MK Williams is a digital marketer turned author. She is still employed full time but sells books on the side as well as show others how to do it through her Youtube channel. Her digital marketing skills have been very helpful when selling books – a win win!
Do you have an epic side hustle or debt payoff story to share with us? We’d Love to Interview You for Millennial Boss.
1. Please tell us a little about yourself in a few sentences.
Hello, I’m MK Williams. I am an author so my business consists of writing, publishing, and marketing my books. I have recently added on a YouTube channel as well so that I can help aspiring authors on their journey.
2. What did you do before you started your own business? If you are still employed full-time, please share a little but about what you do in your day job.
I have worked in digital marketing for seven years. I have always loved to read and write. When I decided to focus on getting my first book written, the only thing I gave up was watching TV shows that I only sort of liked and really prioritizing my free time to get my books done. When I moved to the company that I am with now, I was brought in to start a new division. I was operating as an “intrepreneur” and this helped to get my creative juices going. This definitely help me as I was starting to get serious about publishing my first book. Success in one area of my life lead to success and confidence in another.
3. Who were some influencers in your decision to be an entrepreneur?
The biggest influencer was my husband. He really encouraged me to go for it and helped me focus on what success would look like. He helped me find the courage to try and fail, because that happens a lot when you go into business for yourself.
4. How did you prepare to take the leap both financially and in your business? Please reference what you saved, if you learned new skills, if you moved, etc.
Because I could write my first novel on weekends and evenings, I didn’t have to take a financial risk to get the first book out. I was always a frugal person so I had the money to pay for the ISBNs up front and because my cover art was a royalty deal I didn’t need a large amount of cash upfront. I learned so many new skills on this journey. Even though I work in marketing for my day-job, I learned so much within a few months about publishing and book marketing. It is a different mindset when you are marketing a product for a company compared to when you are marketing something that you made from scratch. I learned to be scrappy and agile in my marketing and I now have a whole compartment of brain space for publishing knowledge.
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5. If you quit your job, were you already making money on the side before you decided to quit your job? Tell us about that. If you are still working full-time, what would make you leave your job?
I am still working full-time. Based on my current sales, I think I could make the move to full-time author in the near future if my sales continue. But, past performance isn’t always an indicator of future performance, so I am starting to branch out to find other revenue streams. I started a YouTube channel to give advice to aspiring authors, I am hoping to generate enough views to be able to run ads and incorporate another revenue stream. If I saw this revenue stream really take off I would consider moving up my timeline, but I want to make sure I focus more on providing quality content first.
6. Who else works on your business with you? Did you hire anyone to help? When did you decide to bring that person on and how did you find them?
I have the help of my husband as my first reader, CFO, fan-club president, etc. I have an editor who proofs my books for the story and copy (grammar, spelling, etc.)
I have also worked with narrators for my two audiobooks. For the first audiobook, a friend of mine who was a professional actor approached me because she wanted to break into the audiobook space to have some steady income between gigs. It was a win-win because I had a professional quality audiobook and she had a foot in the door that has now lead to her audiobook narrator career. For my second audiobook I worked with someone in the FIRE community who had a beautiful voice, a love of reading, and was looking to break into audiobook narration as well. These were mutually beneficial scenarios so that was very helpful.
7. Can you share any financial details about your business?
I keep my costs pretty low, this helps me to stay lean since royalties are pretty low. I also know that my super frugal tendencies in my personal life have helped in running a lean business.
I pay $18 a year for my website domain. I paid $300 for a set of 10 ISBNs for my books. I know many people say that you can start a business with $0 dollars, but I didn’t hear about that until after I had spent the money and I needed the ISBNs in place prior to publication. I did a royalty split with the designer for my first cover as a means to offset the upfront costs and then I had a professional who had an incentive to help promote the book as well. I have done a royalty split on my latest audiobook as well and this is all handled by Audible so it makes it easy for me because I know the voice actor is getting paid. As I gain more success with my books I plan to move away from royalty deals because I see the potential for this to cut into my profitability down the line.
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8. What was your worst day so far as an entrepreneur and what was your best day? What happened on those days?
My worst day as an entrepreneur was 3 days after my father had passed (one of my worst days personally). I had set my second book to launch on October 26, 2016. With the terms of Amazon I couldn’t cancel the launch that close to the preschedule date so the book went on sale at a time when I couldn’t concentrate on hustling and marketing my book. I had pre-scheduled posts that went up but that was it. It was a double whammy of losing my dad and then the project I had been working on for a year fell flat.
My best day as an entrepreneur was when I recorded an interview on a big podcast. I felt like I was making some headway and I was really excited to know that I could help others on their journey. It really motivated me to think of more ways that I could inspire others and that has helped me to reach a new level in my entrepreneurial journey.
9. What is one small “trick” or piece of advice that you have learned about reaching customers or making sales? Please be specific and provide something actionable for us.
One thing that I have learned from observing others is that you have to “show” not “tell.” This is a maxim when writing fiction, but it is the same for advertising it as well. My original posts would be very direct and ask readers to buy my book because it had a good review. I started to change up my posts to show a person reading the book on a park bench, at the beach, by the pool, etc. By showing the person the lifestyle that they wanted (a carefree life of leisure of reading) I was able to get better engagement on those posts and in turn they reached more people.
10. Give us two truths and a lie about yourself so we can get to know you better personally!
I don’t like pancakes -truth
I have run a marathon – lie, but it’s on my bucket list
I am a dog person – truth
Have you started your own business? Share it with us below.
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