Show Notes

Amplify Your Authority
Amplify Your Authority
Episode #87 How Experts Can Leverage Books to Build Their Business with Jonathan Milligan

How Experts Can Leverage Books to Build Their Business with Jonathan Milligan

How Experts Can Leverage Books to Build Their Business–Even if you doubt you’re a writer!

Picture this: a college student, passionate about writing, is met with disheartening advice from a professor—”Don’t become a writer.”

Despite the passion and joy found in the craft, those words shelved a dream.

Fast-forward through the years, and my special guest, Jonathan Milligan, has not only self-published several books but also had Baker Books publish Your Message Matters in 2020.
The most impactful stories are those we live ourselves.

Join us as we explore how a dismissed writing dream found its way back and how Jonathan uses book funnels to generate leads and sales.


In this podcast episode, we discussed:

1. How this seasoned author plans to write a 7-part series with a proven structure for maximum creativity and productivity.

2. A process for creating effective book funnels to build your brand, generate leads, and drive significant business growth.

3. Explore Jonathan’s strategies for creating perennial bestsellers and why that’s so important.

4. Ways to leverage AI technology as a powerful assistant to streamline the creation of book outlines and content, saving you hours.

5. Find out how Jonathan overcame early discouragement and found his voice as a writer, inspiring others to believe that authenticity can impact your readers.


Episode Takeaways

  • Maximize Book Funnels: Dive deep into the concept of book funnels with real-world success stories. Jonathan provides a road map for business growth.
  • Organic Growth Over Ads: In a world where paid ads dominate, listen to why Jonathan (and myself!) prefer investing time in building organic.
  • You Don’t Need a Large Team to Be Successful: The strategic move from big team to dream team (size does matter)


Episode Quotes to Remember

“The best sellers aren’t always the best writers. It’s really about writing from your heart, writing to add value, writing to contribute and to make a difference.” -Jonathan Milligan

“Your book should be about timeless principles. If you do that, then your book has more staying power.” -Jonathan Milligan

“The success of a book is not about the launch. It needs to be something you’re willing to shout from the rooftops for at least 2 to 5 years.” -Jonathan Milligan


About Jonathan Milligan

Jonathan MilliganJonathan Milligan is an author, blogger, speaker, and online business coach.

He has spent the last decade guiding and directing creative professionals on how to pursue meaningful work. Since 2009,
Jonathan has run his own portable lifestyle business online.

Today, he teaches others how to build a business with their passion, story, or message. He recently released his traditionally published book Your Message Matters. Jonathan lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his wife, Charity, and their two kids.

Connect with Jonathan
Links – – books by Jonathan
Links – – free training by Jonathan


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Podcast Transcript

Marisa Shadrick [00:00:13]:
Welcome everyone. I’m Marisa Shadrick, online marketing consultant and certified copywriter, and I am super excited today to have a very special guest, a friend of mine, mentor of mine, someone that helped me a while back when I was transitioning and pivoting into copywriting, and that is Jonathan Milligan. Welcome Jonathan. How are you?

Jonathan Milligan [00:00:34]:
Marisa, my longtime friend. I’m so excited to be here and chat with you today.

Marisa Shadrick [00:00:40]:
I’m excited too. So for the sake of those that might not know who you are, can you just give us a little bit of background? How long you’ve been in business? What do you do online? Just share from your heart.

Jonathan Milligan [00:00:53]:
Absolutely. So, you know, my journey started as a high school teacher and basketball coach, and then I went on a journey after couple years, decided I I wanted to do something more entrepreneurial. So I didn’t know what that was at the time and came across blogging in about 2,000 7 ish, started a career coach blog for accounting professionals. And over about 2 years, I was able to build that up to where it was becoming full time for me. And I had a lot of people asking me, well, how did you do that? And so I started blogging your passion way back in the day. I believe that was around 2,011 ish. And, over the years, I’ve taught blogging, online marketing, book writing, publishing, membership sites, online courses. It’s just it’s grown up around me.

Jonathan Milligan [00:01:45]:
And, today, I get to work primarily with what I call messengers. So that’s writers, speakers, teachers, coaches, helping them to rise above the noise online and get paid for what they know is really what I love most. That’s what I do.

Marisa Shadrick [00:02:03]:
And I think I came across probably I’m guessing it was, like, 2016 or something when I was first just blogging and I was wasn’t looking to really monetize. I wanted to have it as an extension of my ministry and just writing, but I learned so much during that time and learned so much from you than I thought, wow, there’s a lot that I could do here. So I need to rethink this. And I remember when I decided to, rebrand and go a direction to monetize and get my copywriting certification because we go back before I even had my Ray Edwards certification. You were there for me and you were just this voice that was so calming and helped me really get some clarity as far as the direction that I was going. So I’ll be forever grateful for that. So today, we’re gonna talk about publishing books because, Jonathan, you are on a roll here. You have done both traditional and self publishing and it seems like now we haven’t talked in detail about all of this, but it seems like book funnels, book writing, there’s something you’ve discovered.

Marisa Shadrick [00:03:11]:
Do you wanna kinda unpack that for us?

Jonathan Milligan [00:03:14]:
Absolutely. So I I love books and I did my first self published book back in 2015 on blogging. And part of the reason I did it was just to figure out what the Amazon publishing process was like so that I could potentially teach others how to do it. And then fast forward 2020, published a traditional book, Your Message Matters with, Baker Books. And since then, I’ve dove into writing a 7 book series and I’m working on book number 3. I’m gonna have 3 more books this year which is crazy. Maybe we’ll talk about that in a little bit. 4 books in 1 year and it’s really, self publishing, smaller books about 35,000 words about half the size of a regular sized book and having a very strategic funnel and reason behind those books as well that I’m sure we’ll talk about.

Jonathan Milligan [00:04:07]:
But I absolutely love books because it’s universal. Everybody gets and understands books. And books, you know, whether it’s just an ebook or a physical print book, for a lot of people, it allows you to become an authority in a space, and it’s just a great way. It’s a great awareness tool, but it can also really build your business strategically and bring you targeted customers that go into your subscriptions, your memberships, your coaching, your services, and all of that as well.

Marisa Shadrick [00:04:45]:
So what I’m hearing, and correct me if I’m wrong, that this whole writing books, these short reads, those smaller books, isn’t necessary for someone that’s already established. It could be somebody that’s just getting started considering a book funnel because I’m sure it’s going to help grow their email list and so forth. Is that correct?

Jonathan Milligan [00:05:06]:
Absolutely. So I’ll give you an example. You probably remember William Adaway in our, insider group because you, helped coach some of my people back in the day for several years, and I’m grateful for that. Well, William just had me on his podcast, and he told me that his business is just growing like crazy and it was on the back end of a book. So he came into my program, wanted to write a book on leadership, published a book called Catalytic Leadership, and then he leveraged podcast guesting. For about a year, he committed to trying to get on a a new podcast every single week. He had a book funnel that led people into his coaching. And so fast forward today, and he said, Jonathan, in a year and a half, I’ve crossed 6 figures since the book launch.

Jonathan Milligan [00:05:56]:
I have, I think he said 12 1 on 1 clients. He’s got 4 companies where he’s doing kind of group coaching quarterly with them, and all of that was built on the back end of a book that then led people into his coaching as an example. And so, it can work very, very well.

Marisa Shadrick [00:06:17]:
Yeah. That is impressive. So for those listening, don’t think it’s just for those that are already established. If you’re in the beginning stages, this podcast episode is for you. So that is very impressive. So for those that may not understand what a funnel is, let’s break that down for them so they kinda understand what we’re saying when we say funnel.

Jonathan Milligan [00:06:37]:
So here’s where it started for me with the book funnel. The book funnel started with me back in when I was doing my traditionally published book, Your Message Matters. I had this grand goal of, like, 15 things I want to accomplish with this book. And I talked to a friend of mine who had done book launches for all the big names out there. He just happens to live in my city, got him on a Zoom call, and was just sharing all the stuff, and this is about 2 months before my book launched. And he says, Jonathan, with book launching, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You’ve got to have a specific why and strategy behind what you want. In other words, you can’t do a free book funnel and try to hit, you know, an Amazon bestseller and try to hit a New York Times bestseller, they’re all different specific strategies.

Jonathan Milligan [00:07:28]:
You know, if you’re going to do a free book funnel, you’re purchasing copies at your author discount, which you’re then sending to people. And so those aren’t gonna show up on Amazon sales. They’re not gonna show up on a bestseller list somewhere. And so that’s a very specific strategy. So he asked me. He goes, what do you want most? I said, well, honestly, what I want most is leads of my readers. That’s what I want most is the email addresses of people who’ve read my books that might be interested in other things. He said, okay.

Jonathan Milligan [00:07:59]:
Then you need to double down on a free book funnel. And that’s exactly what I did and you know what was great about that decision Marisa was my book, looking back, came out at the worst possible time. It was October 2020. So we had COVID lockdowns. We had one of the biggest, most contentious elections that was literally 2 weeks after my book launched. There was so much noise that if my strategy had been to try to hit a bestseller list, that would have been a failed strategy. But because I chose the free book funnel, I was already committed to I bought, like, 5,000 copies of my book, brought them to my house. My lovely wife, she was gracious in allowing me to bring all those books here.

Jonathan Milligan [00:08:46]:
I said, I promise you, we’re gonna get rid of all these books. We’re gonna make room again in the house. Don’t worry. And my strategy was that I was gonna show up on a podcast every week for over a year and I did that. Went about 18 months and still selling books today from those podcast episodes. And we’ve sold out of those books. We ended up buying more books and that strategy though and the reason it comes back to a book funnel is because I gave them a copy of my book. I broke even on the cost, so they paid a little bit for shipping, and I didn’t make any money on the book.

Jonathan Milligan [00:09:23]:
But because of that, I got their contact information and then that led them through a series of emails to invite them into my coaching programs. And so, we ran the numbers, last year. We ended up making around $78 for every free book this free book that we gave away. So even though we didn’t make money on the front end Right. The people who were buying into our $5,000 coaching program, you take that, the money you make, and then you divide it up into the amount of books, come out about $78 a book and that’s a lot better because I couldn’t go to Amazon and charge $78 for a book. Yeah. So that is the power of that. I’m doing a different strategy with the smaller books that maybe we can, talk about.

Jonathan Milligan [00:10:14]:
But, that’s the basics of a book funnel is you’re getting their contact information, they’re getting a book, and you’re able to lead them to other things.

Marisa Shadrick [00:10:24]:
I love what you said about what is it that you want from this particular, you know, lead generation, the book funnel? Because it’s true. So many people try to get so many different things out, and then there’s no clarity. Once you know exactly what it is you want, in this case, more leads, more emails, then you can go deep. Then you go deep in that. And I think the clarity, didn’t that feel like a sense of relief knowing exactly what it was you want didn’t want these other things that were potentials, but you wanted those leads. I’m sure that provided lots of clarity for you.

Jonathan Milligan [00:10:58]:
Absolutely. Because we wanna do it all, but the truth is we can’t. And there’s power in focusing and choosing what it is you really want, and that’s incredibly powerful. And it’s clarifying. So that that, I’m so glad I had that conversation for sure.

Marisa Shadrick [00:11:15]:
That’s excellent. So let’s talk a little bit about your writing journey. Have you always felt like you were a writer? Is that one of your strengths?

Jonathan Milligan [00:11:24]:
You know, I wanted to be a writer when I was in college, with a creative writing class that I took, but my professor was not so kind with my short stories. In fact, her exact words were, don’t become a writer. And I thought that was really harsh for because it was the one college class that was like, I’m actually not just doing it to finish an assignment. I’m actually getting lost in this a little bit and I was enjoying it and they were nonfiction. I mean, they were fiction stories that we were writing but it was like, okay, that was fun, but apparently, I don’t have the chops for it. So I kinda set it on the shelf. It wasn’t until years later that my wife, one day when I was reading a book, we were probably married for about 5 years, and she said, you’re gonna write a book one day. And it just, like, came out of left field for me.

Jonathan Milligan [00:12:14]:
And I was like, what? She goes, you’re always reading books. You’re a learner, and I just see that I see you writing books. I went, okay. So it was the exact opposite of what I experienced in college and, you know, it was still a few years later before I actually sat down and wrote my first book in 2015. But my wife reminded me of that moment when the proof copy came in the mail and I was like, Look, my book. And I handed it

Marisa Shadrick [00:12:44]:
to her.

Jonathan Milligan [00:12:44]:
She said, I told you you’re gonna write a book someday. And it brought me back to like, you know, the lesson here is the power of words. The power, you know, your words can be a sword and can cause harm and your words can heal. And my those words of healing for me helped me to realize that I could become a writer and that the lesson I learned in that, Marisa, is that the best sellers aren’t always the best writers.

Marisa Shadrick [00:13:13]:

Jonathan Milligan [00:13:14]:
It’s really about you sitting down, writing from your heart, writing to add value, writing to contribute, to make a difference. And that’s gonna come across in your writing when you do so. And you don’t have to be the most eloquent writer to make that happen.

Marisa Shadrick [00:13:32]:
Mhmm. It’s the same for speakers too. It’s not so much how eloquent you are. But if you’re coming in with the intent of serving others, providing something some takeaway for them something to inspire them. That feeling that they have when they walk away. That’s what lingers. And that’s what makes people better speakers. It’s not necessarily all the technical things that they learn.

Marisa Shadrick [00:13:56]:
It’s the message. It’s the heart to heart communication. So I love that. And just a shout out to Shadrick because she is part of your team. Is that right?

Jonathan Milligan [00:14:04]:
Absolutely. She is Marisa it all go behind the scenes.

Marisa Shadrick [00:14:08]:
She’s making it go so yeah, you I I really respect you, but you married up. She’s phenomenal. She’s incredible. Absolutely.

Jonathan Milligan [00:14:17]:
Something we agree on for sure.

Marisa Shadrick [00:14:18]:
Yeah. Yeah. I had to I had to mention that, give her some kudos. So how long does it take you to write a book now? Now that you’ve got kind of into your mojo, how long does it take you to write a book?

Jonathan Milligan [00:14:29]:
So what I’m currently doing and I’ve got some examples here, but, you know, my traditionally published book, you know, when I signed the contract, they wanted a 60,000 word manuscript. So I had to make sure I kinda hit that word count. Mhmm. But these books I’m writing are more 25 to 30000 words and they’re shorter reads but they’re incredibly powerful. I’ve found that I have more of my audience finishing the book because it feels doable. Like, this first book is called Discover Your Message and it’s a 14 day guide to uncovering your calling and it’s really, it’s 14 chapters plus 2 extra at the end to apply it, and people can get through this book reading a chapter a day in 2 weeks. And so, first of all, doubling down on shorter books.

Marisa Shadrick [00:15:16]:

Jonathan Milligan [00:15:17]:
And they make a great series, so I’ve got book 2 out now. Yeah. Yes. I’ve got it up holding it up right there. And book 3 is I’m working on it right now and so, I’ve created this process that is simple and repeatable for me and we can get into something like the I’m a big, you know, create a system, create a format, create your process and then you just do your process. And repeat the process. And so, these two books probably took me about 6 months. So you would think, you know, you know, normal this would be like a normal sized book if you put these together.

Jonathan Milligan [00:15:54]:
They’d be a little bit over 65,000 words. But for me, doing 30,000 words takes me about 90 days. Now I because I work for myself, I’m writing in the mornings, try to do a little bit of writing every single day to to keep, pace with that. And my goal is to have 7 total books in this series. So I’ve got ideas for other series, but I really doubled down, Marisa, just so you know. Why did you double down on books? I really doubled down because sometime last year I was you know, I’ve been doing this for a while now, and I really was trying to seek out my vision of like, what is it that you want? Like, it used to be, I wanna make 6 figures. And then you accomplish that and you realize it’s not just about money. So then it’s like, I wanna make or I wanna make an impact with people.

Jonathan Milligan [00:16:49]:
And then you start seeing your coaching that results in other people having successes. That’s great. And then I start thinking, what is it? And I think at some point in our journey, we start thinking about legacy. And I wrote on my whiteboard. I actually still have it there. I haven’t erased it. It may not even erase off my whiteboard anymore. It’s in the corner of it, and I’ve just kept it up there that there’s only a few things that I think can really leave a legacy.

Jonathan Milligan [00:17:15]:
And, you know, I love doing courses. Can courses leave a legacy? You know, they’re eventually gonna get old and the one thing and there’s a couple things but one of them are books, books for me I’ve been impacted by books from people that I’ve read that I discovered their book long after they’re gone and they’ve made such an impact on me, you know Andrew Carnegie and Acres of Diamonds book and How to Win Friends and Influence People and just, all those books that still continue to make an impact long after the person is here. And I think books have a way of doing that. And so, it’s become kind of a legacy thing for me as well. More it’s become a legacy thing but also of course a strategic business reason as well.

Marisa Shadrick [00:18:07]:
Right. And, you know, I don’t know. Do you do public speaking, a lot of public speaking from stages too? Because I know they often Yeah. Allow you to sell your books on the back table. So I don’t know if you do that as well.

Jonathan Milligan [00:18:20]:
I have done that. You know, I do my own event every year. I I do speak occasionally at other events. For a long time, you know, I said no to a lot of requests because my kids were in school and they were involved in sports, and I wanted to be a part of that. I think I’m more open now to getting out doing some speaking. My daughter has graduated college now. My son is out of high school. So we’ll see if I get out and do more, with some of that.

Jonathan Milligan [00:18:47]:
I do enjoy the speaking aspect, but, it’s not necessarily a primary thing that I do, but I do enjoy it.

Marisa Shadrick [00:18:54]:
Dang. I can’t believe your kids are already adults. I remember your kids were little when we first met. Oh my gosh. I’m feeling a little older, but you’ll never see gray on my hair. So never see gray. So anyway, so you don’t do any writing retreats, you’ve got a process that you do and you’ve just embedded it in your everyday routine. It’s become a habit now.

Marisa Shadrick [00:19:15]:
So you’re able to reach your goals in 90 days, which sounds doable, right? 90 days sounds very doable for a book for a short read. So that sounds fantastic. So let’s talk a little bit again about so we talked a little bit about the timeline there. The strategy behind it. I know some people look at books, and they think of it as this huge project, but the way you break it down to spend a certain amount of time And I know I’m better in the morning than I am in the afternoon. So probably picking the best time to write how many? Is it a word count? Or is it time that you schedule to write? What do you do in the morning when you’re writing?

Jonathan Milligan [00:19:55]:
So I’m very intentional about not putting any meetings in the mornings. So that is my creative time. You know, I believe to doing my creative work first, and that’s what I do in the morning. So I’m very intentional about any kind of Zoom calls, meetings, podcast interviews, calls with those in my coaching program, they’re all in the afternoon. So that leaves my mornings to do that. I will simply use a timer not every time but a lot of times I’ll use a timer set it for about 48 minutes, and I will just write. And I will just continue to write till the timer goes off, and then I will walk the dog, go outside, take a break. And on a good day, I can get 2 or 3 of those in, but that’s not every day.

Jonathan Milligan [00:20:43]:
There’s always other things that that you need to do and get done. And so that process of making sure my mornings are always open and available Mhmm. Really helped me to to to make that steady progress on the book. So it’s it’s about chipping away a little bit every day, and, that’s that’s what helps.

Marisa Shadrick [00:21:06]:
Yeah. Now I’ve known people, which is probably why I haven’t done a book yet, but I’ve I’ve known a lot of people that would write books, and they get this little spike when they first write it. And then all of a sudden, there’s probably some common mistakes because after a while, they’re not even promoting it. It’s not on their website. They’re not selling the books. It’s not leading to anything. It was all this work to create this book. What are some of the common mistakes that you see? And maybe this will spill into the funnel that people have because I’ve met a lot of people that write books, but then it’s like it’s here and gone and nothing happens.

Marisa Shadrick [00:21:43]:
So what are mistakes that you see?

Jonathan Milligan [00:21:46]:
Yeah. I mean, you nailed the first one. The first one, and this is the one I see that it it’s not just for new people. It’s the pros. It’s the experts out there. It is the big influencers that also are making this mistake in my opinion, and that is it’s just about creating buzz for the book launch the first two weeks. Oftentimes, they’re doing that because if they can do 10,000 copies, they can hit the New York Times bestseller, and they want that tagline. And then it’s like crickets.

Jonathan Milligan [00:22:16]:
You don’t hear them talk about the book anymore. They’ve moved on to other things, and it’s like, man, you have worked so hard on this book. So I think rule number 1 is to be be very intentional about writing a perennial seller. Like, Ryan Holiday’s book talks about when I read that book, and I won’t name names, but there’s people in the online business space that have written great books. But if you read them today, they’ve got chapters about Twitter that just are no longer true. It’s not even called Twitter today and they’ve mentioned a lot of tools. And so, one of the things I was intentional about with this book is you won’t find me using any specific names of tools. I will reference go to this link for the latest tools that I use.

Jonathan Milligan [00:23:05]:
But I want it to be about timeless principles. And I think if you First of all, if you do that, then your book has more staying power. So that’s number 1. Number 2 is the success of a book is not about the launch. That’s the biggest misnomer out there, and there’s been plenty of books. I mean, Atomic Habits is one of them. James Clear book. You know, he got on on podcast and ended up hitting a bestseller list way after the book launch, And it was because he just grinded out slowly by slowly.

Jonathan Milligan [00:23:40]:
It started to gain traction. Same thing with the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Jack Canfield used the rule of 5 and he said, Every day we woke up and we said, What’s 5 ways that we can talk about the book today? And they did that month after month and till a couple of years later hitting a bestseller list. And so I really feel like, you need to if you’re gonna write a book, it needs to be something you’re willing to shout from the rooftops at least for the next 2 to 5 years. I’m still talking about this book 4 years later. We literally we’re still doing the book funnel, and I’ve got 15 books sitting 15 or 20 books sitting on my porch that the mailman’s gonna come grab today to ship out today, and that’s 4 years after launching the book. And so I’m really passionate about it. As you can tell, that’s a big mistake I think people make is just not continuing to talk about the book.

Marisa Shadrick [00:24:39]:
I think so too. And I I’m not sure why that is. Maybe maybe it’s because they get tired and they’re ready for something else, or maybe they don’t believe that it’s going to reach success or but this is exactly what I talk about going deep, not just doing it and then letting it go. And so many things that we do online, even our website sometimes needs, you know, an update, we need to continue to keep it fresh and relevant. But with something like a book, I would think it’s the long game, not just get it out and done. And they think once it’s published, it’s done. It’s not. That’s just the beginning.

Marisa Shadrick [00:25:15]:
Right? Especially if you wanna use it as a way, to to generate leads and sell your other back end products. So it’s really the long game is what I’m hearing you say. Is that correct?

Jonathan Milligan [00:25:26]:
Absolutely. And I think too, it goes back to having a good why. I think the reason why some of the bigger names they talk about the book is because their why was just to hit a best seller. Yeah. And whether they hit it or didn’t hit it, now they don’t have a why for their book other than occasionally mentioning it here and there. And so, you know, my why was it’s brings it’s a reason to bring people into a funnel to my other programs, So I’m gonna keep talking about it.

Marisa Shadrick [00:25:56]:
Yeah. And I love what you said about not putting anything in the book that’s gonna end up being dated because that is a problem with a lot of things. I mean, there’s a lot of things that I need to be conscious of and not date it because then I gotta go back and update it again. So, that’s something to keep in mind. So that’s a good tip there for those that are thinking of writing a book. Now, let’s talk about content, repurposing, and the elephant in the room, AI. How does it all this play in? Do you use content that you’ve already written? Because you blogged for a long time. You wrote articles.

Marisa Shadrick [00:26:30]:
So do you use that for your book, for parts of the book? Do you use AI? Because everybody, you know, is thinking now with AI, AI can write the book for me. So what what’s your take on all that?

Jonathan Milligan [00:26:42]:
So we’re still very much in the wild, wild west with AI. There are tools popping up constantly. Overall, I think it’s a great thing. Now it is a neutral thing, meaning it’s not inherently bad. It’s not inherently good. It’s what we do with it. Mhmm. And what I’ve tried to be an advocate for is what I’ve been calling ethical AI, which for me as a creator, I’m using it as an AI assisted, not AI generated.

Jonathan Milligan [00:27:12]:
So I’m not going to AI and saying, with your vast knowledge base, just write me a chapter about this. What I’m doing is I will take, for example, let’s say I’ve recorded a training video on something that I want to be a chapter in my book. So it’s a training video in my course and it’s my thoughts, my process, my 5 steps to doing whatever. But I would love for the AI to create a book outline to make it easier for me to write the chapter. And so there’s a specific strategy that I like to use, but, specifically, I will have this prompt and I will give it the transcript from the video and then it will kind of lay out for me some of the the finer details of a chapter outline that I can then write from. The other thing that I like to use AI for is once I get the chapter, find the attach it into an AI tool. And I will say, can you find for me 3 stories from history or contemporary stories that would fit as an introduction to this chapter. And, yes, you need to go verify that those things are true because we all know AI can hallucinate.

Jonathan Milligan [00:28:43]:
But I’m doing that anyway because if I’m going to use the story, I’m creating a citation for it. And I have found the most amazing stories from AI. So for a quick example, my last book, I had to write a chapter about creating your logo because I want to be practical, but creating your logo doesn’t seem like an exciting chapter to read. So what I did was I wrote the chapter, the practical steps that I like to go through to choose the right logo. And then I put that into the AI tool, and it found an amazing story about I believe it was Subway and how they changed their logo and that that changed their business. And their business grew, I think it was in the late nineties or early nineties, somewhere in there. And it was just a fantastic story. I have found some amazing stories using that.

Jonathan Milligan [00:29:35]:
And then the third way that I’ll use AI is it does a really good job of summarizing. So if you give it your chapter, the main chapter that you wrote and you said write 3 to 5 key takeaways in bullet format for this for the reader for this chapter, it can help you write some really strong I like to have kinda bullet takeaways at the end of my chapter to after you just read this, hear the main takeaways. It can also be good for you if you want to create an exercise at the end of your chapter. So I will say, hey, AI, what is a good exercise, a little 10 to 15 minute exercise that the reader can take based on what I wrote for this chapter and it will create excellent exercises. So, to summarize, I like using it as an assistant, a research assistant Mhmm. As opposed to just generating my text. That’s how I’m using AI.

Marisa Shadrick [00:30:36]:
I love it. Because I say that often, consider it as an apprentice that needs lots of supervision, and you finally have the yes or no on the content it produces. Plus, I love the fact that you’re providing it your content, not just scraping the Internet. It’s your content, and it is very good at summarizing things and and just helping us just organize our own content too. So I love how you’re using that because that could be a real time saver or at least take the pressure off of thinking this is like this huge job. How am I going to do this? So for those people that are thinking, well, if I take it from a course that I have or videos, should how much do I give? How much do I hold back? I probably know the answer to this, but I want you to kind of address that for people that are saying, do I give it all, or what do I put in the book? How much do I hold back? Do I put my blueprint? Do I explain everything? Then why would they hire me? So can you address that for them?

Jonathan Milligan [00:31:33]:
Absolutely. I get that question a lot. And you know, the way that I’ve been approaching it is is people are going to pay for different modalities of learning.

Marisa Shadrick [00:31:44]:

Jonathan Milligan [00:31:45]:
And so just because you read it in a chapter and I did the best I could to describe it, it’s probably gonna have, in some cases, more value for you to see the video where you’re watching me do it. So the book tends to teach you the what and the course and the videos teach the how. That’s the way that I like to approach it. So the book is gonna teach you what you need to do to have an amazing logo. But if you wanna watch how, maybe I DIY my own logo with Canva, then you’re gonna need to be in the course or be in the coaching program to watch the video on how. Mhmm. So that’s the way that I like to distinguish it. I’m I think if you are if you are trying to hold back, what’s gonna happen is you’re gonna produce a book that’s gonna feel like fluff, it’s gonna feel like a sales letter and that’s the biggest complaint that people have about books is I bought the book and felt like it was just a lot of fluff and talking about their program and and just one big long sales letter Yeah.

Jonathan Milligan [00:32:52]:
And I don’t want that. So when you get the book, you’re gonna get just as much value as if you paid into my program, but it’s gonna be in a different format. It’s gonna be in the written form. Yeah. I

Marisa Shadrick [00:33:04]:
love that because that is true. We give value. And if we’re generous, it all comes back. Right? If we just lead with generosity and really trying to help people, we’re gonna give them some things to get started so they get value from the book. And then they know where we are. You know, if they want more in a different modality, that’s great. That’s awesome. So let’s finally, I just wanna touch on this because we’re boy, we’re like cooking right along here.

Marisa Shadrick [00:33:29]:
Top of the funnel. So do you have what’s your process for the book? Do you have like a free resource that leads to the book? Or do you just start with the book and ask people tell people that you have this book to buy? How do you do that? Do you do a mixture, a combination? What starts first as far as bringing them into the funnel?

Jonathan Milligan [00:33:50]:
So for me with the self published series that I’m doing, right in the front inside is a free gift that I’m providing and it’s a I call it like a free mini course. So I call it the accelerator and I’ve got one that I’m doing for each one. And so the very first thing you’re confronted with is as a way of saying thanks, we’re offering a free companion online course. In this case, it’s called the Discover Your Message Accelerator Course. Go to this link and get it. And we’ve gotten a lot of people on our email list from that right there. So they’ll get the book whether it’s print or ebook and they’ll immediately opt in because they want the companion course. Now the companion course is really 5 or 6 videos where I I it’s more of an overview of the main parts of the book.

Jonathan Milligan [00:34:41]:
It still has some value in it. I consider it to be a lot of value, especially if you’re reading the book and then you’re listening to the videos. But then they also get into an email series. It’s about 5 day series that leads them to one of my memberships. So the, what I’ve got I’m gonna be doing 7 books. The first two books are kind of Discover Your Message, Launch Your Platform. These are for beginners and so these actually lead to my $7 a month membership. So I started a a mini membership because I didn’t want anybody to have any reason why to not get started.

Marisa Shadrick [00:35:20]:

Jonathan Milligan [00:35:20]:
And so they can jump in at 7 dollars a month, and it gives them everything they know to discover their niche, their message, and to launch their platform and get it up and running. Then the next two books that I’m currently working on now are leading to my kind of main flagship membership which is Marisa Your Message Academy. That’s a $45 a month membership and that’s where we help people with how to make their first $1,000 online. So, the 2 books in that particular part of the series is going to be validating your offer. So I’m going to teach 4 strategies of how to sell something before you create it and that is what that book’s for. And then the second book is going to be about traffic because that’s a big one for people is how do I get traffic? How do I get something quick up for sale and then how do I get eyeballs on the thing that I created? And then finally, books 5, 6, and 7, they’re gonna be coming out obviously later are a little bit more advanced on monetizing your email list, building your funnels, things like that and those are all going to be pointing to my top tier program which is Online Business Insider. It’s also a membership people can jump in at any time and so I’ve got 3 memberships that’s the core of what I do and then the books are all leading people to jump in wherever they are in their business process to jump in and be a part of one of those memberships. So, books are creating recurring revenue

Marisa Shadrick [00:37:00]:
for me. That’s wonderful. That’s wonderful. I love that. Intentional strategy. I love it. So do you have a large team? Because people are saying, well, that’s good for Jonathan because he’s got a huge team. Do you have a large team, small team? Tell us a little bit about that.

Jonathan Milligan [00:37:17]:
So my business has evolved over the years and you know this, Marisa. It’s like I have gone from large team. I’ve gone to just just me in the beginning, went to a team of probably 10 or 15 people and then simplified again. And so it’s just me and my wife that we are we have simplified the business. And I think what’s what’s important here and this is kind of outside the main discussion here, but I think it’s really, really important is that you have the confidence to build the business the way that you want to build it, not what all of your mentors or other people. You know, I was I was investing in a lot of programs with people coaching programs, and they they were telling me, hey. You have to build a team. You have to outsource all this stuff.

Jonathan Milligan [00:38:08]:
You you have to do that. You you’re never going to be successful if you don’t or you’re always gonna just have a job. And I was listening to all those voices. And, you know, what happened for me, Marisa, is I got away from what I love and enjoy, which is creating, writing books, creating courses. And I think the the the bigger lesson for me, because we’re all on a journey to figure it out

Marisa Shadrick [00:38:37]:

Jonathan Milligan [00:38:37]:
Was some of us, our strengths is managing people, managing a team, and having a team. That’s a strength of ours. Great. Mhmm. But when you are looking at mentors, the mentors may be really good at that because that’s your strength.

Marisa Shadrick [00:38:53]:

Jonathan Milligan [00:38:54]:
What you have to have the ability to do is to self learn, self discovery, have awareness of your own passion, strengths, and stay with that. My strength is to be a practical teacher, and I feel like I’m doing that when I’m creating books and I’m creating courses. That’s really what I love and enjoy. And, you know, it’s I had to go through that process of learning and figuring that out. So that’s the the lesson that I would help people. Yeah. I’d wanna pass along to people is to to build the business that fits you, not what everybody else is telling you to do.

Marisa Shadrick [00:39:34]:
Exactly. That’s such good Shadrick. Because then if it starts feeling heavy or out of, you know, out of line to what you’re comfortable with or where your strengths are, again, it starts feeling heavy and then, you know, we wanna enjoy what we’re doing. And I agree, I don’t think you need a huge team. I have somebody that takes care of my website, keeps it safe, backed up. I have a CPA, and that’s pretty much it. If I need anything else, maybe I’ll contract someone to do something. But other than that, I kind of like having it small.

Marisa Shadrick [00:40:07]:
I don’t want it big. Big brings other other issues and problems. What about, Facebook ads? Do you use Facebook ads for any of your promotions?

Jonathan Milligan [00:40:19]:
Hit and miss. So sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I’m always experimenting with it. I wouldn’t say that I depend on Facebook ads because I don’t. I I’ve always loved the organic approach. It’s just been my roots. Mhmm. And so I I tend to want to lean more into publishing more blog posts and because of the way that I see it is I’ve got people visiting my links and other people are paying for those keywords where my article is just there for free.

Jonathan Milligan [00:40:54]:
Now Google always changes. That’s always gonna be true. But what’s worked for me is an organic approach. And the organic approach that has worked for me is blogging, pod casting, live streaming, YouTube videos, and podcast guesting. Like, all of that does require your time.

Marisa Shadrick [00:41:12]:
Yeah. But

Jonathan Milligan [00:41:12]:
it can pay you dividends over time because people begin to follow you. They, want to buy your books when they come out. And so while I’ve done a lot of Facebook ads in the past, and I’m always experimenting here and there, I don’t see it as a primary driver for me.

Marisa Shadrick [00:41:30]:
Mhmm. Yeah. I agree. I kinda have a love hate with Facebook anyway, but that’s another story. But I’m very much there’s so much that can be done for organic reach. And again, I don’t think people go deep enough. They just try little things and they don’t focus and they’re not very strategic in trying one strategy and going deep. And I think that’s why they’re always saying trying to find that silver bullet.

Marisa Shadrick [00:41:55]:
Do it. Maybe I try this or maybe I try this, but it’s really taking something and going deep with it and staying consistent with it. And I love the organic approach. I’m also in favor of that, not opposed to Facebook ads, but there’s a time and place. Right? So very quickly rapid fire, what are what are some, well before the rapid fire, where is something that maybe I didn’t ask that you would love to share with the audience that maybe I didn’t position it for you and you think I really should share this with versus audience. What is something that maybe I did not ask that you think is important related to the whole creating books and funnels?

Jonathan Milligan [00:42:34]:
Yeah. So one thing would be something that, I’ve been thinking about lately now that I’m in this process of doing a lot of books. I need to create a system. And so I took some time to actually create, like, a book grid of thinking through what are the different parts. Now, I’ve got it as a regular whole book and as a strategy that I use just for chapters. So, for the whole book, I start with a plot. So what does the reader want? Then I look at the problem, what’s stopping them from getting what they want? And then I think about the promise, so what can this book help them achieve? And then finally, it’s the path. So what are the 3 to 7 big steps to get them there? And when I answer that, then I know that I’ve got a good book because, I think a good nonfiction book should still take you on a journey.

Jonathan Milligan [00:43:31]:
It’s still a just like a fiction book takes you on a journey and there’s a story there. I think that’s, that’s true. And then for the chapter, it’s a little bit different. I start with the pull. So p u l l, what is the thing that’s gonna draw them in? Because just because someone starts reading your book doesn’t mean they’re gonna continue reading the book. And I think a big mistake authors make is not beginning every chapter with something interesting, whether that’s a story, a stat, a startling statement, something to continue to get them to read the book. And then it’s the same kind of, like, problem would be the next thing. So then you address, like, what do most people do that doesn’t work? Talk about that in your chapter and then move to, like, the paradigm.

Jonathan Milligan [00:44:19]:
So what should they do instead? Now we’re kinda this is okay. Now you’ve got my attention. Then you go into the plan. What are the 3 to 7 steps? And then finally, it’s just the practice, giving them some kind of a tool. And so when you read this series, you’ll see it’s very formulaic. It’s like watching Hallmark movies. Right? It’s it’s a formula because it works. And so by me creating that formula, it it almost not exactly, but it almost helps the chapters write themselves because I’m not just staring at a blank screen.

Jonathan Milligan [00:44:56]:
I’m intentionally thinking, what’s the pull for this chapter? What’s the problem? What’s the paradigm shift I want them to have? And what’s the 3 to 7 steps that are my sub headlines that I can write a little bit about? And then finally, leave them with some kind of practice that they can use to apply this chapter. And so that’s the one I would pass along is maybe I can be helpful to some people who are thinking about writing a book to have a formula.

Marisa Shadrick [00:45:24]:
Yeah. Very valuable. You’ve been very generous. Jason, Garrity Garrity. He’s, saying hello. I think we both know him. And, there are a few things that can leave a legacy. One of them is books.

Marisa Shadrick [00:45:39]:
So he agreed on that comment that you made. And, let’s see tips for using AI, I think were really, really helpful as well. So he was saying, thank you for all those tips. So thanks so much, Jonathan. Let me ask you real quick. On a personal level, what’s your favorite color?

Jonathan Milligan [00:45:58]:

Marisa Shadrick [00:46:00]:
What’s your favorite food?

Jonathan Milligan [00:46:03]:
Oh, man. I have so many favorite foods. I’m gonna say because I get it every year, once a year, it’s chocolate pecan pie from Cracker Barrel. That’s my one Christmas request every year.

Marisa Shadrick [00:46:16]:
Oh, now this one’s a tough one because you read a lot of books. Can you isolate down to maybe one book that you love? I know it’s a hard question because you read a lot of books.

Jonathan Milligan [00:46:31]:
Well, I mean, as a Christian, you gotta say the Bible. Right?

Marisa Shadrick [00:46:34]:
But Not besides the bible.

Jonathan Milligan [00:46:36]:
That’s kinda like but but that’s kinda like that’s kinda like when you’re in children’s church and you start asking questions about the the story and every answer’s Jesus.

Marisa Shadrick [00:46:44]:
Oh, no. Exactly.

Jonathan Milligan [00:46:45]:
I believe that’s that’s the right answer, but let’s get more specific. So the my answer would probably be Acres of Diamonds. It’s a book that’s over a 100 years old that I stumbled across And, you know, without going too much into it, I I talk about it in this book is something that really switched the paradigm for me in the in the early formative stages of figuring out what I want to do with my life was for me to realize that my purpose wasn’t in a thing, a job, a title, a company, but it was actually what was already inside me, what how God made me. It’s it was right underneath my nose all along. And if I could just uncover where I show up best for others and do that thing, I can add value to people. And that’s what I got out of that book, and it was life changing.

Marisa Shadrick [00:47:37]:
I love it. On that, we will end, but I want you to share where can people find out more about you and the books, and I will put the links in the show notes because there this will be also, broadcast in audio form and on YouTube. So how can they get in touch with you?

Jonathan Milligan [00:47:56]:
Yeah. So the main book, Your Message Matters, you can go to and get a free copy. You just pay I believe it’s like 4.95 for shipping and handling, and we’ll send you a copy. That’s 1. Number 2, if you’re interested in kind of the series that we’re doing, the shorter reads that kind of walk you through step by step, you can go to It’ll have all the links to wherever it is that you want to buy books. It’s in there, and you can start there.

Marisa Shadrick [00:48:34]:
Awesome. Thank you so much, Jonathan. This was fantastic. I really appreciate you coming on the podcast with such generosity, sharing all your wisdom. Thank you so much, and it was good catching up. It’s been a while.

Jonathan Milligan [00:48:48]:
Absolutely. Anytime as always. And, I just have been amazed at your growth and what you’ve done with your business. It’s been so amazing to watch. So congrats to you as well.

Marisa Shadrick [00:48:59]:
Thank you. Alright, everyone. Take care and we’ll talk to you soon. Bye bye.

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