In today's episode, we will talk to Joanna Penn about balancing business and creativity and why, if you want to make a living doing your art and doing your creativity, you cannot have one without the other. Your biggest takeaway will probably be an amazing mindset change and tools that can help you run a successful creative business online. Let's dive in. 

Joanna is in an award nominated New York times and USA today best-selling thriller author as well as nonfiction author. And she has written 32 books by now and sold over 600,000 books in 149 countries and in six languages. And the amazing thing about her, that she's done all of this as an independent author, and she also runs a small press, Curl Up Press, with her husband and business partner.

Here are the links mentioned in the episode:

Joanna's course "Business for Authors":
Joanna's Website:
Joanna's Fiction:
My dystopian fiction:

And as you'll probably hear from my squeaking and excited the voice, she has also been my online mentor for many years, basically since I've started diving into the creative online world. And I'm really honored and excited to have her on my podcast and have her share her story and her view on the balance of business and creativity.  

I just recently took her mini course, the author business plan, which I loved. And my burning question was: how to balance business and creativity? And I know that she has a lot to say about this. But first we can learn from her own writing journey.

Joanna:  I started writing in 2006, so I started my first nonfiction book back then. And I published that beginning of 2008. And this was before the Kindle before any of that. So I didn't have any understanding of the business of publishing. I had no intention of doing this, you know, for a living. And that book was called Career Change. 

And then it was a case of trying to change my life so I could find a career I was interested in. I had no business thought about it at all. And then as the years went by, so, you know, as it turned out, I love publishing and I love writing. Many of us get the bug. And so by the end of 2008, I started a blog and I thought my business direction was as a speaker, as a nonfiction author. And I started to go in that direction. I did some training as a speaker, started making a bit of money on the side while doing my day job.

And then I started writing fiction. And then, and then, and then. So the question of how do we balance business and creativity is entirely dependent on your stage in the writer's journey. 

So, first of all, think: where am I now? Where am I in the creative writing journey? How long have I been in the online world? And what is the beginning stage even? Let's talk about this one first.

Joanna: When I say beginning, I probably mean the first five years, then you're probably still finding your way.

And certainly between 2006 to 2011, I wasn't making enough money to consider anything. And so business back then was: how do you pay the bills? But also, in that time, I downsized and that type of thing. Now, my business is much more stable. I have multiple streams of income, which we'll talk about. But now, I can be much more focused on the creative side.

So for example, I'm just finishing the third book in my Mapwalker Trilogy, which is a fantasy series and that's a completely new genre for me. It's been really hard to market it. You know, it's like, why did I do that? If I'd purely been business focused, I would not have written these books at all. But creatively, I needed to write them and I love them.

And now they're selling as well. So the main thing is: where are you in your creative business? Do you have other ways of paying the bills? And if you do, then you can just follow your creative side anyway  and you may need to support your art. 

So in the beginning, it's realistic to have the expectation that you will have to support your art by doing other stuff, like having a day job or like for me, I have my freelance filmmaking on the side, which supports my online business and creativity. The question is: how can you support your art? And have this realistic expectation that it won't make you any money in the beginning. But if you do it right, you will get to a point where you will be able to even get money from your writing and your creative endeavors. 

But even then, it is still a question of balance.

Joanna: If you get to a point where you are making steady income from various things, and part of that may be parts of your writing, then it's almost like one for them, one for me. 

I'm going to write one book because I know that will sell or I'm going to do this one speaking thing, or I'm going to do this freelance writing, and then I'm going to also write this other thing, which won't make any money but will satisfy me creatively. 

It is a balance, as you say, but for me, it's not a constant balance. It's more shifting one way for a bit, then shifting the other way for a bit. 

All right, so shifting back and forth. But unfortunately the day has only 24 hours so how can we create a day that is sustainable that doesn't burn us out but where we can shift between creativity and business?

Diana: How do you decide, do you structure it or do you just do whatever feels right where the muse strikes you? How do you do this?

Joanna: Yeah. Don't don't rely on how you feel, that's for sure. No, I think that is the first thing this is a job. So if you want to make a living this way, you have to treat it as a job. And some days you definitely don't feel like it, right? And you have to do stuff that you don't necessarily want to do. Like today I was doing some of my tax stuff. That is just part of it. It's not art for sure, but it's very necessary. 

So in terms of structuring, I kind of have two main things. 

So the first one is I have a project based life. When I was writing the first draft of Map of the Impossible, which was my most recent novel, every day, let's say five days a week, I would spend at least the morning working on the first draft of that novel.

And I didn't really do anything else apart from exercise or whatever. But my creative energy during that first draft phase went all in to Map of the Impossible. Then, when it came to the editing, actually, I think that's when I did the business plan course. So as a break in between first draft and edits, I said, okay, I knew that the Author Business Plan mini-course would make some money and also would be useful. And these are two very good things. So I was like, okay, I know how it's going to take me at least a week and a half to make that course so I'm going to do that now. And it's a break from my creative side, it will also make money.

And so I had one project that was still going, but I took a little break and I focused on that business plan course, I got it out and that was off my plate. And then I went back to the novel and did the edits. 

I love that project based approach because it helps you concentrate on one thing. And what I know for sure that for creatives are hats just full with ideas and stuff that we want to do. So. If you have only one project that you focus on and work with you can also get all of your creative energy into that particular project finish it and then go on to the next stage. 

But Joanna has an another productivity hack that actually works with your body and your creativity .

Joanna: And then on a micro level, I structure my day, according to creative energy and marketing energy or whatever. So I do interviews like this in the afternoons, so my mornings are often creative work. Now, today, actually I worked on a lot of admin that has been piling up. We're in a heat wave here in Europe as we record this and my brain is just not working out well.

So today I was like, you know what, I'm just going to get a load of admin out of the way, like the tax stuff. And so some days you just need to do that. But usually in the morning I would do creative work and in the afternoon I'll do business or marketing. That creative work might be creating a novel, it might be creating a nonfiction book, it might be creating my podcast, which I do every Friday. It might be something else, like recording an audio book, for example. But as long as I'm balancing creative work with the business and marketing side, it tends to even out pretty much over time.

And as a quick side hustle, I would love to highlight that Joanna just allowed herself to say, okay, today's a day where this is completely hot and I don't have the energy to be creative, which we have to allow ourselves also at some point. But she still treated her work as a job and instead did the admin stuff that she probably didn't want to do but had to do .

Now let's get back to the project based approach because now we have to decide which project to tackle first. And let's be honest, we have so many ideas and so many projects that we want to start. What do we consider first? Our creative energy in a willingness to do this as a creative person or the business side of it and how much money it might make us ?

Joanna: I know that I can make more money immediately publishing a nonfiction book or doing a course. I know that. So I could spend all my time serving the author community and making money that way. Like, I don't do consulting anymore because it takes so much time. It is a way I could make more money. You know, I could have one of these mastermind things or whatever, but I do that because I have to prioritize my creative side as well as the business. It really is a case of: you have to decide your goals for the year. And your goals for longer periods, and then you need to find a way to hit those goals.

It's like a financial goal. Like I need X amount of money. How am I going to make that money? And then do I really need to do more than that, on that money side? Or could I spend the other time on my creative side? So definitely, in the first few years, I had to do more things for income because, you know, that was the way I had to make money. But now, things are more stable. I can definitely choose more creative work, over things. 

Now, in terms of thinking about the market, I don't write to market as in terms of fiction at all. I wish I could. I really wish I could because it's very hard, I find it very hard to market my fiction because it's so cross genre. But I'm, I'm trying to learn better around these things.

But with my nonfiction, technically you could say, I write to a market. Not to market, but I write to my own market, my audience, you know, I knew with my author business plan that you and a whole load of people would buy that car because I know you. You're like me. And I found it useful, so you probably will. And the same with my nonfiction books, I write these books because I'm learning something and I think it might be useful for you.

Although like Audio for Authors which came out in January, I think, that doesn't sell much at all. Party, because most people are not podcasting. Most people are not doing audio books. I should have written different book that would sell more copies, but I have to write the things that I'm interested in as well.

So again, there is no exact answer, but I think life is too short to spend time on things you don't care about. So I will never write a book that I don't believe in at the time.

I feel like here, it all comes also back to balance. What do you believe in what project do you love? What won't let you go? And at the same time, How can you serve your audience, your readers, your fans? And combining both of them and also taking risks is something that we creatives do.

Joanna: Also, I don't write fast enough, you know. I think, if you write to market, you have to be able to write really fast. And I can't do that.

Diana: I completely understand. I can't do this as well. In general with fiction, do you follow the advice of write the book that you would want to read, as well? 

Joanna: Oh, yeah, definitely. With fiction, and again, I make so many mistakes, please, people listening, don't think I don't make mistakes. I make mistakes all the time. Like opening another box and writing another, I almost thought that the first book, Map of Shadows, was a standalone.

And then I discovered it wasn't a standalone and I thought it was a series. And then I discovered in writing Map of the Impossible, it was a trilogy. And then I was like, Oh great, it's a trilogy. Well, in that case, I should finish it, and also as indie authors doing box sets can be very lucrative. I think you have two books, don't you, at the moment? 

Diana: At the moment, but I'm writing the third one  as well. 

Joanna: Well done! Having three books makes things so much easier because, well, first of all, you can put the first on a promotion and you sell another two. 

So definitely if you're writing fiction, getting to three in a series is like a magic mark. And because the Mapwalkers was a new series, I had to finish the three. And then also my Arcane Series, like it's up to book 11 and a lot of the readers on my email list are like: can you stop writing those Fantasy books? We're not interested. Please write another thriller. Like literally, I got a review from one of my best Arc readers that said on Map of Shadows, it was like a two star review. And it said, I wish she wouldn't write these, I wish she would write Arcane Thrillers.

Okay, then, thanks for that. Wasn't, that was a great review. So this is the difficulty. But equally that's why respecting the muse is important. And we don't know what is going to connect with readers over time. 

You have to do both. I think finishing series or serving the readers of a series is really important. But equally, you have to also do what brings you alive.

Let's just stop here for a moment and think about the things that bring you alive. What creative project, what story would bring you alive? What would you love to do next? Maybe this is the most important question you can ask yourself when you're thinking about doing next projects. 

And now,  Joanna will get back into another principle she shared above and get deeper into it because this is really important as well .

Joanna: In terms of choosing projects, I literally have 17 different folders. So in my computer, obviously I've got a nice organized folder structure, but I have my "to-write" folder has 17 projects right now.

And to decide what's next is going to be this kind of one for me, one for them. So I have to now do two Arcane books to make my readers happy, but then I also want the next one after that will probably be a standalone book that nobody wants, nobody knows about. And I just need to write it, and then I'll have to circle back.

Some of these things get a bit more complicated the longer you go on in yout writing career. But that's what makes it fun I guess.

And here's something that made me think. Something that we especially as beginning creative people and writers don't expect.

Joanna: I actually think that until you've probably written five novels that you don't know your own voice.

I certainly found that writing book five, which for me, was Desecration, something just clicked into place. I was like, Oh, I get it now. I really, I get how to write a book. And also I was able to stop self censoring so much and just really lean into it a lot more. Trust my creative side.

Okay, so I definitely have to write more books. But do I also have to write a business plan as a beginner or do I wait until my creativity and everything clicks into place ?

Joanna: Ideally that would be brilliant. And I certainly did that for the Creative Penn and my nonfiction business, and you've seen it, it's in the Author Business Plan. I don't want to freak people out with the phrase business plan. I mean, literally it was just a big piece of paper with like a mind map, right? It just had things of the things that will make up a business. And then I sort of every day you take steps towards that future state.

And now I have a number of brands. But if you want to make a living from your art, I think from your art is potentially difficult, which is why I say with your writing, because writing can be art, but it, you know, I can't say that my book How to make a living with your writing is art.

I would say that it is very useful. And in fact, the course you mentioned, Your Author Business Plan, that's not art. That is a course that's meant to help you, but it also brings in some money for me to pay for my art. What I would say to people is if you want to, let's say, make a living with your art as one of the things you do, and then you also have to do other things to pay the bills. And that is, to be honest, why the vast majority of fiction authors have another job. Many of them will be working in teaching, lecturing, many will be maybe be editors. I know cover designers, lots of people doing lots of different things to fund the other side of their business.

Maybe we need to redefine art here because art for me is something that I can do that I like to do. That is in my heart that I care about. And maybe a business course or a nonfiction book is not art per se. But it's a story that comes from the heart and so I think having even the freedom to do this and make money with this is a huge privilege.

Joanna: So for example, and I, I say in the course, on my plan does not have make money from a film deal for my fiction because I can't actually actively do that right now.

It's not something I can I activelly do. But what I can actively do is make a production plan, which says, I need to write another two novels between now and Christmas, and that will take me towards the goal of making more money with fiction. No one can tell you exactly how to do things, but you make your plan and then real life comes along and you may have to do some other things to keep that going. But that plan can still stay in your mind and written down. 

I would say to everyone, please do write it down. You know, we are writers. So at least have at least a one pager of what you would like to see in your business.

Remember this: a business plan doesn't have to be a highly complicated thing, because this is something for you. This is something where you have to write down and state your goals for your creative business, and also something that will help you understand where you want to go. And something that you can actively control.

But let's be honest, especially in the beginning, we don't always reach these goals. We expect things to be difficult, but we don't expect them to be that difficult. 

And I don't know about you, but very often I thought about quitting. I questioned my career choice and I thought: is this even worth it? Will I ever be able to make a living with my creativity?

Joanna: The struggle is life. I mean, If you became anything, whatever you do, you are not worth much in the first five years.

You can become a teacher and the first five years, you're not going to be worth that much. You know, it takes time to learn your career, whatever that may be. And so it's the same with being a writer. Or what you choose. So for someone like you, you're similar to me, you're doing multiple things as well.

And this is also a danger, but also necessary. I mean, it's necessary because you need to pay the bills, but it's also a danger because your energy is split into multiple things. 

All I can do really is encourage you to have that mindset of, okay, I need to pay the bills. What is that thing? And then I need to do my art, which is this thing. And for a while, they may not be the same thing. And in fact, they might never be the same thing. You know, maybe one day I'll get my incredible movie deal. But even then, you know, there's a book called Hollywood versus the author, which is basically full of terrible stories of authors suffering at the hands of Hollywood.

We all think that there's a magic bullet but actually I think the struggle is just the journey. And if you're not struggling financially, then you'll be struggling with your story. Because if you're not struggling with your story, then you're not challenging yourself enough.

And you know what, at the end of the day, it has to be, or else everyone would do it. For example, self publishing. Everyone in the world can throw up a word document now on to Amazon Kindle. Hence it is completely full of, let's face it, a lot of crap. There is a lot of crap being self-published not by serious indie authors, but by random spammers and scammers and, you know, just people putting stuff up, that's completely filling up the screens of everybody.

So it's a struggle to even stand out in the market. I've got 32 books, but I still have to get that visibility in the store. And that is everything single day, there's some form of struggle. What I would say is you have to come back to: why am I doing this? It's like, should just go be an accountant or should I just go be a teacher, which I know to be fair, being a teacher is probably a lot harder. What do I want to spend my life doing? I think Tony Robbins says that, you know, the American self-help writer, what do you want and what are you willing to do to get it? 

What I would say is, between 2006 to 2011, five years, I did the side hustle,  and pretty much worked a job and built up the business. And then it took until 2015 before I surpassed the income I had given up. So that's 2006 to 2015, so that's nine years of doing it. 

And now, we're in 2020, and I've had five years of earning more money than I did in my day job. And that's fantastic, but equally I still have to keep it all running. It literally has to come down to what do I want to do with my life and what am I willing to do to get to that point and then keep going. But you have to give it time.

Why are you doing this? This is such a great question. Why do you want it? And what are you willing to give to get it?

Think about how you want to spend your life. Is there really an alternative to what you're doing? Because this has actually kept me going all along. There is no alternative, I don't want to be and I don't want to do anything else .

Joanna: And the other thing I would say is you do have to keep reassessing along the way, which clearly you're going through.

Diana: And this is what I wanted to ask you, like, was the reassessment, how do you know if you have to keep pushing the way you're doing things or you have to like reassess everything and do something maybe completely different from wha doing?  

Joanna: I'm currently going through this reassessment of my fiction author business. So what's happened for me is in the last couple of years, my fiction book sales have decreased. My total business revenue has remained, but I want to make more money with my fiction. And I'm still making very good money, but it's trending the wrong way, even though I'm publishing more books. 

So I'm like, okay, well there's a couple reasons we've talked about. I started a whole new series, which meant I was not focused on my existing customer base. But equally the investment in those new books could mean that I'll make more money once the series is completed. So that was a bit of a risk. But equally the other thing that's really changed, and you know this, a lot of the listeners will know this, is the Amazon advertising has become so important and we do very well with Amazon ads with nonfiction, but I have not got it working for my fiction. And that is my fault, I'm just not engaged enough. And I have thought I will able to do other things to offset and although I have offset it with some other things, it is just not good enough. 

So for me, this part of this reassessment is: okay, I need to spent more time on my fiction brand and also positioning my books. And also I need to double down and like spend some time getting into Amazon ads. I'm pretty confident on Facebook ads, for example, but I need to do this. Now, I have resisted that many times. You would have heard me on the podcasts. I don't enjoy that. You know, I really don't. Well, I've decided I need to reframe it. I need to say no, it's a game. It's a game. I just need to learn the rules and then I need to play the game. I haven't, as we speak as we record this, I've not cracked it yet, but fully intention.

I could just say, oh, I'm just going to give up my fiction, you know, or I'm just going to do something else, write more books, but I know that I need to do a number of things. That is a point and how I knew that is at the end of the year, I do my accounts while I do my accounts every month, but I looked at it compared to last year and went, okay, this is going in the wrong direction.

Therefore, I need to change this. So that's one market is the money. So if you do your accounts, And if you are listening and you haven't set up a business or whatever, it's still, you have to track it. 

So for you, you have two books. It's very unlikely you'll be making any money at the moment and it may be that you're reinvesting everything. That's certainly where I was at the beginning, reinvesting into editing, cover design, advertising stuff, building your email list, all of these things. So the first goal might be: okay, I want to make a profit of I'll just make it, you know, a hundred dollars a month. I want to make a profit with the fiction side of my business of a hundred dollars a month. How am I going to do that? And then work towards that goal. While the significant money is being covered by something else. 

So that's where my business is. The significant money is covered by my podcast, my website, the affiliate income that I get my nonfiction book sales, which are, you know, completely fine  So I don't need to do anything on those, I just need to keep going. My podcast, for example, I have to do my podcast every week. I like doing it, but I have to do it because it pays for a lot of the other things in my life. So that's what you need to consider. It's sort of: okay if I look at all the pots of money, are they going in the right direction? And that's why the first five years when I did work in a day job, my day job was funding the growth of my creative business.

And now, you know, the creative business funds our pensions and the mortgage and the bills and everything. And you just need to kind of do it that way.

I love the reframing of the mindset. Because there are many things that I don't want to do. Like Joanna, I'm really shying back from Amazon ads, but also I'm waiting to finish my trilogy before I get into this, which I have to, and the same with accounting and money management. I really don't like thinking about my money and mentioned my money but this is something that is necessary.

Joanna: It is. Unless you want it to be a hobby. This is the thing. And I used to think that anyone could be an independent author. And I don't think that anymore. I think that this life is only good for people who enjoy the business side, as well as the creative side, because anyone can publish, anyone can write, and I encourage everyone to do that. But if you want to be a successful independent author or even a successful traditionally published author for the long term, you kind of have to get interested in the rest of it.

Now let's come to the money side because I have never had a problem doing accounts or counting money. And I'll tell you why it's because of that reframing. To me, wealth generation or money coming in, and then money going out that kind of cash flow, that is so creative.

And what I love about our industry, like, I'm just about to pay for new covers for the Desecration and Delirium and Deviance. So I'm funding my book cover designer for that bill, I'm paying my virtual assistants who you help me with the podcast transcript, I'm funding BookFunnel who help deliver our books. I'm putting money into Kiva, which is an entrepreneurial charity, I'm funding, you know, different things through the wealth that I generate through my creative work. So I actually feel that the money side is very creative and in fact business can generate incredible things in the world. And that is exciting.

I understand where you're at with the ads. So I do think you need to be more excited about the money. I think I've put it in that course, but for people listening,, there's a whole list there. And it sounds like you, and maybe some people listening need to do a bit of work around the money mindset stuff. And that can be very challenging. It can be very hard to face up to some of the things that you think about money, you feel about money and that will really hold you back big time. That would be my challenge for you and people listening. If you can't say out loud, I want to be a wealthy author, I want to be a six figure author, I want to be a seven figure author, I love money - that's really hard for people to say, I practice, you see. Then you will struggle to bring it in. And I'm don't want to get too woo woo, Law of Attraction, but I do think there is some hing about energy around money and the acceptance of being a wealthy creative is really important.

And we can do great things in the world when we have the money to do it. And I think that is really important.

I was really challenged by Joanna to reframe my money mindset. And I am working on that right now. And I know that reframing mindset can be a game changer. And now let's get a little bit into marketing because I reframed my mindset about marketing a couple of years ago. When I understood that marketing is storytelling. 

Before that like every creative person and every author, I was like: Hmm, cannot anybody else do the marketing for me? But I understood that doing marketing in the right way can be a privilege.

Joanna: Marketing is sharing what  you love with people who want to hear about it. And that's so important because so many authors are like, buy my book, buy my book, just to anyone.

Like I've literally been at festivals and people come up to me and go, would you like to buy my book? I'm like, uh, no, dude. What are you doing? Like this podcast, right, if people aren't interested, they would have turned off by now. 

And we're just putting our selves and our words in front of people. And if they want to hear about it, they will listen. And I feel like that's the kind of marketing I enjoy, and that's why I'm reframing Amazon ads around: okay, the only way to get my stuff in front of people who might hear about it is by this method, which is, has me become necessary in that market. I want to get my books in front of people who want to hear about them and the best thing is understanding your target market so well that your ad is just laser targeted to that person. And then they go, yes, that's exactly what I want. 

Diana: But discovering this target, it's so difficult, right? 

Joanna: Oh yeah, of course. But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

Joanna is a futurist geek, just like I am. And I have to be because I'm a dystopian author. But she's just so good at it. I love listening to the futurist of segments on her podcast because they're always spot on and she's usually too early in predicting the developments, but she always gets them right. 

So, of course I had to ask her about the future development in the creative industry online. And how we ask authors and creative entrepreneurs can prepare best for those future developments. 

Let's see what she has to say about that.  

Joanna: There will only be more content. Even you look at indie authors, you know, writing a lot faster, you also have AI translation. I know you're in Germany and I did books in German with first draft, the AI translator. This is becoming more and more common. There were books thrown onto the Kindle stole that are just translated with AI, with no editing. There's going to be more  translated material and then there's going to be AI generated material, which people may deny, but it's definitely already happening. You see some stuff on there, you're like, this is so AI generated. There have been the first AI generated textbooks for sale and this kind of thing. So if you fast forward a couple of years, say five years, you know, there will be more and more and more content.

And so I think the best way to prepare is to double down on being human and put yourself out there so that it's clear who you are, what you do, what you care about and so that people can choose you. And they can care about you. I mean, we've seen this in the pandemic. The first thing I did was think, who do I definitely wanted to keep paying? You know, who can I let go and who can I keep paying? Like my virtual assistant Alexandra, who's been with me like six years, I will do pretty much anything to keep paying her to help me, like she's so important to my business or my book cover designer, Jane, I will just, you know, I want to pay the people who are important in my business.

And so that personal resonance is really important and I'm really grateful to the people who keep paying for my podcast, my patrons. And you know, people from all around the world who want me to keep podcasting, I really appreciate that. And actually it didn't drop off. I thought it was going to drop off and it, and it didn't. That's because I have a connection with people, right? And I think that's all we can do. 

If we think about the future, we have to say, okay, Here's me. Here's my face. Here's my smile. Here's my books. Here's my stuff. And connect. So I would say that personal brand and that authentic connection is important.

And also your email list, like in the last 20 years, the email list is still being important. And I think it will continue to be. I am less or less interested in social media. I'm 45. I feel like the last decade of Twitter has been my social media heyday, and I'm just not prepared to get into anything else in a big way, but everyone will find their own space, right? I do like Instagram, but you can't do everything. So personal connection, making it very clear who you are. And I think a lot of authors are shy or slightly pulling back from being out there.

But I think we have to  try and stand out. And it's not just advertising. It's also adding an author's note at the back of your books and saying, come on over to my website and sign up for my list. And just being human. I  literally think that is the only way. 

And then also, I guess the other thing would be using the tools that come and not being afraid of the future. I'm certainly going to do that. You know, I use Scrivener, you and I talking over Zoom , we send our podcast out through tools that we use. So I will use the tools that come to help create more stuff. But equally I think that human connection is really important.

And now the last question I like to ask every guest of mine. What's? Your favorite story and why? And this one's actually quite different but I think it shines a light on joanna's awesome personality

Joanna: So my favorite book is the Stand by Stephen King, which is right now in his, it is a pandemic book. So. Like 30 years old, but basically 99.9% of the world dies in this pandemic. But what I love about, and it's really epic, it's like massively thick and it's good versus evil, which is the tropes I really love.

And it's very high stakes. Because it's so long, it goes deep into character. And I think I love that book for many reasons, but I think it also inspired me about being a writer because it's, you know, it's pretty dark and yet also horror, it's more horror slash thriller. You know, it's about defeating the monster and I love that theme, but then I'll also add that my favorite movie is ConAir with Nicholas Cage, but again, it's interesting because when you, you think about like, if people haven't watched ConAir and  it's an explosion movie, but it's very clear, good versus evil, you know, and doing everything for your family, he's just trying to get home to his family and he has to like down a plane and kill all the bad guys to do it. 

When we look at the things we love, the same themes come up over and over again. And for me in my fiction good versus evil is always a big deal. And also doing things for family, I feel is one of my underlying emotional things that I have. So there you go - the Stand and ConAir. Yeah.

Let's pivot back to all the takeaways from this amazing interview. First of all, write down a business plan, set goals, but don't expect to get revenue from your creativity in the first five years. So think about how you can support your creative endeavors otherwise. 

The other thing I loved is if it was easy, everybody would do it. This is why it is so hard. But if you can persevere through the hardship, you will come back victorious on the other side again, and again.

Also reframe your mindset around all the things related to business - money marketing. Think about them as highly creative and as highly beneficial, not only for you, but for the people around you. 

For the future, we can prepare by being more human, letting our personalities shine online and using the tools that come our way.  

To find the sweet spot in the balance between creativity and business, I think you have to ask yourself those two questions. What brings you alive? And also what serves your audience? And where you can combine both of those questions or pivot from one to the other, you can succeed in building a thriving online creative business. 

And if you want to learn more about Joanna, which I think you should, here's where you can find her.

Joanna: So the Creative Penn Podcast and Penn with a double N since everyone's listening on a podcast, that's where you can find me. You can obviously find my nonfiction is Joanna Penn, and my thrillers are under J F Penn, on all the usual places.

Come on over and say hello, and, thank you so much for having me Diana. 

Yeah. And I actually cannot recommend the podcast highly enough. I've been a listener since I discovered it and I listened to every single episode and every time I'm like, I have to get home and write stuff down. So yeah, I really encourage people to listen to that one.

And I hope you got some value from this. I certainly have. 

And in the next episode, I will get more into the business course from Joanna Penn and tell you how it shifted my lookout and also my creative business. And until then, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast or the YouTube channel, if you're listening on YouTube. Get my freebie on, rate the show. And I see you next time.


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