How To Make Passive Income from Kindle Publishing with Michael of FreshBelief.com
Trevor: Hey guys, welcome to the eCommerce Paradise Podcast. Today I have a special guest on the show, Michael, everyone. And he's with ... freshbelief.com is his blog. He's the founder of Fresh Belief. And welcome to the podcast, Michael.
Michael: Hey, cheers, Trevor. It's great to be here.
Trevor: Yeah. Excited to have you on, 'cause Kindle Publishing is a very passive business model, and you've been doing Kindle Publishing for a long time. Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your history with the Kindle Publishing business model?
Michael: Sure, sure, sure. So I got into Kindle Publishing around two years ago, and it was after ... You know when you go through all of the different business models, you look in this one, this one, this one? I even when into [dropshipping 00:00:38] a bit. I talk a bit about that on my blog. And even after leaving Kindle Publishing, going to drop shipping, and coming back, and even trying affiliate marketing, I always came back to Kindle Publishing, because Kindle Publishing is one of the models where you basically publish a book.
Michael: If you publish a book in a way which is high-quality and it can sell long-term, it's just set and forget. That's the best thing about Kindle Publishing, is I can publish a book today on, let's say, dropshipping. That's one profitable keyword. And it starts to gain traction on Kindle paperback and audio and hardcover, and it starts to gain traction. And I don't touch that book for, let's say, a year. It's still going to make me money year after year, because Amazon and Audible do everything for me. I don't have to ... I could just go off to an island. As long as I do the work upfront right, I don't have to do anything.
Michael: That's the advantage of doing Kindle Publishing. That's the reason why I like it. And that's the reason why, even after I've gone away from it, I always come back to it.
Trevor: Cool. And so how many books do you have published right now?
Michael: Okay, so currently, I have only 12 books, because I've had a few problems in the past from Amazon taking books away from me, and copyright. I used to have about 25 books, but that's gone down. And it's one of those problems. If you don't do things properly, this is what happens. But I'm building it back up. I'm currently publishing eight books this month, which'll bring my revenue back up.
Trevor: Cool, man. That's awesome. So generally speaking, usually when people wonder about a business model, if they want to pursue it online or not ... I know I'm wondering this. The first question on their mind is, how much money can I make with it? Can you give people an idea of how much money they can make? Maybe give an example of how much money you've made over time, and maybe some other influencers you know that do depend, how much money they make online?
Michael: Sure, sure, sure. So currently, I make around $1,000 per month, because of all the books that have been taken way from me. I used to make around $2,500-3,000 a month from Kindle Publishing, and that was with 20 books. And I wasn't really ... After I did that, I didn't do much. And then Amazon actually sent me emails to send, and I ignored them, and didn't know anything, and books got taken away.
Michael: But there are people online earning $10,000 a month. There's guys earning $20,000 a month on Kindle Publishing. So if you want to check out some guys, like the two guys who do really well, there's the Mikkelsen twins with Audible. They just did $12,000 last month from their books, and they didn't touch them. So that's one of the big things that can happen. If you set it all up right, it is such a huge way to earn money in 2018.
Trevor: Cool, man. That's amazing. Yeah, for most people, I think $2,000-3,000 is all you need to live, pretty much a full-time income. It really depends on where you live and stuff like that. Now, you live in Bangkok, Thailand, right?
Michael: Yeah, yeah.
Trevor: Cool, man.
Michael: Been here for over a decade.
Trevor: And you're from the UK though, right? When did you make that move to Bangkok, and why did you do that?
Michael: Okay, so it was around ... Oh, fuck. So it was around 11 years ago, and I originally came for Muay Thai. And I was a professional fighter for around eight years, and then ... So I've been fighting for eight years, and I came here originally for seven months to actually fight. And then, okay, typically friend story. You get your girlfriend and then you go back to your home country and you come back again.
Michael: Well, I came back again and I was only going to stay for two months. But then I got [inaudible 00:04:36] stadium and I started to have other fights, and I was like, you know what, I want to stay. I want to find out how I can stay.
Michael: So then I started fighting, I got some part-time work on the side. And I just stayed all of this time just to fight Muay Thai and just enjoy my life, because once I realized that life here, even though I've been in a lot more as a fighter, was so much more enjoyable than going back to England in the cold, the wet, the rain. It was just ... I'm just going to stay here. I'm just going to stay in Thailand.
Michael: It's like, most people, they presume ... This is what happened on my blog. They presume that I came to Thailand to get that kind of lower ... The economy kind of changed, where you go to another country to live cheaper. But I was already here for nine years before I became an entrepreneur.
Trevor: Interesting. So how much money does it cost you, generally speaking, to live month to month out here in Thailand?
Michael: My cost of living costs around ... It's about 20,000 baht. So that's around US$700.
Michael: And I live a comfortable life.
Trevor: $700, and I'm sure you're not going out and splurging and all that stuff, but it's pretty comfortable still, right?
Michael: I do go out. The place I live in, it costs me around $200 a month. And then my food is around another $200 dollars. And then I've got the rest. I've got another, what's that, 12,000 baht? So we're looking at two ... 200 ... No, trying to think of the math. $200-300 per month on what I want to spend it. I could spend more. At the same time, I'm reinvesting that back into my business now.
Michael: So the thing is, I could live this lavish lifestyle now. I was, the whole of 2017, I was spending ... We're talking $1,000-1,500 up per month on just anything. I was living in a nice condo, a bigger condo and everything. But now that I'm trying to actually rescale up my business back up the levels it was at before, I've actually cut down on a lot of stuff. It's like, I could live even cheaper. I could live, if I wanted to, $300 a month. If I wanted to. But I just feel that if I did that, I would go insane. You have to have a balance.
Michael: But that is the possibility of living in Thailand, is you're able to cut your costs right down, so then you can use that money to grow or do with it whatever you want to do with it. I'm looking, within the next 12 months, to have my Kindle Publishing business up to $10,000 per month. That's where I want it to be, and I'm taking progressive steps now to actually do that, because I know how to do it. It's just taking the steps now, consistent steps, to actually get there.
Trevor: Right, 100%. And that leads me into my next question. But how much time does it usually take to set up something like this if you're just starting from scratch, or maybe you already have a different business going on out there and you want to move into Kindle? How much, generally speaking, time does it take to publish a book and launch it and actually see some return on investment?
Michael: Okay, so it comes down to how much of the business do you want to outsource? Now, the most important part, like niche and keyword research, which is going to take you ... A newbie [inaudible 00:08:10] a lot of the Kindle costs, they have, let's say, an outline and a guideline on how to do it. It doesn't go in depth. So it's going to take you a bit longer. You're going to have the Facebook group ... It's going to take one to two weeks to do that. Then to write the book is based on the writing company, so that's another one to two weeks. And then the things like while the book's getting written, you can get everything else done. So that's the front cover, the back cover. When you get the book back, so that's another book back, so that's five weeks.
Michael: So let's say five weeks from ... If you can do keyword ... Okay, so it's really down to you on how long it takes you to actually find your niche and your keywords. If you're minusing that part out, it takes two weeks to have the book written, and then it takes, I'd say, another week ... or another couple of days, because you have to have the book proofread and edited and formatted and everything. So it's going to take you about three weeks to get the book written and ready for publishing. And then you can make your money back.
Michael: I've made money back on some of my books within one to two weeks. But the thing is, the problem that you have is, Amazon only pays you 60 days. So let's say you publish a book in July, and you get the royalties report every day. But you get the end of the month, okay, for July. And then you get paid that amount 60 days later. So that's going to be August, September. You're getting paid at the end of September.
Michael: However, with CreateSpace, which is where you're going to make more, and Audible, it's going to be 30 days later. So for July, for your royalties in July, you get paid at the end of August.
Michael: So you're looking, if you do everything right and you can actually get your money ... Sorry. If you do everything right and you can get your ROI back on that book, which can be anything from $300 to $500 ... $300 to $700. If you do everything right, you can get it back within 30 days. 30 to 60 days.
Trevor: Awesome. Yeah, it sounds like most business models only takes about a month to start, another month to make your money back, and after that, it's passive. Cool. Yeah, that's awesome.
Trevor: So with that said, with all that time put in, and like you said, with the outsourcing and stuff like that, how much money does it usually take upfront to start a book or maybe a series of books?
Michael: Okay, so every book, you're going to be looking at a minimum of cost ... because you want to be writing a book, a minimum of 10,000 words. So with the writing companies, the cheapest one you want to go with is E-Writer Solutions, but with them, you're going to have to read your book, have it proofread, everything like that. But the cost is going to ... The total cost is going to be anything from $300, about $310 dollars, all the way to $700.
Michael: It really depends on your book length and how much it costs to get a narrator, because you want to get your book on audio, because Kindle is okay. Paperback's better. But audio, Audible, is the way everything's going. So you want to ... If you don't get it narrated, okay, about $250. $250 to about $550, that's if you don't get the book narrated. But if you do, okay, it's going to be $300 to about $700, depending on the length of your book and the company that you get it written with.
Trevor: And what about the sales page? Do you outsource the copywriting for that, and the cover of the book and all that stuff too? Or do you do that yourself?
Michael: Okay, the covers I've outsourced. But the cover and, sorry, the title and the sales page description is ... My copywriting is ... I'll tell you, I'm good to very good. So I don't need someone to outsource this to. So, however, I've taken the course, my friend [Ollie's 00:12:16] got a course, which shows people how to do this process. And that really upped my game as well with the copywriting.
Michael: So if you're going to really outsource this ... I've outsourced it for $25 and the guy that wrote it, he didn't know what he was doing. So to hire a real good copywriter is going to cost you anywhere from $200 to $1,000. So when you first start, there's no point in you doing this, because it's going to be really out of your budget. What I would do is if you get really good sales of this book, okay. Take that book and pass it to a copywriter and say, okay, I need this done.
Michael: But if you do the right research upfront for your book, you don't need ... You can be an okay writer. If you know your customer and the keyword, you don't really need to outsource it to a great copywriter because by researching your customer, you're actually going to know what their wants and needs are, and you can put that in the description.
Trevor: Awesome. Yeah, I feel like you can probably learn copywriting online pretty easy. There's free courses. I know there's YouTube videos on copywriting, so some of that stuff is worth maybe spending a few hours or at least a few days learning. And I know I've done that in the past and I've gotten pretty good at it. I know you're a better copywriter than I am. I guess it just takes practice, right? Writing [crosstalk 00:13:31], right?
Trevor: It's just practice.
Trevor: Cool. So we've kind of gone over a lot already, like how much money you can make, how much time it takes, what the upfront investment is. Can you just go, kind of a brief overview, a step by step of how it works, from start to finish, just for absolute beginners who don't know how it works and want to get into it?
Michael: Sure, sure, sure. I've actually ... Let me just bring up my [inaudible 00:13:53]. So first off, you need to do your niche and keyword research. So a niche is going to be a category on Amazon. So you go into Amazon, you look at the categories, and you pick one. A niche is something like health and wellness, health and fitness, self-development, self-help. What else have we got? We've got business, we've got marketing. They're like your big niche.
Michael: And then you find keywords within the niche. So within, let's say ... Let's say within marketing. So within marketing, you have things like, let's say, social media. That's marketing. You have content marketing. You have email marketing. What else, what other kind of marketing is there? Other kind of marketing. Okay, within marketing you can do copywriting as well. That would be another keyword, because what you want to be looking for when you look at a niche is you want to see what books would somebody want?
Michael: So if somebody is wanting to be ... Okay, I'm going to use myself as an example. If I was writing books for myself as a blogger, I would write books around blogging. How to make money with blogging. How affiliate marketing works. Email marketing. How to write better blog posts. How to write better emails. How to quickly come up with titles. So, do you see how if you take one person and you look at what their wants and needs and what they really want, then you can actually create a persona or creates books around that person.
Michael: At the same time, you need to check whether those keywords are profitable. So the basic for profitability is the top four to the top six books are under 100,000. This is in the Amazon store. So once you find your keywords, which are all under this ratio, what you do then is you start to create books around them. Then you have to do to the research for each individual book. You have to go in and you have to check what those people want for that specific book. For, let's say, email marketing. What do people struggle with when they do email marketing? Is it the lead generation? Is it the writing of the emails? Is it the title of the email? You have to actually look at what their problems are, and you can find easily on Amazon and in forums and different places on the internet ... It's very easy to find this information. All you're doing is you're taking what they're saying and putting that into your book. And you can even put that into the description.
Michael: So after you've basically done your research, it's then creating the title, creating a title which then creates curiosity. And then you're creating the description, description which is going to sell that person. Then after you've done that, then you create an outline for the writer, and the more detailed your outline is, the better books you're going to get. Think about it. If you send someone and say, I want a book written on email marketing, you're not going to get a book which is what you want. If you say, I want this, this, this, this, this, this, and this, you're going to get a book which is exactly what you want.
Michael: And that's important, because what a lot of publishers do is they just send the keyword to the writing company and a subtitle, and they expect the world. And they're going to get crap. That's basically what they're getting.
Michael: So then after you've created your book, you've done the research, it becomes a bit easier. Then you have the book written, written for you by a writing company. Or you can go onto Upwork and get it outsourced, but in my experience, it's very difficult to find a writer. I prefer just to go to a writing company or give the book ... They've already got the team in place from there. Okay, give me the book after 10 or 12 days. Easy.
Michael: Okay. After that is, while it's getting written, you want your covers created. Create three covers, 'cause then if you get three covers created, then you can select which cover you like best. If you create one cover, then you're left with that one cover and you're thinking, oh, which cover, is this good enough? If you create three covers, then you have the opportunity to actually choose which one you feel is best, or you can take the three covers and you can ask your friends and family, which cover do they prefer? Or people that are in that niche, ask them, okay, which cover would you prefer as a buyer? Which one interests you the most? That's the best way. Go to people who would buy the book. Then you choose the best cover.
Michael: Then after you've done ... Let's get back to the [inaudible 00:18:18]. Okay. After you've done that, okay, so get the front cover ... You create the back cover for the book. The back cover and the spine. So that's the book. Book created. And then when it comes back, you want to check that it doesn't have any copyright infringement. So you put it through Copyscape, and then you have it proofread by a proofreader of Upwork. You have to hire someone, find someone.
Michael: And then you have it formatted so it looks great, but sometimes Amazon screws up the way the book looks. So you want it done well for Kindle and you want it done for both CreateSpace. And then you take that book, you send it to a narrator to have the book narrated. And then you get your reviews.
Michael: Now, the reviews is one of the hardest parts. Now, some people like to use review swaps, which I'm highly against. But for me, I'm able to, for my books, I'm able to get reviews by outreach. Now, I outreach to people on Amazon. I outreach to people in niche specific groups. I outreach to people on forums, on blogs. All these kind of ways. And not everybody's going to reply back to you, but the people that do, they're more likely to review your book.
Michael: Now, on my last experiment, I sent out ... I got a list of 30 people. And out of that 30 people, seven people reviewed the book. So what's that percentage? So that's about 25% of the people actually reviewed the book, which is, I'd say, in most people's experience, is good. Then, after that, your book is going to be narrated by the narrator after you get the book back. You check the narration and then you go on and you publish the book on Audible.
Michael: So that's really it in a nutshell of everything you need to do.
Trevor: Got it. Yeah, it's definitely a lot of work. It's a lot of different steps, and thank you so much for sharing all that, by the way. That's a lot of steps. Now, I wanted to let the listeners know and the watchers know, the viewers know, you have a checklist, right, for all this stuff?
Michael: Yeah, I have a checklist. It's currently a part of my course. So I'm not giving that checklist away for free. They can purchase the checklist, but it's not something that I can give away. I have other things that I give away for free, such as what makes a keyword profitable ... the other steps you need that makes a keyword profitable. I have that in a checklist. I also have my free course, which will take you through all the steps that I told you.
Michael: So I have a few things that are free, but not everything that I have is free, because it did take me time, and it's taken me years of knowledge where I could go through.
Trevor: Yeah, of course. I'm sure that our viewers can respect that. Let's talk a little bit about your course. It's called Rapid Kindle Keywords. What do you cover in the course, and what are you providing as far as an end result for your users?
Michael: Okay, so I just want to go back to the reason why I created the course, if that's cool.
Trevor: Cool with me.
Michael: Okay, so like I said before, every Kindle publishing course that I've taken, it hasn't really gone into debt on keyword research. And keyword research is something that a lot of publishers, they complain about. And not only complain. They gripe about it because they can't seem to get this into their head.
Michael: So for me, that was kind of an inspiration. You know what? These other publishers are not doing it. Even some of the courses that have been around for years, they still haven't done this part. So I thought, you know what? I'm going to create something which is going to go really in depth on just the niche and keyword research part of Amazon, because if somebody can find the niche and the keywords, they can publish books all day long.
Michael: And this process, I've broken it down into a systematic format. So it takes you from finding your niche, then finding your keywords, then actually creating your persona, and then finding less competitive keywords, because some keywords that you might think are profitable, let's say a word like "habit" or "meditation", something like that ... Those keywords, yeah, they're going to be profitable. But at the same time, you're going to go into that keyword and your book is going to get swamped because the competition is too much.
Michael: So what I do is I systematically show you how to find less competitive keywords very, very easily. Now, I've already had two successful students already who have been able to find their niche and their keywords just by using my system. So that makes me quite proud. And I've had other students come to me and say, you know what, you make keyword research look like child's play. That was the best comment I've had so far.
Michael: But, yeah, it's just going to make your niche and keyword research so, so easy. And as this is the first stage in your Kindle Publishing business, this is something that you should really take serious.
Trevor: Yeah, that sounds like it's really, really viable, and definitely something needed to learn as a beginner. So that's awesome that you made that.
Trevor: Now, let's talk about your free mini-course. So you just kind of gave the viewers a free mini-course right now, but of course, it's all kind of face to face stuff. People want to dive in to see what it looks like, actually doing some of this stuff. So where can I find that free mini-course and what's involved?
Michael: Okay, so they can go to freekindlecourse.com. You can [inaudible 00:23:47], and that's going to basically take you to an opt-in page where you just have to sign up and you get the email, and the email's going to send you to the course.
Michael: Now, the course is going to basically ... It goes over all the basics. So it's going to show you the niche and keyword research, how to do that. It's going to give you the basics over that. Then it's going to show you how to create a persona. Then it's going to show you how to research, get your title, create your description. It's going to go over the basics of that. Then it's going to show you how to get your book created, and then it's going to show you how to publish your book. Then I go over reviews.
Michael: So this is just like a basic overview of Kindle Publishing. If you take this course and you apply it, you can actually publish your first book on Amazon. It doesn't go into CreateSpace, it doesn't go into Audible. It just goes into Kindle Publishing. But this course, if you actually don't overthink ... 'cause I know a lot of people do. They overthink it, they need more information. No, no. If you take what I teach in this course, you can publish your first book on Amazon. It's as simple as that. So that's really it in a nutshell.
Trevor: Cool. And the last thing I wanted to talk to you about was your blog, Fresh Belief. So you've been doing Fresh Belief for some time now. Can you talk a little bit about your journey there with blogging and affiliate marketing?
Michael: Sure, sure, sure. So I started my blog back in 2015, and it was a way just to talk about my journey through Kindle Publishing. Now, I took that journey up to about February 2016, because my aim was to earn $10,000 at that point. But I didn't reach it. I got to about $2,500-3,000.
Michael: So after that, it's just been about, just talking about Kindle Publishing, things I'm doing at the time. And just letting people know the good, the bad, the ugly about what I'm going through, because I know a lot of people online, they always talk about the good things. And you never hear about what can go wrong. The bad things that happen. And I'm there just telling you as it is. I have had the good, I have had the bad. And you can see it.
Michael: One of my biggest posts for Kindle Publishing was ... Well, after the comparison post that I did between two courses was my copyright post. I talk about the copyright infringement I got, and the amount of feedback that I've got from that course has been amazing. People have really thanked me for it because nobody really talks about this kind of stuff. They go over it briefly, but they don't do it from their own experience. They don't talk about things that happened to them, because they're scared of perception of other people on the outside.
Michael: And it can be scary. It can be scary to actually talk about your failures, because you want ... Everybody online now, they think they have a perception of how they're supposed to look. And one of the dangers of that is, you stop yourself from writing about specific things because you're scared of how people will perceive you and think about you, and how it's going to affect certain sales, certain affiliate sales, your business and everything.
Michael: But at the end of the day, I just want to write about this because this is for me. I can look back at this, certain steps, and I'm like, okay, I was there. This is the crap that happened. I'm about to come out with a post in the next week or two that's going to talk about all of the crap that happened in 2017 and what I did, and what you shouldn't do.
Michael: So that's the kind of post I want to put out there, because I want people to be able to learn from this stuff, 'cause if they can, they don't make the same mistakes I did, and they actually do things in the right way. They move forward progressively instead of just doing things which they shouldn't be doing.
Trevor: That's awesome. So, yeah, guys, if you want to learn more about Michael's journey and read about his downsides as well as his upsides and all the other good things that happen in his life and all the best of things, go to freshbelief.com, that's his blog. And Michael, it's freekindlecourse.com, again? Is that the mini-course?
Michael: Yeah, Free Kindle Course for the free Kindle course, yeah.
Trevor: Okay, so go check that out, guys. And get his Rapid Kindle Keywords course. I'm in there too, and it's really, really good. I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm actually going to be getting into Kindle Publishing myself, that's part of the reason why I wanted to do this interview, is to learn more. So I hope all viewers out there, you guys really enjoyed this podcast. Thanks again for being on, Michael.
Michael: No worries, no worries. Thank you for having me.
Trevor: We'll see you next time. Take care.