Hey, I'm Ben Edmunds. Serial starter, occasional finisher

Hey everyone,

I’m Ben Edmunds. You might know me from the CodeIgniter or Laravel PHP world. I’m the guy who wrote the Ion Auth library for CodeIgniter, I also co-host the PHP Town Hall podcast.

I’ve been lurking here for awhile and with the announcement of my first publicly available product I figured it was time I join the conversation.

I’m addicted to starting projects but very rarely finish them and am ready to change that. I’m following Amy Hoy’s advice and starting small this time. I just launched my first ebook, Building Secure PHP Apps, for early access. I’m excited and nervous to see where this goes since it’s the first paid personal product I’ve ever out public. I’ll definitely be finishing this one, I’m publicly committed now.

Anyway, keep being awesome, I’ll see you around here.


I had similar issues. So, in November I declared a no beers, no burgers policy until I reach x000$ in MRR. “No beers”, aka no booze at all, frees up quite some time itself and is a constant reminder on weekends, also a good discussion point when at networking events. Some people will think you have an alcohol problem, hence I added the “no burgers” part ;-). It keeps you on track pretty well… Works exceptionally when you have good excuses to not finish through (like access to “easy” freelance money). Additionally the moment I started with that rule, you get that “it’s on, there’s no way back” moment, similar to when you commit to a co-founder, client or investor - though the novelty factor eventually fades after a month.
If you don’t drink or are vegetarian just choose another vice, e.g. go Paleo-only, no TV, computer games…


That’s a really cool idea @seb . Avoiding freelancing is hard, it’s such quick and easy money right now and really is the major reason I abandon projects.

I think I might give this a try, would definitely light a fire under my ass. Thanks!

As a PHP developer, great to see a book on security :slight_smile: How are you finding LeanPub? I considered using it then decided to do my own thing for my book - which was somewhat painful!

There was a good discussion on the recent Startups For The Rest Of Us podcast about staying focussed and avoiding “Shiny Object Syndrome”. Productivity/focus is a very individual thing though, it’s about finding tricks that work for you. For example on the podcast the guys were talking about using music to get in the zone - I can’t work at all to music, find it horribly distracting.

In terms of longer term goals, I’ve recommended before Brian Casel’s concept of The Cascading To Do List. That’s pretty much how I organise my time and have done for years - but he wrote it all up so nicely!


Hey Rachel,

I really love the Leanpub toolchain. I write everything in markdown, its synced up with dropbox, then one click to generate epub, mobi, and pdf. The marketplace is kind of bare but once I’m finished writing the entire book I can put it on Amazon, iBooks, whatever as well.

I will definitely check out that podcast. So hard to resist.

This Cascading To-Do List is gold! Thank you!

I look forward to reading your book, cheers!

Hey everyone,

I figure it’s time for an update for those interested. I’m now 100% complete with writing and have published 4 of the 5 chapters to the pre-order customers. It’s still going through the editing process and should hopefully launch in about 2 weeks.

As of right now I have 168 readers for a total of $2,652.96 in revenue.

My launch plans are:

  • email list blast
  • post a bit on social media
  • blog post
  • I have a few bloggers scheduled to release a review
  • PHP Town Hall podcast announcement
  • Servers for Hackers newsletter sponsorship

The future marketing plan is:

  • release a generic version of Ion Auth for PHP (not just CodeIgniter)
  • content marketing through blog posts on security

I’m also trying something else. I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of package I could offer as a premium/up-sell to the book and have been drawing a blank. Recently someone approached me about doing a security audit for their company. They had recently had some customer credit cards compromised and then saw my book so reached out for help.

This has given me the idea to offer a basic security audit as a package along with the book. I’ve just set this up on Leanpub (https://leanpub.com/buildingsecurephpapps/). I wanted to set the price to $1k but Leanpub limits me to $500 so I simply added a disclaimer that I can turn down people if I choose, this will likely just be due to the code base being too large to audit within a profitable timeframe. What are everyone’s thoughts on this package idea?

If people know you from your book, you are now the security expert. They will pay much more than $1k for a security audit. You can advertise this in your book at the end, set up a landing page for the service, and bill people using Freshbooks (or Harpoon once we release next month :smile:).

Anyway, that being said, thanks for posting an update to launching your book. Congrats on finishing it!

Thanks for the feedback Ryan. I must be dumb, I never even thought about advertising directly within the book, thanks!

Hey @benedmunds, congrats on finishing on the book! I am going to hijack the thread a bit, as I would like some advice from you and @rachelandrew about writing books:

I’ve started writing a book on moving from becoming a full time developer to consulting / freelancing / contracting. I took the plunge six months ago, and would like to help others (mainly my friends stuck in dead end jobs) do the same. A lot of the material I found wasn’t relevant to the UK, so I want it to be quite a practical book targeted at that market. I started writing it the other week, and have got up to around 10k words, but I’m kind of struggling with finding more stuff to write about. I’m not a writer, and didn’t really like writing at school, so have you got any tips on how to fluff it out a bit? Or should I start by launching a short to-the-point ebook and then expand it based upon feedback?

Hi @lucaspiller,

last year I wrote a book [myself][1] so I’ll just go ahead and add my 2 cents here on how I came up with topics to write about.

Firstof sometimes short books are better if they cover a specialized topic. I would rather read 50 pages with actionable content than 500 pages where 50% are not relevant to my case. I did research in a few ways:

  • Sending the first chapter(s) to early adopters for feedback on what they would like to read in addition to the current content
  • Searching on Blogs relevant to the topic
  • Searching for frequently asked questions in forums or on subredits relevant to the topic
  • Going through older books on the topic for things a can add an updated view

Keep up writing and soon or later you have to cut content to keep the book focused and to the point :smile:
[1]: http://www.crossbrowserbook.com

No idea is original. Look at what other people have written, and see how you can write about that. It’s ethical if you take their ideas, not their words. Also look at related issues. Like what legal and accounting things each freelancer needs to know? Take a stand, and make recommendations. Don’t take the cowardly, politically correct approach.

“You should have an accountant” is the PC approach. You are just stating the bland obvious.

“You need to avoid all these high street accountants, and go for someone who works with contractors. Here’s a few I recommend,” is taking a stand.

Put up a website and get peoples ideas. At least, set up a landing page for your book.

Personally I really hate fluff and tried my best to explain everything I could with as little words as possible. I’ve read books where it’s obvious the author is trying to fill space, that can be fine for a fiction book but for a technical book it’s just frustrating.

If 10k words will explain what you need to get across then go with that.

One option is to reformat and brand it as a whitepaper instead of as a book. See 37 Signals first “product” as an example: http://37signals.com/report_search_0103.php

Another option is to give it away as a free mini-ebook to help build an audience for yourself, maybe give it away in exchange for an email address to start building your mailing list. See FoxyCart’s book on PCI Compliance as an example of this: http://www.foxycart.com/new

Congratulations @benedmunds for being able to finish your book. I must admit that the title of this thread really caught my attention since I’m also in the same situation. I’m a serial starter but a poor finisher. I’m glad to know that there are people who were like me but were able to overcome it. Thanks for the inspiration.

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