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How To Write Stories About Your Business

You’ve heard it once. You’ve heard it a million times. You’ve got to tell stories. 
And now Forbes is forecasting that “great storytelling” and “less reliance on data” will shape the marketing futures for small businesses this year. 
So. You’re on board. You've accepted that storytelling can help you grow your business and reach your ideal customers. And you're ready to dive in. But there’s just one problem: when it comes to your business, where do great stories come from? And which stories should you tell? 

Stories are All Around Us  

The truth is stories are everywhere. In fact, this is the very worldview professional storytellers hold and use to find stories worth sharing. 
Margot Leitman, the author of Long Story Short and Moth Grand Slam Champion, believes the problem with finding good stories originates from our actions and our awareness. Leitman argues that as we age we...
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Create an Atomic Writing Habit

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book but never made it past the first few pages, this article is for you. It's also for you if you write for work but often procrastinate. And this message is for you, if you think writing might help provide meaning and clarity to your life. In other words, when it comes to writing, this article is for the avoiders, the procrastinators, and the dreamers of the world. 
In James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, he explores how simple changes can create profound impact in our lives. The problem, as Clear sees it, is our ambition causes us to shoot for the stars. 
A simple way of understanding Clear's premise is to consider a common goal like wanting to drink more water. Even though you're starting out with an average of drinking less than two glasses per day, you set your mark at 60 ounces of water. Every day.
When you fail, you have all sorts of reasons why it didn’t work—you just don’t like...
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How to Turn a Website Visitor into a Paying Customer

Prospective customers who really like you, admire your work, and need your product or service may never call you. 
Is it something you said? 
Something you didn’t say? 
The messaging on your website should direct prospects to start a conversation with you. You can accomplish this through your headlines, subheadings, and by including call-to-action buttons on your website. In fact, current research in web design has found the top right corner of your website to be premium real estate. Research recommends adding a call-to-action button there because it’s a natural resting place for the viewer's eyes. 
But even with better messaging and call-to-action buttons these same people may never get in touch. 
Because they’re busy. They looked around on your site, got interrupted, went back to work, hopped in the carpool, or a million other ordinary things that happen to us on a...
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Where Do All the Lost Words Go?

Linguists tell us that language comes from the words people actually use. And while my Southern English teachers scolded us for any sentences that included ‘ain’t’—they seemed to ignore the reality that the word itself could be found in Webster’s. But as new words enter the language and with only so much space in a dictionary, what happens to the words we use less? 
In Brain Pickings article “The Lost Words,” we learn the disheartening news that recent additions to the English language, including modern terms like broadband and cut n paste, have contributed to the loss of a multitude of words that describe nature. Lovely words like fern and starling no longer appear in the pages of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary, and despite complaints from writers and parents, no changes have been accepted. 
If we’ve learned something from our shared history of the world, it’s that there’s more than one way...
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Does Your Website Pass the 15-second rule?

According to industry experts, people spend roughly 15 seconds on your website before they decide to stay or leave. Some of them, never to return. 
For the ones that walk away, yet still identify as your target audience, what makes them leave? 
In the StoryBrand framework, Donald Miller teaches the value of your customer locating themselves inside the story. In his book, Building a StoryBrand, he not only teaches the framework but gives you what he calls a Brandscript to help you rewrite your business’s story from about you and what you offer to a story about your customer and their problem
In other words, many people—including your ideal customers—are leaving your site because they don’t hear themselves reflected in the story you’re telling. 
Knowing your business story, or what I call your Brand Story, isn’t just something business geeks talk about. And that's a good thing. Because...
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How to Find Meaning in a Detour [A New Year's Story]

On New Years Eve morning, I write to you from the DMV.

Because amidst plans and visions for the future, I am here to re-do something.

I’m here getting my driver’s license because I’ve managed on the cusp of 2020, for the first time in my life, to completely lose my purse.

Amidst tearing my home and car apart, checking my bank and credit card accounts for unusual activity [none], even searching the yard where Jack the dog likes to hide things [he once hid my running shoes], asking the older boys to “look everywhere!”, checking the refrigerator, the recycles, my running partner’s car [even her other car that we didn’t use], my head game was not good.

I reviewed the unfairness, the great injustice.

Remember the old movies where someone slaps the actress on each cheek while she slowly and dramatically come to her senses?

That was me talking to me.

“No! This will totally upend my life!”

“No! I won’t be able to get my...

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Best Books of 2019

Creating a best book list is a highly subjective activity. According to The New York Times, their process begins in January of the new year, includes anyone who works in their department, and then narrows down to a small group of reviewers.  "One of the great strengths of the Book Review is that we deliberately have a staff of 11 readers who do not have the same taste,” says Pamela Paul the editor of the New York Times Book Review. 
Don't worry. When it comes to my list, there's no team. It's just me and my taste. And since subjectivity is the reigning criterion, what you'll find here is more of a list of favorites rather than what literary critics consider 'best.' That said, I cannot abide crappy writing. And so I suppose there is something that remains from my two degrees in English and the nearly twenty years of teaching university students. 
For my Favorites of 2019, I’ve used two criteria: how much I liked it and why I think you...
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Is Listening to Audiobooks Really Reading?

In my last quarter of undergraduate school, I took a final required class: Applied Linguistics. I had no idea what to expect, but proceeded to have my mind blown. From learning how young children can’t use irregular grammar until they've reach a marked developmental milestone [He 'taked' the ball from me] to discovering that linguists had written some of my favorite books [dictionaries], each class was a marvel.
But when Professor Childs taught us that our brains don’t really “see” the words in our mind when we read, I raised my hand. “Professor,” I said. “I alway see the words." He was a very smart and eccentric man. He’d done research all over the world, even documented languages never before written. And he didn’t mind correcting me that ‘no,' I did not see words when I read. Perhaps I imagined I did, he said, but “we” know that people don’t really “see” letters but identify words as...
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What is Your Business Famous For?

What is your business famous for? 
If your business is new, you might have trouble answering this question. Even established businesses have a hard time naming what makes them unique. 
But what happens if I change the question and ask: 
What do you want to be famous for? 
Elevating your narrative begins by taking control of it. Marketing strategist, Kyle Sexton, reminds businesses, “If you’re not telling your story, someone else is.” 
Taking control of your narrative begins with starting a conversation when they encounter your website. This starts with a strategic homepage but extends to the pages on your site. 
The problem is a lot of businesses aren’t sure what information they should share, so end up offering pages of everything, which causes your prospects to research, scroll, and compare rather than moving them in the direction of buying or working with you. 
You can...
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Does StoryBrand Live Up to the Hype?

business copywriting web Nov 19, 2019

When I first encountered Building a StoryBrand in 2017, I thought of it as “Donald Miller’s new book.” See, I live in Portland, Oregon, where Miller also lived for over a decade and already had many followers. From his faith-based memoirs Blue like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Days (my favorite), Miller’s disarmingly witty straight talk about some of life’s most challenging topics—family, identity, and faith—earned him respect even among secular audiences. 

So when I decided to check out the book and later what turned out to be his then “new” company, I was amazed. As a former English professor and story geek, I soon discovered Miller had managed to take the meta-concepts of story and convert them for business owners.

In other words, Miller figured out how to give business owners—but often non-marketers—simple tools to create more effective marketing. 

Flash forward to 2020, and StoryBrand is a...

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