Episode 071

Renee Roberson

Editor of Lake Norman Currents Magazine

by | Sep 2, 2021

Show Notes:

If you’ve been following this production for a while, you’ll remember back in the Spring of this year Lake Norman Currents magazine wrote a piece about this podcast. The article appeared in the March 2021 issue with the title “The Power of Storytelling.” I gotta tell you I was really honored that they thought enough of what we’re doing here at The Best of LKN to write about it and share a little of our journey with their readers.

So, I couldn’t think of a better way to thank Currents Magazine than to invite their Editor, Renee Roberson, onto the podcast for a conversation. Renee shares her background in the writing world and how she first connected with Currents magazine as a freelance copywriter. She shares some of ups and downs of working as a freelance writer, and also offers some great advice for aspiring writers. Plus, it turns out Renee and I have something big in common – she also produces her own podcast! See, all the cool kids are doing it. 

As always friends, I want to thank you for joining us here at The Best of LKN podcast.  Enjoy getting to know Renee Roberson, editor of Currents Magazine!

Lake Norman Currents Magazine

Missing in the Carolinas Podcast

Special shout-out to:

Tiffany Ringwald Photography – our guest in Episode 22

Books recommended for writers:

The Well-fed Writer
by Peter Bowerman

Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer
by Jenna Glatzer

The Writers Digest Guide to Query Letters
by Wendy Burt-Thomas

Also…

Writers Digest Magazine

Transcript:

Narrator  
Welcome to The Best of LKN, a podcast featuring the best small businesses and the most influential professionals around Lake Norman, North Carolina. Each week, we spotlight those businesses and individuals that are making a positive impact here in the Lake Norman area. Thanks for joining us, enjoy the show.

Jeff  
Hey, everyone, welcome back to The Best of LKN podcast. I have just a couple of quick announcements before we get stuck into this episode. First, our latest article on The Best of LKN blog features a list of our 10 favorite wine bars around the Lake Norman area. The team and I really enjoyed researching this article and I’ll bet we mentioned one or two of your favorite places. You can read all about it at thebestoflkn.com/blog. Second, I want to thank Famous Toastery for sharing a great discount this week for our email newsletter subscribers. You may recall that we featured a conversation with the Founder and CEO of Famous Toastery, Robert Maynard, on the podcast back in Episode 59. Big thanks to Famous Toastery for their support and participation in our email promotion. If you haven’t already subscribed to our email newsletter, it would mean the world to us if you did. Signing up is easy and a great way to show some support for what we’re doing here at The Best of LKN. You can find the email signup form on our homepage or go to thebestoflkn.com/newsletter. Don’t worry, we’ll never share your email address with anyone else and we’ll never spam your inbox. Thanks so much for your support.

Jeff  
Now, if you’ve been following this production for a while, you’ll remember back in the spring of this year, Lake Norman Currents Magazine wrote a piece about this podcast. The article appeared in the March 2021 issue with the title, “The Power of Storytelling.” I gotta tell you, I was really honored and flattered that they thought enough of what we’re doing here at The Best of LKN to write about it and share a little of our journey with their readers. So, I couldn’t think of a better way to thank Currents Magazine than to invite their editor, Rene Roberson, onto the podcast for a conversation. Renee shares her background in the writing world and how she first connected with Currents Magazine as a freelance copywriter. She shares some of the ups and downs of working as a freelance writer and also offers some great advice for aspiring writers. Plus, it turns out Renee and I have something pretty big in common. She also produces her own podcast. As always, friends, I want to thank you for joining us here at The Best of LKN podcast. Enjoy getting to know Renee Roberson, editor of Lake Norman Currents Magazine.

Jeff  
Renee, welcome to the podcast.

Renee  
Thank you for having me.

Jeff  
I appreciate you being here, I’ve been looking forward to this. We connected earlier in 2021, as Currents Magazine was putting together some content, I think for the March issue. I’m embarrassed, I don’t remember if it was the March or April issue, but it was early in the year. And I have like six copies, I should know which month it was. But you did a piece on the podcast and our little production here. So, many thanks to you for that, I was really flattered and loved seeing it in the magazine it was really cool. Thank you.

Renee  
You’re welcome. You’ve done a great job of marketing the podcast. So that is the reason that it sort of came to my attention.

Jeff  
Renee, you know, obviously most listeners in the Lake Norman area are going to be familiar with Currents Magazine, it’s a beautiful publication. It can be found all over the lake and distributed all over Lake Norman. I’d love to get a little bit of, if you could just kind of paint a picture of your background and your career and what led you to Currents Magazine.

Renee  
Well, I went to college at UNC Asheville, where I majored in mass communication. I always thought I was going to be a broadcast journalist actually. But when I went to school there, they didn’t have a huge video production department, I guess you could say. So, I sort of slid into the whole print side of things, got involved with the campus newspaper, and kind of I’ve never looked back. My first job out of college was at a marketing and advertising agency in Asheville where we did a lot of public relations for the tourism industry. And then from there, I moved to Winston-Salem, worked at some advertising and PR agencies in the Winston-Salem, Greensboro area. And then a job opportunity for my husband with Lowe’s brought us to the Lake Norman area in 2003. And I had an infant at that time, and I was trying to figure out, okay, what am I going to do now? I don’t really want to leave her all day, but I know I should be able to do something. So, I actually started doing a lot of reading about freelance writing and how I could get involved in that and just sort of kind of went from there.

Jeff  
How long were you doing freelance writing before you connected with Currents Magazine?

Renee  
A couple of years. I connected with Currents actually, in 2009, I went back and looked it up. I was working at Charlotte Parent Magazine as an associate editor, and one of my coworkers was telling me about this new magazine that was starting up in the Lake Norman area. And she was like, I’ll give you the editors name if you want to send them some writing samples or some pitches, they’re looking to kind of build their stable of freelancers, and I did. And the first article that I pitched was accepted and it ran in the August 2009 issue.

Jeff  
Wow.

Renee  
I had run a half marathon, or I was training for a half marathon, and the woman that owned the company that I was training with had a really neat backstory. So, I sort of pitched this article about my experience training and running this half marathon, and then we had a sidebar on the owner and her experience. And I was so excited when that came out, although it did feature a very large picture of me, like in the middle of the half marathon. So, it wasn’t the most attractive picture, but it ran, and I was really happy. And then I basically wrote for almost every issue until I became Editor.

Jeff  
Wow, and that was August of 2009 was when that article was published. And when did you become Editor?

Renee  
It was August 2019.

Jeff  
Okay, so it’s only been a couple years, going on two years, excellent. So, freelance writing intrigues me, it’s so interesting. We talked before I hit record, I’ve recently started, sort of restarted my writing career recently by writing long form blog articles for the podcast. Thankfully, I also have the help of my stepdaughter, who is a Chapel Hill grad and an exceptional writer, way better than I am. So, she probably does half of the copywriting for the website, and mainly in the food and beverage space, so local restaurants will be glad to know she’s writing those articles and not me. But I’ve connected with a couple of freelancers through online resources. And the quality is, it’s hit or miss for sure. So, no doubt I pay my stepdaughter, probably more than the market rate is but the quality is really good. But I’m really curious, what areas of freelancing or writing did you specialize in? Was there a certain area that was really your area of expertise? Or were you all over the place?

Renee  
I started out my freelance career writing on parenting topics because that is sort of the world I was living in at that time. I think the first article I sold to a regional parenting magazine was all about the importance of planning your meals ahead before you have a baby, because I did not do that. And then I had a baby, and I was like, oh, I’m not cooking dinner. Are you cooking? Well, what are we gonna eat? And so, I sort of did a how-to and what you should do article, and it actually sold four or five different times over the course of several years to different magazines. So, that was how I started. And then I also wrote for a time for the Walt Disney Internet Group, also parenting topics, that ended up being sold at some point to some other internet site. But that was a pretty consistent gig for two or three years. And they paid pretty well. But I didn’t realize at the time that they were also going to repurpose my content and sell it over and over and over again. And so, I didn’t negotiate the right way.

Jeff  
Right.

Renee  
Because I didn’t get any reprint fees from anything they sold. So, I stayed in that parenting realm for a while. And then really, I have to say all of the opportunities I’ve ever had have come by networking. Who I know, who needs help. I did some stringing for the Charlotte Observer for a while, I actually had a regular column in the Lake Norman Neighbors section of the paper, and it was called Still Unpacking. And it was just me interviewing people that had just moved to the area. And so, I had to find the people and make sure I had enough for a column every week. And that was hard.

Jeff  
It is hard. I can relate. Yeah.

Renee  
So, I would have to ask people who do you know that just moved here? Do you know anybody that is still unpacking, and will they talked to me, will they let me take a picture of them? So, I did that, I also covered the traffic beat for Lake Norman Neighbors for a while when someone went on maternity leave. So, I really think a lot of it has been human-interest type stories. I also did a column for the Observer that was food related, where I profiled different businesses every week. So, I’ve done a little bit of everything, parenting, food and drink, human interest. What else have I done? About writing, how-to articles about writing, blogging. I basically went where the opportunities were.

Jeff  
Yeah, you mentioned that you connected with a lot of your work through networking. And that’s actually really how I connect with most of our guests on the podcast, I lean a lot on previous guests to introduce me to their network or local small-business owners that we may have mentioned in our conversation, that sort of thing. But yeah, I mean, networking is just, and it really applies to any industry. I think there’s all kinds of industries where people can look back on how they landed where they are, or got that position they wanted, and they can point toward networking as the way they were able to achieve that. Yeah. And coming up with content every week is, it’s difficult enough to think of something to write about or to podcast about, but also too, if in an interview format like this, I find it can be a challenge to consistently produce a different weekly interview, so it takes time definitely to connect with everyone.

Renee  
I think it taught me a lot about deadlines.

Jeff  
Yeah.

Renee  
Deadlines, having those kinds of consistent deadlines have made me a better and tighter writer. I don’t have time to sit around and try to think of the perfect thing to say, you just got to say it.

Jeff  
I’ve reached that point on my own, yeah. I just basically start writing. Like Seth Godin says, just start writing, write poorly and if you write enough bad stuff, you’ll end up writing some good stuff, so I guess that’s how you cure writer’s block. But, let me ask you, since I’ve got you on, any tips, and I didn’t prepare you for this, so I apologize. But this question just occurred to me because it comes up a lot in my conversations. How do you overcome writer’s block? Or how do you overcome creative block? I’ve mentioned before in other episodes, we talked a little bit before I hit record, how exhausting creativity can be and constantly having to summon those creative processes. Any advice there?

Renee  
This may sound strange, but one of the ways that I cure, that I overcome writer’s block is by consuming something. So, I’ll either read a really good novel, or I’ll read a really good magazine article, or I’ll listen to a podcast episode where someone was very inspirational in what they were saying. And that is what usually kind of kicks me out of my chair and says, well, if all these other people can do it, what are you sitting around feeling sorry for yourself for? There are people producing every single week, every single minute of every single day. And if they can do it, you can do it. That’s really what kickstarts me every time.

Jeff  
Yeah, that’s good advice. Just look to somebody that you know and like and you respect, whether it’s a podcast or a writer, and read something or listen to something that will inspire you. Yeah, that makes sense. That’s good advice. Well, I’m gonna stop asking for all this advice about copywriting and creativity and move on.

Renee  
I can talk about it all day, don’t worry.

Jeff  
And I could ask you questions about it all day. But I’m sure listeners would love to know a little bit more about Currents Magazine and your role there. And one of the questions that I had, that I had prepared you for was, I was interested in knowing like, a couple of things, two or three things that you love most about being Editor of not just Currents Magazine, but Editor of a magazine.

Renee  
It’s a great responsibility, I will tell you that. But some of the things that I love about it is looking at the finished product. Because a lot of blood, sweat, and tears go into every issue. We have photographers that are turning in beautiful work, we have writers that are turning in very well-researched stories. I do my own writing in the magazine; we have advertisers that are fitting into the pages of the themes. I don’t know if everybody realizes it, but each month we have a theme. So, that’s kind of our starting point when we’re putting together an issue. And I like to think of each issue as a puzzle. And so, for a couple of weeks, I’m frantically trying to put these puzzle pieces together, like what’s going to make sense for this theme? What have we not written about? The magazine has been in business for so long. I always want to make sure we’re not repeating ourselves. And if we’re covering somebody that we’ve covered in the past, make sure there’s a new angle on it. But I mean, really, one of the things I love most about it is all the people I get to meet and all the really incredible stories that I learn about from networking and meeting people through the magazine.

Jeff  
That’s another thing that I can completely relate to. With this podcast, I’ve just had the great privilege and honor of meeting some really, really cool people, some people that I admire and respect a lot and have really accomplished things that I would love to accomplish someday, you know. And it’s been just an amazing byproduct of the production, so I can relate to that. The finished product is amazing, Currents is really just a gorgeous publication, really well thought out, put together, the ads are well designed, the articles, the content is good, it’s really good content. And that’s, you know, I’m a content guy, so I like when I pick up a local magazine, I am always interested to see who has good content and Currents delivers every month.

Renee  
Thank you.

Jeff  
Really well done.

Renee  
We have a really great team, we have a sales team, we have a really great creative director who designs a lot of the ads, as well as the layout of the magazine. So, I really can’t take credit for the way it looks per se, but I can take credit for trying to come up with the best content that we do every month. It really is a team effort. And everybody, every time we’re done with one issue, we’re all just like, oh, we did it.

Jeff  
Now the next one.

Renee  
Exactly. Start planning the next one.

Jeff  
Start all over, yeah. Do you have, I know you work with local freelance writers as well for a lot of the articles. Do you have staff writers also?

Renee  
No, everybody is completely freelance from the photographers to the writers.

Jeff  
We’ve had a freelance photographer on the podcast, Tiffany Ringwald.

Renee  
Yes.

Jeff  
Interior architecture photographer.

Renee  
She’s done a lot of stuff for us. Actually, we featured a lot of her work in some of the home stories.

Jeff  
Yeah, I’ve noticed that and obviously supremely talented. She’s such a great photographer, so shout out to her. And this will probably be like the fifth episode that I’ve recognized her, and we’ll have a link to her website in the show notes. You wrote an article, I forget the details 100%, it’s been a few years, I think 2018. The article or the piece was called The Polaroid. And you won an award for that, I believe. Can you share a little bit about that piece?

Renee  
Yes, that was actually a suspense thriller, short story. But it was inspired by a real-life event. So, it’s really funny, some of the creative pieces that I write, the ones that win awards, and I’ve had a couple, you know, humble brag, or whatever, but I’ve had a couple. The ones that I spend the least amount of time on are the ones that win awards.

Jeff  
Isn’t that funny?

Jeff  
I don’t know why that is. But the way I got the idea for that story was I was reading, it was either I saw a video online, or I was reading an article about this real-life case of this young girl in New Mexico who, in 1988, she went for a bike ride to go meet her boyfriend. And she never arrived. And they never found her. And they never found her bike. But they found her Walkman by the side of the road with the cassette tape that she had been listening to still in it. And so, I started thinking about that, because there was this Polaroid that went around a couple of years after she went missing. And it showed a woman that was bound and gagged, and a young boy in the same situation. And they were both, it was just a very strange picture. Someone found it in the parking lot of a grocery store in Florida. And she went missing in New Mexico. And all these people thought it was her. Her name was Tara Calico. So, I just started thinking one day, what if, what if someone was kidnapped and they were still alive? And this Polaroid was floating around, and they heard about the Polaroid, would that encourage them to escape their situation if they knew that people were still looking for them? And so, that was the story that I just sat down, and it just sort of came out in one sitting of an escape of a girl and a young boy who had been kidnapped and held in captivity for several years. And I submitted it to the Writer’s Digest. They have an annual writing competition where you can enter short stories, essays, TV scripts, poetry, and I entered it and thought, we’ll see what happens. And then I got an email that I won first place in the category. I was shocked. And it came with a nice cash prize too I will tell you that.

Jeff  
Did it, excellent. well, good. Yeah, that’s amazing. I’m an amateur writer, but I love writing. So, I was looking forward to learning a little bit of the backstory about that piece. So, I’m obsessed with word count lately, because of all the blog articles I’ve been writing, how many words were in that?

Renee  
That was pretty short. I would say it was maybe 3500.

Jeff  
Okay, so fairly short and you wrote it in one sitting? Wow, just sat down and it just flowed, right?

Renee  
Right.

Jeff  
Yeah, that’s awesome.

Renee  
Yeah, it was crazy. It doesn’t always happen that way. I’ve had a couple that were like that. And I don’t know.

Jeff  
Isn’t that funny though, that the ones that you can sit down and just hammer out in one sitting in a few hours, are the ones that come out so perfect. And then the writing that we spend so much time, coming back to and editing or grinding over is never as good as the writing that just, that just flows out so quickly.

Renee  
Yeah, exactly. The next, the following year after The Polaroid one, I was like, I’m gonna do this again. So, I wrote another short story called The Monster in the Woods. And it was based on another real-life case of these three Girl Scouts that were murdered at a camp in the 1970s. And I worked really hard on that one, I had people critique it, I went back and revised it, I had everybody, I was like, should this go in horror category? Or should it go in thriller? My friends were like, they were split on what it should be entered in. And I went ahead and entered it in the thriller category, and it did nothing. And I was like, I spent weeks on that story, critiquing it, revising it, editing it, and nothing? Oh well, I thought it was, I actually thought it was better than The Polaroid.

Jeff  
Well, speaking of both, so both of those pieces kind of revolved around or were inspired by true crime. Which leads me to the next topic, you are also a podcaster. And I’m not 100% sure, I have to go back and look, but I think you’re the first fellow podcaster I’ve had as a guest on this podcast. So, share with the listeners a little bit about the podcast that you produce.

Renee  
My podcast is called Missing in the Carolinas. And it came about because I was completely obsessed with podcasting several years ago, especially True Crime podcasts. So, I started listening to a whole bunch of them. And of course, like I mentioned earlier, as I would be out on these walks or these runs listening to these podcasts, I would think to myself, I wonder if I could do this? And if I could do this, what would it look like? What would the format look like? Where would I find the cases? What would it be called? And because I have this experience in creating content, you know there has to be some sort of angle. And that’s how I eventually just sort of, I got a notebook and I just started brainstorming what it would look like. And I thought, if I could center it around North and South Carolina, I know there are plenty of things I could talk about. And I enjoy the research part of it. And I enjoy the writing part of it. So, let me just see what happens. And then when the pandemic hit, I had all this time on my hands, and I just started cranking out episodes and scripts.

Jeff  
How many episodes are you up to now?

Renee  
I think I’m up to 27, because I do it by myself. I have a teenage daughter that helps me with sound editing, thank goodness, cuz I’m not good at that part of it. But I do all the writing and research and recording myself, the producing part of it, and I’ve taken a little bit of a hiatus the summer just to try to get caught up. I want to sort of bank some episodes before I go back, because you know how hard it is to get, to do a full-time job and try to do that. Because I’m not at a point yet where I have any sort of paying sponsors, but I do want to get to that point. So, I want to make sure it’s the best product that I can put out.

Jeff  
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah, and we’re not at that point, either. But I can relate. And that is the goal, eventually. But I can also relate to how difficult it is to, you know, produce that content consistently, week after week. This is a weekly podcast, and I usually have a bank of three or four episodes ready to go ahead of time. But occasionally, I found myself in that position where I’ve published an episode and I don’t have one for the next week all ready, you know, already recorded or even booked. So, it’s a scramble and so I’ve had to skip a week here or there, not very often. And usually, it comes back, and I’ll have too many. So, I’ll publish two in a week or something like that. But yeah, it’s a challenge, especially when you have full-time commitments elsewhere, to keep this production kind of fully 100% organized, you know, so that’s cool. And it’s called Missing in the Carolinas?

Renee  
Yes.

Jeff  
I will give it a listen. The true crime genre is huge in podcasting. I think three of the 10 most listened to podcasts in the world are true crime, if not more. Do you have some true crime podcasts that you love to listen to?

Renee  
Of course, there’s one called The Vanished that I really like.

Jeff  
Vanished?

Renee  
The Vanished. And that just focuses on missing people from all over. I think they’ve covered Canada, but they’re mostly in the United States. A lot of them are people in the Washington, Oregon area, which is really interesting. There’s another one called The Minds of Madness, and that is based out of Canada. But I actually got really excited when they started following the Missing in the Carolinas Instagram page. And they’ve left comments on it before, I’m sort of fangirling over that. I actually was listening to one recently called Unraveled. And that is sort of a deep dive into this man who was a cyber stalker, he cyberstalked hundreds and hundreds of people. And it talks about how there were no regulations, there were no laws in place up until recently that prevented him from being prosecuted for what he was doing.

Jeff  
Oh, wow.

Renee  
Because it was more like just online bullying, but it was severe online bullying, where people lost their jobs over it, so that’s been a really interesting one to look at that side of things. And I think discovery+ is the one that put that one out.

Jeff  
Oh, that’s cool. I’ll also check out, will follow true crime, or Missing in the Carolinas on Instagram as well.

Renee  
Thank you.

Jeff  
Yeah, I didn’t realize you had an Instagram account. So, I will check that out. I’m not a listener of the true crime genre, I don’t do well with that kind of material, but it is hugely popular. Members of my family would love that, you know, would love following those. But I will give Missing in the Carolinas a listen and follow you on Instagram.

Renee  
The craziest thing about the podcast is that, well, when I first started out, I thought I was just going to do straight up missing people. But then as I started working on it, I would develop a theme for each episode, like for example, one of them is called Missing Runners in North Carolina.

Jeff  
Wow, that’s cool.

Renee  
And I covered a runner who went missing in Asheville actually, around the time that I lived there, in the Bent Creek area. But she was actually found, murdered. But I thought, I can talk about people that are still missing and people that aren’t missing anymore, because at one point they were missing. And it gives me more content and more leeway if I can talk about the stories, because what people are really interested in are the psychological aspects of how these crimes happen, or how people go missing. So, I tweaked the content as I went along. But the thing that’s been most exciting is when a friend will call me and say, I was talking to some people about true crime podcasts, and they told me they really liked this one called Missing in the Carolinas, and they’ve been like bingeing it. Or one of my daughters was with some of her runner friends, and one of them said, my dad and I have been listening to this podcast, and they did this episode about missing runners. And she was like, that’s the podcast I help my mom with.

Jeff  
Well, for the record, I said, that’s cool that you develop themes for some of your episodes, it’s not cool that there are missing runners, just for the record.

Renee  
There shouldn’t be that many things to write about unfortunately, but there are.

Jeff  
I mean that’s creative, that’s a really good idea to kind of have themes.

Renee  
It goes back to my magazine background I think, you always have to have an angle or a story angle, and I think that’s what has made the scripts that I’ve worked on, unfortunately, they’re so time consuming, because I sort of backed myself into them. Like, I’ll come up with a couple of names, and then I have to do all this research, and then I’ll find something else. Next thing I know, it’s been two weeks, and I’m still writing this one script, but I’m like, it’s gonna be so good when it’s done. There was another one I did, called Missing Real Estate Agents in North Carolina, and I did not even know until I started working on that one that a woman in Mooresville went missing, and was never found. This was in the 80s. She went to go show a house to a man that no one knew who he was. She was never found, but a man was actually put in prison for her murder. She was assumed murdered. I had no idea this had happened until I started working on this episode.

Jeff  
That happened, what, a year or two ago in the Midwest, there was a really big case.

Renee  
Actually, I think it was Alabama, it was somewhere in the south.

Jeff  
Okay. Okay.

Renee  
Well, there have been a couple. People get lured.

Jeff  
Yeah. And off topic, or kind of on topic, but a little bit of a digression here. The realtors face a lot of risk when they’re, like when you think about it, when they’re showing a house by themselves, and it can be a precarious situation. You know, it can be risky, unfortunately. So, my partner in this, in The Best of LKN publication, this production, he’s a lifelong web developer, graphic designer, does all the smart stuff for me in the background, and he’s always saying, everything’s content, everything’s content. And unfortunately, there’s no shortage of true crime content. Right?

Renee  
That’s true.

Jeff  
Yeah. But also at the same time, so interesting. One other question, I’m going to circle back to the creative writing, the copywriting topic. Any advice? I’m asking for a friend, any advice for aspiring writers, either when it comes to methodology processes, or just stimulating those creative abilities, any advice there?

Renee  
Well, I only recently started using the whole post-it note method, which my husband has been doing for years. So, when he saw me doing it, he was like, I’ve been telling you to do this for years and now you’re doing it. Finally, I brought you over to the dark side. But for example, for like my podcast, I have an entire wall where I will just write down people’s names and maybe where they went missing from, and something, some angle of their story. And I ended up putting them all into different sections. And that has helped me plan out episodes for the podcast. And I have a similar thing when I’m doing the magazine content. I have a theme, I have each department, and then I just start filling in those puzzle pieces. But other than that, you just have to read and consume. I think reading and consuming is going to stimulate that creativity more than anything. And some people may argue with me about that. But if it weren’t for the things that I’ve read and listened to, I wouldn’t have done some of the things I’ve done.

Jeff  
Draw a lot of your inspiration from content that you’ve consumed, whether you’re reading or listening to podcasts, it makes total sense. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the inspiration for this podcast was the years of listening to other podcasts in sort of the same space. But you know, in other parts of the country.

Renee  
But you saw an opening, you saw a hole, didn’t you?

Jeff  
Yeah, I definitely saw, you know, my first podcast, which I still produce, is called The Best of Charlotte, started out small business journeys, it was really broad in scope, too broad. And I just noticed, I started this, you know, in March or April of 2020, when businesses were forced to shut down temporarily. And, you know, we were advised to stay home. And saw a lot of small businesses suffering, there was obviously a lot of fear. And I started this, I’ve said this on the podcast before, but I’ll repeat it really quickly, I just started this personal social media campaign where I would just kind of tag and give shout outs and take a photo of local small businesses that I loved here in the Lake Norman area, and my small business, both of them now, I have two, are based in Cornelius. And so, most of the small business owners that I’m acquainted with are in the Lake Norman area. And then after a few weeks of that, I just realized, this is a podcast, this is the podcast that I should be producing. So, it just came to me and accidentally, but also perfectly at the same time, you know, so yeah, very cool. And then, of course, I got on the radar of Lake Norman Currents, which validates all my efforts.

Renee  
Because I listen to so many podcasts. And also, I think, looking at social media accounts gives you a good idea of content. If you’re looking at what other businesses are putting out there for content, and other influencers in that space, I get a lot of ideas from, and I think that’s how I found your podcast, was somebody was on it that I was connected with. And I thought, hmm, so I listened to a couple episodes and thought we should be talking about what this podcast is doing to help other businesses. It’s a business to help other businesses.

Jeff  
Yeah, exactly. Well, again, I appreciate it. I was extremely flattered and excited about that.

Renee  
I’m always looking for ideas, so send me any you have. I’m not kidding.

Jeff  
I will. I’ll send you links to a few of our episodes when I think I’ve got a really good topic for you. Yeah, for sure. So, we talked about some recommendations for creative writing, and what about any reading recommendations in that same space? And also, I’ll expand that to the question that I always ask my guests and that would be reading recommendations in the areas of like personal development or small business, but if you have any recommendations in the creativity or writing space, that would be really cool, too.

Renee  
You know, I really don’t read a ton in the personal development space. I listen to podcasts in the personal development space, but I don’t really do a ton of reading, but I was looking on my bookshelf at home, and a lot of the books that I was using when I first started out, I still have because I think they had a lot of good information in them. One of them was called the Well-Fed Writer, and it’s by a man named Peter Bowerman. He’s a copywriter, a professional corporate copywriter, and it talks all about how to land your first corporate client, and how to build out a business where you have three or four clients, and you’re earning a six-figure income. And I thought that was really inspirational. I did check and he does have a new edition of it out which, because as you can imagine, some of that information has aged.

Jeff  
Sure.

Renee  
And it looks like he has a new edition out that you can get that has some updated information for more modern-day freelance writers. There’s another one called, there was one called Make a REAL LIVING as a Freelance Writer by a woman named Jenna Glatzer. And that was the book I read when I was first sending pitches to magazines, because she showed examples of good pitch letters, and how to write them and how to attract an editor’s attention. And I think some of them are probably snail mail letters. But obviously, nobody does that anymore, so that was a really good book. And then there’s another book that, this could be for fiction writers, nonfiction writers, people wanting to break into magazines. It’s called The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters by Wendy Burt-Thomas.

Jeff  
What’s a query letter?

Renee  
That is a letter you send an editor to get their attention, if you have an article that you want to write for them. A query letter can also be sent to a literary agent if you’re trying to land representation. So, it’s basically just an interest letter.

Jeff  
So, it’s not the actual content that you’re going to produce. It’s just basically a pitch on a topic, okay, very cool.

Renee  
Usually, it may have one or two paragraphs of your proposed article. But it’s not, if you write an article in its entirety and send it to someone that’s called on spec, which I don’t recommend doing very often, just to protect your work.

Jeff  
Yeah, yeah.

Renee  
You never know.

Jeff  
Yeah, don’t want to give it away, yeah. Well-Fed Writer, that sounds like one that I would really be interested in. Full disclosure, I read my books with my ears for the last couple years. My Audible subscription is one of my favorite things ever. But I’ve also heard that Mecklenburg Public Library also offers an audio-type subscription for library card holders that I think, I’ll have to double check, I think is free. So, for listeners who don’t want to pay, Audible is really reasonable though, I think it’s like 12 bucks a month. And I find myself with a lot of that “found time” either driving or working where I don’t need my ears for anything, you know, so I consume most of my books through Audible, but I will do a search for Well-Fed Writer. I’ll have links to Make a REAL LIVING as a Freelance Writer also and The Writer’s Digest Guide to Query Letters in the show notes, actually, all three of those I think I would be really interested in.

Renee  
Oh, also, I have to throw out a mention to Writer’s Digest Magazine.

Jeff  
Okay.

Renee  
They have a monthly subscription. And I feel like they really have tips for writers of all kinds from all skill levels. They have tips for novelists, they have tips for nonfiction writers, they have tips for copywriters. So, I’ve kind of off and on had a subscription to them for years, which have won a couple of their writing awards before. So, I always, every time I win one, I’m like, I’ve gotta re-up my subscription.

Jeff  
Yeah.

Renee  
So that I’ll be able to have the issue when my name, is in it.

Jeff  
Yeah.

Renee  
That’s another good resource, I feel like.

Jeff  
Writer’s Digest Magazine. Do you happen to know if they have a digital edition too? Or is it all…

Renee  
They do have a website. So, if you don’t want to subscribe, you can definitely find some articles on their website. I think they don’t have all the articles that come in the subscription. But there are definitely things that you can search, narrow your search and find information about so yeah. I’m not sure what the website is, just Writer’s Digest and it’ll pop up. It’s pretty high up in the search engine.

Jeff  
Yeah, I’ll find the link and put in the show notes also. Any other, you mentioned The Vanished, The Minds of Madness, Unraveled. Any other podcast recommendations?

Renee  
There’s one that is an investigative podcast called Your Own Backyard. And that is, an independent podcaster decided to sort of investigate the case of a young woman that went missing in California in 1997 I believe, her name was Kristin Smart. And as a result of his investigative podcast, two people have been arrested on suspicion of her murder.

Jeff  
Wow.

Renee  
And it’s been really great to watch him just sort of develop this, his name is Chris Lambert, he’s out in California. And I saw him posting today another update, so completely independent podcast, he’s done an amazing job. For anyone that’s in that true crime space, I definitely recommend they check that out. Another one, I don’t know, do you know who Amy Porterfield is?

Jeff  
I do. Digital course creator.

Renee  
Right. I listened to her Online Marketing Made Easy podcast all the time. Even though I’m not a digital course creator, I just get so many ideas from her on content creation, and marketing, and building an email list. If you’re in any sort of creative marketing space, I think she has some really good free information in that podcast. I always get really inspired when I listen to her.

Jeff  
She is so talented. She is so smart. And yeah, a great recommendation. I listened to Amy Porterfield all the time because I’ve basically listened to every marketing podcast at one point or another in Apple podcasts. And hers is one that is still in my library that I listen to on a regular basis.

Renee  
And then, you know, she also features those interviews with different entrepreneurs. And it makes me want to create a digital course. I mean, maybe I will one day, but some of the stories that she, it’s a good mix of interviewing people and her own information. So, yeah, you just never get bored. She’s always got really good topics. And now I think she’s writing a book, of course.

Jeff  
Yeah. Well, yeah, that doesn’t surprise me, she should. You’re right though, it is a great mix of solo episodes where she’s, you know, outlining tips or, you know, anything in the space of, like you said, email marketing.

Renee  
How to create a freebie, how to create a lead magnet.

Jeff  
Yeah, just a lot of motivational stuff too. A lot of, I think a lot of potential digital course creators, or small-business owners in general, suffer from the imposter syndrome, you know, and she talks a lot about how she faced that when she started out. And she does, a lot of her material is helpful in overcoming that. But she also does, like you said, she interviews a lot of really amazing entrepreneurs who have found success in just some of the most unlikely ways, like creating digital courses. But yeah, great choice. I’ll have a link to that podcast and her website as well, in the show notes. Excellent. I’m surprised that’s the first time anyone’s recommended Amy Porterfield on the podcast, it’s a great choice.

Renee  
And it’s funny it’s a writer that recommended it. I’ve been listening to that one, that was one of the first ones I started listening to. I don’t know how; I don’t know why I stumbled across that one. But I think I actually started listening to her before I was into all the true crime podcasts.

Jeff  
Really? Yeah. She’s been, her podcast, she’s into several hundred episodes, I forget how many, she’s been doing it for a long time. So, definitely one of the most prolific podcasters certainly in the marketing, digital marketing space for sure. Well, cool. Rene, this has been awesome. Super glad that we were able to catch up and get you on the podcast. I felt like it’s the least I could do. One question that listeners may notice that we skipped is shoutouts to local businesses. Not going to ask you to single anyone out, so we’re gonna skip that one. Currents Magazine has all kinds of shoutouts to local businesses, so I would encourage listeners to pick up Currents Magazine at your next opportunity. I get mine at Harris Teeter in Cornelius. And I think that’ll do it. Renee Roberson, the Editor of Currents Magazine. Rene, thanks a lot for joining the podcast.

Renee  
Thanks so much for having me.

Jeff  
Big thanks to Renee for joining the podcast and thanks to the entire Currents Magazine team for sharing our story with your readers. Friends, you can learn more about Lake Norman Currents Magazine at www.lncurrents.com. Be sure to subscribe to Renee’s podcast, Missing in the Carolinas, on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. I’ll have all the links in the show notes, including links to the other podcasts Renee recommended. As always, you can find the complete show notes to all of our episodes at the home for Lake Norman’s number one small business podcast, www.thebestoflkn.com. While you’re there, please consider signing up for our email newsletter. It’s free, easy, and a great way to keep up with everything we’re doing here at The Best of LKN. Well friends, that will just about do it for Episode 71. Thanks, as always for joining us. And thanks so much for supporting the amazing small-business community we’re so lucky to have around Lake Norman. Next week we’re featuring an entrepreneur that is one of the greatest success stories in our area, and she’s only 21 years old. You won’t want to miss that one. So, until next time, cheers Lake Norman. Bye for now.

Narrator  
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of The Best of LKN. For more information about this podcast, show notes, video episodes, and links to our featured businesses, please visit www.thebestoflkn.com. We publish episodes weekly, so be sure to subscribe and stay up to date. Until next time, cheers Lake Norman.