Women In Business Interview with Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn

Tell us about your business.

The Creative Penn provides free information and advice for people on the topics of writing, self-publishing, print-on-demand, internet sales and book promotion. The blog has articles, podcasts and free workbooks available to help people get started with their book. We then offer ebooks for sale on writing and publishing, as well as the Author 2.0 Blueprint and Program, which helps authors to build their platform online in order to attract and audience and sell more books. I am also a speaker/workshop facilitator on digital publishing, web 2.0 marketing, digital branding and other topics.

The Creative Penn is aimed at people who want to write a book, or authors who have a book but are struggling to get an audience online. Publishing is going through radical change right now, due to technological advances in digital printing, ebook reading and distribution, as well as the global financial crisis. There are opportunities for authors to publish their work online for free and sell globally, as well as reach a global audience through blogs, social networking, video and other means. Creation, sales and promotion on the internet has never been easier and I am passionate about telling people about these opportunities. So many authors get stuck in the old ways of manuscript submission and rejection, when their books could be out there right now finding an audience! It is an exciting time to be an author – so let’s make the most of it!

Please tell us what being a business owner means to you and why you became an entrepreneur in the first place?

I have been a freelance business consultant on and off for 9 years now. It means freedom to me. Freedom to move countries (and I have done a number of times) and also companies. I tend to finish a project and move on. There is also freedom in pursuing your own interests. The Creative Penn is the latest in a number of companies I have started. It had the lowest start up cost as it is all online, and it is turning out to the most successful so far! (Compare this to the scuba diving charter boat business I once ran!). Everything I do directly affects my income. Every moment I spend on my business is what I make of it. I am passionate about helping people realise their creativity, and I find being an employee crushes my own! I am actually a pretty terrible employee and realised this when I went back to it briefly this year, freaked out by the economy. I resigned after 3 weeks because I don’t like being told what to do and I don’t like ‘face time’. It was a great lesson to learn. The economy doesn’t change who we are or what we can achieve. We can make the best of circumstances at any time in history, and now is an amazing time to be online!

What or who has been your greatest influence in business and why?

There are so many people I consider mentors and influences from the books I have read and the programs I have done in audio form and at live events. I am a self-development junkie!

I think Jack Canfield would have to be my greatest influence because his business model is one I am aiming for. He co-wrote the first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, and then spent years marketing it before it became a success. Then he continued marketing it, releasing more titles in the series, making a lot of money and developing it into a franchise. Plus he developed a speaking, coaching and seminar business around what he learnt. His whole business is built on helping people change to become more successful. He started as a teacher and persisted through rejection and hardship to success. He is an author who changes people’s lives – and that is what I want to be!

What would you say is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?I have now self-published 3 books and I sell on Amazon.com as a global platform. This is a great personal accomplishment and also now helps me professionally as my business is now about helping others to publish. I had talked for years about writing a book, and I finally started at age 32. Then I wrote another 2 very quickly and will not stop now. I used to think I was not creative, now I create every day! I feel it is a great accomplishment to break out of a mindset that has been held for a long time and achieve a lifetime goal before it is too late.


What’s the best advice you have received in business that you wish to pass on to our readers?

Have a goal and a plan. A business plan, a wealth plan, a long life plan, a marketing plan. In fact, have any sort of plan, rather than no plan at all! If you don’t plan and don’t have a goal to reach, you will just potter around and not go anywhere. This is true of life as well as in business. I make plans all the time. I revise them all the time too, but I always have one! At the end of every year I reflect on what I have achieved, write it all down and plan for the next year. We are powerful people. We can create from nothing, but only if we decide what we want to create. So set the goal, make the plan and see it achieved!
What has been the most effective marketing initiatives or programs you have used to promote your business?

There are two things that have made a huge difference to my global reach this year. My blog and Twitter. Both have given me a global audience and connections I would never have made otherwise. My blog has been a vehicle to meet and talk to significant people in my industry as well as providing me with recognition and sales. Twitter brings traffic to my site daily, as well as providing me with an opportunity to help people, learn new things and connect in a wider network. Both of these mechanisms are free, so I would urge people to start now with them both!

What one thing have you learned as a small business owner that has served you well over the years?

Outsource things you cannot do efficiently, even if you can do them yourself. I now use Elance to get professionals to do things for me. I learnt the back end of websites and blogs and now I have a tech guy who charges me by the hour. I get professional transcribers through a contact on Twitter. I have a book-keeper and a great accountant. This is the art of working on your business, not in your business (as covered in the E-Myth books).

Are there any resources or tools you’d like to share with other small business owners that have helped you run your business?

~ For starting or growing a great blog, I recommend WordPress as the software and Yaro Starak Entrepreneurs-Journey site for how to grow your business online properly.
~ Twitter – check out WeFollow in your industry and you will see that you have to be there.
~ For wealth knowledge, I still recommend Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad series of books. If you have been working hard for a long time on your own business, or as an employee, and have not grown your wealth, you need to read these books.
~ For achievement in life as well as business, I recommend Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles”.

What do you do for fun/relaxation?

I love keeping up to date with the blogs I follow and sharing new things with my Twitter followers, so that counts as fun as well as marketing! I read a lot, mostly non-fiction self-development books as well as listen to audio-books, podcasts and programs. I love action movies. I am a scuba diver and keen traveller, always planning the next trip!

What is Number One Business Goal you plan to accomplish over the next year?

I want to have 10,000 people through my Author 2.0 Program, enabling authors to build their online platforms and sell more books using Web 2.0 tools. I also want to be the No. 1 Writing Blog in Australia (I am currently number 12). Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

How can our readers connect with you online?My Blog: The Creative Penn
Twitter: @TheCreativePenn
Facebook: Joanna Penn
LinkedIn: Joanna Penn
Website: http://www.TheCreativePenn.com