How To Tell An Exciting Quest Story About Your Business

These days, it’s common for business owners to talk about how they’re on a journey. For me, journeys are the trips you take in a car or on a train. When entrepreneurs talk about their journey, I reckon what they’re really talking about is a quest.

A quest may involve a journey, but it’s really an adventure with a goal in mind. In stories, a quest involves a hero searching for treasure. Along the way, they discover the value within themselves. Authors writing stories about quests call these stories ‘quest narratives.’

Developing Your Quest Story

You can tell a quest story about your business, where you describe how you set out on the great adventure of starting your own business and the value that you discovered along the way, from the business and inside yourself.

You’d be exploring the reasons why you set up your business, how you set your business up and what happened to you along the way. A few blogs ago, we talked about creating a character sketch for yourself, and if you’ve done one of these, you can draw on it for inspiration to tell your story.

Cream-coloured Scrabble bricks on a white background spell out the word quest. On the top row, the word quest is spelt normally, but on the bottom row it is spelt backwards.  

You can also learn how to tell your quest narrative story on my Bestselling Content Creation Skills for Business course – click here to find out more it.

Starting Your Quest Story

The best stories are simple; they have a beginning, middle and end. You begin writing your quest story by talking about where you were in your life when you decided to start your business.

Were you married or single? Were you finding your job boring and flat? Was the juggle between work and children driving you mad? This will give context for why you started your business, and readers will relate to the situations you found yourself in.

Then talk about the trigger moment or event that led to you starting your business. This could be a lightbulb moment, an idea that came as a flash of inspiration. But maybe there wasn’t a specific moment. Maybe there was a series of small moments, or a slow realisation crept up on you that your life couldn’t stay the way it was, and you decided to take the plunge.

Heart Of the Quest

Now we come to the middle of the quest. This is the heart of the action, when all the drama happens, with all the conflict and tension that keeps us guessing what happens next. As an entrepreneur, you’ll want to be associated with the happy ending rather than the conflict.

So, when you reach the middle of the story, you could take people through the steps you took to make your business happen. It is a good idea though to mention any challenges you face, so you can tell people how you overcome them, and they’ll admire you for your resilience.

A Happy Ending

You’re in business now, so we know your quest had a successful outcome. But you can share what you did to bring you to that happy ending. What ingredient made all the difference to your business success? What improvements did you bring to your life on a practical level, and into the lives of your customers? And above all, how did starting a business benefit you as a person? How did it improve the quality of your and how did it change your view of yourself?

Sharing these kinds of insights can feel a little uncomfortable, so only share what feels right for you. But customers love to feel they’re getting to know the person behind the business, so if you give them a glimpse of who you are and how you arrived at this point in your business quest, they’ll relate to you. They’ll also admire you, and rightly so, because you’re the hero of your own story.

If you’d like to find out more about how to create your own business quest story, you can get in touch on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie

How My Content Creation Course Works

In all my blogs, I’ve been talking about how to use storytelling techniques to create brilliant content. But I thought I’d take a break from that this week and take stock of how my content creation course has evolved since the start of the year. I’ve been having a lovely time delivering my course, which is called Bestselling Content Creation, to committed, dynamic entrepreneurs, and I wanted to share that. But I also wanted to give you an idea of how the course works, so you can decide if it would be useful to you in the future.

Content Creation Modules

There are six modules available on the course: storytelling, web content, blog posts, social media posts, video scripts and traditional marketing content. All the participants have done the storytelling module because this is the foundation for all the modules on the course. After that, people pick the modules that are relevant to them.

Photo Description: The words ‘Bestselling Content Creation for Business – Storytelling’ are printed in blue capital letters on a white background, with a blue border.

Web content has been the most popular one, but there’s also been an interest in video scripts and press releases, which would come under traditional marketing content. Most people have chosen two modules, a couple have chosen three, and one person chose to combine two modules to make one. There’s a bundled rate available for taking all six modules, so I hope I’ll soon be able to rise to the challenge of delivering all six modules.

The people who’ve taken up the course are mostly solo entrepreneurs, though in one case I’ve delivered it to two people. So far, the course has been a bit more popular with people who offer services, possibly because service businesses don’t have the luxury of pictures to do some of their selling for them. But there has been interest from businesses selling consumer products as well.

Hands-On Approach to Content Writing

I take a hands-on approach to delivering the course because I believe people learn best by doing. Also, entrepreneurs are pretty time poor, so I help them make the most of their time by getting them to actually write their content. After a PowerPoint Presentation, the participants do writing activities. They then do more writing after the session finishes to put their business story together and I give them feedback to help them bring their story forward.

A lesson I quickly learned is that many people already have content written, so they’ve already begun writing their story. My job as a tutor/facilitator is to help them build on that story. By giving them a chance to work on the content they’ve already created in the session, they can see that the skills I’m showing them are relevant and can be directly applied to their business.

People will have time and space to work on their content in the session, which saves them having to find that space later. And they’ll come away having developed their content further, which is a good result.

People say they’re satisfied with the course modules they’ve done, which I’m pleased about. Long-term, I’m hoping people will find it a lot easier and less time consuming to produce content, and I’m hoping to see beautiful blog posts and snappy social media posts from my clients popping up on my feeds in the near future.

I hope I’ve made you curious about Bestselling Content for Business. If you are and you’d like to get in touch, you’ll find all my details on my nifty digital business card, email, phone, website etc. Click on the link to view my card.

How to Create Memorable Product Descriptions In Your Content

In the glory days before the pandemic, people could walk into your shop or restaurant and sample your goods. They could pick them up, smell them, taste them. If you have a service, people were able to meet you at networking events and go to your presentations. Now we have to do it all online, and that’s why it’s more important than ever to describe your products in a way that speaks to your customers. That’s how you create memorable content.

What you want to do is create a sort of 3D effect with the words you use. You describe your products in a way that makes customers feel almost as if they were picking them up, smelling and tasting them. And you describe your products as if you were sitting across the table from your customers, having a good chat over a cup of coffee.

When authors are describing things, they use vivid language that draws on all of the senses, e not just sight. They use language to describe the worlds they create, so you can lose yourself in it as a reader and feel as if you were in that world yourself. When I deliver my content creation course, I share a technique I call Setting and the Senses, which aims to help people improve their descriptive skills.

Setting and The Senses

The setting in a book is the world where a story happens. For your business, it’s your place of business. Some people are lucky enough to have businesses that are set in beautiful locations. You can certainly put up lovely images of your restaurant, hotel or tourist attraction, but vividly descriptive words will enhance those images and help people feel they’re taking a tour of your world.

This is a forest carpeted with grass, and sun shines through the tall trees. If this is your place of business, you can describe it vividly using all five of your senses. Photo Credit: Anna Healy.

You can describe what people will see when they come to your place of business, but also share the sounds they will hear, the tastes and smell they will experience. With your descriptions, you can help people feel as if they were actually in the forest where you offer forest bathing, or eating a meal in your scenic sea-view restaurant.

Sensual Product Descriptions

If you sell beautiful products like jewellery or food, you can have fun describing these products using all five of your senses. You can describe what your product looks and feels like, but also the sounds, smells and tastes people might associate with your products. For example, your financial products might give people the same feeling of warmth and security they get when they sit by the fire on a winter evening, feeling the heat, smelling the wood and watching the flames leap.

You might say, ‘But I’m producing jewellery. How could I compare it to a food?’ You may not be able to make a direct comparison, but you could write about food your jewellery might make people think of, or imagine what sort of meal people might be eating while they wear your jewellery.

You can also take this approach with a service business that doesn’t have a tangible product. You can create a symbol for your business, an image that customers can see in your mind when they think of your business. When you’re writing your content,

You can then use words that tie in with that reinforcing the image in your customer’s mind. For a coach, that symbol might be a candle, its light guiding people through the darkness of confusion, towards clarity of thought and a life filled with light. And you might use phrases like ‘seeing clearly’ ‘guiding light’ and ‘beating the darkness.’

Describing your products in this playful way can be a lot of fun, and it will bring your products to life for your customers. If you’d like to learn how to tell riveting stories about your products, please get in touch. You’ll find all my details on my nifty digital business card, email, phone, website etc. Click on the link to view  my card.

Three Questions That Lead to Brilliant Content

I think we’re all agreed that why is the most important question you can ask yourself as an entrepreneur. It’s the question that inspires you as a business, and as I explained in my last blog post, it’s the cornerstone of brilliant marketing content. But there are three other important questions to ask yourself that will help you understand yourself and to create content that speaks to your customers. These questions are what, who and how.

What do you offer?

It’s important to be able to tell people what you do. We get asked that question a lot, even in social settings. But it’s not just about what you do in general, but what you do for customers. Identify the goal you want to achieve for customers and tell people what that goal is. Don’t just assume they’ll know. For example, you could say you’re an accountant. But wouldn’t it be a lot more interesting if you tell people, ‘I can solve your money problems,’ or ‘I can make numbers work for you.’ When you’re creating content, use your what to show people what you can do to make their lives better.





This is an animated infographic with the words What and When printed on it in 3D capital letters. To the left, there’s a question mark, and to the right, there’s a drawing of a man with a  speech bubble coming out of his mouth, but no words on it. On the far right is a signpost pointing in two directions.. Image credit: Finola Howard.

The What question can also cover what you value. In your content, you can talk about the values that are important to you in running your business and how these translate into great service for your customers. Write a list of the values that most matter to you and brainstorm about how you bring those values into your business. For example, creativity is important to me, so in my content, I tell people how I bring out their own hidden creativity through my training. Through your content, you can demonstrate to people that you run your business according to clear principles and that you know what you’re about. And people will be impressed by this.

We explore these what, how and who questions in my content training course for business – take a look.

Next Question: Who

Who will benefit most from what you offer? Of course you’re going to say everybody, but there’s usually one group of people who’ll benefit more than others. Or there may be different groups of people who will benefit from different products that you offer. So, it can be helpful to have a broad brush-stroke idea of who they are. You can keep those people in mind when you’re writing your content, and you can write content that shows them you understand them and can help them.

Final Question: How

We all want to be different, and your how will help you show your customers what makes you different. The how question centres on how you deliver your service. How do you go the extra mile to deliver brilliant products to your customers? How do you personalise your customer service with little extra touches? It’s a great question to consider if you’re in a very crowded business field, like coaching, or you have to follow a set process to deliver your service, like a solicitor or accountant. You can create content that tells people about the free consultation sessions you offer to help them make up their minds, or the ebooks you offer when people sign up to your service.

Your how also centres on how people will feel after they’ve used your service. You may have heard the saying, that we don’t always remember what people do or what they say, but we’ll always remember how they made us feel. Some businesses tap into feelings more than others – people who produce crafts or beautiful food will fill their audiences with delight. But a finance broker can offer people relief and peace of mind knowing that the future is secure for themselves and for their families. Appealing to these feelings we all have is another important way to differentiate ourselves from the others in our market.

What questions do you ask yourself about your business? Send me an email on derbhile@writewordseditorial.ie and we can explore them together.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

Your Why: The Cornerstone of Your Content

In my last blog post, I showed you how to create a character sketch for your customers to help you understand them better. better. This week, I’ll show you how to create a character sketch for yourself so you can understand yourself better, what inspires you in your business. For this character sketch, you’ll ask yourself four questions. We’ll deal with the who, what and how questions in the next blog post, but we’ll start with why.

This is a picture of the cover of the book Start With Why. The words Start With Why are written in bright red uppercase letters on a white background. Copyright, Simon Sinek

This is a picture of the cover of Start With Why, a well known business book that inspires you to find your motivation.

Start With Why is actually the name of a well-known business book by Simon Sinek, who argues that knowing why you’re in business is the foundation for your success. It’s the spark of inspiration that gets you up in the morning and keeps you going on grey days when nothing is happening. It’s your purpose. It’s what gives you meaning in your life. It’s the reason you’re doing all this hard work in the first place.

Resonating With Customers

There are two powerful aspects to your why that will resonate with your customers – the good you do for the world and the good you do for yourself. It’s true that we set up in business to make money, but truly successful businesses do good for the world. It doesn’t have to be world peace. You can make people’s lives better in all kinds of small but valuable ways.

This week, I heard a presentation from a solicitor. The role of a solicitor is seen as a traditional one, one that follows well established practices. And most solicitors will offer similar services. But this solicitor electrified the group – because of her why. Maria O’Donovan is a family law solicitor who puts empathy for her clients at the heart of her practise.

Maria’s mission is to lighten the emotional burden that clients feel when they’re in difficult family situations, so that they’re ready for the legal battles that lie ahead. That’s a powerful why. She even keeps a list of counsellors at hand that she can refer her clients to if they need it, which shows that she’s breaking the mould.

If you want to create a compelling why statement yourself, you can sign up to my content training course.

What Motivates You

It may seem a little selfish to talk about the good you’re doing for yourself, but your customers will be interested in the human being behind your products. You can share the passion that led you to set up your business or your interest in coming up with innovative solutions to people. Maria O’Donovan chose to specialise in family law because personal experiences in her own life gave her a unique understanding of what her clients faced. That will resonate with people who need to find solutions to complex family issues. They’ll identify with her and trust that she can help them through their difficulties.

So, what do you do with this why when you’ve identified it? You turn it into a mission statement for your business. In that mission statement, you set out the goals you want to achieve for your customers and the values that you want to live by. The values are the things that give your life meaning and purpose. When your mission comes from your heart, it will truly resonate with customers and they’ll be drawn not just to your brand, but to the person behind the brand.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

My Adventures in Writing Great Content

As we move towards the end of the year, we start to think about the highs and lows that make up our year. For me, one of the professional highs has been my collaboration with a marketing company called How Great Marketing Works. I’m reviewing their marketing programme with a series of blog posts. And I’ve also created a series of posts about how to write great content, called How to Write Great Content.

Strategic Selling

How Great Marketing Works has been created by Finola Howard, whose strategic approach to marketing has shaped my own content-writing strategy. Her whole philosophy is that before you can promote your business, you have to ask yourself some serious questions. You can then use the answers to these questions to help you create a story for your business, and you can then sell to people by telling.

For arty types like me, and I’m sensing many of you who read this blog also fit into this category, the idea of selling makes us really uncomfortable. The How Great Marketing Works approach takes the sting out of selling. If you think of selling in terms of telling a story rather than relentless promotion, it takes the pressure off. And it helps you recognise that you have something valuable to offer, and to find people who will appreciate your creativity and the value of your work.

I created the Five Ws series to help prospective and current users of the How Great Marketing Works programme sell by telling. It’s a series of four blog posts showing people how to write great content. It centres on five central questions we must ask ourselves if we want to write successful content. As these questions all begin with W, I call them the five Ws.

Great Content Image
The five Ws of great content. Image sourced by Finola Howard.

Why: the reason you do what you do in the first place. Remembering this will keep you motivated when your spirits are flagging.

What: We may think we know what we do, but it’s good to pin it down. Think of what you do in terms of how it benefits the people who will buy from you. What is brilliant about your books?

Who: Think of the people who will buy your books. Draw up a profile of them: how old they are, what they like to do in their spare time, what books or articles they like to read.

Where: Identify the best places to reach those people, through social media, websites or offline outlets.

When: How often will you write content? Scheduling your content will ensure you write it consistently and that it won’t fall down the list of priorities.

I then applied the five Ws to the series of four posts. Two of them are available from How Great Marketing Works, and I’ve linked to those. And you can look forward to the other two in the coming weeks.

How to Build a Great Content Writing Strategy: This was an introduction post outlining the five Ws and how to apply them to any content you write.

How to Write Great Media Content: This post shows you how to use the five Ws to create newsworthy press releases that will make journalists sit up and take notice.

How to Write Great Content for Your Website: This post shows you how to fit the five Ws to different pages on your website, so you can get your message across in your web content.

How to Write Blogs That People Will Want to Read: In this post, you’ll use the five Ws to create interesting web content and ensure it reaches the right people at the right time.

I’m delighted Finola Howard has given me this opportunity to write these blog posts. I’ll be clear that this is a professional arrangement, but on a personal level, I’ve found it beneficial. It’s helped me hone my content writing and selling bills, and also more aware of how I run my business. It’s helped me become more professional in my approach to my work. 

Three Content-Writing Lessons for Businesses

Last week, I gave a presentation for an organisation called Waterford Chamber Skillnet, which provides courses to help business owners and employees improve their skills. When I looked at their programme, I saw that they didn’t have content creation among their courses, so I approached them and they scheduled me into their programme of social media workshops. I gave the presentation in this beautiful room.

Ship Room Edmund Rice Heritage Centre
I gave my presentation in The Ship Room at the Edmund Rice Heritage Centre. Photo Credit: Edmund Rice Centre Website.

Writing content is essential to a lot of jobs, particularly marketing and communication ones. But a lot of people feel they don’t know where to begin. I’m not a writer, they think. What can I say about my company? I wanted to banish those doubts with my presentation, and give them the tools and confidence to figure out what to say and how to say it.

I had a particular focus on social media content, because there’s a lot of buzz around content marketing, and I wanted to equip people with the skills to avail of it. A lot of the people at the presentation were employees, and I hoped the presentation would make it easier for them to do their jobs. For the business owners who are juggling marketing with all their other jobs, I hope to take the hassle out of creating content.

Here are three of the messages that I aimed to get across to the attendees.

Know why you’re writing content

This is fundamental to the success of your content marketing campaign. The fact is, on a busy day at the office, writing content is going to slide down the to-do list. If you know why you’re writing your content, you’ll find time for it. I told the participants that if they’re lucky, they’re doing it because their business or their job is their passion. But as a lot of them were employees, I said that if you can at least see the merits of writing content in fulfilling your role, that was reason enough.

Be Consistent

As I said, time is a challenge, so I told the attendees to create a schedule for their social media posts based on the time they had available. And I said that it didn’t matter if they only blog once a month. The point is that they do it regularly, on a specific day. Then their customers will know when to expect their content. They’ll be a regular presence in their customers’ lives, making it easy for their customers to stay in touch with them, and ultimately to buy.

You’re the Expert

A lot of people feel that because writing is not their forte, they’re not in the best position to write their content. But they’re the ones who are doing their job, day in, day out. That’s what qualifies them to write their content. They don’t need fancy words or an elegant turn of phrase. They just need to tell customers clearly what their customs can do for them. In my presentation, I aimed to give them tips and resources that would help them to do this. Only time will tell whether I’ve succeeded.

As a business owner or employee, do you write your own content? How do you approach it? What do you find difficult about it, and what do you enjoy about it?

Blogging As Myself

When I write blog posts for businesses, I am usually a ghost writer. I keep myself hidden and I write as the business. I refer to we and us and I use the name of the business. I just see myself as the facilitator of the business owner’s vision, flair and commitment to delivering great service. My role is just to give shape to their ideas.

But recently, I was asked to write a series of blog posts as myself. It’s for a marketing programme called How Great Marketing Works, and the creator of the programme felt that the blog posts would have the ring of truth if I went through the programme and reported on my experience. The programme involves a small fee, but I am doing a free version, in the hope that my words will persuade others of the value of the programme.

question-marks
Editors ask questions to make sure they’re the right fit for you.

Step By Step

The programme is a bite-sized marketing programme, which means that all the information is broken down into easily digestible chunks. I take a similarly step-by-step approach with the blog posts, showing people how doing each module of the programme will improve the business.

I outline the problem the module helps people to solve, and the lessons people can learn. I finish by telling them how the module will benefit their business. As I’m doing the module at the same time as I write the blog posts, I’ve experienced the benefits myself, so I believe I’m giving people accurate information about how well the modules work.

Doing My Homework

Each module comes with a video, so I gather information for the posts by watching the videos and typing notes based on what I hear. If I need to go back over anything, the scripts of the videos are also included. Each module comes with a worksheet, and I complete those worksheets, so that I can tell people what each worksheet helps them to achieve.

Length of Posts

There’s a school of thought that longer blog posts are actually better, because they give search engines like Google more information to work with. In general, they give more in-depth information to readers and give you a chance to show off your expertise.

For this project, I’ve been asked to write posts of 800-1,000 words in length., about the size of a feature article in a newspaper. To prevent readers from getting bored, I use short paragraphs and short sentences, so people will have reached the end before they know it.

Lessons Learned

I can honestly say that this blogging project will be a learning experience for me. I help people communicate through words, but selling yourself is about a lot more than that. Us artistic types can be pretty crap at selling ourselves, so it will be handy to gain nuggets of marketing knowledge while I write.

Also, Finola Howard, who originated the programme, is brilliant at social media, and is on top of all the latest trends. Working with her will beef up my own social media knowledge.

When you’re writing blog posts for other people, do you ghost write them or do you write them as yourself?

Three Ingredients of Blogging Success

Workshop season is rolling along, and I’m enjoying all the hustle and bustle. The next stop on the workshop express train is Dungarvan, where I’ll be delivering a content creation workshop for small businesses. The workshop will equip people with the tools to put together their own blogs and social media posts. During the workshop, which will take place on Tuesday 20 September at Dungarvan Enterprise Centre, participants will come up with a plan for their blog and social media posts. They’ll also have a chance to draft up their first posts.

From working with businesses in the past, I’ve come to realise that before they ever write a blog post, three ingredients need to be in place. These ingredients will make it a lot easier for businesses to succeed with their blogs in the long term. During the workshop, I will be helping participants put those ingredients in place, so they’ll be motivated to succeed with their blogs.  

content-creation
Ingredients of successful content creation

1.      Know Why You’re Blogging

Don’t blog because your web designer told you it was a good idea, or because other businesses are doing it. Define for yourself why you feel it’s important for you to blog. If you’re passionate about your business, blogging gives you a chance to share that passion with a wider audience. If you value your customer relationships, blogging gives you a chance to deepen those relationships by talking to customers directly. And if reputation is important to you, blogging will help you build your brand and establish yourself as a trusted source of information for your customers.

2.      Be Willing to Invest Time

The great thing for small business owners is that blogging and social media are free to use. But you will still need to invest your time, and this can be in short supply for small business owners. You need to sit down and think about how much time you have available for your blog, how frequently you want to post and how long you want the posts to be. If you set a defined period of time aside each week for your blog, you’re more likely to keep blogging. If you really don’t have time, find someone in your business or your family circle who does.

3.      Trust You’re the Expert

Another stumbling block to blogging success is confidence. You may feel you’ve nothing to say, or that you’re out of practise with writing. But you own the business. Nobody knows the business better than you, so no-one else is better qualified to blog about it than you. If the thought of writing intimidates you, keep it simple. Just write about the day-to-day happenings of your business and write as you speak. If you’re really stuck for words, base your blog posts on pictures. People love pictures, and they make your posts more visible.

What are your secrets of business blogging success? Why do you blog? And how do you find time for it in your busy day?

Three Topics for Your Business Blog

Recently, a business owner came to me to ask for some inspiration for a blog she was starting. Her web developers had told her a blog would be a good idea, but she found the idea quite daunting. ‘I’m not a writer,’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t have a clue what to say.’ I could see why her web developers had suggested a blog. Fresh content on a blog linked to your website makes it more visible on search engines. It also gives you a chance to build up relationships with customers.

Blogging - lets businesses talk to their customers.
Blogging – lets businesses talk to their customers.

That’s why blogging is worth the time investment for business owners, especially those with small businesses which don’t have a big advertising budget. Your blog gives you room to talk to your customers, to tell them about the business you’ve spent so much time building up and what that business can do for them.

Here are a few ideas for things to say in your blog.

Give Helpful Advice

Some people set up businesses based on an area of expertise they have. In your blog, you can share that expertise with your customers by giving them advice that will improve their lives or make their lives easier. If you’re an insurance broker, you can show people how to read the small print in their insurance policy. If you’re a cheese maker, you can give serving suggestions for your cheese. You’re giving customers valuable information and they’ll trust more in your ability to deliver for them.

Share the Latest News

Your blog is a good place to talk about the latest happenings in your business and your customers will enjoy getting a behind the scenes look at how your business works. Talk about the process you use for making your cheese or for helping clients choose an insurance policy. If you’re involved with an event like an awards ceremony or a fashion shoot, take the customer through the day step by step. This gives you another chance to show your business at its best.

Showcase Services

In your blog, you can show your customers how your products and services work and how they can make the best use of them. Write posts that focus on particular services you’d like your customers to know about and explain how using it will benefit them. This is a particularly good way to promote new products and services or ones that are a little more unusual. Customers will appreciate the idea that they’re being given insider tips, particularly if you can show them ways to get value for money from your products and services.

If you’re in business, what do you blog about? And how does that blog benefit your business?