ASHLEY FLOWERS: “I've continually reinvented myself. When I was done with genetics research, I didn't go find another research job. I was like, ‘I'm going to try something completely different.’ So, there's something I think just in me inherently that wants to try new things. And I'm willing to fail. Like, I'm not afraid to mess it up, and I'm not afraid to, you know, realize maybe this wasn't for me or maybe I did a bad job at it. But, again, I'm more afraid of not taking the chance.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY PORTERFIELD: Real quick, I wanted to talk to you about another podcast that I think you might love. It's called Being Boss, and it's hosted by Emily Thompson, and it's really just an exploration of not only what it means but what it takes to be a boss as a creative business owner, freelancer, or side hustler. So Being Boss is an amazing resource for anyone interested in getting inspired and, more importantly, getting started as their own boss.
So, head to wherever you get your podcast to check out Being Boss. And I recommend starting with her episode on releasing the sense of urgency in business. Especially coming back from my sabbatical, this episode was a great reminder to slow down and be intentional. You're going to love it.
Welcome to my absolute dream-interview episode with the Ashley Flowers, host of the top-rated true-crime podcast, Crime Junkie. Yep, that's right, my friend. I have a weird obsession with true crime, but in my mind I'm like, who doesn’t? Except, like, Hobie doesn't. He thinks it's very bizarre, but I'm just obsessed. And I've been listening to Crime Junkie for years. For years. The thing is, though, if you take a simple glance at some of the most-popular podcasts in Apple Podcasts and Spotify, it will confirm that I am not alone in my obsession.
Now, here's the thing: what makes this podcast so addicting has a lot to do with the host, Ashley Flowers. And while what we love about Crime Junkie is Ashley's soothing voice and her gripping tales and the feeling of sitting in your living room with a really good friend, listening to her tell you a great story, there's so much more to it.
So, in today's episode, Ashley and I are setting aside our true-crime obsession, and I'm doing a little bit of my own investigative work to dig deep and learn about the host behind the podcast. This podcast, I'm not even going to tell you. Right when I bring her on, she's going to tell you the number of how many downloads she gets a month. Buckle up, my friend, because you're going to fall over if you don't. Wait till she shares the number.
So, the thing is: Ashley is an entrepreneur, but she didn't start out that way. And so I want her to talk about how she transitioned from her nine-to-five job into building, first, a side hustle, then a full-time business. You're going to be blown away with how many people she has on her team. I asked her what's the hardest part about building this empire that she's built, and what she said, I was like, “Amen. Me too. I get it.” So I won't give it away. But she's really revealing what it was like to leave this nine-to-five job, what it's like to build the business she has, and what it looks like behind the scenes. I asked her about writing her scripts and running her business, and she has a brand-new baby. I asked her about being a mom and an entrepreneur. It’s a really good episode, if I don't say so myself.
I know you're going to love this episode, and even if you don't listen to true crime or you've never heard an episode of Crime Junkie, I promise you, this is an entrepreneurial episode all about building a business and what that looks like. So, you're going to love every minute of it. I just know it. Let's get to it.
Ashley, thank you so much for being on the show. Welcome.
ASHLEY: Hello. I'm so happy to be here.
AMY: I am so excited. I mean, I can't even believe that you're on the show, because my audience knows I am a big fan. And I don't even talk about being a fan of many people, but I talk about being a fan of you, for sure.
ASHLEY: Oh, thank you.
AMY: The thing is, you have the number one podcast on Apple Podcasts, which my audience, the podcasters, are blown away by that just right away. And then, share with me what you said when we were off camera—or, we weren’t recording yet. How many downloads, approximately, do you get every single month for Crime Junkie?
ASHLEY: So we get about thirty-five million a month for Crime Junkie alone.
AMY: Thirty-five million.
ASHLEY: That’s a big number.
AMY: I can't even fathom that. So—
ASHLEY: I still can't either.
AMY: Okay, good. So it is a big deal to you as well, right?
AMY: It's a big deal.
Okay. So I want to start at the top. Take us on this journey. How the heck did you go from a full-time job to a podcast host to owner and CEO of Audiochuck? And you might need to tell people what Audiochuck is, but how did this happen?
ASHLEY: Yeah. So Audiochuck is our company. It is the umbrella that owns Crime Junkie and puts out Audiochuck. And actually, I was an Audiochuck CEO and founder before I was a podcaster.
AMY: Oh, okay. I didn't know that.
ASHLEY: Yeah. So I founded the business way before I ever put out my episode.
So, I've lived a lot of different lives, I tell people, because I got a degree in biological research. I did genetics research out of college, at Notre Dame, and then I went into medical sales, something totally different. And then when I left there, I did business development for a custom software company. So every time I start something new, I kind of reinvent myself.
And it was while I was at this software company that I started Crime Junkie; I started Audiochuck. And I really got into it because in 2014, when Serial came out—that's how I found podcasting—and once I found it, at the time, it was when I was in my medical-sales job, and I was driving eight hours one way. And so I consumed everything. I fell in love with what podcasting is. It felt so intimate; it felt so casual. And so I consumed every podcast that was out there. And (a) there just wasn't enough, and (b), there was a show that I kept looking for that I couldn't find. I kept waiting for someone to make it.
And while this is going on, at the same time, I'm volunteering with Crime Stoppers. I'm on their board of directors, and they kind of give me a mission to do some brand awareness because no one my age knew what the program was. And so I partnered with a local radio station, and I was like, “Hey, I'll come on. Every Monday morning, I'll tell a quick, true-crime story. In exchange, you advertise for Crime Stoppers.” The segment with their most popular segment. The radio station became number one in the city. And then I was like, “Wow, maybe I can make the show that I've been looking for, and I can have more control over the stories I tell, how I tell them.”
But before I started the podcast, I founded my company. So, I mean, I did all the paperwork, I set up my LLC, I set up Audiochuck, because I knew that this was not going to be a side project for me. I don't do anything halfway. Like, everything, I'm 110 percent in. And I knew that this was going to be a massive amount of work if I was going to do it right.
And so I set up the company, and I gave myself a year to make it my full-time job. Otherwise, I knew that I was going to have to stop. And luckily, it all worked out.
AMY: Thank God. Yes, for sure.
So, when you started Crime Junkie, what were your aspirations? What did you think would happen? And you also have a sidekick. Was that always the plan? Talk a little bit about what you thought would happen versus what did happen.
ASHLEY: Well, I always knew I wanted a podcast network, so it was never even going to be just Crime Junkie. There were other shows that I wanted to do, because what I truly loved was the serial types of shows, these long-form investigations. But I knew I didn't have the resources to do those yet. I needed to start with something like Crime Junkie. And I was really intentional about the format.
So Brit, who's my co-host on the show, is my lifelong, best friend. I mean, from the second I knew I was going to have a co-host, it was her or nobody. And from the very beginning, again, I said I was looking for a specific show I couldn't find, and that was two people, and it was one person telling the story and the other person sitting in for the audience. Again, what I loved about podcasting was that I felt like I was there with the people I was listening to, and I wanted to give that listener a voice, which was the intention for Brit's role on the show.
AMY: Okay. I am so glad you said that, because I always feel like I'm Brit and Brit’s me.
ASHLEY: Yeah. Which is, like, it's so funny. We found recently, like, there's, we always do the intro, “I'm Ashley Flowers,” and she says, “I'm Brit,” and one person just happened to mention on Twitter, they're like, every time she says that, I say it along with her. And it, like, blew up, and it turns out everyone is saying, “I’m Brit.”
And so I knew, obviously, the show was working, but I think that, you know, her role resonated with people exactly how I hoped it would and in an even more meaningful way than I had imagined.
AMY: I mean, that's just one example of your brilliance, to know that your co-host was going to be the audience, and you already saw that vision. I had no idea that's what you saw. But you're exactly right. We are all Brit. I love her.
I want to give a shout out to Brit. How is she doing? You know, I follow everything, so can you talk a little bit about that?
ASHLEY: Yeah. You know, I'm in a weird spot. I'm her boss. So there's also HIPAA stuff I can't say. All I can say is she's doing well. She is expected to make a full recovery. That being said, you know, I don't know exactly when she'll be able to come back on the show. We're kind of taking things day by day. And as soon as she's in a good place, the last thing I want to do is put any more stress on her or anything like that. But she's doing really, really well. She came out of this—for everyone who doesn't know, she had a blood clot in her brain and multiple brain bleeds. She had two brain surgeries. So for what happened, it is a miracle. She's talking. She's walking. She's doing really well.
AMY: Ah, we love Brit. So sending all our love so that she could be back on the show and feel wonderful.
ASHLEY: Thank you.
Okay. So we have tons of podcasters in my audience. So the first question I wanted to ask you about podcasting is, what are some tips for growing downloads and climbing the charts? And most of us who podcast aren’t looking for thirty-plus million downloads a month, although that would be amazing. But I really do believe even though your numbers are astronomical, we can still relate to some of your tips that you use in order to climb the charts and any other pieces of advice to grow a podcast.
ASHLEY: Yeah. And I mean, I think you point out something important that a lot of people miss, and it's, who is your audience, and what is the intention? So, you know, for me, my audience is mostly women. It's people who are interested in true-crime stories, who want to be told a story. A lot of people have podcasts that are a lot more niche, and, again, if it's business related. You have to identify your audience first.
And I think that's, even with podcasting, where a lot of people make a mistake. They're like, “My podcast is for everyone,” and that's not true. My podcast, even with thirty-five million downloads, is not for everyone. So figuring out who that is, and then, I mean, this is like Marketing 101, right? Like, where are those people?
So when I first started, I knew that I had a wide breadth of people, and I knew that it was mostly going to be women, mostly of a certain age. And so, I mean, back when I had no money and I was just promoting this on my own, I would drive around with a car magnet on my car, advertising the podcast.
AMY: Stop it!
ASHLEY: Oh, yeah. I made little cards that I would leave in, like, rest-stop bathrooms, that I would tape to the back of bathroom-stall doors when I would go out to the bars.
AMY: I’m loving this.
ASHLEY: I was just trying to get my name out there.
And then what I really discovered is, you know, when I started, podcasts are a lot more known now, a lot more just kind of mainstream. But four years ago, there was a huge chunk of the population that had still never even tried it. And so I realized that I was fighting kind of this uphill battle of trying to convince them to listen to a podcast and then trying to convince them to listen to mine.
And so then I kind of switched tactics, and I started advertising on other podcasts. And I'm saying, “Okay, there's already someone who's bought into podcasts and getting information in this way. Now I just need to convince them to try mine.”
So figuring out where your audience is with other podcasting cross-promotion for me was so huge. And you know, now that podcasting is more mainstream, that cross-promotion doesn't have to just be within podcasts. Are there publications? Are there different types of mediums where you can find these people? And cross-pollinate with other outlets I think is so important.
AMY: I agree. I recently joined something called the HubSpot Network, and every month, we promote somebody else's podcast on my show, and they promote mine on their show. And that's proven to be a very valuable asset, that podcasters that are listening, you don't have to be a part of the HubSpot Network to do that. You could do that with your peers, and you could each promote each other's.
ASHLEY: Which is what I did. I just found shows that I thought were of similar content, had a similar audience of similar size, so that the value was there for the person I wanted to trade with. And I just cold reached out and said like, let's grow our audiences together.
AMY: Okay, that’s fantastic, and that's where I really think most podcasters should start, so it's great advice.
Now I want to talk about you working a full-time job while building a side hustle, because essentially that's what it looked like you did, right? You were still keeping that full-time job while you built this empire you now have.
ASHLEY: Yeah. I was working full time for a full year before I left.
AMY: Okay, so, how did you prioritize your time? How did you make this work? How did you do both? And then, how did you get the courage to take the leap? because you had a really good job.
ASHLEY: I had a—I liked my job. It was a good job.
AMY: It was a legit job—
ASHLEY: Yeah, it was a legit job.
AMY: —and it helped you to do well and all that good stuff.
ASHLEY: Yeah. And I had a wonderful boss. It was a great company.
So, prioritizing my time, it really was just, like, how much do I have? because I loved what I was doing with the podcast. So it was easy, almost too easy, like, at a detriment to my other relationships, friendships, and stuff. Like, that year, I barely did anything, so I don't want to glamorize it either and be like, “I had it all.”
But I would get up at five in the morning. I would work on the podcast, and then I would go to work, and I would put in my eight hours. I would come home. I'd work on the podcast till ten o’clock at night. And then on the weekends, I was doing, like, twelve hours Saturday, twelve hours Sunday. It was a lot. And I knew it was going to be a lot, and that's why I said, “I can't do this forever.” I was engaged then. Or I was married right when I started the podcast. I had just gotten married. So I knew, like, okay, this is not sustainable. It can't go on forever.
And for me, when I was able to leave is when I actually signed a contract with an advertising agency. So around six months into podcasting, we had started our fan club, so we had some revenue coming in. It was enough to, again, like, now I wasn't coming out of pocket to pay my brother, who was editing; to pay rent. Like, I wanted to make sure everyone was taken care of first and that I could afford everything.
And podcast advertising, when that started coming in, we started getting advertisements, but what I didn't realize about podcast advertising is that, okay, I do the ad in January. I'm not even thinking about seeing a check until March or April, if I'm lucky. And so that money was super delayed, and it was trickling in here and there. There was no guarantee of anything.
And so in the very, very beginning of 2019, yeah, the very beginning of 2019, I signed an ad-sales contract, which basically guaranteed me money for one year. And that is what made me feel confident that I could take care of myself, take care of my family, take care of the people that worked on the show. And that's when I finally took the leap and left my job.
AMY: What were you feeling when you did that? Were you like, “Bring it on. I've got this,” or were you nervous? What did your new husband think?
ASHLEY: He was more nervous than me. He's very risk averse. And he was a little bit scared, but, again, I showed him the contract, and I was like, “This will be fine.”
And, you know, while I was a little scared, I was mostly excited because, again, I loved what I was doing. It didn't feel like work, though I was working harder than I ever had in my life. I enjoyed every single second of it, not just the podcasting and the content-creation side, even the business side. So I was just really excited, and I kept telling my husband, telling myself, that if this doesn't work out, I can go find another job in sales. I can go back to software or business development. Those jobs will be there. What I felt like what I had was, like, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I knew that I had to take it or I would constantly be thinking about it.
AMY: Okay. So I have followed what you've done and what you've built for so very long. And I'm a member of the fan club. I mean, I’m all in. I am all in. And one thing I always think, because I have been through business stuff all the time, is you're young. How old are you?
ASHLEY: I’m thirty-three.
AMY: Thirty-three. And you've been doing this, you said, for four years?
ASHLEY: Four and a half. When I start when I was twenty-eight, twenty-nine? I can't even remember.
AMY: Okay. Crazy. This is why I keep thinking about you. How did you think you could create a podcast company? Like, you've never done this before. This is now your specialty. I ask this because people are listening that want to make a big pivot or do something very different than their nine-to-five job.
AMY: Where did you find that courage to say, “I'm going to do something I literally have never done before,” and then a year later, you quit your job?
ASHLEY: Well, I mean, I think it's a couple of things. There’s a little bit of that just in who I am. I mean, everything, again, like I told you, I've continually reinvented myself. When I was done with genetics research, I didn't go find another research job. I was like, “I'm going to try something completely different.” So, there's something I think just in me inherently that wants to try new things. And I'm willing to fail. Like, I'm not afraid to mess it up, and I'm not afraid to, you know, realize maybe this wasn't for me or maybe I did a bad job at it. But, again, I'm more afraid of not taking the chance.
And I think this is often something that women face more than men. I was having a conversation with my head of production, and we were dying laughing because she was talking about her husband, and he was baking a cake or something. And he bakes it and gets done, and he's like, “Yeah, I don't think I want to open a bakery.” And she’s like, “No one asked you to. Where did that come from?” And her and I were talking, and she's like, that's the difference between so many men and women, is, like, men think, I could do anything. If I'm offered or whatever, like, if I just tried my hand at it, I could be good at it. And it's not that I can't. It's that I don't want to.
ASHLEY: Where I think so often women are waiting for the invitation or things—we have to prove it before we can take it. And I've always been like, you know what? Like, of course I don't know how, because I've never done it, but that doesn't mean I can't do it. And so I’m willing to try my hand at anything. Google was my friend. I didn't know how to start an LLC, but I Googled the [beep] out of it.
ASHLEY: And I figured out how to do the paperwork. And the biggest thing I can tell people is you don't have to do it alone. You know, I didn't know how to make a logo. I have no graphic-design skills. Find the people who do. You don't have to do everything by yourself, and you don't have to be an expert at everything. What you have to do is figure out what you're good at, what you need help with, and just be able to find the resources that you need to get it done.
AMY: Amen, 100 percent agree.
Okay, so while you were talking about that, I was thinking, I wonder what a “week in the life” looks like for you? I'm dying to know. Now, you are a new mom. How old is your baby girl?
ASHLEY: She is five months today.
AMY: How is it five months? Oh, my gosh.
ASHLEY: I know. I don’t even know.
AMY: Well, she’s precious, so congratulations on your baby girl. Josie, right?
AMY: Ah, love her.
And so you're a new mom. You are a wife. You are a business owner. You've got a lot going on. And you are the host of one of your shows. Well, actually, you're a host of several shows, but thinking Crime Junkie. So, like, you actually are front stage and back stage. So do you batch your episodes? Do you record a lot in the day? What does that look like? And my biggest question—I’ve wanted to ask you this for years—are you writing all those scripts?
ASHLEY: When we started, I was doing everything. Now Audiochuck has a team of thirty people. Now, we also have a dozen shows on our network. So I still write some scripts. We have writers. We’re doing a lot of original reporting now. So we have reporters. My other weekly show, The Deck, that has a full team of reporters on it. So it is not just me anymore, which is how I'm able to continue to do it and how I've been able to grow the network.
I've had a ton of people come on board and help me because, you know, you can only—that's the thing, too, is to recognize I always tell people I was able to get the company from A to B by myself. Like, I could do everything. But I would have been capped. Like, there's only so much time in the day. There's only so many skill sets I have. And in order to get the company to the next level from B to C, I needed help. I needed other people with expertise to come on and support me.
AMY: Okay. I love that you said that because I always tell my students there's no badge of honor in doing it all by yourself for as long as you can.
AMY: Yeah. Look how much you've grown. A to B was a huge leap. B to C, I cannot even imagine, once you brought on some amazing people. And I'm curious: what is something in your business that you're like, “This is what I need to do. This definitely is something I'm going to hold on to. This is important. I do this”?
ASHLEY: So I'm still picking most of the cases that we cover.
ASHLEY: I'm still really involved in what organizations that we're working with, advocating for causes that we're supporting. And every script on Crime Junkie on The Deck and some of our other shows still passes through me. I edit every single one and make sure that I—because there's something to me, like, again, what made the show special is I didn't start a true-crime podcast because it was the hottest in the genre. I was my audience. I was making the show that I was looking for, and I never want to lose that magic, which I think comes from just being a true-crime junkie. And so that's something that I probably will never give up, because I don't want to lose that, what I think is the special sauce. So I'm still in every single script, really involved in the content.
The stuff that I'm giving up more and more is the back-end business stuff because I think I've got really talented people who can do that, and it lets me focus on the content, what shows are coming next. I still am picking the shows that we add to the network, and that's where I feel so much passion.
AMY: Yes. And I can totally see why you would stay involved in those different aspects, for sure.
And do you batch your episodes? Do you do, like, six in a day or whatever?
ASHLEY: Oh, god, no. No, it takes so long. I do roughly—like, our schedule that we have kind of paced out is I record two Crime Junkies a week and one episode of The Deck a week, and that's if I'm in office all week. If I've got a week where I'm traveling, then, obviously, I have to double up the week before or the week after. But I've got a wonderful head of production who's made a really sustainable schedule for me. And prior to Brit having to take medical leave, we were two months ahead on our shows. We’ve kind of wound that back just in preparation for whenever she’s able to return. But we try to get as ahead as possible.
AMY: Okay, gotcha.
How many shows do you have total?
ASHLEY: I think twelve right now?
AMY: Okay. I'm going to list all of them in the show notes so you all can check them out. They're outstanding. I listen to almost all of those, I'm sure. So Crime Junkie is not the only one that you can check out. So I definitely will put all the details in the show notes.
There are parts of running my business that I absolutely love. My favorite part is getting to work on my brand mission. I love thinking about the big picture, where I want to take my vision and my business in the next year. Heck, I even love thinking where I'll take it in the next five years or the next ten years. But with every business, there are parts that I don't love as much, parts I don't want to spend my time on. You know, those tasks that you push off until the last possible moment?
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Okay, so, you recently wrote a book. We're going to talk about it. I freaked out when I found out months ago that you did this. But before we get there, I was listening to a promo about your book, and one thing you said that I loved—because I love a woman that knows what she’s good at—and you said, “Listen, I can tell a story that will put you at the edge of your seat. There's things that I can't do, but that's one thing I can do.” And you are absolutely right. So when you're writing these stories, whether it be for your book or for the scripts for each of the episodes, what’s some of the tips you have, because even though my audience is in a different world than you, we have to tell stories every single day to sell our products and our services. But some of us don't do it in the way that you do it. So how do you keep an audience captivated?
ASHLEY: Well, I think, you know, when I'm thinking about what stories to tell and how to frame it, it's trying to keep top of mind what made it interesting to me, what makes it a standout case, a unique case, because those are the parts that have to be highlighted and you have to spend more time on. And I'm, also, I always say, in life there are bullet-points people, there are sentence people, and there are paragraph people. And I am a bullet-points person. And though our show is thirty, forty minutes, often we're talking about these really complex cases. And what I really try to do with our stories is whittle it down to the absolute need-to-know information so that every word you have to know to understand the next thing that's happening. You can't zone out for a second.
I think that's where a lot of times, you know, when I listen to stories, it can go kind of off the rails is—and, you know, I actually have ADHD, and so I'll find myself zoning out. And I've made the show so jam packed with information that you have to stay engaged. And that doesn’t mean every rabbit hole is involved, every minute detail. It's like, did the sentence I just say, is that important to know for you to understand this story? And I think having an editing eye, not just for true-crime stories, but for any story you're telling and really getting to the point is essential.
AMY: That's so true because you have so many details that you have to share. But I always feel like you get right to the point, and we get in it right away. So I love that. Taking out any fluff or any extra things that you probably don't need, a good editing eye, that is really great advice.
I was thinking about your day to day and or what a “week in the life” looks like and you batching your episodes and writing your scripts and all of that. What's something in your business that feels hard?
AMY: Amen, sister. Amen. I was thinking, those thirty people you work with, how many of those are full-time employees?
AMY: So different hosts of other podcast episodes that you own are your employees?
ASHLEY: No, no, no. So the only person who's a host that is an employee is Delia D’Ambra.
AMY: That’s who I was thinking. Okay.
ASHLEY: Yeah. So she's a full-time employee. But we've got another show, Anatomy of Murder, and Scott and Anna-Sigga are not employees. So me, Brit, and Delia are the only full-time employees that also host a show. Everyone else is—and that's what a lot of people don’t understand about, like, you know, podcasting. It's like, “Oh, you just create the content. You edit the content. You put it out in the world.” I'm, like, “Yeah, but we're a big business. We have marketing. We have finance. We have a president who does business development. We have editors. We have fan engagement.” So there are all these different roles, reporting team, that are able to not only feed into the content but put the content out into the world, manage the content, manage the feedback that comes back in.
And when I started the company, I always had that holistic approach, where I wanted to make sure I had a business plan, and this was going to run like any other company. Just because it's entertainment doesn't mean—like, I'm glad that I thought about all those roles, because that's what made it successful.
AMY: Okay. I think that's what makes you extra special. I think a lot of people that start podcasts that are more entertainment versus, let's say, educational, I don't think they take it as seriously as you did. And I had no idea you had thirty full-time employees on your team. And I knew it was a big company, but I had no clue.
So I think that the lesson, whoever is listening right now looking to take their business to the next step, Ashley didn't look at this as a hobby.
AMY: This was never just, like, “This is fun. Let's try this out,” and really put some solid plans together. And I think that part is incredibly important to remember.
ASHLEY: I love that you said that.
AMY: Okay, so, let's talk about your book because I recently wrote a book. It doesn't come out until February, but it was a labor of love, but it was a lot of hard work.
ASHLEY: Excruciating is the word that comes to me.
AMY: Yes, thank you. I didn't want to go down negative road, but holy cow, that was rough. So I haven't even started marketing it yet. But you're deep in. The book is written. Actually, my producer got her hands on it, where I was like, “Wait a second, this is not fair.” But I got to read the first two chapters. The first page, you are literally hooked.
So, tell me this: you had so much going on—first of all, it's called All Good People Here—and you have so much going on. Why the heck did you think, “Oh, and on top of everything, I should read a book”?
ASHLEY: So I've actually always wanted to write not just a book, but the specific story that I wrote.
ASHLEY: It's a story that's kind of, like, lived in me for a long time. And to me, I think, you know, for those people who know me from true crime and podcasting, this is a little bit of a departure. But for me, it feels like I'm going back to my roots, because when I, you know, my journey as a crime junkie started with fiction mysteries. I mean, from a very young age, my mom would read me Nancy Drew, and then we graduated to Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark and so on and so on. And that's how I kind of, you know, this fiction world then opened the door to the true-crime world for me.
And still to this day, I mean, I was the second there was a new Gillian Flynn book, I was grabbing it and devouring it in a day. The way I was constantly looking for more true-crime podcasts and more content, and there was never enough for me, that's how I feel about good books. I will down it in a day or two days, and I want the next one.
And so what I knew about my audience is, again, I know they love this, but I know that they're me, too. So it's not that they're just looking for a true-crime podcast; they're looking for mysteries in all these different mediums. And so I really felt like I knew this group of people. I had this story in me. And, you know, it might be a total flop. Maybe nobody wants this from me.
AMY: It's already gotten great reviews, so I will not even allow that to go out of your mouth.
ASHLEY: It was, again, it was just something in me that I really wanted to do that I felt like my audience would love and appreciate. And so I wanted to try my hand at it. And again, I'm not afraid to try new things.
AMY: Okay. I can't even wait.
So tell me this: what did the process look like for you? How long did it take? Did you have a writing ritual? Like, what was the book-writing process like for you?
ASHLEY: Well, I had a coauthor who helped me. I always tell people, if it were up to me, it would be a three-hundred-page run-on sentence because I'm used to writing for spoken word. So I did have a partner to help me actually put pen to paper. And she and I originally started the process in 2000, the very end of 2019, and then COVID hit. And so we're like, Oh, you know, in a couple weeks we'll get together. In a couple months we’ll get together. And pretty much all of 2020 we got stalled. And then 2021, we were really heads-down writing because we had storyboarded kind of everything. Again, like, I had this story living in me. And then it was kind of, we would meet. We would talk about chapters.
The hardest part for me—the writing part I found exciting and easy, because, again, I knew the story. It’s how I feel about writing scripts. It's interesting. Like I said, we have a team of writers. And when they write a script, it takes usually thirty to forty hours to write a full-length script. If I write a script, it takes me five, because once I know the story, it's just in my brain. It's just there, and it's as fast as I can type is how I can get it out. And that's how I felt about this story.
The hardest part for me was the editing process, because I feel like someone comes in and rips your baby apart. And then by the end I'm like, “I hope people like it. It seems like you hated it.”
AMY: Oh, my gosh, the editing. I had hired a personal editor, and then my publisher edited it. And I remember writing this amazing story for the book about my husband and I and how we met, and it was so good. And she's like, slash. The whole thing is out. I was a little offended. But yeah, you’ve got to have a little thick skin during that editing process.
ASHLEY: Yeah. So that was the hardest for me. And when we were done with the editing and it was moving to its final, I’m like, I’m never doing this again. Like, this is terrible. You don't get to pick your own book cover. I’m like, what's the point?
And then, of course, a couple of reviews come in, and now I'm on the high of my roller coaster. I'm like, I'll write another one. This is great.
AMY: You better write another one because the audience has spoken and they want it. And I'm assuming you did audio for it as well?
ASHLEY: I didn’t. You know, they said—
ASHLEY: Yeah, I know. I read the epilogue because I think everyone assumes that I would. But what I always remind people is I was, like, an audiobook is so different than a podcast, because there are so many different characters. And if you do an audiobook well—
AMY: Oh, yes.
ASHLEY: —the character voices are slightly different, so you can distinguish who's talking. I cannot do that. Like, not in a good way. Like, all the character voices would mesh together. It'd be terrible.
AMY: It’s be like, is that Italian or Irish? What accent are you…?
ASHLEY: Yeah. And I really wanted the listener—because I love audiobooks, and I wanted them to have the best experience possible. So I gave them a little taste of me at the end. I read the epilogue, but I left it to professionals.
AMY: Okay, well, this is kind of a side-note, business thing, but, obviously, whoever writes a book kind of starts thinking about New York Times’ bestseller, right? And just like, who knows, you don't want to jinx yourself, but who knows?
ASHLEY: Oh, I'll jinx myself. I told them. I was like, it's number one New York Times’ bestseller or bust, or I'm never doing this again.
AMY: This is what I love you! Damn right it is.
Okay, so when you make New York Times’ bestseller, here's a little thing that my audience might know—but not know but because I'm now writing a book, I know this stuff—Audible does not count toward the list.
ASHLEY: I know. Isn't that…?
AMY: It's crazy. And I was a little afraid for you because I thought if you have Audible, we're all going to that because we love your voice. But I think you just did something brilliant.
ASHLEY: Yeah. So that’s what I was afraid of, too. I didn't know that starting out. And then I asked the question because I knew so many people were hoping for that. And that also played into me not reading it. I was like, okay, well, everyone's going to go there, and it's not going to count for anything.
AMY: No. So this is, again, you are a brilliant business woman, and this was a great decision, although I'm going to miss the audio. I forgot that you'd have to do different voices and stuff, and if you're not a voice actor, that would be, like, no. Yeah, totally makes sense.
Well, congratulations on the book. We will absolutely be linking it here. For those of you, it’s August 7, was it?
ASHLEY: August 16.
AMY: Sixteenth, sorry about that. August 16 the book comes out in the U.S. Or is it everywhere?
ASHLEY: So August 16 is the U.S., and August 18 in the UK.
AMY: Got it. Okay, good. And so I'm going to link to it. You all, I will be absolutely reading the whole thing. We can talk about it. Get in my DMs. It's going to be really, really fun.
Okay, so, before I let you go, we do this cool thing called just rapid-fire questions. It's not a new idea, but it's fun. And so are you ready?
AMY: Okay, here we go. And the last question is my absolute favorite, and someone on my team who's also obsessed with you came up with it, so just wait.
Okay. The first question is, who is someone that's inspiring you right now, and why?
ASHLEY: So there's a woman named Suzy Giordano. She came and actually did sleep training with my baby. And she said something that was so beautiful. She said, you know, I'm a simple person. I didn’t go to college. I didn’t get anything. But I know babies better than anyone else. And I loved that because my whole life, I felt like I was good at a lot of things and I was looking for the thing that I was great at, and that was podcasting. And I think so many people can get down. And I was watching my mom look at her, because my mom didn't go to college too, and, like, it doesn't have to be a big thing to be great at. Like, she is great at babies, and she changed my life by getting my baby to sleep. And so this idea that there's nothing too small, nothing too big. Like, we all have our own talents, and I am so inspired by that.
AMY: Okay, you just made my day because when I teach people to choose a topic for their digital course, I say, “All you need is that 10 percent edge. You are 10 percent ahead of those that you serve, and you can guide them. It doesn't need to be this huge thing.” And yeah, I love that you love that she said that because remember earlier, I love that you're like, “I'm good at telling a story.”
AMY: And it gives you so much confidence in the person you're talking to when they know what they're good at.
AMY: Yeah. That's so cool.
Okay. So, we mentioned you recently became a new mother, so can you share a little sneak peek into your morning routine as an entrepreneur and parent? Like, what does that look like? And I'm assuming you have childcare now.
AMY: Oh, no!
ASHLEY: So my husband wanted to stay at home, and so he tried staying at home. My mom, also, was helping out. But it's hard. Being a stay-at-home mom is, or stay-at-home dad, either one, is the hardest job in the world. And he's like, “Yeah. I think, you know, we're five months in, I might be ready to go back to work.”
ASHLEY: So we're in the process of finding a nanny right now. But, you know, Jo wakes up at, like, six thirty in the morning. We do a feeding. I get to hang out with her for probably, like, half an hour before I have to go to work. And then I try to get home by, like, four, four thirty. Get to hang out with her, and then I'll work again in the evening.
AMY: Perfect. Well, that's a lot to juggle, but you're making it work, so it's so fantastic.
Okay, so, what's a really good piece of advice that you've gotten along this entrepreneurial journey?
ASHLEY: So I've been working recently—so our president of the company that came on, he's been here the last year, and I learned so much from him. And I think the biggest thing that he has taught me, and you know, this isn't new information, but is to take care of myself. I am definitely a workaholic, and it's something that I've had to very consciously work on. He was, like, “If you run ragged, you're not here, and then it all falls apart.” Like, you know, in my mind I'm like, “I've got to do more work. I want to be here for everyone.” He's like, “Yeah, but if you don't take time to reset and make sure you're mentally good for everyone, then you actually crash and burn out, and then everything falls apart.” So, I mean, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking like, “I have to do it. I have to do it. No one else.” But, like, you're not going to be there in the end. So, again, something that I feel like, you know, everyone says, “Oh, take care of your mental health,” but it's something that I've been very intentional about. And he's been so wonderful at helping me kind of continually reset and revisit that idea.
AMY: As the owner of the company, having someone else encourage you to do that is so valuable.
I recently took a five-week sabbatical.
ASHLEY: Really? Wasn’t it amazing?
AMY: I just got back yesterday. So I've been in business thirteen years. I've never taken more than two weeks, and I rarely take that. So I just did this challenge. I'm like, okay, I'm going to do it. I just recorded a podcast episode about it. I said it was wonderful. I got all this downtime and rest and relaxation. Very anxiety inducing. My identity is tied to this business I've created, and I'm obsessed with it, like you are. And I'm a workaholic, absolutely. So it was good for me to realize, “Oh, holy cow. I don't even know who I am without my business,” and kind of eye opening. So it was amazing. I probably will never do five weeks again. Maybe three. Three would be good; five was a little much. I'm like, “I need my fix.” But anyway, it was good stuff.
Okay, so, two more questions. What is your favorite tool to help you stay organized and on top of your busy schedule? I'm so curious. We have so different businesses. Is there a certain tool you use?
ASHLEY: Well, so, I mean, like, I live and die by my Google calendar. If it is not on my calendar, I will miss it. I literally check my calendar every thirty minutes. Like, where do I have to be next? But we also use for our entire business monday.com.
AMY: Oh, you do. I was curious which system you use. So Monday is it.
ASHLEY: Yeah, for our project manager. I mean, like, all of our marketing, all of our production, everything goes through Monday. And that has been key to keeping us all on the same page.
AMY: Same. We use Asana, but we are obsessed with it. We live or die by it.
Okay, final question. I got to give Kelsey on my team a shout out. She's a huge fan of yours as well. She came up with this one. Who do you think killed JonBenet Ramsey?
ASHLEY: I am in the unpopular opinion of this in that I am very bought into the intruder theory.
AMY: Are you?
AMY: You don't think it was the brother?
ASHLEY: No. No.
AMY: So, intruder. Okay, good to know. We were very curious where you stand, especially being an expert that you are.
Ashley, I cannot thank you enough. I am so excited about your book. You guys, go grab it, preorder. For those of us who have ever written a book, preorders are important. All Good People Here. Actually, I'm not exactly sure when this episode goes live. It might not even be a preorder at the time, but go get the book. I’ll link to it in the show notes.
But Ashley, thanks so much. It was really fun to get to see behind the scenes of such a mega amazing business. I really appreciate you being here.
ASHLEY: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
AMY: Oh, geez. What I hadn't told you yet, before that episode, before I brought Ashley on, I was very nervous. And I rarely get nervous for an interview, but I'm such a fan. And I had to tell myself, “Amy, she's just a person, like you and me. This is no big deal.” But I had to calm myself down a little bit. And when I first brought her on, when I was re-listening to the episode, I could tell I sounded a little bit nervous. But, hey, when you get excited about a guest, it makes it all the better, right?
So, here's what I loved about this episode. If you're still in your full-time job and waiting to take that leap into building your business, learn from Ashley and her journey. You know, she did both for a year. She waited till she had that contract signed, so money was coming in, and she took the leap.
But also, I think my biggest takeaway from this episode is she said, “If it doesn't work out, I could do something different.” Like, everything doesn't have to be so set in stone that if you mess up, life is over. So I loved her entrepreneurial spirit, risk taker, “I'm going to try this and see what happens” kind of attitude. I think we could all use a little bit of that, for sure.
And also, I loved how she shared of telling stories and knowing her audience and being a good editor. I felt like those were all really good pieces of advice.
Now, if you do like true crime and you have never listened to Crime Junkie or maybe some of the other ones that are on the docket in Audiochuck, I'm going to list them all in the show notes, and you can pick and choose the ones that pique your interest. And also, go grab her book. I would love to support Ashley, and it's not often that I support a fiction book on the podcast. Usually it's all nonfiction, all business books. This is different and entertaining and fun. Go grab the book, and we can talk about it. DM me at Instagram. You know, I’m just @amyporterfield. Let me know if you grab the book and if you’re reading it and what you’re loving about it.
All right, my friends. I hope you enjoyed today's special episode. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.