How to Design your life

Take the lovely aroma of a morning cup of coffee, perhaps add a croissant, or go the other way and make it tea and toast. Add a laptop to the recipe and here begins what is for me and many others, the start of a perfect Monday morning. I’m not even at home. In fact on this occasion I am many miles away from Cheshire, in West Sussex near the Goodwood Estate, and in my favourite work space; a motor-caravan in a forest. 

During the next two or three hours, I will tap quietly away on my laptop, a large, warm husky snoozing at my feet, doing a job that was never foreseen in my youth and largely overlooked by many people who could make this scene part of their lives. I’m writing. More precisely, I’m self-publishing.

man walks on moon newspaper

If there was ever a job that was designed for the over 50s then this is it. Being of maturer years has given us certain advantages over the bright young things. We have more life experience. We have had the benefit, I say this with conviction, of an education that if not better, at least knew the importance of drumming the three Rs into our heads. We are graduates of the longest degree course in history – a 45 year ongoing course in Common Sense. And we are the people corporately responsible for some of the finest innovations in history. We put men on the moon, built Concorde and the E type Jaguar. We invented the personal computer, the Internet, the smartphone and the World Wide Web. We built things of breathtaking beauty like The Millau Viaduct, designed by the architect Norman Foster (born 1935). Our generation is astonishing. This means you.


And, as if bestowed on the righteous by a benevolent God, we have been gifted the tools needed to become both financially independent as well as free. All you need is a laptop, an Internet connection and enough belief to move forward into the new world. Job, once defined as slavery with vacations, has now become a vacation in which we can fill in our leisure time in a highly productive, lucrative and thoroughly pleasant manner. Instead of driving to work, we can walk downstairs and make a fresh cup of weapons-grade espresso before doing something we actually like doing. And we can do this anywhere in the world, anytime we like, for a couple of hours, and then take the rest of the day off. 


The Internet is where people searching for solutions to problems will buy books of solutions written by authors who found the solutions from websites and who then offer those solutions back to the people. The Internet is both a library of information and also a marketplace in which that information can be harvested, packaged and sold. 

Packaged is the right word. The solutions to most things are available on the Internet, often for free. What authors (arguably – compilers) do is to provide those solutions and searches already packaged into a simple book form that saves the reader days or even months of searching. Authors of eBooks sell speed.


They also sell authority and credibility. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can place misinformation on the Internet, phrased as if it were true. Writers of informational eBooks have the capacity to cross-check information on their readers’ behalf and provide reliable reporting.

Why would people buy eBooks when the answers are available for free on the Internet? The answer is speed, accuracy and targeted content. If I want to know why the leaves are falling off my Yew Bonsai, a book called The Yew Bonsai Doctor will command my immediate attention rather than searching for hours and hours through forums where Bonsai cures are given, often contradicted, and even then are general comments for most bonsai, but not specifically the Yew.

Every minute of every day, people are looking for information about problems, worries, relationships, hobbies, special interests, sport, finances, health, professional issues or just ways of making their lives easier, happier or more fulfilled. The work of the creative eBook writer is to do the research and provide an immediately downloadable solution, or help towards a solution. It saves the buyer hours of fruitless meandering through dozens of illiterate, contradictory blog entries or sites in which experts give equal and opposing opinions or just talk plain rubbish. In essence, a successful eBook consists of finding a ‘popular’ problem or need, compiling a solution or help material, and offering it to places on the internet where the people wanting that solution congregate. That’s it. It sounds simple because it is.


The Internet is a vast library of free information, but arranged chaotically and where every bar-room lawyer prints his opinion as if it were fact and no attempt is made to establish the credibility of the information. What eBook writers do is to act as gatekeepers – Internet librarians – who collate and cross-reference material in answer to specific queries. As the World Wide Web becomes ever more popular, complex and disjointed, the best eBook writers cut through the anarchy and provide sanity. They do what Google or Yahoo aspire to do but will never succeed in doing – put a human back in charge.

This type of ‘researched solution’ eBook can be tackled in any subject area in which you have an interest. You don’t have to be an expert. You are a reporter, who has collated the best practices of real experts. A ’Top Ten Tips’ eBook can be compiled in days from websites, forums and Facebook groups, then offered back via those same places for instant sales. 

Industry has moved to countries far away where labour is cheaper. Information, and how to use it, has now become the new revolution. And anyone can join in, particularly our generation who have the skills to do this.

Find out how over 50s can thrive and prosper in the new world in Phil’s book Second Chance: