Ann Kroeker is a writing coach, published author, and professional speaker.
She works with clients who want to find agents and publish books the traditional way and also helps her clients figure out if self-publishing is the correct route for them.
In this interview, we talk about some of the merits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing. One of the biggest challenges of self-publishing is you have to market and promote the book yourself. For that, you need a platform, and Ann helps her clients build an online platform.
She helps them work out what channel is right for them, whether Facebook, Twitter, podcasting, or blogging. She also explains the difference between writing a blog post and writing an article. I asked Ann if it is too late to start a blog or build a platform online by publishing articles, and you may be surprised by her answer.
We also talk about the merits of podcasting for writers, particularly for non-fiction writers.
In this episode we discuss:
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Ann: I don’t think blogging is the same as it used to be. So, it’s not in its heyday in the same way. However, I feel 100 percent that every writer, every person who wants to be an author, every writer of any kind needs a home base and, at that home base, they need to be publishing some sort of content so that not only will search engines be able to figure out what you’re about, you need to publish content so they know what you’re about, and you also need to publish enough content that if a reader finds you, they understand what you’re about and they’re like, “Oh, I wanna learn more from this person.”
Introduction: Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.
Bryan: Are you torn between self-publishing your first book or going the traditional route? Hi, there.
My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast. My guest this week is Ann Kroeker.
She’s a writing coach, published author, and professional speaker, but she also works with clients who want to write book proposals so they can find agents and go the traditional route with their books and also helps her clients figure out if self-publishing is right for them, and in this week’s interview, we talked about some of the merits of self-publishing a book versus traditional publishing.
Now, I’m probably gonna self publish my latest book, which is a parenting memoir, and I’m going the self-publishing route because I’ve always had better success when I do something that doesn’t involve a gatekeeper or somebody deciding whether something I did is good enough or not. I’m also going the self-publishing route because it will give me a bit more freedom because I’ll own the complete rights to the book and I can do whatever I want with it later on.
You know, I could write a follow-up, I could create an audiobook, or I could even get it translated or turn it into a new website without having to worry about the constraints of a traditional publishing deal. That said, I’m still curious about traditional publishing and it’s probably a route I’ll explore later on but perhaps not for this book.
Now, of course, one of the big disadvantages or challenges of self-publishing is you’ve got to market and promote the book yourself, and, for that, you need a platform. Ann helps her clients build a platform online. She helps them figure out what channel is right for them, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, podcasting, blogging, or some other format, and, actually, one of my key takeaways from this week’s interview is the difference between writing a blog post and writing an article.
To me, a blog post is typically something that describes what you did on any given day. It’s a personal entry that you published online. Back in its heyday, these types of articles were really popular and it didn’t take much for your blog to get traffic. Now, you tend to see these kind of blog articles on social media posts or even in podcast episodes, kind of like the entry I’m giving you now.
On the other hand, writing an article is usually about a specific topic so it could be something like how to launch a parenting book or how to write a book proposal. Writing an article is something that solves a problem for readers and it’s written with a clear goal in mind, and if you get it right, you should attract some search traffic in Google or you will meet a brief that an editor has given you.
I put it to Ann, is it too late to start a blog or to build a platform online by publishing articles, and I think you’d be surprised by her answer. We also talked about the merits of podcasting for writers, particularly for non-fiction writers.
One of the reasons I set up this podcast is because writers spend a lot of time working by themselves in a room and I find podcasting is a great way to connect with other writers and other creatives like Ann. I also like podcasting because it’s a form of research for future articles and future books that I’ll write because what I’ll often do is interview a writer or a creative about their process, I get the interview transcribed and I’ll use that as the show notes, but then I’ll go through the transcription and pull out some interesting quotes and interesting takeaways and then I’ll turn that into an article or into a book chapter. So, essentially, I’m creating several pieces of content with one interview or with one podcast recording.
And if you’re considering building a platform, repurposing your work is a great way to do it. In other words, how can you take your book, how can you take your podcast interview, how can you take that blog post, how can you take that article and turn it into another format that helps you connect with your ideal readers and your ideal audience in a different way and that’s probably the key to building a platform online is to go where your audience goes and present your information or your stories in a format that appeals to them.
If you find this week’s interview interesting or engaging, please consider leaving a short review on iTunes or sharing the show wherever you’re listening, whether it’s Spotify, Stitcher, or Overcast. You can also become a Patreon supporter. For a couple of dollars a month, I’ll give you discounts on my writing courses, software, and on my books. And I’m also on Twitter, @bryanjcollins. Reach out to me, let me know what you’re up to, what you’re writing, and if you have any questions or suggestions for the show.
Now, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Ann Kroeker.
Ann: Well, I am a writing coach, podcaster just like you said, and I’m really helping writers, mostly of non-fiction, but not exclusively, I’m helping them skill build, I’m helping them explore the possibilities of publishing and then just other hurdles that they run up against. I help them talk that through, I inform them and we just work that through, helping them, you know, fill the gap between where they are and where they wanna be.
Bryan: It’s interesting that you decided to specialize in non-fiction. That’s something I did as well. Could you describe how you focused on non-fiction over your career?
Ann: Well, I mean, you’ve even had guests who have mentioned that it’s wise to start as a writer with the kind of writing you like to read and while I do love writing — or, excuse me, I do love reading fiction, I love just exploring non-fiction of all kinds and so it made sense for me to write those books and even the short pieces that I wrote, it was all non-fiction. How can I help people? I think it also flows out of who I am. I just love to help people, which is a natural path toward my work as a writing coach.
Bryan: Some of the non-fiction I’ve written have included copywriting, I was on a content marketing team for a few years, I wrote some personal essays, and I’m writing a parenting memoir. What type of non-fiction have you written or specialize in?
Ann: Well, Bryan, it sounds like we’ve done similar work. Early on after college, so I did major in creative — well, I majored in English and had a creative writing emphasis so I kinda came out of this word-driven study that I had done in college and then I started freelance writing, and then I was submitting to magazines so I was doing similar work to what you’re describing, working for companies too, writing work for them, and then I wrote a book and it was on motherhood and then I wrote another book a few years later on parenting and, out of those books, also I began to blog, then that led to this whole network of blogging. It was back when blogging was in its heyday and I was connecting with all those people and then I got on this editorial team which led to my becoming a coach down the road because I was interacting with all these people.
So, I think I’ve got all these pieces of my life, I’ve got the freelance work, I’ve got essays, I wrote some essays. I actually wrote poetry in the beginning, and then these books so I’ve got all this experience then that I could bring to then leverage for my clients as a writing coach. But, yeah, I’ve got a lot of different work that I’ve done, including actually instructing young people with the composition and creative writing, that kind of gave me the teaching element as well which I think also feeds into the work that I’m doing now. But podcasting is another new avenue, a new media that I’m able to use and speak my ideas and share with others in more of a teaching and encouraging mode.
Bryan: Podcasting is a great format for non-fiction authors. Was that something you found?
Ann: Oh, absolutely. Forces you to articulate your ideas and, of course, I do more of a solo show interspersed with some interviews so it’s a little bit different than your format but, yeah, the way it forces you to really hone in on your ideas, articulate them in a concise way, it’s absolutely a skill-building effort and a great way to reach people in a new way.
Bryan: I started with the solo show format but I found that it’s good to talk to people as well because when you’re writing, you spend a lot of time by yourself.
Ann: That’s a good point.
Ann: It’s an easy way to network without leaving your house.
Bryan: Yeah, it is. It is. Plus I also like to write articles so sometimes I’ll take quotes from the podcast interviews and use them for the articles —
Ann: That’s a great idea, yeah. Repurpose.
Bryan: — good idea for creating content, yeah.
Bryan: So, when you began coaching clients, what type of issues did they come to you with?
Ann: That’s a great question because people do come with all different kinds of challenges. So some people have come to me saying, “I just need to be able to write better,” and I’ve had people, both non-fiction and fiction, they just say, “I need to improve,” and so I’m like I can help with that and so that’s where some of that teaching experience comes into play and I’m able to use that to help them improve skills, absolutely, but then other people are like, “I wanna enter the world of publishing but I don’t understand how to do that. What’s involved? Can you help me with that?” And, of course, that path to publishing is something I can absolutely help with, whether — mostly, like I said, I mostly work with people who are working in non-fiction or writing non-fiction and, in that case, if they wanna go traditional, then helping them develop a book proposal and really think about their platform is something that I can help a lot with.
I specialize in that. I have a membership program for platform-building efforts and then I have a book proposal program that I work with people and there’s a self-study version and a group coaching version but those are some ways that I help people, but, boy, they can come to me.
I’ve had somebody who wanted to start a freelance business so I got them started, multiple people, actually, and then I’ve had clients who wanted to start submitting to lit mags and they didn’t know how to do that. What’s the process of getting on Submittable and starting to research the different literary journals that are out there? So I’ve helped with that as well.
Bryan: Yeah, I was looking at Submittable recently. Another service I came across is Duotrope which has like a huge resource that non-fiction authors can submit to. Have you used that?
Ann: Yes, I’ve advised people just to explore all the options. Actually, there’s a wonderful database that poets and writers put together and so if you just go there and look, you could just type into your search engine, “Poets and writers literary magazines,” you’ll get this massive database and it’s all in alphabetical order but it has some nice filters so you can filter for poetry, you can filter for essays, you can filter for reviews, and the kind of work that you wanna do in literary circles and save it. Then you can click through and poke around and understand the journal better so you can decide which ones are the best to submit to.
Bryan: You described platform building. So, my current strategy for writing is to publish search-engine-optimized articles, record podcasts like this, and I also have an e-mail list. I did look at literary journals but I couldn’t quite figure out how that would translate into building a platform as a writer so I kind of shied away from it recently. Is that something that you’ve come across or would you have an answer to my reservations?
Ann: Well, yeah, I think, you know, literary journals, it’s a wonderful way to practice writing, to express yourself. Usually, you are not constrained to the style of the journal, although you do wanna find a good fit so if you’re writing something that is, I don’t know, just really long and it’s a journal that wants short form, that would be a really simple, obvious way to see that it won’t fit but usually your voice, you’re able to maintain your voice more than if you were submitting to a magazine where you need to honor their style, their format, and their readership.
And the other challenge when it comes to building platforms and pursuing literary journals is you’re just not gonna get the same readership. Unfortunately, people aren’t reading journals as much. Some are, and that’s a good thing, but you’re just not gonna get that wide outlet, but what you do get are credits to put in your bio, like you get bylines, you can say you were published in this journal and that journal and that’s an asset when you are going to pitch publishers but also I think readers will appreciate that you’ve been published in this, that, and the other journal so that would be a reason to do it.
Practicing writing is another great way to do it, just they’re looking for quality work. But, yeah, in terms of platform building, I would go other directions. I would try to get in front of my audience in really creative ways and it’s probably not literary journals.
Bryan: Do these journals that you’ve described, do they pay writers, or do you have to pay to be published by them?
Ann: Well, usually, you need to pay just a reading fee which, you know, these are — they’re running on a skeleton crew with not a lot of resources so they ask sometimes for a modest reading fee. It’s usually not much. If it’s a lot, then I would question it. Sometimes you can enter a contest and if you won the contest, you might win a little monetary sum from that. But, yeah, I mean, if you’re trying to reach parents, they’re not reading literary magazines unless that’s their world unless they’re in the literary world or studying for their MFA or they have their MFA and they’re kind of in that space. If you’re reaching just — and you might, actually, since you’re reaching writers, right? Are you reaching parents or parents who write?
Bryan: It’s a good question. Yeah, I’ll have to figure that out. I was gonna ask you about that in a minute. So, with the writing advice, it’s writers who are looking for information about the craft. With the parenting book, the ideal audience would be young dads so it’s kind of like all the advice that I wish I’d been given when my son was born 15 years ago unexpectedly, almost as if somebody took me aside and said, “Look, this is what you need to know” —
Ann: Oh, I like that.
Bryan: — so that’s what I’m hoping to do with that book.
Ann: Oh, yeah. And it’s a full book? Well, you know, maybe you could pluck a scene from it or one chunk. Usually, it’s gonna be, what? 700 words or so, and submit it as an op-ed to a newspaper —
Bryan: Good idea.
Ann: — in response to something that’s happening in the culture, something you observe in the culture, and the op-ed is sort of addressing that but with a scene and they’re usually already really polished, clean because you’ve been working on it to include in the book and so the editors will love that. And then you’ve got another wonderful thing to put in your bio and that will be impressive too and it will also get you in front of more people and then, in the bio that you submit to that newspaper, you would actually say that, “Bryan Collins is working on a memoir about parenting,” and then that kind of whets the appetite for your book. Or, of course, if your book is completed, then you can just say, “This is an excerpt from existing memoir,” but you would need to reveal that upon submission that this is an excerpt.
Bryan: So if I was doing that, it’s researching newspapers like through Google, or is it using one of the services that we talked about there a few minutes ago?
Ann: Probably for op-eds, you would have to do your own research and I would go look and see what’s out there. I mean, you could even, if you really wanna aim high, you can look at something like New York Times’s Modern Love column. They’re always looking for creative ways of sort of interpreting what that means, what do you mean by love, like your initial thought might be couples or young couples that are in a relationship but actually love of fatherhood, you know, that fatherhood love could be perhaps something they’d be interested in hearing, especially what you just described is really appealing, the unexpectedness of suddenly becoming a father so those are some ideas.
Bryan: I must check that out. So, if I came to you, I’m gonna self-publish this book, by the way, but if I came to you and I said, “Ann, I have this book, I don’t know whether I should self publish it or go the traditional route,” how would you help me decide or how do you help a client work through that decision?
Ann: It’s so personal and everybody has different reasons for why they wanna go a different path. But I — if you say, “Well, I don’t have a big platform so I’m just going to self publish,” I would say you still need a big platform, as big as possible, because you’re trying to sell this book, right? You wanna sell, get it in front of at least a few people, so, either way, you’re gonna need a platform so I wouldn’t make that my single decision-making filter and so what I would probably do is just send you a few articles to have you read those to consider both sides and I would try to find one that leans toward wanting you to think about self-publishing. And I would find one that wants you to lean toward traditional publishing so that you get both of those extreme examples where they presumably are showing you both sides but they’re kinda leaning on one side or the other, but I would also ask you a few questions about what you’re trying to achieve and who you’re trying to reach and how you’re trying to get there and what your experience is with self-publishing and what your comfort level is with that.
Would you wanna look at a hybrid publisher and just what are your goals? Those would be some of the things I would ask and since you’ve already self-published, obviously, you’re super comfortable with that, right? And so you have all the skills, you have all the people, you have the network of relationships that you need in place already so there are a lot of things that have already been decided in your life. You already have some of the skills and knowledge you need to move forward so now I would ask, are you interested in the — some of the advantages of traditional publishing is distribution and if you haven’t figured out the distribution piece of self-publishing, which is another — it’s like a deeper dive that some self-published authors have not figured out, then that might be something to think about.
And you also might think about wanting to retain rights to be able to do more with it. That would be maybe an argument for self-publishing versus traditional because you usually give up some rights. When you partner with a traditional publisher, you know, part of the agreement is, “We’ll make you a book and give you some money to do that and we’ll distribute it as widely as possible and partner with you and your platform efforts and we’ll do our own marketing efforts and, together, we’ll amplify the sales, but, in exchange, we’re asking for some of the rights so that we can benefit from this as well financially and in terms of building up our own brand as a publisher.”
So, you know, you give up things but you get things and it is a partnership and it can be a very fruitful one. You get to make those decisions. Generally speaking, traditional publishing for most authors is not super mega profitable but you could argue the same thing for self-publishing so there’s pros and cons for each one and I think, in the end, you have to decide what’s most valuable and important to you.
Bryan: Yeah. For me, I chose the self-publishing route because I wanted to keep rights on the book in case I decided to do something else with it later on down the road —
Ann: Yeah, and it’s faster too, right?
Bryan: That’s another reason, yeah. Also, I’ve had less success anytime I’ve gone any route that involves like a gatekeeper or somebody deciding whether something’s publishable. I used to work as a journalist years ago, I wasn’t a very good one, but I found the whole process of pitching freelance articles frustrating whereas anytime I’ve done something where you can, you know, take your own initiative and publish it, I have had more luck with.
Ann: It’s very empowering. At one point, though, if you can show the stats in your proposal and you can show that, as a self-published author, I’ve been able to ship, you know, if you can hit like that 10,000 marker or more, you’re gonna become very interesting now to a traditional publisher so you could end up being, you know, kind of a hybrid approach if you wanted to, because I think when they see that you can do it and do it well and move a lot of product, then, wow, this is an interesting proposition here but you will still give up rights. You can negotiate those but, yeah, usually, you will give up some of the rights that you would like to maybe retain to make a course or something.
Bryan: When you say the 10,000 mark, is that print sales, Kindle sales, or both?
Ann: Well, I’m not a specialist at that. I’ve just heard people here and there talking about that. It’s just like, “Oh, now you’ve become interesting,” but I do not know how they would measure that. I would think, you know, just in general, all sales together, can you move that many books, but, you’re right, it could be just print. The person who said that did not get into that level of detail. It just —
Bryan: Okay —
Ann: — awakened in me the possibility that, okay, if you’re going to self publish and if you can meet some of these markers, maybe now you become super interesting whereas if — here’s what I tell some people actually, Bryan, if you’ve never published at all and you’ve thought about traditional publishing and you have some level of a platform, like it’s growing and it’s engaged, maybe explore traditional publishing and just see where that goes because when there’s no data about you, then they’re like, “Well, maybe this person would be a great fit, maybe this person would sell a lot of books so maybe we’ll take the risk,” but as soon as you publish, now there’s information, now there’s data, now there’s sales that they can look at, and if they see what — they often use the phrase “dismal sales,” can you believe that? It’s so depressing.
They call it dismal sales, so if you have dismal sales as a self-published author, they’re gonna be like, “Oh, well, yeah, I’m not really that interested,” so that’s something your listeners might wanna think about is like, am I unpublished right now? Should I pursue that and just like explore it and expect to hear a lot of no, like don’t give up after the first no. Pitch 10 agents at a time and then 10 more and then 10 more and keep going. There’s tons of agents out there who can help you navigate this.
And if you can land an agent, then they can help you nurture your career, negotiate contracts, and all of that business-y part of it. And so don’t give up after one no, like I would say send out 50 long before you say, “This book, they must not want me,” like explore, unless the feedback you’re getting with the first 10 is, “Oh, your platform numbers need to be, you know, twice that or three times that.”
Bryan: Is that something you can do with a book that’s already published, self-published, or should you not publish the book and follow that approach?
Ann: Oh, that’s an interesting question, and a lot of publishers — there’s kind of a mixed response that I’m hearing from publishers so some are like, “Why would I want a book that’s already published?” and others are like, “Wow, that’s performing really well, I want it,” and they will acquire it so I think you’d have to do your homework and look at different publishers and do some searches.
A lot of the work as an author, especially in the early stages, is research and you wanna find a good fit, and it’s tedious so I would say get out your spreadsheet, start organizing yourself, you know, have your information in a place where you can start doing that work of researching agents and researching publishers and, you know, if you can explore that possibility, you might be able to — especially if you have a book that’s performing well and you’re open to that, you’re open to giving that book over now to a publisher, yeah, I mean, like if it did well, they might be really interested.
Bryan: It’s interesting you mentioned sales. So, I found that a book can have a really long tail so it might not sell much in the first week or the first month but over the course of a couple of years, it can surprise you how much a book can sell.
Ann: Exactly, especially when you have published multiple books so they find one, they want more by this author, if they like.
Bryan: Yeah, you have a back catalog. You also described Ann, about you started blogging back in its heyday. Is it too late for somebody to, if somebody’s listening to this, to set up a blog as part of their platform? Have they missed their opportunity?
Ann: I don’t think blogging is the same as it used to be so it’s not in its heyday in the same way. However, I feel 100 percent that every writer, every person who wants to be an author, every writer of any kind needs a home base and, at that home base, they need to be publishing some sort of content so that not only will search engines be able to figure out what you’re about, you need to publish content so they know what you’re about, and you also need to publish enough content that if a reader finds you, they understand what you’re about and they’re like, “Oh, I wanna learn more from this person,” so you need some sort of evidence of that and the blogging, just think of the blog now as a publishing platform.
That’s really — you’re just self-publishing within your home base and so don’t think of it as, “I’m a blogger,” think of it as, “I’m using that blog functionality to publish content.” So I sometimes like my clients to reframe it and just start calling what they’re doing an article because that’s what they’re trying to do is create some content that if somebody finds it, they say, “Oh” — in my case, “Oh, she’s a writing coach,” “Oh, she helps people with nonfiction,” “Oh, she helps him with proposals,” because I’m writing content about that and then the search engines understand that and they help people who are looking for information about nonfiction book proposals, they might send them to me and then people type in “writing coach,” I’ve given enough information for the search engine to help them find it and then when they get there, the person also says, “Oh, I get it. She’s a writing coach and she helps people with this, that, and the other,” so I think that is a reason right there to blog, even though you’re not really blogging in the old way that we used to.
Bryan: Yeah, I would think of blogging as describing something that you’ve done or did whereas if you’re writing an article, it’s about a topic, like how to write a book proposal. So, these days, I do kind of think of them as articles rather than blog posts.
Bryan: That’s worked quite well for me. So, what is working then for platform building apart from publishing articles?
Ann: Well, okay, so you have to figure out where your audience is and then go to where they are and get as visible as possible and be as credible as possible so that’s gonna take a little doing because you need to figure that out, but like it becomes a little more obvious. If you write for retirees, where are they on social media? Where are they going? What are they listening to or reading or watching? Are they on TikTok? Probably not. I mean, a few people are but they might mostly be on, I’m gonna maybe be a little stereotypical here, but maybe they’re mostly on Facebook because it feels comfortable and they’ve been on there for a while and it’s easy to understand.
They might — maybe you can reach more of the women on Instagram. Are they on Twitter? Well, depends on the type. Now, we’re getting into psychographics a little bit more because I think Twitter appeals more to a psychographic than a demographic and so the type of person on Twitter, depending on the kind of retiree you’re trying to reach, you know, if they’re — are these retirees who are interested in Bitcoin? You know, maybe they’d be on Twitter being a little sassy with —
Bryan: With the laser eyes.
Ann: — Elon Musk and stuff, you know? Like responding and adding GIFs and whatnot. So, figure out the psychographic and the demographic of the person you’re trying to reach and go in that place, go to where they are and speak to them with the credibility that you have, telling the stories, maybe you have a unique story, maybe you have knowledge, expertise, training, whatever it is you bring, and then deliver that credibility. So you could be at conferences speaking, that may be the best platform building thing.
Of course, we can’t do that in person much right now as we speak but one day, that’s going to open up and we’ll be back in those spaces. Right now, summits online, that’s probably not gonna go away for a while so conferences and summits online, maybe you could pitch yourself to somebody as a speaker at an online event. What I’m doing right now as a great platform building thing is getting me in front of your audience. You are sharing your platform with me which expanded mine instantly and so being on podcasts as a guest is a great thing to do as well. I would say writing guest posting can be good and one of the things I would say in terms of platform building, if one of the goals is to get this person in your ecosphere — ecosystem?
Anyway, get them in your world, one thing to do, and if you’re going the traditional route, publishers love to see a big e-mail list. They wanna see lots of subscribers, lots of great open rates on your e-mails, so, everywhere you go, it’s very handy if you have, you know, that opt-in freebie, the lead magnet that you may hear people talk about, it really is useful to have things like that so that when you appear at an event, you can offer that freebie or if you’re on the podcast, you can let people know about the freebie or some way that they can get into your world more and then the people who are listening to you, they meet you, they get familiar with you and then now they can be a part of your world more easily and you can interact with them more and help them even more.
So, that would be another piece I would say. I always talk about this with my platform membership people. I say you need to have an infrastructure in place, it’s gonna be that home base, then you need to have some mechanism to get them onto your list so you can have some sort of invitational type of thing that they’re interested in. Now you have people on your e-mail list you can talk to and send out e-mails, sometimes it can be newsletters but they could just be e-mails, and then you wanna have an outpost of some sort that is another place for people to meet you.
And it might be the only place they interact with you on, often, social media. And then, when you get more bold, you have more energy, then you can start doing other ventures like a podcast or a YouTube channel or TikTok or Reels or whatever you wanna do.
Bryan: What channels works well for you apart from your podcast and blogging or articles?
Ann: Yeah, you know, the podcast I started on a whim in 2014. I really — there was sort of this first wave that people don’t even really maybe know —
Ann: Yeah, well, there was a wave before that and I started in 2014 and that was like the start of the second wave —
Bryan: Wow, so you’ve been going quite a while.
Ann: Yeah, and I had a lot of chaos at that moment in my life and I just needed something other than that, like unrelated to the chaos I was dealing with and so I thought I needed something other than writing, straight up writing as my only outlet because I was still writing content and publishing on my blog so I was blogging or whatever you wanna call it in 2014, but I needed something else that required a little bit less time or a different kind of energy and so I just started on a whim and then that became this incredible outlet and so that just — it was a slow growth at first but then I got a couple of big mentions and then there were big spikes and then people stayed with me so, anyway, it’s been a really wonderful way for people to meet me.
They can binge listen if they like what they hear and so that’s been great. I think that’s landed then some speaking engagements so I think speaking has been another great way to meet people. But, yeah, I think networking is probably the second best way is just getting among people who, in my case, like if I’m just talking about my writing coach work, not so much my writing, but the writing coaching, it’s like do a great job coaching and people will talk about you and so we get back to, what do you call that? Word of mouth. It’s like with so many things, you gotta read this book, you gotta work with this coach, you gotta listen to this podcast, whatever it is, you know, sometimes it is like, “Oh, I love this,” and then they talk about it and it’s there. So I think, yeah, I think that the podcast has been great and networking with the right people just — and which, for me, was actually not very strategic, it was just sort of accidental but I did end up in some great groups of people who were very supportive. I think borrowing the platform like that, you know, being a part of a bigger space where you’re on another platform so that yours grows, it’s a really great way to do it.
Bryan: Because you’ve been podcasting so long, do you plan in advance what episodes you’re going to do and record them in bulk or do you have another system?
Ann: Oh, I wish. I wish. It’s my dream to do bulk recording. Yeah, I would love that. Life just keeps getting crazy. Just when I was kind of getting some momentum, when 2020 hit and things were just so crazy and there was — it was affecting some, you know, some of the things, we were wrapping up one of my kids’ senior years here in the US, and a lot of things got yanked away from us and we were just thrown for a loop so, yeah, I would say right before then, I was like on the cusp of doing it that way, I was so excited, and then I just kind of lost my energy as a lot of people, it just — yeah, it kinda threw me.
So, I think, you know, I’m moving toward that and I definitely advise it if somebody has the capacity to do that. Like I have a client right now, she is banking a bunch of content because she’s about to launch her website and so she’s doing a great job of writing all that in advance so that she has some that she can launch with and then some that she can schedule so then she can be that much ahead. That is the way to do it. She’s doing it right. So I hope so, Bryan. I hope I can start doing that someday, but, no, I don’t right now.
Bryan: Yeah, that’s the model I’m trying to follow as well. So like you’ve got quite a lot going on and you have the coaching, your writing, your podcasting, so how do you organize a typical day when you’re working on your business? What does it look like?
Ann: Oh, that’s a great question. It looks so different, Bryan, because my kids — you’re in a totally different place in life, my kids are all grown now, and so I have a lot more control over my day and so I actually can organize my time and my space in a way — actually, I’m in a bedroom that belonged to one of my kids who no longer lives in the house so, you know, even that, just that luxury of space is something that I always craved. But when my kids were young, I just kept my finger in it. I just did what I could. I was lean, I was agile, I would — if I needed to work here, I would take my laptop, move it here. But how do I organize my day now? Well, I do have the space. I block off the mornings usually to do my own work, which includes writing, creating, editing, and admin work because we all wear multiple hats, whether that’s not only for the work, like the creative work that I’m doing with podcasting versus writing, those are two different kinds of creative work, but also within any given project, you’re doing different kinds of work and then your business has different kinds of work so I tend to all of that in the morning.
In the afternoons, I do a lot of my coaching calls and working on other projects related to that, like putting a course together or promoting the course or interacting on social media and so I mix it all up and then, of course, there’s other life events that happen in the middle of that too. So, I think the years of being the flexible mom working within motherhood and parenthood and all the things that come with that has created a kind of a mindset where I don’t need it to be tidy and tight but I do use time blocks and I use Google Calendar a lot to block out chunks of time and say this is for this purpose, even if I don’t have a specific thing, like I’m gonna review this book here, like I’m working through manuscript critique right now so like I have to have some chunks for that and then I’m also reviewing somebody’s proposal so I need a chunk for that so I’ll use Google Calendar for that and then I’ll do it, like Google Calendar is like my assistant, like, “Time to go do that.” So I use that as sort of like an assistant and then I also organize myself extensively in Trello, which I know other people use Asana and other things, but I let that also drive a lot of how I organize my systems.
Bryan: I use Trello as well, yeah, it’s a good tool. I like it. So, Ann, where can people find you or work with you or learn more about your work?
Ann: Oh, I have a website, of course, annkroeker.com, but I have a page where I just put everything, all the ways that you can work with me, both free and paid, and it’s annkroeker.com/everything. One thing that I think your listeners might really enjoy is a three-day challenge, it’s an Evergreen thing so it’s not live but you can go to that by going to annkroeker.com/3day or it’s at the Everything page but it allows people to start crafting their book’s big idea so if they’ve got ideas and they wanna try to work through some of them and land on a non-fiction book’s big idea that they would use then to move forward with to write their book and write their book proposal, that would be a really good thing for them to sign up for. Well, thank you so much for having me. It’s great to meet you.
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