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The Creative Penn | Ep 181

Joanna Penn shares her story of building multiple income streams and becoming a writer. She outlines how anyone with the passion to be creative can do the same.

Joanna Penn

  • Joanna did not simply quit her job after deciding to write a book. In fact, she resigned from her career several times in order to start new businesses. She compared the process of discovering what she wanted to do to the process of skiing down a mountain. You’ll have to zig-zag along the way to find the direction that you truly want to go.
  • When Joanna published her first book, she decided to go with the self-publishing route instead of traditional publishing. She gave herself permission to move forward with publishing on her own. Although her first book only sold a hundred copies, she decided to learn from her efforts and push forward. With that, she started to build her podcast and a platform.
  • Self publishing is a choice to be independent and publish books when and how she chooses. Joanna does not view self publishing as a negative in any way. In fact, it is a positive choice. The validation from her readers and her bank account lets her know that she is doing something right.
  • Before quitting her job to take writing full time, Joanna built up the side hustle for years. She was incredibly dedicated and worked on creative endeavors in the morning and building her platform at night after the day job. At some point in 2011, she and her husband decided to sell off their properties to build some cash reserves before Joanna took her business full-time. The first year was very difficult, but by 2015 she had built a six-figure business.
  • If you are planning to launch a similar strategy, Joanna recommends designations separate creative and marketing times. Scheduling your time becomes very important, otherwise, it can be difficult to stay productive.
  • If you want to get started writing, just start. Don’t worry about creating a perfect sentence, you can always edit after you create the first draft.
  • Before you start writing, decide what you want to achieve with your book. The type of writing you choose to create will vary greatly based on your goals.


Table Of Contents

Meet Joanna Penn

Jonathan: All right, everyone, I’m very excited about this particular episode. We’re getting the opportunity to speak with Joanna Penn from the Creative Penn, with double N’s.

And the context for this being Joanna Penn has really become an ambassador for the independent writer. In fact, she’s kind of been leading on charge for this for really, almost close to the past decade now. In the process, she’s created a safe space for writers that are looking to branch out on their own, flex their creative muscles, and figure out, is this something that you could take for maybe just a side hustle, or a dream, and actually turn it into a viable living? Where you don’t have to worry about being a starving artist.

In fact, Joanna’s story is so compelling, she actually walked away from a six-figure job and took a massive pay dip. And was able to rebuild her income over time using some of the tactics and techniques that we’re going to be talking about on the show today.

I hope what we can do is give you some actionable tips, if you’ve ever thought about pursuing a career in writing, and take away some of the fear that might come along with that. Do I have to wait till I’ve reached Financial Independence in order to pursue that? And all the list of things that can come through, her years of experience in this industry.

To help me with this, I have my co-host Brad here with me today, how are you doing, buddy?

Brad: Hey, Jonathan, I’m doing quite well. Yeah, I’ve been really looking forward to this. I had the good fortune of meeting Joanna when I was interviewed on her podcast, actually, a couple of months ago.

So, it’s neat to find out that she is this highly, highly successful independent author, and she has followed the FI path. She is truly a member of the FI community. To see her leave this high paying job and get the benefits of FI long before she was there. That’s part of the beautiful journey that she’s undertaken.

The cool thing here is we have the third member of our podcast team, M.K., on the show. M.K., is, as we know, an independent author, and she is a huge fan of Joanna. She’s listened to her for years, and we thought there’s nobody better to help us interview Joanna than M.K. So, M.K., thanks for being here.

M.K.: Yeah, thanks for letting me be part of this interview. I love it when my worlds collide, my worlds of writing and independent publishing, and FI. That was initially when I decided I needed a break from all the FI podcasts, because that was my whole life.

I was like, “I wonder if there’s podcast about books, or for writing. Oh, my gosh, I could be learning more.” That’s when I found Joanna’s podcast, and as I was listening over the years, she would say things about the financial aspect of being an author, and I would think, “I wonder, I wonder if we should subtly try to get her into the FI movement.”

I was listening to her on the Unemployable Podcast, which amazing name for a podcast, by the way. She said something about the FI movement, and I was sitting next to my husband Jason, and I paused it and I was like, “Joanna Penn knows about FI. My worlds are together.”

From there, that was how we were able to get you in touch with her Brad, and it was just this beautiful moment where I was like, “Oh, the universe is right. Everything is coming together.”

Jonathan: Well, that is awesome. So, with that, Joanna, welcome to the Choose FI podcast.

Joanna Penn: Oh, thanks so much for having me on the show. I’m super excited to be here as well. I love what you guys are doing, and people have been asking me to do more on Financial Independence, and I’m like, “No, just go over to ChooseFI.”

Jonathan: Perfect, that’s awesome. Well, exactly what we want to do today is talk more about writing.

Deciding To Make A Change

Specifically, leveraging the powers of Financial Independence long before you reach some maybe binary number, you’re there, you’re not there. You get that it’s a continuum, right? I think what we see, the power of this for creatives. I think all of us, humanity, was born to create not just to assemble widgets. If you can realize that not just in your golden years and beyond, but really in your best years, that’s inspiring.

I think all of us, humanity, was born to create not just to assemble widgets. If you can realize that not just in your golden years and beyond, but really in your best years, that’s inspiring. To see people that have done it make it easier for the rest of us that didn’t have that much courage right out the gate.

To see people that have done it make it easier for the rest of us that didn’t have that much courage right out the gate.

So, could you give us a sense, what gave you the courage to try this?

Joanna: Well, in terms of writing, I think I’ve always been a writer, and those people on the video can see behind me, I’ve got loads of journals, I’ve been journaling since I was about 15, those angst teen years. But I thought of authors as sort of somehow a separate group of beings that I could never be like that.

So, I went to a university, did the degree like you do, got the debt, not as bad as you guys, but went, did that, got a job in consulting. I was at Accenture and companies like IBM, that kind of high paying corporate job.

But I got to my early 30s and I was just crying at work. I was so miserable. I thought I had done what everybody said you should do. Get the proper job, pay the bills, buy the investment property, do all those things. But I was so miserable, it felt like part of me had died because I was just wasn’t being creative.

So, I guess I never thought I was creative, this is the odd thing. But then, I got to that point where my wonderful husband said, “You need to do something else, what is it?” I was like, “Do you know what? I love reading, I just read all the time, such a big reader.”

I thought, “Well, maybe I can write a book about career change, and in writing that book, I can change my own life and hopefully sell a book, make millions, retire.” That was the year amazingly Tim Ferriss came out with The 4-Hour Workweek.

So, I wrote what I thought was going to be this great book, and then, Tim Ferriss did the thing. But that book changed my life because even though it didn’t sell much and it kind of never even went anywhere, it changed my life because I learned about writing and publishing. That was 2007, so that’s the point at which I just did it.

I guess the fear was, all the usual fear of failure, fear of nobody buying it, maybe even fear of success in some way. But I was literally at the point in my life where I was just too miserable and I have to do something. Amazingly, what I discovered was publishing.

Brad: Joanna, you said in there, “I guess I never thought I was creative.” And that just jumped out to me.

So you had this angst, you had done everything right, you had this high paying job, you checked all the boxes of things that people told you to do to be happy and successful. But yet, you weren’t, right?

But I’m not certain, based on the fact that you’re saying, “I guess I never thought I was creative,” that you knew what the next path was, or you knew what the way out was. How did you explore that? Was this something you undertook in some manner? Did you have conversations with family, friends? Talk me through how that process worked? Because that inflection point is really important for millions of other people who were stuck as well.

Joanna: Okay, well, I think I have a bias for action, that is a good and bad part of my personality.

So, this had been going on for a while, so literally, I tried lots of things. So, I started a scuba diving business in New Zealand. I was a scuba diving instructor. I worked with, at the time, it was my first husband, and we hired a boat, and we did all of the stuff. I learned all the things about variable income and variable cost, like fuel, and the weather, and people, and insurance. Like people, do not start a scuba diving business. It’s really a bad idea.

So, I did that and I thought, “Oh, that business failed. I’m going to be a failure.” That was my first attempt at a proper business and I learned all the things I never wanted to do again. Then, I got into, I read Kiyosaki, I got into property investment, and I discovered I really, just I don’t care what the color of the carpet is, I don’t care about buying paint in bulk. I just did not care about that stuff.

So, that also taught me that I did not want to be in property. I wanted to be location independent, and so by doing these ‘failures’, what I learned was what I might want to do. Every time those things failed, I went back to the day job. So, I was implementing accounts payable into large corporates, which, let’s face it, is just not creative.

So, you can see the pattern. I wanted to start a business. I wanted to make money doing other things. As Kiyosaki said, you can’t get rich being an employee unless, of course, you invest lots, for all those people who are employees. But what I learned was, okay, I want to be physically, location independent. I don’t want physical assets. I want to do intellectual property assets. I want to be creative. I want to travel, but I don’t necessarily want to do it doing, helping other people scuba dive.

So, all these things together meant that I kind of zigzagged, and the metaphor I use is, it’s a bit like skiing. If you want to get down the hill, you don’t just point the skis and head straight into a straight direction. You have to start moving and then you have to zigzag along the way and kind of go, “Okay, well, I’ll lean into this. Then, oh, I don’t want that. I’ll lean away from that and lean into something else.”

So, the bias for action thing, it probably, it took me between … Well, the year 2000 was the first time I resigned. I left England to go traveling around Australia and New Zealand. Then, I just kept resigning, kept starting businesses, resigning. Then, eventually, in 2006, is when I started writing and discovered the publishing industry.

So, it definitely wasn’t, “Oh, hey, I’m miserable, I’ll write a book.” Then, it’s all sorted. There was definitely some trial and error along the way.

Selling Her First Book

Jonathan: Yeah, trial and error, bias for action, and how do you know what flavor of ice cream you’re going to like? Well, you got to try them, you got to try it all.

So, there’s a lot built in there that we can explore. I want to set up for people that assuming that the statistic is accurate that I read on your website, as of this point, you have published 30 books, with over a half-million copies sold. That’s incredible.

So, just to talk about going from scuba diving to now writing your first book, I just want to know, that first year that you wrote this book, how many copies sold that first year? Joanna Penn, nobody knows who she is, yeah, she’s doing it. Bias for action, done. How many copies sold that first year?

Joanna: I sold about 100 copies of my first book, but I want to tell you how bad it really was, because this was back in the day when self-publishing was print some books, put them in your garage, and then sell them. This was before the Kindle, before all of this, so I printed 2,000 books and left them in my garage.

I was like, “Yay, I’m going to sell them all.” But the crazy thing was, I was living in Australia, I got on national TV, I got in the national newspapers, I got on the radio, I had the media, but I wasn’t in bookstores, because I was independent, and there was no online sales. So, I couldn’t shift the books.

But this is what led me into podcasting, because what happened was I was like, “Well, traditional media, what is the point?” Then, I saw what was going on in America, I was like, “How do I reach those Americans?” So, that’s when I started podcasting and blogging. So, the point is, every failure led me into making a decision. It’s almost like, that failed, that hurt, what should I do so that that won’t happen again, and what other lessons I can learn? So, I don’t use the word ‘failure’. I’m putting that inverted commas if you’re just on the audio.

It’s like, you just have to have that feeling of, “Okay, I won’t do that again.” But I do have this one brilliant photo of me standing next to these boxes, and the look on my face, I’m casing the picture, obviously, the look on my face is, “Oh, I’m so proud of myself. Look at all these books.” It’s about three hours before I realized that I have to sell them.

Jonathan: Can I actually ask you, so I want to actually go back to a statement that you just embedded in there. I do think that many people that are starting out writing, writing their first book assume that what is going to be able to set them apart, allowed them to have massive reach, massive access, is a traditional publisher seeing how awesome this book is, and spreading it around the world.

So, you said, “Traditional media, what’s the point?” Add some context or some flavor to what that statement meant for you as an unknown author.

Joanna: Yes, so again, it’s that kind of bias for action. When I wrote the book and then I looked at the publishing industry, and I didn’t know anything about it, I was like, “Oh, agents, publishers, bookstores.” I bought books but I didn’t really understand how they got there. I discovered it would probably take six months to a year to get an agent. It would take six months to a year, maybe more, for the books to get on the bookshelves.

Then, I would have to do exactly what I was doing anyway, which was going on the TV, and the radio, and newspaper, and doing all this stuff. So, I was like, “I don’t want to wait that long. I want to do this now. I have this book ready now.”

I was also seeing in the space, this was the years of Copyblogger Brian Clark, and Yaro Starak Entrepreneur’s Journey, and I saw people who are making a living online. So, what I realized was, “Well, I could wait and use my energy to chase a deal, or I could use my energy to get out there and build my platform.”

And to be fair, if you wanted traditional publishing deal, and I certainly don’t have anything against fantastic publishers of which there were many, is that if you have a platform, if you have a podcast, if you have an audience already, the publishers will be far more interested anyway.

So, once I learned that, I was like, “Okay, well, I guess I’ll just get on with it. I really like writing, so I’m going to write more books.” So, yeah, it was a decision to do it myself rather than wait all that time. And also just a decision that this was my chosen career, and I was going to build my own platform, and eventually, the publishers would come to me.

But the funny thing is, with publishing, by the time you get to the point where the publishers come to you, you’re in a position where you don’t necessarily need that. Anyway, I have done lots of deals with various publishers for foreign rights, but nowadays, you can pretty much do everything yourself. So, I sold books in a 136 countries now. So, you can do all these stuff.

M.K.: So, what I definitely hear in that is a reflection of what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen other authors experience, where we know that there’s this gatekeeper. There’s this, “the way it’s supposed to be”, and then, we’d give ourselves permission to do the research. To say, “No, I can do this. It’s hard work, but I’m going to do it.” That relates to how people view the FI journey. Like, “Who’s going to give you permission to say you can be Financially Independent. Nobody does that.”

So, what I definitely hear in that is a reflection of what I’ve experienced and what I’ve seen other authors experience, where we know that there’s this gatekeeper. There’s this, “the way it’s supposed to be”, and then, we’d give ourselves permission to do the research. To say, “No, I can do this. It’s hard work, but I’m going to do it.” That relates to how people view the FI journey. Like, “Who’s going to give you permission to say you can be Financially Independent. Nobody does that.”

Well, I’m giving myself permission, I did the research, and that goes with any creative endeavor, starting a podcast, writing a book, deciding to go on your own and start your own business. I think that is something that is so validating to hear, that you’ve been doing this for years and that it’s not this new concept that’s come around. Giving yourself that permission is one of the biggest things that can change your life, because then you can take the action that really changes it.

Well, I’m giving myself permission, I did the research, and that goes with any creative endeavor, starting a podcast, writing a book, deciding to go on your own and start your own business. I think that is something that is so validating to hear, that you’ve been doing this for years and that it’s not this new concept that’s come around. Giving yourself that permission is one of the biggest things that can change your life, because then you can take the action that really changes it.

A Bias For Action

Brad: Yeah, and that bias for action, it’s so important.

You said, “That failed, that hurt, what can I do to make sure that doesn’t happen again?”

And that is brilliant. I really want to make sure the audience hear that because I think a lot of people get this grand idea, “Okay, I’m thinking about doing something. I’d love to run a business online.” Then, they putter around, trying to get a logo for six months. Maybe they get around to the first blog article or something, and it all sounds goods in theory, but they don’t have that bias for action.

I’m curious, do you see people in the independent author area do similar stuff and how do you counsel them to basically have that major bias for action?

Joanna: I think that the people I see are a couple of levels.

There are people who have come out of failure in the traditional publishing world. So, maybe they’ve been pitching and no one has picked up their book. Those people are quite downtrodden.

Then, there are those people who actively choose to be independent. That’s why I also equate, I really love the FI movement because independence is what I … I’m an independent. I publish across multiple platforms, so I’m not dependent on Amazon, for example. I have multiple streams of income, so I am independent, and should one stream fail, another stream will come into play.

So, this idea of independence, to me, this is a positive choice. So, what I would say to people, it’s not like, “Oh, I can’t get published, so I’ll self-publish.” That’s not it at all. I’m an independent author, which means I actively choose my independence. I can publish when, and what, and where I like and my validation is in my readers. It’s in the money in my bank account. It’s in how I feel.

So, this idea of independence, to me, this is a positive choice. So, what I would say to people, it’s not like, “Oh, I can’t get published, so I’ll self-publish.” That’s not it at all. I’m an independent author, which means I actively choose my independence. I can publish when, and what, and where I like and my validation is in my readers. It’s in the money in my bank account. It’s in how I feel.

Now, of course, I have down days. I have a whole book about the author mindset, which is like, I’m miserable, everything is bad, my writing is terrible. I get that, too. But the validation of independence, to me, is choice, it’s all the things that you guys stand for, and that’s exactly the same in publishing. What drives me nuts is when I see people like they’re so independent in one way, and then, they still go begging like, “Oh, pick me, pick me.” That’s not what we’re here for.

The Economics Of Writing

Jonathan: I want to actually talk about your economic story arc as a writer. In particular, you didn’t wait until you left your job to start writing. That bias for action got you to start practicing and cultivating the skill set, and that was maybe built on years and years of journaling.

It sounds like you published this book while you were still working, but at some point, either forced or unforced, you went off on your own. I want to work through that inflection point because I think for our audience, individuals that are maybe waiting, waiting to get started, “Well, one day, the finances will be right. One day, the bank account will be right. One day, one day.” And it never happens, right?

So, for you, that actual, you said, “I got validation. I get validation from my bank account,” I love it, by the way.

But let’s just talk about early days when you’ve just printed 2,000 books and you sold 100, how did you have the courage to do this then? What was going on in the background?

Joanna: Yes, so basically, I had a day job. This is the number one thing, okay?

So, the other times, I’d quit my job to go do other things, like scuba diving. This time, I was like, “No way, I’m going to build this up.” So, I wrote that first book. I started my blog. I started my podcast, so this is 2006, ’07, ’08, ’09. I started to see that I could make these different forms of income.

So, I didn’t just do books. So, from day one, I had multiple streams of income. At that time I was professional speaking. I was building up a speaking career. I still have my day job. So, up until 2011, I did eventually go to four days a week, but basically I was getting up at 5:00 a.m., I was writing, doing the creative stuff.

In the evening, I was podcasting, I was doing my blog, I was building my audience, I was on Twitter, I was doing all the things you do, and I was running workshops at weekends. I was basically building up the side hustle as it’s now known. It wasn’t really known that at that time. Then, 2011, we moved back to the UK from Australia, and I did start another job here in London, well, I’m in Bath now, but I was in London.

Again, I was so miserable, and it was at that point, I was making around a thousand US a month from the business. Now, I was used to a lot more than that in my salary. So, I said to my husband, we could downsize. If we sold our property, if we sold the investment property, and then I had six months to a year in the bank, and I was the prime wage earner at that time. So, if we did that and that money was available, and I committed to six months to a year of doing this business, if it didn’t work, I can just go back to the day job. So, that was going to be the plan, and he was like, “Yeah, all right. Let’s do it.”

I know you guys talked about financial intimacy in talking about things like this with your partner. So, I said, “Right, we’re going to do this.” So, we did, we sold everything and really downsized and it was, I’ll tell you what, that really hit my self-esteem. I went from being the top of my career to feeling like really crap, without saying any bad words. I was rock bottom, that first year is super hard. I lost my friends, and nobody knew who I was in the writing business. Really, it was very hard. But what happened that year, I think if you white knuckle the first six months and you have that money in reserve, and you don’t have the outgoing, so we didn’t have all the mortgage payments, and all of that.

Then, after the year, it started to look up, so, 2012. Then, it was 2015, so I left my job 2011, 2015, I hit six figures and was able to hire my husband out of his job, and he joined the business in 2015. Then, we hit multi-six figures, and we’ve been a multi-six figure business for the last five years.

So, it really was a buffer zone of time but also of money that allowed me to make that jump. Plus a business plan of multiple streams of income, and never relying just on one thing.

Now, I’ve got like 32 books, but I also have lots of other streams of income, which we can potentially talk about. So, it really was a buffer zone of time but also of money that allowed me to make that jump. Plus a business plan of multiple streams of income, and never relying just on one thing.

An Inside Look At the Day Of A Writer

Brad: Yeah, it’s amazing how similar, actually, your story is to mine in an odd kind of way. It’s just I followed the path to FI, I had created a small website that have this ridiculous name of

Jonathan: It still exists.

Brad: It still exists, it still exists.

Jonathan: Beautiful site. Great logo.

Brad: But I had proved out to myself that, “Okay, there’s something here.”

Like you said, you’re making a thousand dollars. I was somewhere similar to that, but I knew that if I spent my time, care, and attention on this, all right, maybe it can grow into something.

I’m curious, so what I did was the first six months that I had left my job was, I created a site called Travel Miles 101. That allowed me to scale that concept that I was doing in a very 1 on 1 basis. Now, obviously, you’re in a completely different sphere, but I’m curious, what did you do when you had all this time?

You didn’t have to just write and do your podcast in the evenings anymore. You have the whole day. What did that first six months to a year that you had carved out as, “Okay, this is my experimentation to see, can I do this?” What did that look like?

Jonathan: Because that question is so wide open, you mentioned how you were immediately able to start bringing in multiple income streams, including speaking, the whole point is, nobody knows who you are. How are you able to do this?

Joanna: Okay, I think that the time thing is a big deal because it’s one thing that writers ask all the time, it’s how do you have time to write and also run a business? This management of time is huge. So, actually, what I ended up doing, because you’re exactly right, like day one, siting at home going, “Oh, what do I do?”

So, what I actually did was like commuted to a library. So, I used to work at the London Library, which is in the center of London, because I couldn’t cope with being at home, with no structure. That first year, I think you have to learn your structure. The structure I set then is still valid now, in that, in the mornings, I actually now, like where I live now in Bath, in the southwest of England, I will walk 20 minutes to a writing café. It’s a café, but I write there.

Jonathan: They don’t know they are writing café.

Brad: But they are.

Joanna: I think they do, because it’s full of laptops these days, 7:00 a.m., all the laptops are there. So, I do my writing for a couple of hours, I go do some exercise. I come back, I have my lunch, and then I’m in business mode. I do the business in the afternoon, podcast and business-sy things.

So, that’s how I’ve always managed my time. And what happens, I think, after a year is that you realize what your methods are and you can experiment a bit. But I really think, especially in that first year, you have to set clear boundaries for what you’re going to do. I’m very goal driven.

I didn’t have a problem with the amount of work I have to do. I just had an issue with suddenly having no one around me. So, at the writing café I wear noise canceling headphones, and I’m surrounded by other people, but I can’t hear them, and it’s bliss. So, I still do that method. And I think that everyone should have a similar practice, and your creative time should be separate to your marketing time and your business time, because otherwise, you can really get in your own way. You’re like, “Oh, should I write this, because it might not make any money.” I’ve written plenty of those books, to be sure. Sorry, what’s the other question?

Jonathan: Yeah. They say work on your business not in it. When you’re bootstrapping on day one, you don’t really have that luxury. So, what you just pointed out, the differentiation between the two, work in it here, get it done, creative, work on a here business. Developing, again, multiple income streams.

I’m really curious, again, you only sold 100 copies of that book, but somehow you figured out how to make the economics work, how to bring in a paycheck, created speaking opportunities, et cetera. You’ve said multiple income streams.

I want to talk about when you don’t even have your first book published yet, or maybe you just have it published, how are we generating multiple income streams? What did that look like for you when you’re moving out of working in it to on it?

Creating Multiple Income Streams

Joanna: Okay, so one of my major income streams is affiliate income. I know this is something all online entrepreneurs think about.

So, from day one, anything that I linked to, say on Amazon, I use an Amazon affiliate link, even when my blog had 12 people coming to. I always intended to make a good living at this. So, I designed the website from day one to have marketing potential.

So, I did a course, the same year I did the book, I also did an online course. Again, this was really early on. This was before it was easy to do this stuff. I used to sell things on E-junkie. I think it’s still around, but not many people use anymore.

So, I was selling courses, I was basically getting traffic from America, that’s why I love Americans, because there’s a lot more online business that started in the US. Obviously, there is more now in the UK, in Australia, in Canada, but you guys, you pioneered this market. I was able to, essentially, I was doing Skype consulting with American authors, so just over Skype for $99 an hour. Overtime, I put that rate up.

The speaking, I actually started doing my own workshops. So, again, you don’t necessarily need to have anyone hire you. I would work in a local library. Again, I would hire a room in the library. This was back in the day when you would put stuff on LinkedIn. I think I’ve used LinkedIn back in those days to find people to come to the workshop on self-publishing, for example, or writing a book.

So, I just went out there and did it. Then, designed the multiple streams, say there are book sales, and we can go into all the different kinds of book sales. But then, affiliate income, course sales, so online courses. I now use Teachable, which I think is fantastic. The podcast, so the podcast, I started monetizing around 2015, added Patreon, added advertisers, and also my own streams of revenue from the podcast. I also do professional speaking. So, I still do that around the world, when there’s places I want to speak.

So, those are my main streams of income, but the point is I designed the website and the business from day one to make money. Overtime, obviously, the more traffic you have, the more things like affiliate revenue grow. So, that is my totally scalable form of income.

M.K.: Well, and one of the things I’ve noticed about having the multiple streams around the website, we have a lot of people that I’ve met in the FI community where they find FI, they’re like, “I want to tell the world about it. I’m going to start a blog.” I noticed that some of them really dropped off after that six month, one year mark, because they’re not getting that affiliate income. They’re not getting the ad income.

How long did it really take to start to see material traffic where you were able to make that income? Because I think that’s going to help some of those people in our community who are trying to start something and they’re five weeks in, and they’re like, “Why haven’t I made $100,000 yet, I don’t know.”

Joanna: Five weeks in. Yeah, and this is only podcasting, oh my goodness. I’ve been podcasting for over a decade, and people are just like, “Oh, why isn’t it working yet?” So, basically, it took at least the five years, even after five the years. As I said, I was still only making $1,000 a month from everything. Then, pretty much, what happened, a couple of things happened.

The self-publishing industry changed. There were more people searching for self-publishing. So, around, again, around 2015, 2016, it became not bad anymore. It used to be, there was a bit of a stigma about it, and then, suddenly, it became trendy. A bit like Financial Independence, in talking about spreadsheets, and money, like suddenly, it’s trendy and everyone’s talking about it.

So, that’s what happened. So, I got massive influx of traffic and the revenue doubled, doubled, doubled three years in a row, but I was positioned for it because I was one of the first in the space very early.

Now, if you’re starting out, what you have to do is think, you can’t necessarily be early in a niche. And if you are, you have to go through years of the wilderness. But if you’re coming in now, then, you have to think about, “Well, where can I fit in this niche, and what are people searching for?” It’s still a big deal.

Organic Google search, or search on a podcast app, like there are some things you need to do to engineer your website, your podcast to get traffic. You have to learn those skills. You don’t know those skills, so you have to learn them in order that you get traffic. People aren’t just going to turn up.

You also have to network. That takes potentially years to position yourself where things can happen. Like our situation, suddenly you’re hearing about each other and are all working out lovely. So, this is the thing, it takes time.

So, the main thing is, don’t do it for the money. I didn’t necessarily know that this is where I was going to end up, and I almost gave up the podcast in 2015 because it was taking so much time. It takes a lot time to do a podcast, and I was doing everything, the transcript, the show notes, the editing, everything. So, I was like, “Should I give it up? Should I give it up?” I was like, “No, I’m going to make it pay.” You just have to change your mindset.

So, the main thing is, don’t do it for the money. I didn’t necessarily know that this is where I was going to end up, and I almost gave up the podcast in 2015 because it was taking so much time. It takes a lot time to do a podcast, and I was doing everything, the transcript, the show notes, the editing, everything. So, I was like, “Should I give it up? Should I give it up?” I was like, “No, I’m going to make it pay.” You just have to change your mindset.

Jonathan: That’s awesome. Wow. Yeah, I think that’s usually helpful for people, and also, there is something to be said for the greatest rewards are delayed. You got to stay in the game long enough to get 1% better and allow that 1% aggregation to really start to work for you.

I want to actually pivot and really give both of you an opportunity to have these conversation with our audience because I think it’s going to be valuable. I want to talk about, when you decided that you wanted to hop into a new business, you realized that you wanted to move into intellectual property. After you went through your checklist of pros and cons, location independence, I want to be able to work on my terms. You landed on this desire that you had to be an author and to start writing your own books.

So, I wanted to actually talk about what you chose to write about, because 32 books, that’s probably not 32 books on how to write a book, right? I want to talk about how you picked your topic. Did you limit yourself to one niche? Then, M.K., you can weigh in here, too, the benefits of being a writer in terms of royalties forever, et cetera, in terms of as an income stream.

So, I’d love to give you the floor and maybe start with how did you pick what you’re going to write about after your one big idea, your first book?

Joanna: Well, I think like many people, like M.K. was saying, you do something and then you want to share it with everyone else.

Basically, I did that first book on career change, and then, I wanted to tell people about self-publishing. So, I started the blog about it, the podcast about it, and I started writing books to help other people. So, early on, I did how to market a book, which is on its third edition, and how to make a living with your writing, and business for authors. So, I started writing to the author niche. So, in that way, those books are written to market and I’ve got 11 books now for authors.

But at the same time, my creative side really also wanted to do fiction. So, I started writing fiction in 2009, and this was never for the money. To be fair, it’s still not really for the money, because fiction is really hard. So, I started writing thrillers in 2009, published the first one 2011 and I’ve got 17, 18 plus some others under other names. Basically, I really have a mix of fiction and non-fiction. This helps in many ways because I can talk about all the things that fiction writers go through. I do make revenue from fiction, but I’m not a six-figure fiction author. I make over six figures from books sales, but not from fiction alone, but it’s all wonderful. It helps me with the different kinds of creativity, I think that’s probably the best way.

In terms of intellectual property assets, this is a huge mindset shift between people who want a publishing deal because they think that’s the only way for validation, versus people who understand that the value of intellectual property and copyright, which is it can earn you money for your whole lifetime and then 50 to 70 years after you die.

So, you can actually put that in a trust. You can pass it on to your estate. Obviously, it needs managing, like any property, a physical property also needs managing. Essentially, it’s something that doesn’t die even when you do, which is magical.

Then, also, you can do so many things with it. So, a book is not just one book. So, you can see behind me in the video some of my books, but they exist in say e-books all over the world, in all these different places. They exist as paperbacks, hardbacks, large print editions. I know M.K. has a workbook as well, a workbook edition also, audiobooks, all these things that you can do.

So, you can make multiple streams of income from one book, plus you can license in different territories, plus you can license in different languages. There’s so many, plus then, you can do films, TV, you can do a play, it’s unlimited number of IP variations that you can get from a book.

So, that’s why I think it’s so incredible. When the penny drops around this, you realize, “Oh my goodness, that’s why publishers are in the middle of New York, in the big buildings.” Because they are not charities, they want to make money and your book will help them make money.

Since I’m a businesswoman, I like making money, so hence why I like keeping control of my intellectual property assets. Yes, license it, when applicable. For example, I just licensed to Korea, I’ve got another deal in Greek underway. So, you do these things but controlling your intellectual property assets is probably the key to making a good living as an author.

Jonathan: M.K., I see you nodding. I see the pure joy coming out of both of you as all of these ideas are being expressed. What are your thoughts and feedback on that?

M.K.: Amen, amen. That’s one of the things that’s been really big on my journey this past year. I’ve started publishing in 2015. I just left the corporate job this past year. I’m in the dip right now. I left my high self-esteem, high paying job to now being just another author.

I was talking with my husband and I said, “You know what? Next year, I’m going to make back my salary. Then, next year I’m six figures, and the next, and the next.” He was like, “How about you just focus on making it a passive income with your royalties to meet our annual expenses?”

I was like, “That sounds better.” Because that’s all I need. And knowing the power of these different assets, and really, I had to reframe my books instead of just as my art, which they are, thinking of them as these passive income vehicles. Just like our index funds, our passive income vehicles. Just like when we had our rental property, that was a passive income vehicle, and realizing the priority that that can have in your life and not wanting to sign it away to somebody else. Because that’s something where we talk about generational Financial Independence, or second generation FI.

If I do a good enough job, my heirs will be enjoying the benefits of my labor into the next generation after I’m gone, and that’s a legacy I can give them just like I could passing down a Roth or any of these other vehicles.

Joanna: No, that’s fantastic. I do want to say, I don’t think books are passive. I have index fund investments, but with books, you have to manage your IP, in the same way that we have to manage our websites, our podcasts. I have to manage my books, I have to do some kind of marketing. I’ve said to my husband, “If I die, it probably,” well, of course, I’m going to die, “but if I die early, it would probably take about two years for things to spiral downwards without some management.”

So, you have to think about how your estate might manage your IP, but we see some incredible IP estates being managed. So, Tolkien is obviously a really good one. We just got Amazon now licensed again, Bram Stoker with Dracula. There are some great estates out there.

Beatrix Potter in the UK basically gave all of her money to buy the Lake District here, which is this beautiful area that she bought with her money, because she was child-free, as am I, by choice. She basically bought this for the British people. So, you can do very exciting things with your IP and your estate, but I definitely think you do need to manage it more than say passive index funds.

Brad: Joanna-

M.K.: That goes-

Brad: Oh, sorry.

Jonathan: I told you, Brad, once this get started, just get out of the way.

Managing Your Intellectual Property

Brad: I was just going to say one thing and then I’ll hand it over.

I should get out of the way. Just let me ask for one more, one real quick. Joanna, I’m curious about that, so what do your activities look like? I don’t know if we’ll call them marketing activities, or whatever, but what does that look like to actively manage this? I guess kind of similar or related is you have 32 books, I’m assuming there’s some type of 80-20 on which ones produce a significant amount of revenue. You said your 17 or 18 fiction are probably not producing or not as significant as the other non-fiction.

But I’d love to hear how you think about it as a business? Are there network effects of having 32 books and then a 33rd? How does this all come together in an overall strategy? As you said, “I’m a businesswoman.” How do you think about your entire business like that with these books?

Joanna: It’s an ecosystem, and you’re exactly right. Each book is used in a different way.

So for example, I’ve got a book Successful Self-publishing, which like in its fifth edition. That is a free ebook on all platforms all around the world, and part of it is, “Yay, I’d like to help people.” The other part is it’s chock-full of affiliate links.

So, I market that book as much as possible, and I will pay to market it because it brings in far more money than it would as a book sale, as a 99 cent e-book. So, that would be one example versus the other end of the scale, I’ve got 10 books in my Arkane thriller series.

I know that each individual one of those books doesn’t make that much money, but if people get into the series, and they buy all of them, and I’m about to do book 11, then, I’ll make that money all the way through the series. I can do box sets of those, I can do different things. So, with fiction, the more books you have, definitely the more money you make.

With non-fiction, it’s more about how strategic is the book and how many streams of revenue come off the book. So, for example, I’ve got a book How To Write Non-Fiction, which also has a course associated with it.

Then, in terms of marketing, something like the podcast, you guys know, the podcast is both marketing for you, your brand, your books, your business. But it can also be revenue generating in that you can do indirect sales with your products and self, but you can also have advertisers, you can have Patreon. I have a wonderful Patreon community who are super supportive. So, I think about, the best marketing is that which also makes money, which also helps people, and also sells books.

So, I think about it as very much an ecosystem, and I’ve actually recently started doing this for my fiction. I’ve started another podcast called Books and Travel, which is around talking to fiction authors about the places that inspire their books, which also markets my fiction. Because I’ve seen this work so well with my non-fiction, I’m like, “Right, I’m going to do this for my fiction.” I don’t want to rely on just paid advertising, which Amazon ads, Facebook ads, I don’t like that form of advertising very much.

Jonathan: As we set up in this episode, we actually have this opportunity here to have two independent authors and give you the chance to talk with each other and really do so for the benefit of thousands and thousands of authors that are in our community, or aspiring authors, at least. I just want to give you the floor, M.K., what questions do you have for Joanna?

Advice To New Writers

M.K.: Well, I was taking notes because I’m starting to work on … she went from non-fiction to fiction, I’m about to go from fiction to non-fiction. So, I was excited to get some ideas as well. So, for the person who’s listening right now who is at book zero, they are saying, “Okay, I’m inspired. I’m going to do it.”

What would be your biggest advice for them to start out? They don’t have an eco-system yet. They don’t have the affiliate link set up yet. What would be your number one piece of advice for them as they’re getting started?

Joanna: Okay, so really, it’s schedule time. So, if you’ve decided that this is important to you, that you’re going to write that book, then, get out your calendar, however you schedule your time and put in time blocks. It doesn’t need to be every day. You don’t need to be Stephen King here, but you can at least, let’s say a couple of times a week, like I used to get up at 5:00 a.m. Whatever you can do, after the kids have gone to bed, whatever you can do, put it in your diary, and then turn up for that appointment and use that time for writing. Seriously, it’s the only way you will ever write a book.

In fact, it’s probably the only way you’re ever going to achieve whatever you want to achieve, but especially for writing, because there’s always something else. The problem with writing is that yes, you’ve turn up for the page, so you’re there, and then you’re like, “Oh, what do I do?”

Big tip, do not try and start with the introduction or the first chapter. It’s just impossible, don’t ever go there. Start wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just get going.

Big tip, do not try and start with the introduction or the first chapter. It’s just impossible, don’t ever go there. Start wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just get going. I actually used a place called when I first started, which is basically you start typing, and if you slow down, it starts going red.

Then, there’s kamikaze mode that will start deleting your work. And it’s really, really scary, but it got me writing, because I was so scared of the blank page. So, you have to force yourself to the page, and then sit there for let’s say 25 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour, whatever, and write. Yes, it will be a pile of crap, it will. That’s okay. It needs to be so that you can make it better later, edit it later.

But if you don’t make that time, you’ll never end up with that first draft, and if you don’t have a first draft, you’ll never be able to edit it into a book. The guys know, with the ChooseFI book, and you know M.K., with your books, that’s the process. You don’t sit down and write perfect prose. You sit down and write a mess and you tidy it up later. So, that’s the first step. It really is schedule your time.

M.K.: Absolutely. Yeah, I’ll second that any day.

Jonathan: Well, you just said one tip, and I’m like, “Really? We could do two or three tips.” What would be your next tip?

Joanna: Okay, my next tip is to decide what you want. Because, and this is a huge, huge deal, because let’s say you want to win the Pulitzer Prize, which is a great goal. Then, you will probably write a very, very different book to someone who wants to write a vampire fiction novel and sell as many books as Anne Rice, for example.

Or, if you really want a traditional publishing deal and you want to be a speaker, that is completely different. Again, to somebody who has a podcast and is writing a book for their business like you guys, or someone doing the Fiology workbook there, which of course M.K. has, that’s what, isn’t it? Fiology: The workbook, so that book, you’re not going to win the Pulitzer Prize with the Fiology workbook, but you are going to make some income and you’re going to help your community.

So, that’s the second question, what do I really want? Because the most disappointed authors are the ones who just write stuff. And then later, they’re like, “Well, why didn’t that happen? Why didn’t I get a book deal? Or, why didn’t I achieve what I wanted?” It was probably because you didn’t decide what you wanted. I always decided to make six figures, I always wanted to be a wealthy author, so thus-

Jonathan: And that’s not wrong.

Joanna: No, it’s not, yeah.

M.K.: To Joanna’s point, about making the time, you have to sit down and write the words, it takes time. I say that some things move at the speed of literature, it’s a very slow pace, and that if you are sitting here thinking, “I want a side hustle. I’ve heard that writing books is a good way to do it.” I would suggest a different side hustle to make some quick money because it does take that time. You really do have to know what you want going into it, and if it is, that you want to create this art, you want to create this beautiful story, this masterpiece, you probably have to be okay with the fact that you’re not going to make a lot of money versus if you’re writing to make a lot of money.

I say that some things move at the speed of literature, it’s a very slow pace, and that if you are sitting here thinking, “I want a side hustle. I’ve heard that writing books is a good way to do it.” I would suggest a different side hustle to make some quick money because it does take that time. You really do have to know what you want going into it, and if it is, that you want to create this art, you want to create this beautiful story, this masterpiece, you probably have to be okay with the fact that you’re not going to make a lot of money versus if you’re writing to make a lot of money.

It’s very different, and there are lots of exceptions to the rules that people can point out, “Well, so and so made this masterpiece and they made millions of dollars.” Well, that’s the exception to the rule. And I would let people know that it’s okay to want to make art and make money, but you do have to decide which one is going to be your priority. And that was something I struggled with for a while, and that fear of success, that people would think I was a sellout and then I realized, “Nobody cares.”

Joanna: The other thing I would say is that you can do one for money, one for art. That’s what I joked about my fiction, and some of my books really just don’t sell anything at all, but I wrote them because that was the book I needed to write. That’s how I still run things.

My next book is Audio for Authors, and the one after that will be Map of the Impossible, which is my third fantasy in a trilogy. I don’t know whether that would sell any copies, but it doesn’t matter because I’m finishing that book.

Building A Community

Jonathan: Joanna, there’s something here with the way that you approach building your community and creating this resource for independent authors that I know M.K. has found so valuable. I’m just curious, if you think about what it is that you did, it doesn’t sound like you was writing fiction books and all the independent authors found out about you, and because of how awesome you are at writing fiction books, they were there, that kind of came later.

So I’m thinking, regardless of whether or not we’re talking about writing, we’ll just pick a niche. Any niche, whatever that is, your woodworking, whatever, what do you think it looks to create a captive community? A community that just loves what you do and acts as ambassadors for what you do, that almost ensures that it’s going places. You guys are going somewhere together. If you think back, what did it look like to build that, what comes to mind?

Joanna: Well, it literally is that I am the community, it was day one. Oh my goodness, if you look at my YouTube channel from 2007, it’s like, “Wow, look at this, I got a book. I’ve got my Kindle, I’m doing this.” I get so excited. I’m still there. I’m still planning six to eight months ahead with my content after over decade because I am the community, and it doesn’t stop, and I’m always writing, I’m always marketing, I’m always learning, always doing new things. I have just literally shared my journey.

So, the biggest tip is, it has to be a community you’re in. It has to be a niche you love in order for it to be sustainable.

So, the biggest tip is, it has to be a community you’re in. It has to be a niche you love in order for it to be sustainable.

Also, you know those five years, seven years of no money, didn’t matter because this was a community I love and won’t be, even if I win lottery, of course, I don’t play the lottery, but you know what I mean, even if I reach FI, I’m not giving this up. This is what I do until the day I die. So, I think that’s the key. The key is, if you’re learning something that you love, then, you want to share it, hence the FI community is the same. People are like, “Oh, well, I’ve made this thing. Now, I’m going to tell people.” It’s the same with the ChooseFI show, right? Everybody wants to share what they’ve learned in order to help others.

My non-fiction books literally just come out of people asking me question, and I’m like, “Oh, I guess I need a book on that, so those people can just get everything all at once rather than having to comb through my backlist of my podcast and all of that kind of thing. So, it really is just creating from the community that you are embedded in.

Transitioning To FI

Brad: Joanna, you have built this amazing community, you built an amazing business, you have multiple streams of income, but obviously, as we said at the outset, you’re in the FI community, you’re on the path to FI. I’m curious, what does that look like to you? So, do you see a transition in your business?

Of course, like we said, you have multiple streams of income but these are not passive, as you said so precisely. They are not passive. Are there aspects that you could see outsourcing, or not doing on your … as you get closer to FI, once you reach FI. Talk me through what a transition might look like if there is going to be one.

Joanna: Yeah, well, definitely. Just on the path of FI, it was 2015, again, when I hit six figures and it was like, “Okay, I need to get investing.” I have hit the goal that I wanted to, and that’s when we started putting money into ICE and SIPES, which are the UK equivalent of your stuff.

Tony Robbins put out MONEY: Master the Game, which is where I discovered Vanguard funds, and that type of thing. So, I’ve been doing it since then, and I have been thinking about it, because where we are now, we’re about a quarter FI, according to my numbers. But of course, I’ll never give up what I do creatively.

What I will give up are things like webinars on my evenings. So, because of the time difference between the UK and America, I often have to do things late in the evening, and I’m a morning person, and I’m like, “I would totally give up the moment I can.” The other thing is, some of that paid advertising I mentioned, it’s a necessary evil in our day and age to be discovered, to have your books discovered to do these type of thing, and to learn advertising and that kind of thing. I will just stop all of that and, again, not worry at all how many books I sell.

I don’t worry too much about it, but I will definitely care less about that, and I will write more of the books of my heart. Although I think I’m almost coming to the end of some of my books for authors, I’ve almost written every single book for author as possible. But those are, I guess, some of the things. I really question The Creative Penn podcast, every time I think, “I think maybe I’ve shared everything possible.” Then, it’s like, “No, I’m still going. So, I’m going to carry on.”

Jonathan: M.K. is like off-camera right now saying, “Don’t you dare stop it.”

Brad: Yeah, furiously shaking her head, “Please do not do that.”

Joanna: But that’s essentially why Patreon is so good, because Patreon to me is an emotional support. It’s people who actively say, “We don’t want you to stop.” It means so much to me. The money I get from Patreon, it means ten times as much for some weird reason than the money I might get from other income streams, like a webinar, because it’s people who are emotionally invested in my body of work.

This is another thing, the podcast is a creative body of work, and I hope you guys feel that, too, because it can change people’s lives. It doesn’t have to be the book that changes people’s lives, it can be the podcast, or speaking, or whatever. So, all of these things go together. So, when I think about what I’d give up, it’s more that what will I create?

So, Books and Travel, the new podcast, which is I have a five-year plan for that as a business, and eventually, I’ll do tours, and retreats, and that kind of thing. That doesn’t make money right now, but I intend it to, and then maybe at some point I’ll wind one thing down and wind another thing up. But it will be more about the creating different things, then necessarily giving stuff up.

The Hot Seat

Jonathan: All right. Well, it’s been fun. On most shows, that would be the end of the episode, but Joanna, on this show, we would love to give you the chance to tackle the hot seat. Are you ready for this?

Joanna: I’m ready.

Brad: All right, Joanna, question number one. I’m going to chance this up a little bit. What is your favorite book of all time?

Jonathan: Oh, yeah.

Joanna: It is just so hard. So, I’m actually going to pick two, The Stand by Stephen King, which is M.K. also likes, The Stand by Stephen King.

Brad: Yeah, she’s pumping her fist here.

Jonathan: M.K., are you fan girling right now?

Brad: Oh, this is great.

Jonathan: I feel like there’s something going on over here.

Brad: Stephen King and Joanna Penn for M.K.

Joanna: I definitely love him. Yeah.

M.K.: He’s so great. He’s so great. Well, he’s in Sarasota, so I was like, I feel like today because I’m getting to talk to you, I’m probably going to walk outside and just see him and I’ll be like, “Okay, I’m done. I’m good.” That would be amazing, I’m hoping that will happen, but it probably won’t.

Joanna: But I did also want to say that I have created a list of money books, because when we did the podcast together, I made a list at Of course, the ChooseFI book is there, but because I’m such a book person, I could not pick one book, so I picked about 25, and they’re all on that page.

Jonathan: Nice.

Joanna: My second book is The Success Principles by Jack Canfield, which I read when I didn’t know what to do with my life. Jack Canfield’s fantastic, and one of the first principles is, take a 100% responsibility for your life. If you feel like you’re in a place where you’re like, “How did I get here?” Well, you’re there because you made choices to get there, and the only way to get to where you want to be is by making choices to get to where you want to be.

That is exactly the same with becoming an author, changing your career, reaching FI, it’s all the same. You set the goal of where you want to get to, and then take those little steps. So, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield.

Jonathan: Well, that actually sets us up really well for question number two, with all the changes that you just mentioned, an inflection point in your life that was especially memorable or meaningful.

Joanna: Oh, we’ve talked about quite a lot, actually.

So, I’m going to pick a different one, which is when I left the UK in the year 2000 to go backpacking. This was probably the big decision I thought at that point I was opting out of my career. So, this was, I was 25, it was my birthday, the year 2000, I was like, “I am out of there, out of London, out of the rat race, I am giving it up and I’m finding myself in the Australian outback.”

I did find a lot in the Australian outback, but I did end up going back to job. But I believe that moment, when I gave up the job in London, the city, the seats, and all of that, that was the first time I gave it up but it was the first inkling that I would make that decision again and again and again until I actually made it out.

Jonathan: That’s amazing. Awesome. All right, Joanna, question number three, your favorite life hack.

Joanna: Google Calendar, which ties back into the discussion earlier on tips, because I schedule everything, and this might be sad, like I schedule things like, “Oh, there’s a TV show coming out on Netflix, not to miss it.”

Jonathan: Oh, wow.

Joanna: I schedule books, so I know when there’s a book coming out that I’m really looking forward to. I schedule time with my husband, we have a shared calendar, I schedule everything. I schedule my time at the writing café, everything is scheduled because if you don’t organize it, you’re just not going to get it done. Thus, I also block out big chunks of creative time in my schedule, but that is my life hack, Google Calendar.

Jonathan: Yeah, I’ll show you my blocked out calendar offline, but I have a calendar on Google, it’s a template called Make Time. There’s a fantastic there, we’re going to talk with them later by author John Zeratsky and Jake Knapp with the similar title, and that idea of scheduling yourself really is crucial. All right, question number-

Brad: All right, Joanna, question number four, your biggest financial mistake.

Joanna: It literally is being scared of financial education. So, I’m incredibly educated. I went to Oxford, don’t you know?

Jonathan: I love that you just said that. That’s like the best sentence ever.

Brad: Don’t you know?

Joanna: Don’t you know. Well, the reason is because the Rich Dad Poor Dad book is written exactly for people like me. Overeducated in lots of ways but with no clue about financial education. My parents were teachers. We didn’t have money growing up, so basically, I just didn’t know about the stuff.

I was told, “Get a good degree, get a job, pay the money and someone will give you a pension.” Because that’s what my parents knew, they’re boomers, they got the pension from the government, but that’s not the reality.

So, for me, my biggest mistake, was just not learning, and I have this corporate job and I didn’t pay anything into any investments, because I was scared of even talking about it because it made me look stupid. And I was stupid, I was ignorant of finance, and so, I went, “Oh, well, I don’t need that, because I don’t understand it.” I would get upset because I didn’t understand it, so I just didn’t do it.

Goodness me, the amount of money, that just disappeared because I didn’t invest at that point. In Britain, well, we didn’t at that time have mandatory investments. When I was in Australia, luckily, they have mandatory supers, so I actually have money because the government made it come out of my bank account.

But just years lost of revenue from investing, so that would be my biggest issue, is why did I not learn about this stuff and face up to finance earlier in my life? Realistically, that’s why I was like 35 when I really got to grips with it. Now, I’m 45 this year, so I’m into it. I know you’ve talked about, is it too late on the show. I have felt that, and be like, “Seriously.”

But then, also, I know from Kiyosaki, starting a business is a really good way to scale up your revenue, and then, you can invest more. So, that’s my secret weapon, is having a business where I just make more and more cash.

Jonathan: Pretty solid secret weapon, we can talk about that more. Question number five, the advice you would give your younger self.

Joanna: Oh, well, that’s related. I’ll be like, “Read the damn book. Open an investment account, just take the money from the company and put it in the account, at least do the basics.” So, I think that’s the thing. Even doing the basics, I didn’t even do that.

So, that would be the advice to my younger self, don’t be afraid of it. That bias for action, I should have had a bias of action to … I always made loads of money, I am good at making money, I just didn’t know how to keep it. That was the thing, it’s that leaky bucket idea. So, yeah, I should have done that earlier.

Brad: Joanna, we have a bonus question for you. What is the purchase you’ve made in, let’s say, the last 12 months or so that has added the most value to your life?

Joanna: I’m actually really happy for this question, because this is changing up completely in that it is my personal trainer for weights. So, basically, I’ve had … We know writers, we have this hunched position, and I found after being a desk jockey for half my life I ended up with chronic pain in both my shoulders, actually, bad RSI, all kinds of health issues. Eventually, I managed to make the decision to invest in weight training and 1 on 1 training, and I ended 2019 pain-free.

So, my shoulder is we have … I am now lifting serious weights, a woman at midlife, and I’m very proud of that.

So, this is the thing, how it ties into Choose FI, independence it’s not just about money, it’s also about health. Wealth is physical health, and seriously, I feel healthier than I have in years. So, it’s a purchase that I spend every single week, twice a week, is on a personal trainer to help me with my physical strength, and it is the best thing I’ve done in so many years.

So, I would say, it’s an investment in my life, my happiness, my health, and my future. So, that is well-recommended. If you’re listening and you have any kind of chronic pain, and you’re a writer, it is very normal and you have to deal with it.

How To Connect

Jonathan: That’s fantastic. All right, Joanna, people are listening to this, and they want to connect with you. They want to connect with their content, they just want to find out more, what is the best way for someone to find out more?

Joanna: Come on over to the Creative Penn, with a double N, and there is the podcast, and all the books, and everything. I’m on Twitter, @thecreativepenn.

Jonathan: Joanna, thank you for joining us on the show today.

Joanna: Thanks so much for having me.

Jonathan: It’s hard to imagine that if you’re an aspiring creative you did not get value from this episode.0

If you’re someone that is saying, “I want to be more than just what I do. I want to invest myself in what can I create, and how can I create a living off of that.” Then, this episode was for you. Not only should you listen to this, like, comment, subscribe on your platform that you’re maybe listening to this on. Whether it’s a podcast, or YouTube, but you may know someone else that needs to hear this. Share this with a friend. If you got value from today’s episode and you want to support us here at Choose FI, here are three easy ways.

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
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