Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Dr. Cindy, The Expert’s Ghostwriter, and I founded Childress Business Communication to help entrepreneurs write books that make money and an impact.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I have a Ph. D. in English, and after living abroad with my husband for his career, I returned with a seven-year work gap. This made me virtually unemployable, and I couldn’t even get an interview for entry-level jobs.
I eventually became a Certified Personal Trainer with a boutique gym that soon promoted me to write SOP manuals and provide sales scripts and training for thier call center. But there wasn’t a pathway for me to move up in the business.
So, my husband suggested that I start a writing business. That very night in January, 2017 I bought my first website domain, ordered business cards, and booked a meeting with a lawyer friend to make it official.
Describe the process of launching the business.
At first I offered every kind of writing I had ever taught or done before, from copywriting and SEO-rich blogs to speaker 1-pages. I was all over the place trying to be an expert in everything. Then I took Marie Forleo’s B-School and through her process realized my favorite project had been editing a book for a friend. But I felt that if I had been there from the start and written it myself, I could have avoided a lot of mistakes I corrected and have created an even better book.
So, I went all-in on ghostwriting books. I start only talking about writing books in my marketing and quickly gained three ghostwriting clients. By the end of the year, two of thier books were Amazon Bestsellers, and from there, referrals and leads started to come more easily. I had high-quality samples of my work and began building a name for myself. In 2019, each month I went to professional networking events that required me to get on a plane, which allowed me to meet people from all over the U.S. and the world.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The biggest thing that has worked for me is writing a regular newsletter, which goes out twice a week–in conjunction with almost daily posts on Instagram. This consistent, high-quality content keeps me top-of-mind, and it’s not uncommon for me to get referrals from people I met years ago because they remember me–because I continue showing up.
Another thing I do is Your Bestselling Book Blueprint: The Free 3-Day Challenge. This is a twice-a-year launch that comes before I open the doors to my Crank Out Your Book in 8 Weeks signature program in which I teach people how to be their own ghostwriter. The free event gives people a chance to learn from me and get my eyes on thier book ideas, and even though they don’t all join the class, this still raises my profile as an authority, and I get referrals from people who just do the challenge, as well as my students in the course.
So, I have my bespoke ghostwriting services, in which I can only serve one or two clients at a time and then I also offer my course, which allows me to help more authors and use my extraordinary teaching skills, as well as my writing skills.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’m thrilled to share that I won gold in two categories of the International Business Awards (IBA) for 2021: Entrepreneur of the Year and Business of the Year for Professional Services. This is a huge honor, and it reflect the diversity of my audience, which includes clients and students from 13 countries–including the U.S.
As I continue to grow Crank Out Your Book in 8 Weeks, I expect to continue scaling back my done-for-you work so I can create more of my own content–including my own books. I had a vision in Sarah Ashman’s Mirror Brand challenge in which I write a book every year. So, I am doing that starting this year. My first draft is done, and now I am editing my own book. I expect that as I become a known author, as well as a book writing expert, I will continue to elevate my expertise and authority and help more authors write books that make money and an impact.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
So many things! One piece of advice that I got early on from Chris Orzechowski of Orzy Media is to consistently create authority content. Chose a platform, any platform, and show up there consistently with valuable content. Everything doesn’t have to be a lesson. Balance information with humor and just plain making people feel inspired. Do this for years even if you think no one’s watching. They are. Or they will be.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
As I mentioned, for marketing I post almost daily on Instagram, and a few times a week on Facebook. I also write articles and post them on Medium.com and have started a YouTube channel more recently. These content channels work with my twice-weekly newsletter. So, the written content supports the videos and vice-versa. But I didn’t start them all at once. Chose one platform, master it, and then add another one.
There are many tools I use to run my business. I find 17Hats very useful for my private client billing and project management. Kajabi is the course platform where Crank Out Your Book and my other writing courses and programs are available. For email, I still use Mailchimp. I started with the free version and then upgraded to the paid plan as my list grew. My website is on Squarespace, and I use Calendly for scheduling needs.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My first year in business, I read Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid five times. I also really admire Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand and his other books as well, which have taught me as much about marketing as about writing niche authority books to support your business.
Kevin Rogers’s Copy Chief Radio has been a wealth of information and entertainment for me on my entrepreneurial journey.
I also appreciate everything I have learned from Stephanie Chandler’s Nonfiction Authors Association, which has biannual virtual conferences that are jam-packed with high-quality information for authors, particularly for marketing and selling your book.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
One thing I did early with the help of Book Yourself Solid is develop a very good elevator pitch to make me memorable and get referrals. It has really worked. Be able to say who you are, who your clients are, and the outcomes they get from working with you in just a sentence or two tops.