I don’t feel ready.

And if I’m honest, I feel a bit scared to be writing this.

But I know that there won’t ever be “a right time” to try it.

And I know that being afraid is just an excuse.

One that isn’t ever going to go away.

What am I afraid of?

Whilst the tense feeling in my gut might seem real right now, I know it’s an illusion.

I’m afraid of not making enough money to pay my rent — but I can always use my credit card if I need to.

I’m afraid of being judged… “What if people don’t like my product?” — but letting these as yet imaginary haters stop me before I’ve started is ridiculous.

So I’m setting myself a challenge this month: to pay my rent by writing, instead of graphic design.

Which means I have 28 days to make £693.

If that sounds like a lot, yup, renting in London is expensive.


How am I going to do it?

I have a couple of paid guest blog posts due to be published in the next few weeks. (A first for me, so I’m excited!) There is also a small trickle of money coming in from my first ebook. But this alone isn’t enough to make rent, even if I get another paid writing gig or two lined up.

So the plan is to create a new product, and have the finished version on sale at the end of March. As Amy How says in her guide to launching side projects: “Just Fucking Ship”.

The only question left to answer now is…

Which side project?

I’ve been mulling over a few concepts already. Some of them for over a year in fact. So here’s a quick rundown of each option, and the things it has going for it (or not).

Idea A: a guide to using Instagram for small/creative businesses. If this sounds like something you’d like to read, please take a minute to complete this short survey).

Pros:

  • Lots of research in place already
  • My own personal experience of building a large Instagram following (@jamesgreig)

Cons:

  • I need to do do a lot of interviews with brands to figure out what works for them on Instagram, so I have something to back up my own experience
  • Although I’m pretty clued up on the platform, I’ve only been using it for a few years, compared to over a decade’s experience in the design industry.

Idea B: A freelance graphic designer’s survival kit
A couple of years ago, I wrote a long list of tips for freelance designers. The plan would be to expand on this, and include detailed information on things like setting up a portfolio website, finding work, and keeping your finances in order.

For:

  • I’m already an expert on this (3 years of freelancing next month!)
  • Lots of contacts in place in my existing network
  • I already have several articles written on the subject, all of which were well received by designers and the design industry
  • I know there is a need for this product, based on other people’s questions, not just my own experience

Against:

  • Someone has recently launched a product with the same name. (Pah! I can think of a different one if I need to).

Idea C: An Aeropress Recipe Book
This is something I’ve been talking about with my girlfriend for a while. We have an @aeropressrecipe account running on Twitter, but nothing else.

For:

  • Seems like it would be fun
  • Um… I like coffee

Against:

  • No existing audience to sell the book to, other than Twitter
  • “Seems like it would be fun” is probably a red herring to divert me from the hard work involved in the other options
  • I’ve only had an Aeropress for a few months, so I don’t actually know that much about this topic

Looking at the options, idea B seems like a clear winner to me.

It’s something that I can tackle in 4 weeks. And I have an audience in place (both on Twitter, and more importantly, in my mailing list).

The other ideas could still be workable, but I’m going to come back to them next month I think…


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So what next?

As Nathan Barry said in his 24-hour product challenge: “Want to build a following? The simplest way is to work in public. Just share what you’re building, why you made certain decisions, and the results from building it”.

I’m sure that some stuff will go wrong, and there will be times I wished people weren’t watching.

But my 30 days of writing experiment has already made the benefits of accountability clear to me.

So I’m going to document my progress on this blog as I go.

All of the numbers, plus my planning process, plus the stuff that’s going on inside my head. You can even track my daily earnings in this public Google doc for a full breakdown of the numbers.

If you’ve read this far and aren’t already receiving my newsletter, please consider putting your email into the blue box below.

Cheers!

James


Posted to: Writing