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Greg Lim

Greg Lim

2 years ago

How I made $160,000 from non-fiction books

I've sold over 40,000 non-fiction books on Amazon and made over $160,000 in six years while writing on the side.

I have a full-time job and three young sons; I can't spend 40 hours a week writing. This article describes my journey.

I write mainly tech books:

Thanks to my readers, many wrote positive evaluations. Several are bestsellers.

A few have been adopted by universities as textbooks:

My books' passive income allows me more time with my family.

Knowing I could quit my job and write full time gave me more confidence. And I find purpose in my work (i am in christian ministry).

I'm always eager to write. When work is a dread or something bad happens, writing gives me energy. Writing isn't scary. In fact, I can’t stop myself from writing!

Writing has also established my tech authority. Universities use my books, as I've said. Traditional publishers have asked me to write books.

These mindsets helped me become a successful nonfiction author:

1. You don’t have to be an Authority

Yes, I have computer science experience. But I'm no expert on my topics. Before authoring "Beginning Node.js, Express & MongoDB," my most profitable book, I had no experience with those topics. Node was a new server-side technology for me. Would that stop me from writing a book? It can. I liked learning a new technology. So I read the top three Node books, took the top online courses, and put them into my own book (which makes me know more than 90 percent of people already).

I didn't have to worry about using too much jargon because I was learning as I wrote. An expert forgets a beginner's hardship.

"The fellow learner can aid more than the master since he knows less," says C.S. Lewis. The problem he must explain is recent. The expert has forgotten.”

2. Solve a micro-problem (Niching down)

I didn't set out to write a definitive handbook. I found a market with several challenges and wrote one book. Ex:

3. Piggy Backing Trends

The above topics may still be a competitive market. E.g.  Angular, React.   To stand out, include the latest technologies or trends in your book. Learn iOS 15 instead of iOS programming. Instead of personal finance, what about personal finance with NFTs.

Even though you're a newbie author, your topic is well-known.

4. Publish short books

My books are known for being direct. Many people like this:

Your reader will appreciate you cutting out the fluff and getting to the good stuff. A reader can finish and review your book.

Second, short books are easier to write. Instead of creating a 500-page book for $50 (which few will buy), write a 100-page book that answers a subset of the problem and sell it for less. (You make less, but that's another subject). At least it got published instead of languishing. Less time spent creating a book means less time wasted if it fails. Write a small-bets book portfolio like Daniel Vassallo!

Third, it's $2.99-$9.99 on Amazon (gets 70 percent royalties for ebooks). Anything less receives 35% royalties. $9.99 books have 20,000–30,000 words. If you write more and charge more over $9.99, you get 35% royalties. Why not make it a $9.99 book?

(This is the ebook version.) Paperbacks cost more. Higher royalties allow for higher prices.

5. Validate book idea

Amazon will tell you if your book concept, title, and related phrases are popular. See? Check its best-sellers list.

150,000 is preferable. It sells 2–3 copies daily. Consider your rivals. Profitable niches have high demand and low competition.

Don't be afraid of competitive niches. First, it shows high demand. Secondly, what are the ways you can undercut the completion? Better book? Or cheaper option? There was lots of competition in my NodeJS book's area. None received 4.5 stars or more. I wrote a NodeJS book. Today, it's a best-selling Node book.

What’s Next

So long. Part II follows. Meanwhile, I will continue to write more books!

Follow my journey on Twitter.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Antonio Neto

Antonio Neto

2 years ago

Should you skip the minimum viable product?

Are MVPs outdated and have no place in modern product culture?

Frank Robinson coined "MVP" in 2001. In the same year as the Agile Manifesto, the first Scrum experiment began. MVPs are old.

The concept was created to solve the waterfall problem at the time.

The market was still sour from the .com bubble. The tech industry needed a new approach. Product and Agile gained popularity because they weren't waterfall.

More than 20 years later, waterfall is dead as dead can be, but we are still talking about MVPs. Does that make sense?

What is an MVP?

Minimum viable product. You probably know that, so I'll be brief:

[…] The MVP fits your company and customer. It's big enough to cause adoption, satisfaction, and sales, but not bloated and risky. It's the product with the highest ROI/risk. […] — Frank Robinson, SyncDev

MVP is a complete product. It's not a prototype. It's your product's first iteration, which you'll improve. It must drive sales and be user-friendly.

At the MVP stage, you should know your product's core value, audience, and price. We are way deep into early adoption territory.

What about all the things that come before?

Modern product discovery

Eric Ries popularized the term with The Lean Startup in 2011. (Ries would work with the concept since 2008, but wide adoption came after the book was released).

Ries' definition of MVP was similar to Robinson's: "Test the market" before releasing anything. Ries never mentioned money, unlike Jobs. His MVP's goal was learning.

“Remove any feature, process, or effort that doesn't directly contribute to learning” — Eric Ries, The Lean Startup

Product has since become more about "what" to build than building it. What started as a learning tool is now a discovery discipline: fake doors, prototyping, lean inception, value proposition canvas, continuous interview, opportunity tree... These are cheap, effective learning tools.

Over time, companies realized that "maximum ROI divided by risk" started with discovery, not the MVP. MVPs are still considered discovery tools. What is the problem with that?

Time to Market vs Product Market Fit

Waterfall's Time to Market is its biggest flaw. Since projects are sliced horizontally rather than vertically, when there is nothing else to be done, it’s not because the product is ready, it’s because no one cares to buy it anymore.

MVPs were originally conceived as a way to cut corners and speed Time to Market by delivering more customer requests after they paid.

Original product development was waterfall-like.

Time to Market defines an optimal, specific window in which value should be delivered. It's impossible to predict how long or how often this window will be open.

Product Market Fit makes this window a "state." You don’t achieve Product Market Fit, you have it… and you may lose it.

Take, for example, Snapchat. They had a great time to market, but lost product-market fit later. They regained product-market fit in 2018 and have grown since.

An MVP couldn't handle this. What should Snapchat do? Launch Snapchat 2 and see what the market was expecting differently from the last time? MVPs are a snapshot in time that may be wrong in two weeks.

MVPs are mini-projects. Instead of spending a lot of time and money on waterfall, you spend less but are still unsure of the results.


MVPs aren't always wrong. When releasing your first product version, consider an MVP.

Minimum viable product became less of a thing on its own and more interchangeable with Alpha Release or V.1 release over time.

Modern discovery technics are more assertive and predictable than the MVP, but clarity comes only when you reach the market.

MVPs aren't the starting point, but they're the best way to validate your product concept.

Sarah Bird

Sarah Bird

1 year ago

Memes Help This YouTube Channel Earn Over $12k Per Month

Image credit: Jakob Owens via Unsplash

Take a look at a YouTube channel making anything up to over $12k a month from making very simple videos.

And the best part? Its replicable by anyone. Basic videos can be generated for free without design abilities.

Join me as I deconstruct the channel to estimate how much they make, how they do it, and how you can too.

What Do They Do Exactly?

Happy Land posts memes with a simple caption they wrote. So, it's new. The videos are a slideshow of meme photos with stock music.

The site posts 12 times a day.

8-10-minute videos show 10 second images. Thus, each video needs 48-60 memes.

Memes are video titles (e.g. times a boyfriend was hilarious, back to school fails, funny restaurant signs).

Some stats about the channel:

  • Founded on October 30, 2020

  • 873 videos were added.

  • 81.8k subscribers

  • 67,244,196 views of the video

What Value Are They Adding?

Everyone can find free memes online. This channel collects similar memes into a single video so you don't have to scroll or click for more. It’s right there, you just keep watching and more will come.

By theming it, the audience is prepared for the video's content.

If you want hilarious animal memes or restaurant signs, choose the video and you'll get up to 60 memes without having to look for them. Genius!

How much money do they make?

According to www.socialblade.com, the channel earns $800-12.8k (image shown in my home currency of GBP).

Screenshot from SocialBlade.com

That's a crazy estimate, but it highlights the unbelievable potential of a channel that presents memes.

This channel thrives on quantity, thus putting out videos is necessary to keep the flow continuing and capture its audience's attention.

How Are the Videos Made?

Straightforward. Memes are added to a presentation without editing (so you could make this in PowerPoint or Keynote).

Each slide should include a unique image and caption. Set 10 seconds per slide.

Add music and post the video.

Finding enough memes for the material and theming is difficult, but if you enjoy memes, this is a fun job.

This case study should have shown you that you don't need expensive software or design expertise to make entertaining videos. Why not try fresh, easy-to-do ideas and see where they lead?

Atown Research

Atown Research

1 year ago

Meet the One-Person Businesses Earning Millions in Sales from Solo Founders

I've spent over 50 hours researching one-person firms, which interest me. I've found countless one-person enterprises that made millions on the founder's determination and perseverance.

Throughout my investigation, I found three of the most outstanding one-person enterprises. These enterprises show that people who work hard and dedicate themselves to their ideas may succeed.

Eric Barone (@ConcernedApe) created Stardew Valley in 2011 to better his job prospects. Eric loved making the game, in which players inherit a farm, grow crops, raise livestock, make friends with the villagers, and form a family.

Eric handled complete game production, including 3D graphics, animations, and music, to maintain creative control. He stopped job hunting and worked 8-15 hours a day on the game.

Eric developed a Stardew Valley website and subreddit to engage with gamers and get feedback. Eric's devoted community helped him meet Steam's minimum vote requirement for single creators.

Stardew Valley sold 1 million copies in two months after Eric launched it for $15 in 2016. The game has sold 20 million copies and made $300 million.

The game's inexpensive price, outsourcing of PR, marketing, and publication, and loyal player base helped it succeed. Eric has turned down million-dollar proposals from Sony and Nintendo to sell the game and instead updates and improves it. Haunted Chocolatier is Eric's new game.

Is farming not profitable? Ask Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone.

Gary Brewer established BuiltWith to assist users find website technologies and services. BuiltWith boasts 3000 paying customers and $14 million in yearly revenue, making it a significant resource for businesses wishing to generate leads, do customer analytics, obtain business insight, compare websites, or search websites by keyword.

BuiltWith has one full-time employee, Gary, and one or two part-time contractors that help with the blog. Gary handles sales, customer service, and other company functions alone.

BuiltWith acquired popularity through blog promotions and a top Digg ranking. About Us, a domain directory, connected to BuiltWith on every domain page, boosting it. Gary introduced $295–$995 monthly subscriptions to search technology, keywords, and potential consumers in response to customer demand.

Gary uses numerous methods to manage a firm without staff. He spends one to two hours every day answering user queries, most of which are handled quickly by linking to BuiltWiths knowledge store. Gary creates step-by-step essays or videos for complex problems. Gary can focus on providing new features based on customer comments and requests since he makes it easy to unsubscribe.

BuiltWith is entirely automated and successful due to its unique approach and useful offerings. It works for Google, Meta, Amazon, and Twitter.

Digital Inspiration develops Google Documents, Sheets, and Slides plugins. Digital Inspiration, founded by Amit Agarwal, receives 5 million monthly visits and earns $10 million. 40 million individuals have downloaded Digital Inspirations plugins.

Amit started Digital Inspiration by advertising his blog at tech events and getting Indian filter blogs and other newspapers to promote his articles. Amit built plugins and promoted them on the blog once the blog acquired popularity, using ideas from comments, friends, and Reddit. Digital Inspiration has over 20 free and premium plugins.

Mail Merge, Notifications for Google Forms, YouTube Uploader, and Document Studio are some of Digital Inspiration's most popular plugins. Mail Merge allows users to send personalized emails in bulk and track email opens and clicks.

Since Amits manages Digital Inspiration alone, his success is astounding. Amit developed a successful company via hard work and creativity, despite platform dependence. His tale inspires entrepreneurs.

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Maria Urkedal York

Maria Urkedal York

1 year ago

When at work, don't give up; instead, think like a designer.

How to reframe irritation and go forward

Picture by Daniel Xavier

… before you can figure out where you are going, you need to know where you are, and once you know and accept where you are, you can design your way to where you want to be.” — Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

“You’ve been here before. But there are some new ingredients this time. What can tell yourself that will make you understand that now isn’t just like last year? That there’s something new in this August.”

My coach paused. I sighed, inhaled deeply, and considered her question.

What could I say? I simply needed a plan from her so everything would fall into place and I could be the happy, successful person I want to be.

Time passed. My mind was exhausted from running all morning, all summer, or the last five years, searching for what to do next and how to get there.

Calmer, I remembered that my coach's inquiry had benefited me throughout the summer. The month before our call, I read Designing Your Work Life — How to Thrive and Change and Find Happiness at Work from Standford University’s Bill Burnett and Dave Evans.

A passage in their book felt like a lifeline: “We have something important to say to you: Wherever you are in your work life, whatever job you are doing, it’s good enough. For now. Not forever. For now.”

As I remembered this book on the coaching call, I wondered if I could embrace where I am in August and say my job life is good enough for now. Only temporarily.

I've done that since. I'm getting unstuck.

Here's how you can take the first step in any area where you feel stuck.

How to acquire the perspective of "Good enough for now" for yourself

We’ve all heard the advice to just make the best of a bad situation. That´s not bad advice, but if you only make the best of a bad situation, you are still in a bad situation. It doesn’t get to the root of the problem or offer an opportunity to change the situation. You’re more cheerfully navigating lousiness, which is an improvement, but not much of one and rather hard to sustain over time.” — Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Reframing Burnett at Evans says good enough for now is the key to being happier at work. Because, as they write, a designer always has options.

Choosing to believe things are good enough for now is liberating. It helps us feel less victimized and less judged. Accepting our situation helps us become unstuck.

Let's break down the process, which designers call constructing your way ahead, into steps you can take today.

Writing helps get started. First, write down your challenge and why it's essential to you. If pen and paper help, try this strategy:

  • Make the decision to accept the circumstance as it is. Designers always begin by acknowledging the truth of the situation. You now refrain from passing judgment. Instead, you simply describe the situation as accurately as you can. This frees us from negative thought patterns that prevent us from seeing the big picture and instead keep us in a tunnel of negativity.

  • Look for a reframing right now. Begin with good enough for the moment. Take note of how your body feels as a result. Tell yourself repeatedly that whatever is occurring is sufficient for the time being. Not always, but just now. If you want to, you can even put it in writing and repeatedly breathe it in, almost like a mantra.

  • You can select a reframe that is more relevant to your situation once you've decided that you're good enough for now and have allowed yourself to believe it. Try to find another perspective that is possible, for instance, if you feel unappreciated at work and your perspective of I need to use and be recognized for all my new skills in my job is making you sad and making you want to resign. For instance, I can learn from others at work and occasionally put my new abilities to use.

  • After that, leave your mind and act in accordance with your new perspective. Utilize the designer's bias for action to test something out and create a prototype that you can learn from. Your beginning point for creating experiences that will support the new viewpoint derived from the aforementioned point is the new perspective itself. By doing this, you recognize a circumstance at work where you can provide value to yourself or your workplace and then take appropriate action. Send two or three coworkers from whom you wish to learn anything an email, for instance, asking them to get together for coffee or a talk.

Choose tiny, doable actions. You prioritize them at work.

Let's assume you're feeling disconnected at work, so you make a list of folks you may visit each morning or invite to lunch. If you're feeling unmotivated and tired, take a daily walk and treat yourself to a decent coffee.

This may be plenty for now. If you want to take this procedure further, use Burnett and Evans' internet tools and frameworks.

Developing the daily practice of reframing

“We’re not discontented kids in the backseat of the family minivan, but how many of us live our lives, especially our work lives, as if we are?” — Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

I choose the good enough for me perspective every day, often. No quick fix. Am a failing? Maybe a little bit, but I like to think of it more as building muscle.

This way, every time I tell myself it's ok, I hear you. For now, that muscle gets stronger.

Hopefully, reframing will become so natural for us that it will become a habit, and not a technique anymore.

If you feel like you’re stuck in your career or at work, the reframe of Good enough, for now, might be valuable, so just go ahead and try it out right now.

And while you’re playing with this, why not think of other areas of your life too, like your relationships, where you live — even your writing, and see if you can feel a shift?

Sara_Mednick

Sara_Mednick

1 year ago

Since I'm a scientist, I oppose biohacking

Understanding your own energy depletion and restoration is how to truly optimize

Photo: Towfiqu barbhuiya / Unsplash

Hack has meant many bad things for centuries. In the 1800s, a hack was a meager horse used to transport goods.

Modern usage describes a butcher or ax murderer's cleaver chop. The 1980s programming boom distinguished elegant code from "hacks". Both got you to your goal, but the latter made any programmer cringe and mutter about changing the code. From this emerged the hacker trope, the friendless anti-villain living in a murky hovel lit by the computer monitor, eating junk food and breaking into databases to highlight security system failures or steal hotdog money.

Remember the 1995 movie, Hackers, in which a bunch of super cool programmers (said no one ever) get caught up in a plot to destroy the world and only teenybopper Angelina Jolie and her punk rock gang of nerd-bots can use their lightening quick typing skills to save the world? Remember public phones?

Now, start-a-billion-dollar-business-from-your-garage types have shifted their sights from app development to DIY biology, coining the term "bio-hack". This is a required keyword and meta tag for every fitness-related podcast, book, conference, app, or device.

Bio-hacking involves bypassing your body and mind's security systems to achieve a goal. Many biohackers' initial goals were reasonable, like lowering blood pressure and weight. Encouraged by their own progress, self-determination, and seemingly exquisite control of their biology, they aimed to outsmart aging and death to live 180 to 1000 years (summarized well in this vox.com article).

With this grandiose north star, the hunt for novel supplements and genetic engineering began.

Companies selling do-it-yourself biological manipulations cite lab studies in mice as proof of their safety and success in reversing age-related diseases or promoting longevity in humans (the goal changes depending on whether a company is talking to the federal government or private donors).

The FDA is slower than science, they say. Why not alter your biochemistry by buying pills online, editing your DNA with a CRISPR kit, or using a sauna delivered to your home? How about a microchip or electrical stimulator?

What could go wrong?


I'm not the neo-police, making citizen's arrests every time someone introduces a new plumbing gadget or extrapolates from animal research on resveratrol or catechins that we should drink more red wine or eat more chocolate. As a scientist who's spent her career asking, "Can we get better?" I've come to view bio-hacking as misguided, profit-driven, and counterproductive to its followers' goals.

We're creatures of nature. Despite all the new gadgets and bio-hacks, we still use Roman plumbing technology, and the best way to stay fit, sharp, and happy is to follow a recipe passed down since the beginning of time. Bacteria, plants, and all natural beings are rhythmic, with alternating periods of high activity and dormancy, whether measured in seconds, hours, days, or seasons. Nature repeats successful patterns.

During the Upstate, every cell in your body is naturally primed and pumped full of glycogen and ATP (your cells' energy currencies), as well as cortisol, which supports your muscles, heart, metabolism, cognitive prowess, emotional regulation, and general "get 'er done" attitude. This big energy release depletes your batteries and requires the Downstate, when your subsystems recharge at the cellular level.

Downstates are when you give your heart a break from pumping nutrient-rich blood through your body; when you give your metabolism a break from inflammation, oxidative stress, and sympathetic arousal caused by eating fast food — or just eating too fast; or when you give your mind a chance to wander, think bigger thoughts, and come up with new creative solutions. When you're responding to notifications, emails, and fires, you can't relax.

Every biological plant and animal is regulated by rhythms of energy-depleting Upstate and energy-restoring Downstates.

Downstates aren't just for consistently recharging your battery. By spending time in the Downstate, your body and brain get extra energy and nutrients, allowing you to grow smarter, faster, stronger, and more self-regulated. This state supports half-marathon training, exam prep, and mediation. As we age, spending more time in the Downstate is key to mental and physical health, well-being, and longevity.

When you prioritize energy-demanding activities during Upstate periods and energy-replenishing activities during Downstate periods, all your subsystems, including cardiovascular, metabolic, muscular, cognitive, and emotional, hum along at their optimal settings. When you synchronize the Upstates and Downstates of these individual rhythms, their functioning improves. A hard workout causes autonomic stress, which triggers Downstate recovery.

This zig-zag trajectory of performance improvement illustrates that getting better at anything in life isn’t a straight shot. The close-up box shows how prioritizing Downstate recovery after an Upstate exertion (e.g., hard workout) leads to RECOVERYPLUS. Image from The Power of the Downstate by Sara C. Mednick PhD.

By choosing the right timing and type of exercise during the day, you can ensure a deeper recovery and greater readiness for the next workout by working with your natural rhythms and strengthening your autonomic and sleep Downstates.

Morning cardio workouts increase deep sleep compared to afternoon workouts. Timing and type of meals determine when your sleep hormone melatonin is released, ushering in sleep.

Rhythm isn't a hack. It's not a way to cheat the system or the boss. Nature has honed its optimization wisdom over trillions of days and nights. Stop looking for quick fixes. You're a whole system made of smaller subsystems that must work together to function well. No one pill or subsystem will make it all work. Understanding and coordinating your rhythms is free, easy, and only benefits you.

Dr. Sara C. Mednick is a cognitive neuroscientist at UC Irvine and author of The Power of the Downstate (HachetteGO)

Ivona Hirschi

Ivona Hirschi

1 year ago

7 LinkedIn Tips That Will Help in Audience Growth

In 8 months, I doubled my audience with them.

LinkedIn's buzz isn't over.

People dream of social proof every day. They want clients, interesting jobs, and field recognition.

LinkedIn coaches will benefit greatly. Sell learning? Probably. Can you use it?

Consistency has been key in my eight-month study of LinkedIn. However, I'll share seven of my tips. 700 to 4500 people followed me.

1. Communication, communication, communication

LinkedIn is a social network. I like to think of it as a cafe. Here, you can share your thoughts, meet friends, and discuss life and work.

Do not treat LinkedIn as if it were a board for your post-its.

More socializing improves relationships. It's about people, like any network.

Consider interactions. Three main areas:

  • Respond to criticism left on your posts.

  • Comment on other people's posts

  • Start and maintain conversations through direct messages.

Engage people. You spend too much time on Facebook if you only read your wall. Keeping in touch and having meaningful conversations helps build your network.

Every day, start a new conversation to make new friends.

2. Stick with those you admire

Interact thoughtfully.

Choose your contacts. Build your tribe is a term. Respectful networking.

I only had past colleagues, family, and friends in my network at the start of this year. Not business-friendly. Since then, I've sought out people I admire or can learn from.

Finding a few will help you. As they connect you to their networks. Friendships can lead to clients.

Don't underestimate network power. Cafe-style. Meet people at each table. But avoid people who sell SEO, web redesign, VAs, mysterious job opportunities, etc.

3. Share eye-catching infographics

Daily infographics flood LinkedIn. Visuals are popular. Use Canva's free templates if you can't draw them.

Last week's:

Screenshot of Ivona Hirshi’s post.

It's a fun way to visualize your topic.

You can repost and comment on infographics. Involve your network. I prefer making my own because I build my brand around certain designs.

My friend posted infographics consistently for four months and grew his network to 30,000.

If you start, credit the authors. As you steal someone's work.

4. Invite some friends over.

LinkedIn alone can be lonely. Having a few friends who support your work daily will boost your growth.

I was lucky to be invited to a group of networkers. We share knowledge and advice.

Having a few regulars who can discuss your posts is helpful. It's artificial, but it works and engages others.

Consider who you'd support if they were in your shoes.

You can pay for an engagement group, but you risk supporting unrelated people with rubbish posts.

Help each other out.

5. Don't let your feed or algorithm divert you.

LinkedIn's algorithm is magical.

Which time is best? How fast do you need to comment? Which days are best?

Overemphasize algorithms. Consider the user. No need to worry about the best time.

Remember to spend time on LinkedIn actively. Not passively. That is what Facebook is for.

Surely someone would find a LinkedIn recipe. Don't beat the algorithm yet. Consider your audience.

6. The more personal, the better

Personalization isn't limited to selfies. Share your successes and failures.

The more personality you show, the better.

People relate to others, not theories or quotes. Why should they follow you? Everyone posts the same content?

Consider your friends. What's their appeal?

Because they show their work and identity. It's simple. Medium and Linkedin are your platforms. Find out what works.

You can copy others' hooks and structures. You decide how simple to make it, though.

7. Have fun with those who have various post structures.

I like writing, infographics, videos, and carousels. Because you can:

Repurpose your content!

Out of one blog post I make:

  • Newsletter

  • Infographics (positive and negative points of view)

  • Carousel

  • Personal stories

  • Listicle

Create less but more variety. Since LinkedIn posts last 24 hours, you can rotate the same topics for weeks without anyone noticing.

Effective!

The final LI snippet to think about

LinkedIn is about consistency. Some say 15 minutes. If you're serious about networking, spend more time there.

The good news is that it is worth it. The bad news is that it takes time.