By John Sonmez May 12, 2014

What I Am Actually Doing and Why I Am Doing It

I thought I'd write a post this week talking about what it is that I actually do, why I am dong it, and what my overall strategy is with my business ventures and career.

If you started listening to the Entreprogrammers podcast that Derick Bailey, Josh Earl and I just released this week, you probably already have somewhat of an answer to some of these questions, but I thought I'd lay it all out as much as possible here, in this post.

What I actually do each week

Let's start off by talking about what I actually do. You might be wondering what it is that I do all day since I don't appear to have a regular job and I'm constantly producing content each week.

Well, a good portion of what I do right now is produce content. Every week I produce:

  • A new blog post on this blog
  • A video for YouTube
  • An episode of the Get Up and Code podcast
  • An email to my email list
  • And now an episode of the Entreprogrammers podcast

I also do a few other weekly maintenance tasks like handle my social media and ,of course, deal with the endless pile of email I seem to accumulate each day.

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I do most of these things as my long-term strategy around my business of growing my audience and continuing to get my name out there. The more content I have out there that people are finding valuable, the more my audience will grow and the more opportunities I will have because of it.

It is difficult to directly say how producing all of this content each and every week benefits me financially, because there isn't a direct correlation between writing a blog post and collecting a pay check. I, of course, put affiliate links into most of my blog posts and I make a small amount of money each month from the sales those links generate. And I also have some ads on my blog and on YouTube that bring in revenue, but again that amount is not very large–certainly not enough to live on.

(Speaking of which. I need to put an Amazon affiliate link in this post. I couldn't really think of a book that related to this post, so I'm putting in a link to my favorite tech thing I own right now. My 39-inch 4K monitor. It has a ridiculous 3840×2160 resolution and it is an insane bargain at $499.)

But, like I said, my base strategy here is to grow an audience and continue to serve that audience, knowing that by doing it I'll have plenty of opportunities to generate income. You are likely reading this post because that strategy is working. I believe by giving out free, valuable, content each week, I am paving a way for my future.

Now, of course, that isn't all I do each week. Producing all the content for a week usually takes a little bit over a day to do. The rest of the time I spend split between doing some consulting work and working on usually one big project.

I try to minimize the consulting work, because I don't really like the idea of trading dollars for hours. I would rather work on things that have long-term benefits for me. (Like the weekly content I produce.)

Right now the big project I am focusing on is a book that will be published by Manning Press tentatively titled: “The Software Developer’s Life Instruction Manual: Practical Advice to Boost Your Career and Live a Better Life.” This book will be approximately 80 chapters and I am currently writing roughly two chapters a day. So, combined with all the editing and revisions, I'll probably be working on this book for the next few months.

Before I started working on this project, I was working on my How To Market Yourself as a Software Developer package. (Which I completed and launched on March 27th.)

And before that, my big project was usually whatever Pluralsight course I was working on. (Although, I've temporarily stopped creating courses, so that I can focus on some of my own projects, like the one I am working on now.)

How I make money

But, I've got to eat right? So, how do I actually make money?

Money in jar

Well, I have two primary sources of income right now that support me. The first are my real estate investments. I've blogged about how I've been doing real estate investment since I was about 19 here. I've saved up just about all the money I've earned over my career and invested it into real estate and now those investments pay me money each month as many of my properties are paid off.

The second primary source of income for me is my royalty stream from Pluralsight. I have 55 Pluralsight courses that I produced over the last 3 or so years that bring me in a quarterly royalty check that I can't really complain about.

But, I don't really want to depend on either of those sources of income in the long-term. My real goal is to build my own products and make money selling them through the audience I am building from my blog, podcasts and YouTube videos. I find income that I earn from those sources to be much more rewarding, because it is income that I have been able to produce from something I created entirely on my own.

My first major product that I created to help me with that goal was the “How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer” package. Quite a bit of work went into creating that product, but it has sold very well. I still have a lot of work to do on marketing it better so that I can make more sales from it, but I learned a lot from going through the complete process of creating a product on my own and taking the product to the market. It was an exciting and thrilling experience and it feels great to know that I produced something that is helping many software developers get better jobs and boost their careers. (I also got to interview some of the software developers I admire most in the industry and learn quite a bit from them as well.)

I plan to create other products like this one in the future. Perhaps one or two a year. It is a long and difficult process, but I find it very rewarding.

My focus and goals

To be honest, right now I am writing very little code. Both my How To Market Yourself package and the book I am writing are mostly about soft skills. I've been focusing on this area, because I think it is a greatly under-served area for software developers and an area that can have more impact on your career than learning any technical skill. I also happen to be very passionate about these kinds of topics, because I spent so much time exploring them and saw how beneficial this focus has been for my career. (Although, that doesn't mean I'm not itching to start writing more code. I didn't realize how much I'd miss writing code until I spent about half a year hardly writing any.)

Next year, I might focus on more technical topics again, but I plan to keep representing myself as a “life coach” for software developers. I found that my holistic approach to software development fits nicely with this calling. I greatly enjoy seeing people succeed not just technically, but mentally, physically and spiritually as well. Life is hard, sometimes we all could use a little help. And, so far it seems that I am connecting with many software developers who appreciate my holistic approach.

In the future, that might change. I've often entertained the idea of disappearing from the internet for awhile and either taking some time off to relax and recharge or to do something I've always wanted to do, like create a game.

My big goal right now is to get enough products created and market them properly to build a steady stream of revenue off my blog and other audiences. Right now this blog gets about 3000 page views a day. That is a lot of traffic. I should easily be able to generate a living off of that traffic alone. I'm glad that my posts are being read and benefiting people, but the entrepreneur in me knows that I am not maximizing this opportunity. I also am not making any money off of Get Up and CODE–in fact, it costs me money and time to produce that show each week. There are still quite a few opportunities to turn these properties into bigger revenue streams. I need to get some sponsors for Get Up and CODE, and probably produce a fitness related product as well as have more products available to sell to traffic that is coming to this blog.

My main motivation for doing this isn't really the money. I could probably make more guaranteed money just continuing to create Pluralsight videos. I, of course, want to make money, but more than anything I want to succeed as an entrepreneur. Right now, I don't really consider myself successful yet. I've come a long way, but I feel that I still have a long way to go.

So, there you have it. That is what I am all about right now. This is a pretty honest post telling you exactly what I am doing, what my strategy is and why I am doing it.

It's been quite a journey getting this far. I never thought I'd be doing what I am doing now for a job and even though some days it isn't easy, (I don't exactly feel like creating a new blog post every week or recording a YouTube video or podcast,) it's worth it. Honestly, sometimes I feel like I have no idea what I am doing. And, honestly, to some degree that is true. But, I am figuring it out and I am trying to make that process as public as possible so that others can benefit by learning from my mistakes and victories.

If you aren't already on my weekly email list. You can join here. I include some extra content each week that only goes out to the list and I compile everything that goes on here into a weekly email every Tuesday so you don't miss anything.

 

 

 

 

 

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."