In early 2013, Ryan Hanley decided he wanted to write a book.
Outside of his career in the insurance industry, he had been writing about content marketing on his website and running a podcast on the same subject since 2011.
“I started to hear the same story over and over again,” he remembers. “There were all these great books, but there was a step missing — they were tactical, here’s-how-you-do-it-and-make-it-work books. I thought they were missing the first step.”
To raise the money he needed to self-publish an appropriately professional-looking book, using professional cover editors, interior designers, and story and copy editors, he estimated he’d need $US8,000-$US11,000.
He was earning about $US55,000 a year living in Albany, New York, and left his job to focus on his own business the same month his campaign went live: July 2014.
To get the extra cash, he turned to Publishizer, an online fundraising platform specifically for authors. In only 21 days, he’d raised the $US10,000 he asked for, finishing the month and the campaign just shy of $US11,000.
As to what made his fundraising so successful, Hanley credits the philosophy behind the book: That a content marketer is always building his audience.
“The whole philosophy is that you’re always building your audience, whether or not you have a product that exists yet,” he explains. “You need to provide as much value as you can.”
Hanley started the campaign with a simple picture of his as-yet-nonexistent book and a blurb about what it would be, then bulked up his appeal with a video, and a “blooper reel” with outtakes from the first video shoot.
“It’s not super professional,” he admits. “My wife helps me and is making fun of my pink shirt, which showed ‘here’s an actual human being, not someone who is untouchable.'” He then included a fully edited section of the book “so people could get a feel for what they were actually purchasing.”
A lot of the campaign’s success, he says, is due to his audience: an email list of about 5,000, 10,000 followers on Twitter, 12,000 connections on Google Plus, and a podcast audience of about 10,000. “The podcast is an unbelievable platform,” he explains. “I don’t have a direct metric, but I can tell you from going through the 157 people that contributed, at last 60% are podcast listeners.”
In part thanks to his now-published book, ‘Content Warfare: How to Find Your Audience, Tell Your Story and Win the Battle for Attention Online,’ Hanley estimates that his income has nearly tripled since the days before authorship. He once again holds a day job — in fact, he was only on his own for a month and a half before he got an offer to capitalise on the knowledge he shared in his book doing content marketing with an insurance firm.
It was an offer he couldn’t refuse. “It allowed me to leverage up from a 15-person, one-location agency to this national organisation,” he explains. “It’s been great because now I’m putting all the concepts in the book to a scale that’s helping a lot of businesses.”
On top of that, Hanley speaks about content marketing around the country (he has nine events scheduled over the next few months for $US1,000-$US2,000 each), which he estimates makes up 15%-20% of his income. He makes another 5% through affiliate marketing, and about 10% directly from the book.
He’s just starting to make plans for another one — and he’s considering funding it online.