Distillation of Zero to One by Peter Thiel (On How to Build the Future)

Photo Credit: Sarah Doody
Many of you may have already read “Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future” by Peter Thiel. Some of you may not have got the chance to read it yet. I recommend adding it to your reading list.
 
(It’s a great read and also a prism to look inside Thiel’s mind, one of the smartest Silicon Valley entrepreneur).
 
This is not a book review or a summary. These quotes are my own thoughts which is the direct result of pondering over the core message of the book. In this post, I am going to basically share what I learned from this book and what thoughts best summarizes the essence of ‘Zero to One’.

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

  1. Because of the forward moving, linear nature of time, every moment happens only once.
  2. Create something new. When you create something new, you have a monopoly on it until you are defeated by your copy-cats.
  3. One superpower of technology is “ability to scale exponentially”.
  4. What is ‘your’ truth?
  5. Understating the difference between exponential (0 to 1, x^n) and linear (x to n) is key to business success. Ability to execute/build/invent a process that scales exponentially is the ‘key’ job of the founding team.
  6. Linear progress is horizontal. Exponential progress is orthogonal or vertical.
  7. It gets harder and harder to innovate as your organization gets bigger and bigger.
  8. The best advertisement spend is paying directly to your clients. Giving away a free product or service or even hard cash for joining/subscribing.
  9. A bad plan that is in execution is better than a good plan with no execution. Having a (bad) plan is better than having no plan at all.
  10. Selling the product/service is just as important as creating the product/service.
  11. If your market is competitive, your focus should be on market share acquisition and not on profit. Profit margin and competitive market don’t go together. Competition by definition destroys every competitors’ profits.
  12. Standing for yourself and thinking for yourself doesn’t mean ‘opposing’ the crowd. Opposing is an act. All acts cost attention, time, and energy.
  13. Your market is your core offering. The key functionality of your core product or service. Your competition is likely the whole market (and not necessarily the niche you serve.) For example, an Indian restaurant in New York is not only in competition to other Indian restaurants in New York but all restaurants in New York. The primary offering of a restaurant is feeding people who don’t want to cook at home.
  14. In business, sales are the most important thing. If you have a novel product, you also need an effective sales strategy. Product and Sales are both equally important. A successful business “must” have both.
  15. Sales, in essence, is all about finding a distribution channel that works. For a business to survive, all it needs is one successful product distribution channel. By this definition, the most profitable company in any market has the biggest distribution channels. (Note: It’s not the product but sales we are talking about.)
  16. It is better to be in the business in a very large market than to be a monopoly in a very small niche. By growing your market share in a very large market you can make more money but in a very small market where you are already a monopoly, you can’t grow without increasing the prices and therefore inviting new competition and destroying your monopoly.
  17. In a capitalist system, every business (no matter how large or small) fights for survival each day. Any day could be the beginning of their end.
  18. A creative business keeps their clients by keep creating and offering new categories of products.
  19. A business fails when it fails to escape competition. It’s capitalistic evolution. The survival of the fittest.
  20. All successful private companies in the world are successful because they each solve a unique problem and own a large chunk (monopoly) of their market.
  21. If you can’t beat your rival, merge with your rival or merge with other smaller rivals to become the biggest.
  22. Growth can be measured in a short timeline. Endurance (durability) can only be measured in the long term.
  23. Before starting a business or investing in one, always ask, “Will this business be still around in a decade from now? In 30 years from now? In 100 years from now?”
  24. If you have existing competition, a good rule of thumb is, it will take you to be 10X better than the current market leader (in the core offering) to be able to lead to a successful and enduring monopoly of your own.
  25. There are four ways to get 10X lead over your prime competitor: inventing something new, or creating a new market, or creating a 10X better product, or offering a 10X better UX. Ideally, you should have at least 2 of the four.
  26. To gain 10X lead over your most fierce competitor, you have to focus on one key product (one opportunity) and get 10X better there first. Dominate a small (key) market first then expand from there. (50% of $10M market > 1% of 1B market)
  27. A successful founding team is one where a core group of people is able to provide value to millions of other people. One to very many.
  28. To find the ideal business opportunity, look for ‘adjacent possible’ in the technology landscape. Adjacent possible is usually the intersection between two brand new technological developments.
  29. Nothing great is achieved without a great team. It’s a myth that you can go far alone.
  30. The challenge of creating network effect is making your product useful to its very first users (when the network is still so tiny that it doesn’t derive any value from its size or connectivity).
  31. Part-time employees are essentially consultants. Consultants are essentially part-time employees.
  32. Think how every employee can have the skin in the game? Perhaps, to start, offer to pay part salary, part equity or part bonus based on annual revenue. Those who prefer equity over cash, demonstrate long-term commitment. Those who prefer bonus or percentage of revenue from direct sales over cash show they have trust in their skill and are committed to hard work.
  33. The most productive companies define specific roles for each team member. Defining roles reduces future conflict and miscommunication.
  34. When you have identified a problem or market need that no one is working on, have a head start and innovate faster than anyone else that may come after you by essentially copying you.
  35. The 21st century has made it super easier to start a new business and incredibly difficult to succeed in one.
  36. It’s better to be the employee #17 at a unicorn startup than to be the CEO of “Hey, I Am Open For The Business Too”.
  37. Nothing lasts. Monopolies don’t last forever. Empires don’t last. Countries don’t last.
Now, let’s go and build something meaningful.
 
PS: If you liked this article and my take on Zero to One by Peter Thiel, then please let me know if you would like me to cover other books. If so, any recommendations? Thank you.
 
PPS: Spot any error/typo? Please let me know in the comments and thanks for catching.
 
Read Next: You may also like my take on Meta Learning.

Each Social Media Explained In One Sentence

Today, we live in the age of social media. We are connected with one another over several digital mediums. Some social platforms make it easy to follow influencers while some are good at keeping in touch with family and old high school friends.

How would you define each social media platform? I have given this a lot of thought and based on my past several years of personal experience with each one of them, here is my take on the big four social media platforms in as few words as possible.

Facebook

Facebook connects you with people you already know.

Twitter

Twitter helps you connect with people you don’t know yet.

Instagram

Instagram connects you with a community where you are constantly inspired to be your best self.

YouTube

YouTube is the largest TV network for millennials by millennials.

Social Media Explained

Facebook is similar to Family. You don’t get to choose much. It comes in full package, with joy and stress, laughter and gossip, warmth and judgment.

Twitter is similar to college life. You have several groups of friends tied via common interests, goals or classes. You constantly make new friends and drop those who are not best for you. Like college life, Twitter is full of activism, politics, technology, and various hobbies.

Instagram is like being single and looking for romantic partners. There is no time and space for long BS or silly jokes. You constantly seek to self-improve. You are made jealous of others accomplishments, great shape, looks, popularity, and lifestyle. In return, you try to do your best and as a result, at the end of the day, you also get better. Instagram makes you date-ready.

YouTube is nothing less than the largest TV network on the planet. There are billions of shows in every possible genre and any length imaginable. This TV network is not only for consuming entertainment and music or finding food recipes or how-to-tutorials but also a platform which allows anyone to become a film producer and creator. YouTube allows its users to play with their creativity and experiment. Best of all, it also pays you money to do your thing.

A Perfect Blog Is Like A Perfect human Body

I have been on the Internet now for more than 18 years now. And, I have been blogging for the past 12 years. Starting from the Google Groups, Yahoo Groups, Blogger blogs, WordPress blogs, to Facebook Notes to the many aggregated blog platforms.
Eventually, for me, this long journey reached its first significant milestone with the launch of “The Naked Soul” blog in 2015. The next major milestone was the launch of “The Art of Travel” blog in 2016. The third big milestone for me was the launch of my eCommerce site,  The Art of Travel Store, in 2017.
This may seem like a long time, but I feel we are in the beginning stages of a really long journey. Eventually, all humans and many A.I machines will have their own blogs, eCommerce store, biodata, resumes, medical history, and other details, all online, for anyone to access at any time, based on access level.
 
But my today’s blog is not about A.I. or the future of the Internet. Today, I want to talk about the perfect blog.The anatomy of a perfect blog. What makes a blog perfect?

A Perfect Blog

A healthy and successful blog is like a perfect human body. It has strong bones, healthy blood, lots of muscles, some fat, beautiful face, is attractive, has great skin, and has healthy-functioning joints. It is flexible. It is adaptable. It is resilient. Above all, it is living and growing.
 
I’ll take the example of my own blog here, The Art of Travel blog.
 
The Art of Travel is a baby right now. It is growing fast. It is healthy and it is cute but it is far from perfect or matured. Let’s note, it’s only an 18 months old baby right now.
 
The FREE Destination Travel Guides on our blog is its Bones.
The hundreds of Blogs are its Blood.
All the Content on the blog is its Meat and juicy Fat.
The formatting and structure is its Skin.
The Home Page is its beautiful Face.
The hundreds of internal hyperlinks in our blog’s thousands of pages are its Joints.
 
For this baby to grow into a strong, matured, perfect human adult, we are working to make its BONES strong. The thousands of FREE Travel Destination Guides need to be expanded and showcase the best and most gorgeous photos from each destination.
Like a human skeleton, these bones (destination guides) connect to each other and form sections (Asia, Europe, Australia, etc.)
 
Our current focus on the Travel Blog is building muscles and adding some “Meat” and “Juicy Fat” to it. The several hundreds of blogs that we are planning to publish each year are just that. It’s like adding meat to the skeleton. More blogs, more juicy stories, more topics are like making this blog work out and build up.
 
The Internal Hyperlinking Project (similar to Wikipedia structure) is making sure all Joints are properly linked and functioning. The more joints a body has, the more flexible, bendable and adaptable it becomes.
 
The Skin (formatting) and Face (home page) are already healthy and glowing. We are just ensuring that this shine stays.
 
A healthy blog is never complete. It is always growing. And, we will keep it growing.
 
That’s it. This is “the Secret” of giving birth to a winning blog, a healthy and growing blog. This is how we are planning to raise this The Art of Travel baby. This is it. This is all. 
 
PS: I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on what you think is the best way to grow and build a perfect blog. Please comment below.

The Ultimate Thesis On How To Crush It On Social Media

How to crush it on the social media? Today’s customers and fans expect every brand to be on the socials. And most brands are. We are. But, how do our fans judge us? What are the criteria that determine which pages, personalities, or accounts get followed or which brands are cooler?

I have found that there are three critical criteria.

Social Authority

What’s the first thing you notice when you stumble upon a brand’s social page? The number of followers it has? Right! Why do we look at this number and why is it important? It’s important because we unconsciously judge a brand by its existing social reach and authority. The bigger it is, the more trust it has.

If a million people follow a particular t-shirt company, then their t-shirts must be good. So we must also follow them to see what they have got and how can it benefit me! A big follower count matters! It demonstrates dominance and most people want to cheer for the winning player!

Social Engagement

Soon after when are back to the reality and the flashing light of big numbers fade into the background, we look for who else is excited to be part of this brand’s community? What’s their story? Who all are commenting and what are they saying? Or, am I the only one excited here until I move on to the next one.

If a brand page has half-a-million followers but no one is talking in the comments, and no one is sharing, then something is wrong. Either the brand doesn’t care about its community or the community doesn’t care about the brand. Either way, it’s just a bunch of inactive people clumped together without their consent or awareness. May be they were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!

Immediately your mind will go, “may be they [these fans] were bought! May be they were trapped by false advertisements or giveaways! Who knows, but, this brand doesn’t look trustworthy!”

So, as a brand, you need constant engagement to sell your story to a new prospect and to keep the current ones engaged! What could be better than to make your community part of your brand’s story? Think about it!

Advertisement vs. Entertainment

Ok, yes, I like these fan pages but that doesn’t mean my existence is for the consumption of their products. We need fun. More of it. The last criteria that we use to filter who to follow and who to unfollow is by how much advertisement they push upon us vs. how much valuable information or entertainment they share that engages me. It’s all about the value add!

What benefit am I getting by following this brand? Are they inspiring me? Do they have solutions or answers to my problems or questions? Are they affordable? Are they high quality and better than their competitors? Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their damn marketing!?

Lastly, do they care about me as a human being or are they treating us as a marketplace for their dumb marketing!? As a brand, you must answer to these and make sure you are positioned in the best possible way!

Treat your fans with respect and love! If you truly care for them, then show it to them by sharing your best content, information, videos, Infographics, etc. for FREE! Then, go for selling and even then keep it to a minimum! Let your fans come to you for a purchase. You want to pull them with your story, not push them through excessive marketing!

Thanks for reading! You have a beautiful day!

Instagram Tips: How To Succeed On Instagram

“Last spring, Forrester analyzed more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks.

 

Unfortunately those brands achieved less than a 0.1 percent engagement rate on six out of the seven platforms, including Facebook and Twitter.
Instagram posts, however, generated a per-follower engagement rate of 4.21 percent. That means the app delivered brands 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. Let’s look at a real life example of this difference.

This week, Red Bull posted a photo of Lindsey Vonn on both Facebook and Instagram. Currently, the brand’s 45 million Facebook fans had liked the photo just about 20,000 times, while its 2.2 million Instagram followers had liked the photo nearly 70,000 times.”

Instagram Tips

So what does this mean? Seven social platforms analyzed. It means, Vine, Periscope, and Snapchat included. Your effort should be more on Instagram than other social media. Instagram for writers or artists means:
1. Make good art consistently (which many of us love to do). Write, record audio, music, paint, draw, sing, dance, talk, whatever you do
2. Turn your art into poems, quotes, pictures, videos
3. Post them (in fact, post more frequently 4x/day)
4. Cut videos, audio, music into 15 sec or less frame & post as videos or slideshows
5. Engage with comments and other users
6. Reply to relevant DMs
7. DM other Instagram users and build a team/network of friends 
8. Collaborate and do S4S (shout for shout)
9. Unofficially advertise on Instagram through other big accounts
10. Officially advertise on Instagram through Facebook

Currently, many of us are not doing a lot of these steps in our Instagram marketing and outreach.
What do you think? Can you suggest some game plan on how someone can become more efficient in using Instagram without spending more time? Read my detailed post on Instagram:

How To Get From Zero to A Celebrity Status (Hacking Instagram Growth). 10 Tips On More Followers, Likes & Comments.

How To Succeed On Instagram

1. Post Regularly: Whether it is an old post or something small (and interesting), post regularly. You can think of recycling here.  If you have 500 posts on your Instagram, that means, you can recycle easily at the rate of 1 old post per day. That’s huge. It basically means, if you simply repost your old posts, you can literally continue to do so for one year at the rate of 1 post per day.

2. Theme: You can create a simple background theme for each of your writing we post. This strategy is widely adopted by most of the users with more than 30k followers.

3. Data & Science: Remember, according to one study done with 30 featured images on Instagram out of 8 million total, Curalate found:

  • Bright and high light generates 24% more likes than darker images.
  • Images with plenty of background white space generate 29% more likes than those with minimal space.
  • Images featuring blue as the dominant color generate 24% more likes than images that are predominantly red.
  • A single dominant color generates 17% more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.
  • High levels of texture generate 79% more likes. (Think about this one!)

The point here is not to copy these strategies but to test it out for your content and your audience. Try and test different things. And then stick with the winning strategy.

Comment below! What do you think? What would you like me to cover next?

 

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How To Build A Successful YouTube Brand

Earlier this year, I deleted most of the irreverent videos from The Naked Soul YouTube as I want to take Naked Soul more towards the literary, self-help, and podcast domain.

Build A Successful YouTube Brand

This is what happened in the past 12 months and what I learned from it.

1. My Naked Soul subscriber count went up from 1200 to 1682. My watch time went up by 182,000 minutes monthly and 62,000 views monthly from 30,000 views/100,000 minutes in the past.

On the flip side, my earning went down from $100 monthly to $66 despite doubling my views. Why? Maybe AdWords is becoming competitive. This is bad news for every Youtuber, by the way.

2. By using custom thumbnails, I was able to grow my Fitness YouTube by 700% in just past 3 weeks. (See picture attached with my notes).

 

3. By uploading videos consistently, I was able to increase the view time for my Travel channel. (screenshot attached)

YouTube Video Marketing

1. When I did not use custom thumbnails, our total Fit Couple YouTube view was 50 for the first 3 months (Jan – Mar). After I created and upload custom thumbnails for each video, my views went up to 350 in just past 2-3 weeks. That is almost 700% growth.

2. Fit Couple Goals uses custom thumbnails on all of the videos. 12 subs and 350 views, 10 likes, no dislike, videos getting added to several dozen playlists — all good signs. Mainly because of catchy titles and thumbnail.

3. My Travel channel does not effectively uses the thumbnail technique (not yet) and therefore is suffering view counts and click-thru-rate (CTR) despite having more subscribers and total # of videos. 23 subscribers and only 400 views. Also notice, only 5 likes and less videos in playlists. Why? I guess, not having catchy title and video cover (i.e video thumbnail).

 

4. It takes time and creativity to write a good catchy video title, descriptive description, meta tags to maximize the video’s SEO and finally, a nice catchy thumbnail is the icing on the top. This is essential for YouTube success.

5. From my notes on the screenshot, you can see how adding a lot of new videos helped The Art of Travel to gain average watch time, total views, and total view time. So, that’s a good thing.

6. On the other hand, more interestingly, Fit Couple Goals did not add as many new videos but see the spike in total views after I uploaded custom thumbnails for each video. See the above screenshot for details.

Your YouTube Brand

What does this all mean? I have something interesting to share with you all (in my next post) but first I would like to hear your thoughts and opinions. What do you think is the future of YouTube videos vs. Facebook video? YouTube like revenue sharing with users or Facebook like total control over revenue from advertisements.

Facebook sells advertisements to its users and keeps 100% of the revenue. Due to low organic reach FB is no longer the first choice for entrepreneurs or new advertisers. On the other hand, YouTube has been sharing revenue with content creators and has finally turned a good profit.

Also, what about Vine and Instagram? Snapchat? Periscope? All of these platforms allows the users to broadcast and post videos of various length. Should you and your brand be on all of these platforms? My first response to this is “Yes!”

But is it that simple? Or is it even needed of you to be everywhere with your video content.

These and other questions similar to the ones I have pointed above is currently being brewed in my mind’s lab. Check out back in few weeks for part 2 of this interesting discussion. For now, bombard me with your comments! 

 

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Top Quora Writer Meetup & Being Purposeful in Life

For whatever reasons (unknown to me or anyone), in January, the Quora community decided to vote me as a Top Quora Writer 2016. They have invited me to come to a Top Writers meetup in Mountain View, California at Quora HQ in June.

Earlier, I was excited about this meetup and my California visit but now I am passing on the free food and socializing opportunity.

Being Purposeful in Life

I have realized one secret about “purpose in life” from this experience. When we are young and we want to achieve something, we often get sidetracked by our early trophies. Often, the journey is long and hard, and we give in to temptations of feel-good, to feel important.

I am not saying one should not enjoy small victories. What I am saying is one should not “focus” on the celebration of the achievement of small goals. “Focus” should be always on your primary vision.

For example, traveling from Boston to California just to feel good to get inside the Quora HQ is self-puffing and not really in line with my end goal. If it was local, I would love to attend. But me thinking about making this long journey indicates that earlier I was taking myself way too seriously.

To me, I was important. But to the world at large, I am just a small piece. I have my place and I have my mission. Without contributing much I cannot (and should not) expect life to give back to me.

If life is generous to you, celebrate it. It’s good, have fun, go with the natural flow of life. (But, spending valuable resource such as time and money to feel good about yourself and to receive what life is giving you is not always a wise step. In fact, it would be self-centered rather than altruistic or honest.)

Top Quora Writer

The title of Top Writer 2016 is cool but it is practically useless to me and my fellow citizens of this world. What I need to focus on is solving problems that only I can solve. Each of us has unique talents and life-experiences that is best suited for tackling some unique problem (personal or larger). We should celebrate our small achievements but should not lose track of our original vision.

I am not coming to California. I would rather answer few more questions on Quora in the meanwhile. And maybe write a new blog here on The Naked Soul Blog.

If you are on Quora, you can follow me here. If you have not heard of Quora, it’s basically an online question and answer website with a beautiful, user-friendly interface. Quora aggregates questions and answers on various topics. It’s a fun place to learn something new and interesting and to ask your questions.

Let me know what you think when it comes to finding and following one’s purpose and mission in life? What is yours? Comment below.

The Top 6 Challenges of Growing a Blog and Social Presence

As I come close to launching The Art of Travel (as one of the biggest travel & wanderlust brand in August of 2016), it is time to look back at The Naked Soul journey and figure out what have I learned and how am I going to apply these lessons to my travel venture.

Challenges of Growing a Blog

Here are the top 6 challenges that I faced while running The Naked Soul blog. These challenges are not unique to my situation. You can relate to them (irrespective of your domain) and can hopefully even learn from my mistakes.
 
1. Team: To succeed in any business, you need a great team.
Lesson: We built a team when I launched The Naked Soul and we were able to produce great results. But, due to the tight budget and marketing mistakes, I had to cut down on team and I went solo for almost rest half of 2015. I was still running the engine but the growth was slow. Time is the most precious commodity and we lack time the most. With a team, you can better manage the vast amount of tasks that needs to be done. (Team = Having More Time.)
 
2. Content: Content consistency is the most important factor for success.
Lesson: We know by now that producing daily content is the way to go. On the blog, on social media, everywhere. You need to create a schedule, publish it, build expectations and then stick to it.
For the blog, publish every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For YouTube, publish every weekend, for Podcast, record and publish atleast twice each week. On social medial, publish daily and even multiple times each day. You can’t cut corners here and expect growth in traffic.
 
3. Budget: Money can be helpful but it can also be harmful.
Lesson: When I was launching the book, I set aside $10,000 for marketing. If I had a smaller budget, we would have been more successful. Actually, having a big budget harmed me both financially and creatively. We spent money wherever we thought we should without any data to backup our wild expectations. I was thinking I can push the book up in sales ranking by heavily advertising. I was everywhere and a lot of people did notice the book. But they did not buy it. On pinterest alone, half a million ad impressions were made. The reason was I was a no-name, first time author with a tiny platform. I could have used the money to produce my second and third books. I could have used the money to create more quality content. I could have used the money to hire a VA for the entire year.
 
4. Design: From blogs to books, Good Design matters.
Lesson: Throughout 2014 and 2015, I constantly tweaked The Naked Soul blog. I was always making changes and never fully satisfied. Why? Because, I started with a poor concept and design. I created a book website and later tried to switch to an author website. It turned out to be a very expensive transition. I still have broken links on my website and there is a lot that we can do on the design aspect of it.
 
5. Technical Problems: Throughout 2015, I was constantly struggling with website downtown.
Lesson: It took me almost a year to make the switch from a bad hosting service to a good one. My website used to be down every month and sometimes for days. The response was terrible from the hosting company. And it was not that the hosting was cheaper, in-fact it was expensive. It was just a bad company and choice. I took too long to pull the plug. Why? Because, I was distracted and spending time on lesser important matters. Website uptime is a critical factor in building trust.
 
6. Generic to Specialized: The Naked Soul brand had a mix of everything.
Lesson: It took me almost 14 months to separate fitness from writing and travel from podcasting. The Naked Soul soup was a hot mess. It was catering to everyone and therefore no one was truly loyal to it. In 2016, we have three very different platforms and we are focusing on only two. Our Travel blog and our Writing blog. Since travel will require a lot of writing as well, the two lines of business somewhat overlap.
Fitness required more of videos and spending time in the gym which was not overlapping with travel and naked soul. With this transition, we can now upload all travel videos to Travel YouTube and Fitness videos to Fitness YouTube. Health and Fitness still matter to us and remains a priority but we won’t be spending a lot of time here from the business perspective. But we still have a lot of work to do on our new YouTube channels.

Summary: What Can You Do

This is a short list of what I am doing in 2016. You can make a similar plan based on your own personal or business goals.
1. Produce daily content (written, audio, video, images, etc). Divide the work and conquer. Each team member plays to your strengths. #TeamWork
– 3 Blog posts per week
– 2 Podcasts per week
– 2 YouTube Videos per week
– 2 to 4 social media post daily
 
2. Focus on good design on The Art of Travel blog from day one. Further improve the design on The Naked Soul blog.
  
3. Spend money where it really, really matters. If there is a creative way to solve a problem, as a rule, DO NOT SPEND money. Exercise creativity. Having money actually harms your long term survival in the game. Without money, you are forced to make smarter decisions.
  
4. Figure out ways to monetize the blogs and business to make it self-sustainable. The blog should be able to pay for itself.
  
5. Find and make use of college students as volunteers. (for Content creation)
  
6. Focus on building quality back links to both blogs. Grow blog traffic to 100,000 monthly.
  
7. Check both blogs and each social media platforms daily. No downtown and no broken links.
  
8. Finish and publish my next sets of books. Do not just leave it. Be aggressive about it.
  
9. Get each social platforms to 100K range using creative ways (and not with money power). Advertisements bought from money doesn’t last long.
  
10. Do team brainstorming on weekly basis. Exchange ideas and then execute them one at a time.
  
11. Let’s become the industry leader in my respective niches. Let’s narrow down our competitors and keep a close eye on them.
  
12. Fix the descriptions, tags and SEO on YouTube. Fix the cover pictures. Do a complete audit of each YouTube channels and video.
  
13. Do a complete audit of the Naked Soul blog. (Find and fix broken links, messed up texts, errors and typos, and anything that is not at par premium quality)
  
14. Apply all new tools and techniques learned from the QuickSprout blog. 
  
15. Get The Naked Soul book to have 100+ reviews on the Amazon. Simultaneously, plan on receiving 25+ reviews upon launch of on my second book.

The Ultimate Guide On How To Market & Monetize A Poetry Collection

The Ultimate Guide for All Poets Looking to Promote Their Poetry CollectionI am a writer and a bestselling poet. However, writing is only part of my passion. The other part is creating an effective brand that adds value to the society. I make videos, engage in public speaking and offer one-on-one consultation. Building an author brand is more than just writing.

Today, I want to focus on how can you monetize your writing of poetry online? This is part 5 of an 8-part series on book promotion and marketing.


Older posts (2000+ words long and detailed)

Read part 1: How I Am Marketing My Self Published Poetry Book | Book Marketing and Promotion Plan for Poetry and Fiction

Read Part 2How I Am Going To Grow My Author’s Platform| How To Find Your First 1000 True Fans

Read Part 3: How to Make Money Online (eBooks, Blogs, Podcasts & YouTube) | A Business Model That Works

Read Part 4: Platform Building: Where & How to Spend Your Time & Energy? Promote Your Brand The Right Way


How To Market A Poetry Collection

Let’s begin, shall we?

I am going to outline what I’ve gone through to promote my debut full-length collection of poetry, “Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems”, published by The Naked Soul Press. Professional and amateur poets can monetize their poetry both online and offline. And if writing is your bread and butter, you should. You have to.

Very few poets ever live off the proceeds from their work. Most poets, even the most widely published, hold other jobs (such as teaching, lecturing, speaking) to pay the bills. That said, it is still a great idea to market your poetry book.

Marketing your poetry can help give your poetry recognition and appreciation from the wider public. In addition, for most poets, any money earned from the sales of books is appreciated even if it doesn’t pay all the bills. It certainly helps.

I am going to outline 22 steps that I have used to effectively build a brand around The Naked Soul. These steps (when combined together) have helped me monetize my writing and grow my author platform exponentially.

Everything You Need to Know on How to Monetize and Promote Your Poetry

1. Create a high traffic blog

Your goal is to cast as wide a net as possible. Your blog is your brand’s first impression. Direct traffic from everywhere (Twitter, Quora, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to your blog.

On your blog, build a relationship with your reader by enegaing with them in the comments, asking questions, offering help and free eBooks that your readers wants and need.

Blogs are great for sharing your love of poetry, and they’re great for sharing your stories. I have even created a dedicated page on my website for my quotes and poems.

Guide your blog traffic to your book’s page on Amazon or sell directly from your website/blog.

 

2. Turn your poetry into eBooks, Books, Audio

Once you publish your work, immediately create an eBook. Or, if you have published your poetry collection as an eBook, turn it into Print as well. Once you have both eBook and Printed version of your book, start work on creating an audio book.

Before you begin though, test your audio (your own voice or someone you hire) on YouTube. 

You can do so much here. You can use royalty-free music to go in the background. You can use images and short video-clips. You can do one poem per video or several. Experiment and test what resonates with your audience.

But, at the end of it all — you must have your book in all formats possible: audio, print, eBook.

 

3. Submit Poems to Both Print & Online Magazines

You can start with simply googling the magazines that matches with your genre and style of writing. Send them your poetry. This is a challenging work but doing it correctly will get you published in a reputable source and that in turn will help you with your book (and author bio) as well.

Plus, this simply adds a lot of credibility ad instant trust to your name.

Online Poetry Magazines

Research and find all online poetry magazines in your genre and published your poems for fee or free. If it is a free magazine, make sure you are getting valuable links back to your blog and other social media sites. Sometimes, poetry magazines may want to interview you and if you get such opportunities, jump on it. All these press will later help you with your next book.

 

4. Use Social Media

Post poetry on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, everywhere possible. Your goal here again is to gain exposure. The goal of social media is not to sell your book. Selling occurs when you have earned the likeness and trust of your audience.

Social followings and signals affect trust and your author image. So, focus on building your brand the right way from day one.

For example, once you have a new book coming out, you can announce about your upcoming book to your social fans. Once your book is available, you can guide the traffic to Amazon or your website. Make connections to other poets and poetry lovers on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Google+, Goodreads, etc.

When you read a poem that touches you or a short piece that moves you, try to find that writer on social media and send a friend request. It is in your best interest to know what good poets are doing, when they’re getting published, and how they promote their work.

Social media has become a great vehicle for poets to express themselves and become discovered by poetry lovers. A serious poets should use social media to find people who like good poetry. This is where you begin your platform building journey.

 

5. Email Newsletter

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT ACTION STEP in this entire list. Start a newsletter for your fans. Email is one of the most powerful tool for marketing. I have used email newsletters to announce book launch, announce when I am doing a free giveaway, and when I publish a new blog posts.

A great email list is your best shot on success as a new author. Your goal, above all else, should be to grow your email list. More people will buy your books from your email blasts than your posts on any social media platform.  

 

6. Start a Podcast

I host The Naked Soul Talk Show (an internet radio talk show podcast) where I interview published poets and others in the literary world and provided writing, publishing and promotional advice specific to my listeners. Podcast is also great in terms of marketing since it is a less crowded medium compared to blog and other social media.

I also post my podcasts on my YouTube to find new audience. If I have a video recording of my interviews, it is a value add on YouTube because on Podcast you only listen to the talk.  Podcasts also have the advantage of being monetized if you build a large enough audience. So, start a podcast. It is a must.

 

7. Poetry Readings and Slams

Poetry books will sell if you go out and do a lot of readings wherever anyone will listen. For example, you can do poetry readings at a local library or coffee shop. You can read your poetry on a street corner with a stack of books on your side. You can participate in a poetry slam. You can even organize your own poetry reading.

“The best way to market poetry is to do live readings. Absolutely the best way. Always has been. Likely always will be.” — John Kremer, Author of 1001 Ways to Market Your Book

You might check with your local bookstore or coffeehouse to see if they host readings or other poetry programming. Next, visit the National Poetry Map on www.poets.org, click on “poetry near you” to find poetry readings, conferences & literary festivals.

Browse the event listings and plan on attending. You can not only network with other poets but also learn more about poetry readings, popular and emerging poets in your region, and other events where you can share and promote your poetry.

You can find poetry slams (a poetry slam is a competition where poets read or recite original work) at www.poetryslam.com. You can join for $20 for basic membership and get information on all kinds of poetry slams.

 

8. Perform Book Reviews

Offer book review services with link back to your website and/or amazon page. You’ll also build connection with other authors and poets who in return can later turn out to be your ally during your next book launch.

One extra tip: When you write reviews, add your book in your signature. For example, I always end my (books, movies, products) reviews with, Salil Jha, bestselling author of Naked Soul: The Erotic Love Poems.

 

9. Book Editing

Offer book-editing services to other writers and poets. In addition to the benefit described above in #8, editing will also give you the opportunity to hone your craft of writing. Plus, your name would come in front of new readers through book’s acknowledgment page.

 

10. Participate in Literary Festivals

Plan on participating in multi-author panel discussions (search meetups in your local area), literary festivals, and other similar events. This is often neglected but this simple outreach and outgoingness can prove incredibly value to your writing journey.

 

11. Organize and Host Events at Local Libraries

This one takes some planning, prior work and networking. Your goal here is to organize and host some type of annual (or quarterly) event at your local library. You can give it some catchy name such as Writer’sJourney, WritingLife, A Good Writer Tells, etc.

The purpose and set up of the event can be also flexible and you have the complete freedom to design the event. For example, you can invite a few of the published authors from your area and have them answer questions posed by aspiring authors on writing, finding agents, publishing, self-publishing and book promotion.

You can offer poetry publishing workshops for aspiring writers and poets. You can expand the workshop by including fiction-writing, memoir-writing, poetry-publishing and book-publishing workshops as well.

 

12. Mentorship and Teaching

Offer to mentor high school or college students interested in a writing career. You can also lead and organize a monthly writing group/workshop at your local library. Combine this strategy with #11 above.

 

13. Get Interviewed by Local Newspapers

In this age of Internet and TV, newspapers still play their role. For example, the books are rated and charted on The New York Times list. Being featured in a newspaper is still a prestige and credibility issue.

Your goal is to approach all local weekly newspaper and try to publish with them or interviewed by them. Approach them several times if you are unsuccessful the first time. Once interviewed, use that interview as a PR when approaching the next one. Usually, the first one is the hardest and then it gets easier.

 

14. Approach Local Bookstores

Give a copy of your book to all the local bookstores in your area. If they like your book, they may stock and sell it on a commission basis. A lot of people who still shop for books in physical stores (and do not know have an Amazon account or interest in online book shopping) will be able to discover your work and will learn your name. This is again a great way to gain free Press.

 

15. Local coffee shops, dentist, beauty/barber, etc.

Similar to above step (#14), talk to local coffee shops to offer up book signing event. Talk to other places you visit regularly and have good relationships with to keep few copies of your book. At the least, this is free advertisement and branding for your book.

 

16. Speaking Events

There are always some big events happening and the event organizers are always on the lookout for speakers. Mostly, these events are paid and so you get paid for speaking. Search and apply to be a speaker at such events. Beyond the big events, there are local gatherings of poets at libraries, coffee shops, bookstores, retirement homes, and other locales. If you can’t find one, you can organize one (similar to #11 above).

 

17. Online Video (YouTube, etc.)

Poetry can be a powerful transformative tool if properly used with music. Music captures far more heart than simply words. Rhythmic words when put together with good music creates an unbeatable duo. On simple yet effective way to promote your poetry is through the use of videos on YouTube, Vimeo, Vines, etc.

To begin, you can take one of favorite poems and set it to music and matching pictures (or simply words) in a short video and post it on various online video sites such as YouTube. Test it out, the results may surprise you.

I used few of my poems when I made book trailers for my book launch. Check it out:

 

Other examples:

Forgetfulness (an animated video) by Billy Collins, former US Poet Laureate and one of America’s best-selling poets, reading his poem.

 

The Don’t Quit Poem has had more than 4 million views.

 

18. Online Poetry Communities

Share your poetry in free online poetry communities besides social media. Comment and build relationships with other poets (similar to other networking advice given above). The more exposure your gain, the more chances you’ll secure for your book’s success.

http://www.deepundergroundpoetry.com/ (Me on Deep Underground Poetry)

http://www.hellopoetry.com/ (Me on Hello Poetry)

http://www.poemhunter.com/ (Me on Poem Hunter)

http://www.poetfreak.com/

http://www.poetry.com/

http://www.allpoetry.com/

http://www.originalpoetry.com/

http://www.poemish.com/

 

19. Get Great Reviews for Your Book

If your budget allows, submit your book for Kirkus independent book review ($425). Here (as an example), you can read the excellent Kirkus review for my book. 

There are also a lot of journals that review poetry. Here is a short list of many such journals.

Great 5 stars average reviews is what separate a successful, bestselling book from the crowd. Good reviews (specially from the reputable sources) also help your marketing efforts. Customer reviews are important. More the better. Your aim should be to get atleast 10 positive reviews for your book before you begin aggressive promotion. Ask your family, friends, and fans to post reviews of your poetry book on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble.

 

20. Enter Poetry Contests

Enter as many poetry contests as you can afford and have time for. Many of the online poetry communities (mentioned above in #18) have poetry contests as well. Moreover, here is a short list of poetry contests that you should participate into. 

“Branding is a long-term endeavor that builds steam over time. All successful writers take many years and multiple books to create that overnight success moment. Writing career success is a process of connecting with one reader at a time.” – Salil Jha, Creator of The Naked Soul

 

21. Charity Dinner/Event

Organize a dinner party and read from your books and offer copies for sale with all profits being donated to the American Red Cross or any charity of your choice. This one is easy. You can experiment with just your family or friends or family and close friends at first. May be invite 20-50 people and plan group activities and games. Have dinner (you can use catering).

You can sell the event ticket for $20-$25 per person. As an up-sale, you can read from your book and have extra copies for sale. This is in a sense similar to hosting a book launch party.

 

22. Subway or Busy Market Corner

Like music students and street rappers, some poets have been known to do quite well going to the subway station or setting a booth at a busy market corner (with their books on display) with a stack of poetry books and reading their poetry out load to the bustling crowd until all their books have sold.

This is easier said than done. If you are not comfortable with reading your poetry in a busy public place, skip this step. No biggie. But, if you want to go all out — at least give this a shot, just for once. You will gain a lot of confidence.

 

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What do you think about my poetry marketing approach? Please leave your thoughts and input in the Comments below.

Platform Building: Where & How To Best Spend Your Time & Energy

How to effectively market and promote your blog, author platform, and your books or products.

Platform building is a long and difficult process. Where and how to best spend your time, energy, and money for the best possible outcome is a neverending quest for most of the independent artists, authors, and musicians.

In this blog, I will share my best tips and tools to make your strategy successful.

Platform Building

A. Idea Incubation & Content Creation

1. Write original content (books)

            – Reading

            – Researching

            – Writing

   Travel

            – Take pictures, make videos, learn

 

2. YouTube

            – Create content (video making)

   Blog

            – Create content (writing)

            – Create email list

   Podcast

            – Create content (talking & recording)

   Instagram

            – Create content for SM

            – Post content

 

B. Marketing and Promotion

Online Platforms

3. Social Media (Share content)

            – Facebook

            – Twitter

            – Quora

            – Pinterest

            – Periscope

            – Vine

            – Google+

            – etc.

4. Email Your List

5. Broadcast your podcast

 

Offline Platforms

6. Speaking Engagements

            – Paid

            – Free

7. Attend Industry & Networking Events

            – Tradeshows

            – Meetups

            – Events

8. Book tours and book signing

            – Locally

            – Extensive

Promote Your Brand The Right Way

Prioritize in terms of revenue generation or monetization capabilities.

1. Speaking engagement > income from speaking fee

2. Podcast (or Talk Show) > income from advertisement

3. Books > income from book sales

4. YouTube > income from advertisement

5. Blog > income from advertisement

6. Social Media > income from traffic volume, shoutouts, endorsements, & brand awareness

7. Products or White label Products > income from product sales

8. Affiliate programs > income from commission

9. Online courses > income from fee

 

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of deep souls, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

Do you need help in platform building? I provide online mentorship and one-on-one coaching. Or, if you would like to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment and I would love to read it. 

How Much Money Do I Make On YouTube? | How To Make $100,000 A Year

My last 30 days on YouTube = $51.65

Can you imagine how much money do these kids make with millions of views on their videos? A lot of them make over $10,000 each month. Some make over $30,000 a month.

The point is not to join the YouTube wagon but to create multiple funnels of income.

You may be a techie, or you may be creative.

You may have books in you. You may have CDs and music in you. You may have documentaries and films in you. These are all various funnels for income.

You have social media.

You can be a consultant.

You have a job.

You can become a teacher.

You can drive Uber part-time for a limited time to make some cash. You can do Airbnb and rent your rented house.

You can invest that cash (say $1000) in a Roth IRA or IRA and then start investing $200 or whichever amount you wish until retirement.

You can create your own investments with Vanguard IRA or start a simple savings account. You can invest in Stocks or Real Estate or both.

It always amazes me to find out how people complain about being poor when all they may need is Uber + Airbnb + few consulting gigs. You don’t even need an employer. You can be your own boss.

And, if you already have a decent paying job, what are you waiting for? You are in lucky 20%.

To make money, you got to first make money so that the money you make can later make money for you!

All you have to say is “I can do that, too.” Then do it.

Learn to use every talent you have to create income. That’s the right mindset. You can also create simple gigs on Fiverr and build revenue, create simple video webinars on Udemy and Skillshare.

If you have something to share that adds value, you have an opportunity. (As the popular saying goes, if you are good at something, you should probably charge for it.)

You just have to take one step each day.

365 days it is.

I want to see where I’ll be in 365 days from now! I am interested in measuring my own progress in 365 days from today.

Game on.

Do you accept this challenge? If yes, tweet to me or comment with hashtag #365Days.

Involve your friends and make it a fun challenge.

#365Days

 

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Did you know about the free VIP pass offer to the Naked Soul Club? Subscribe your email address now and be part of this tight-knit community of lovers, readers, writers, adventures and other people just like yourself. I send great contents directly into your mailbox. Once a week. Sign up now and stay in the touch!

What are you doing to make $100,000 in next 365 days? What other creative ways one can use to make some extra cash? Share your pro-tips if something is working for you. It may help others. (The first 10 commenters are always my favorite.)

Interview With R. M. Drake: Who Is This Instagram Famous Poet?

Instagram has seen a humongous growth in recent years. With this explosive user growth, we also see the rise in posts related to literary nature. Quotations and poetry, in particular, are very popular on this relatively young social media platform.

Interview With Writer Robert M. Drake

There are a lot of accounts which posts poems, quotations and short pieces of writing. Amidst this jungle of writers, one name that comes to the forefront is @rmdrk. Behind this hugely popular username (@rmdrk) is actually a Miami based young street artist and writer, Robert M. Drake.

Robert has recently published his third book Beautiful Chaos through lulu.com. His work is being read by over a million people (across the world) on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. His book is already on top third position on Amazon.com in American Poetry category.

I must admit, that it was an honor to interview the man who is not only both successful and highly creative but someone who is being followed by some of the hottest celebrities of our time. Naturally, it sparks a curiosity to meet and know more about this man!

It is impossible to find out the complete list of celebrities who follow him but the man and writer Robert M. Drake is followed by Khloe Kardashian (American reality TV star), Kendall Jenner (American reality TV star and fashion model), Kylie Jenner (American reality TV star), Sophia Bush (American actress and activist), and Shay Mitchell (Canadian actress and model).

There is little to no doubt that thousands of young and aspiring writers want to know more about Robert. This is where this interview idea came to my mind. I knew I wanted to know more about him. Well, it is my pleasure and honor to introduce Robert to all of you.

Without further ado, enter R. M. Drake.

 

Robert M. Drake: On Lifestyle and the Man Himself

Robert, are you originally from Miami, FL? 

Yes, I am originally from Miami, FL.

What’s your favorite place to eat in Miami?

Currently, I do not have a favorite place. There used to be a spot in a south beach called Van Dykes. It was a restaurant/bar/jazz lounge. It was fresh. I would kick it there several times a month. Good food, good people, good music and good drinks.

Do you like living in Miami? If you were to relocate, where would be that?

Probably San Francisco. I love it there. I feel unreal when I am there.

Do you have any pets? If yes, what are their names?

I have a Dog named Stewie. He is a rescue dog. When I was ready to adopt a dog I went to a local shelter. I remember seeing Stewie and his sister. I liked him a lot. He was very friendly but unfortunately, I did not take him.

A whole week passed and I still thought about him. I felt bad that I did not adopt him. I went back about a week later and his sister was gone but he was still in the shelter. I immediately adopted him and the rest is history.

He is very kind and lovely. Sometimes I feel for him because he cannot speak. I can see a lot of emotion in his eyes. It saddens me.

So Robert, do you write full-time?

Yes, I do, and I am very fortunate to be able to write full-time. I have put in a lot of sweat and blood into writing. Not a lot of people know that I have been writing since 1994. I have written numerous stories.

I have a 650-page book coming out called “A Brilliant Madness.” It a collection of five short stories I have written from circa 2003 to 2007. I am also working on “Gravity”, a novel.

Robert, let’s talk about Spirituality a little bit. Do you believe in God? Life after death?

I am not sure what I believe in. I feel things that I do know of. I have seen things that I do know of. I have a lot of questions regarding the entire religious spectrum. I have had very lucid dreams and experiences that question the ideals of Divinity.

I would like to say “No”, I do not, but something deep inside me tells me to believe and to keep searching. I am not sure what is it but there is something that does not want to eradicate my entire belief in God.

Maybe after all this is a human flaw, to believe that we can only define ourselves until we cannot and then there is a “God” to finish defining whatever it was you could not.

I do believe in life after death. My brother just passed in late August and we have spoken a few times.

Robert, on your Etsy store you mention that you are a sculptor and painter as well. Were you creative since childhood? Do you plan on exhibiting your work in the future?

When I was a child my parents were very poor. They did not have the money to buy me toys. In fact, I would only receive a gift during Christmas time. There were many instances where my father would buy me clay (because it was very cheap) instead of action figures or play guns, etc.

This was the only way I would lose myself. I would use whatever was around me and play. With the clay, I would sculpt action figures and play. When I was outside, I would pick up sticks and play. I was highly imaginative back then. It still amazes me to see how children use their imagination to getaway.

Imagination is a powerful thing. Some of us keep it and nurture it as we grow and some of us forget we have it.

I paint a lot of things. I do a lot of street art. It is everywhere in Miami and in other cities across the USA.  No, I do not exhibit or plan on exhibiting my works. I like my artwork to stay in the streets. It belongs there and I would never want my work to be represented in a gallery. (I have turned down so many requests).

My artwork is free and it is for everyone and it will always be. I would hate for my work to be owned and kept away from everyone who has yet experienced it.

With over 1M+ followers, you are a celebrity on Instagram. Tell us what does it feels like?

It is not real. I am not a celebrity. My work is shared by millions of people but nothing has really changed in my life. I still have the same life and I still live in a shitty apartment. Nothing has changed.

My writing only lives in the digital. It is not real but what is real is the feeling and hope my work gives to people and for that I am grateful. I am very blessed to be in a position where my thoughts and feelings influence a lot of people and that alone is enough to make me feel like my life is worth more than what is it right now.

Do you believe in love at first sight?

No. I believe in lust at first sight. I think that makes more sense to me. The illusion of love at first sight is not real.

 

Robert M. Drake on Writing

Tell us something about your upcoming novel “Gravity”?

Gravity is a novel that I have been writing since 2013. I do not want to mention too much about it at this time but I can tell you one thing: when you read it, you will lose track of time.

You will feel like you are dying only to reborn within every word. You will see yourself in the characters of the story and you will learn how to fall in love with something other than a person (human being).

The story is a reflection of our spirit and I have been chosen to write such a story. It is beautifully tragic in such a way that EVERYONE will be able to relate to it. This is why it is called Gravity, the attraction/force one we will never be able to break free of.

Can you talk about people or books you have read that have inspired you to embark on your own writing career?

I idolize great minds such are Virginia Woolf, Albert Camus, Walt Disney, Jean Paul Sartre, The Rza (which I will be working with soon), John Steinbeck, Nas, Steve Jobs, Kiki Smith, my college English Professor Robert Stambaugh and many more. The list is too long to list.

Can you talk about that one defining the moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote a story called “The Balcony” back in 1999. It was about a girl who jumped off a balcony because she felt so alone and she felt like no one could help her. As morbidly awful as that sounds it actually made the people I showed it to cry.

I knew whatever it was I had in me was special. After that when I was in college, I remember a lot of my professors telling me that I should be a writer. I never stopped writing. It was in my blood and I became obsessed with the idea of writing. Not because I thought it was “cool” but because I felt like I wanted to tell stories; stories that I thought I would like to read as a reader.

I want to capture something and I know I have still not captured what it is that I am trying to capture. If that makes any sense. I would probably feel this way until I die because I am always evolving and what I am trying to define is also evolving. There will never be an end to my work/research. I will never be done.

In your opinion, what is the most difficult part of the writing process? 

Trying to write when you do not feel like writing. And that’s all, really it is.

What advice would you give to budding authors?

Write what you know and do not write what others are writing. I understand there are certain things and emotions we all feel and go through. But if you are happy, do not write about hurting. I believe it is best to express what you are feeling at the moment. This way, the expression remains raw and fresh.

I am not saying you cannot write about something you went through last year because you can. But I believe it is best to write about whatever it is that is current. It keeps your feelings relevant to the “now” instead of waiting to write about whatever it is you want to write later.

I would also suggest to keep writing even if you express yourself poorly or if you do not like what you are writing. Keep writing. Do not compare yourself to other writers/authors because none are alike. It will only bring you down.

Also, the more renowned you get, the more recognition you will receive. There will be a lot of love but with praise and love comes hatred. For me, it fuels me to become better. I love it!

I love it when someone tells me my work is terrible. Thank you, I want to write better. I want to write deeper, and I will. I am not going anywhere. So, all of you who judge my work negatively and hate it, thank you. Keep hating; it makes me and my writing better.

Does your poetry carry a particular message or do you write for pleasure?

I do not write poetry. At least to me, I never saw them as “poems”. I write stories; that is all I have ever wanted to do. I do carry a message in my stories and the world has yet to see all that I can do.

These social media “thoughts and messages” are about 5% of what I want to do. I believe, if I play my cards right then I will leave a very powerful message behind when I pass away. I can assure you that. 

All the mentions of “her” and “she” in your poems… are there particular people you write about?

They are characters in my stories. And, yes each character is always inspired by someone I know. So yes in a way it is.

What challenges have you had to face in your writing career?

My greatest challenge was probably to get my writing out in front of my readers. It has been a blessing that I have used Social Media to stretch out my thoughts and stories to millions of people.

It is a beautiful thing that I am not enslaved by a publishing company and restricted. I want to show people to not be afraid to fail, and live your dreams. I want to show people that failure is bound to happen but you can succeed. Be free and do what you love. No excuses.

Can someone make living from writing? What advice would you give to struggling artists out there?

Do not sell yourself to a company. Do not let them buy you by offering you a little something you can probably do yourself. You can make money of any product; you just need to present it properly. This is the way the world works. If you are an artist and you want to make a living off your art then study and learn about marketing. It is an entirely different world and a world that might seem too vast to grasp.

This is why a lot of people sign contracts and all. They do not want to deal with the marketing part of their endeavor. But then you are selling your art for a small piece of the cake. Companies will rob you blind and rob you of your work. Do not be a slave. Be your own boss and find the motivation to become so.

Any near term personal goals or long term ambitions?

To live, at least long enough to write a few novels. My brother recently passed away. I know I do not have all the time in the world. My goal is to live a little longer.

Where do you think you will be after 25 years?

I cannot see that far into the future. I am sorry.

 

Robert M. Drake: Just for Fun

What is your favorite English word?

“Beautiful.”

What is your least favorite word?

“No.”

Can you talk about a fan encounter that completely took you by surprise?

One time I was doing street art and a bunch of people came up to me because they saw what I was doing and it caught their interest. When they saw what I had put up they freaked out, and then I freaked out. I do not know how I feel about being exposed. This is why I like to remain in the shadows.

If a film is made on you, who would play your role?

I am not sure. I do not watch too much TV or movies. I do not own a TV and I have not had cable since 2012. I’m not into TV or movies; I don’t know a lot of actors so I feel like I cannot answer this properly. I’m sorry.

So you might know that Khloe Kardashian and several other Celebrities follow you on Instagram. Have you met Khloe in person?

Khloe is fresh. I love her and that is all I want to mention about that.

Do you like going to the zoo?

I have not been in a long time. But it is okay.

What do you do when not writing or painting?

Drinking. Sometimes I have to live a little to remove the heaviness pilling up from the inside.

On what do you spend the most: clothes, accessories, perfumes, underwear, food, etc.?

I do not spend much money. I was poor all my life. I guess in a way I am not attached to anything materialistic but if I must say I do like spending on other people. It makes me feel good about myself.

What were your friend’s and family’s reactions to your success? Were they surprised, appreciative, happy? Tell us a little more about it?

No one actually knows. I do not like telling too much about my work to the people I am close. It might change people and I like to protect the very few people I have left. I do not let any new person in my life; that is all.

Do you have a nickname?

My friends call me Bobby.

 

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