A week ago, I was talking to my friends at WomensNet. When your friends give out grants to women business owners, you can always expect them to ask: “Hey – Marcia, what business ventures are you up to?”
This was my chance to tell them about my latest e-book. I guess they must have noticed the spark in my eye, the lilt in my voice – yes, the general sense of excitement I get when talking about… ready for it? Couponing!
You see, by day I’m a freelance writer of magazine articles and author and ghostwriter of bestselling books. But during my free time, I’m an extreme couponer. No, not as obsessed as the folks on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing” TV show…but close.
While I do enjoy writing – researching the topic, thinking through how to organize the information and then sharing what I’ve gathered from interviews – there is nothing like the high of getting $110 worth of groceries for next to nothing. Believe me, I’ve done it.
Although writing is how I earn a very good living, coupons are my passion.
I’ve been writing professionally for more than 15 years, during which the publishing process has stayed much the same, until a year or two ago. In the past, I would come up with an idea for an article or book and then propose it to an editor, who then decides if they want to pay me to write about it. In other cases, because I’ve worked with an editor before and they liked my stuff, I’ll get a call or an email asking me if I’d like to tackle a particular topic for an upcoming issue or book. If I like the topic, I generally say yes.
As I said, I’ve been doing this for a while, but a couple of years ago, I started to hear more about e-books and how they were the future of publishing. Then last year there was news that sales of Amazon’s Kindle books had overtaken hard cover and paperback books. That’s the point at which I decided I needed to explore this. But what would I write about? I usually write about marketing and entrepreneurship, but nothing came to mind that would be new and noteworthy.
We’ve all heard that the best businesses are those based on the individual’s passion – the subject about which they know more than just about anyone else. So, for me, it followed that the best e-book I could write would be about my passion, couponing.
I tried selling traditional publishers on a couponing book as soon as I heard there would be a TV show on the topic. Perfect timing, I thought! They were skeptical that the market was big enough (are you kidding me?!). In fact, 78% of shoppers in the U.S. now use coupons – that’s millions and millions of Americans. At that point, I was fired up. More than any other book, I wanted to write about how to save money with coupons. Then I saw a few episodes of “Extreme Couponing,” in which the shoppers on the show were using the same techniques I’ve been using for years, and was sure that an e-book on couponing was what I needed to write next.
I told my agent I was working on the book and she mentioned she had a publisher friend who had started an e-book publishing venture. When she talked to him about my couponing book, he was sold.
We moved quickly to get the book formatted and edited and as of last Friday, Extreme Couponer: Insider secrets to getting groceries for free, was officially available for sale for $2.99. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to produce a book as quickly. Part of the speed was due to the new digital publishing process. But the other element was passion. I was so excited to share information about couponing that I wrote morning, noon and night. I was in the zone, completely enjoying what I was doing. And in a matter of days, the manuscript was done.
I think my situation isn’t unusual. When you’re passionate about what you’re doing, whether it’s writing computer code, selling on eBay, supervising children at a daycare or something else entirely, time passes more quickly. And because you are giving that work your complete attention, the quality is higher and your chances of success much greater.
So if you’re still considering what kind of business to start, begin with what you love most. That will give you your best chance at success.
Oh, so back to my friends at Womensnet.Net. They also wanted me to remind you that the deadline is August 30 for the latest $1,500 Amber Grant for Women. Please take a few minutes to tell them about your business passion. It might just lead to a juicy $1,500 grant for your women-owned business.