Author Spotlight: Matt Olpinski
by Dennis Field on April 6, 2017
This month we’re interviewing Matt Olpinski, the author of Kickstart Your Freelancing Career. I hope you enjoy the story behind his book!
Tell me about yourself. Where do you call home? What do you do for a living? Why do you do it?
I design and build websites and apps that help businesses grow. I’ve always loved designing, creating, and building things. It started with LEGOs and K’NEX, then I discovered art and basic programming. Then music and writing. In college, it became UI/UX design and web development. The common factor in everything I’ve ever loved is the building and creation process.
Tell me about your book. What is it about? Why did you write it?
I wrote Kickstart Your Freelancing Career because I successfully did something that many people are striving for but have difficulty achieving – sustaining a successful freelancing career. I wrote the book to help others achieve their goal of becoming a freelancer and leaving their current job for something more favorable. The book is meant to help you master the basics of freelancing (getting clients, pricing your services, writing proposals, etc.) while making a smooth transition away from your current job.
What are your goals for the book?
My main goal with this book is simply to help other people achieve their dream of working for themselves rather than a traditional employer. Secondarily (because it’s a paid resource), I’m hoping the funds will help supplement my client income so I can spend more time creating valuable products.
Have you ever written or self-published a book before? Why did you choose to do so for this book?
This was my first time writing any sort of book. I’ve been writing articles for a few years now, but I wanted to create something more targeted, actionable, valuable, and helpful for my audience. I wanted to create an educational resource that people could keep on their hard drive. I’ve purchased and read numerous digital books in the past, and they were extremely helpful – far more than blog posts. Investing in those books was an investment in myself and my career. I wanted to contribute my own knowledge and experience to the world in the same format.
What steps did you take in writing your book?
After my freelance newsletter gained a few hundred subscribers, I was able to talk with them and begin to understand their struggles. From there, I decided to take my most popular responses, articles, advice, and experience, and aggregate it into a formal outline. That helped me identify the chapters, content, and order for the book. When it came time to write it, I tried to address each known struggle in the most concise, understandable, and organized way possible.
What were some of the tools you used when writing your book?
I did a fair amount of research on what the best tools were and couldn’t find much. Most of the e-books I’ve read were filled with great content, but the design was terrible. As a designer, I knew right away I needed a tool that gave me complete control over the design and content (dynamic page numbers, etc.).
I decided to use Adobe InDesign. Despite it being a bit clunky, it gave me the control I needed to design the content for a conducive reading experience and export it for the two key formats I wanted to support (PDF and EPUB). I designed the book cover in Illustrator and simply placed it into the InDesign file on the first page.
What are some of the methods you used to promote the book? What has worked? What has not worked as well as you had hoped?
I haven’t promoted the book as much as I had hoped. I mainly released it to the subscribers on my list and mentioned it in some secondary areas of my website. So far it’s been well received by the people who buy it, but it needs more visibility.
Thankfully, I just released a brand new products section of my website, which is where all of my products, including this book, can now be found permanently. I wish I had taken the time to learn more about product launches before releasing the book, but I’m glad I didn’t wait months or years until I had the time to build a products section into my website either.
Moving forward, I’m expecting sales to increase significantly, as the book now has a formal home that I can promote and advertise.
What was your biggest struggle when writing this book? How did you overcome it?
I often felt like there was just no point. So many other experienced freelancers, consultants, and business people have gone before me and written valuable content in the form of articles and e-books. I doubted my ability to compete with their success. I only overcame that after realizing that it wasn’t about competition and it wasn’t about flooding the market with yet another freelancing resource. It wasn’t about getting rich quickly either.
More than anything, it was about consolidating everything I had learned into a valuable resource. It was about proving to myself that I could create a valuable product too. It was about sharing my knowledge in my sphere of influence and putting something into the world that wasn’t there before. If my book helps even one person quit their job and become a freelancer, it was worth writing, whether they paid for it or not.
What have been your proudest moments throughout this process so far?
The day I clicked “export to PDF” for the last time. It felt so great to have successfully put something into the world that wasn’t there before. I knew that I had successfully followed through on a promise that I made to myself and to my audience and that it would pave the way for future products I create.
What do you hope your readers take away from reading your book?
This book was written to be industry-agnostic. You don’t get any design or development-specific advice. I want people to take the advice in this book and adapt it to their own situation. I hope readers have a few “aha!” moments that spark ideas on how they can successfully transition into freelancing of some capacity. This book is not the ultimate resource for prospective freelancers, but it will help them master the basics of freelancing and avoid many of the mistakes I made which hindered my success. It’s meant to get you started when you know very little about freelancing and have a lot of questions.
What’s the single piece of advice you’d give to someone else getting ready to write and self-publish a book? What did you learn from this process?
Don’t be afraid of your competition and don’t wait until it’s perfect. It will never be perfect, and you will always have competition. Write it anyway. Publish it anyway. Let it be imperfect. You can revise it later. That’s the beauty of technology and the dynamic nature in which we consume information.
What’s next for you and your book?
I’m going to focus on promotion and marketing, now that the book has a formal home on my website. I want to capitalize on the 2,000+ visitors that hit my site each month (50%+ of which are new visitors). I also want to release a second version of the book which can add even more value to readers for the same price.
What book(s) or blogs are you currently reading?
I wish I could talk about all the trendy blogs I’m reading and fun books I’m downloading, but the truth is I’m completely immersed in working on my own products and website right now. I use Twitter to aggregate awesome content from accounts I respect, and then read as much in my feed as I can each day.
Thank you for your time, Matt! Where can readers find you online?
I’m most active on Twitter. That’s the first place where I post information, advice, and content.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d really appreciate it if you’d grab a copy of my book, sign up for my free newsletter, or follow me on Twitter. I’ve managed to build a wonderful little audience, and I’d like you to be a part of it.