Storytelling. It’s the buzz-word currently, as organizations from huge corporations to tiny startups realize that the sale is made in the connection to the user.
Storytelling is something that I am fascinated by, and it’s something that is nearly always on my mind, for the last couple of years. I’ve purchased various courses and books on the subject, and it seems in a way, similar to say, dating. There might be guidelines, suggestions, but the real magic happens when you get your hands dirty and find your own methods.
Alex Blumberg is my favorite radio-storyteller that I’ve come across. He’s worked for NPR on various wildly successful programs, and since then created a successful podcast startup, called ‘Gimlet Media’. If you’ve never heard his podcast Startup, I highly recommend that you check it out.
I had the good luck of attending a talk by Alex Blumberg in Brooklyn, NY recently, and I took some notes. I hope that they are helpful. This is mostly about radio interviews, but it can be applied more broadly to storytelling.
I found this post online from a marketer/SEO who took a fledgling mattress startup, and applied some crafty advertising and targeted ads to the tune of helping explode the sales of the startup that he worked for.
Some of my favorite takeaways are that he targeted his competitor’s names in google adwords, and then had a landing page where he compared his product to theirs. This is genius, because he gets to ride their coattails, and when it comes to mattresses, there are a lot of unsure customers, that will obsess over comparisons. (I know, because I was in that spot a few years ago!)
I also liked his affiliate strategy of sending people with big enough audiences a free bed for a review. And I loved the part about not ignoring local PR. This was a great piece of learning, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
For the past year, I’ve been working as a digital marketing consultant for a nonprofit, located in Silicon Valley, California. I visited the office for the first time a few months back, and enjoyed driving past Facebook and Google, and seeing a self-driving Google car around Palo Alto. The future is near, folks.
The nonprofit that I work with is InSTEDD, which was created from a prize-winning TED talk by Larry Brilliant, and the main focus of the nonprofit is to use technology for humanitarian aid.
I must say that working on projects such as bettering digital disease detection in West Africa, environmental mapping in Rio de Janeiro, and UAV/Drone use for humanitarian relief in Southeast Asia is way, way, more interesting to me than working on a website to sell dating website subscriptions, or antivirus software. Is the income as passive? No, it is not, but thankfully the work is engaging, meaningful, and I can still work from home.
I was in Cambodia in the beginning of the year, working with the iLab Southeast Asia, to help them better communicate and tell their story during an important software launch with the CDC Cambodia. My main role was to help script an informational video, and do so while working closely with the communications lead. This was to help build capacity in the film-making area, so that future projects by the iLab could be covered in this way. We are working on the final edits as I type this post. It’s a video project that included clips taken in California, Cambodia, and New York City. The scripting was pretty difficult, as the context of each interview was not the same, however I think we’ve done a great job and I’m looking forward to watching the final edit.
The big benefit of traveling to Southeast Asia for work is being paid to travel. It’s something that I always romanticized. This idea of stepping on the plane, consulting with others in a faraway place, and also having time to enjoy my surroundings. I was lucky enough to be able to make that happen on this trip. I toured Bangkok and Koh Lanta in Thailand for 10 days before I had to work, which helped a lot with my jetlag… and I then toured the temples of Angkor Wat, the beaches of the south, and Saigon, Vietnam, after I had finished my week of work.
I’ve been meaning to watch a movie I heard about recently which features guys like Grant Peelle, Pat Flynn, and others.
It’s all about people who left soul-sucking jobs to pursue their passions. The reason that I enjoyed this documentary is mainly because throughout the course of the film you can piece together the journey that each of these people go through, from frustration, to fear, to just going for it, and the results for each.
I recently purchased a course on developing business videos. I plan on perfecting my craft and becoming a better videographer.
However – I stumbled on the best invoicing app I have ever laid eyes on, and best of all it’s FREE.
There are countless other invoicing apps, and they range from $10-$100+/month depending on your needs.
The site that I use (and they just came out with a mobile app as well) is WAVE.
These guys make the entire process so incredibly easy. You just set up a profile, you can connect payments via Stripe (a PayPal alternative) and then you just create invoices, and send them to your customers through the app.
Your customers can then pay you via their invoice that they receive in the mail.
You also get to see if your customer viewed the invoice or not – and the best part is that when they pay you via Stripe, your invoices change themselves to “PAID”.
The site also lets you send reminders when people are late to pay their invoices, and it gives you a useful overview of your incoming and outgoing funds by the month.
I can’t recommend WAVE enough for it’s incredible invoicing capabilities. As a freelancer, I wouldn’t want to use anything else.
When someone asks you what you do for a living, what’s your answer?
For most of us, it goes something like this:
“I’m a fitness coach, I train people to get into great shape, I make a diet plan for them, and help them achieve the lifestyle and life that they deserve.”
The problem with the above explanation is that this person started with WHAT they do, HOW they do it, and ended with WHY.
I was referred to a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek that drives this point home. I’m reading his book right now “Start With Why” and in this book he explains what separates uber-successful companies and politicians from companies that fail to gain a strong following of believers.
The common thread is that the innovators start with WHY they do instead of with WHAT they do.
Our beliefs are what tie us together. If we can attract people who believe the same ideas and dreams that we do, then our following can grow in this way.
A funny quote Simon said in his speech was that Martin Luther King didn’t say “I have a PLAN.” he started with “I have a DREAM.” It’s an ideal, a belief, a vision.
One of my current goals is to solve this question myself.
What is my WHY?
I encourage you, dear reader, to think about what your WHY is.
For example – Apple starts with their WHY instead of their WHAT. Instead of saying “We build super fast and top-of-the-line computers, we do this with the latest technology and all the best and greatest features, do you want to buy one?”
Apple starts with their WHY, their vision. They say something like “”In everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo and thinking differently. We do this by making our products beautifully designed and simple to use. We just happen to make great computers. Do you want to buy one?”
Currently, I write in this blog because I challenge the idea that people are forced to accept to live a normal 9-5 routine, I believe that people can use clever tools and tricks online to live fruitfully, with a job-replacing income. I spend dollars and days of my life finding the most useful tactics for my readers. I want to empower people who think it can’t be done.