#035: Seven Simple Success Strategies to Implement in 2014

Happy New Year!

In this episode I discuss seven simple and proven strategies to put more money in your pocket and to make your writing business more enjoyable in 2014.

Here’s to having your best year ever!

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or on Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

#1: Lead with Content Projects

Focus your business on content. Companies have a consistent, sustained need for content and most can’t create it all in house. Content can include case studies, articles, white papers and e-newsletters.

Resources for getting started or learning more:

American Writers & Artists (AWAI) has programs on writing content for businesses:

But don’t wait until you feel 100% ready. You just have to act.

#2: Commit to Prospecting Every Month

Make prospecting a weekly habit. Approach companies that see the value in content and are already producing white papers, case studies, etc.

Consistent outbound prospecting is the best insurance you can buy.

#3: Boost your Productivity With Periods of Intense Focus

Productivity is an underused profit and freedom lever. It’s a way to get more free time, produce better work and increase your effective hourly rate.

Try the 50-minute focus technique. Set a timer. Don’t check email, make calls, etc. Then take a 20-minute break. Then repeat. Try working in two-hour blocks.

Start journaling in the morning. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron calls this practice “morning pages.”

Focus@Will: An amazing music tool that streams music that’s scientifically proven to help you focus and minimize distractions.

It’s not hard to boost your productivity, yet it can have an immediate and lasting effect on your business.

#4: Raise Your Fees by 20%

Start with new clients—don’t be afraid to experiment. The best time to try this is when you’re booked solid, and you get a new prospect.

If you’re nervous about raising your fees, buy “insurance” by prospecting harder and smarter for the next 90 days.

#5: Set Aside Income for Personal and Professional Development

I’ve consistently spent 3% to 7% percent of my income on coaching, mastermind groups, training, books, courses, conferences, retreats, etc.

Big advances often come from investing in yourself.

If you can’t afford to commit to 5%, don’t worry. Start by setting aside 1% or 2%, then gradually bump up the percentage as your income increases.

#6: Pay Yourself FIRST

Two elements to paying yourself first:

  1. Finances
  2. Lifestyle.

Finances: Try taking 90% of what you earned last year and make that your new salary—which will leave some money in your account. Every quarter or semi-annually, evaluate your account balance and consider paying yourself a bonus if business is strong.

Lifestyle: Start putting your lifestyle first. For many of us, becoming a freelancer was a lifestyle choice. Yet, we often operate out of fear and take on more than we should. As a result, our lifestyle suffers.

#7: Add a FUN and Exciting Element to your Life or Business

Allow yourself a regular indulgence. This could be going to the movies, golfing, hiking, swimming, getting a massage or spa treatment, going for lunch with your spouse, or anything you enjoy.

Give yourself permission to have some fun. After all, freelancing is a gift—take full advantage of it.

Want More of This Stuff?

Want to get more tips and strategies for boosting your writing income? There are

three ways you can enjoy these tips and strategies, share them with friends and help me grow this movement to banish the starving writer syndrome:

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Finally, if you have a question you’d potentially like answered on a future show —or if you’d like to be considered as a guest for a future episode — please let me know: ed at b2blauncher dot com.

Thanks again for your support!

Till next time,


  • Melissa

    Hey Ed — Happy New Year! Just wanted to give another thumbs up for Focus@Will. I’m still struggling with productivity. The one reliable tool for me is Focus@Will. I’ll give 30-20-30 a try and see if that helps as well. Thanks for the tips!

    • edgandia

      Thanks for the feedback, Melissa! I’m with you 100% on Focus@Will. Amazing tool. And so simple! Yes, try the 50-20-50 focus technique. I’m telling you, you’re going to be surprised at how much more you get done with that kind of focus.

      Happy New Year!

      • Melissa

        Oops — make that FIFTY-20-FIFTY. Haven’t even started and I’m trying to slack…thanks for the clarification. I guess I heard what I wanted to hear!

        • edgandia


  • Tom Bentley

    Ed, a big thanks for all your great counsel over the past year. Best in 2014 for you!

    • edgandia

      Thank YOU, Tom, for being a loyal listener/reader this year. I appreciate you! You have an awesome 2014 as well!

  • Kathy Mercure

    Thank you so much for this motivation to change up in 2014! And a big thank you for suggesting focus@will. It’s awesome. I was listening to internet Baroque radio before (my beloved CBC) but don’t like organ music and there is sometime opera. This is perfect, and much slower than what I have been listening to. Cheers!

    • edgandia

      Awesome, good to hear, Kathy! I agree with you on the music thing. None of the other services are created with that in mind. You’ll hear a few calm pieces, but then others have distracting instruments or melodies. Or the mood is off (depressing, stressful, etc.). Focus@Will for the most part avoids those distractions. Love it!

  • MarleneO

    Thanks for a great episode, Ed! I already start most days with what I’ve been calling my “50 minute productivity segments” that sounds just like yours, and then possibly adding in 1 or 2 more of them throughout the day. I have a great deal I need to accomplish in the coming weeks, so I’m going to take it up a notch and try your 50-20-50 recommendation – including trying to fit two of these in each morning. I believe you said you put a 30 minute break between them? It sounds intense, but I could really use the boost in productivity to get the most out of January.

    • edgandia

      Super!! Yes, give it a try. Sounds like now is the perfect time to implement this idea. Let me know how it works for you, OK? Good luck!

      Oh, and yes — I do 30 minutes in between. Honestly, 2 of these sessions with 30 minutes in between is a really good day. In other words, 50-20-50, then 30 (break), and then a final 50-20-50. I think you’ll be surprised at how productive you’ll be. 😉

      • MarleneO

        I did it today and it was awesome. I’m not going to lie, it felt a bit like a marathon, but boy did I make a dent in two important projects. Looking forward to making this an ongoing practice. Oh, and I tried focus@will at the same time which was great. I didn’t even know I *could* work with music, but with this service I could and it was a nice break from the quiet home office.

        Thank you so much for sharing these tips!

        • edgandia

          LOVE it!!

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  • Nathan Collier

    Wow. I did 50-20-50 tonight and that totally works! I’ve been using focus@will for a few weeks too and second how great it is. The Pandora commercials always seemed to throw me off.

    By the way, the paid version of focus@will has a timer you can set, so that’s what I used to do time my 50 minute blocks. Worked great!

    Thanks for all the tips! I was already doing some of them, but I intend to do all 7 starting immediately.

    • edgandia

      Thanks for the feedback, Nathan! Crazy how well that technique works, huh? And yes, love the timer in Focus@Will. Good stuff.

  • Paul Patzloff

    Ed, your optimism and candor are splendid. Thanks for sharing your gifts of knowledge & know-how. I am now charged up and ready to take on 2014.

    • edgandia

      Paul – Can’t thank you enough for your kind comments! Wow! I wish you great success this year.

  • Bill Schieb

    Great podcast, some good points that always bear repeating.
    I’ll give focus@will a try, but I’d thought I’d mention Pandora Radio has a Classical for Studying channel that isn’t too bad (I have a paid subscription).

    • edgandia

      Hi Bill — I didn’t know about that station in Pandora. I’ll have to check it out! I, too, am a premium member. Love the tool but just hadn’t been able to find a station that’s consistent in terms of helping me maintain flow. Sounds like this may be the one! Thanks for sharing.

      • Kerry

        Bill and Ed, I discovered long ago in college that the best possible focus soundtrack for me was a first-rate gregorian chant collection–non-English lyrics and no possibly distracting music. Not all recordings or “performers” are of the same quality, I’ve found, but when you discover a collection that works for you, it’s a guaranteed mental balm. To this day, when I know deep or extended concentration will be needed, I defer to the monks.

        As always, Ed, thanks for the excellent stuff.

  • Steve Hutchings

    Another highly useful podcast, Ed. I especially like #3 about ‘intense focus’ during work time and how to schedule to get the most productivity out of our time. I’m really bad for checking stocks, google analytics and all the distractions that chip away at writing time so I’ll try this 50 minutes work/20 minute break technique. The ‘Focus@Will’ looks worth a gander too.

    Happy (and prosperous) 2014 to you!

    • edgandia

      Thanks, Steve! Yes, definitely try it — and be strict about it. I think you’ll be very surprised by the difference in productivity the first or second time you do it.

    • BLDRsWriter

      I agree with Steve that #3 is the first strategy am going to immediately implement. I struggle with focus – or as I call it “Oh, look at the pretty butterfly” syndrome, and I already know that I’d be more profitable (and less overwhelmed) if I implemented this strategy. Thanks for the thorough explanation of how you use it in your day. While I have set a 50 minute timer in the past, I never walked away for 20 and got back at it for 50 more minutes. That, I believe, is the key. Thanks, Ed!

      • edgandia

        Awesome! Yes, you’ll see a big difference when you take that big break. And believe me, you need it after working at a high degree of focus for 50 minutes. Try and and let me know how it works for ya!

  • Gloria Rand

    Love the 50/20/50 rule. I listened to the podcast last weekend, and started implementing your strategy this week. It’s helping with my productivity already!

    • edgandia

      Awesome! Thanks for letting me know, Gloria. Yes, that simple technique has changed the way I do my work. It’s extremely effective.