Making your blog a business with Joanna Penn
This week on Women Unlimited TV we have the wonderful Joanna Penn from www.thecreativepenn.com. Joanna is a writer, author-preuner, trainer and speaker, and was one of the highlights at last year’s Women Unlimited Thrive 2012 Conference (our next one is on March 8th, 2013… so make sure you save the date!)
Joanna has run three fantastic workshops for Women Unlimited on how to write a non-fiction book, how to market your book and how to create multimedia products. Joanna and I are putting together a free video series for early November on “The 10 steps to creating a multimedia product” and you can register for the early notification list here.
Her blog, The Creative Penn regularly features in the Top 10 lists of blogs for writers. She is a true inspiration and in this interview we’ll be looking at how she started her business and kept it growing to the success it is today.
Joanna was an IT Business Consultant for 13 years. She wasn’t happy in this corporate and uncreative career so she started to research how to change her life. This research culminated with Joanna writing a career change book “How to love your job or find a new one”. In the process of writing this book she started to change her own career and realised she wanted to be an author.
This lead to the idea and creation of the blog, www.thecreativepenn.com which was launched in December 2008.
Making the blog and business commercial
Changing your career to something you’re passionate about isn’t always a short journey. Joanna has worked on the business for 3 years on top of working at her day job in IT. Her business/financial planning skills meant she knew how much money she needed to make before she could leave her day job.
She has found that being commercial is about being scalable – make sure you create products that can be easily scaled up to increase your sales and profits.
How to create a strong following
Creating an audience takes time and requires you to show up regularly. Joanna blogs every 2-3 days, releases a Podcast ever week. She has a strong social media presence with over 31,000 twitter followers and has had over 100,000 views on her You Tube channel which also has over 150 videos.
Her advice on how to build an audience is to develop good habits. And like any good habit you need to do it regularly for it to make a difference. Ensure you are focusing on your niche audience, be honest and share your personal journey as this will help you connect with your audience and create an authentic feeling.
Balancing personal story with business story
Authenticity must be within your personal brand. What do you want to portray to the world? What personal details do you want to give away? Decide on your boundaries and share within reason. Always make whatever you share a positive experience for your audience.
Business Challenges of launching a blog and products
The Creative Penn started with no traffic at all. Joanna went on a blogging course and learnt about the importance of blog headlines and SEO. Organic Google search traffic started to grow after a few months of consistent posting.
Twitter and podcasts are also big traffic drivers. Joanna started networking, following blogs, asking people if she could interview them for podcasts. This led to more followers via click-throughs and the backlinks create also improved search results. It’s a snowball process and traffic/sales gradually get bigger over time.
Joanna launched her first product in her first year of trading but it didn’t sell. She didn’t have an audience and hadn’t built up her image as an expert in the field sufficiently. You have to be around for a while to be taken seriously.
She also shares that the actual product itself was too big and wide-ranging. She now sells smaller modular courses and has chunked information/topics down to where people are in their own journey.
Networking both online and offline
Joanna is an introvert but a great networker! She’s very careful about how she manages her energy, making sure that she builds recovery time in. We have an interesting discussion about the nature of extroverts and introverts.
She is a very successful networker and has built strong relationships with authors and other bloggers. She approaches people by offering to help/be useful… for example, ‘can I interview you about your book/success/help you organise an event?’
Her advice is to get people’s attention and give them a reason to want to talk to you.
How to reach out to other bloggers
Joanna suggests promoting other people 80% of the time, via Twitter and social media. Once you’ve done this for a while, ask them for an interview and then start generating a relationship. Help them, then try and meet them – you can use Skype to talk to international contacts.
If you’d like to find out how you can create multimedia products in your business, make sure you sign up to the early notification list to our free video series here.