June 25, 2019
Note From Rochelle
Tonight, I’ll be launching my the paperback edition of my book Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity at Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee. If you’re a Milwaukee area resident, stop by at 7:00 PM! I’ll be in conversation with my friend and fellow author Jeanette Hurt.
Today’s post comes from my friend and fellow coach Margaret Rode, author of Storytelling for Small Business: Creating and Growing An Authentic Business Through the Power of Story. Read it: it will help you develop ideas for your next year of blog and social media posts!
Storytelling for the Storyteller: Nine Stories to Tell about Yourself on Your Website and Social Media
by Margaret Rode
When it comes to using the web to attract and engage new readers, many writers can freeze up like a deer in headlights. There are so many gurus, so many strategies and tactics, and so many workshops and courses, it’s hard to know where to start.
The good news? As writers, we have an unfair advantage. We already have the best tool for the job right in our toolbox: It’s storytelling.
That storytelling is one of the most powerful forces on earth is not something I need to tell most authors and content creators. Story catches a reader’s attention, draws them in, and captures their imagination better than all the data, charts and graphs in the world ever could. Here are nine ways you can incorporate storytelling into your existing website and social media that will bring both you and your work to life for readers:
Where did you—and your writing specialty— come from? Tell your “origin story”
What brought you here? Can you craft a concise story about the road that carried you to this point in your writing life? I’ve yet to meet an author whose path to her current work was a straight line. There are almost always false starts, plot twists and seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Bring yourself to life by telling us how you got here.
Why did you choose writing? Why does it call to you?
We live in a world where there’s seemingly endless freedom of choice about what we want to do with our lives. We’re out of the dark ages; no longer are we ridiculed for “following our passions”—we follow them and their energy, and often it leads us to our real vocation. So why did you choose this? What is it about the writing life that drew you in?
Your bigger “why”
Slightly different from the above, this tells us more about what sort of change you’re hoping to create for people through your writing. What’s important to you? Readers love to find out that we’re not just trading time for book royalties. Paint them a picture of how you see the new, better story you’re hoping for, for them or for the world.
Your natural habitat
In our visual world, you’re not “real” until people can see you. And haven’t we all seen enough staged studio headshots to last us the rest of our lives? Show us your humanity, your community, and your world. Show us you in your workspace (even if it’s just a great coffee shop), your dog, your sense of humor, the place where you find your wildest inspiration. Show us You.
Your readers: A love story
I have a treasured photo I received from a reader in response to my book Storytelling for Small Business. With a thank you note, the head of a nonprofit organization had emailed me a picture of my book on her desk, virtually exploding with post-it notes and page markers to bring her back to things that hit home for her. Of course, I shared that far and wide…along with a glowing description of the great work she’s doing. If you see a chance to tell us about your readers, take it. Making them real for us adds a sense of being part of a greater whole, a community.
Have you made mistakes? Are you imperfect? Congratulations!
It’s strange and counterintuitive, but we trust people more when they show us they’re mortal. If someone is glossy and perfect and has never taken a misstep in her life, how can she possibly understand us, with our cluttered desktop and our chipped coffee mug? Where have you tripped, stood back up, dusted yourself off? What’s a story about how your work is better for having failed and bounced back?
Stories of collaboration and partnership
Who are the other smart, compassionate people in your life? Who has inspired you? Do you love your illustrator, editor, writing coach or mentor? You might tell a story about something surprising you learned from another writer/professional, and how it ended up benefitting you both. Or one in which you cooperated or collaborated to help solve a sticky problem, and gave one another credit. We are part of something bigger, where people help each other; don’t be afraid to talk about it.
What helpers are you helping?
The media is bursting with stories of conflict, anger, and fear. It seems harder and harder just to sidestep the poison some days. People are anxious to hear good stories. Show us how you help the helpers.* Tell us about your volunteerism, charitable giving, or involvement in meaningful causes. Show us another dimension of your character and values. Good people like to support, buy from, and talk up other good people.
*Remember the helpers?: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ ” —Fred Rogers, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
What makes you … you? What do you do? Not do?
Become three-dimensional by sharing how you feel about the world you inhabit. If you couldn’t survive without a certain morning ritual, tell us. If you find ways to stubbornly maintain balance between work and family, tell us that. If you get your best ideas from going to see strange museum exhibits, mid-day movies, or long looping drives to nowhere, awesome. Show yourself as the smart, interesting, approachable person you are.
These stories don’t have to require thousand-word Facebook posts or an overhaul of your website. They can be a mix of long and short snippets, a tweaking of your LinkedIn profile, the occasional photo, a fresh look at your About the Author page.
Just staying open to these kinds of stories, and watchful for opportunities to share them, can help readers to know you, trust you, follow you, and share your work with others.
About the Author
Margaret Rode is a writer, consultant, and tech sherpa to small businesses and thoughtful, compassionate self-employed folks trying to create some good in the world with their work. She’s been helping people learn new skills, save money and avoid brain damage for over 20 years by teaching them to use online marketing tools wisely and well. She lives in Colorado with her husband and her strange little dog. Learn about unique services for creative people, bite-sized coaching sessions, and upcoming workshops through her website at https://MargaretRode.com