Self-Publishing, Distribution, and Writing for Wealth with Author Joanna Penn

Self-Publishing, Distribution, and Writing for Wealth with Author Joanna Penn

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How the Amazon Kindle and ebook pricing made it possible for independent authors and entrepreneurs to self-publish and write for wealth
  • Why marketing, packaging, and pricing correctly can expand your sales
  • How mobile, audio, and the growth of the international market are the next opportunities for authors

Ever the entrepreneur, Joanna Penn, my guest on this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast and author of 26 books and counting, realized the potential to write for wealth in October 2009. That was when the Amazon Kindle launched internationally and lower ebook pricing allowed independent authors access to a much larger marketplace.

Ebook pricing was a revelation. When the Kindle came out, independent authors could price their books lower and still make good margins.

– Joanna Penn

Joanna’s entrepreneurial mindset quickly realized the potential to sell books digitally to people all over the world.

Online marketing, packaging and pricing

If you are going to publish online, you need to market online.

– Joanna Penn

In 2009, Joanna was miserable at her 9-5 job, so she decided to write her first non-fiction book. After self-publishing and self-marketing the book through traditional channels (PR, TV, and newspapers), Joanna had sold about “three copies.” At the time, she really wanted to tap into the American marketplace that was much larger than Australia’s, so her focus shifted to online marketing to reach those American readers. She ditched traditional media for anything with a clickable link; started a blog in 2008, a podcast and Twitter account in 2009.

Since “you can’t have a career with just one book,” don’t trap yourself into launching a website or social media channel for just one title. Chances are you will write another book, so make sure your branding can encompass this growth.

99 cents made the first Kindle millionaires.

– Joanna Penn

By 2011, Joanna had a number of books and realized that she could leave her miserable job because her income would grow based on the size of her audience and the number of books she had.

In the podcast, Joanna shares her insights about figuring out the right price point to get the highest number of people to purchase your book and why offering something for free to your audience is still very important to build your email list and give them a chance to sample your work to see if they like it.

Under her pen name for action/adventure thrillers, J.F. Penn, Joanna’s first book in a nine-book series, Stone of Fire is permanently free on Kindle. That freebie is like the cheese samples in the supermarket. You go in and try it. If you like it, you’ll buy the whole packet—or in this case, the reader will purchase the entire series or more books if they liked what they sampled for free.

Think of Amazon as a completely different ecosystem. Amazon’s algorithms will recommend your other books that are at a higher price point to shoppers when they show interest in your free book. This is why Joanna uses J.F. Penn for her action/adventure thrillers and Joanna Penn for her non-fiction writing—to fully leverage Amazon’s role as a search engine to get in front of the right audience without confusing the algorithms.

In addition, Joanna is adept at re-packaging her work to be more easily found on Amazon whether by adjusting titles, creating box sets or altering the categories she shows up in. If your book has gone stagnant on Amazon, look at changing the cover, the category, and keywords and putting some ads on it and you may restart the whole thing.

Growth of mobile and international marketplaces

Kindle apps on mobile. Audio through Alexa. Best-seller lists on Amazon. The digital transformation of publishing continues. Joanna predicts the next opportunity for independent authors will be international marketplaces, and a little foreshadowing, it might not be on Amazon.

You don’t want to miss a thing from my conversation with Joanna about self-publishing. Tune in to the full episode to learn more about how she repackages her work and what’s on the horizon for self-publishing.

Join us each week by subscribing to the Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast on iTunes.

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Rethinking the Fashion Ecommerce Industry with Brass Clothing co-founders Jay Adams & Katie Doyle

Rethinking the Fashion Ecommerce Industry with Brass Clothing co-founders Jay Adams & Katie Doyle

The Nitty Gritty:

  • How emotional intelligence was more important than data intelligence to the cofounders of ecommerce site Brass Clothing.
  • Why product is secondary to connection with your customer.
  • How the value you provide consistently for the customer isn’t just about the product.

The friendship between Jay Adams and Katie Doyle, cofounders of Brass Clothing, began when they were freshmen in high school. They never imagined they would create an ecommerce fashion line together to satisfy not only their own needs, but the fashion needs of a community of passionate women.

Fast forward from freshmen year to when they were both budding professionals—Jay worked with apparel manufacturers and Katie with online fashion retailers—and shared a mutual frustration with the lack of quality and integrity in the fashion world as well as the toll fast fashion was having on the environment and people’s lives. They launched Brass Clothing in September 2014 with a line of five dress styles to solve the problems they had in their own wardrobes and to take advantage of the opportunity to provide something better to like-minded women.

In this week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. episode we learn about their unique product development and marketing approach that has fueled the growth of their business.

Unique Approach to Taking The Product To Market

We really were trying to take sort of a minimum viable product approach. Not very typical in consumer products, but for us it was really important for us to test our concept and see if there were other people interested in what we were doing.

– Jay Adams

Taking a minimum viable product approach wasn’t the only way Jay and Katie diverged from other ecommerce sites and consumer product businesses. In the spring of 2015, they were ready to attract more customers with their spring/summer product, but they wanted to do it in a financially feasible way so they used a Kickstarter campaign.

When it came to marketing their business, Jay and Katie continued to buck the trends of ecommerce and focused on connecting with their community rather than rely solely on what the data would tell them to do.

Tap Into People’s Emotions And Their Whys

When Jay and I started Brass, we knew we wanted to make products that women loved. Not only just great clothing, but we also wanted to create a brand that people loved. And really build a community around our brand with like-minded women.

– Katie Doyle

Typically, marketing for ecommerce sites is very data driven. Just lean on Google Analytics to tell you what people want. Jay and Katie wanted to focus on the emotional side. They really wanted to build a community. Connect with their customers. Develop relationships. As a result, emotional intelligence was more important to them than the data intelligence.

Listen. Learn. Adapt.

We’re not about cool-girl fashion, we’re about relatable fashion. We’re about connecting with our customers. We’re about helping her. Providing value all along the entire customer experience. Product, emails to the follow-up.

– Jay Adams

Listening to their consumer base continues to be a priority for Jay and Katie to help improve the product and the Brass Clothing experience. Their best-selling items have nearly 200 reviews, and Jay and Katie assess the feedback they receive from their customers to determine how they can improve. In the podcast they share several ways their products and experience have evolved based upon customer feedback including using models in all shapes and sizes to market their products.

One of the most valuable and special parts about ecommerce and direct to consumer brands is you get to own that relationship and communication with the customer.

– Jay Adams

There’s much more in the full podcast including how content marketing was crucial in the launch of Brass Clothing when Jay’s article, The Myth of the “Maxxinista” went viral, how Jay and Katie enhanced their products by embedding services (see the book by Dave Gray, The Connected Company for more on the concept), and how continuous improvement, even on tried-and-true products, is the key to success.

We look forward to sharing next week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. podcast with you. Subscribe on iTunes and tune in weekly to learn directly from today’s most inspiring entrepreneurs.

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How To Use Other People’s Ideas for Fun & Profit (Without Copying)

Joanna Wiebe on marketing her new content marketing and writing app, Airstory

The more you learn about copywriting (or sales and marketing in general) the more you realize that half of your job is using other people’s ideas.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I am not advocating for copying other people’s work.

Is that clear?

Okay… what I mean is that…

Business is always a process of identifying what works and creating from that knowledge.

Copywriters do this by paying attention to what really grabs their attention, turning that into a formula, and then creating completely original content on top of that formula.

Now, copywriting is a particular passion of mine. I love learning about how it works and I love the way it trains me to think differently.

And when I think copywriting, I think Joanna Wiebe from Copy Hackers.

I had the chance to talk to Joanna about her approach to marketing a brand new project that Copy Hackers has been working on, Airstory.

When I asked her how she was approaching the marketing for Airstory–which Joanna describes as what would happen if Google Docs & Evernote had a baby and let Trello raise it–she said she was really inspired by a marketing campaign that Blue Bottle Coffee had come up with.

They decided they wanted to use the idea too.

Blue Bottle had created a beautiful video “course” on Skillshare that explained the process of brewing exceptional coffee from start to finish. As Joanna told me, the result of watching it was that you couldn’t think about coffee the same way again.

In order for her to use the idea… 

Joanna needed to reverse engineer it.

Her goal is to get people to rethink the way they’ve always done a frequent task: content marketing specifically and writing generally.

After all, that’s what Blue Bottle did. It’s not really about the videos, it’s not really about putting it on Skillshare. The really important part is to understand the mechanism that made that campaign go viral: rethinking the way you do a daily task.

Further, Joanna told me, the real idea is teaching people to be a better consumer of your product so that they’ll only want to choose your product in the future. It’ll be the only one that now meets their standards.

Once she knew that, she could approach marketing Airstory with the “how and what” of the Blue Bottle campaign but with her core goal being to create better writers instead of better coffee brewers.

The videos and distribution channel for the marketing campaign became what I call the “building blocks” of her marketing. But her own product, brand, and customer perspective become what the building blocks are made out of.

You can do the same thing with any successful marketing or sales assets.

What’s more: you should.

I teach our Quiet Power Strategy clients to start looking at every sales page that catches their eye or every email that moves them to click as an opportunity to create a template.

That template is inevitably made up of building blocks that you can use if you only sub in what’s particular to your product, brand, and customer perspective.

Take this blog post, for instance!

  • The first building block (at the beginning) is a shocking or counterintuitive statement that seems to go against cultural norms.
  • The second building block (the bulk of the email) is an explanation of this idea referencing a conversation, in this case, one I had with a successful business owner.
  • The third building block (what you’re reading right now) is a call to action around how to apply this to work for you.
  • The fourth building block (it’s coming, read on!) is a final call to action to check out the whole conversation.

So what are you waiting for?

Listen to Joanna explain this whole process–plus how she interviews prospects to come up with product ideas and how she’s built out two teams to support both the training side of the business and the software side of the business.

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How to Find Success In a Crowded Market: Fix What’s Broken for the People You Care About

How to launch a product in a crowded market

I always chuckle when people tell me their market is “really crowded” and for that reason, they’re a special case when it comes to marketing or business development.

What market is not really crowded in the 21st century?

I mean, we now have competing toilet sprays to keep people from knowing you’re going #2 while you’re at your significant other’s house.

A crowded market often means more opportunity, not less opportunity.

First, if a market is crowded it means that there is plenty of demand. There are loads of people who want to buy.

Second, if a market is crowded there are lots of straightforward, non-ninja ways to figure out what needs still aren’t being met.

And it’s this second piece of the puzzle that I want to focus on today.

You can develop a product in a crowded market and become a key player…

…if you focus on what’s “broken” about the other solutions on the market for the people you care about most.

Take Emily McDowell’s blockbuster success.

Emily noticed that, despite Valentine’s Day being a multi-billion dollar industry, none of the greeting cards she could find matched the relationships that she and her friends were really in.

Those greeting cards were “broken” for people like Emily (and probably for people like you, too).

The solution?

Make a greeting card that was laser-focused on that kind of relationship.

1500 orders in 1 week with zero marketing on her part…

…and the idea was proven.

I did the same thing earlier this year when I decided that I’d have enough of “online courses” but not enough of virtual training and created our Virtual Planning Retreats.

Online courses weren’t getting the results customers wanted (or that I wanted) because of the very way they were structured–so I “fixed it.”

I thought about the specific people I care the most about (you) and I created the Virtual Planning Retreat to “fix” the online course experience for you.

(By the way, the next one is February 22-23 and if you’d like to see if it’s for you, I’ve got a 4-video training series that walks you through the big reasons you’re not making the money you’d like to be right now.)

Last week, I talked with both Joanna Wiebe and Nathalie Lussier who have both launched software products in crowded spaces and they echoed the same strategy:

Find out what’s broken for the specific people you care about and fix it.

Don’t worry that your product is one of many in a crowded market, if it’s designed with for a customer who isn’t satisfied with the existing options–no matter how many there might be–you’ll have a winner on your hands.

Think about your own market:

What do you hear about being “broken?”

What do your customers have to “make work” for them?

What disappoints them about existing options?

The answers to those questions could be the key to your next blockbuster offer.

 

Building Relationships & Communities to Fuel Your Business with Justin Shiels

Building Relationships and Communities to Fuel Your Business with Justin Shiels on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

When it comes to networking, I’m a little intense. I’ve actually reserved every Wednesday at 3pm for a meeting with a close friend or a new stranger who I’m interested in meeting. So I literally email, Facebook, or Instagram someone who I think is doing something interesting.

— Justin Shiels, marketer, speaker, and community builder

This week’s Profit. Power. Pursuit. guest is Justin Shiels the founder of This Creative Lab and Curious Tribe. Justin has over 9 years experience in communications, marketing, and graphic design. He uses his passion for community and his hometown of New Orleans to fuel his work. In 2014 Justin cofounded Venture Pop, a conference for creative entrepreneurs.

Justin and I talk about the power of nurturing relationships, the specific tactics he uses to connect with new people, and his value of diversity in building creative communities.

A Simple Networking Tactic Even You Can Use Every Day

Aside from his weekly standing meetings to get to know new people, Justin also recommends a networking tactic (oy, that sounds so cold and impersonal for such a friendly thing) for staying in touch with the people he meets. I’ve been trying to implement this networking tactic myself all year–and it’s panned out beautifully.

The process is simple: 

If you read something, see something, hear something, or think something that reminds you of someone you know, let them know. Don’t let the thought pass and wonder why you haven’t talked to them in forever.

Drop them an email, text them, post on their Facebook wall…

…heck, pick up the phone and call them!

Share the thought, article, or video that made you think of them and tell them why. That’s it!

These small gestures–whether you actually reconnect with the person or not–puts you (and your business, mission, movement, ideas, etc…) back on the top-of-mind for the person you just thought of.

It’s a little thing that can have big results.

Take Action Now

In fact, why not give it a try right now.

Who do you know who is a natural relationship-builder? An authentic networker? A consummate community-wrangler? 

Let them know what Justin’s interview made you think of them. Tell them how much you appreciate their curiosity, friendliness, and openness.

Love this episode? Subscribe on iTunes and while you’re there, leave us a review, too! It helps us reach more smart & ambitious small business owners like you.

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