135: Jonathan Milligan – Does free plus shipping work with books to grow a list?

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Your Message Matters with Jonathan Milligan

Jonathan Milligan is an author, blogger, speaker, and online business coach. He has spent the last decade guiding and directing creative professionals on how to pursue meaningful work. Since 2009, Jonathan has run his own portable lifestyle business online.

Today, he teaches others how to build a business with their passion, story, or message. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife, Charity, and their two kids. Find him at MarketYourMessage.com.

What We Discuss with Jonathan Milligan:

  • His journey from teaching to blogging
  • The decision to try something even if it means failing
  • The book that became a game-changer for him
  • How to find your unique message and leverage it to make a living out of it
  • Writing and publishing his first book
  • Self-publishing vs. traditional publishing
  • Lessons from going with a traditional publisher
  • His process in doing the free book + shipping
  • His inspiring message to aspiring writers

[02:32] His Transition From Teaching to Blogging

From teaching, Jonathan worked as a call center agent until one day, he decided he was ready to go fail at something. And something changed in him at that very moment. He was going to choose a different path, even if it means failing at something. 

All entrepreneurs’ journeys start out really rocky and bumpy. Overnight success is a myth.

Then he bought into a real estate online thing to generate leads and buy some property. He paid a good amount of investment and started getting leads. But he didn’t get any traction from it. He also ended up buying undervalued property and fixing it up in 90 days. After several trips to Home Depot, he finally made $12,000 on that sale. 

Then he found a person doing a startup executive recruiting firm who offered him a good-sized commission. For seven years, he worked on 100% Commission. 

Until he came across a book called Acres of Diamonds, which became a game-changer for him. And this was what it taught him: 

Don’t find your purpose out there in a title or position because those things can change. Find your purpose in what’s unique about you. And that’s what’s changeless. 

Even though he didn’t know what that was, it started him down a path to figure out what his unique gift was. Jonathan began asking around about three words they would describe him and everyone was saying he was resourceful. He knew that teaching was something that was in him and then he finally fell into blogging in 2009. 

Jonathan started doing a weekly blog. Then he started exploring how to make income from his website. And at the time, he only knew about two or three ways to make an income. But over the course of two years, he was able to actually find, discover, and implement 12 different income streams for that website. Eventually, he was able to start creating a couple of online courses and started earning money.

[18:00] How to Find Your Unique Message

The Messenger or Influencer Space

You want to inspire and help others with your passion, story, or message – whether that’s writing, teaching, speaking, or coaching. It starts first by believing you have a message. Believe that you have a gift even before you actually know what that is.

Defining Your Message

Your message comes down to three things:

  • Purpose – What’s your unique gift?
  • People – Who do you want to serve?
  • Passion – What problem will you solve?

It’s okay for your passions to change and evolve. You might have five different passions, and you might be solving different problems. But that’s okay because your purpose remains. 

[25:51] Self-publishing vs. Traditional

Disadvantages:
  • You have to learn how to launch and publish a book.
  • Limited amount of resources
  • All the effort is on you and all the money is up front all the time
  • The book quality may also not be as good.
  • The challenges of getting your book in bookstores and promoting it
Advantages:
  • You control it 100% – title, process, etc.
  • You can pay attention to the numbers more because it’s harder when the publisher has all the data and the numbers.
  • You can get it out there fast and start selling copies.

[30:37] Lessons When You’re Going Through a Publisher

Even if you work with a publisher, there are things they can bring to the table. But don’t forget you can also bring things to the table. 

As a leader, you are closer to your market. Believe that you have the ability and you have the right gut instinct about something.

Jonathan negotiated for a higher buyback rate where he got a good discount if he bought his own books. Because he wanted to do a free book plus shipping offer which has been a game-changer.

He also negotiated to be able to sell things on the back end and have 100% rights to courses events. Jonathan has an annual event called Your Message Matters Live. So the publisher doesn’t get a cut of that. 

[37:11] The Free Book + Shipping Process

Jonathan went with Givington’s in Arkansas. They negotiated the price and they have a special deal for the first three months. Then after that, the pricing may look a little bit different. But they have a “book launch simple pricing model.” And so for $6.50 per book, they will ship his book across the country. Then he was able to get his books for about $4.50. So that meant $11 was his hard cost to send out a book. Then he landed on $7.95 to charge as shipping. So he was going to be down $3 per book. 

He also put an order bump where people had the option to add more books and the had 30% of people who said yes to an order bump for $27. That alone has helped them to break even so far. Then they offer one upsell. If they say no, it’s a thank you page. And the upsell is something that’s very relatable to the book. Then if they say yes to it, they get another upsell of the launch your platform challenge. And 33% have said yes so far.

Right now, their average cart value is around $22. And they’ve already sold 60% of the books he purchased. 

Jonathan negotiated for a higher buyback rate where he got a good discount if he bought his own books. Because he wanted to do a free book plus shipping offer which has been a game-changer.

He also negotiated to be able to sell things on the back end and have 100% rights to courses events. Jonathan has an annual event called Your Message Matters Live. So the publisher doesn’t get a cut of that. 

[37:11] The Free Book + Shipping Process

Jonathan went with Givington’s in Arkansas. They negotiated the price and they have a special deal for the first three months. Then after that, the pricing may look a little bit different. But they have a “book launch simple pricing model.” And so for $6.50 per book, they will ship his book across the country. Then he was able to get his books for about $4.50. So that meant $11 was his hard cost to send out a book. Then he landed on $7.95 to charge as shipping. So he was going to be down $3 per book. 

He also put an order bump where people had the option to add more books and the had 30% of people who said yes to an order bump for $27. That alone has helped them to break even so far. Then they offer one upsell. If they say no, it’s a thank you page. And the upsell is something that’s very relatable to the book. Then if they say yes to it, they get another upsell of the launch your platform challenge. And 33% have said yes so far.

Right now, their average cart value is around $22. And they’ve already sold 60% of the books he purchased. 

[47:39] An Inspiring Message to Aspiring Writers

You need to have courage because there’s a whole group of people waiting for you. They’re just on the other side of your courage. 

There are people waiting for you. And their future help depends on your present courage. 

You have to have courage in this moment to step forward. And when you begin to do that and begin sharing your uniqueness, there’s going to be people that are going to latch on to it and they’re going to get the help that they’re looking for. 

Episode Resources:

marketyourmessage.com

https://www.givingtons.com/ 

Your Message Matters LIVE

Jonathan Milligan’s books:

Your Message Matters

The 15 Success Traits of Pro Bloggers

Book Mentions:

Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell

Follow Jonathan on:

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

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