How To Build Your Business And Your Blog. Joanna Penn Interviewed On Women Unlimited

I’m an author of fiction and non-fiction, but I also have a business, The Creative Penn Limited.

The Creative Penn logoI’m a professional (paid) speaker and I also sell courses and consulting, as well as writing books. I don’t often talk about the business side but today I am sharing an interview with me, recorded with Julie Hall from Women Unlimited, a fantastic women’s network in the UK. There are notes below the video if you’d rather read, or an audio version you can listen to.

Turn your ideas into cashJulie and I are also joint venture partners and we’re about to launch a new multimedia course, Turn Your Ideas Into Cash, which teaches people how to create and sell multimedia products for their business in order to become global, scalable and reach more people.

You can sign up here for a series of free videos and a webinar, launching 5 November, after which the course will be open for 1 week only. (Even if you don’t want the course, you might still like the freebies, so sign up here.)

There’s also an overview post here: From Author to Entrepreneur: How to turn your knowledge into multimedia products (guest post for

Download the audio => JoannaPennInterviewed.mp3

In the video we discuss:

  • How I got started with my business, The Creative Penn, after 13 years as an IT consultant in large corporates.

    How to love your job or find a new one by Joanna Penn

    How I wrote my first book ‘How to love your job or find a new one‘. How I started the blog back in 2008 and how the business has developed over time. It didn’t spring into being fully formed.

  • Freedom is my core value, and how I wanted to be location-independent so online business was the way to go to enable this.
  • The importance of passion to sustain starting a business, and how I worked for 3 years with little reward to get the business started before going full-time in Sept 2011. It’s a slow build, and not a get-rich-quick scheme. But the first $10 you make online from someone you don’t know is amazing, then it’s just scalable from there. If I can sell $10, I can sell $1000 or $100,000
  • On creating a strong following: It is a slow build, consistency over time. I’ve got over 700 blog posts, 140 podcasts, 140+ videos and I use social media every day. Focusing on the niche. Honesty and sharing my personal journey.
  • Authenticity within a brand. Social karma and positive attitude. Choose what you share strategically. Decide what you want to portray to the world and decide on your boundaries.
  • Launching The Creative Penn – it wasn’t really like that! One day I started a blog and nobody came – it was howling into the wind! It took at least a year before I had some decent traffic. My first product was a mega-membership course, the Author 2.0 Program – it was too big and unmanageable, plus I didn’t have the audience back then. I now give away the Author 2.0 Blueprint for free, and sell modular courses for people in different situations.
  • How I built an audience online. I paid for knowledge on how to blog, so I made sure the blog was SEO optimized and I also learned about headlines. I mention Yaro Starak’s Entrepreneur’s Journey and Copyblogger as sources. I still get most traffic from Google Organic Search because I SEO everything. I started using Twitter and podcasting to network with peers and my traffic grew through relationships. How everything is a slow build and step-by-step process but that’s how the biggest blogs on the internet got started, those with 6 figure businesses online these days. You have to start somewhere.
  • My own business goals. I measure income and I’m definitely not where I want to be financially as yet. I want to grow my profile as a speaker. My blog is one of the Top 10 blogs for writers, but I still want it to grow. I want to write more books and become a brand name fiction author.
  • Networking. It’s about being useful. I talk about Thrillerfest 2012 and also how I use my podcast interviews to promote other people. Always have an approach of ‘how can I help you’. Helping people who are ‘bigger’ than you helps as well.
  • On being an introvert. Introverts get energy from being alone and extroverts get energy from being with people. Shy is a different scale. I am not shy but I am an introvert so I have to psych myself up for physical events. I love speaking but it kills my energy and I have to have alone time.
  • Reaching out to other bloggers. I network mainly on twitter and promote other people’s posts and this often leads to a skype call or a podcast interview. In Australia there was a physical network for top bloggers, which I’d love to create in the UK as well.
  • Time management and productivity. You have to think about the % split you want for your business. When you write, people don’t see the work behind it. I diarize days for business and days for fiction when I work in the London Library, so I schedule everything. I have to ‘change heads’ like that.
  • Work life balance isn’t important if you’re doing what you love! I’m passionate about what I do, it’s my hobby as well as my income, so yes, I am a workaholic and I love it! I’m also building a business so I expect to work hard at this point. I’m at the bottom of the ladder as a fiction writer, but I am happy living like this!

You can join Julie and I for ‘Turn Your Ideas Into Cash’ by signing up here for the free pre-launch video series and webinar.

I also do 1:1 consulting for authors and small businesses who need more personalized help.

Did you find this useful? Or can you share lessons from how you got started? Please share in the comments below.


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  1. Doug Lance says

    A great summation of everything you’ve been talking about for the past few years. Such a great intro to you. I want to post this to (a giant, 50,000 member forum I moderate) and see if there is interest for you to do an AMA interview. Would you be interested in that?

    • says

      Hi Doug – I’d love to ! Reddit is definitely something I need to spend some time investigating :)
      Let me know dates and format etc – I see you’re having Jim Kukral on there – he’s a good guy, I interviewed him myself :) Just email direct :) Thanks!

  2. says

    Great post! However I do disagree with one thing — the work/life balance section. I do think it’s important to leave time for other things such as friends, family, exercise, volunteering and being out in nature.

    • says

      Hi SunHi – I do agree those things matter – but I probably work 12 hours a day most days on my business & my passion – and so I do schedule time for family, exercise etc – but I don’t have any other specific hobbies – people who talk about balance usually leave work at 5pm and entirely separate their lives (as I used to do). Once you are living your passion, it becomes a more blended existence as there is nothing you hate (except the accounting admin!)
      Thanks, Joanna

  3. says

    Loved the interview, Joanna! You and Julie work so well together. I signed up for your November 5th course when it was first offered and am really looking forward to it. You’re a excellent model for all who wish to do well as author-entrepenuers.

    • says

      Thanks Marcia :) Julie & I connected here in London and we’re friends as well as business partners, and that energy definitely comes through :) I hope you can join us on the course.

  4. says

    I’m always amazed when I think how far Joanna has come since I first started reading this blog. I’m happy to see you living your passion. It gives me hope that hopefully sometime soon I can do the same.

  5. says

    I’m really excited that someone from my writing group pointed me to your site and this post. So much information to read thru that I may be some time. :)

    By the way, I’m in England for 1/2 the year.

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