The Xennial Traveler: Richard Lowe Leaving the Good Life for a Better One [Interview]

The Zennial Traveler podcast

Xennial TravelerLaurie: Okay, so I believe we are live here for those I have not met before. Welcome to spotlight Thursday. My name is Laurie, and I am a business success coach. And I work with entrepreneurs and aspiring digital nomads to build profitable and scalable online businesses.

And today I am joined by Richard oh my gosh, I am joined by Richard Lowe. And I put your name in here wrong, I am so sorry. Um, he is a professional ghost writer, cybersecurity expert and photographer. He has written 60 books under his name, ghostwritten over 40 and taken over 1 million photographs. Welcome, Richard. Can you just start I guess by telling us a little bit about yourself your last name here?

Richard Lowe   Leaving the Good Life for a Better One

The Xennial Traveler podcast

Richard Lowe: Well, as she said, I’m Richard Lowe. And I’m a professional ghostwriter. Which means that I write books for other people, and my name generally isn’t on them. In fact, my name hasn’t been on any of the 43 other ones coming up that it might be, or that it will be. So that’s kind of cool.

People pay me actually significant amounts of money to write books for them. I used to be a photographer up until a few years ago, and they took over a million pictures, and I was the Director of Technical Services and computer operations for Trader Joe’s for 20 years.

Laurie: So that’s yeah, I mean, so it sounds like you had a very long, successful career, right? So yes, what what led you into to this path? You know, can you just tell us a little story of that transition, um, you know, just as I think I already told you, but a lot of our audience is either in process or looking to make a transition from their career, you know, into something new. So, it’s very inspirational to hear, hear everybody else’s story.

Richard Lowe: Well, I was I was working at Trader Joe’s had been there for 20 years as almost at my 20 year anniversary. And I realized that, that it was at pretty much a dead end, career wise. Trader Joe’s has a very thin management layer, and I was middle management, and I wasn’t going to be promoted. Pretty much, pretty much topped out in money. And I was good money.

This is very good money. But and I was running into barriers all the time, they had a way of doing things that I was finding frustrating. It wasn’t necessarily that they were wrong. It just wasn’t, you know, I’m the computer, I was the computer guy in charge of the computers. And they would tell me things that made no sense to from a computer guy’s point of view.

And I was just getting tired of the rat race, I’ve been working for somebody else for 33 years. So one day, I decided it’s time to make the leap, I want to be my own. I want to do the entrepreneur thing. I’ve got some money saved up to I can go a few years without having to worry about the income. And believe me, I had to use all of that. And jumped off the cliff. And it became an entrepreneur, moved to Florida moved from California to Florida.

Because I wanted to get away from California also, I was tired of that state. And for reasons probably best not to go into here. And settle down in Florida. I thought about photography had been a photographer for about eight years before that, but it’s hard to make money as a photographer, because everybody has a camera now. And right wedding photographers should for example, charge between five and $10,000 photograph your wedding, but most people want to get it for in the hundreds.

And you can’t make a living that way. So, it just wasn’t practical for me to go in that direction. So then I became an entrepreneur, and I was like, oh boy, what do I do now? I wasn’t actually sure what I was going to do I didn’t even have a plan it was it was kind of a one of those spur the moment. I’m out of here kind of things gave notice of course, but I’m gonna start my own business. I’m done.

And okay, that I should have thought this through better. What business Am I starting, you know? managed to pull it off. I experimented with a lot of different businesses I sold on eBay still made about $35,000 Selling but decided that eBay it’s too much manual labor. So I didn’t want to do that. Did the affiliate marketing thing that’s where you sell other people’s products, and you get a commission.

The affiliate marketers that I was running into were how shall I put this politely scum. So I decided not to be I didn’t want to be scum. So, I didn’t go in and out. Some of them were nice, you know? Some are good, but most of them the ones I was running into anyway, just didn’t impress me. ethically.

Laurie: Yeah, I experienced that myself. Right,

Richard Lowe: Right. And I think ethics are very important. And especially in your own business, because we’re where it gets around. I. So then I ran into, I started writing, and I started writing well novel, to fill up the hours. And I was going to writing critique groups, that’s where writers sit around in a circle, and they critique each other’s work, or on tables, usually, and somebody critique my work and said, this is pretty good.

You want to come work for me? And I said, Sure. What are you? Well, I’m a ghost writer. And I have a company and I hire ghost writers. I thought, Okay, I’m not really sure what a ghost writer is, but sure, why not. So he hired me and paid me $1,000 To write a book. It was a book, a memoir about an Afghan politician.

This was before the Soviets invaded was way before the US invaded. Afghanistan, it was in the 70s. That’s when the guy who was there. He was a politician, he wrote, he did all the roads in Afghanistan. And he has a fascinating story, which, which is incredible. But he never finished the book. He had to go back to Afghanistan and do some things. And I never heard from him again.

Then I did two more books, and then realized, at $1,000, a book I am making about $2 an hour by my calculations, and I approached my, my, my boss, and I explained this to him. And he said, Well, that’s that’s what I’m gonna pay, you know, maybe I’ll pay a little bit more, you know, a couple 100 more. And it’s like that I got to do it. He said, Well, you know, you’re just beginning and you need to work for me, and you’re not good enough to go out on your own. I said, Well, I don’t believe that. You’re right, and, of course, and then jumped ship.

From there, I was only there for a few months. The next day, I had a $10,000 contract. And the day after that a $15,000 contract, both in the computer area, because I have computer experience, which is why I got the contracts because I had the experience behind me to be able to pull in that kind of stuff. And it was like, Whoa, I can do this. Now I need to write these books up.

So I wrote books, they were I was very successful, wrote those two books. And after that, I started my ghost writing career. And since that point, that was in 2014. I’ve written 43, ghost written books, 60 books of my own, and numerous other art, lots of blogs, hundreds and hundreds of hundreds of blogs and articles and things. It’s a lot.

Laurie: That is a lot. So that’s it’s a really amazing story. And for those that are watching, well, if you’re watching while they’re live or in the replay, please just say hello, let us know where you’re tuning in from say hi. But if you have questions, feel free but for those that are watching, I know a lot of them are you know, in that place where they are kind of at that same level where people are telling them you can’t do this or they’re feeling like they can’t do this, you know, and feeling you know, some of that, that fear is that something that you yourself, you know, dealt with when you were starting out?

Because I mean, it’s pretty awesome that you went from two cents a word to you know, 10 $15,000 contracts. But what was that like for you?

Richard Lowe: It was, well, I decided after that ghostwriting job that short one that I was worth what I could, I was worth what I was asking for or what I asked for it initially was 50 cents a word I’m up to $1 a word now. That’s what I typically charge. And I decided I was worth it. So that was the first thing is am I am I worth it? Yes, I am. Can I do quality work? Yes. Yes, I’m sure I can.

And, and I also realized that it takes just as long to find $100 clients as it does $10,000 clients, it’s the effort that you put in to find a low end client. It’s very high. I mean, unless you’re doing affiliate marketing and you got a mailing list and all that kind of stuff, which is a whole different story. But if you’re going out there and marketing to direct to to people to find business, it takes just as much work to find the small ones as the big ones. So why on earth are you concentrating on small ones?

So that’s that’s what I the kind of the thought processes that I went through. And I just went out there and started getting them and yeah, there were some some embarrassing failures and there were some massive massive successes and and it overall I think survival is very simple survival as you make more smart decisions and then dumb decisions. So yourself I think I made more smart decisions than dumb decisions. And because we all make dumb decisions, and we all make smart decisions.

So I managed to survive, and, and now I’m actually making more money than it was making when I was at Trader Joe’s as director. Yeah, six figures. That, and I have plenty of free time, and I take weekends off. And I’m not under the extreme stress, because I manage my own schedule. I know my limits. And I know it will always schedule as I want. And what I know what kind of customers I want, this is an important thing. I decided real early, after a few miserable customers that I wanted to get customers who were good to work with, who were reasonable who could talk, who didn’t build up resentment, who were communicators.

And those are the kinds of that’s actually part of my marketing, I guess you’d call it an avatar, you create a picture of your customer, your ideal customer, it’s an exercise, you sometimes go through and you do marketing, who is your customer, you build an avatar, and, you know, what gender? Are they?

What are both? or 50,000 of them nowadays? What, what, what do they look for? How do they operate, etc. So I built up this avatar, and an important part of it is, is that they’re reasonable, sane customers, because I’d run into some insane customers. And so far, that’s what I got. And I reject actually, more contracts than I take. Because of that, because customers that just basically are not going to work out well. And some of them are just bonkers.

Laurie: Yeah, I mean, to me, that’s, that is a true, true sign of success. Because I know at the beginning, so many people use that desperation is like if I don’t take this client, what if another one doesn’t come along? And you know, that fear of failing?

Richard Lowe: Yep. Yep. In fact, I just had a client earlier this year, potential client who came to me, he coming to me a couple of years before and said he wanted to write a book, but he had to work some things out. And you know, those they say that all the time, so I figured I’d never hear from him again. But in January, he, he said, he’s going to start in June.

So in June, he calls up, and we talk and he wants to write not one book, but nine books. Wow. And I said, Well, let’s talk rates. He says, I don’t need to talk rates, you just tell me your rate, and I’ll pay it. And, you know, we’re talking like $150,000 worth of work there, maybe more.

And then I started getting these weird emails about how that just, I won’t go into the details, but it just triggered the this guy is not rational alarm buttons, you know. And I had to go through that thought process is do I take 150 $200,000 worth of business that will keep me busy for a couple of years, but have to work with this guy who’s basically, you know, miserable, miserable person to work for.

I mean, I wasn’t even working from it. We didn’t even have a contract. And I already wanted to take him out back and hit him with a two by four, you know, less working for him. So I turned it down. And that was tough. That was tough. And I’ve turned down about six jobs this year. Just just because they weren’t gonna work out.

Laurie: Yeah. But that must be a good feeling. Knowing that you are in a position where you can you can turn down work it. Was it always that easy for you to be in that position? To be able to turn away work? Or have you worked with some questionable people?

Richard Lowe: I’ve worked with some questionable people. The biggest problem that I’ve run into with them is this. They don’t tell me when they’re not satisfied with what they get. So we keep going forward. So I charged by the month so let’s say it’s a $10,000 project that’s going to take 10 months, they get paid, do you charge $1,000 a month?

As an example, actually, it’s different because they get down payment, and then whatever’s left over those 10 months. So we get halfway into the project, and then I find out they were dissatisfied at the beginning. And it’s like okay, well, we’ve been talking and talking and we’ve had conversations every week, you know, 100 Dozens of conversations, maybe even 100 conversations and we’ve written all this stuff and you’ve looked it over in theory, and now you’re telling me you’re not happy with it.

And that’s a tough thing to worry it to to handle. Fortunately, my contracts I’ll say no refunds and I’ve already he’d done the work. It’s pretty provable. So, but what I’m what I do now is I tell my clients at in every meeting, are you happy? Yes or no. And let’s we talk about their current state of mind regarding the work and we make corrections as we go. I found that’s essential. Because otherwise, people are really loath to tell you, they’re not happy with your work. They won’t tell you that. Until they’re really not happy.

Laurie: Yeah. Which is crazy to me, because it’s like, okay, you’re investing 1000s and 1000s. And it’s not like, it’s even like two 3000. Like you said, you’re like, 15, you know, 1015 $20,000 here. And they’re afraid to ask for what they want.

Richard Lowe: And then you find out what they’re with, they’re pissed off about and it’s just, you know, three paragraphs or something like that. But they’ve the project’s already been been soured, they’re not interested anymore, because the first three paragraphs in the book weren’t what they wanted.

I’m not kidding. Everything else was fine. But those. So it’s it, that communication has to be maintained. And I’ve become very careful about that. And very, very cognizant that they won’t tell me unless I prompt them. And even then, I have to push hard sometimes.

Laurie: So with that said, I guess you know, what kind of advice would you give to? Other I mean, it doesn’t matter really what industry whether you’re a writer, whether you’re a coach, a consultant to add specialists, it doesn’t really matter, you know, because we all face that at some point. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs working with clients that, you know, might face something similar?

Richard Lowe: Make it clear. First of all, make sure your contracts clearly state your refund policies and all your other policies, make sure they sign it, I use DocuSign, which requires a I make it so they require an initial on every page. So there’s no question that they have the opportunity to read it. That doesn’t mean they read it. But they just they sign it, they initial it. DocuSign enforces all that is totally legal.

And it costs me I think, 35 bucks a month for an unlimited number of documents. So it’s pretty cool. And it, it automates that contract process, you make the contract once you throw it in there. So the thing, one thing I’d say is find your tools, whatever tools you need to make your business operate DocuSign is one of them. For me. Of course, the Microsoft Office suite is another one having computer that’s fast enough for me.

I mean, for God’s sakes, don’t be working on a computer that’s slowing you down. Don’t Don’t be doing your whole business on your smartphone. I mean, get a real computer, you know.

Laurie: I’ve had clients that operate that way. Yeah,

Richard Lowe: Of course, because they’re used to smartphones, especially, especially younger generations. I was I was brought up on the desktop. So I got a big old desktop here with four monitors, you know, and it’s a gaming system. It’s really fast. But it’s an investment and it’s tax deductible.

Laurie: Absolutely. So many people forget that.

Richard Lowe: It’s a capital expense. So it has to be written off over several years. But but it’s the government is helping you pay for this stuff, anything your business, the government’s helping you pay for. So for God’s sakes, take advantage of it. And you go to you pay 100 bucks for a course, depending on what tax bracket you’re in, the government might be paying for 40% of your course. tax time. So take courses and keep a record of them.

Laurie: Yeah, exactly. Keep your invoices. Yeah. Yeah, courses, coaches, you know, I mean, I’m a coach, and you also do coaching, correct. I do

Richard Lowe: Writing coaching, because some people have written their own manuscripts, and they just, they just need help getting it to that next level. So in that case, we just which are charged by the hour, so it’s a lot cheaper, and we just go through their manuscript until they’re ready to go off on their own, and fix it up.

Usually, that last I charge in blocks of hours or blocks of 20 hours, and usually 20 hours is enough sometimes to have those. And it’s relatively inexpensive. It’s relatively easy for me and it’s they get a lot of advice over that hour or over those hours. I mean, a lot,

Laurie: Which¬†fits in their business, like also tax deductible. Right. So and that I’ve learned because I have international clients, that isn’t only in the US that is in several other countries as well. So

Richard Lowe: You would have to depend on it Yeah. And one of your tools as a writer is the language. So if you don’t know, grammar, and spelling and style, you need to go to school. You cannot be a writer, too. If you don’t know those two Do things, go to school. And there’s all kinds of online courses and practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice until you do learn those things.

You should know grammar and spelling and style inside and out. If you have to grab the Chicago Manual style and read it cover to cover and learn how to use a comma. And if you’re an entrepreneur, I darn well better not see you posting LinkedIn stuff and Facebook things with misspellings and grant bad grammar and stuff like that. Because then you’re not a real businessperson. Especially if you’re claiming to be a writer.

Laurie: Oh, well, I guess more more business for you. Because hopefully other people see that as well. So I guess tell me, Richard, where I tell everybody else, if they were wanting to connect with you, whether it’s you know, to have a book written to work with you as a coach, where would they connect with you?

Richard Lowe: Well, I have a website called the writing That’s th e writing And you can go there and there’s a there’s a you can read my articles, I’ve got about 200. And you can fill out the contact form. And we can get together on Zoom and talk. You can also go to fiction And I actually sell courses on how to write there. So you can those are 20 bucks each or some I don’t remember what amount I sell them for. And you can buy them and they get delivered electronically.

So you can go there also and I also have unique I think it’s unique that has interviews with writers. Oh, awesome. Yeah, it was one of a podcast I’ve since given it up unique Yeah. And it’s called author talk with Richard Lowe. And I just talk to writers. And if you’re learning if you need to learn how to write, these are writers who have actually managed to sell books. So just write are not just wannabes. They’re actually writers who sell.

Laurie: So those are fantastic. And then I also have your Facebook link up on there. So if you didn’t catch any of that you just want to connect on Facebook to follow you or send you a message. We’ve got Lowe, Jr.

Richard Lowe: One Yes. And okay,

Laurie: Awesome. Well, I really appreciate you joining me and telling us just a little bit about your story. Today, Richard, you know, and if anyone has trouble finding him, please feel free to reach out and we will make sure to give you contact information. But you know, we really appreciate everybody who’s tuned in.

And if you again, have questions, please feel free to let us know if you need help, you know, in your business as a whole. Again, you know, my name is Laurie. I’m a business success coach and I would invite you to join our Facebook group which is built in scale a profitable business work from anywhere for access to support of like minded entrepreneurs, all building their own businesses. So thank you so much again, Richard, and enjoy your day everybody.

Richard Lowe: Have a great day. Thanks.

Richard Lowe

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