who had 5 books, the real mishmash: a children’s book, two business books, a self-help book and a guide for fathers. They were all pretty dead. They all resurrected, and I earned about $100 with that customer.
I took another author in July. A successful American businessman with a great book and plenty of good reviews. It flopped.
It’s like this all the time.
Wow, there were more than I can count. First of all, my day job. My supervisor was so eager to kick me out into the half-time gig, because I slacked horribly. The idea was that I dedicate more attention to my side hustle and would also be more focused on my job while sitting 4 hours a day in the office. It worked for a couple of months, then I slacked again. Terribly.
At last, I dropped a ball one time too many and got the worst chewing out I’ve ever had. The worst thing about it? I deserved it.
That was two months ago, and I improved my performance in my day job since then. Seriously, it wasn’t hard, I was doing almost nothing, so doing anything seem like a huge improvement.
Working from Home
The first months on half-time were quite rocky. My wife expected I would help her with kids and household chores like I was on vacation, not doing my business in the mornings. After about a month we had a conversation about this and she sulked a few weeks after that. But she gave me more freedom to work in my home office, while the family life was continuing outside my door.
Jeannie Ingraham contacted me well back in 2017 about our next joint-venture project. Having so many balls in the air, I didn’t give this project enough time and energy. I announced it to my subscribers. I dabbled with it here and there. It was like pulling a tooth.
Finally, Jeannie agreed to put this project on the back burner. We should go back to it at the end of September.
Ads in Canada
After my success with UK ads, I was excited to get into the Canadian market with my ads. Unfortunately, Amazon is not as advanced as in the UK or even the US. They don’t run the kind of ads I successfully run on other markets. I wasted quite a few hours establishing my account in Canada and playing with the ads they have there. I lost time and some bucks.
Diminishing Effectiveness of US Ads
My revenue from Resurrecting Books makes over a quarter of my household income and I look with concern at the results of my ads in the US. They are getting worse with each month. If not for breaking into the UK market in February, I would have been in deep trouble.
But I need to hang on. The roller-coaster is on its way down, but there will be a turn and elevation. There always is. I already can see some hope. A week before starting to write this report, I discovered that if I move my books from CreateSpace to KDP, I can advertise my paperbacks on Amazon. That’s cool because I can practically double the number of ads for one book overnight. I’ve already done it with several titles and the results are promising.
“Losing” my half time and the day job of my wife cost us over $2,500 a month ($30,000 a year for Americans ). As I mentioned, my side hustle made up for that and then some.
Have a look at my side income levels from the previous year and the current one. Of course, I compare them from one The Slight Edge report to another. The difference is striking, especially at the end of the calendar year and in the middle of it.
The main reason behind this jump was my Resurrecting Books service. This brand-new source of income provided almost ten grand in the last 12 months. The best thing about it was that I didn’t need to invest much money in it. It was based on my expertise and capitalized on the work I had done in the past months advertising my books.
On the other hand, my book sales increased as well, but they were driven by advertising money. I spent more, so I earned more. The net effect of Resurrecting Books was more significant.
Speaking about the book sales, I sold over 10,000 Kindle copies of my books from August 2017 till end of July 2018. I also sold over 3,600 paperbacks and several hundred audiobooks.
So, my sales increased by about 33%, but my income stayed practically the same. I told you, the performance of my ads got worse.
My coaching income remained stable, but it is only about 10% of my income. I have also a ‘varia’ position in my income tracking sheet where I register occasional influx of income. It grew nicely because I helped to sell Dave Chesson over 20 KDP Rocket licenses. It happened almost exclusively through the single post I wrote about this awesome tool and because it ranked relatively high in Google. I love it because this is the true automatic income. I wrote the post once, I set up a Kindlepreneur affiliate account once and ta-dam! The money started to trickle.
I paid off, apart from the normal plan, about 2% of my mortgage. The savings ratio had some hiccups after my wife quit her job, but for the rest of the time, it was a solid 2-digits, and even crossed 20% a few times.
For a moment we had accumulated over 100,000 Polish Zloty’s in cash, the biggest “fortune” I’ve ever owned. Then we spent a good chunk of it on the planned and less-planned projects. My wife was adamant about building a porch on the back of the house.
We finally connected our home with the county’s sewage system. This investment alone consumed about 10% of all our savings.
And my wife’s 21-year old car finally decided to die. We exchanged it with a “young” 16-year old Toyota Yaris.
While we talk finances – I had to pay over 10,000 PLN of personal tax. It was the first time it ever happened to me. Having three kids, we have some tax preferences in Poland and up till 2016 I was getting the tax returned, instead of having to pay the taxes.
I diligently set aside needed amounts so it wasn’t a problem for me at all. I used what was left to buy a plane ticket for my first trip to the USA.
I’m blessed with bulletproof automatic heath. Well, I got sick in January. The usual story, sleep deprivation and exhaustion weakened my system. Also, this year’s germ was pretty brutal. Half of my workmates got it at one time or another. I lost my voice for a week.
I also gained some pounds around Christmas and I think I had been a few pounds above my 144-lbs threshold for about two months. I even got back to my food journal for a few weeks to deal with that.
But I exercised every day. I gulp two glasses of water first thing in the morning. I ate at least one raw vegetable or fruit a day. I tracked my sleep and watched myself to sleep about 7 hours. I fasted for 14 hours a day. I still run the steps every time I need to climb any stairs.
Those activities are so automatic that I barely register them.
I re-committed to my spiritual life. I decided to make prayer my #1 goal for this year. Strangely enough, I succeeded.
“We become what we think about.”—Earl Nightingale
I had been already praying quite a lot for a layman, but I managed to both increase my time commitment and – ‘intensity’ may be a good word here – of my prayers.
However, I still stand by what I wrote at the beginning of the year:
“The quantity I can control, it’s not so with the quality. (…) The power of prayer lies not in spiritual ecstasy, but in the relationship. When there is a relationship, the space for effusions is created. But without relationship all ecstasies are false.”
It’s not also just the effect of my imagination. Chad Jeffers spent a few days with me when I stayed at his place in Franklin. When I was giving a speech to his students at Belmont University, one guy asked me how to deal with stress. I said that for a Christian an obvious answer is prayer. Then Chad remarked:
“And how much do you pray Michal? All the time, right?”
Every success you read about in this post, and every failure I was able to shrug off and learn from, was in a big part the effect of the focus on my prayers. When God is in the first place, everything is in the right place.
I already told you this: self-help is a big fat lie. There is very little “self” in personal development. This is a team sport, like almost every other human activity.
I grew in the past year mostly because:
- I had to; I moved from being an employee to entrepreneurship and I needed to earn money for groceries and bills.
- Because I cooperated with others; mostly because I joined the Iron Sharpens Iron mastermind led by Aaron Walker.
In September Aaron dissolved the online Community he was moderating. He offered to let me join his mastermind group and the first month was on him. Well, at that time the ISI monthly fee was $500 and I simply didn’t have such money. I had my peace of mind fund, of course, but I needed to generate an additional $500 a month to afford this mastermind. It was also the time when my wife quit her day job, so we already took a hit to our income. I put my trust in God and joined.
In less than a couple of weeks, if I recall correctly, the moderator of my Business on Purpose mastermind contacted me and said he was getting away from leading masterminds. Bam! I already miraculously had $350 for the ISI mastermind.
ISI wasn’t exactly like I imagined, but undoubtedly it was a place of growth for me. Interacting with Aaron for one hour a week was almost worth the price of the mastermind. I don’t have many chances to hang up with millionaires. And there were nine other quality guys.
I expected a rapid growth, but it didn’t happen and I was disappointed a bit. However, I kept attending our weekly calls. When you show up, you create a space for opportunities.
One immediate development that kept me in ISI was a coaching call with David Rhodes from my group. He is the marketing coach I mentioned while describing my advertising service development. His one tip helped me to generate enough additional revenue to afford the ISI fee.
Then I went to the USA for the ISI retreat in Nashville. It was awesome to meet many ISI folks I already knew online and seven members of my mastermind group. I included the details in this income report.
Another positive output of that trip was a meeting with Dave Chesson. Contrary to my mastermind peers, this guy actually understands the self-publishing industry. He poured into me for almost three hours explaining how I should rebuild my website and why I sit on a million-dollar business in a way that I actually believed it.
Thus, I got busy with the website rebuild. I consulted David Rhodes again and he helped me to set up the site in a way that I don’t need to give my time for free anymore.
I’m lucky I did that. The recent influx of prospects was almost impossible to process. I would not have had a chance to manage to deal with everything with my old process.
This influx came from interacting with others as well. I have happy clients who refer their friends to me. My mastermind buddy sent over a few authors to, the same did Engel Jones, who speaks with an insane amount of people on his podcast. At the beginning of this service, I got clients, because I spent years on building relationships and I was known in the self-publishing industry. Now, I’m getting clients, because my results justify referring friends to me.
This year was also awesomely good in the area of personal relationships. I was right (and my wife even confirmed that, can you believe?), quitting a day job did my wife good. The pressure was lifted off her shoulders almost magically. Now, that we are spending more time together I can also appreciate how insanely effective she is in taking care of our household. Of course, I help a bit, the kids help quite a lot, but it is mainly her job and she demonstrates the state-of-the-art performance at that.
Pat Flynn often says that his wife is the most important member of his business team, simply because she takes care of home and kids so he can focus more on business. I feel exactly the same about my wife. She also finds time to help me out in the business; every morning she downloads campaigns data of my customers and sends them to a virtual assistant. She also created hundreds, if not thousands, of ad campaigns.
Well, my whole family got their hands dirty in my businesses. Ummm, “a virtual assistant” is actually my eldest son. He helps me with 4 or five business tasks on a daily basis. He even acts as my accountant and summarizes my book royalties every month for tax purposes. My other son is an expert in producing AMS ads. He can crank out hundreds of them in a few hours. My 11-year daughter downloads the ads’ data for analysis.
It’s not that working together created a family idyll, but we are forced to spend more time with each other. And, of course, I and my wife are more present without the burden of full-time jobs. We actually could attend all teacher-parent meetings this year. We went to the cinema with my kids on practically every Marvel movie premiere in 2018. And we are not stressed out by the jobs’ drama. My wife has no job and I chilled out in my job.
By the way, my half-time is another sign of my wife’s support. She totally surprised me when she came one day to me and said: “OK, you can work half-time.” Oh, there was also a gentle remark accompanying this consent: “You’d better make this work, or else…” but that was a minor nuisance
She is highly disturbed by every trip I take, so the fact she allowed me to go to the States was huge too. There is another ISI retreat in September, and she gave me her blessing a week ago for it too. I’ve already bought the tickets.
Another huge relationship development: my son joined my church community. There was a series of catechesis in the autumn of 2017 and I invited both of my sons. Chris, the elder one, decided to go. He stuck with it for the whole series, the teachings spoke to him and he joined the community afterward. I joined my community when I was of his age and it was a big deal for me then as it was for him. Now, we spend at least two hours together in a meaningful setup.
I asked my director at work if I can bring my kids to the office and show them how I work. She agreed. We had to go around some corpo politics; officially, because of data protection, literally no one from outside the firm has entry to the office. We even meet our clients in the conference rooms around the lobby.
When I brought my eldest to the office, my crazy supervisor asked him if he is interested in working here. He wasn’t really, but his mother talked him into it. Chris went to a job interview and was estimated as capable. He will start his first job in the same department where I work. He is only 17 years old.
I’m looking forward to the experience of working with him. I hope it will help him to mature faster.
In July I read a book by Shawn Achor, “Big Potential.” Wow, it was impactful. The message was simple: our focus on individual performance cripples our potential.
When you try to enrich and support others, you grow faster and bigger by an order of magnitude. It’s better to be average in the superstar team than to be a superstar. Of course, it’s best to be a superstar in the superstar team, but our focus on individual performance literally prevents us from ever achieving such status.
I smuggled a lot of examples of the Big Potential into this report. If not the help of Dave and David, my Resurrecting Books service wouldn’t have been booming like it’s booming right now. It began only because of a network of self-publishers I engaged with. It’s alive and thriving because of all the recommendations I’m getting from my friends and customers.
I’ve been in my church community for over 20 years. This experience prepared me for my life transformation. It accelerated my spiritual growth, that’s a given in the church community, right? But it accelerated my personal growth too. I was able to live the life of 100 people. I’ve seen it unfold in front of my eyes. Crises, catastrophes, dramas, tragedies, miracles, heroic struggles, quitting, showing up against any hope, marriages, deaths and more.
Thanks to my church community I couldn’t give into complacency in my life.
The same is true about my ISI mastermind. This is a lifelong commitment. Those guys call me out on the things I cannot see myself. They already helped me improve my marriage, because I was blind to some vices of mine. They noticed. They corrected me. I stand corrected.
I persevered in my quest for a better life for years. There was my merit in that, but I couldn’t have made it without tapping into the network of my readers and customers. Many coaching interactions taught me as much as they taught my coachees. And if not for my readers’ support over the years, their thank you notes, encouraging comments and messages, I doubt I would be where I am now.
I helped my wife to get out of her job and now I’m reaping the benefits. Our fragile relationship got stronger. We have time and energy to take care of our household and family.
My son is around me more and it makes me mindful of my leadership role. By the way, I extracted countless spiritual lessons from interactions with my kids. Every time I notice how stubborn or stupid they act, I can relate it to my relationship with God.
Read my review of “Big Potential” and then read the book. Big Potential is not a nice theory. My mind is so analytical, that I sense the numbers more than I crunch them. And now, for the first time in the human history, researchers are finally able to connect the dots using big data for analysis. They can track dozens of metrics and millions of data points and find correlations that were impossible to prove before. And each analysis confirms that you are much better individually, if you give into your network, your people, than if you try to improve yourself.
Remove “self” from self-help and you will have the missing puzzle for truly big growth in your life.
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.” — Zig Ziglar
I’m a living proof of this concept. Millions of people read my answers on Quora. Tens of thousands read my books. I’ve coached over a hundred people one-on-one.
Read my past Slight Edge reports. It’s all documented there. I have grown. It didn’t happen in a social void, because I’m so fabulous. It happened because I was helping people and they were helping me.
Summary of 2018 The Slight Edge Report
At last, after six long years, I can state that The Slight Edge philosophy is true. The growth is exponential with time. It starts slowly, and if you were well on your way down, it may take you long to reach the surface of simple survival and even longer to soar the sky of achievement.
But all you need to do is to keep going. Keep doing your small disciplines. They will accumulate and convert into something much greater.
In 2012 I was unhappy and lived a life of quiet desperation. I had no guts to do anything about it. Today, I’m different and my life is completely different.
It didn’t happen because of enlightenment or sudden change of circumstances. It happened because I started practicing speed reading for ten minutes a day or tracking my all expenses. It realized because of small things.
The Slight Edge message is true. Let it sink:
Then take (small and daily) action.