There are many ways to build a creative business, but how do you make sure you also create a life that works for your health and happiness? In today's show, Marianne Cantwell talks about how to be a free-range human and also gives some tips on updating a non-fiction book for a Second Edition.
In the intro, I mention the difficulty of finding keywords in German when you don't speak the language and how Publisher Rocket will soon have a new edition to solve this problem. Plus the 6 Figure Author Podcast talks about lessons learned and book marketing tips from NINC 2019. Plus the super useful limited edition NaNoWriMo Bundle with lots of books for writers: storybundle.com/nano
This podcast is sponsored by Kobo Writing Life, which helps authors self-publish and reach readers in global markets through the Kobo eco-system. You can also subscribe to the Kobo Writing Life podcast for interviews with successful indie authors.
Special NaNoWriMo promotion 50% off my books for authors on Kobo: You can get my Writer's Toolbox which includes The Successful Author Mindset, How to Market a Book, and How to Make a Living with your Writing or/ you can also get The Successful Author Mindset in audio format. Get 50% off at checkout with discount code: KWLPODPENN [Available 25 Oct – 30 Nov 2019]
Marianne Cantwell is the author of Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9 to 5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills. She's also a speaker and an online entrepreneur.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and full transcript below.
- Marianne was first on the show in 2013 when we discussed how to get a book deal and launch a bestselling non-fiction book
- Why create a second edition of a book that’s already selling well?
- What makes a non-fiction book evergreen?
- What is a free-range human and how is that different from being a digital nomad?
- Marianne's TED talk: The hidden power of not (always) fitting in
- On scalable income and the types of work that are a good fit for that
- The advantages of being a Highly Sensitive Person
- What’s working in book marketing?
- How voice connects with potential readers and is a transparent method of marketing
Transcript of Interview with Marianne Cantwell
Joanna Penn: Marianne Cantwell is the author of Be a Free Range Human: Escape the 9 to 5, Create a Life You Love and Still Pay the Bills. She's also a speaker and online entrepreneur. Welcome, Marianne.
Marianne Cantwell: Hey, Joanna, I’m excited to be here.
Joanna Penn: It's great to have you back on the show. Now you were on the show, it's incredible really, but it was 2013 when the first iteration of the book came out. I want to start with this question:
Why a new version of the book and why now?
And I say this as someone who was just also done a second edition, and I know how hard it is. So tell us about why now.
Marianne Cantwell: Absolutely, it's definitely, as you know, not generally the advice to spend many months of your life rewriting a book that has already been released and is already done well, for the simple reason that you can obviously make more sales, so the common wisdom goes, with a new title. So why spend time doing it?
For me, it was a mix of a personal decision and a practical decision.
On the personal side, I had a fairly nice to have problem, which is that this book wouldn't stop selling. Without me doing that much over the last few years it had got enough word-of-mouth enough traction, enough links all over the Internet, that meant that people kept buying it. Which would have been great except I didn't agree with some of the advice in there anymore.
And so I had this book that people kept picking up, finding for the first time, getting excited about and I was like, that's really great for most of it but there are some pieces that I think are a bit outdated and also not in line with the advice that I would give now. When my publisher approached me and said hey, you've got a book that's a consistent seller. Have you considered doing a second edition?
The real reason I jumped on it was, to me, this was an opportunity to create something that was more evergreen. I got to the point where I'd remove the links from my website to the book because I was like, please don't buy this book.
I don't want to do that. I want to stand up be proud is now and be proud of it in 10 years' time. So I got to fix that.
And on top of that the final reason I was happy to talk about this, as you know, the book trade is a bit risk-averse. And when you have proven your stripes on a first edition, it turns out they're very keen to support you on the second edition in terms of placement, in terms of press. So there was this perfect storm of reasons to come back.
Joanna Penn: I find this so interesting and I didn't expect it to be such hard work doing a second edition.
You mentioned making it evergreen and this is a great point. So what are your tips? For people who are writing nonfiction what are some things that will help make it evergreen or at least let's say a decade because I just don't think it's going to go forever.
Right? Nothing can go forever. But you know, let's say a decade-long.
What would be some things you can do to make a book more evergreen?
Marianne Cantwell: This is the fine line between making it resonate right now right and making it resonate with a future that we can't even predict. So little examples of things that dated my first edition were things like I talked about listening to music on your iPod. How was I to know that in the opening page I would have dated my book by page one?! I couldn't have known that. So we changed it to listening to music on your phone.
Now, I don't know if in 10 years time we're going to be listening to music on our phones. So there are some decisions that I think you have to make in the best faith.
However, the places where I changed it so that they weren't just updated but they were a bit more evergreen were where I had gone into some more specific how to's and I'd really gone granular on strategy around things.
But this is not a strategic book in the sense of you know, how to do XYZ in business. That's not really what it's about. But there were a few chapters where I kind of hopped on some bandwagons and talked about how to do Twitter. Such a tangential point to this book, but that tangential point suddenly started dating the books. I talked about things that just weren't as relevant anymore.
So what I did for those that's was I took things that I thought this is interesting to readers and probably relevant to them but is likely to change and I moved them into a bonus. So we link out in places in the book two things that might be a little bit more tactical. I don't go into tactics in the book.
I say, “For more information and whatever go to this link…” and they go to a page on my website. So if I am recommending a resource, for example, if that resources appears, I can replace it without having to a third edition.
Joanna Penn: It's funny because I'm probably on the fifth edition of my Successful Self-Publishing book. I've only done one edition in audio and two in print but five ebook editions and it is the technical stuff that potentially ages it, so with going evergreen, I think you're right to link out to things.
I did want to ask you about that because I know a lot of the listeners are doing second editions. So let's get into the book itself.
What is a free-range human? And how is it different from a digital nomad, which I know many people don't want to be?
Marianne Cantwell: To me a free-range human is quite different from a digital nomad because a digital nomad can be a free-range human but a free-range human doesn't have to be a digital nomad.
People who think that it's just like alien language let me explain. To me, a free-range human is the opposite to someone who feels really confined in how they're showing up and who they have to be in order to get paid.
A free-range human is someone who has created a work-life – be it a business, be it a portfolio career, be it life as an author – that fits number one who they actually are. So their personality, if they're more of an introvert, they don't have to pretend every day to go out and be an extrovert who loves networking, for example. They are someone who has created a work life that fits their personality and strengths.
And number two, you've created a work life that actually fits the life that you want. So be that you're traveling the world, be that staying close to home and having more time with people you love, all of which are represented in the book.
It's about the way that you make decisions about the change that you're making or about the business or the career that you're building. It is very internally referenced, starting with you and starting with the life you want and that is the starting point of being a free-range human.
Joanna Penn: I think it resonates with me, being an independent author. I know you chose for many business reasons that we talked about before to go with a publisher but this idea of choosing what you want to do and not having to fit into any box.
And it's interesting, again you mentioned that publishers are risk-averse and this is a problem for traditionally published authors who, if you have a best-selling business book like you do, you have to write another best-selling business book. If you came out with a romance, they may not be interested in publishing it.
In fact your publisher is Kogan Page, right? They're not going to publish a romance, so they have their boxes. The word on the author street is writing in the same genre is the way to be successful. But you talked about this portfolio career, which is much bigger than just authors, obviously.
What are the benefits of a portfolio career and not just focusing on one thing?
Marianne Cantwell: Something that really impacted my thinking around this, and I talked about this in my TED Talk, of the hidden power of not always fitting in. I talk about this idea of being liminal, and liminal means being someone who has a foot in one world and a foot in who you are, a foot in your difference.
So you could be someone who writes about wellness but you come from a corporate background. So you're not like the classic hippie.
That difference becomes your power point because then you're able to reach people who might be more traditional with these ideas. Your difference is your edge in whatever you do and if you extrapolate from that idea and go into how you handle your career.
When you look at people who end up becoming real leaders in what they do it's very easy to draw a linear line and say well obviously they started X, they did Y and now they're doing Z. But when you look at people really thriving, really killing it out there, following their creativity, but doing it a very grounded, sensible way that doesn't always seem to be the case.
My favorite example is Elizabeth Gilbert, who obviously has written across genres and had a successful career even before Eat Pray Love. She was doing pretty well by author standards and then did Eat Pray Love but didn't then go down the track of going on the speaker circuit of going down that self-help route.
Instead, she writes a novel about 19th-century plant collections and botany. And then she comes back around to write about creativity and now she's written City of Girls, which by the way is mind-blowing, an amazing and wondrous novel.
And yes, the platform she had let her do that but the way she got on that platform was to write that book. She was a novelist before she wrote Eat Pray Love. So when you look at stories like that, you can go well they were the lucky ones they broke out but. I think that it's all about what is your through-line in whatever you do.
So if you want to be more of a portfolioist, what's the thing that you bring that's consistent? Is it a way of bringing people alive and making them can feel more normal within themselves? That can be a theme throughout different types of books.
While I think that if you write a different book every year that are completely all over the place that's going to be difficult because you won't be honing your craft as much, not because the industry won't see you in a certain way. I really think there's a huge power to owning your own course.
I’ll give you a personal example. People look at someone like me who's written a book, has done well, done a second edition. I had several approaches about a different book off the back of my TED Talk and I decided not to do that yet because I didn't feel like I was ready to move on and do that until I had done things that were a little bit different first.
And so I think that it's very important not to be led by the publishing industry to do the next obvious thing because we all know we've seen the examples time and time again when someone writes the book they're meant to write and they knew they didn't want to write that book, but they thought they had to write it and that never is the one that takes off.
So it's really important to have that internal referencing in what can be a very risk-averse business.
Joanna Penn: Absolutely. And your book Be a Free Range Human is not about being an author. I’ve got to just tell everyone that we're talking about because you're obviously an author and I can see my own career in much of what you're talking about. But you do have this really interesting chapter on the different free-range business types that people might consider.
And I certainly am always talking about multiple streams of income. I have multiple streams myself, similar to you.
What are some of the different free-range business types that people might consider?
Marianne Cantwell: There are so many that we had to choose. I think we chose five or six in this edition. They go from services, which are the easiest ones.
I’ll stick within the author world. A service might be editing, book editing, proofreading, author coaching, all of those things. Are you doing something for someone else? They're the easiest way to start. I think that’s the easiest way to actually make money because it's so direct. You don’t have to create a thing, you do the thing.
The next one that I'm a huge fan of is online products. So that's education. We might be talking about packaging up and having a three-week boot camp. For example, if someone who runs a writers boot camp as one of the things that she does in her portfolio. So that's where you suddenly come up with a package or a course or an experience like a boot camp.
Then you have physical products which I admit, in the first edition, I really poo-pooed that idea. I was like, oh, yeah, you can't make any money from that. I completely revised my view on it in this edition. I felt a bit bad about that after I realized it was just my lack of knowledge. I give some examples of, for example, a friend of mine who is a photographer who has a sideline and I talked about in the book in these beautiful glass boxes that wedding photographers now are using around the world to gift photos to their clients and present them beautifully, rather than just handing them an envelope full of pictures. That's a nice example.
That's someone who was in a creative industry and could equally have been an author, for example, who thought of something physical for his industry.
Is there something you can think of that would be really useful for example to other writers?
Speaking could be part of that. I think that would fall into we could fall into a service because you're showing up and doing it. But as you know, the question with speaking is are you making your money from speaking or are you getting your money from the opportunities that speaking opened up?
If you're making your own money from the opportunity that speaking opens up, then it's very likely you're then selling services. So you might be selling consulting, for example.
What I love is there so many ways and what I talk about in the book is that you don't just have to do one of them at any point in time. You can be someone who has a main thing and you bring in this little sideline that's related to what you do, but that opens up so many more doors than most people in your industry might be thinking about.
For example for me with the Free Range Humans book, as you know, we have links throughout the book that lead to these bonuses and I don’t know if you've looked at them, but they are so extensive.
One of them is almost three hours on one bonus and there are things I couldn't fit in the book, but they take you to the website and you're free to access the bonuses. When people are on the website, they then have the opportunity to put their name down on my email list.
They have the opportunity then hear about I'm announcing some free-range coaches who are my official coaches, which is one way that we make money. We run a course once a year, a pretty big course, we used to have loads of passive products, which I've taken down but we could put them back up.
So for me, I'm not relying on books as an income stream at all.
I'm using a book as a way of putting something in the world that I really believe in. Getting people in this way of thinking, giving them really good quality and some of those people are going to choose to sign up to other things other products other services delivered by people close to me. So I think there are just some creative ways of doing things.
Joanna Penn: There were two more income streams. I think you do affiliate income, which would be promoting other people's services.
Marianne Cantwell: Yeah, we do talk about advertising.
Joanna Penn: I do a lot of affiliate income.
Also you mentioned licensing, other people doing Free Range coaching under your brand, your license.
Marianne Cantwell: Yes, we're putting up actually in the next week or so is sort of licensing for me. These are people who have worked with me very very closely over a number of years and who've already been involved in co-running events and courses for me and who have coaching practices in there.
What I have, because of the book, is a huge pent-up demand for high-end good coaches. You can actually work with these materials with people go through the process. And so I've done deals with it with them as official coaches who use the process that we do to deliver that so it's kind of licensing, you could call it outsourcing, but the way of using the name of what you do to show people who are the trusted suppliers.
Joanna Penn: I'm totally obsessed with scalable income versus money for time. You said with services if you personally were going to do all that coaching you wouldn't be able to help people. You'd get burnt out. It just wouldn't be scalable.
Whereas, what you're doing there is making it so you can make revenue from work. You don't have to physically be there for but you've done all the work in advance so that to me is scalable income in the same way that book sales are.
You do all of this work and then the book goes out there. It's bringing you money. I love scalable income.
Marianne Cantwell: I'm just going to say something on that. And in this edition, I said exactly what you said. I actually don't fully subscribe to that anymore. I'll tell you why.
I think for some of us, you and me were specifically, that's a really great model because we're people who are very good attractors. We are people who are good at putting something out there, be it a book or a brand or a podcast and attracting people to it. It's just how we show up and how we work.
Not everyone is like that and that's one huge reason I rewrote huge chunks of this book. Through working with so many people I found that some people scalability is, in terms of being a stronger attractor and therefore you're getting people in, not having to do the work, isn't their best way of making a good freedom-giving amount of money and having time for other people.
It would be actually better for them if they're people who form deep trust, close, one-to-one with people and are better with a smaller number of people rather than loads of people, for them it would be a lot smarter to look at how can they raise their prices significantly.
For example to do coaching or consulting, how much would you have to charge to only have to have ten clients a year? How would that look? What would your hours be like? What if you only want to work nine months of the year and have three months off, but only with five or ten clients, how could you put your charging model together so that that worked for you that you still had a ton of time freedom, but your time wasn't spent attracting a thousand people, it was spent deep diving with 5 or 10.
The reason I say that is that I think that all of us have different strengths and not everyone's a good attractor. And so if you know someone's listening in and going almost I love the idea of scalable income, but actually that means I have to create all this stuff and put it all out there, but actually what I'm really good at is sitting with someone and they trust me and look me in the eye.
Well, you need to revise how you're charging at that point because if it does make sense. It's a slight distinction between the two it but both of them are scalable in the sense of you're not working all hours. You're not having to show up every weekend. You're not letting how other people do things dictate how your year looks. But they're different ways of getting to that goal.
Joanna Penn: It's a lot to do with your personality and how you want to live.
You're a very big advocate of you know deciding on your lifestyle before your income. We’ve both been in situations where we've earned great money, but have been really miserable.
Marianne Cantwell: Been there.
Joanna Penn: Hence why we now do what we do. I do want to come back on personality because you mentioned being a highly sensitive person on your website and also in the book.
How does that affect how you do business?
Marianne Cantwell: Completely. Let me explain what that is.
Joanna Penn: Yes, in case people don't know.
Marianne Cantwell: Highly Sensitive Person is not my term and I wish it was. It was coined by Elaine Aaron who wrote a great book around it and it means it's someone who has a more sensitized nervous system. So if other people feel things on a 6 out of 10 you feel things on a 10 out of 10.
That could be noise. You hear that. You're bothered by noise when other people don't notice it. Bright lights really get to you, could be an example. It's different for everyone. But you feel things more strongly and you also feel your emotions more strongly. Maybe you're very impacted by how someone else might be feeling or the mood in the room. That’s a highly sensitive person.
Obviously, a lot of people see that as a disadvantage and it can be if you're in an environment that isn't great for that. But I also think it's one of the biggest strengths that we can have especially as authors because the level of empathy that an HSP, as we call it, is really high. We feel everything and therefore we can write everything.
For me the way it's impacted my business has, number one, I wouldn't have my business without it. I would never have quit my job because I would have pushed through. Everyone who comes to my work says it's like you can read my mind. Of course, I can because I feel everything. So I write it and I speak it because I feel it and therefore people feel heard and all of that. It means that I've said no to a lot of opportunities and had to learn to be very judicious in who I spend time with and where I allow my work to be placed.
I’ll give you an example. It's actually a really recent one. Last week we were approached by the Sun to run a piece on my book. And that's the biggest newspaper in the UK and I said no.
Joanna Penn: That’s so funny because I've said no to the Mirror as well. Just explain to people who don't know UK papers.
Marianne Cantwell: I'm actually in New York. I live in the US these days but a lot of my readership is in the UK. In the UK, the biggest newspaper is the Sun.
Joanna Penn: We call it a tabloid. It’s a very very popular tabloid.
Marianne Cantwell: I describe it to my American partner as it's like Fox News, but lower quality. If Fox News lost the classiness that's what it would be. To be entirely fair, it was a friendly piece. It was in the employment pages. It wouldn't have been a hatchet job. I actually would have got to write the piece so it was like this dream thing and I was signed off already. I didn’t even to write it. My PR people from the publishing house were going to repurpose a piece I'd written for another paper. It was guaranteed to run. I had no work to do.
And I was like pull it. Say no. We're out. I'm not doing it and the reasons were it was back to the HSP thing. As soon as I got that email I felt this tight knot in my chest. I was like absolutely not. I spent a day on it and it was this sensitivity because all everyone I asked about said why wouldn't you run it? It's a friendly piece. It's in the right pages. It's the biggest paper in a country where you've just launched your book, because my US publication date isn't until the end of September. This is for mid-September.
I just knew from previous experience that the impact on me of the.
While there are plenty of readers who I am sure would be a really great fit for the book and people who just pick it up who read it for the sports section who happened to pick it up and have a little browse. So I'm sure there's plenty who would be, there is also a number of them that certainly wouldn't be, that would end up trolling me.
My book is not a how-to guide. It's a very sensitive piece. It's about understanding yourself before you build something and I know what would happen online because I've had tastes of it before. What happens is that I then go into a cave and I don't come out of that cave. And so this is why I share about being HSP because knowing that that is who I am, I no longer beat myself up about it. I no longer say, oh well, maybe I should take the good with the bad and I'll deal with it.
I know I won't deal with it. I know how this is going to go. And so being realistic about who I am it is a no. The difference was I used to be like, oh I should do it and I have made that mistake before.
Joanna Penn: It comes back to Derek Sivers. I'm sure you've read Derek Sivers. He's got a great blog post called, “Either HELL YEAH or no.” And it's been in some of his books.
I come back to that and if I don't just go hell, yeah, that is a great opportunity, then it has to be a no.
I realize for some people listening there is a point in your career when you do say yes to everything because you're not as confident in who you are. And maybe that's the difference between your first edition and your second edition.
I think I think you did the right thing there.
I really am interested because of book marketing. You're talking classic PR, getting into a newspaper, get an article, but a lot has changed in book marketing since 2013.
How you did book marketing back then? What's changed and what is effective now?
Marianne Cantwell: First thing was having a second edition, I have been through this before on this exact title. So I knew number one, get started earlier than anyone tells you to.
So I think you may have noticed. I think you may have seen my Facebook post or however, we connected around this which was months before the start date of my publisher’s push on the marketing of this. And so number one, I think we need to start earlier these days because there's a lot of noise out there.
Number two what hasn't changed is this: Press is a wonderful way to get status and not such an effective way to get book sales and I'm very aware of that. So my publisher kindly has given me a really lovely, great PR team. I wish I could remember who they were and they actually look them up as I talk to you so I can give them a plug.
They've actually been really great for me. However, I also know that I'm not relying on that team who's got me in the Telegraph. We're going to be in City AM. I think in Stylist, in some in-flight mags. I’m doing a BBC interview soon, going to London for that. That's all really nice. But I'm not expecting to sell any books from those things. I'm expecting to sell a few hundred maybe.
What really sells books is number one, in my experience of promoting this book has been anything where you can get a press piece that is also published online where you have a direct link out to the book purchasing page. That has been something that on the first edition worked really well and I'm already suspecting it's going to happen again.
We’ve got a piece coming up soon in Red Magazine online, which I know is going to do well for the book.
But the thing that works most importantly now that didn't happen in 2013, is podcasting.
It’s our access to people like you, people who are in your niche area and this opportunity to have more in-depth conversations that aren’t necessarily a plug for a book.
This is to me where I've seen I can see – obviously I don't have sales data because it's actually traditionally published – but I can see Amazon sales spiking after every podcast interview gets released. I can see a surge up in the ranking. So something is working and having these honest, open conversations with podcasters.
My aim at the start of my book tour was to do a podcast tour and to get on a hundred different podcasts over the first few months and I think we have 250 bookings now or something like that. So very intentional, very much a long-term play because I want to have conversations that would last over time with people I really trusted.
It's a lot of work on the ground, but honestly, that's made such a difference. That and my own following as well have been where the sales came from.
Joanna Penn: I'm sure you know Google's now indexing podcasts and that's only just happened August 2019. So this is a huge change that certainly wasn't around back in 2013. So I'm totally with you. I think podcasting sells books.
Marianne Cantwell: I hope so. This is an experiment.
Joanna Penn: I think it does because I get most of my book recommendations from podcasts and I listen mainly to audiobooks.
Marianne Cantwell: One thing I'll add to that is I have had people over the last few years who have never released books and they approached me, self-published usually, and say, can I send you a free copy so that if you like it you can promote it to your following and I'd always say no.
I'll be very direct. I can't say yes to that because I don't promote things to my following from being asked. I don't actually know how much I love this book. I'm now going to be nervous reading your book because what if I don't like it, but there were so many reasons I feel like no.
I don't have a podcast and if I had one it probably won't be an interview show. If I did have a podcast and someone approached me and with a very carefully crafted message that showed they knew who I was and what this was about said here are some reasons I think this will be a fit, here's an episode we could talk about, here are some topics.
I've got an actual podcast page I send out to podcasters that has suggested episode topics that aren't just ‘plug my book'. Now suddenly we have a relationship and it's a lot easier.
What I'm noticing that I did not expect naively was that podcasters, if they liked the episode we've done, they're promoting it all over their social media channels. They're saying this is one of my favorite episodes. Marianne’s the author of this book and all their comments are people saying I need to buy the book and I didn't think of that.
I was just thinking people would listen to it. So, instead of saying, how do I get someone to promote the book, asking how can I create meaningful conversations with someone who has some space for content and if that conversation goes well odds are well, maybe some of them will decide that they want to promote this more because it's interesting for their readers and listeners and I need that is what's changed in 2019.
It's not as direct anymore. You have to be thinking of the conversation. Where do you fit in a wider conversation?
Joanna Penn: I agree and also people listening to our voices, obviously we have met in person. We are colleagues from way back, but we haven't spoken in years. It's really nice to catch up and people can tell whether people are transparent and authentic by their voice.
So I feel like if I invite someone on this show, people listening can tell whether or not this is there's some BS, basically, and so there's nowhere to hide I think with voice.
If you're writing an article for a magazine, we all know how to fake voice with writing. That's what we do. We're writers. You can't do it in person.
Marianne Cantwell: That's actually really true. I think it's nice as well. Getting to hear someone, getting to know someone, that's just all-around nice and I really think it has a feeling to it that I really enjoy. remember that some of the messages I got from people who really want me to promote their stuff and I was like, I literally don’t even know who you are or what this is going to be like.
I go into some conversation where I really want to help them. I was like here’s some advice for you about how you might want to go about this. One suggestion I would make is to find people who have podcasts and work out where you might fit and work out how you can help them.
And what I go back was, Oh my God, I'm so relieved because I've been hitting a wall with this. That's why I kept saying I just don't know how to get anyone to help me. It feels like I'm doing it all by myself and just twisting it, saying how can you help others in this way? It actually gave people something to do, which I think is such a relief. We're not about pushing and plugging. It's too self-promoting can feel very difficult.
But I think that promoting a topic, even if it is about yourself or about something you've created that you were really passionate about you like. You know, what? People would really benefit from this and that makes such a huge difference, definitely.
Joanna Penn: We're almost out of time but just one more thing in the book and I'm quoting from the book.
“I don't make my living by being paid to write. However, I've been writing every week as part of my business for years.”
I wonder if you could comment on this because so many people think that being a writer means everything you write, you get paid for that.
How are you a writer when you don't get paid to write in that way?
Marianne Cantwell: When I started Free Range Humans I'd already had a few other businesses so when I started Free Range Humans it started out as a blog, back in the day. And we’ve just relaunched the Free Range Humans website and got some of the old original free-range 1.0 blog posts up there in this little classic archives.
And so first it was a blog so that was back in the blogging day. That was what started to draw people into what I did. That was how I got opportunities to guest blog back when that was what one did. I was writing and that was what first got people to know about me back when I ran really simple group coaching programs to help people figure out what they want to do and all that.
Then I started a weekly newsletter called the Friday Love Letters that ran for five years every Friday no matter what. I would write several thousand words to what was then a tiny following. I hand-gathered this following from these workshops I'd run for other brands, where I would go in, I'd run a workshop for them and I’d pass a piece of paper around the room and people would write their emails down and I would go home and get put them in the system and then we grew from there from 1,00 to 10,000 to 20,000 and that was the Friday love letters.
They grew everything. They were what led to me getting a book deal. They led to me having a book that did really well and what led to me going from running group coaching to running courses, then having other people run courses.
Every piece of that was me showing up and writing every week for five years and that's what that meant.
These days my focus full time isn't as much Free Range Humans. I have a lot of other side projects. I do a lot more creative projects. I'm definitely not in that sort of hyped up online space anymore. However, whenever I want to do something I write an email.
I spent three days crafting the email that led to the book spiking to I think it was in the top three in the entrepreneurship category for several weeks. And I spent three days running what seemed like a really off-the-cuff special circular, a random email that really got people involved in buying it and that's what I mean.
I write but I'm not getting paid for the words.
People didn't pay me to send that email.
I’m writing a piece for Red Magazine. They don't pay their writers to write things, it's often people like me who are writing things that link out to our books. So I think that's what I mean. We don't get paid directly, but you get paid through other things.
Joanna Penn: I think that's so important and I hope everyone listening takes that advice because so much of the writing we do I think when you're building a business is not as you say it's not freelance writing, which is when you get paid for those exact words, it is brand building.
Growing assets. It's email marketing. It's all that and it's so much more.
Where can people find you and the book and everything you do online?
Marianne Cantwell: If you want to check out the book, go to BeAFreeRangeHuman.com. And the reason I suggest going to that site rather than just Googling it is that you'll definitely get the new second edition links from that site.
So you won't accidentally pick up an old Edition. The links go to Amazon UK Amazon US and you can choose your preferred booksellers from that point once you know what it looks like. If you're on Instagram can follow me at Free Range Marianne, and you can check out the brand new free-range humans website at free-range-humans.com
Joanna Penn: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time Marianne. That was great.
Marianne Cantwell: Thank you so much.