“I always say that the best thing about being your own boss and owning your own business is that I get to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want, and I don’t have to answer to anybody for anything, ever.”
— Brian T. Edmondson, Author and Internet Marketer
Every time I’ve watched Brian T. Edmondson give a presentation, he does it with a smile — a sure sign of a fellow who enjoys the freelance life he’s created.
Early on, Brian figured out the secret to controlling his financial destiny. After leaving an unfulfilling job on Wall Street in 2001, Brian discovered true success and independence through the power of the Internet. He’s since built a thriving online business and has become a trusted authority when it comes to making money online. Brian has masterminded many million-dollar Internet businesses and helped launch several websites, including one that grossed over $50,000 in sales its first week. That’s an amazing feat, especially considering it usually takes about three months for most websites to generate any type of revenue.
As an author and entrepreneur, Brian helps website owners get more traffic and increase their sales online. His expertise lies in list-building and attracting subscribers and buyers for his clients, which has included Agora Publishing, Early to Rise, and AWAI, to name a few.
Brian is co-author of The Ultimate Success Secret with Dan Kennedy and he’s written four books of his own: Email Marketing Made Easy, Blogging for Coaches & Consultants Made Easy, Coaching and Consulting Made Easy, and Internet Marketing Made Easy.
I connected with him from his home outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he now works as a full-time entrepreneur in his own business (at least, when he’s not traveling). Enjoy Brian’s insight on three critical business-building skills all freelance writers should master: How to build an email list, when to turn projects down, and how to tackle massive jobs like writing a book.
You started your career on Wall Street. What was your life like then, versus now?
So much has changed since then and there are so many different variables and factors to consider; but I think the most notable difference is the fact that I own my own business and work from home versus having a job and an employer.
With that in mind, probably the biggest difference I feel and enjoy is freedom and empowerment. Freedom in the sense that I control my own schedule and the projects I work on. I choose whom I want to work with. I also feel more empowered in the sense that I really do control my financial destiny; my income is not limited to a certain salary or to increases based on a set schedule. I’m only limited by my own creativity and how hard I’m willing to work.
I always say that the best thing about being your own boss and owning your own business is that I get to do what I want, when I want, with whom I want, and I don’t have to answer to anybody for anything, ever.
I love that you say your biggest success was when you made your first 5 cents online. What’s been your biggest success since then?
Well, after making my first five cents online, I went on to make my first dollar, then my first $100, then my first $1,000, etc. I’ve done some product launches for myself and working with clients that have brought in some pretty substantial “windfalls” — but one of my favorite moments was a teleseminar interview I did where we offered listeners a paid program at the end of the call — doing over $20,000 in sales; half of which went to me as an affiliate. Not bad for an hours’ work!
The reality is that I’m more interested in the lifestyle this business offers. Given a choice, I’d much rather make $100,000 a year with the freedom and lifestyle of working from home, being my own boss than making $250,000 a year working 80 hours a week as a slave to an investment bank.
Did you always dream of writing books, or is it something you fell into?
It’s really something I fell into. I started my first website with a simple squeeze page to build an email list, plus some published content, updates, and information to send my list. Then one day, someone from my list contacted me stating they were publishing an e-book and would like to have me contribute a chapter. I wrote my chapter, which I contributed for free in exchange for having an author blurb that could drive traffic back to my website. What I found fascinating was that the gentleman who compiled the book, which had multiple chapters submitted from multiple authors, turned it into a paid product. That was my first exposure to information publishing and selling e-books online.
Since then, you’ve written several books of your own. What’s your best tip for getting a full book to the finish line?
The idea of writing a book (creating an online program, coaching program, etc.) can seem overwhelming when you look at the entire project as a whole. Usually anytime I’m tackling something like that, I break everything down into micro-steps that are easy to do and don’t take a lot of time.
I know writing a book seems like a huge task to take on. But if you say, “Maybe today I can just create an outline or write the first few paragraphs of a chapter,” then it’s doable. Or, “The idea of creating an eight module, 16-hour online training program seems overwhelming, but maybe today I can just work on one of the modules and record the first hour.”
Keep doing that and before you know it, you have a completed project.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Funny question — what didn’t I want to be when I was growing up?!
In all seriousness though, I always knew I wanted to be in business. I’ve always had an interest in marketing, consumer behavior, and things like that. As I learned more about marketing, I also learned the importance of copywriting. And as mentioned already, I soon discovered the field of information marketing.
What kinds of things do you do when you’re not working?
This will probably be counter to what you hear from most “success gurus,” but I have to admit that one of my guilty pleasures is binge-watching my favorite television shows. If it’s on HBO or Netflix, chances are I’m watching it! Those who follow me on Facebook know that I’m also big foodie as I frequently post pictures of my “food selfies” online. When I’m not spending hours on the couch watching TV or posting pictures of steak dinners and dirty martinis on the Internet, I’m most likely watching a Penn State football game (Go Lions!) or reading a marketing-related book.
You’ve said having an online business is one of the only ways to have complete freedom in life, in terms of working when and where you want, on what you please. What type(s) of online businesses would you recommend for someone who wants to write for a living?
This is a great question and tough to answer because there really are so many different opportunities when it comes to starting a business online and making money. As far as writing goes, I think that digital publishing (i.e., Kindle books) is a great opportunity. I like digital publishing on Kindle because it’s one of the closest methods to passive income there is. You write your book, upload it to Amazon, and Amazon takes care of the product delivery, payment processing, etc. Then they just send you royalty checks in the mail or via direct deposit. Like most things, the more of your own marketing and promoting you do, the better. But Amazon has a built-in marketplace with traffic. I have some books that I haven’t done any marketing, promotion, or advertising on in years that still make sales each day. Like I said, pretty close to passive income.
Another favorite business model of mine is affiliate marketing; the idea of simply promoting a product and getting paid a commission for referring a sale. You could create an authority website and/or email list focused on a niche topic. Then simply monetize it with recommended useful products and by writing product reviews. In many cases, the product vendors will provide you with marketing copy and materials. It’s similar to what I just mentioned with Amazon; the product vendor will handle the product sales, delivery, customer service, etc. … you just generate the sale and earn a commission.
Finally, I’d recommend creating your own digital information products such as e-books, audio teleseminars, video webinars, and online training programs and membership sites.
If you had to start over completely from scratch, which writing and/or Internet marketing opportunity would you tackle first?
If I had to start over from scratch, or even I was going to start a new venture, I’d go into it knowing that building an email list of raving fans is priority number one. Once you have an audience of people who know you, like you, and trust you, and are willing to act on the information you offer or recommend, you can write your own ticket.
It really comes down to knowing where your market is, making some type of free offer to build your list, then selling products and services they want. As I mentioned above, information marketing and affiliate marketing is where I’d start. But with a focus on building my own list.
At what point would a freelance writer want to start building their own email list?
Yesterday … if not today! I always recommend my clients start building their list from day one. The sooner the better. Almost 100% of the people I know who are building their email lists are leveraging the power of email marketing in their business. Knowing what they know now, most of them wish they had started building their lists sooner rather than later.
Who in the copywriting world has influenced you?
I had the great privilege and honor to work with Early to Rise when it was owned by Michael Masterson (Mark Ford) and run by MaryEllen Tribby. They are both business and marketing geniuses in their own right and I learned a ton of stuff about copywriting, email/newsletter marketing, and Internet marketing from both of them. If you haven’t been exposed to any of their work before, I’d recommend Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson and Changing the Channel by Michael Masterson and MaryEllen Tribby.
What is one huge, off-the-charts goal you have for yourself, either personal or professional?
Let’s go with personal, because that’s more fun!
This one is easy. If I could convince my parents to move to Florida when they retire, my dream is to get a house in Tampa on the intercostal where I can dock a boat and some jet skis in my backyard, and take them out into the Gulf of Mexico whenever I want.
How do you stay social when you work from home, independent of an employer?
It can absolutely be solitary! Working from home and solely on the Internet can be especially challenging. It requires you to be disciplined, stay focused, and avoid the many tempting distractions around you (like Netflix and Facebook). In addition to that, sometimes it does get a little “lonely.” I do think it’s really important to develop relationships with people in a similar situation as yourself whom you can connect with to share ideas and discuss challenges and frustrations. It’s just nice to be able to talk with someone who can relate to what it’s like to work from home.
A great way to meet people to connect with is to attend events and seminars related to your market. Events and seminars are a terrific way to develop business relationships and new friendships. Plus, it’s a good excuse to actually get out of the house.
Have you ever turned down a project?
Yes, I have turned down projects before. The most common reason is usually an aspect of trust. Usually I tend to do business with people I know, like, and trust. I’ve done plenty of deals through email or over the phone with people I’ve never met before via a “virtual handshake” with no formal contracts involved — simply because I trust the people I’m working with. I don’t care how good a deal looks on paper and what legalities are involved; if I don’t inherently trust the other party, we’re not doing a deal.
In what kind of environment do you do your best work?
I tend to work really well when I’m alone, away from people, without distraction — and working under a deadline … you could say deadlines motivate me well!
Any last words for aspiring freelance writers?
I’ll leave you with two of my favorite quotes by Walt Disney.
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” Followed by, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”