Today’s interview features fellow sidepreneur Tim Johnson. I met Tim in a mastermind group run by Nick Loper. Tim is an author in a variety of fields, most notably dual-language children’s illustrated picture books and martial arts non-fiction. He’s also a product design engineer by trade.
Tim continues to broaden the horizons of children as a martial arts instructor, always encouraging young students to become more aware of the enormous world around them.
Let’s dive into the questions!
1. What is your day job and what is your side business?
By day I am a product development engineer. I design medical, consumer and industrial products for a variety of industries along the east coast. I enjoy my work as an engineer and have been able to utilize my engineering experience throughout many other disciplines.
By night I spend my time publishing children’s books. My series of books is called “The Adventures of Bosley Bear” and they are published with the primary intention of teaching a second language to young children. The books are written in English on one side of the page, and a second langauge (ten translations available) on the other side of the page. Certain basic teaching principles are used, such as repeat words, simple phrases, opposites, and highlighted vocab words. Although the primary function is to teach language I’m very dedicated to making the story and illustrations complete and enjoyable so that both parents and children will appreciate the book.
2. How did you choose your side business?
I got into writing dual language books in 2011 and it came out of my passion for children and foreign language. It was a fun exercise at the time and has since flourished into something that I can enjoy with my children, not to mention it brings in a significant monthly income for my family.
3. How do you find time to work on your side business?
I started this endeavor before I had children and have been able to automate and outsource a good deal of the efforts required to maintain the business today. My translations and illustrations and sometimes cover design and page layout are completely outsourced. I help them get started and approve work when it is complete. My fulfillment channel is done using print-on-demand and Amazon so there is no initial stock to purchase and no orders to fulfill.
That said, it took some time to get to this point and this has been only one of many side projects I’ve undertaken in the past ten years. For several years I either stayed up until 3-4am or wake up at 2-3am to get in a good 4 hours of work before leaving for my day job. I do my best work in the wee hours of the night so this method was actually very productive for me. Of course it’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance so there was some strategic downtime in order to keep my wife from throwing me out of the house!
4. What’s working for you right now in growing your side business?
Currently I’m seeing that a lot of other people are interested in writing children’s books so I have begun offering a complete video course on Udemy.com to help people get into writing children’s books (here’s a 75% off coupon code for Tim’s course!). I love helping people make their way through the process and seeing their first book come out in print. It’s easier now than it ever has been in the past and it’s a very exciting industry for many budding authors.
From a marketing and business perspective, one of my strongest tactics is Amazon search optimization as well as guest posting. By building the right relationship, it’s amazing the amount of leverage you can get from a big name blog or podcast to drastically increase the performance of your business.
5. What advice can you give someone that is thinking about starting a side business?
The best advice I can give to someone starting a side business is: Drive each action with your core purpose. No matter if your task at hand is a big picture item or one element of the minutia make sure you are always keeping your core purpose in mind. Why are you doing what you’re doing? What is your end game? Your big goal? Who are you aiming to satisfy?
From my engineering discipline, we talk about the conservation of energy principle. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. “Energy In = Energy Out”. If you are exerting a massive amount of energy into this task you should expect nothing less than massive results. Likewise, if you want massive results, you will need to exhibit a massive amount of energy.