How to Generate Passive Income with Kindle Books: An Interview with Rachel Rofe

This is a post you’ll want to bookmark. I sent some questions to Rachel Rofe about how she’s built her business, as well as some specific Kindle publishing tips, and she graciously recorded this monster of a video. The full transcript is below the video for your reading pleasure.

Hey! It’s Rachel Rofe and Nate has given me some interview questions to answer here. So he told me to basically just take a bunch of questions and write down answers. But I think if I made a video, I could answer more. Let’s get started.

The first question was, “What got you interested in starting an online business and how did you get started?”

The answer to that is basically I was working in retail management before I did full-time online. I was working like 70 to 80 hours a week, I was going to school full-time, pulling these 36-hour shifts all the time, and it was just like pretty miserable. At the time, I was 23, I was making $55,000 a year and I thought I’d never be able to beat that, and I would literally apply for secretary jobs. I had just so many credentials, so many things and I wouldn’t even get hired for secretary jobs. So I felt like I was stuck in retail for the rest of my life.

I came across one of those eBooks, you know, “Make a Million Dollars a Minute” kind of thing and in your underwear. But it was basically just an affiliate book just saying, “sell this book and every time you sell a copy, you’ll make affiliate commission.” That’s what I did. I started spamming Craigslist, not necessarily proud of it, but that’s what I did back in 2006, and I was instantly making between $500-$800 a day.

So that was, like I said June 2006, and I’ve been full-time ever because I realized it was possible to make money online and since then I’ve done all kinds of things like affiliate marketing and copywriting kindle books and just offline marketing, and just really every business model you can think of because I just like to explore and try new things.

Next question was, “Did you have any failures early on and what did you learn from them?”

The big failure that I talk about a lot is that when I first started, like I said, I was making $500-$800 a day. And then I started learning about internet marketing. Until then all these people’s list and stuff and I found that every time I would get on somebody’s list, like they would market me something. And so I have like XsitePro stuff here or ad sense here. Everyone has a different opportunity. And because they all see you like you make thousands and thousands of dollars a day, then I would start to chase all of them. And so my income just taped because I stopped focusing just on Craigslist, which by now I could say it, was spamming, so not sustainable or really ethical or anything else. But the point is I just I realized when I focused on all these different things that it’s just not good for income or for really like just level of being okay with yourself. It was really hard. So what I learned from that is to focus.

What I like to do now is I have my goals, this is for everything – let’s just say for income since that’s what we’re talking about. I take out my goals and then I basically reverse-engineer what I need to do to reach those goals. So let’s say I want to make $10000 a month, then I’ll think, “What do I need to do to make $10,000 a month?” Could that be like $500 student, $20 a month; that’s definitely a way. So what would I need to do to do that? So that’s setting up the membership site, getting content in, blah, blah and then day by day out exactly what need to be done and then just working towards that goal. So I figured that the niche I’m going to sell is in all that stuff, it must be something that I know about and I can provide value in. Maybe it’s selling X amount of copies with Kindle book; that’s something that I do now live. I love Kindle. I have 40 plus books there. And so I just think, “What do I need to do? What niche would I need to find? What can I write about and speak about intelligently or outsource?” that kind of thing. And then I just reverse-engineer because I’m so focused on my goal, I don’t sit and look at this opportunity and this opportunity. So that’s definitely what I learned from that.

Next question: “What’s the main thing that made the difference for you to cross the line from struggling to become successful?

Well I think I was unique and I was successful in the beginning and then it was when I started going wobbly off-focused and stuff, that’s when I stopped becoming that successful. So, I think when I became struggling was the last of focus, and also I was just, I think like starting a whole lot of things and even when I was focused, I was starting thing and getting excited about them, but sometimes it takes a little bit of time to build up momentum.

So, when I was going paycheck to paycheck and it was really frustrating because I’ve been, it’s about seven years now, almost seven years and two months that I’ve been full-time online. So there were times that it was like paycheck-to-paycheck and so what I tell people now is that if you ever need assured income to offer some kind of service. So, for me that was copywriting. When I had that service and I was able to sell them all the time and I had guaranteed money from my freelancing that was just amazing because when you’re not working from a place of desperation – I don’t know. For me it’s a lot easier to work from a place of knowing I’m okay no matter what. I don’t really work so well under like stress. Some people they do, but that was just for me.

Next question. “What’s the best piece of big picture advice you would give to someone just starting their online business?”

I would say, again focus. Just figure out what you want to do and make sure that it’s something that people would pay for and then just focus on that, get that done. Don’t look at all the other bright ideas. I wouldn’t get under a million different people list just to get on the people’s lists that you think can actually add value to whatever you’re wanting to do. So, let’s say you want to do Kindle. Well get on to people’s Kindle’s list. I would put in a filter and then give it time to look at them like once a week or put it in a whole other email and then, whenever you’re looking for something specific, just search in Gmail and look for whatever tool you’re looking for. So do something for you versus constantly letting your day be dictated by what everybody else wants to sell you.

Next. “What is your system for sitting down and getting work done on daily or weekly basis?”

So when I said that I reverse-engineer my goals, what I do is – so I have my big picture goal and that’s kind of my year-out plan whenever I want to get done in a year. So let’s say make $10,000 a month. Then I break it down into a six-month plan. So what could I do to get that big goal done? Like what would need to happen for me to reach that year goal. So maybe the six-month plan is that I do my 500 members at $20 a month. So then, I break it down into what I need to be doing daily, like I was saying. So, basically now I know what my daily activities are because I’m working towards that long-term goal.

And so whenever I schedule up my daily things, I look at like my daily to-do lists, I look at everything that needs to get done. I’ll schedule the hardest thing first. Well, I schedule either the hardest thing or the thing that’s going to make money first. So, like let’s say if I just send an email to my list, that might be the very first thing that I do and then I do the hardest thing. but it’s always one or the other. I want to get the hardest thing done quickly while I have momentum on that, tired or anything like that, and it’s also obviously the thing that make money, it makes to do right away. So that if I walk away at the end of the day I can say at least I’ve done something that brings me towards income. Every day I want to do something that brings me towards income because it’s a very easy to just fill yourself with jus busy work and not do that, and that’s not helping you at all.

Okay, “What could you have done that would have made you successful sooner?”

You know I had a whole bunch of products in the beginning and I didn’t keep a list for them. I didn’t believe in lists at that time. that was back in 2006 and 200. And so I think if I would have had a list that would have been great. I think if I would have emailed my list more, and I think just again the whole focus thing.

“What would you tell people just starting out that they should focus on?”

So I would say focus on whatever excites you. I think that if  you need quick cash, services are a great thing so that could be like copywriting or article writing. It could be like a video editing, graphic design, anything – like virtual assistance, anything like that. Or you can go on to oDesk and just see the types of things that people look for. So it could be a service.

Also I love Kindle. I’ve been spending a lot of time with Kindle lately and I think it’s just really a quick way to be able to earn revenue pretty quickly. That’s passive income; you can start building in lists and stuff from it. I have my stepdad right now, I’m mapping out a book that he’s writing because it’s just a very easy like you don’t have to worry about copywriting. I mean you don’t have to make compelling descriptions but it’s not that hard compared to like learning how to write sales letters and building a list and all of that stuff. Amazon right now has tons of traffic they’re willing to bring you. So that’s what I would say.

Next, “Why do some people succeed online and others never do?” 

You know a lot of people say it’s because people don’t take action, but I don’t believe that. I think a lot of people take action. I think it’s the focused action. A lot of people would just do a whole bunch of random things and they see that one thing isn’t working and so they’ll jump to the next, and jump to the next. And I think that’s the biggest problem. also, it’s so often that you’re so close to hitting success and then you just like, “Forget it. it’s not going to work,” and then you go away. I think if people will give it a little bit more of a push,  more people would be successful.

Okay, next question. “How is writing your online business changed your life?”

Well, as I was saying back in 2006 I was working full-time, I was going to school full-time, got to sit in the office with the other retail managers and we would just talk about how much we hated our lives. I mean it was just terrible. And so now, I’ve been to all 50 states; I’ve travelled to all 50 states and lived in Rio de Janeiro, I lived In Buenos Aires, I’ve been to Europe and going again shortly. So I have a lot of freedom and I’m able to impact to a lot of people, and what I think is a positive way. Like this morning someone sent me an email and said, “Thank you for sending a love-tour industry,” and that’s why I want to be.

One of the things that I want to be known for is just being able to make a difference. And I’m able to have much more of a platform to do that, to really support people which makes me feel really great. So I love and so hopefully, I know that it makes other people feel really good too. So I love that, I love flexibility. Right now, I know people are asking me, I’m running an event in New York City. I’m bagging this; I just ordered my green shoes from this awesome website that delivers it and then I’m going to an event soon.

And so people are asking me where I live, like “I don’t know where I live right now.” I was in San Francisco and I just left and then I want to visit some family in Pennsylvania, got to go to my boyfriend in Kansas, and then maybe I’ll find a place in New York City. It’s just I can be really loose and flexible. And so I really appreciate all of that. And also when I used to go travelling, I would literally just drive down the highway and pull up my air card, get some work done if I needed to get work done, and then I keep driving. So if you can work anywhere, it’s awesome.

Okay, “What motivates you to keep going and become even more successful?”

I like to create “whys” so emotional “whys” and things that I start to just visualize and I get really excited. So for example one of the things that I’ve wanted to do, I did this last year and the year before because I wanted to give my family just a whole bunch of money. I wanted to give my parents money to pay off their bills; I wanted to give my family just like my sister and my brother. And then at the time it was her fiancé now he’s my brother-in-law, and then my mom and dad, just frivolous like go spend this money.

And so I created that “Why”, and so I told myself once I had my next $80,000 month, I’m going to give them a bunch of money. I just kept thinking. It was so much more exciting to make the money, because money for money’s sake bores me but money where I can support people it’s just really cool. And so I just kept thinking about that, and it just gave me that “umph” that extra push to keep going. And so I had the $80,000 that month and I gave my family the money and it was incredible. I was shaking when I gave it to them. I was so terrified, not like terrifying but just like, it is really a cool moment. So there’s that and there is a whole bunch of things that I love to do just to give back to people. So different charities and different things like that. And that’s really, really fun for me. I feel like if I can have a bigger platform to make a difference, that’s what I want to use it for; it’s just doing more good in the world.

All right, next. “What is your favourite software tool that you use in your business and why?”

Probably Kinstant Formatter that’s actually something that I created where I had a programmer create it. But with all the Kindle books it’s very easy to upload them and for them to look bad. And so I had a book that I’ve been like $3000 a month, and then I started getting bad reviews because of the formatting. I didn’t realize that even the formatting was bad, but I didn’t know how to fix it. I kept reading all the Amazon stuff but it was just like the zillions of rules and terms of service and that stuff and I just could not figure it out. I don’t like all that detailed stuff. So I asked my programmer if he can create some kind of tool that would basically just, I could put my Word file and then have it look good, have the books look good. And he did, and so it bred the tool wheel, it’s called Kinstant Formatter and it works amazingly for me. I ended up selling it. That’s got on to sell thousands and thousands of copies too.

Okay, next question. “How much of your time do you dedicate to 1) Self-education and learning new skills; 2) Generating new traffic, leads and customers for your business; and 3) Generating revenue.”

Okay, so No. 1 – Self-education and learning new skills. All right, every day. But I’m in New York so there; right now is for personal development workshop. Every day I’d like to read at least 15 pages of something self-development or listen to 15 minutes of audio that’s personal self-development. So I think it’s a constant thing. I read this awesome quote on Facebook that was something like, “People say motivation doesn’t last.” Like when you think about these rah-rah personal development things, that people say motivation doesn’t last, only they’re just bathing. That’s why you do it daily, right? So that’s how I feel about personal development; every day I want to do something more and learning new skills. That’s also really important, and at least once a week I go through and I buy new courses and then I go through it and I look that. And then I don’t spend hours, and hours and hours, but I definitely want to look through and see what’s going, see what I’m missing. Things change quickly and I think it’s really important to keep yourself educated.

Generating new traffic, leads and customers for your business. Right now, what I’m working on is launching a new book at least once a month and then also having either an internal launch for my list, or an external launch for my internet marketing stuff and other niches so that I’m always making sure that it’s systemized that I’m bringing in new people. And then generating revenue – same thing. Every day I’d like to do something that’s going to bring in money. That doesn’t mean like emailing my list every day, but just something, that works towards gaining more revenue.

Okay. “What are some of our best Kindle tips for people that are building a Kindle business and what are some tips for people who want to but haven’t started yet?”

Okay, one of my best Kindle tips for people that are building a Kindle business is obviously you want to get as many reviews as possible. And so something that I love to do with my Kindle books is at the end of each book, I put a post-it note that just says, “Don’t forget to leave me your review.” And then I write like, “If you like this book, please leave me your review. It really helps me out, blah, blah.” And that’s a really great way to get more reviews.

Other things I would say is make sure to use pen names for anything that’s not like if you’re in different niches, you use a different pen name for each line one before you start to lose credibility. I would say I like to do books that when I go for keywords I like to have stuff that’s 500 results back or less. What else? Makes sure not to skimp on the cover and, well no. That didn’t answer the specific question but the only ones that came in my mind first. As far as some tips for people who haven’t started yet, I would say start out small, say you don’t overwhelm yourself. What I like to do is I’ll create cheaper books like $0.99, $2.99 first. And so those only need to be 20 pages. Just make sure that you don’t misrepresent what people are going to get. Let them now that it’s a short book that they’re going to get whatever they’re going to get. And then if it’s profitable then you can reinvest your profits into outsourcing and writing more. So it doesn’t need to be this huge thing like you need to outsource the book and spend hundreds of dollars or write it yourself. Just start small and then keep building. But definitely make sure that you get it up there.

Okay, next. “What Kindle strategy working the best for you right now?” 

What Kindle strategy that’s working the best for me? I don’t know exactly. I mean there’s so many different things. I think just uploading the books and the review things is really, really helpful. I’ve been playing with the idea of doing like five-day promotions when you do KDP select versus just one and two days. And that I read about in book and his premise was it makes more sense to do a five-day promotion and put all your juice in it versus doing a couple like half-fast one or two day promotions. And that’s pretty cool. So that’s something that I’m playing with it. I think it’s going to be really good because whenever you have your free promotions, you always end up getting more sales. But if you do a five-day, you work really hard in getting your book to the top 100 for free downloads, then you just get so many more sales after. So that’s something that’s pretty cool and very contrary to what a lot of people say.

“If someone only has an hour a day to build their Kindle business, what is the best use of their time?”

So I’m assuming that this means that they’ve already gotten their book up. So what I would say then is if you have an hour left, I would go each day and go on related – well first of all I would have some kind of Facebook fan page. And I would log in at the Facebook fan page and then go in related Facebook pages and your niche and answer like posts and comment on posts, as your Facebook fan page name, so people start to see your fan page and like click over and just a way to get more traffic and more traffic. I would go on good reads and then I would just like look at other people’s books comments on them, go on in groups and stuff and just make activity. I would like self-promote your book and stuff, which is getting, like getting more exposure. That will be another way to get more people, trying to get reviews for your books.

So this is all, if you’re trying to promote one book. If you’re wanting to do just writing your book every time, I would say get it one day, you would make an outline of the book. And how I make outlines of my Kindle books is basically I figure out what niche I want to be in and then I go on to Amazon, I take them the niche, I go on to Amazon and then I look at all the books in that niche. And I’ll open up, look inside, I’ll look at the table of contents and I’ll see what people are putting in their outlines. And then I’ll write everything else and I’ll see what comes up the most. And so that gives me kind of a loose outline.

Then I’ll go into the reviews of those books and see what people liked or what people are missing. And then I’ll make my outline from that. So then either I’ll outsource it or this is something that you know about, then each day just get time, record like just voice record your chapter, just talk about it, then send it to a transcriber; have them clean it up and transcribe it for you. Then you can edit another day and then publish it to Kindle. So that’s something else. I would also spend a chunk of your time; maybe even 15 minutes just if you’re new to Kindle go into different products and making sure that you’re learning different things that work.

I know I talk fast, hopefully this helps and just good luck with everything that you do.

I want to thank Rachel again for taking the time to answer these questions- I know you got a lot of great information from her advice.

If you haven’t picked up Rachel’s latest course, “Hands Off Books”, click here to get it…

You can also check out her super-helpful Kindle formatting software by clicking here..

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3 Comments

  • Paul Tipping

    Reply Reply April 18, 2013

    Great interview with Rachel, I have bought her latest book which has been useful.
    But the information above has actually been even more helpful!
    I have picked up a couple of things that I did not know about and will be using in my first kindle project.
    Thanks.

  • Iain

    Reply Reply April 19, 2013

    Great question and answer

    A lot of neat ideas for using the kindle.

    I can’t say that I have done much of it myself, but it definitely seems like it is a great place to get started.

  • Minka Kelly

    Reply Reply May 6, 2013

    Business success stories are very interesting and we should emulate. I am happy to read it. Besides it can motivates us all to continue to work towards success, also add insight about how to reach the successful online business up and what should be done. This is really a very solid interview and very useful. Thank you very much.

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