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Instant Blogging Karma: Lennon Was Right

a guest post from Larry Brooks as Storyfix.com

Instant karma’s gonna get you…

To be honest, I never really liked that song. The melody and cadence always gave me a headache, which is probably why I never really paid much attention to the lyrics.

Until recently. Perhaps it was no coincidence that it suddenly blasted through my stereo as I was working on a blog post the other day.

And it made me realize how much information is available if we’ll only pay attention.

… gonna knock you right on the head…

If instant karma’s gonna get me – and if you don’t recognize that paraphrased lyric, or the song title, or if your first thought is that Lennon was the name of a Soviet tyrant, then you’re too young to worry about karma anyhow – then I may be in trouble.

In my efforts to become an online entrepreneur, perhaps I’d violated a key principle of the physics of human relationships. What some people call karma.

… better get yourself together, some day you’re gonna be dead…

But I do understand the principle, now more than ever. As a blogger, I’ve experienced the rebound effect of getting as good as you give.

In fact, in my brief experience online, I’d say it’s the most powerful principle available to anyone looking to upgrade and grow their blog.

… why on earth are you there, when you’re everywhere…

From the outset I blindly followed the best advice I’ve ever heard: give away all the content and value that you can. Give it away freely, with a clear head and a kind heart, expecting nothing at all in return.

This is a business model that would make your economics professor roll over in his retirement home bed.

And it first, that’s what it got me – nothing at all.

But soon or later it kicks in. It works. In fact, it fuels everything. From daily site visits to subscribers and – here’s the punchline – to product sales.

… how in the world you gonna see, laughin’ at fools like me…

When I published my first ebook last summer, I applied this principle to setting a price for it. My web guru suggested I charge $29.95. It was a 100 page ebook, about half the size of a bound book you can hold in your hands, and this price was more than three times what you’d pay for it as a paperback.

Instant karma was gnashing its teeth at me even thinking about it.

… who in the world you think you are, a superstar?

So I priced the ebook at $9.95.

The orders flowed in, and more than one buyer commented on the great price. After hundreds of copies sold, not a single buyer took me up on my money-back guarantee. (Until, to be honest, six months later… that, too, is part of the physics of human relationships.)

In fact, one reader sent me $50 with a note that explained the overage was a thank you for all the great content I’d been supplying since the launch of the site.

… instant karma’s gonna get you, knock you right off your feet…

Recently I offered a two-for-one offer on two of my other ebooks, which are much longer and sell for the whopping sum of $14.95. Nearly 200 orders poured in over the next three days.

So here’s what I’d tell anyone who asks me how and why my ebooks are selling and my blog is growing as it is: respond to anyone and everyone who takes the time to comment on your site. Make gracious and value-adding comments on the sites of others who blog in your chosen space. Send a thank you note to everyone who buys your ebook or product. Not a template, send a personal message.

Be more than a part of the community, be a voice within it.

And trust the process. Allow the power of time and karma to work its magic.

… come and get your share…

Blog with faith. Blog with passion. Blog with hope and vision.

But most of all, blog with the intention of giving it all away. It’ll come back to you in spades.

… we all shine on…

Larry Brooks is the guy behind Storyfix.com, an instructional resource for writers of fiction and those who love them. He has three ebooks available through his site, his new novel is just out, and Writers Digest is publishing his book on “Story Engineering” early next year. And, with all due respect to the song writer, he prefers the U-2 version of Instant Karma over Lennon’s.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Great idea about getting more involved in the community. It’s easy to say that, but your concrete example of a simple personal thank you note (maybe also google them, check out their blog/business and make reference to it) puts it into an actionable idea.

    It’s the these little things that many of us have a tendency to stink at… I know I need to get better at this!

    Great ideas and quality post. Appreciate your examples.
    b

  2. I really love your post. I think when you share, contribute, and communicate with others in a sincere thoughtful way, people notice and return the favor. Funny how even online, without being face-to-face, you can tell if people are genuinely interested in you or if they are just trying to promote themselves. Yep, I think karma not only applies to “real” life, but to life on the internet as well.

  3. Kurt says:

    Nice lesson in this post.

  4. LoneWolf says:

    Thanks for this Larry. I appreciate your candor about the pricing of ebooks. It seems that $27, $47 or $97 tend to be the norms for this kind of stuff right now. I guess that’s to entice affiliates to promote the books.

    The “give to get” model is great, but as you say, it takes time to build.

  5. Amazing post. Very true message. Give what you can, expect nothing. By doing this, you are doing good to others as well as to yourself. People often recognize if your contribution is worthwhile and pay you back more than you expect. Just one sidenote to this: “Don’t make it look too cheap”, as the Joker in Dark Knight says “If you’re good at something, never do it for free”.

    Good tip Larry. Nice post!

  6. What an awesome story! I’m not big on Karma, but I believe you reap what you sow. Same end result :-)

    Plus, this totally made me want to get your book, and I don’t even know what it is about yet!

  7. Tyler Davis says:

    I have another old adage for you: Correlation does not equal causation. You could have just gotten lucky…

  8. “Blog with faith. Blog with passion. Blog with hope and vision.” – my new slogan.

    I am going to write that on a sticky and post it in my office.

    Thanks for that Larry. I can’t wait to check out your site.

  9. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Larry,

    Thanks for sharing this experience with us. Reaping and sowing is a law you can’t question…

    Josh

  10. I agree with your pricing strategy, Larry. On my site (I won’t link dump – but you can easily find the blog from my blog if interested), I have items for the following price:

    * 48 minute audio book of a 10,000 word fiction story: $3.99
    * Audio book of a ~500 word story: 40 cents
    * 20,000 word fiction eBooks: $3.65
    * 10,000 word fiction eBook: $1.95
    * 2500 word guide to short fiction writing: 99 cents

    (thank God for eBay micropayments, right)

    Do I think my writing has value? Of course. But when you can get a Grisham paperback for $7.99, can I really convince you to pay more than that for a shorter Kosmo eBook (especially since much of the included content is available for free on the site?)

    Pretty cool about the $50.

    My favorite Beatles song is “Paperback Writer”, for obvious reason :)

  11. Matt says:

    Great article. The key thing to take away is patience, really. These things take time. There are no overnight superstars; you can’t connect with everyone in a week. Just add value, earn respect, and watch people appreciate your value and respect you.

  12. Joy Tanksley says:

    “Blog with faith. Blog with passion. Blog with hope and vision.

    But most of all, blog with the intention of giving it all away. It’ll come back to you in spades.”

    Too bad BLOG is such an ugly word – cause this, man, is beautiful. I might have to write it on my vision board. :)

  13. This is a very powerful post. It really goes along with the “rule of reciprocity,” which is a topic that I wrote about and give away in a book call “you’ve gotta give to get.”

    Yes, there are always going to be people out there that TAKE waaaay more than they give in return, but these are also the people that don’t use the information they get for free, don’t apply it, and NEVER become successful.

    I to adhere to the non-guru approach of pricing my products. I think that the more people that can get their sweaty palms on my products, the more people I can help, and the more people will give me a little help in return somewhere down the line.

    There are two sides to this argument and some of the mainstay experts violently disagree that you should give away A LOT, but I believe that is the old way of thinking and pretty soon no one is going to buy their 20 page reports for $297. Give, give, give and it will all come back.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  14. Sonal Panse says:

    “give away all the content and value that you can. Give it away freely, with a clear head and a kind heart, expecting nothing at all in return.”

    I think I’m going to roll over too, Larry. There are too many people out there wanting free services. So much so they spell their wonderfully generous advertisements that way – no money, lots of free publicity.

    I can understand giving ‘value’ freely on your own blog – or as an occasional guest blogger – but would you keep on giving freely, expecting nothing at all in return, for someone else’s monetized blog? Shouldn’t you value your time more? Don’t you (in general, not you in particular) have any bills to pay?

  15. Wendy says:

    Great post! A lot of bloggers in the craft niche sell their patterns and recipes individually and that has never set well with me. As I wrote on the About Me page of my new (and not yet live) site… “My goal is to share with as many people as possible, *especially* those who might not be able to afford it.”

  16. Wendy says:

    “He who receives ideas from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine receives light without darkening me. ”
    -Thomas Jefferson

  17. This is really great. I believe you have to be passionate and hardworking in blogging so as to be successful.
    Thanks.

  18. If you place your good intention over everything else, it WILL pay off. And yeah…I don’t care how great you are, but I ain’t payin’ $30 for an e-book. I WOULD pay $10 for one, though. Great insight, Larry.

  19. This blows me away. I LOVE your message.

    Posts like this will help shift how we do business on the web. Customers will come to expect love and humanity, to shun the scammy people and flock to the authentic givers of the world.

    Thank you!

  20. Great message. I fully believe in Karma. What you put into life is what you get out. I’m not big on Lennon, but I do like the line: better get yourself together, some day you’re gonna be dead. Ain’t that the truth? As long as I’m not 6 feet deep I should be turning out some more blogs. :)

  21. Ryan @ plantingdollars has a similar post on selling the honest way!

  22. rososusilo says:

    karma is usually transmitted diseases. Be aware that comments here ………….. kidding :)

  23. Zach says:

    I second what Joy said.

    Blog has to be the worst possible name for anything. I guarantee if I named my kid blog, he’d develop permanent black eyes. It’d be hard to feel bad for him either, he deserves a good roughing with a name like that.

    But to the content of your message – well done. Thanks for sharing your tips along your journey to blogger success. However, I think you were fortunate enough to start blogging back when the field wasn’t entirely hyper-saturated. Now the requirements for having a reputable blog requires 1) finding an untapped niche (the “how to blog” thing has been beaten to death) and 2) be a great writer.

    Sorry to say it, but if your passion in writing isn’t truly unique, and/or you don’t already have a following due to prior accomplishments (i.e. Mark Cuban), chances are your blog will continue to hover in the “if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s around to hear it…” region.

    Blog because you love it, not because you want to get rich. If you want to get rich, develop a skill that can’t be automated by a computer.

    Oh and while you’re at it, visit my not-very unique blog
    http://zrdavis.com

  24. Adit says:

    Hi Larry,
    I’m interested with “the rebound effect of getting as good as you give”. I agree about that, because of what we planted then that is what will we produce. I’m impressed with your post. Thanks

  25. Welcome, Larry. I’m a loyal follower of your blog.

    To others reading this blog regularly, there’s tons of stuff on Larry’s site. One ebook is 101 Tips, which he probably put together from various posts.

    The other is Story Structure Demystified, which again was put together from various posts.

    When I first started reading his blog, I looked at every archived post I could find and printed it out (to PDF in a storyfix directory).

    When his 101 tips became available, I got it immediately. Story Structure Demystified got my $ immediately. The price was right on both.

    Yeh, probably everything in them was already available on his site for free. However, I got them for two reasons:

    1. Everything he deemed valuable was included. He probably even added a few extra things he had kicking around.
    2. For Story Structure Demystified, he put posts and additions in a sequence which made it much easier to study.

    There are other bloggers, too, which “give everything away” but then make a decent sales volume from repackaging a lot of it. If I liked what was given away, I’d buy, for no other reason than I figure the blogger put time and effort into creating an ebook which had everything needed.

    In addition, he’s teasing us with a print book on the Six Core Competencies, apparently due next year. As soon as I see it available, I’ll buy it. Maybe he’ll offer it as an ebook, too (I’ve got a lot more room for ebooks than pbooks).

    Now, go write something, give it away, then you, too, can repackage, expand and sell it later. Way to go, Larry!

    And thanks to Darrin for having you here.

  26. Many thanks for bothering to post this. I value where you are coming from with this particular article yet , I’m sure that there is far better procedures.

  27. Dave Higgs says:

    Hi Larry,

    Thanks for the post. It re-enforces what just about every successful blogger is saying.

    I think the internet, more than anything/anywhere else shows this concept (give first get later).

    I think of the open source community as a whole.

    Thanks for the post I enjoyed it.

  28. Larry, I’m not familar with your blog, but I’m going to check it out after writing this comment.

    A significant amount of traffic comes to me from the comments I leave on my site and others.

    Adding to the conversation is very important and not only spreads good Karma it makes the blogosphere a richer place.

  29. I really needed to hear this. I put myself out there all the time, and my blog is still creeping along slowly. Then I have to remind myself that it’s only 4 months old, and probably doing very well for a young’un.

    So thank you for this, you’ve convinced me to just keep on doing what I’m doing.

    PS I’ve ALWAYS loved ‘Instant Karma’, both Lennon’s version and Midnight Oil’s cover. Brilliant stuff. In fact I might just head off to youtube to see if I can listen to it again

  30. joe says:

    And in the end…
    The love you take..
    Is equal.. to.. the Love…
    You Make.

  31. KS Chen says:

    I’m so surprised that you talked about karma. Karma is a term used in buddhism. I love the style of your writing. Thanks for sharing this. I really appreciate it.

  32. Thanks for the great post, and the lesson. Although I don’t actually sell anything on my blog I do believe in blogger karma (I’ve written my own post on it before) so I am totally with you on replying with personal messages and thankng people for their time. I really enjoyed reading this and will have to check out Storyfix. And thanks Darren for having him on! I love getting this blog in my inbox!

  33. Good post Larry.

    Can I ask how long it took you to create your ebooks ? You said you have 3 of them if I followed that right.

    Sometimes its hard for people starting out to gauge success, we see so many superstar bloggers guest posting here its good to see someone starting out posting here as well.

    I see you have Alexa 230,000 and 1882 RSS subscribers and 540 followers on Twitter how long did creating that take ?

  34. Dan Blystone says:

    The truth of the points made in your post resonated with my own experience. I may not have bought anything from you (yet) but in the ‘attention economy’ you just increased your reach by one human being.

  35. “Send a thank you note to everyone who buys your ebook or product. Not a template, send a personal message.”

    So simple and so important. I wonder how many internet marketers/bloggers are doing this. HUGE!

  36. A good deed is always bound to be returned with another good deed. This is always going to be true. It is actually good etiquette for me to always reply, especially a pointed query, to comments on a blog or a website that I own. :) Never fails to get some well-deserved respect.

  37. john.b says:

    This is indeed a wonderful piece of kindness. Thanks, Darren ;)

  38. Marilyn says:

    Thank you for such sound advice. I did precisely that recently. I did a writing assignment without charge and got back more experience than money could have bought.
    ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” does seem to be a universal law. I am grateful that I have come in contact with you.
    Best wishes to you.

  39. Eileen says:

    What a great post!

    Thank you for the words of wisdom. It’s so nice when the world works in such a “fair” way – giving back to you for what you’ve given others.

  40. Dave Doolin says:

    @Joe, I used to do this, then stopped. I’m going to start doing it again.

  41. Russell says:

    I agree with you on this and if you have good Karma it will come across in what you say in your blog and in how you come across to people you meet, great post

  42. I agree with you Larry, the new economy, and the new way of making money will come from giving, and that giving will be anchored in our heart.

    In todays internet business world, which is not like a business at all, you have to begin on faith that what you are doing is correct for you, but most important, that its foundation is in alignment with your CORE ideals about who you are, and why you are here.

    We all have an overriding dream and passion that governs our actions, though MOST learn to suppress that voice at a young age, often by force. By reawakening that seed with courage, though buried in the strata of logic, we can once again grow it skyward, reclaim our true gifts.

    The exciting concept now is that we all are getting closer to being more transparent, more giving, more authentic all the time, till some day soon, THAT is what business will be.

    The business of being yourself…

  43. I agree wholehearted. Consistency brings the upside your Karma . That’s worth the bump on the head. Thanks. for the encouragement.

  44. Another great add-on, I really could not have talked about the idea far better by myself.

  45. I have always worked the Karma on the internet. I haven’t published my e-book yet but I’m thinking the price will be 10 dollars…

    It’s important to get your website flowing for a good few years before you bring out the E-Book.

    That way it has a massive impact when it’s launched and thousands of people will buy it…

    Nice one guys!

    :]

  46. Liz Scott says:

    There is a new way of doing biz. It is through generosity, support and giving away information and ideas. It heartens me so much to see that others are of the same opinion

  47. Hi guys,

    Wow!!! I think that was very generous of the customer that sent you $50 for an ebook that was only $9.95. That was a very great tip.

    Kind regards,

    Sam
    X

  48. Cori Padgett says:

    Love this post Larry! Totally agree in the power of Karma and the principle of giving. And I’m like you, I try to respond and answer to every comment on my blog, every email I receive, and make a real effort to connect with my readers. Thanks so much for the inspiring read!

    C

  49. Great point about giving it away freely as a blogger, expecting nothing in return. I’ll have to listen to the song again with that in mind. But, unlike you, I actually like the song! A lot.

  50. Tola Fam says:

    Great post! And very true. If you into blogging for the money, then just forget it… you have to do it because you love it. I think for me that was what stopped me from blogging at an early stage. I hadn’t found something I felt I could go on and on about. I think I’ve found it now so that’s wat I’m doing…

    Well said Larry.