The plan of attack: How I intend to earn money, gain influence, and make a difference

 

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I have four months left in Ireland. I fly to Spain on May 3rd. My flight is booked, nonrefundable. ¡Olé!

But I have a lot of things I want to accomplish before then. My main goals can be summarized like so:

  • Start earning enough money to cover all my expenses.
  • Build my audience.
  • Make a significant positive difference in people’s lives, especially here in Ireland.

I believe the key to achieving all those goals is the same: Provide more value to more and more people. That means getting out there and learning more, having more experiences and writing my ass off to share what works for me.

To keep focused and on track I’ve set myself some mini-goals and milestones for the next four months. Here they are:

1. Release a free manifesto

This will be at the end of January. It will be called Disrupting the Rabblement and it will delve deeper into the theme of this whole project I’ve started. I’m already working on the outline and I’m excited to get into the real writing. I believe the manifesto will be a helpful guide for anyone feeling stuck or unsatisfied with their life.

(Why free? Because I want to grow my audience. This blog doesn’t have a big enough readership yet for me to start selling premium products. Releasing the DtR manifesto as a paid product would probably result in very few sales. Giving it away for free increases the likelihood of it being read and shared by a lot of people, getting more minds familiar with my name and message. Hopefully that will help make the next thing a success…)

2. Release a paid product

I haven’t settled on an exact idea for this yet, but I’ll be releasing it by the end of February. I may end up creating a course or writing another guide. A lot will depend on the success of #1 above. I’m hoping I’ll get a plenty of feedback from that which will help me figure out what else I have to offer people.

3. Speak at three or more conferences/universities

I plan to get some public speaking experience in March and April. By then I hope to have had some tangible success and be in a position where I can offer advice to other people who are looking to build an audience or make money online. I’d especially like to inspire more of an entrepreneurial mindset in students, so they’re not as dependent on finding a 9-to-5 job as soon as they leave school.

4. Speak on Irish radio

This is actually two goals rolled into one. I would like to get on Irish national radio any which way I can, and methinks I’ll be able to achieve that fairly easily by playing Ah-Yeah-OK on the Ray Foley show some afternoon (I’ve been listening in for the last few weeks but it seems they haven’t been playing it much during the run up to Christmas). This is more for fun than anything.

The second part of this goal is to appear on any local/national radio show as a guest and talk about topics related to my blog (e.g. small business, personal development, minimalism, lifestyle design, etc.). D’Mudder tells me that The Business with George Lee on RTE Radio1 might be just the job.

5. Appear on Irish national television

This is perhaps the most ambitious goal on my list, but I’m dreaming big here so no holding back. The logical next step after doing radio would be to try television. I’m not a big fan of television but it would be a way of getting my message to a lot of people who might otherwise never hear it. I’m not even sure though which TV program would be suitable for me to appear on as a guest. Maybe Nationwide?

Like the speaking engagements and radio invite, this will be difficult to make happen unless I have some early success with my business. Nobody will care what I have to say if I’m not walking the walk. As such, a LOT depends on my paid product (#2 on this list) selling well.

6. Secure a spot as a columnist for a large Irish newspaper

Again, dreaming big. Ideally this would be a national newspaper, but I’d also be happy with a writing gig for a large local or regional paper. This would be another way for my message to reach people it wouldn’t otherwise reach (More on this: Chris Guillebeau explains the importance of having multiple spheres of influence).

I would not expect to be paid by the newspaper, and I’d like to write my column just once per month, twice tops.

7. Guest blog at least once every fortnight

This will help me network with other bloggers and grow my audience. I’m planning to reach out to bloggers who I really admire and highly respect.

8. Post an interview at least once every fortnight

If I’m interviewing other bloggers, this provides similar advantages to guest blogging. I’ve also found that I come across lots of good ideas while doing research for interviews (like this one with Corbett Barr and Everett Bogue). It’s amazing what gold you can find by digging through someone’s archives.

However, I don’t just want to interview bloggers. I have a few friends (and I’m sure I’ll make many more in the coming months) who have figured out how to make a nice chunk of passive income online without having a blog. I’d like to pick their brains and share their stories.

9. Take a trip to Dublin and Northern Ireland

There are some cool people in these places I want to meet, such as Clare Herbert and Ryan Renfrew.

10. Take a trip to England, Scotland and Wales

Shame on me, I’ve never been to Scotland or Wales, so I might as well remedy that. While in England, I’d very much like to meet Mark Boyle, the Irish guy who has been living there without money since 2008.

11. Build community, help spread knowledge

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately, and I expect I’ll be writing much more about it here in the coming months. My brain is still chewing on a few ideas, but for the sake of this exercise I’ll throw out some tangible targets to aim for:

  • Create a Meetup group for people who want to change the world. Meet twice weekly in Cork. Have at least five people show up at every meeting in March and April.
  • Start a Mastermind group with three other people. Do a weekly conference call.
  • Volunteer at least one evening per week, sharing web design and computer skills with others. (I would LOVE to get involved with something like Dave Eggers talks about in this TED talk. Following the same model, Roddy Doyle has set up a tutoring center in Dublin. Cork, and every city in Ireland for that matter, would benefit from similar.)

Okay, so how do I actually accomplish all of those things?

I’ll need to be very disciplined with my writing. That will have to be my priority. I’ll need to establish a routine, getting up at 6am or earlier (I’ll experiment with 5am and afternoon naps) to workout and write. The rest of my day will be spent in the company of remarkable people, doing a few side projects, networking online and reading books.

If I can stay focused and keep all that up through January and February, I should have much of the network and the financial support I need to start making the other goals a reality. That is, if I just knuckle down and do what I know I’m capable of doing, I expect my audience will grow exponentially and I’ll generate some decent income from what I release at the end of February.

The point of this post

First, I know by now that I’m more likely to get up off my ass and do something when I announce my plans publicly. If I don’t post all of the above on here, I can always let myself off the hook later. Ah sure nobody but me will know if I failed, so I won’t worry about it! No, better to raise the stakes a little, put some pressure on myself to succeed.

Maybe I’m biting off more than I can chew, but I’m intentionally setting the bar high so I’ll push myself. If I accomplish even half of the things on the list above, I’m sure I’ll be able to look back fondly on my few months in Ireland. To quote a wise turtle…

“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that our aim is too low and we make it.” – Michaelangelo

Second, I’ve learned that helpful doors have a tendency to open when more people know where you’re trying to get to. To give one example, back in November I was a week away from going to San Francisco and I still hadn’t arranged accommodation. Then I got a text message out of the blue from a friend (thanks, Erin!) saying I could stay with her parents there if needed. Happy days. But if I hadn’t been telling everyone with ears about my upcoming trip, that offer would never have come my way.

So who knows, maybe some TV or radio producer will stumble across this post and see that I’m trying to get 15 minutes on the airwaves. Maybe she’ll like my stuff and hook me up.

The lesson here is that you have to broadcast your desires. If nobody knows what you’re looking for, nobody can help you find it.

And my third and final reason for writing all this, is my readers. I’m trying to lay down a blueprint here, so others will be able to follow along behind me and learn what they need to do to achieve their own dreams. Or, at the very least, they’ll be able to see what doesn’t work and not waste their time trying similar things ;-)

What’s your plan of attack?

What unrealistic goals do you have? Being completely honest with yourself, how likely are you to actually achieve them? How can you improve those odds?

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14 Comments

  1. Hello Niall,

    Great post. I have just one goal right now: quit my job.

    A few of my benchmarks to reach my goal are very similar to yours:

    Finding my writing voice

    Forming a mastermind group

    Releasing a free ebook

    Determining a paid product for release

    I’m of two minds about goals though, on one hand I can see their usefulness and on the other goals in their traditional form have never served me very well. (Perhaps it’s fair to say I’ve never served my goals well.)

    I find the journey towards a goal often leads in a direction I didn’t expect and following that direction instead of the goal has often been more rewarding than the goal would have been.

    Cheers to wild success! :D

    • Thanks, Spyros.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with deviating from the plan. You create it, and you’re free to change it if it feels right to do so. I will happily abandon several of my above goals if some bigger, better opportunity comes along and I feel in my gut that I should go all in and pursue that. I’ve read about a lot of businesses failing because they were too rigid and didn’t take advantage of new information/ opportunities. They wanted to stick to the original plan, and it killed them.

      At the same time, we need to be careful not to start lots of different projects and never finish any of them because we’re too eager to move on to the next thing.

      (BTW way, thanks for your email. I’ll be getting back to you about that this eve.)

  2. You’ve got a bunch of high-demanding goals, go for them all!!!

    I don’t know but maybe you should add learning spanish to that list ;)

    Can I ask you a question? I skip your answer, here I go–> Why Spain? Where will you be living?

    Cheers

    • Álvaro, thanks for the comment. I want to learn another language, preferably one that’s spoken in many countries, so that’s why I’m going to Spain. The plan right now is to live in Sevilla. I want to avoid Barcelona and Madrid because it will be too easy to find English speakers there. I want to speak Spanish as much as possible.

      And yes, I could learn some Spanish before I go, but I figure I could learn more Spanish in a week living in Spain than I could in a month here in Ireland, so I’m just going to learn some basics right before I leave and then immerse myself and see what happens. Should be an adventure ;-)

  3. I have about 2 months reading your writings and most of the things you say fit very well on me. Currently I have a day job that I am starting to dislike. I am planning very seruously to quit my day job and run a business in my country. By the way I live in Honduras (Central America) and you should definitely come down here and visit Central America.

    • Thanks, Ramzi. I wish you all the best for 2011. Sounds like it will be a life-changing year for you. I’ll definitely get to Central America at some point, though it might be a few years.

  4. Hey Niall,

    Love the challenge, I’m currently also working on similar plans too. I’m glad to find another person with similar ideas and goals. I am not going to wish you luck even though sometimes a little luck don’t hurt, but we both know that it takes times and effort to make shit happen. You sound like you’re determined and confident keep that attitude and we will see your success and accomplishments done.

    Good stuff my friend!

  5. Sounds like some great goals mate! Hope you achieve them. Next time you are in SF, give a shout.

    My realistic/unrealistic goal is to build the Yakezie Network of personal finance and lifestyle bloggers into the biggest network on the web (i think it is the biggest now, but I’m not sure). Meanwhile, by the end of the year, all Members will earn an EXTRA $500-$1,000/month from their sites!

    Stop by Yakezie.com some time. We are giving back through our Yakezie Scholarship as well.

    Best, Sam

  6. Great, ambitious stuff as always Niall. Looking forward to following your progress, and meeting you when you make it to Dublin. Feel free to contact me again if I can help in any way.

    Cheers, Clare.

    • Thanks, Clare. You could definitely help by mingling and making friends with some RTE bigwigs and convincing them that they should put this random guy with only three pairs of pants on the national airwaves. Though that might be asking a bit much :-P