Joanna Penn: I Will Teach You to Make a Living as an Author and Creative Entrepreneur

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About Our Guest

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Joanna Penn (https://www.thecreativepenn.com/) helps authors make a living writing through her bestselling books, courses and podcast. She's an award-winning entrepreneur, international professional speaker and also writes bestselling thrillers and dark fantasy novels.

Trivia

  • Joanna Penn’s main website - thecreativepenn.com has over 800,000 unique visitors each month

  • She is from the UK and she currently lives in London

  • She posted her first blog post on TheCreativePenn.com on December 3rd, 2008

  • She runs a 6-figure business today. (She hit 6-figure for the first time in 2015 and her husband joined the business shortly after)

  • Joanna has been podcasting for over 10 years before it was called podcasting (but downloadable audios)

  • She has two podcasts - The Creative Penn Podcast and her new podcast called Books and Travel

  • She’s on Patreon and has nearly 700 patrons (as of October 2019)

Joanna and I at Podcast Movement in Orlando, Florida, August 2019

Joanna and I at Podcast Movement in Orlando, Florida, August 2019

Cheat Sheet

In this episode, we talk about:

  • How Joanna got started

  • How you can begin doing your creative work (writing, podcasting, filmmaking, whatever it may be)

  • Why it’s important to start a business you're passionate about and you can be consistent

  • The truth about finding your niche

  • The trends of podcasting over the past 10 years (and why you should consider getting transcripts for your podcast - Joanna uses Trint.com)

  • Why your listeners want to learn more about you

  • What to avoid as a creator (hint: create a big bucket for your brand so you can change over time)

  • How Joanna created “scalable income” and what these income streams are (her incomes is currently 95% scalable)

Favorite Quotes

Find role models who are making a living in the way that you want to. And that's not just about like the products they have. It's about the lifestyle they live.

Find someone who's making money and has a life that you would like to live and then see how they did it.

The idea of scalable, the fact that it's not about your time. These are sort of principles that can free you from the day job mentality.

People Mentioned

  • Tony Robbins

  • Yaro Starak

  • Robert Kiyosaki

Links

Transcript

Joanna Penn transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Joanna Penn was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Fei Wu:
Joanna, welcome to the show. I'm super thrilled that you're here.

Joanna Penn:
Thanks so much for having me. It's great to be on the show.

Fei Wu:
I love your voice. I've been listening to your show and I remember asking you if you've been a show host or work at a radio station before and you said no.

Joanna Penn:
No, but I've been doing podcasting now for 10 years and it's kind of crazy because you remember in the early days when you were just so well, I was certainly very hesitant and didn't know what I was doing. But, you know, ten years on, I've got quite a lot of practice now. So I think you just get more confident over time and with practice.

Fei Wu:
I can't agree with that more because I know it still hurts a little bit when I go back to listen to the first few episodes, but then I realize there is a progression that you have to be there. You must have done that before you get to where you are right now. Right.

First tip

Joanna Penn:
Oh, yeah. And I think I mean, this has to be one of the number one tips for being an entrepreneur in whatever niche is, you have to get started before you know what you're doing. Because if you wait until you know everything about a situation, you're just gonna be way too late.

Fei Wu:
Yeah.

Joanna Penn:
So I would say, like as soon as you get like, I just decided right. And I started podcasting 2009 before it was called podcasting. I mean, it really it was downloadable audio at the time. And I just the speaker phone, if people remember that like a proper phone that was plugged into the wall for a speaker and I held a recorder next to the phone and recorded the interview that way. So the sound quality was terrible. But I got started. And obviously the technology has changed so much, but the industry has has changed so much. Same with publishing, which is my main business. But yeah, just get started where you are and learn along the way.

Fei Wu:
What are your thoughts in terms of trends that you have seen over the course of 10 years? You know, I agree with you because even for someone like myself who's been doing this for nearly five years, I am seen to be not a dinosaur, but someone who is quite experienced in the industry. I what have you seen and heard?

Start podcasting and make money

Joanna Penn:
Well, it's really interesting. I mean, the first big one is obviously monetization. What is so surprising to me now is people would email me and say, oh, I want to start a podcast and I want to make money on day one. How do I do that? And it's the same as someone saying I want to leave my job and become a writer tomorrow or, you know, like you've done this documentary. I want to leave my job and make money with the documentary next week. And the the amount of work that goes into a lot of these things, the amount of work that it takes to build up an audience over time. So to me that the big focus on monetization is important because as you know, we both know many of the listeners will know how much work it is to do a podcast. And but I still believe that it is not it should not be your primary reason to do a podcast, because I don't believe the money will be worth it for a good amount of time for most people, even in a big niche. You know, you still have to attract an audience and there are more and more podcasts. So I think probably the big thing is, yes, you can absolutely monetize a podcast, a blog, you know, whatever you want to turn into a business, but it's going to take some time. So it's much better to start with something you're passionate about that you can be consistent with for years and that you enjoy for its own sake. So, for example, this year on my 10th anniversary, I started a second podcast, which is

Fei Wu:
Of

Joanna Penn:
Just

Fei Wu:
Course.

Joanna Penn:
Called books and travel. And I'm just loving it because I get to talk to people about where they're travelling to and what places inspire their books. And I'm just loving that. And at the moment, I have written a business plan for it. But it's got probably a two year to three year business plan in terms of making any money over and above selling my own books and products. So that would be one trend. Is there sort of real focus on monetization? And then I think probably the other trend is to really interestingly, is the seasonal a seasonal thing or a self-contained podcast. I mean, it used to be that all podcasts were more like blogs, which is they went on and on and on and on, which mine has, you know, and yours has as well. But

Fei Wu:
Yes.

Joanna Penn:
Other people now are creating these self-contained maybe ten episodes on a topic, you know, the type of thing that we used to create mini websites around. People are now doing that with podcasts and I love this. This is something I want to do is kind of create self-contained podcasts on a project because I don't know about your behavior, but I know if I want to learn about something, I will go on my podcast app when I use Apple and I will just keyword search for a topic or a person that I like. Like we've talked about Kai Fu Li, Chinese, a researcher and I put his name in and then I just listen to the things that come up around his name. And so in this way, the behavior around podcasting is changing and the behavior around listening. So it is just such an interesting time.

Fei Wu:
Oh, I'm just excited as you are. Speaking of which, we before we started the show, we talked about us going to podcast movement together. And I very much look forward to, like you said, not just what we're doing, but sort of what the what is everybody else doing, like the world of podcasters are doing from all over the place. And it's it's so exciting. Every time I talk to a creator like yourself. I'm like taking notes furiously. It's just there's so much goodness to absorb. And I'm literally having these conversations like I'm a little girl in the candy shop. I just have enough of it. You know?

Joanna Penn:
Yeah, and it's funny because I know I'm a writer first, but over the last ten years I've been to lots of writing conferences, I've never been to a podcast conference. So what's also interesting is I still use a lot of the same technology that I used 10 years ago. So I do use Amazon S3 for hosting, for example. I still use a similar mic, you know, Blue Yeti. I still use the same plugins. So I'm really interested to see, well, how can I take my own podcast to another level? And that's probably another tip for people is getting outside your niche. And like podcasting is great because there will be people there in every niche that have nothing to do with writing or podcasting or artists or create creative people. And I'm just super excited to learn from them as well. And so getting out of your niche is sometimes a really good idea.

Fei Wu:
I love a message because you brought up and in one of I think in one of the previous questions when you said, even though you know the world, I mean, every time you you look on Google these days, like you said, monetization in order to do that, the only way to do that is to find your niche. And I think that's what's holding a lot of people back, because once you work that full time job, you got a family of three kids and, you know, your partner to take care of. And all of a sudden you're like, what? What is my niche? And you sometimes look to exclusively what you have done in your career. And often for a lot of people, unfortunately, it's not really what they've been loving or enjoying. And, you know, I saw how, you know, you as an expert in doing so and and have you stumble upon you, you know, in the realm of writing there early on, where how would you encourage other people to kind of find their path, their niche before getting started?

Joanna Penn:
Yes. Well, that before getting started is a difficult thing because what I would say is it's a bit like skiing downhill and if you're a skier like me, you do not point your skis downhill and go in a straight line. I mean, most people. That's not how you ski. You have to zigzag and you have to get moving before you can change direction. So what I would say is just relax, people. I mean, if you haven't started, you almost have to start before you find your niche. So, for example, my first book was Around Career Change and I my first Web site was around. Career change. It was aimed at corporate people looking to change their job, which was my situation, which is what we often do. Right. We write the book. We need to read ourselves. We start the podcast. We need ourselves. And so that was my first Web site. And then my second Web site was my second blog was around learning about money because, you know, I come from a more working class background, didn't have any financial education. And then I discovered rich, that poor dad. And I was like, whoa, this is amazing. This is sort of 2007. And I was like, what? I'm going to blog about this. And I rapidly discovered that these neither of these nieces were things I wanted to write about Sure, I changed my career. Sure, I'm interested in money, but I do not want to be in these niches. So but in the process of writing my first book around Career Change, I really discovered that I loved writing, but also I loved publishing. And then I wanted to talk about my book. Marketing experiences to my third website was thecreativepenn.com, which is now it has been the backbone of my business for 10 years.

Joanna Penn:
So that's really important. And then what I would say to people is with my fiction site where I write thrillers under JF Penn and for years I have tried to work out my niche for fiction because fiction fits. I write all over the shop. But what I it was this years it's taken me eight years to work out that I wanted to do something around books and travel, because travel is the thing that underpins all my fiction, its sense of place. So I just want to encourage people around me. You will not get it right first time. I really believe that. I think anyone who gets it right first time is just locking in. I mean, even before that, I had a scuba diving company. I did a property investment in Australia. I have tried all kinds of things over time, plus my day job. You know, I used to implement financial services, said financial service software into companies. So it's like you have to try things and see if it's sustainable if you can't like podcasts. I say to people, you know, thanks for inviting me on your show, but I probably won't be on your show unless you have at least 30 episodes, because I think if you have 30 episodes of a podcast that you're going to stick out, I'm sure you probably agree. Right?

Fei Wu:
Yeah, absolutely. I can't believe I feel like I have to pinch myself to realize 200 episodes, and I must say there were times that number recording intros, I usually do intro separately at like 2:00, 3:00 in the morning when I had a full time job and I was close to like crying about it. It's like, why am I doing this? I really am. You know, what's the future of this? But then in retrospect, I realize that I was on a path I wasn't aware of. And I feel like just by hearing you saying that you're not gonna find your niche when you start out, it's like you're my long lost sister or the sister I never had because it is so touching for for me to hear, you know, like I feel like the reason why you're writing really resonates with me all over on thecreativepenn (P, double-N, dot com. is so resonating and I'm sure words has resonated already with so many other people. Clearly is because you speak the truth. My personal struggle to be very transparent. I think a lot of my listeners know that as well is I didn't really know what my niche was and I thought it was just me at the very beginning because I was interested in talking to so many different people, you know, people from Cirque du Soleil, a national circus school, but as well as doctors, you know, cancer doctors, palliative care doctors. And I was like, well, I was having fun. Joanna was Joanna. I was thinking like, oh, man, what is wrong with me? Why can't I find my niece? And then, like, I feel like after talking to you even more recently, I realize what it was, which is just really interesting. People who are adding so much values, teaching me so much about life over this course. And it is just something that money can buy. And it's an unbelievable journey and that, you know, they put me on.

Joanna Penn:
Yeah, well, I think having a look at your you know, obviously I came to you and I wanted to talk about China and things like that, and I feel like a lot of what you do, you're talking to interesting people. But I think what you said about it being about you. Like, is it just me that is really important. And I actually think this is something that a lot of people. I mean, yes, there are these amazingly high production shows run by big corporates. Right. Which are incredible. But they're not personal. They're business brand was your brand and my brand. This is us. And you're asking the questions that you are interested in. And I think that the the interest in creativity in culture pervades your work as it pervades mine. And that's really important for people listening and something I only really discovered a few years in. I used to only do interviews that I thought would be useful and I didn't ever talk about myself. And it was probably year for when

Fei Wu:
Yeah.

Joanna Penn:
Someone emailed me and said, hey, just just wondering, we'd love to know more about you.

Fei Wu:
Yes.

Joanna Penn:
And that's when I started doing an introduction. And. And now people will email me and say, I I only lessons of the introduction every week and then occasionally a lessons of the interview because I come back to hear what's going on in your life. So this is another thing to encourage you to encourage people listening is people connect with people and have a relationship with you, the host, more than they have a relationship with the guests. So right now, people listening, they know you much better than they know me. And they get to know me a little bit if they hang around and listen to us have a chat. Right. But they know you. Like I just listened to you your episode when you came back from China with your mom and her art exhibition.

Fei Wu:
Oh.

Joanna Penn:
And I know so much more about you now than I did know even like half an hour ago or so. It's interesting. I was listening in and this is the thing. If we share what part of our life, then you are you're inviting people in. And I think that the way to build an authentic business that you love is to be true to yourself. And of course, you can change over time. What's great about Feisworld and about TheCreativePenn is we can put whatever we want into those buckets. So as you change, you can change your show. As I change. I change my show as well. And hey, I've got episodes on writing about death and dying. You know, in the same way that you've had palliative care people and we can do all of these things under a bigger brands. So that would be another tip for people. Be very careful about niching down so much that you (limit) yourself. Say, for example, I have friends who start issues with the words self publishing in the title.

Fei Wu:
Mm hmm, mm hmm.

Joanna Penn:
Now, self publishing is a phrase was you know, was a kind of nasty word about ten years ago and then became quite trendy about five years ago. And now to me, self publishing is publishing. I mean, it's all just publishing. So things change and words change. So just be careful to create a big enough bucket for your brand that you can change over time.

Fei Wu:
You can't really see me right now, but I am literally bouncing on my chair. Try not to make too much noise because I mean, you know, once you're in the space so much and so much of what you see on Google, at least the first couple of pages are people saying like almost the opposite of what we're talking about. And we know that that doesn't work. You know, it frustrates me that so many people come to me and say, I don't know what my passion is. I don't know. And I I can't. I have a family. I can't be. I must be responsible for all of them. But what I'm hearing right now is like we have a responsibility to ourselves and we need to find a way to step into ourselves instead of looking outside. And there's so much joy. Even though people can see you right now. But there's so much joy in your voice. And I noticed that listening just by listening to your show from intro all the way through that you're having so much fun doing this. And that's what I love.

Joanna Penn:
Oh, well, that's that's another good tippers. You know what I mentioned? You can't just do this for the money. You have to do this for loving the topic. I mean, like the creative pen, we're recording media like we're almost August 2019, and I'm already scheduled out seven months of content on my site. And it's been like that for years because I have so much I want to share and so many people I want to talk to about so many interesting things that it just keeps on going. And it's funny because, yeah, I do love what I do and it but it is hard. So if you're working in a job, you know, people listening. I did that for five years. Did the site hustle thing where in fact, not much longer than that. So I pretty much like I said, I tried a scuba diving company. I try all these different things in my late 20s, early 30s. I kept leaving my job, starting something else, going back to my job. And that kind of happened over and over again. So I failed in inverted commas a lot to find the thing I wanted to do. And actually, it was probably the timing works very well or the timing was because of the technology. But 2007 is when the iPhone arrived, the Kindle arrived.

Joanna Penn:
So things really changed. I mean, social media, Twitter, Facebook, Web 2.0, as it was known back then. Not really anymore. But I think this is the thing. I mean, if you're working that day job. I only left my job in 2011, so I did my first five years of the creative pen business while working a consulting job. So I would get up at 5:00 a.m. I would right before work. And so many of my journals are books I read. You know, I went to a lot of conferences. I I just listened to a lot of audio books, listened to a lot of Tony Robbins, great American self-help books. Oh, you know, I listened to as I said back then, they weren't known as podcasts, but I downloaded a lot of audio and I found a role model as well. A guy called yaro starak. He was in Australia, is an Australian slash Canadian blogger. And when I found him, I really saw what was possible. So this would be another tip for people find role models who are making a living in the way that you want to. And that's not just about like the products they have. It's about the lifestyle they live. And

Fei Wu:
Yes.

Joanna Penn:
What I loved about Yarrow is his mum was dying at the time and he was able to be by her side and still make a living. And I thought that is what I want

Fei Wu:
Wow.

Joanna Penn:
To be. It's I want to be able to be with my family. When when I, you know, and not have to miss out on things because I have to be at my day job. So that would be another tip. You find someone who's making money and has a life that you would like to live and then see how they did it.

Fei Wu:
I oh, wow. That message resonates so well with me. I agree, I just had this very conversation with a colleague of mine about not chasing after me. He's still working full time with a family, but not chasing after a certain dollar amount, not chasing after a title. You want to be CEO, CFO. But the lifestyle that you want. And I remember exactly like you said, but my sort of quote unquote role model was watching a young woman about the age of 30 walking to a yoga studio at nine thirty in the morning. And it just it broke me and it build me up once again because that at the time was my favorite thing to do. And there's no way, no chance for me to do it. So for me to hear that story from Yaro, it's incredible. By the way, how to spell his last name. So I know that.

Joanna Penn:
Stark, but if you just Google Yaro, why? YARO he's he pretty much is the only one who comes up.

Fei Wu:
Well, he's like the Seth of Google.

Joanna Penn:
Yeah, he is is the Yaro of Google. But it's funny because I I feel I totally agree with you on the yoga and in fact I go to yoga in the sort of mid-morning slots as well. On a Monday morning 930 I go to yoga. So similar, but it's so interesting, isn't it? Like recently I just I just had laser eye surgery, which was, you know, a big life adjustment that I needed to have done for various reasons. But it's men I had even they said, oh yeah, you can technically go back to work after, you know, a certain number of days. But I have had I'm having a very different time, different experience to what I expected. And so I feel very grateful, again, that, you know, it's not like a health issue, but it's recovery from from something. And I'm having a lot more time away from my computer than than I am used to. So it's really fascinating to be able to do that. And also, I love travelling. I know you just you know, you travel a lot, too, and being able to make money whilst you're doing other things. And I mean, I think we talk about the idea of scalable, the fact that it's not about your time. These are sort of principles that can free you from the day job mentality. But I know it's a big shift for people.

Fei Wu:
Let's talk about that for sure. I read before the you know, I run back home for this recording. I was at Wegmans, which is a grocery stores right here. And I was waiting in line. I felt so anxious, like people get out of the way. I need to learn more about scalable business. So I'm I'm glad we're on to this topic now. So please lead us into it. Like what is scalable business? And by the way, what's the difference between scalable business versus like scalable income versus passive income?

Joanna Penn:
Yeah. Okay. Say. Well, one, I don't believe it is any passive income. Really? After you manage money in general. But the difference between time based and scalable income. So basically time based income is what most people have around their day job. So, you know, you work a certain number of hours and you get paid a certain amount and there's a cap on that amount, even if you're, know, pretty high up in a company. There's still usually a cap on the amount of money you will be paid for your time. So and another version, I think and I know you, you know, Seth Godin, he's been on your show. He talks about freelancers. Same thing. Freelance work or or being a professional speaker or anyone who sells their time for money. You could you only do that once. You can only sell that time once, whereas scalable income. And again, I learnt this from Yaro back in the day and the moment the penny dropped for me, it made all the difference. So think about a book. So I've got about 30 books now. I've been writing a lot of books. So for the past few years. Yeah. But each book. So I spend a certain amount of time writing a book and then I can sell that book as many times as I like. I can license that book in other languages. So I've got a book in South Korea, for example, that I license to a publisher in South Korea. I can at the moment I'm just getting some books translated into German. So that's another language. I can do them tomorrow, in fact, as we talk. I've got another novel coming out and it's coming out in e-book format, paperback, hardback, large print and also will be coming out in audio books. So that's five different formats. And then if you multiply that by the number of countries. So I have actually sold books in 86 countries around the world. So if you if you think even just about the 30 books multiplied by formats multiplied by languages multiplied by countries, it's just a crazy amount of scalable income. And then you think about something like affiliate income, which is commission on selling other people's products or promoting other people's products. So for example, I use vellum software to do my books to create my ebooks with its fantastic software. So I have a tutorial about that on my Web site and it's a free tutorial.

Joanna Penn:
It's on YouTube. So you can go and you can learn how to use the software. And of course, if you use my link, I will get some commission. So that again, is scalable. It took me an hour and a half to make a video and then that goes on the website. And that keeps on giving me money every month. And it's authentic because I use the tool. It's useful to my audience. It fits with what they need. They need to make books. And it gives me scalable income. So this is what I want people to think right now, OK? My challenge right now to you, think about how much of your income is time based and how much is scalable and what would you like it to be? So. Back in 2011, when I left my job, most of my income was time based. And then my goal was to make it 90 percent scalable. And right now, it is about 95 percent scalable. I don't do consulting. I do very little speaking. I don't do freelance writing. So everything I do is about building assets that create income for me for the long term. And that's basically how I create my businesses. Everything is working towards creating more assets. You know, for that, I can credit Robert Kiyosaki

Fei Wu:
Yes,

Joanna Penn:
And Rich Dad for dad back in the day.

Fei Wu:
That's a great book and that it's really groundbreaking at the time and still a lot of it's applicable to what we can learn even today. I think that's it. That's a value of a lot of your writing. I notice on your Web site and I find myself to be kind of in a spiral, just keeps it keeps on giving. And within there are a lot of internal links is like, yes, I don't know that. Oh, what does that mean? Let me keep clicking into like deep-linking into all these areas. And it's so well-organized and like we talked about, that takes time and practice. I always want to let the listeners know, which I will so include as part of the show notes and resources on Feisworld Podcast that you dare. Just like Pat Flynn. Actually, I realize that you actually publish your income and you detailed articles on how you break them down like scalable. Ninety five percent scalable. But from what? And then you break down all the categories.

Joanna Penn:
Yeah, well, I don't quite do it like Pat. You know, first of all, his his income is huge compared

Fei Wu:
The.

Joanna Penn:
To mine. I mean, I do make multi six figures, so I make a very good income. But I think he makes multi seven figures at this point. And I I actually I. I'm very English. I kind of give people hints so they can calculate the amounts. I don't actually put a dollar amount.

Fei Wu:
Right. Right.

Joanna Penn:
Yeah.

Fei Wu:
I'm good at math and Chinese. So it was very

Joanna Penn:
Yeah,

Fei Wu:
Obvious

Joanna Penn:
Exactly.

Fei Wu:
To me.

Joanna Penn:
You could totally work it out, but it's funny because I. I break down the book sales, so because most my audience are authors. And so it's interesting to people how things break down in terms of book sales. And I've put them everything's on thecreativepenn.com/timeline, If people are interested, which goes from the very beginnings, but it very interestingly for you and your audience, I hope, is that in the last year it used to be that the US was my biggest book sales. I think it was it was over something like 65 percent of my income from books was in the US and this year it has shifted quite dramatically into the sort of 30 percent, which is which means that digital sales are taking off in other countries much more than they were. Particularly Germany, which is why I'm moving into self publishing and in German. So this is very interesting. So I think

Fei Wu:
Wow.

Joanna Penn:
Partly I do this annual breakdown because I don't I am one of those people who doesn't look at my book sales every day. I look at the money. I don't look at all the metrics. I just get on with creating stuff because that's what I enjoy. But once a year, I look at all these metrics and you can really learn a lot from these. So, yes, it it's an interesting thing. But yeah, I would say that a full year income for me is bigger than book sales now because the Web site has multi millions of words on. This is another tip. Actually, if people are doing a podcast, do transcripts because you've got SEO content that will bring in search engine traffic. I mean, where I think we're almost at a tipping point where they're going to start indexing audio, but at the moment, more people will find you three search. So doing a transcript is really good. And I now use trench dot com t r i n t dot com, which is a transcription and it's it's very good. So yeah, that that makes a huge difference to me. I mean I've got what, 430 essays or something, all of which have not all of them. Probably the last nine years have transcripts on. So there's a little tip to.

Fei Wu:
Oh, that's an incredible tip I'm going to share with my mastermind group immediately and the Trent dot com guy, by the way, is there. How much does it cost? If you recall the details and you know, do you just publish straight up or do you hire like a virtual assistant that kind of help you clean it up?

Joanna Penn:
Well, it's it's actually it's much cheaper than a human. I can't remember the exact rates, but it's very, very good. I've been using human transcribers for years. And this is excellent. But then do you have my virtual assistant cleans up and also puts it on the podcast? I mean, obviously, different voices, spellings of things. You know, there are things that you need some someone to clean up, but it's it is very, very good. And also, it's by a group of journalists who use it for all the interviews that they do and say the there is a workflow for podcasters tutorial within Trent dot com. So you can see how to use it. It's very, very good tool. I mean, this is the exciting world we're in, right? This sort of emergence of tools where it just keeps getting cheaper and easier to do this stuff.

Fei Wu:
Absolutely, I'm on their website right now. I couldn't help it. So it's pay as you go is fifteen dollars an hour and then it gets cheaper. We have a basic subscription like forty dollars a month for three hours or 120 dollars a month for 10 hours. Wow.

Joanna Penn:
Yeah, that cuts, too, compared to around a dollar a minute. Say say, sixty dollars for an hour or even get it like 45 dollars for an hour. But, you know, it's a lot cheaper. Basically.

Fei Wu:
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I'm gonna compare this with the service I like very much as Sonix.io and that one is really kind of interesting to set. This is awesome. OK, so you actually just answer one of my questions in terms of proportionally, you know, where do you see as the bigger bucket of scalable income? It sounds like a affiliate program and some people are thinking, wow, you enjoy, join them making it sound so easy. And I'm sitting here thinking, why I use all I use fresh books. I use I can name maybe a dozen software I love and use regularly. And and I haven't recorded any videos. Shame. You know how I feel.

Joanna Penn:
Oh, great. Well, I tell you what, I think that tutorials but tutorials are great because you use these tools and a lot of there are a lot of scummy sucky affiliate things

Fei Wu:
So

Joanna Penn:
Going

Fei Wu:
True.

Joanna Penn:
On out there. So I almost don't like using the term affiliate marketing, but as long as your it's absolutely brilliant. If you are doing it in a way that is authentic, you are sharing tools that you use and you are giving your audience what they need. They need help. So, for example, I have another tutorial on how to build your own author Web site. And that tutorial, you know, gets used every single day. And then how to set up your email list and knew all of these things are things that people need. And I mean, I'm not going to set up your email list or your website for you, but I can help you with a video or you know, those. So I think when you're considering affiliate income, really think about what are the things that I use. And most of these companies now have affiliate programs that you can join. Well, I would say is on this bucket of, you know, it is a good income stream, but. And the big butt is you need traffic. So my Web sites, 10 years old, it gets, you know, 800000 uniques a month. So that's how I can make good money with affiliate. But what I would say also is fiction books and nonfiction to a point. And fiction is very evergreen, which makes it amazing. So to me, the economics of a novel, it's not going to make as much as my affiliate income this month, but over my lifetime and I'm 45 and copyright lasts 70 years after the death of the author.

Joanna Penn:
So if you think about the lifetime value of a novel, to me, that's actually going to be much bigger than my affiliate video on vellum. But you need both. So I see scalable income can be income for now, but it can also be building these asked longer term assets for the future. So I'm writing more and more evergreen books that I know I can continue to sell into the future even if things change. So that's those are some tips. It's always thinking, well, what can I do right now? And maybe right now you just have to do your day job. But what you can also think is, okay, so where do I want to be in five years? What do I need to start building so that I will have that in five years time? And that's why I started books and traveled what page this year? Because the creative pen, you know, I'm very experienced now in the publishing industry. And as much as I love talking to people about publishing, I need to talk about some other things. I want to talk about travel. So I'm like, I don't know if I will continue my creative pen podcast for another 10 years. I mean, I can't I don't even I can't even think that far. But I know that if I build another site around, a passion I know is the basis of my life, which is traveling and reading, that will be a good idea. So always be thinking about these different timeframes.

Fei Wu:
Mm hmm, mm hmm. Oh, I'm absorbing I'm like a little sponge right now and, you know, I I'm taking notes on how have we there was like, why am I taking notes? This is a recorded.

Joanna Penn:
He always good to take notes.

Fei Wu:
Yes, it's so it's so exciting for me, and to be honest, I think it's gonna be so exciting for people who are listening to this on the train on their long commute to work. And, you know, I have to ask, because you threw out the number 30 books. And as you know, I'm working on one of my own. It's gonna be my first one. I am. So, baby.

Joanna Penn:
It is the most important book is the first book because most people start a book and never finish it. So if you can finish that book and get that into the world and you get the bug, you'll have 30 books before you know it.

Fei Wu:
I will count on me because I think just by hearing the number 30 and looking at my own behavior of kind of dwelling, I really was dwelling on the chapters. The book title and why this has this has to really hit the ground running and why am I not work on the other ones? Like, you know what? This doesn't have to be the one and only I can write other books, too. So I.

Joanna Penn:
Yes. And that that actually is going to free you up so much. I know way too many people who are almost so in love with that first book that they are so attached to it, so emotionally involved with it and putting so much pressure on themselves, especially when you have an audience like you do, if you don't have an audience and no one knows who you are. It's actually much easier to put a book out. But once you have an audience, it's like, oh, this has to be amazing. Has to launch. It has to hit the bestseller lists and all this stuff. But it's just not true. It's much better, I think, of the creative process is a bit like a pipe. And what you've got with that first book is your pipe is blocked up with this first book and you have to get that first book out. But as soon as you've moved that first book into the world, you're going to have all this other stuff that just arrives and you'll be like, Oh, I could write a book. Now, I could I could do that. And the the act of putting that book in the world will free you to write more. And the tree says publishing, I mean, you know, is is easy now. The difficult thing is writing and marketing. So. But those are also the rewarding parts as well. So, yeah, you have to get your book in the world. So are you committing to a date for.

Fei Wu:
I love it. I was already yes. I would like to get the draft and that's my next question for your writing process, because I have Scrivener and I read your article on Scrivener. I know that you are recommending there's a wonderful course on how to optimize it. So I set it up and I have my word count roughly sixty thousand words and then broken it down to end of October. And I already feel behind, but I'm going to play some catch up. But that's kind of I want to get the first draft out by end of October. And I'm to be honest, I'm like scratching my head a little bit, like, OK, what what's next? I work with an editor. And how long does that take? So what are your thoughts?

Joanna Penn:
Ok. So to me, the first draft is something that you could print out and it reads end to end as in it is complete as in there's nothing that says insert chapter here or insert quote or whatever. So that to me is a first draft. It has to be, you know, complete end to end. And you're right, that is a very important milestone. And that's definitely the thing to aim for. After that's done, say my own processes. Yes, I write in Scrivener, which is fantastic. And then I do actually print it out. So I print out hard copy. And I then usually put it in a little folder on my desk and leave it for at least a week. Probably more would be good with your first book. And then I will do self as a thing. So this is the is a hugely important part of the process. And how long it takes will depend on what happens basically, because basically you are reading that through end to end as if you are your target market and your. I scribble over. I don't know how people do it on a computer, but basically I scribble all over it and moving things around. You know, if it's nonfiction, I might think, oh, I need a quote here or I need another chapter or I need to explain this or that's repetitive or maybe I need to rejig the whole order of things with a novel. It's, you know, I need to flesh out this character or I need to do this bit. But it's very much a structural edit. It's not necessarily detailed line editing. So once I've done that, I will go back to Scrivener and I'll type up everything I've done. Say that Scrivener is the master and that is now where I am now.

Joanna Penn:
Depending on how major the edit was, I may well then print it out again and repeat that process. And certainly again with your first book, that might be a good idea. So and then if you feel like you really, really are struggling, then yes, engaging a structural editor or content editor can really help. That's someone who will give you a report on your book that read the book. They'll give you a 12 to 15 page report, but it will not be line edits. So only move into line edits, which are this kind of classic red pen when you have done everything you can to make that book the best it can be on your own because your edit your editor will obviously cost money. And obviously if your if you want a traditional publisher, you can submit to agents at that stage once you've got a many people do it before they get an editor. But nowadays, to make it the best it can be, often people do get an editor. And then, you know, if you're taking it forward to publication, you'll get the edits back, you'll update the manuscript again. And then I use a proofreader before publication so that someone to fix the final typos. But essentially the first draft is, you know, I say it's about some, like Michelangelo's David. Hopefully everyone can picture him in their heads. You know, you're creating a David's. But first you have to create the block of marble and your first draft is your block of marble. And then your editing process is the chiseling and hacking in parts and and then polishing. So that process of taking the block of marble to a finished statue is is your editing processes that make sense.

Fei Wu:
It makes perfect sense, and I think. Sounds like it's something that people would get better at and it you know, a lot of people hear these steps and their thinking in terms of years, not months. But you just announce that you have 30 books, whether one new one coming out. So I try to do the math in my head. What was the you know. Did you get better and faster over time and or I mean, these days, as a very experienced writer, how long does it take? Well, depending on the length of the book, Zandra. Does it take for you to go from draft or first word cursor on a blank page to a finished product?

Joanna Penn:
Yeah, well, as you say, that totally depends on so many things.

Fei Wu:
Right.

Joanna Penn:
But if I if I'm writing in an established series, so the last arcane book I did, which was called Valley of Dry Beans, and often I'll think about my fiction for quite a while, you know, I'll I'll do trips to research that type of things if that is still part of the writing process. But that can often, you know, you think about that for a while. But then when I'm ready to sit down for a novel or nonfiction really is I will in my calendar. I will schedule time for it. So, for example, I will block. And normally for me, it's sort of 7:00 a.m. till nine thirty AM when I get to yoga. So the two and a half hours there, I will go to a cafe and I will write. And that's all I will do in that time. And then I might also go to a coworking space and I do dictation. So I'll hire a resume and I'll dictate for a couple of hours. So I tend to get that first draft done in, let's say, a month to six weeks

Fei Wu:
Wow.

Joanna Penn:
For forests. Sixty thousand words book and then I'll rest it and then I'll do my edits. But the difference really is that, I mean, my first novel took around 16 months. So what I would say is that once you know what you're doing, your first draft is much cleaner. So when I finished that novel, I know that it doesn't need a lot of work because I know what I'm doing. And that's why it is. So it's kind of annoying in a way, but it's true with everything that is true with podcasting. We know what we're doing, but we didn't at first. Same with novels or books in general, nonfiction, whatever. The first time you do anything, there's a learning curve and it will be the most expensive in terms of editing as well. So you have to. This is why I think if you can get through that process of the first book and you enjoy it enough to try again, you will. The benefits of what you've learned. And if you do self publish, then again, it's another process that you learn and you just repeat that process next time. So, yeah, I mean and there's lots of tools that can help you. And of course, on my site, there's lots of stuff for free if people want to check that out. But yeah. Hopefully that helps.

Fei Wu:
Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned dictation. I was like, oh, I couldn't really ask a question. What is the tool that you love using and how do you train yourself to speak clearly, which which clearly you do? So what does that dictation process like?

Joanna Penn:
Well, I used to use Dragon software,

Fei Wu:
Oh,

Joanna Penn:
Which

Fei Wu:
You're.

Joanna Penn:
Has been the market leader for years, but now, you know, speech to text is huge. So any device that you have will have a speech to text thing. You know, and even just Google Google Docs or your phone or if you're used to using Siri or Alexa or Google assist in you, you are getting used to what dictation is. If you're a speaker, then you could just perform your work and get it transcribed. So are you see as dragon. And now I'm just using Trent. So I just because I can't be. I just might as well, basically, because I don't I don't dictate and watch the screen, which is what many people do with Dragon. I might I just dictate into MP 3 recorder and then I just upload and P3. So it's a very fast way of writing. I mean, you can tell, you know, I speak quite fast, so you can just you can get 5000, 6000 words done in an hour, whereas you could probably only type 1000. So it's a very good way to get a first draft down, particularly if you. The best way there is to write some bullet points verse. So know what you're going to say before you say it. That's number one rule dictation. But again, I've got lots of stuff on that on the website. So if people are interested there, but it if you can get used to it, it can be a way to really speed yourself up.

Fei Wu:
For sure. I can't wait to read that article and the bullet point approach really helps. And do you find yourself having a lot to say about each chapter? Is it because you sort of how do you prepare yourself for that state? I think it's kind of a a state kind of flow state that you're in in order to have the content be so high quality. The transcription works right away. Like, what is that thinking process for you?

Joanna Penn:
I I would say, no, it doesn't have to be a certain state. I would say that, you know, you and I are approaching this meeting. I mean, it's there even it is the early evening for me. You know, I'm quite tired, but I'm bringing my energy to you because I've booked this slot and we're having a conversation. So I'm bringing it. And it's the same for me with writing. I have a writing me, you know, meeting in my calendar. And I turn up and I bring it even if I don't feel like it. So I think out of the last ten years, my flow states have been tiny, minimal, barely existent either. I kind of really know what that is.

Fei Wu:
Love it. I love you, as you know, I woke up with a sore throat. I'm like, no,

Joanna Penn:
Yes.

Fei Wu:
I am now rescheduling this.

Joanna Penn:
Yeah,

Fei Wu:
I'm

Joanna Penn:
You'll

Fei Wu:
Good

Joanna Penn:
Beat

Fei Wu:
To go.

Joanna Penn:
You? Yeah. You're bringing it. And I think this has to be the attitude. This or I love writing. You can tell. I love what I do. But this is still my job. And I don't have external contracts. I am motivated by my own creativity. So I set a meeting with myself and I go do it. So there's no no excuses people. No. Oh, I just wasn't in the mood. J you know, it's like, no, you've made that. If you make that meeting with yourself and you're gonna write or you're gonna dictate, then just do it. And as soon as you start, it's a bit like going for a run or going to the gym sometimes or going to work like, you know, in your day job, you might not want to go, but once you go, you're going to get stuff done. See, that would be my attitude in general to writing books or any of this is put it in your diary. This is the secret. This is the this

Fei Wu:
Oh,

Joanna Penn:
Is

Fei Wu:
I

Joanna Penn:
My

Fei Wu:
Want to

Joanna Penn:
Ultimate

Fei Wu:
Hear.

Joanna Penn:
Secret is you schedule your time and then you turn up for the appointment and

Fei Wu:
Yes.

Joanna Penn:
You do the.

Fei Wu:
I know, and that's how I finally made gym work for me because I had so many excuses to make money and not go to the gym and my body was giving me all the signals of does know who you are. You're not functioning at your best. So literally I have two hours blocked to go to the gym has transformed my life since two years ago when I started doing that. Gary completely. I will try to make this my last question. I'm gonna have to see and if there's anything else we want to talk about because this is so good. I want to some I want to send this to my producer, submitted to Trent for a transcription like right away this afternoon.

Joanna Penn:
See how it is.

Fei Wu:
Yes, I it's gonna be fantastic. So I you know, we heard that eight hundred thousand visitors were unique visitors is a whole lot. And I wonder how, you know, we have great content on the Web site, high quality, deep linking. Do you do is it all? Has it always been organic or what is your approach in general when it comes to marketing your content, your Web site, your affiliate programs and products to the right people?

Joanna Penn:
Well, look, to be honest, it has just been consistency and, you know, high, high quality for years. And I did it all myself for the first five years, and then I started working with virtual assistants. And now I have a podcast producer. I have designers. I have editors. I have a whole team now. But at the beginning, I did it all myself. And so I would, for example, write really big show notes for these early podcast episodes. For now, I run everything on Google Docs. And as I said, I plan my content out quite far in advance and I might batch my content creation or interviews, that type thing. My virtual assistant manages guest space. So I do have guest posts now, but a lot of the content on the creative pen has either been are either chapters of my books or I turn the chapters into books. So repurposing content is another thing. But it really just comes down to I found my niche, which was writing books and then talking about writing and publishing and book marketing. And just everything I do is related to that naturally. And then adding content three to five times a week, which I know is a lot, and it's not necessary to do that much, but I have so much to share.

Joanna Penn:
But what I would say again, what I would say to be for consistency makes so much difference. And I know patience is annoying. I mean, those first few years, it was like howling into the wind. I mean, I. Yeah. Anyway, really, I was talking about self publishing at a time when it was it was really frowned upon. You were considered to be an outcast if you self published back in 2008. When I was doing it and then things changed. So then that was just about being true to myself and about my you know what? What I wanted to do in being independent. And now, of course, independence. You wonderful millennials who have made independent created a trendy thing.

Joanna Penn:
It's brilliant. So I was off early. But I think the main thing is. Yeah, just, you know, it's tough. But be true to yourself and think long term. Think, Okay, where could I be in ten years time if I take this action today, where will I end up in ten years time? So with your book, for example. Yeah, to get that first draft, it's tough. But if you are to the tip specifically for you right now and for anyone listening, if you have a deadline set say October 30 first or whatever is schedule in your calendar all the time that you need. So if you're going to write 1000 words per hour and you need 60 sessions, then you schedule 60 sessions

Fei Wu:
Yes.

Joanna Penn:
In your diary and that's how you achieve that goal. And if you struggle, you're like, OK, well, if I do that, where will that put me in 10 years? Will that take me closer to a goal that I want to achieve? And that's basically what I did with my Web site and with my writing. And ten years on, here I am.

Fei Wu:
Yes,

Joanna Penn:
So

Fei Wu:
I.

Joanna Penn:
Who knows where I'll be in 2029?

Fei Wu:
Yes. I can't. I mean, I'm definitely gonna be part of that journey because I absolutely love your work. And, you know, the only that you'll be I hope this will make you proud. The only other person who make me just keep on reading and be completely obsessed with content is Seth Godin. And.

Joanna Penn:
No. Oh, I'm thrilled about that. I love Seth.

Fei Wu:
Seth is just wonderful, absolutely wonderful. And the only other woman I can think of is Krista Tippett from on being

Joanna Penn:
Oh, we love her, too.

Fei Wu:
A.

Joanna Penn:
I think you're right. We're just sisters from another Mr.. Whenever they say.

Fei Wu:
Unbelievable. I interviewed Krista like within the first year of my show. I was so gig like inside I was giggling out, out-of-control control was so nervous and so grateful to have like hearing her voice. And I feel the same way about that. The way that you're working on your business, I feel like it's in a way very similar to Seth and Krista are doing so. I absolutely love you for it. So thank you so much.

Joanna Penn:
Oh, yeah. Oh, well, it's so good to share with your audience. And yet we really are living in the best time. I think I mean, I know sometimes things syncing quite dark in the political sense, but I you know, there's another side to what's going on in the world and it's super exciting and it's a brilliant community. And there's so much opportunity. So, yeah, very fantastic time to be a creator.

Fei Wu:
What a great way to end this, so, Joanna, if people want to read more about you and buy your book so you're doing your courses, what's the best way to kind of get in touch and learn more about you?

Joanna Penn:
Sure. Well, listening to podcasts, you could check me out. The creative pen podcast pen with a double pen or books and travel podcast is my other one. And the creative pen dot com is where everything is. So. Come on over if you want to know more about writing or publishing or marketing and any questions. I'm at the creative pen with the Dublin on Twitter.

Fei Wu:
Lovely, lovely. Oh, I'm so excited. And at this time, I know when trying to be on time, you know, it's late for you. But what I'm going to do, Joanna, is I'm gonna send you the the address of our air BMV and I really mean it. There's a lovely friend I actually just came to know yesterday who recommended the place, who is helping his friend manage it. And we got invited to their house to have dinner together. But during your travel, if you need anything, we literally have like extra room, extra beds.

Joanna Penn:
Oh, you're sweet. Thank you. I'm staying in the conference hotel, so will probably be.

Fei Wu:
What's the most convenient?

Joanna Penn:
Yeah, it is super convenient. Well, because, you know, the whole Internet thing. I'm just gonna run away. I know it will be pretty intense, you know, since well you will you straddle both worlds that sometimes American stuff can be a little over the top.

Fei Wu:
It is very emotionally very exhausting.

Joanna Penn:
But no, I will definitely have it have a coffee or something at the event because it would be lovely to meet you in person.

Fei Wu:
Absolutely. And we'll find a way and maybe find your own what's app or a way to kind of communicate.

Joanna Penn:
Yes,

Fei Wu:
If you're.

Joanna Penn:
That's a good idea. Yeah,

Fei Wu:
I'll send you

Joanna Penn:
Okay,

Fei Wu:
My phone

Joanna Penn:
Great.

Fei Wu:
Number.

Joanna Penn:
We will email. I gotta run fixing it. I've got to go meet my husband.

Fei Wu:
Ok,

Joanna Penn:
Lovely

Fei Wu:
Cool.

Joanna Penn:
Talk to you and seizing.

Fei Wu:
All right, see you soon by.

Joanna Penn:
All right, Bonnie.

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