What do Ghostwriters do? Interview with Nick Pavlidis

What do Ghostwriters do? Interview with Nick Pavlidis

Ghostwriter. Sounds mysterious, doesn’t it? In today’s show, Nick Pavlidis unpacks what a ghostwriter is, what they do, and who can benefit from hiring one.

Interview with Ghostwriter Nick Pavlidis

Nick used to practice law, but he wanted more control over his time, and more time with his family (you can hear more about that in our earlier interview). He became a skilled ghostwriter, and now he’s teaching others the craft and business of ghostwriting.

His mission? Nick says, “I help people help people.”

What is a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters help create written content, often without a byline. That content might be a series of blog posts or articles, or it might be posts for social media. It could be a book. “Basically we’re creating written content and positioning it to make a connection with a desired reader for a greater purpose,” says Nick.

The difference between a good book and a great book is not the information. It’s really the presentation.

Nick Pavlidis

Why hire a ghostwriter?

  • Saves you time, so you can focus on the things you do best.
  • Publishing consistent high-quality articles, blog posts, and social media posts helps build authority and trust in your industry.
  • Having a book establishes you as someone who is knowledgable, and opens doors for you. This is especially true of you want more speaking engagements.

Writing is part of it, but positioning that content to make a connection is something else. This is a special skill. The ghostwriter does more than take your words and ideas, and rearrange them on the page. The skilled ghostwriter understands how to deliver your content to the reader in an effective way.

A skilled ghostwriter can do this for you:

  • Gathers the information and organizes it in a logical way
  • Creates structure for your story
  • Brings expertise to both writing and presentation
  • Makes your content easy for Google to index

This skillful organization and positioning helps your audience find you. It strengthens connections and help keep your readers engaged. Ultimately, by hiring a ghostwriter to create quality content, your message can help more people.

The ghost writer doesn’t come in to just help you write a book. If you go to a professional ghostwriter, you get a professional work product.

Nick Pavlidis


Tap the “+” below to open the transcript


Hey Nick, thanks so much for being on the life and mission podcast this week. How have you been? You were on the show a couple of years ago.

My pleasure, Kay. I’m honored to be here. I love what you’re doing. You know, I’m a big fan of you, so I am just super excited to share some time here. I’ve been doing well. I know it’s been a couple years since you and I at least spoke in this setting and, I’ve been in my business, staying positive, having fun, choosing my own adventure. And lately I’ve been trying to set aside time to help others follow their own dreams, especially as it pertains to ghostwriting, which is something we talked about last time, right?

Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you so much, because you are such an encourager and it’s really, really great to talk to you, just about all kinds of things. But lately we’ve been talking a lot about ghostwriting. And you have launched your ghostwriting school, and that’s one of the big things I want to talk with you about. But first, if we just let people know who you are and what you do, and then we’ll go from there.

Sure. Yeah. Well, I have a wife and two kids and I was a lawyer.  So I’m a lawyer, turned ghostwriter, and now I spend, I like to describe what I do as my ghost writing business evolved and grew as helping people help people. So if you go to, I help people help people.com it’ll redirect you to my website.

Just as a reminder to me that what I am doing through ghost writing and through teaching and through connecting with people, is finding people who have a positive message to share, a positive impact to make on people and helping them connect with the people who need their messages, either through written content or other forms of content in such a way that they are able to reach more people, impact more people, and put a positive  spin on the world, no matter what is going on around them. So most of it’s through ghostwriting.  

Like you mentioned, I launched Ghostwriter School. I opened the doors for a few days for that. And so I’m helping people. I help clients get books and articles written to share messages of inspiration, accurate information and stories to encourage people to make a positive change in their lives. So everything I do is centered around that concept of helping people, help people.

Love that because that’s what we’re about here. Life and Mission Podcasts. That’s it. You’re living, you’re doing what you do, but you’re doing it because there’s another purpose. You’ve got a strong why behind what you’re doing and that’s helping people.

Yeah. Yeah. And it’s super fun because,  with ghost writing, especially, I tend to help people who are talented speakers. They might even be talented writers, but they are there. Talented communicators in some form, podcasters, public speakers, coaches, consultants,  but they either don’t have the time to write or they don’t have the writing talent.

Some of them don’t have either, but they have positive information, positive stories to tell really helpful stuff. And if they were to do it themselves, best-case scenario, it would pull them away from doing their core. Piece of their message or their business. So it would, it would unplug their marketing for their business if they took the time to write their book or they’re not talented at it, or they don’t have the desire to do it because it’s a lot of work.

And on the other side, there are people who they won’t listen to podcasts, they won’t watch YouTube, not because there’s anything wrong with it. It’s just not their style of learning. So through ghost writing and getting it an article. And or book form. We help them reach an audience that’s not going to reach their core business function.

There’s, they’re not going to go to a conference and hear their keynote or they’re not going to listen to their podcasts, but they will read an article. They will read a book. So there are some people who just want to read books or just want to read articles and they won’t listen to podcasts. And there’s some people who only want to listen to podcasts and won’t reach a book.

If you’re only sharing your message and sharing your story in one place, you’re missing out on helping a whole group of people who need your story, need your teaching, need your information.

That’s so true. I mean, you have to, it’s kind of like learning to speak different languages and so you’ve kind of have to speak. You know, but that’s the language of video, the language of a book, the language of podcasts. It’s whatever way your audience receives what you have to say and the more languages, so to speak, that you can communicate in the better off everybody’s going to be.


So,  this ghostwriting, kind of like you say, “ghostwriting,” and people kind of lean in and sometimes they get a little funny look on their face. Right. Because we don’t, it’s not really something you hear. You hear people say, I want to be a writer, I want to, I want to write a book. You actually hear that a lot. But ghostwriter is not something we hear a lot about. So can you unpack what is a ghostwriter? What does a ghostwriter do?

Yeah. So we,  we help create written content. Sometimes that’s as simple as social media. I don’t do as much social media content, unless it’s someone who does, who’s already working with us for books and, or articles. So I’ll do social media associated with that. So I don’t tend to do as much as that.

But basically we’re creating written content and positioning it to make a connection with a desired reader for a greater purpose. So we have worked with people. Either from scratch where we, we design a book together; we design what the book’s intention is going to be, or the articles or the series of articles we,  interview content out of them.

We do some research. So we’re basically creating a written piece of content that is helpful to our clients to share a message, to spread a message, to build their business, to tell their stories. And there are some people who just would never get that book. And then. They would never get the book out.

They’d never get the articles written and everybody, everybody kind of gets hurt by that. The people who need that content that we talked about who won’t have access to it, the people who would continue to struggle. So we help not just write the content with them, but we help design that content as being experienced in how the written form of delivering information can create momentum for people. So basically we design written content. We help gather the information that we need to get that written content, whether that’s through someone’s keynote or a course, or a YouTube videos or podcasts, or creating it a new through interviews. And then we put it in a written form in such a way that it connects with people because the art of.

Writing when you don’t have your hands to wave around or you don’t have an inflection that you can use with your voice or pace of voice to deliver information. There is an art to writing. There is a bit of a science to it as well, so we create content and position it, not just with the words, but even position it on paper through paper, how it looks on the on the written paper, on the written page and how it looks on the screen.

To attract to the right people, to keep them reading and to deliver both the message and that momentum, that motivation for them to make some improvement in their personal professional lives and want to connect more with our readers. So we do,  you know, with ghost writing, there’s this perception that you’re just writing a book and someone else’s name is on it.

There’s a lot more if done well. There’s a lot more that goes into it. That’s really that design to say, Hey, listen, just like you would with a coach of an NBA team, put your teammates in the – put your, your team members in a position to succeed. We do that through content. We help coach the content out of the clients, and we position it in simple to understand functions.

So their words. Are just presented in a way that puts them in a better chance to succeed in making a positive impact on their reader and in,  in growing their authority, their business, their audience.

So let me make sure I understand so. It’s almost like you’re, you’re taking the – you’re almost translating the person’s message from, say they’re a big, they give a lot of speeches and so they have this great idea that they spread through speech and now you help them translate that into a written format, which is really it’s such a different medium.

It requires different requirements and they may just really rock that speech. They may be getting thousands of dollars to go stand in front of a crowd and speak. But they sit in front of that computer to go type that book and they don’t know where to start. Maybe, or, or they can kind of get, get it to a certain point, but it’s just not working. Or, you know, like you said at the time, but it’s, yeah. You have to wear a lot of hats to be a ghostwriter. Right.

Yeah. And it’s, and, and the thing about ghost writing is it’s not about the information, it’s about the presentation of the information and how you do it. Whether you do it through stories. There are a lot of books where you can, you can almost tell when something was, was either written by someone who’s not, who, who doesn’t have that same storytelling or that,  that nuance style of presenting written information, whether it’s.

And what I mean by that is sort of a writer who’s just coming into the project with the mindset of, you tell me what to say and I’ll write it. That’s not a ghost writer. That’s a transcriptionist. Essentially. That’s just a, that’s a,  almost like a commoditized,  way of looking at things. Or if it’s something who’s, that’s self-published, self written, nothing wrong with that, but by someone who’s just trying to get the information down.

This is a book about this.  And the difference between that and someone who takes the approach of, I’m coming to this as a professional ghost writer, designed to help you tell your story or deliver your information in such a way that it makes that deep connection. So when we do it, we and when teach to do it, we teach to do it through story.

So because the difference between a good book and a great book is not the information. It’s really the presentation. And the great books do two things differently. Number one is they, they help the, the reader gain the confidence to move forward. They give them that they give them that motivation that, wow.

Chapter two told this story of some person who had a similarly positioned to me or I resonated with in some way, achieving something I want. So they resonate with stories. So we tell multiple stories, little stories, anecdotes, pop culture, stories, reflections.  it’s not always, doesn’t always have to be that the author.

Experienced every single piece of it, but the author as an expert is someone who can tell a story about something they saw on the news or some, someone they met or someone they helped. So we build the books. We build it in such a way that. The way we first learn about the ideal reader and what they want to achieve or get out of reading this book and then why they haven’t.

There’s something about themselves. They believe they can’t lose weight because they have bad knees or something about their environment. They believe they can’t be a good leader because they don’t have final authority. They’re just an entry level or an assistant manager, or there’s something about the subject matter themselves. They believe that. You know, this,  the art of,  of content is just something for intellectuals or for professors to argue over. And what we do is we, we, we lean into those objections before we get started and we identify stories that show people. Who have those objections, overcoming them. So it might be someone who tells a story about, Hey, let me tell you about Nick.

“Nick used to struggle. He had bad knees his whole life, and he just accepted that he’d never be athletic. So he just decided blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And then you just show Nick who had bad knees, and then the person who’s reading it, you don’t just say, “Don’t worry. If you have bad knees, you can do it.”

That’s not very motivating. That’s good information, but it doesn’t give Nick confidence or the reader confidence. But if, if the reader says, “Wow! Nick had bad knees his whole life, I got bad knees, maybe I can just try what Nick tried.” And that gives them the confidence, because they do that. So that’s the first thing they get is confidence.

And then they get, they become more competent. Not because you’re showing them the beginning and the end, but you’re showing them the middle and you’re showing them small pieces that they can say, all right, if I just try these one or two things or three things, if I do these three things every day, I’m going to be able to move forward, or I’m going to be able to achieve it.

So it’s not just the information, it’s how you act, you’re actually giving them the small steps that they can do right away. And you’re actually giving them the connection, the motivation, and the confidence that they can, that they themselves can do it. By leaning in and understanding the objections that people have and then telling stories that help people resonate with someone.

Cause if you’re just telling the author’s story, then the reader has to resonate with the author in order to get that confidence. If the author is telling other stories as well, then there are many opportunities for the reader to make a connection with someone and gain that confidence that, Hey, if Nick can do it by can’t dire, if Kay can do it, why can’t I?

Yeah. It has to be some way for that reader to see themselves and in that book, succeeding, doing what? The goal, whatever the goal of the book. Yes. Yeah. So that’s a great skill that,  the ghost writer brings, like, and, and really, you know, it’s the same as the author of any book. It’s just that you’re taking it, you’re working with the person whose name is going to be on the book, but you’re doing all that, all that work,

Yeah. And for that ghost writer, it’s not just the art. The ghost writer doesn’t come in to just help you write a book. It’s to help you write a better book. So if you go to a, you know, you go to a professional, like a professional ghostwriter, you get a professional work product.

Right, right. And I’ve heard you talk about, you know,  writing sometimes as is bought and sold almost like a commodity, and it kind of goes to the lowest bidder. And that’s not. That’s not what we’re talking about now you’re, you’re really talking about buying, not buying, but hiring services of a craftsman to help you produce something of great value to other people.

Yes. Yeah, absolutely. A book you can be proud of, not just a book or article or whatever is,  Just to have, just to have a book, because a lot of people will say, Oh, I’m a public speaker to get on these stages, virtual or otherwise. They want to know that. Where the one thing that gets us stand out is that if we’re an author, because I’m competing against people, especially now with a lot of, with the, when the, when the world’s economy gets flipped, there are a lot of people who will go into consulting.

A lot of new businesses will get started. A lot of people with messages to share, a lot more people with messages to share who are going to be sharing them. And one of the ways to stand out is having a book, but if you have a book that it looks like a pamphlet or a book that’s just a bunch of information, you send it to someone and they flip through it, they’ll look and say, wow, this seems like a lot of information.

That seems like that, it won’t give you as much help as if you have a book that actually, because of the content and the presentation and the flow and the, and the cover presentation, all that stuff because of that. Yeah.  it’s a page Turner and I tell people, one of the simplest things you can do to improve your writing is to put more subheadings and don’t go more than 700 or a thousand words tops without some visual element on the page.

If you’re just flipping page after page after page in a book, and it’s just straight. It’s straight text, especially if it’s one long paragraph, then the reader’s brain is going to get tired because there are two things that go on in people’s brains when they’re reading. One is the mechanical side of things.

Getting the stuff from the page into your brain and then the application side of it where it’s understanding it and how to move forward with it. If their brain is working really hard for the mechanical side of it, they’re going to get tired and they’re going to say, all right, maybe I’m going to put this book down, and then what they do is they try flipping forward to see, all right, well, how much longer do I have to go before I get to a natural stopping point?

I do that all the time.

Right? That’s like 10 or 12 pages. You say, forget it and you just stick a bookmark and you say, I’ll just figure it out. If it’s one or two pages, then you say, all right, I’ll read to the next image or read to that great out quote, or I’ll read to that next subheading, and then you get to that point.

And many times people will say. You know what, let me just see if there’s one or two more things and they flip forward again and they say, Oh, okay, we’ve got one more page and it’s the end of a chapter or one, two more pages, and it’s another section. And in this section, the subheading looks really interesting.

So let me just read this, another one. And you could get someone going through for an hour or two going through, and that’s what makes it a page Turner is that presentation. It’s that craftsmanship to a book.

Yeah. And so that’s one of the skills, one of the many skills that that ghost writer is going to bring into it. And it’s not just, we’re talking a lot about books, but I ghost writer also is, you know, write your blog posts or write longer form articles for your, your business. all kinds of contents.

It’s not just limited to books. We have writers that are producing content. I did a workshop the other day on,  How, how local businesses could use content marketing,   Or it gets a little specialized, but you do have to know how to do it right versus just kind of flinging a lot, a lot of information out there.

Yeah. And that presentation for,  for a, for an article is really, really important to, people have less patience with the articles than they do with a book because the way we look at content, we’re used to looking on Facebook feeds and Twitter and LinkedIn where even. If the content is,  even if the content is long, it’s, it’s shortened.

And then you have to click more to see. So when you’re looking at a page, you see a person’s name and you see a little bit of content. Maybe you see an image, then you see another person’s name. You’re the way content is presented to us. It naturally has this, these breaks in it. So what we do with articles is we, we make it skimmable, which means we have, we, we don’t go more than 300 words tops without a subheading. So even if you’re telling a story and you’re still, you’re not doing a “three ways to write a blog post” type of post, even if you’re telling a story, then you break it up visually and you give almost little teasers for why people should keep reading. So if you’re telling a story about something that you lost, then you might say.

And the first one is, you know, that time I lost whatever, but I would actually flip it around and say and turn it to a lesson or something else. Make it about the reader. Because that time I lost is about you. So if you say something to the effect of, you know, how to find your lost earring or whatever, and then you sell your story,  at the beginning, and then the subheading, even if it’s just a story about an afternoon that you lost your earring, the first subheading might be,   you know, look behind your ears or whatever.

And then some little quirky thing. And then later on down the road, it’s,  Giving up right before you strike gold or whatever, and then when someone just looks on the page, they see, you know how to find a lost ring, look behind your ears that never give up or whatever. They see some sort of message, or just about to give up or strike and gold.

Then that. Just that it’s quote unquote journey of the subheadings makes it more attractive to the person on the page. And just like they do in a book, they might read a section and then say, you know what? I’m tired, but you know what, this next section is just short. Let me just read this next section. And then they read the next section and then you, you’ve drawn them in and then they see that, that, that T’s that subheading and that tells them there’s something interesting following it and it keeps them reading to the end.

So there’s that art in that presentation. In both the written form online and articles and magazines or whatever. And there’s the written form in longer form in books, for sure.

And more of us are reading content on our phones. So you’ve got this little tiny spaces, narrow space to fit all that in. So if you have a big wall of text, kind of all coming at them at once.

Nick: Yep.

You know, it just is too much work to read. So just knowing things like that is, is golden. So from this standpoint, if somebody says, I have a message, and  I need to get it out to people.

What’s the advantage to me then of hiring a ghostwriter to do all this for me?

Well, part of it is the effectiveness of the writing. So, a skill to ghostwriter will know how to present it, to get people who land on your page, to be able to  enjoy it and like you and want to do more with you. Another part is that when it’s done really well. It can attract people to your page. So a ghostwriter, a really talented ghost writer, has a skill of intuition,  and that they will intuitively know why or what would lead someone to your page.

What are they likely to be searching on Google when they’re in need of your message, in need of your services and need of you. And they will design posts with your content to match those types of searches. So if someone is searching for leadership, for example, they might say, you know, how to communicate better, or how to motivate my team members or something like that.

And so instead of saying, instead of designing a post that says,  , if the title is something to the effect of being positive in the workforce or being positive in the office, no one, probably no one really searches for something like that, perhaps. But if the answer is being positive in your office and the post is how to communicate with your team better, and one of the, one of the ways to do that is to be positive.

Then the post title of. How to better communicate with your team members or how to motivate your team members is something that they’re going to be searching for. So what the ghost writer does is it presents it in such a way, not just on the page to make people who land there naturally,  connect better with it, but to present it on the page in such a way to get more people to land there naturally by writing it and designing it and presenting it using.

The technical side of how blogs are written, and that’s through sort of a, it’s sort of like in Microsoft word, if you were to do bold and capitalize and things like that, there are ways to better connect your content with Google search engine in particular by instead of making things bold by tagging it.

As a heading or a subheading, and that tells Google that, Hey, this post is really about communication in the workforce, or that tells Google, Hey, this post is about whatever your topic is, so the ghost writer will not as present it in such a way that makes the content stickier, but they’ll present it in such a way that communicates with Google to get more people to get your website more likely to show up over the longer term when people search for information like yours.

Yeah. So yeah. You’re not talking about these little tricky tactics that, you know, we used to, you know, if you remember, people used to put all their keywords at the bottom of the page and all that, and that’ll get you, that’ll get you off Google really fast. But understanding, you know, that you’re writing for a real reader, and Google is actually looking at your page.

You’re scanning it and saying, is this for a real reader, and what would that reader be looking for? What’s the answer that this provides? Or a real person and, and then of course real people are going to type something into that search bar and they’re looking for an answer to a problem and understanding that is probably nine-tenths of it right there.

Absolutely. And these are simple changes for a ghostwriter, but for, for a businessperson or a speaker or someone with a message to share, to have to keep up with all the things that go into it. It’s not their business. So for me, I like to bring in experts when I pretty much do anything.  And I can design a website, but I don’t. When I opened up ghost writers school, I brought people in to do that technical thing because I know that my skills aren’t as good as theirs. And there are little nuances that can make a big difference in a way that matters to reaching people. So I won’t run my own Facebook ads.

I’ll have someone do that. Even though I understand Facebook ads, because they changed their algorithms, they change their reviews; they change their specs; they change everything so frequently that I can’t keep up with it and still be a world-class writer. So I try to find the people who do that all day, every day.

And who’s. Right income really depends on them doing it well to do it, because I know that they know that their kids will get really skinny if they don’t do it really well. So I like to,  bring in experts as much as I can for whatever parts of the project aren’t part of my core competencies or core offerings, even.

There you go. So then let the subject matter expert be the expert in their subject matter, and then let the ghost writer be the expert in the writing and the presenting, the writing and, and the message out. And then. Let the other people come in and do their job. And then you’ve got a really nice team and a nice presentation for your information and your business has a much better chance of going farther and being successful.

Yes, and it really helps, especially if someone is looking to build thought leadership or someone that has a higher value offering, because if they’re able to do, first of all, typically my clients just, they love what they do. And what they do is not right. They help people in some way so they get more fulfillment out of it and they’re able to serve more people because they’re, they don’t have to take time away to do the writing, and they’re able to serve people better because the more they do it, the more they learn and the better they get.

So that positive momentum, just by outsourcing. One little piece to them. It’s a big piece because it takes a lot of time. It takes more time for them to do it then than a lot of the things they do that make a bigger impact, so they’re able to outsource something that helps them in several ways. But in addition, it gives them more time to fill up their pipeline and more time to serve their pipeline people and their clients.

And it makes them better at what they do because they get more practice hours because they’re not taking practice hours out too. Right.

Yeah. That’s good. That’s good. Well, what, what should somebody do? Okay, we’ve got two groups probably listening to this right now. People that say, ah, I need a ghostwriter because I’ve wanted to write a book, and I didn’t know where to start, or I didn’t know what, what to do about that. And then you’ve got another group going.

Ghostwriting. I love to write, but I, you know, I, that’s, that’s me. I love the writing part in the, in the technical, how to, how to position it and things. And I love learning different things, which is another benefit of being a ghostwriter. So,  what’s the, what’s, what’s a step that somebody could take for each of those.

Yeah. If you’re looking to get into ghostwriting, the best place to go. I have a free guide on my website, ghost writer, school.com it’s pretty much the only thing on the website is here’s your quick start guide and then you click, you stick in your email and I email you a PDF. It’s 10 pages long or something like that.

It might be longer than that, I don’t remember, but it walks through all the things that I would do if I were first getting started in ghostwriting. And then you will, , you’ll be able to, it’s marketing. It’s hard to find clients, all sorts of really good stuff there. So I would go there, ghost writer, school.com if someone’s looking to hire a ghostwriter, I’d say the best way for them to do it is to connect with you.

Cause I know you are really talented at writing, and you’re growing your ghostwriting business. And if they connect with you and you’re not a good fit, you and I collectively can help find them. Someone.

That’s right. Yep.  All right. So, all those links that Nick talked about, they’ll be in the show notes  you’ll find that  at lifeandmission.com and Nick, thank you so much for being with us today and demystifying the world of ghostwriting for us.

Nick: Oh, my pleasure. Okay. Thanks for having me.

Life and Business Success with The Small Biz Mama

Life and Business Success with The Small Biz Mama

Kristin Ingram is a Small Biz Mama. In this interview, she shares how she’s able to run multiple businesses and enjoy family life. Plus, tips for launching your successful online business!

This is a great time to start an online business, but the overwhelm can be a powerful deterrent. In this interview, we’ll cut through the clutter with the basics you need for online success. In this podcast, you’ll learn from Kristin’s experience about:

  • How to be realistic about using the time you have
  • How to build authority online
  • How to launch a course

Kristin Ingram is the Small Biz Mama

Kristin is a Small Biz Mama. She owns two businesses, a tax and consulting firm and a digital media company. In 2019, She founded Bookkeeper Training School, where she helps moms create a full-time income while their kids are napping as virtual bookkeepers. She has worked with small businesses for almost 20 years. She is blessed to work from home with her husband Jeffery, as they raise our son Erik, who is 2 going on 20.

Connect with Kristin at Smallbizmama.com

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Kay: Kristen, you are amazing. I love following what you’re doing on all the socials and, and you know, I just see you popping up here and there with great advice. And then I see, you know, family pictures and I know that work life balance is a big thing. And I know it’s a big thing for a lot of our listeners, can you tell us a little bit of all the things that you’re doing.

Kristin: Okay. So yeah, so I think it’s funny because talking about work life balance, I think when I tell people all the things I do, they’re like, there’s no way that she has balanced. But I’m going to start off by saying, before I tell you all the things that I don’t work more than 25 to 30 hours a week. Okay with all the things.

So here’s what I do. I teach full time at a university. I teach a tax to graduate and undergraduate students. I have a CPA firm where I have clients all over the country. I do tax and consulting work primarily for online businesses.

Kay: Okay.

Kristin: I have a course called bookkeeper training school, which we have almost 250 students in now.
I’m also a mom of a little. He’s two. His name’s Eric. My husband Jeff is with me as well, and we’re both at home, so we kind of trade off on, child raising, which is so cool. It’s so fun that we get to do that together. And, I also have a site called accounting and focus where I provide accounting tutorials for college students who are taking accounting courses. So we do a lot of stuff.

Kay: Yeah, you do. And you know when I think accounting, of course, I’m thinking that’s a lot of concentration and everything has to be exact. And then you’ve got so many things going on, but one of the things you’re doing as well as you’ve got the Small Biz Mama, right? You’ve got your own podcast, which, guys check it out. It’s, I mean, your episodes are like 15 minutes.

Kristin: Yeah. We try to keep them super short. Yeah. Cause they’re mama’s right? And so I want it to be something you can listen to in the shower. You can listen to when you’re doing the dishes, you know?

Kay: And you’ve got this great, kind of like a mantra. It’s like, “We are busy mommas who love our kids and we do any from them. We are the home based business that make this country move.” I mean, it goes on. I love it. So, let’s start with the mom. And grow into kind of how that works with the business, I just know that’s going to be the number one question. So let’s start there

Kristin: Yeah. So I mean, the biggest thing is to be realistic about the time that you have. I think that there are a lot of moms out there that they want to start a business and they get into it and realize that this is a full time job. How am I going to balance that with my kids? And so the reason that I’m able to do as much as I do is because I automate as much as I possibly can.

I delegate a lot. You know, I say no a lot, and I’m really focused on how many hours I have in the day to actually get work done. And right now with my current schedule, I’m at about four and a half hours a day that I’ve got for work. And some of those hours are what I refer to as unfocused hours where you know, my phone is ringing a lot. My email is dinging a lot. Eric is going, “Mama, mama, mama, mama.” So I have to divide my, to do list into my focus time and my unfocused time. If you have kids, you know that there are times where you might be able to respond to some emails while your kids are talking to you in the background. Or maybe you’re cooking dinner and you’re able to read an article that might help you be a better business owner. Those are my unfocused tasks and I keep those separate.

My really focused time in the morning, I make sure I’m not checking email during that time. I’m not on Facebook during that time. I’m really dialed in to what I need to do during those hours, because there aren’t that many of them.

Kay: So don’t fritter away your time doing those kind of scattered things that you can do when you don’t need to focus, to do those tasks. That’s great. I do a lot of learning with podcasts. Anyway, that’s a great errand-running thing. Or doing other things.
Kristin: Absolutely.

Kay: That’s not just for moms either. It’s for dads, for anybody. I mean, I think a lot of people are dealing with this for the first time now in the middle of this coronavirus stay at home time and people are seeing how hard it is. But also I think there are a lot of people discovering how really wonderful it can be.

Kristin: Absolutely. I think, I mean, we’ve been doing this for a long time. I retired my husband, at the beginning of 2017. So we’re blessed. We’re running about three years that we’ve been doing this together full time.
It was actually funny because we made the decision to bring him home. My husband and I had been together for, at that point we had been together for 16 years. And we didn’t think we could have kids. You know, we just thought as the two of us, we were kind of building this business has like a travel, you know? We’re going to travel and speak. I think I spoke at Launch Out three times in 2016. And he left his job and we think we got pregnant like that week.

Kristin: And so it completely changed our entire plan, right? Because I’m like, well, we’re not gonna be traveling and we have a baby coming. We had to pivot and change the trajectory of our business and where we were going with it, but it’s awesome to be able to go and have lunch with them every day and to be there when my son wakes up from his nap and have breakfast. I talked to all these people that and they’re constantly running.

Kristin: And even now, with the with the pandemic, because they have to get to their desk at a certain time, to start the day. And they’re trying to homeschool and work and, and it’s like we don’t have that rush in our lives. It’s such a wonderful blessing to just be able to be.

Kay: Yes, it, it truly is. I remember, years ago, I had a job interview. And it turned out to be a two and a half hour drive. It shouldn’t have been, but the traffic; and that was typical traffic. There wasn’t anything wrong. It was just that was normal traffic for that distance, for that, that specific place. And by the time I got to the interview, I had decided I didn’t want the job. Practice interview. You know, if this is going to be five hours of my day in commuting. I think about the impact on the family. No, I can’t, I just can’t.

Kristin: Yeah, that’s not doable. And I think a lot of times, we forget when we’re trying to calculate. When I talk to moms and they say, “I’m interested in being a bookkeeper, but you know, I need to make this much money.”
And when I say, “Okay, well how much do you pay for your work clothes? How much do you pay for commuting? How much time do you lose for commuting? How much do you spend on fast food because you’re busy? How much do you spend?” I mean it was funny because one of the things I keep hearing from people is, “I can’t believe how much money I spent eating out,” because they’re not doing it anymore.

But when you add it up, and then daycare. The average family spends $13,000 a year on daycare for one child. One! That’s craziness. So when you start to add it all up, a lot of people are realizing, “I’m not even making any money working, right?” Because it’s still expensive to go out, and then the time lost. So when we start to dig into those numbers with people, they realize that they don’t have to work as much as they thought, if they work really smart. And they cut back on those costs for working.

Kay: And the stress level goes down, which is huge. I have followed you recently as you launched a new thing. And that was your bookkeeper training school. It’s for the moms that you’re talking about right there, right? That are making that switch. And they’re saying, “Okay, I do, I want to, I want to try and figure out a way to stay home. Now what can I do?” So tell me about the bookkeeper training school and how you came to do that.

Kristin: It was actually, about a year ago. I was at my, semi-annual mastermind meeting. So I’m in Julie’s _ mastermind group. It’s called Digital Insiders, and she has business owners from all over the world that descend on Hartford, Connecticut twice a year. I’m the CPA in the group, so everybody’s coming up to me asking me about bookkeepers. And I didn’t have anybody that I trusted enough to refer out to people. Kay: Oh yeah. Kristin: And then we were on our way home, one of the nights of the mastermind. I’m going through my Facebook feed, and there was a woman talking about how she was crying in the parking lot of her son’s daycare because she was dropping him off for the first time at six weeks old. Because she had to go back to work. And it’s like I never had to experience that with my son, because we’ve always been home with him. Both of us have been home with him, and it just kind of clicked.

Like, what if? I’ve been teaching small business owners how to do bookkeeping for almost 20 years. And it’s your average person. A lot of times I’m teaching the wife. Right? So somebody has a landscaping business or an electrical business, and their wives are doing the bookkeeping at night. So I’ve been doing this for 20 years. And I thought to myself, “What if I can teach these moms how to be bookkeepers?” You know, because I’ve even taught Jeff how to do this for our business. He does a lot of our bookkeeping during tax season, for my clients. What if we teach them the system that we put together, which is highly automated, very quick, and really, really profitable? You know, you could make a full time income while your kids are napping.

And that’s how Bookkeeper Training School was born. That’s really, that’s our tagline. We help moms create a full time income while their kids are napping. Now I have former college students of mine in the group. We have dads in the group. We have retirees in the group, because of the message of creating a full time income, you know, everybody knows the kids don’t nap very long. You know, what? Maybe two hours a day.

Kristin: So if I hadn’t created an income in two hours a day, like everybody kind of understands what that means. That’s where Bookkeeper Training School, kind of where we got the idea. It’s funny, because I’ve been in Julie’s mastermind for, it had been two years at that point. Every six months I’d come in and be like, “Look, I came up with this idea!” And she’s like, “Nope, that’s not it.” And I’d be like, “Okay, what about this?” And she’s like, “No, that’s not it.” And so we came back the next day and it was actually my turn to go. And I said, “Okay, I’ve come up with this thing called Bookkeeper Training School, and I’m going to teach moms how to create a full time income while their kids are napping.” And she went, “That! Go make that! Go do that! Like, right now, go, go do that!”

So we launched it in July. I just kind of posted it on my wall and said, “Hey, I’m going to build this course. Do you want to come with me?” We had 40 people sign up. Kay: Oh, that’s great. Kristin: Yeah. We built the course. We launched it again in January, and we had over 175 people join.

Kay: Boom. Oh, that’s awesome.

Kristin: So, it was a great launch. We have a great group of folks in the group. Like I said, I’ve got young moms, I’ve got older moms, I have people who are fur moms. I’ve got dads, I’ve got retirees, I’ve got college students. So I really target moms, but then we brought a really diverse group of people into the group. And it’s just, it’s, it’s a blast. I do a live call with them every week and answer all their questions and it’s like the highlight of my week to do that with them.

Kay: Oh, that’s wonderful. And then now when somebody asks you who you’re going to refer, you’ve got over 200 people now that you can refer them out to. That is huge.

Kristin: Yeah. And if, if anyone in your audience needs a bookkeeper, they can go to small biz mama.com and they can hire a bookkeeper right from there.

Kay: All right. Did y’all hear that? You need a bookkeeper? Now? You know where to go.

Kristin: Yep. Smallbizmama.com.

Kay: Smallbizmama.com and I’ll also have that link in the show notes. Another our listeners are also saying, I want to create a course. And you had a launch and you got 40 people. I talked to somebody the other day, you know, in a Facebook conversation, and they were saying, “I only had two people sign up.” And the person leading the conversation said, “Great, teach those two people, everything you know, and then launch it again!”

But starting with 40, that’s why I said, “wow, that’s awesome.” That actually is a really good launch. And then you multiply it of course, and as you keep going. I think that fear of what if I launch something and nobody shows up? That’s a huge fear among, I think, every online entrepreneur, especially people stepping into this space for the first time. What do you do? I’m not talking tactics, but in general, how do you prepare people to say yes. Once you have found that thing, or maybe it’s finding the thing is the key. But if you could speak to that.

Kristin: Yeah. So I think what happens a lot of times, and this happened with us, is that you come up with an idea and you’d say, okay, this is the thing, and then you create it. And you launch it to the world. Then if only two people buy, or one person buys, and I had this happen before. We tried to launch a tax course a couple of years ago for small business owners. I had one person buy. I said, okay, this is not the thing. Right. This is not the thing.

So I think the biggest thing is not to get too attached to your idea. Okay. And don’t build it. If you’re going to launch a course, that’s anything more than like two or $300, don’t build it first. Sell it first. The first time, you sell it. We did this with Bookkeeper Training School. The first time we sold that, we told people, “Here’s the schedule. This is how we’re going to release the content, but I haven’t built it yet.” So we were completely up front with people, and we sold it for a significant discount because we were building the course. They took it, and we sold it. I talked about it for a week, and we did the whole open cart. We did a sales page, but we treated it like it was a launch.

And I think what happens a lot of times with people who are building courses, or selling any sort of any sort of product for the first time. I see this with authors all the time. “I wrote a book, look! Buy my book!” And you never hear from them again. “I don’t understand why nobody bought my book or bought my course or bought my thing.” You have to talk about it all the time. All the time. I am so tired. I had this conversation with somebody, about a week ago. They were selling an online service. And they’re like, “Well, I don’t know how to get people to sign up.” I’m like, “Do you talk about it all the time?” All the time. I go live every single day on my Facebook page. I chit chat with my followers and I mention Bookkeeper Training School, or I talk about a book or talk about something that we’re doing. Every single day. We email multiple times a week. We post multiple times a day.

And you know what one of my mentors told me is, if they’re not sick of your face, you’re not live enough. You’re not out there. If you’re not getting unsubscribes from your list, you’re not emailing enough.

Kay: Ooh, yeah,

Kristin: Okay. The goal is not to keep everybody on the list. The goal is to get the non-buyers off the list.

Kay: Yes.

Kristin: Right? So when I got that, when I really started to think about it that way. You don’t want people that are in a little about you to follow you. You want raving fans to follow you. Right? So if you think about like, think about like your favorite celebrity or your favorite preacher or your favorite person to listen to. There is not enough content that that person could put out to make you happy, right? I’m like that with Brendon Burchard, there is not enough content that that man can put out to make me happy. That’s who you want to be for your followers. You want to be that person. They’re like, Oh my God, she’s live. Oh my God, he’s live. I got to go watch it.

Kay: yeah. They’re going to turn on the notifications.

Kristin: Let me go get it.

Kay: Yeah.

Kristin: You want to be that person for people. You don’t want to be the, well, I’m going to put stuff out every once in a while and then I got to apologize because I have had emails for three months. You don’t want to be that person. You want to have the raving fans and that’s how you do it. You have to be out there. Those are people who make money. Sell it.

Kay: Yes, of course. You know, the next question is, okay, if I’ve got to post every day now that’s the pressure again, right? But what do I say? What do I do, to create all of this content? I think that also is the next terrifying wave that washes over an online entrepreneur.

Kristin: So we use Slack in our business, but you could do it in a notebook or I have this big, mixed media notebook on my desk. I have a planner that I carry around with me. I’ve got Evernote on my phone. Anytime I have an idea for something, I write it down because I think during the day we have lots and lots of ideas, but then the moment we want to post, or the moment we want an email or whatever it is, we can’t remember what to say.

Kay: Yep.

Kristin: Right? So if I keep a running list of what I want to talk about, and it could be, I think sometimes we think that we have to talk about our topic all the time. And people want to do business with people they like and trust. They cannot learn to trust you if you don’t let them behind the scenes a little bit. So, you know, a lot of what I’m posting on Instagram is pictures of my son and pictures of my family. And Hey, I went out for a walk and I’ll look, it’s cloudy, but I’m still out here, you know, Hey, look, I’m doing an interview with today. Huh? You know, it’s, I think we overthink it a lot. Right? And I think that it’s, it’s really important to understand that you’re not doing this content for you. You’re doing it for for your followers. I think especially men have this issue that they’re like, well, I wouldn’t look at that. I wouldn’t want to watch that. But you have lots of people who do.

Kay: Yeah.

Kristin: So it’s not about what you like, it’s about what your audience likes.

Kay: Yes. Yes. That’s a that was a really hard one for me, and I’m still learning that one. You know. Part of it is I just do the things I like, but I also need to do the things that, especially what do my audience likes. But guys tell me, what do you love? Give us more of , fill in the blank for me and you’ll get it.

Kristin: You know? And it’s really funny because I think so for, if you are going to launch a course. Okay, are you’re going to launch anything? The best thing that you can do? And I got so much response to this when I sent it out. You send out a very short email, right? And this is kind of the beginning of like, Ooh, what’s she doing?

You know, what’s he doing? Very short email. Hi, I’m working on a course about blank. If I had to put one thing in that course for you, what would it be? And they will tell you. I had so many people who wrote back to me on that, and that really helped us figure out what needed to be in Bookkeeper Training School.

It was interesting because a lot of the answers had nothing to do with bookkeeping. Like, I don’t know how to run a business. I don’t know how to market. I don’t know how to manage my time. I don’t know how to manage my money. So we built all of these bonuses around Bookkeeper Training School to deal with all of those things. So ask. Ask what they want.

Kay: Yeah. And you have to have that whole package. And that’s one reason I wanted to have you on. I mean, I know you’re a CPA and, and like, I could ask you a lot of accounting questions and I could ask you a lot of bookkeeping questions. But you launched a course based on the thing that you know backwards and forwards.

The things that are obvious, I think Brian Dixon, he’s going to be my guest in a couple of weeks. He always says, “The thing that’s obvious to you is like miracle to somebody else,” you know? And so we, we as creators, we have the curse of knowledge, right? We know everything. So we don’t think there’s a lot that we can talk about. So all of those things around the things that people really have the questions about, they don’t know to ask for the things that we’re thinking about teaching.

Kristin: Right.

Kay: Expert kind of things. You know, they expect all that to come. They expect to run into things that they don’t know about, but then the other stuff is the really scary stuff that keeps them from doing it.
I talked to so many writers that want to get the word out about their book, but they have no idea how to do it. And they get stuck on “I don’t know how to build a website.”
Kristin: Right

Kay: Or “I don’t know how to schedule my posts.” Well, okay. You can learn that. So, that’s one reason I wanted you to come in and talk actually about creating a course. Because you know what? So, so think about it. If you’re listening, think about you. Just what is it that you know, that people ask you about?

Kristin: Right. And it’s funny because when I teach my undergraduate tax course at the university, the last class, because my students all know that I do all this online stuff and I make money online, and they really want to know how to do this. So the last night of class, I say, okay. You know, if you’re not interested in this, you can leave.
But everybody who wants to stay, and I teach them the pillars of online business. And that’s what I tell them. There is something that you know how to do, that enough of the population does not know how to do, that they would pay you for it.

Kay: Yeah.

Kristin: So find out what is that thing, you know? And go out and do that.

Kay: Yeah, and I think the other thing that gets in our way is, we think we have to have a thousand people taking our course for it to help us make a living, or for it to be successful. I’m making air quotes. But you really only need what you need. I mean, you figure out what, what do you need to charge for it? What’s the value of what you’re teaching?

Kristin: Great.

Kay: And how many people do you need to sign up? And I think that that number is a lot smaller than a lot of us think it is.
Kristin: I mean, just run the numbers. If my course is this much, how much will I make if I have 100 people or 200 people? Right? Or 500 people?

And I think that the biggest mistake that I made, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs make this. Go do something. I don’t care what it is. Go, go drive for Uber. I don’t care. Go do something and save up some money and run ads.
Once you know that you have a course that people want, right? So you use, use your small audience, build your course off their feedback, and then once you have that, run ads on Facebook. Because we could not have done as well as we did without running an ad campaign.

We got the initial 40 in July, just off my own thing. And we’ve got some other people who bought, over the six months until the year ended. Then we sunk some money into ads. We got 6,500 people on our email list running ads. We got 3,500 people in a Facebook group running ads. And we got 175 people to sign up for our course.

Kay: That’s awesome.
Kristin: And it can take forever to organically build an audience.
Kay: Yes.
Kristin: At some point, if you want to reach new people and really, really scale, you have to run ads. You have to.

Kay: My dad used to always tell the story of a CEO riding with a young up and coming executive. They were in a train, and the young guy really wanted to make an impression on the CEO. So he said, “I’ve got this idea. We can, we can boost profits if we cut costs,” and he wanted to cut the marketing. And, the CEO, you know, sees, yeah. The guy is young, he doesn’t know. So he’s going to teach him, and he says, “All right. Do you think you think this train is going fast enough?” “Yeah. Yeah. It’s going, it’s a good speed.” You know? It’s like, “Are we going in the right direction, and at a good pace?”
“Yeah.” “That’s great. Okay, well let’s toss the engine. Let’s, we don’t need the engine anymore.” Right? “No, we need the engine!” But it’s the same thing. That was my great marketing lesson, I think as a teenager, that I got from my dad, and it’s still. That’s the one I go back to. You have to have marketing, I don’t care what you do. You absolutely have to have marketing and you’re so right about that.

Kristin: You absolutely have to have marketing and you’re so right about that. And have realistic expectations. Do some research on what realistic conversion rates look like. Because This is really down and dirty, but for us to acquire a new buyer for bookkeeper training school, it costs us about $50.

So if you think that you’re going to spend $20 in ads on Facebook and get 80 people to buy your thing, that’s not going to happen. That was one thing that was really eyeopening for me, cause I, I’ve been doing this online thing for like 12 years.So to figure out, you know, what are realistic numbers for people opting in for people, watching and buying. And it’s really important. You can do research and there are people that talk about this online that are going to give you that information, but really understand what’s realistic before you throw in the towel because the numbers are a lot lower than you think they are. You know, I think most people think like, okay, if I put up an opt in, and I put up a free thing, 90% of people that land on the page are going to sign up for, no, no.
If you’re getting 50% you’re doing really, really well,

Kay: that is good. Yep.
Kristin: So you have to be realistic about how many people you have to get into the, you know, the top of your sales process to get the number of sales that you want.
Kay: Right.
Kristin: Really, really important.
Kay: Yeah. And that’s it. Just the realities of, of business. I mean, that’s whether you’re in a walk-in store, you know, a physical place or, or online, not everybody’s going to buy everything. Not everybody’s going to follow the process like you want them to. And if you can get an idea of what those numbers are, it’ll lower your stress level and really inform your actions, and you can take the smart actions.

Kristin: Yeah. Well, I’ve been saying that to my business. My, my bookkeepers too, like, you know, you know, I, I didn’t get any new clients this week. I’m like, well, how many business owners did you talk to? Like two. Okay. We need to do more than two. Right. You know, I mean, you’re gonna, you’re always gonna have people who say no, and so the thing I pushed my bookkeepers to do is to get an answer.
Yes is best. No is awesome. No answer is not good.
Kay: Right.
Kristin: So we just want to have a definitive answer. Are you going to hire me or not? Yes or no, and, and keep moving forward. In any sort of sales process, you need to talk to way more people than you think you’re going to need to.

Kay: And keep showing up. You know, we talked earlier about all the content, creating all the content and being there until you think everybody’s sick of you. But, that was a big part of even you getting that first 40 in your course and building that whole thing. That was part of the success was you are showing up. Long before you ever had the ideas, so don’t wait for the idea. Just show up with what you’ve got because you, you’ve built, you have authority. Like if somebody has an accounting question, I’m going to send them to you. So, you’re actually, this is great go-to resource you’ve become the authority. How do you become the person that people send people to you?

Kristin: So I think for me it was, I mean, like I said, I’ve been doing the online thing for like 12 years. Right? And so one of my online pet peeves, okay. And, and I tell my bookkeepers this, if people ask a question online and you can give a short answer, do it. Because one thing that drives me crazy is when you have people that say, PM me or I’ll PM you. Because typically, when those posts are in a big group of people, and you PM, there’s all these other accounts that go, oh PM me, oh I’ll help you.

And I just put in the answer, Oh, this is what you should do. Or this is what my clients do. Or, you know, this is what I generally recommend. Remember, that might not be the answer for everybody. Right, and you kind of put that little disclaimer in there. What I find is that people, there are other people will read that post and reach out to you, right?
Because they’re like, Oh wow. She gave the answer know she’s really helpful. And so you become like the defacto authority in that area. And so I found like sometimes I’ll respond to a post like that and I’ll have seven or eight people, not the original poster, contact me for a consult.

Kay: Yeah.
Kristin: So you may get, if you do the Oh PM me thing, or I’ll PM you, you might get one person to react.
But if you’re genuine with your attitude, you freely help people. You’re going to, it’s going to come back to tenfold. And so that, that’s always been my advice on that. And I’ve been doing that for 10 years, one of the things I did is, when the, when all of the SBA loans started and IDL and PPP and all the acronyms, I was out there all the time, Hey, this is what’s going on with the loans. This is how you apply, this is how you do this. and I’ve. I’ve had other people reach out to me to talk to their groups. And so, like we’re, we’re kind of estimating that I’ve probably reached about 5,000 businesses just through organic reach online.
Kay: Yeah.
Kristin: And so that’s really, really cool, you know, to do that.

Kay: And when you, when you keep spreading it out there, you just, you just keep showing up. That’s what we keep saying. Keep showing up and build that thing is it’s that know, like, and trust. So the other people that are, that are saying PM me, they’re trying to jump straight to a sale and they haven’t built the know, like, and trust. They haven’t let people get to know them. They haven’t given them a reason to like them.
Kristin: And they haven’t shown their value yet.

Kay: Exactly. And so it’s kind of like the whole dating thing, you know? It’s like, no, you do not jump ahead. So yeah, that’s huge. That’s huge. What, you know, because we’re coming to the end and I just, I always want to give people, if you’re listening and you’re saying, Oh my gosh. This is great. I’ve got some ideas rolling around right now, but I don’t know how to get started. What’s, what’s the first thing people need to do to get started? If they think, think, Oh, I have, I have something I can start to do online.

Kristin: So I think the first thing is to start talking about the topic online and see what kind of traction you get. And when you do that. So let’s say that you start a Facebook page and you start talking about your thing. Share it out on your personal profile, right. Share it out in other places, because I think sometimes we put things out there and we’re like, Oh, it was crickets. I’m done. I’m done. You have to do a great show up on a regular basis. Talk about your topic and see if you can see if you can generate some traction, but give it, give it two months. Going out on a regular basis, you know, pretty much daily talking about your thing and introducing yourself to people and getting out there and see what happens.
Kay: Yeah.

Kristin: But it is, Rome was not built in a day, and this won’t be either. Be patient.
Kay: Yes. And like you said earlier, you kept coming back to your mastermind group. Is this it? Is this it? I’ve got a great idea. Keep doing that because your, your people will tell you if it’s it or not. And you’ll know. So Kristen, thank you so, so much. I think you’ve helped a lot of people today as you, that’s, I mean, that’s what I know you for doing.
As as we close, just tell us again how people can get a hold of you because if they need accounting, they need to go to you and if they need bookkeeping school, they need to go to you and then we’ll have some other resources as well.

Kristin: So smallbizmama.com is the best place to reach us. You can find our podcast there. You can hire a bookkeeper, you can become a bookkeeper. You can connect to all of my social channels. Smallbizmama.com is the best place to go.

Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, with JJ Gutierrez

Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, with JJ Gutierrez

Sometimes a single word or phrase has the power to change the course of our lives, and “Chickening IN” is that word for JJ Gutierrez. This little twist on a familiar phrase launched JJ into a transformational journey from fear to faith. Her book, Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, 8 Pillars of Transformation, is a practical guide to defeating fear and doubt. I spoke with JJ in February, but her message is especially needed today.

JJ says, “We all have fear. But some of us have a lifestyle of fear.”

Chickening IN represents a lifestyle shift. It’s the transformation that takes place when we face our fear and confront it with the truth. In JJ’s case, a simple comment from her daughter was the catalyst for life-changing action. And it gave her a word to share, to help bring this lifestyle change to us. During our conversation, JJ shared her own story of “chickening in”, the eight pillars of transformation, the ways fear lies to us, and examples of how people in the Bible experienced and overcame fear.

As she walked her own journey out of a lifestyle of fear, JJ developed the eight pillars of transformation. These are practical steps to overcome fear.

The 8 Pillars of Transformation

  • Facing Fear
  • Stepping-up to the Plate of your Life
  • Taking Calculated Risks
  • Traveling Unknown Roads
  • Embracing your Uniqueness 
  • Pursuing your Dreams
  • Doing it Afraid
  • Faith the Difference Maker 

In her new book, Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, 8 Pillars of Transformation, JJ goes through all of the pillars. In our interview, she went into depth with the first—facing fear.

Internal Conversations with Fear

There is such a thing as healthy fear. That’s the fear that keeps us from touching a hot stove or running out into the highway. Fear’s rightful role is to alert us to real danger. However, fear can also become a lifestyle, where the conversations in our minds make unlikely worst case outcomes seem like certainties. Fear lies. Fear exaggerates the negative possibilities and undervalues the positive. In the interview, JJ goes over the different types of lies fear tells us.

Your fear knows exactly what buttons to push.

JJ Gutierrez

JJ says the voice of fear seems to know just what buttons to push to send us into a spiral. “It knows exactly what to tell you, and it’s very personal.” It can be subtle, nudging us to “small” lies, or step back when we really want to step up, or plunging us into worry and worst-case scenarios. That’s when we get wrapped up in fearful thoughts and “what ifs” that make the frightening things seem inevitable. Once we’re caught up in the spiral, it’s hard to see what to do or which way to turn. But there is a way to change the conversation.

Learning How to Change the Conversation

The key to changing the conversation with fear is inviting God into the conversation. ” Instead of having a conversation with fear,” JJ says, “we want to turn that conversation to having a conversation with God. And that is the key. That’s the key differentiator.” Allow God to speak truth to the fear, because most of the fear that holds us back is built on lies.

JJ gave the example of three friends. One has a negative impact on you. Another has a positive impact on you. And another has a neutral impact, or no real impact either way. As we bring our fear to God, it goes from being negative to being neutralized. That time with God, conversing with Him, grows our faith, and that impacts us on the positive side. That shift, JJ says, can cause us to move forward “So that we can make decisions that will lead us to start overcoming that fear.”

Faith is being able to say, “God, I am terrified.”

JJ Gutierrez

Overcoming fear is a process. One step follows another, with small, sometimes imperceptible forward movement. That first step of faith, saying “God, I’m terrified,” invites Him into the conversation. As He speaks truth, we are able to take those practical steps we need to take.

How many times have you “chickened out”? Chickening IN is an invitation to a lifestyle of courage and faith.


JJ Gutierrez, Courage Challenger and Mentor – chickeningin.com
Get the book (affiliate link): Chickening IN: From Fear to Courageous Faith, 8 Pillars of Transformation
Find JJ on Instagram and Facebook

How to Share Your Faith Story – with Mackenzie Ryan (#36)

How to Share Your Faith Story – with Mackenzie Ryan (#36)

Mackenzie Ryan is a national award-winning journalist and founder of Faith Storytellers, a community that is lifting up and sharing the story God is writing in the world through true, first-person stories of faith. 

Do you have a story to tell?

You may not think you have a story, or you may think your story is too overwhelming (and it may be, at the moment). Either way, a simple, structured approach along with a safe space and community to share with may be what you need.

“The goal of first-person storytelling is to help people share in a way that creates emotional space so it can be given almost like a gift. I’m giving you the story and then I’m letting it go and you are picking up that story and receiving it.”

To facilitate the storytelling, Mackenzie has developed a storytelling guide (which you can download from the Faith Storytellers website) to give structure to the storytelling process. She created free resources and an online community dedicated to lifting up and sharing the story. She also leads workshops and walks new storytellers through the process of shaping stories, drawing out the divine details, and sharing them with others. 

“Really the goal was just to share what we know to be true about God. If somebody is going through a hardship or struggle, they might not be able to see because God is just so close to them, you know? It’s almost like, he’s just so close to you, you can’t see him. You’re in a fog, and he’s so close. But once you get some distance and you can look back and like, ‘Oh, that’s where he was! That’s how he was working in my life!’ And just think of the impact you could have sharing your story. I mean, that happened five, ten, twenty years ago, with someone who is going through the same thing right now.”

Your story may be just what someone needs to hear.

First person storytelling is like a gift.


Read stories and sign up for weekly Faith Storytellers email www.faithstorytellers.com 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/faithstorytellers
Download a free faith storytelling guide: https://www.faithstorytellers.com/stories/submit
M Ryan Media, www.mryanmedia.co 

photo of Mackenzie Ryan

Mackenzie Ryan is a national award-winning journalist who founded Faith Storytellers, a community that is lifting up and sharing the story God is writing in the world through true, first-person stories of faith. Faith Storytellers provides storytelling resources to churches, life groups and ministries and shares individual stories every Wednesday on Facebook and directly to your inbox. Mackenzie hung up her press badge in 2019 to found M Ryan Media, a content marketing and public relations company that uses values-based storytelling to drive results for businesses, nonprofits and personal brands. She lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, and loves gardening, reading and running. She spends most of her free time with her fiance, Andy, his two boys and their two crazy dogs, Maddie and Jax.

Confident in Who You’re Called to Be – Katie Hornor (#35)

Confident in Who You’re Called to Be – Katie Hornor (#35)

Katie Hornor started her businesses with no savings, no loans, and no debt. She has overcome incredible odds in growing her business. Her latest book is Faith Like Flamingos – The Christian Business Guide to Walking Out Your Faith in Bold Color.

Don’t let the big pink birds fool you, Katie is serious about helping us as Christian entrepreneurs to overcome imposter syndrome and take big, bold steps to be who God created us to be.

The seed for Faith Like Flamingos started on a family vacation to see flamingos in the wild, where Katie realized these beautiful creatures were just like us in many ways. 

Each one of them is unique and different and God has created each of us unique and different too. And when we don’t step up and give the message that we’ve been given to give, someone on the other end is not receiving the help that God created us to give them so that they can fulfill their purpose.

Katie Hornor
that quirk may be your super power

In the book, she takes a different characteristic of the Flamingo in each chapter and draws from biblical principles to make a business application that mirrors that characteristic of the Flamingo. Things like:

  • not hiding who you are 
  • being bold to be who you were created to be regardless of your surroundings
  • not being afraid to live where God puts you
  • standing together with others so we can all succeed

When you sit there and say, I can’t do that because I’m not like so-and-so. You’re forgetting about the unique voice God has given you to call those people and to motivate them into action.

Katie Hornor
Katie Horner, author, coach

Katie is always on the lookout for ways to inspire and challenge her clients. This time she’s recruited a flock of flamingos to help Christian entrepreneurs see just how fabulous they really are.


Disclosure: Links may be affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage of any purchase you make at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

Buy the Book: https://amzn.to/2u6EjYa
Faith Like Flamingos Website: http://www.faithlikeflamingos.com/
Katie’s podcast: https://bloggingsuccessfully.com/podcast
Book Trailer  https://youtu.be/qFK6zzp2igc

Listen to my first interview with Katie (Episode 17)

The Power of Lament

The Power of Lament

All last month we talked about calling and purpose. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? What happens when you get bad news? When everything falls apart?

The Bible gives us plenty of examples; an incredibly powerful way to deal with suffering, called a lament. Lament is a powerful form of worship. It’s both an expression of grief or anguish, and a cry of hope. 

I was at a conference several years ago during a particularly difficult time. I was holding on to the promises of God, but I didn’t see anything happening. I was rooming with a good friend, and she had stepped out for a bit. While she was gone I had it out with God. I started praying, and came to a point where I was letting out all of my sadness and frustration. My friend walked in while I was yelling/praying and she turned right back around and left. I asked her later why she left. She said, “I’ve never heard anyone talk to God like that!” We joked about having a bolt of lightning strike at a prayer like that, but I figured, God knows what I’m thinking anyway. He knows my doubts, my fears – He already knows I’m dealing with all this stuff, so why not say it? Why not put it out there and ask Him about it?

“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” You know who said that? Jesus, on the cross. He was quoting David, Psalm 22 – which says “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?” (Psalm 22:1, NIV)

So there it is. If it’s good for Jesus, (and David) I suppose it’s good for me, too. More than one third of the Psalms are laments.  And then of course there’s Job, and an entire book called Lamentations. Habakkuk. And more.

So why am I talking about lament on this podcast? I’m supposed to be encouraging. Find your voice, tell your story, change the world and all that. But the truth is we get stuck sometimes. The voice gets stuck at the back of the throat. There’s no strength to push this dream on anymore. The world is too big to change, and the burdens too heavy to carry. But take heart. You weren’t meant to carry these things alone. 

This is why I go to lament during those really hard times. It’s such a reminder that I’m not alone. The greatest thing to me about lament is God hears our cries. And He does not condemn us for it.

Grief is a part of life. And it’s a journey that takes time. There is power in naming what has been lost. Lament gives us a place to name our losses. To put words to our pain. Or groaning, or wailing  – it’s all there.

As a culture, we’re uncomfortable with suffering. We mean well. But our attempts to alleviate suffering with platitudes can ring shallow, even hurtful. There are times when there truly is nothing to say, except perhaps – I’m here. You are not alone.  And that’s what God does. He is with us, and He’s not going to offer up a quote he saw on instagram, he’s not going to change the subject or walk away. Even when he’s silent – he’s still there.

“The time when there is nothing at all in your soul except a cry for help may be just that time when God can’t give it: you are like the drowning man who can’t be helped because he clutches and grabs. Perhaps your own reiterated cries deafen you to the voice you hoped to hear.”

– C.S. Lewis

“Every lament is a prayer; a statement of faith” and “You might think lament is the opposite of praise. It isn’t. Instead, lament is a path to praise as we are led through our brokenness and disappointment. The space between brokenness and God’s mercy is where this song is sung. Think of lament as the transition between pain and promise. It is the path from heartbreak to hope.”

– Mark Vroegop
Think of lament as the transition between pain and promise - quote from Mark Vroegop

A Pattern for Lament:

  • Addressing God
  • Review of God’s faithfulness in the past. 
  • Complaint 
  • Confession of sin or of innocence
  • Request 
  • Expression of trust/praise

Lament is not a denial of faith. It is not a sign of weak faith. Rather, it is a way of reaching out  to God. In actually signals we trust God with our deepest questions and our most painful and raw emotions. It is a form of worship. And when someone near us is suffering, we can come and sit beside them. We can join them in the lament. Mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).  It is an act of love.


A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament by Mark Vroegop
This Too Shall Last – a new podcast and book by KJ Ramsey

Disclosure: Links may be affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage of any purchase you make at no extra cost to you. Thank you.