Return on Investment Cannot Just Be Measured in Revenue

One thing about running your own business is this: you are always having to look ahead, and prepare to build the road you want to travel down. This is really no different from the life of writers who are hoping to build a thriving career, or any other field where part of what you do requires an entrepreneurial spirit.

For me, I am finding room in the next two and a half months to do major planning for 2012. Reassessing, optimizing, opening new doors, and being very careful about putting my resources where there is maximum return on investment. This ROI is not just based on revenue, but on what gets my heart going – who are those I LOVE working with, and what are the projects that inspire me to no end. Those are the activities that will inevitably produce the highest return on investment, not just for me, but for others – those in the writing and publishing community. Why? Because the motivation and the result is about creating, about expanding, not about coveting and taking.

To do this, I am carving out the first two work hours of every day to work on strategic planning for 2012 and beyond. I am careful about where I am putting my creative energy. When I worked in a corporate environment, I remember many people spend their work days constantly “putting out fires” – dealing with the activities that are screaming for attention at that very moment. They start their day with email, and are a slave to it. While there is value in that, the problem is that it rarely allows for you to plan ahead in a strategic manner. Something is always on fire. The long-term result is a career built on reaction, not directed strategic action. And the sum of the parts – of reacting to all of those fires – might not add up to the career one hoped to have.

Many people wake up one day, reflecting on their career, and think, “How did I get here?” It reminds me of that classic commercial, where little kids talk about their desire to work dead end jobs:

“When I grow up, I want to file all day.”
“When I grow up, I want to climb my way up to middle management.”
“When I grow up, I want to be replaced on a whim.”
“When I grow up, I want to be forced into early retirement.”

That last one reminds me of a news item I read yesterday from The New York Times:

“We are announcing today a limited buyout opportunity to newsroom volunteers.”

I thought that was a well-crafted sentence, a great spin on what is really happening. I think most people realize: that a one-time “buyout” check is not the same as a thriving career in a world-class news organization.

So these are some of the things I am thinking about, looking ahead at who I can work with, and what we can create. I’ll share news of my plans for 2012 as everything comes together. In the meantime, here are some upcoming speaking events I am really excited to be a part of!

  • Self-Publishing Book Expo panel: “Building an Audience,” 10/22/11
    Most authors are so focused on their writing that they don’t devote the time it takes to properly develop an audience. After their books are published, authors suddenly find themselves faced with the challenge of building a platform to market and sell their books. Learning how to strengthen your relationships, network with key members of your communities, identify the right media to approach, and develop a strong presence in your area of expertise, is essential knowledge for all authors. Find out who can help you the most and how to reach them, from this outstanding group of panelists with a wide variety of experience in online book promotion, publicity, and marketing.

  • Publishing Business Virtual Expo panel: “Monetizing Apps: The Why, How and What You Need to Know to Profit From This Rapidly Growing Market” 10/27/11
    A panel of experts will share insights with you on what’s working in apps and which apps are successfully bringing in revenue. You’ll learn about different options for sponsored apps, free apps vs. paid apps (and subscription models/challenges), sales methods, what marketers want, and more.

  • Folio: Show: “The New Content-Creation Paradigm: Blending Production, Audience and Content” 11/1/11
    For many brands, a prolific digital newsroom is the gateway to audience growth. In fact the two—content and audience development—are entwined. Join us in this session to learn how to not only staff and organize your online content team, but support it with the metrics and analysis needed to optimize content for the biggest possible audience.

  • Writer’s Digest Conference
    Becoming an Author Entrepreneur: The Business of Being a Writer and Building Your Platform 1/21/12
    To build a career as an author, you have to have an entrepreneurial spirit – you must take charge of connecting with your audience, grow your platform, share your work, encourage sales and earn revenue. This session is for writers with creative vision who also need the business backbone to support their career.

    Panel: Hardcore Author Marketing – What to Do to Rise Above in the Digital Age 1/22/12
    You’ve heard it a hundred times by now: writers have to be marketers, too. They have to have a platform to succeed. And with more and more writers finally coming to terms with these new requirements, the fight for attention becomes even more important. Before, you had to stand out in a relatively quiet room. Now everyone is yelling and screaming for attention. In that environment, what actions make the difference? What really sets you apart, gets your work noticed and drives your sales? Enough with theories, advice and supposition—here is where you’ll learn exactly what can get you ahead of the literary pack.

  • Digital Book World: “Measuring Content Strategy ROI: What, Why and How to Present It” 1/23/12
    With digital books and media, we now have an incredible amount of data at our disposal. And yet, many organizations lack the ability to effectively understand what is working, and more importantly: WHY. This workshop presents effective strategies and tactics to determine the return on investment of your content strategy, and how to use analytics proactively to lead to action that moves your business forward.

  • Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI) – I’ll be speaking at a chapter event. Feb 2012
    The SCBWI acts as a network for the exchange of knowledge between writers, illustrators, editors, publishers, agents, librarians, educators, booksellers and others involved with literature for young people.