Joshua Lisec is the founder of The Entrepreneur’s Wordsmith LLC, the first Certified Ghostwriter in Ohio, a Forbes Contributor ghostwriter, a TEDx speaker, a leading authority on Author Voice Authenticity, and a two-time published novelist. Since 2011, he has ghostwritten forty books. In just the past couple years, Joshua's author clients have:
- Used a book to build a $1,000,000 product funnel
- Converted so many readers into consulting clients they needed a waiting list
- Exceeded book sales goals by 200% thanks to top media appearances
- Averaged 10,000 copies sold per month
- Achieved a 70X return on their investment in their book
1:50 minute mark
What is Ghostwriting?
3:10 minute mark
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Combine what you love to do with where you can make money.
Joshua talks about his passion for writing and how readers asked him to write their stories which eventually led to his ghostwriting business.
5:38 minute mark
Agile Entrepreneur takeaway: Turn your readers (of your book, your story, your website copy) into repeat customers.
Joshua talks about how the readers of his books have turned into repeat customers and an anecdote about readers stopping midway and signing up for the author’s consulting / coaching services.
10:00 minute mark
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: If you have a hurdle to overcome, go find others who have gone that route and talk to them and listen.
Joshua talks about the challenges of balancing his parenthood with his work and how he went to a conference in San Diego and talked to other parents and learned lot of tips and tricks.
14:58 minute mark
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: In any pitch you make, combine your personal story, statistics and a sense of urgency.
Joshua talks about his TedX speaking experience of solopreneur challenges and how he combined those 3 items in his pitch to make an impact.
20:00 minute mark
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: To build a customer pipeline, do things like podcasts, rely on referrals, and advertise.
Joshua talks about his 3 pronged approach to get customers of doing podcasts, asking customers for referrals with actual statistics of his impact and advertising.
23:35 minute mark
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Align your goals with your customer goals to the extent possible.
Joshua talks about he aligns the customers’ goals of sharing their stories to build a legacy with his own goal of building a financial legacy.
25:00 minute mark
Agile entrepreneur takeaway: Focus on getting your first, second, third customer and the first customer will get you your fourth customer.
Joshua gives advice on focusing on getting customers instead of worrying about logo, business card etc.
Episode Transcript (Click to expand)
Ramesh: Hello everyone. Welcome to the agile entrepreneur podcast. This is your host Ramesh Dontha. This podcast is about starting and running your own business with purpose, passion, perseverance and possibilities. My guest for today runs an interesting business, ghostwriting business. Yes, ghostwriting business. His name is Joshua Lisec. Joshua Lisec is the founder of the entrepreneur’s wordsmith LLC. The first certified ghostwriter in Ohio, a Forbes contributing ghostwriter, a TEDx speaker, a leading authority on author voice attenti city and two-time published novelist. Since 2011 he has ghost written 40 books. Joshua is also the creator of ghost publishing. A new way to get published in which authors enjoy the pros of self-publishing and traditional big fight publishing without any of the cons. In just the past couple of years Joshua's author clients have used a book to build one $1,000,000 product funnel. Converted so many readers into consulting clients, they needed a waiting list and achieved 70x return on their investment in their book. I can go on and on, but let's hear all these interesting things from Joshua himself. Hi Joshua welcome.
Joshua: Thank you Ramesh. I am stoked to be here with you today.
Ramesh: So, let's get started with the basic. The very first question I have is, what is ghost writing?
Joshua: Yes, so I like to think of ghost writing as acting in print. I have a bit of a background in that in professional acting experience in theatre. So that's why I go to that definition. Because when you're you know watching someone on stage TV and film and you're, your favorite show you're seeing them portray a character you to create an authentic experience you're watching. You're not thinking oh this person's an actor, you're watching the person that they're playing right. You can make that distinction there as a ghostwriter. I take on the character of my clients and I write as them in print. So not only is it readable and it makes sense right, it's like the best version of my client’s story by the best most compelling version, persuasive version of their ideas, their book. But actually, sounds like them. Every client I’ve had going back to 2011 has said the following to me when I sent them the first draft of chapter 1, we're working together, and I quote "Joshua I can't even tell I work with a ghostwriter. It sounds just like me."
Ramesh: Wow that is interesting Joshua. So, this is not a traditional business as I introduced. So how did Joshua Lisec become a ghostwriter?
Joshua: Totally by accident like most people and I think the New York times statistic is upwards of 82 percent of people aspire to write a book some point in their lives. I was in that eighty-two percent as a youngster. I dreamed of writing novels and becoming a published novelist and before I was legal drinking age, I had a two-book publishing deal for two novels. Got them sold, it was a great experience and what was interesting is that at the time I was building up my freelance writing business on the side of my corporate gig. That's what my TEDx talk about is about. So, you want to you know hear that old story, that’s what that's all about. So, at the time of building at my writing business and I'm marketing my two novels and I found that those two worlds converged. Because my entrepreneur thought-leader clients I was writing copy for and helping them to strategize their marketing communications, they would say to me you know you've been pushing that novel, a couple novels you got out there you know I went out and got myself a copy, started reading it; I absolutely loved it. I could not put it down. I'm half way through now and I just bought it last week. Can I ask you something Joshua they would say? I want to write my story not necessarily a novel, a fiction. I want it to be my story, my experiences. But I wanted to read like a novel. I want people turning the pages like crazy, because it's so exciting. Can you help me do that? Can you help me write a book? And for two years Ramesh I said no I don't do that, I'm a novelist. So here is a glorious business opportunity literally handed to me. I had people asking me, throwing money at me you know I’ll write you a check for the book and for two years I was unwilling. But I finally said you know what why not branch out as you like to always say Ramesh, you know fail fast therefore I think it why not give this a try. I said yes, and I been saying yes for eight years and 40 books later now.
Ramesh: Wow fantastic so your business is about eight years old?
Joshua: Yes June 15, 2011. So, coming up on eight years exactly.
Ramesh: So, it's interesting so your background is, it's not that you work for a company and then you had some midlife crisis or something and then you started a business. So here you've started a business right off the bat, is that right?
Joshua: Yes, while I was an actually a junior in college interesting enough, I hung up a shingle as they say as a freelance business writer. I wrote all kinds of direct response sales letters, sales pages, email, product launch funnels had spectacular success. You know multiple six-figure product launches from small audiences from the copy that I wrote in the funnel of that I had built. So, I had a you know quite a successful market run as an internet marketer. But I found that those clients kept asking me can you help me write a book? Can you help me write a book? And even in the past few years previous clients who sought me out for internet marketing, have come back and said hey you know how you knew that great work for me, it's time to write my book now. I need your help now. So, it's an interesting how these are like two rails you know like a railroad right. They've just been going in the same direction and I found that direct response copywriting like that style where you're getting the reader all psyched and ready to take action right now, that works so well for books. Because the most profitable books are the ones that convert readers into customers. So, you know they spent five bucks on the Kindle, they spent twenty bucks on the paperback right and the reading the book and they say I have to get more from this author. I want to join their program, I want to join their service, their whatever. I had one client a couple of years ago, we were looking at the Kindle statistics and seeing a great drop off about halfway through. Like why are people you know what was happening? Why people stopping halfway through? And we realized that all of these people who are stopping the Kindle version stopping halfway through were showing up in my client’s premium online program spending several thousand dollars. Because they were so excited to dig deeper into her material. So not just being a ghostwriter I can write like an author. But bringing in that direct response component, it's basically like when someone hires me they are putting on the cake of a direct response copy writer at the same time as writing their book.
Ramesh: So, Joshua so listening to you one thing that's coming across very clearly is that you are not just a writer, but you're also businessperson right. So, you're able to not only build the business for yourself but you are able to build the businesses for your clients. Can you tell us a little bit about the transformation? When did you realize that you had the skills, had you always had it? Can you talk a little bit about this blending of your talent and then the business?
Joshua: Yes, so as a child I kind of had a knack for writing and telling a good story and I think that everybody who's listening like you have a, you have an inborn talent. You have a skill that just comes naturally, and I think that's probably the origin of this impostor syndrome we all hear about. Would anybody pay me for this you know that sort of idea where you kind of hesitate to actually make it your business just because to you it feels easy. You know to me I can write a 300-page book like nothing. But to my clients, to a CEO who's giving a keynote you know every week at a new conference or trade show they work 100 hours a week. They can't even think about writing a company newsletter to use internally once a month and it was that realization that I had something that was innate to me and you know as I said I had already written two books. So, I had the track record for myself to prove that I could do what I say I could and then I just transferred that, I guess you could say enjoyable page-turning storytelling a skillset bringing that into marketing copy and then for the books. They were steps that I accidentally took, because I was asked to take them and, so I found that my clients believed in my ability even more than I did at the time.
Ramesh: So actually, just really, you're making it sound so easy to actually start a business. I don't know if it's that easy. So, were there any moments where you said what am I doing here? You know I should be doing something else, the down times that you had.
Joshua: Yes, there are always down time, there's always ups, there's always down, there's always trials and triumphs along with the along with the victories. I think for me what was most difficult and anyone who is a parent listening can relate to this, was when my wife got pregnant with our first baby, our son whose name is now Leslie. He's almost a year old now. This is going back in a couple of years and at the time I had this I was coming along you know there very nicely and you know how my wife was working her own career and in retail. Like high-end wellness products retail management. Very specific industry and in our case, we really wanted to be able to be both present in our son's life, you know be able to be there for him and for a lot of you know people who are starting up a business, who you know running even a gig on the side and the parenting question comes along you know like how am I going to do this? You know how do you raise a you know raise a little person while also serving an immediate little clients? But you know the idea is you're taking care of your family, taking care of business how do you do it all? And how do you have it all and it was such a fun question Ramesh. Because what we realized is that my wife had already been helping me inside of the business for over a year. She has a professional acting background as well and her skill set is in sharpening a story. So, she was kind of like a you know a script doctor for playwrights, very helpful with telling stories giving maximum impact on the audiences and so bringing that theatrical capability into my business was just a transformation you know for the client experience and so what we found is like well gee why should we have these two separate careers and so we answered that question, we shouldn't. January 1st, 2018, I on-boarded my wife as the vice president of the company and the manager of editorial services here at the entrepreneurial wordsmith and now we can co-parent together you know out of our home offices and I like to joke our Wesley. He's our little unpaid intern. So, we've kind of created delicate balance. But the real challenge was on the how and the how and I think this is where the universal advice comes from story, there's kind of a takeaway. We didn't find out how to balance parenting marriage and business on our own. I went to a conference in San Diego California where I knew as a matter of fact that the most common type of person there was a parentpreneur. You know kind of your mid thirties, through late 40s individual they had either you know young kids, early you know preteens, early teenagers even and they were able to build even multi-million-dollar businesses as a family business taking care of three four or five kids and I just talked to everyone there that I could, getting every little piece of advice. Hey how did you make sure that you didn't hate your spouse after the first year? How did you manage your mornings? How did you make sure you can take on new clients? All the sorts of practical things I wanted to know, I got the answers I wrote them down and I turn them into a coherent plan. So, for everyone listening whatever your obstacle is, maybe it's how am I going to do marriage, parenting and business. Maybe it's how do I get started in this. Maybe how do I get my second client, maybe how do I go from you know four figures a month to five. Go where the people are who have already done it and just strike of conversation with them. Whether it's on social media in a group or if it's at a conference and just listen. Write everything down that everyone is sharing with you and look for the common themes. So, for example one of the themes that I heard from folks in San Diego that I interviewed the parentpreneurs they said oh you got to get up early. Get up at 4:00, 4:30, 5:00 you have to. So that's what I do now, and it works like a charm. So that would be mine my takeaway for people who are you know who are experiencing kind of a Down or a struggle or a trial. Find people who have a long overcome that and find out what they did and look for the patterns and then do it yourself.
Ramesh: Hey excellent advice Joshua and I learned a new term parentpreneur, okay that's cool. All right so we talked about the TEDx speakers, so tell us a little bit about that experience how you got it and then so what can you share your advice in the TEDx speaking.
Joshua: Yes, yes so it was a blast I'm telling you. My pitch was one that combined statistics, personal story and urgency. So, in the TEDx format we know or even the TED format what they want is for you to have lived experience around your topic. So, this would apply for someone who wants to be a Ted or TEDx speaker or you know if you just want to become a paid speaker or run a workshop around your business and convert attendees into customers. You want to make sure that you are sharing your living experience as part of your talk. Okay that's your credibility. You've been there, you've done that. You got the t-shirt, you've lost the t-shirt, you found it again, you bought a new one. Okay the whole ratchet rags-to-riches story. The other piece I said was the statistics. So, what are the, what was the third-party information? What are the studies that you can cite? So, for me my TEDx talk is entitled solopreneurship, create your dream job from scratch. So, my real audience for the talk is the millennial generation that believed that you had to have a four-year degree to have a successful career and we're finding in the data in the studies, one statistic kind of proving my point is that the class of 2012 which is when I graduated from college, class of 2012 a year later eight out of ten of us were earning 10 bucks an hour or less. Talk about a complete failure. 80% failure of the education system. You know to prepare people to for successful careers. So, I made a very strong point how I have my perspective on that and I was able to bring in this this powerful statistic that I got from Yahoo MSN and really raise people's eyebrows and say wow this kids not just a you know a kid with multiple degrees and an attitude about it. He's got some information actually proving his point. So that was the other element that I brought as well. So, I would make sure that you have both of those and then the urgency, want to make sure that you do this soon, now as fast as possible. So, towards the end of the top I presented a great opportunity for any you know anybody who has a product that they can sell or service that they can offer and just how ready the market is to cut out the middleman, the middle woman from transactions and work with people like you.
Ramesh: So, did it come about accidentally, or did you go after that opportunity, the sole speaking engagement?
Joshua: Yes, I wanted to be, fun story. Before I became, before I became the certified ghostwriter and started the business and all that, this is going back almost to the beginning of my business years ago. I actually had a dream that I was a TEDx speaker. I just given a TEDx talk. Almost 10 years to the day later, it was November, it was remembering 2017. So, it was almost that many years later that I actually gave the TEDx talk. So, call it what you will but I had a sense that I'm going to do this. So, it's going to happen one way or another and I heard about this opportunity a state away where they were looking for people whose subject or who's speaking topic was going to be around creating a bridge from where you are to where you want to be. How to get from here to their point A to point B and I thought oh that's my story. So, it was a perfect opportunity. I gave them a 30-second pitch, they loved it. You know I made sure I weaved in the lived experience, the statistics, and the urgency in my aitch and they loved it. They said we have to have you do this, this is amazing and what else? I'll tell you Ramesh is that approach with patience + statistics + urgency to pursue an opportunity, that pitch can work in just about any situation you need to sell something. You know I was selling myself as a speaker for TEDx. But the net works just as well in any type of selling situation. We need to persuade quickly, you don't necessarily have hours to give a presentation.
Ramesh: Actually, that is a really good even for getting customers and clients as well. Its excellent advice Joshua. Let me switch a little bit into the getting the clients. Many of the business owners that I talked to, the big challenge at the face is how do you have a client or customer funnel? How can you have more customers coming to you? So, Joshua in your case can you share any advice? How do you get your customers? How do you get your new clients?
Joshua: Yeah yeah so, I have a couple of different answers actually. I'll give you three answers today. Because there's three ways I’ve noticed that seemed to work consistency. One, what I'm doing right now. Since in the past couple years I’ve been on several dozen podcasts. I've written quite a few articles and produced videos, guest posts, even guest post videos, guest post articles all around the business of publishing and writing books and launching books and when I demonstrate myself as an expert on how to write a book that creates business for you, people say oh I want that. So that's how they end up coming to me, reaching out to me. Another way of course is through referrals and that's been probably one of my strongest, one of my strongest blows and that goes back to my first days in business. I'm still getting referrals from clients that I had many many years. Ago so I think that, you know you get referrals, your referral strategy goes down to the client experience, customer service. Making sure you're producing a profitable product or service that delivers on what you promised. It graced those results those benefits, those tangible results and benefits. So, like in my case find a client who's you know right out the gate selling 10,000 copies a month. I dropped that statistic people shoot me an email you know, or they say wow I want to talk to the person who helped you who create that a book. That gets people so excited that they want to share with everyone and that leads to book sales, I want to talk to that person. So, referrals help as well, and another way actually is advertising. I've done a few advertising campaigns here and there that have, that have brought me running clients as well. Where I talk about the power of using a book to demonstrate your authority, build your credibility and showcase your expertise and you know anywhere from a 30-second video to a 10-minute video ad actually I’ve converted clients from. So those are three ways that I’ve used to create clients.
Ramesh: Oh, excellent so what I'm getting from you is from your experience is that first blend your talent or with the business of making money right? People either focus on one thing. I have this talent that's why the making money is secondary. But you're able to successfully blend both of them right. So, I mean did you have a mentor who guided you in this space or how did you come about learning these techniques of building a business for yourself?
Joshua: Yes, I do have a mentor. But first I’ll note I think it's ironic that you mentioned you know kind of the overlap of your skill what comes natural and then the money-making opportunities. Because about ten minutes into my TEDx talk, I have a Venn diagram which is exactly that. There's two sets, two circles have been overlapping and the circle on the left is what you're good at and the circle on the right is set on the right is what people will pay for and in the middle, that's your business. See my TEDx talk Ramesh, but that is exactly my point in the talk.
Ramesh: Oh fantastic. Hey so Joshua so a couple of things you started talking about your family and kids. So as a person what drives you? What are you interests? We want to know a little bit above and beyond the business itself who is Joshua Isaac.
Joshua: You know that's an interesting question. Because the way that I answer that I find is the same way that my clients do. People who want to write a 300-page book, they're thinking about their legacy. They're thinking about the world they're creating now and the outcomes of their efforts now. They're thinking about long term success building for the future and that is actually what drives me, and you know creating a positive future, a financial legacy for my family and so when I'm talking to authors, we find that we share the same goals and it just happens that we get there through different you know through different avenues. You know they want to share their stories, share their experiences through the form of a book and I want to help people write that book to you know to create my own financial legacy. So that would probably be the word that really that really moves me forwards, gets me excited and up it. This morning I got out up at 4:15 to get started working you know just like all the parentpreneur I talked to. That’s what they recommend. So, it pays to follow the advice of your mentor’s folks.
Ramesh: That's great. So, if somebody were to start a, not start a business, start a life. For example, a new kid who is graduating from a college or somebody who has gone through a couple of careers and then they want a career change they were looking at business, starting a business so what advice, tips can you share to these kinds of people?
Joshua: Yes, yes so for those of you who just fit that description, your ears perked up you said Ramesh is talking about me I need to turn up the volume five you know four, five presses to listen to this. Here are the three things you probably think you need to do. You need to get a logo, you get your business cards, you get a website. It's not the three things you need to do. The three things need to do are get one client, get your second client, get your third client. Do that and you will find that the first client sends you your fourth client. Your second client introduces you to someone who is friends with your first client and on and on and on the cycle, goes. Once you served a couple of clients, they're happy with it they start telling people, you will have additional revenue. You'll have that income coming in. Your start to feel confident in yourself and then you can think about doing the website, the logo, the business cards, the podcasts, the video advertising campaigns, the launch funnels and being an author like Ramesh.
Ramesh: That's right, that's right. Hey Joshua, so as I begin to wind up the podcast one thing, the one question I always had is your bio is the very first sentences first certified ghostwriter in Ohio. What does that mean? Like what is the certification mean and why or higher certification a big deal that you're very proud of?
Joshua: Yes, yes so, I know that there's a lot of you know sudo certifications you spend a hundred bucks going to a two-hour seminar, a webinar. Yay! You're certified good for you, pat in the back, slap on the butt that sort of thing. That is not what a certified professional ghostwriter designation is. So, let's kind of narrow down our idea of what professional writers are. On Upwork you know a freelance marketplace, I believe they're about a quarter of a million freelance writers. So, you can hire any of a quarter million foreign experts all around the world. So that's kind of a number of your you know your freelance writer. Certified professional ghost writers, there are 50 of us on the planet, that's it. Certified professional ghost writer is someone who has completed the master's degree level professional program at California State University Long Beach that is taught by a woman who as far as I know is the most accomplished ghost writer on the planet. Like a hundred and fifty books, multiple books have been turned into major motion pictures. They've become vessels in every country. All the stuff that you'd want to see in your career. She stays retired, but she teaches us this program that I don't have to say it is not for the faint of Pen. Probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life was completing this program and earning the certified professional ghostwriter designation. Because it's not just how to ghostwrite, it's how to understand the theory of ghost writing. How to translate it and apply the right concepts to every single client. How to walk them through the business of books. Whether that looks like helping them become a best-seller as a self-publisher or to get a six-figure book deal. So that's why I'm particularly proud of it, because I am the first of my kind in the state where I live Ohio. But there's a few learner scattered around the you know the globe from California to Australia and back.
Ramesh: Fantastic, that's a great story Joshua. So last question. So, I spent a lot of time on your website www.entrepreneurswordsmith.com and you have of interesting tools about how much money you can make from your book idea and those things and then there is an interesting section where you talk about some the world's the only first artificial intelligence, some tool that you have. Can you talk a little bit about the special tools that you have if you don't mind?
Joshua: Sure, I’ll talk about [29:16 inaudible] first. So, the data science you're referring to is called styler metrics. Styler metrics is the basically the study of how people communicate differently from one another, so let's say you're reading Leo Tolstoy. If you like war and peace you like that sort of thing. If you're reading his work without seeing his name on it, you know it's him. If you're reading let's say something by Stephanie Meyer, you know it's her. JK Rowling right you know pick any of the authors that you'd like, Gary Vaynerchuk right. You can read it and you know it's them. Well what separates one authors voice from another? Silent metrics answers that question and I’ve put together my own set of tools that I work with authors, a proprietary experience where what we do is we look at what is the unique way that you as a person communicate different from anyone else.