#ContentWritingChat Recap: Storytelling Tips for Brands in 2019 with Carla Johnson

“Storytelling” is quite the buzzword these days when it comes to brands and creators… But what do you really know about it?

Are you well versed in the art of storytelling? Or could you use some tips to enhance your skills?

If you’re ready to weave powerful storytelling into your brand’s strategy, dive into this recap of #ContentWritingChat for some amazing tips!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Storytelling Tips for Brands in 2019 with Carla Johnson

Our guest host for this month’s chat was Carla Johnson. Carla is a world-renowned keynote speaker and an author. She knows a thing or two about storytelling and had some great advice to share with us during the chat.

Q1: What is storytelling and why is it so important for brands today?

To kick things off, we asked everyone to share their thoughts on what storytelling is why it’s so important. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

Carla said that storytelling is an interactive art that uses words and pictures to convey messages. We use this to help people remember our brands. She went on to say that stories will take you to a completely different place afterwards because of the emotional impact they can have on you.

Stefan feels storytelling is a must because it helps the brand to become known and also more memorable.

Storytelling helps you connect with people, develop relationships, and build community. As Gene said, people will start to build trust with you over time, which ultimately leads to them spending money with you.

Bill said storytelling helps brands connect with their audience on a more personal level. Those connections can lead to conversions.

Storytelling gives an in-depth view of a brand and the message and values they believe in.

Think back to when you were a kid! As Maria pointed out, stories help the words come to life and create a clear picture in our minds. That’s going to stick with your customer for a long time.

Brands can use storytelling to share their purpose, goals, values, message, vision, and unique value to the world. Not only that, stories will humanize a brand, encourage engagement, build trust and leaderships, and create community.

Q2: Why are people so responsive to stories? And how can marketers use that to their advantage?

But what exactly makes stories so effective? And how does a brand take advantage of this? Here’s some advice:

Carla said people respond to stories because it gives their brain a way to create context for information. Data can often be overwhelming, while stories relaxes your audience and builds trust with them.

Gene mentioned that we often have a hard time remembering facts and figures, but we’re wired to remember stories. The key here is to create something memorable for your audience.

Sarah agrees that good stories will always stick with us!

And when it comes to telling stories… Skip the fancy jargon. They need to be understandable and relatable for your target audience, otherwise they’ll tune it out.

Stories keep us engaged and pull us along on a journey. And we always want to see how things end, right?

Stories are more than just sharing information with your audience. It’s about forming a connection.

A good story is going to evoke an emotion for your audience. Get them feeling something!

Ray agrees that it’s all about emotion. Done right, you can make your audience feel something that brings them closer to you.

Stories can also allow us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, which can really tug at your heartstrings.

Q3: Storytelling is great for evoking emotion, but how can you use it to inspire your audience to take action?

So, you’ve got your audience feeling something… Now what? How do you push them to take action? Here’s what you need to know:

Facts aren’t necessarily going to inspire people to take action. It’s the emotion that sparks us to get up and do something about it.

Make sure you are super clear on whoo your audience is. Figure out what they’re struggling with so you can be sure you’re crafting a message that will appeal to them. Otherwise, you’ll fail to get them to take action.

Start with the problem your audience is dealing with and then present the solution that you can provide them with.

Always ask yourself… What’s in it for your audience? You need to be able to show them howl they’ll benefit and how to take the next steps with you.

Make sure your story leaves people wanting to know more, otherwise they’ll never be inspired to take action.

Ray suggests helping your audience to see themselves in the story and direct them to the action they need to take.

Of course, you cannot forget to add a call to action. Be clear! Don’t leave people wondering what to do next.

And while you’re on their minds, continue building that relationship.

Q4: How can you measure the impact of your stories to determine if you’re seeing actual ROI?

As with anything in business, you want to make sure you’re seeing a return on your investment of time and money. Otherwise, something needs to change! Here are some tips on tracking ROI:

Understand the purpose of what you’re creating and this will guide you to the right metrics to track.

As Lexie said, you have to set goals for your storytelling. You need to know what you’re trying to achieve before you get started and then you’ll know what to watch for.

This is the time to get real friendly with your analytics! Make sure you’re tracking things to see how your content performs.

Pay attention to whether or not people are engaging with your content, if you’re seeing more traffic, etc. If not, it’s time to revisit your strategy.

David suggests looking to see how many people are discovering your content, how many are interacting, and whether or not they’re buying from you afterwards.

Check out things like your click-through rate, leads, sales, etc. You’ll also want to look at comments, DMs, and other engagement.

Conversions are always key to measure!

Engagement, clicks, impressions, duration of views… All off these are important! But brand sentiment is equally as crucial.

Conversations are great to track because you want to see that your content gets people talking.

This is a great strategy to follow!

Q5: How can we incorporate storytelling while still remaining true to our overall brand message?

Now, how can we stay true to our brand during this whole process? Check out these tips:

These are great tips that Carla had to share and it all starts with getting clear on your brand’s purpose.

Know who you serve, what your brand stands for, and communicate it through your content.

Bill said it’s not just about what you make, but what you make possible for your audience.

User-generated content can help tell your story while still staying aligned with your brand.

Lexie’s suggestion to create brand guidelines is great because it can keep the whole team on the same page.

One great piece of advice for you: don’t overthink it!

Q6: What are some common mistakes brands make in their storytelling?

These are the mistakes you’ll want to avoid! Are you making any of them?

One big mistake is expecting to see results overnight. This is a long-term game!

Another mistake is telling the story for you, not your audience. This is about them!

Not understanding your audience is a big no-no. How can you expect to create something that resonates if you don’t know what they want?

Don’t just cram any story into your messaging. Everything needs to flow!

Boring stories aren’t cool. Make it interesting to your audience if you want to grab their attention and keep it.

Don’t forget about your overall brand strategy!

Vanity metrics aren’t what you want to watch.

Q7: Which brands are doing a great job at storytelling? Tag them!

These brands are all great examples that you can start learning from.

Carla said Target does a great job with storytelling.

For Gene, he’s all about Lego, Death Wish Coffee, and Warby Parker.

SEMrush, Simon Sinek, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Apple are great examples.

And who doesn’t love Wendy’s sassy online personality they’ve crafted?

Q8: What’s one thing we can do today to improve our storytelling within our brand?

Now, you can’t just consume all of this information and not take action. Today, do at least one thing to improve your storytelling. Here are some suggestions:

Get your employees involved!

Sarah said to spend time getting to know your ideal customer and how you can make their lives easier.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re unsure! It’s the best way to get to know your audience.

Determine your mission, value, vision, and goals.

Pay attention to what people say about your brand. That can shape what you create in the future.

Jessica agrees that it’s so important to listen to your audience.

If you have a team, make sure everyone is on the same page.

Encourage your employees and customers to share their story because it’s powerful and relatable. It brings such a personable element to your brand.

Want to join us for the next #ContentWritingChat? It takes place on the first Tuesday of every month at 10 AM Central! Follow @ExpWriters and @writingchat to stay updated.

E34 write podcast episodic content chris strub

​The Write Podcast, E34: Episodic Content for Better Storytelling, Engagement and Online Results with Chris Strub

How do you create content to make sure people are going to want to come back the next week? Today, I’m bringing in Chris Strub as we talk about how to create episodic content – which is content created in episodes for your audience. Creating content in this format can seriously boost your storytelling power, engagement, and your brand results.

Chris is a writer, keynote speaker, and a live streaming instructor. In fact, he is the first person to livestream on Snapchat in all 50 U.S. states. A millennial who knows his way around social media, Chris is truly leading the space in road trip marketing – a unique path that combines both storytelling and marketing – bringing in the best of both worlds.


This topic is especially relevant because it’s harder than ever to capture attention online with so much crowded content. Ready to stand out from the rest of the crowd? Then listen in and be ready take home some actionable insights!

E34 write podcast episodic content chris strub

The Write Podcast, E34: Episodic Content for Better Storytelling, Engagement and Online Results with Chris Strub Show Notes

  • 03:00 – The Concept Behind Episodic Content. Chris defines episodic content as creating content where you “think like a fan.” Think about the pattern of content you want to create over an extended basis rather than getting caught up in creating viral content. It’s not about creating the best, but thinking about how you can make the next one better again and again.
  • 05:40 – How to Create Episodic Content. Chris outlines a plan on creating content on a daily basis. How do you create a piece that would make people want to come back for that next piece (regardless of format)? Consistency is key.
  • 07:45 – Draw Out the Big Picture First. Identify to your audience what the big picture is. Get them hooked into the big picture – that simple idea. Stories come later. In marketing, what do people identify your brand for? Then how can you branch off from there and create content that fits within that broader scope?
  • 09:02 – From 50 States, 100 Days Guy to the Road Trip Marketing Guy. Chris explains the different ways you can define road trip marketing.
  • 10:40 – Tips for Creating New Content. Chris shares some strategies for creating new content. How do you overcome content fatigue? Hint: Consistency does not equal frequency.
  • 14:00 – Simple is Everything. Your message has to be simple enough that you can actually write it on the back of a business card.
  • 15:05 – Frequency versus Consistency. A lot of people buy frequency on Facebook ads, for example, but most people aren’t seeing your content. What you can’t replace is your consistency. Instead of creating 50 things a week, create one thing a week and re-market that to your audience throughout the week.
  • 17:55 – The Real Struggle in Content Marketing Strategy. Chris explains that the real struggle in content marketing strategy and where you should put your focus is on sitting down and reexamining what that game plan is over the course of a certain period of time. Take the time to take a step back.
  • 19:45 – Batching Content Together. Chris talks about creating pieces in advance and identifying a theme to it so you can easily plug and play episodically with long term strategy in mind.
  • 23:20 – What’s Next for Chris? Check out the Social Media Strategies Summit in Chicago where Chris will be speaking at. Or catch him in Atlanta in May at the Social Shake-Up Show, and more!
  • 24:05 – Chris’ Big Picture. Chris has written two books about his cross-country adventures, and he’s hoping to find a company or multiple companies and do it again! His goal is to be the next generation’s greatest storyteller through his books, his adventures, and working with brands. Think BIG!

Quotes to Tweet

'Too often in social media, we get caught up with trying to create a piece of content that's going to go viral...what's much more valuable is develop a pattern and establish a consistent theme.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'When you're thinking episodically, you really want your audience to want to come back for that next piece.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'When you can identify to your audience what the big picture is, that's really what they really want to know.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'We get caught up in the hyper speed of our newsfeed and we see so many people creating so much that we think we need to accelerate and create more and more.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'Look at what really matters. What drives you? What's your why? What is it on an ongoing basis that makes you want to keep coming back?' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'Your message needs to be so simple that you can write it down on the back of the business card.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'Use the tools intelligently to make sure that you're very best thing is getting in front of the people that you want to consume it.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'You can piece together what your plan is by understanding what success looks like in a certain period of time.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet 'For me, the goal now is to be our generation's greatest storyteller - that includes more books, more adventures, working with more brands.' @chrisstrub Click To Tweet

Links Mentioned

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#ContentWritingChat Recap: Using Storytelling & Other Tactics for Successful Personal Branding in Content Marketing with Tara Clapper

In our latest #ContentWritingChat, we talked all about storytelling and personal branding. If you’re ready to take your personal brand to the next level, this is the chat for you. Keep reading for the recap!

#ContentWritingChat Recap: Using Storytelling & Other Tactics for Successful Personal Branding in Content Marketing

Our guest host this week was one of our own team members, Tara Clapper. Tara is our talented Content Development Specialist. In this chat, she shared some helpful tips on personal branding that you’ll want to put to use for your own brand.

Q1: What is personal branding and who needs to develop their own personal brand?

To kick off the chat, we wanted to hear how our chat participants defined personal branding. We also wanted to know who they felt needs a personal brand. To find out what some of them said, check out these responses:

Tara said your personal brand is an expression of who you are, both online and off. It should also be genuine. There’s no need to be fake, so keep it real and true to yourself. And as she said, everyone needs one!

Great answer from Julia! She said if you’re in marketing or running a business, you have a brand. You need to develop that brand in order to stand out online.

Kristen agrees that everyone has a personal brand and that it’s all about reflecting that brand to the outside world.

Cristy brought up a great point for those who work as part of another company. If you have a public role within that company, you have to be careful about the image you put forth, as it reflects on the company as a whole.

Chris feels anyone who is serious about career development, digital marketing, or who wants an online presence should be focused on personal branding.

Q2: What are the key steps someone should take when developing their personal brand?

Now that you know why personal branding is so important, you need to know what steps to take in order to develop a brand of your very own. Here’s some advice straight from Tuesday’s chat:

Great response from Tara! When developing your personal branding, you need to define your brand, have clear messaging on social media, consistency within your branding, and you should also make it multi-faceted.

Gabriela shared some helpful steps to ensure you effective craft your own personal branding. She recommends the following: define your purpose, discover the value you can provide, develop your voice, and deliver your message consistently.

Julia’s advice is to start by defining what you want to stand for. You should create a mission statement for your brand so you and your audience know exactly what you represent. You can then develop that into slogans and share it on social media. Don’t forget to have a nice logo and color palette to create a great brand image as well.

Kristen knows you can learn a lot from other brands that are already established. Make a list of the brands you look up to and ask yourself why you love them so much. While you don’t want to copy them exactly, you can implement what you love about those brands into the creation of your own.

This tweet is a very important reminder from Cathy. As she said, you need to be authentic in everything you do. Being fake will hurt your brand because people will see right through you.

Q3: What is storytelling and how can brands use it to their advantage?

You’ve likely heard all about storytelling by now, but what exactly is it? And how can brands use storytelling to their advantage? Check out these great tips from the chat:

Tara feels storytelling is the truth and the why behind your brand.

Gabriela said storytelling is using a narrative to give context to your message. She followed that up by saying storytelling can help make your content memorable and relatable while also helping you build trust with your audience. It’s always a great way to communication your brand’s personalty with others.

Storytelling allows you to connect with your audience and take them on a journey with you.

You can tell an effective story through a variety of ways. Tony suggests using video, photos, and written content to take your audience through your story.

As Breonna said, brands can use storytelling as a way to humanize the brand overall and give emotional context to their content. It’s a powerful way to make a connection with your audience.

Mallie knows that people respond to stories, which is why it’s so important to share your story with your audience.

Keira said storytelling puts your product into context for customers. It’s a great way to encourage your customers to be part of your journey and the story you’re telling.

In a time where people are all about automating everything, storytelling helps to show your brand is human.

Q4: How do personal branding and storytelling work hand-in-hand?

Check out these tips from Tuesday’s chat all about making your personal branding and storytelling efforts work together:

Personal branding and storytelling equal innovation in Tara’s book. She feels your natural story will progress like a good character would throughout a book.

Julia knows you can weave your story into every element of your personal branding. Use it in your slogan, your about page, and more.

You can allow your audience to grow alongside your brand as it develops. The story you tell will take them on that journey and make them become loyal fans.

Michelle said your personal brand shows authenticity while storytelling provides a narrative for your product. Together, they’re powerful for growing your brand and building a fanbase.

Storytelling encourages your audience to engage and connect with your brand.

Q5: How can you improve your personal brand using social media?

Social media is just one way you can improve your personal brand and connect with your audience. But how do you do it? We asked this question during Tuesday’s chat and got some great advice in response. Check it out:

Have conversations with others, start conversations yourself, and find your tribe. Make sure you’re engaging with others so you can grow and develop your brand.

Gabriela’s advice is to focus on building your tribe, sharing and consuming great content, showing thought leadership, sharing your USP, and building trust. Make sure you’re also being consistent!

Mallie’s advice is to keep your voice consistent on all platforms. This is essential when working on your personal brand. Don’t be afraid to make tweaks along the way when you’re still in the early phases.

Jeremy said to be yourself on social media. If you aren’t true to who you are, your audience will see right through you. You should also take the time to listen to others and help them in any way you can.

Julia said to make sure you’re engaging with your followers on social media. Use it as a platform to start real conversations and make connections with others. This is key when it comes to personal branding.

Michelle recommends participating in Twitter chats. She knows it’s a great way to connect with others, but can also provide an opportunity to share your expertise. Make sure you’re listening to what others have to say and help them with the issues they’re facing.

Cathy also agrees that participating in Twitter chats is a good idea for your brand.

Q6: How can you craft a personal brand story that builds trust with your audience?

We all know that building trust with your audience is essential. Having a level of trust is key to ultimately making sales and landing clients for those who are running a business. To build trust, here’s what you need to do:

Tara says to credit when necessary, be personal, apologize when you mess up, and be transparent with growth.

Jeremy knows that people need to get to know you and start liking you before they can build trust. You can encourage trust by chatting with your audience and actually listening to what they have to say.

Be a source of information and engage with your audience.

Be yourself! You shouldn’t try to be something you’re not because it’ll only turn off your audience.

Cathy encourages you to be vulnerable and share the real stories even if they aren’t all that pretty. Those are the stories that people can connect with.

Sarah agrees with taking that open and honest approach. She recommends sharing when things go wrong. It’s relatable because we all make mistakes and your audience will appreciate that you’re sharing things like that with them.

Varun’s advice is to be approachable. When people feel like they can reach out to you, it helps to establish trust within your personal branding.

Engage with your audience! Ask questions, answer the questions they have, and don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor when talking to them. It shows you’re real.

Q7: Which content formats are key for best telling your brand story?

There are all kinds of content formats available to us: blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more. Which one is the best way to go? Here are some responses from the chat:

Tara’s advice is to consider how you best express yourself. For her, that includes blogging, podcasting, webinars, and live events.

Sherri agrees that you have to consider what works best for you. Determine your strengths and embrace that.

Pamela loves Snapchat and Instagram Stories as a way to share behind-the-scenes content.

There’s no denying that video is a great way to go! It gives your audience the opportunity to see you and hear your voice.

For Javier, it’s all about that long-form content. We’re big fans of valuable, longer blog posts here at Express Writers as well.

Whatever format you use, you need to bring your audience along on your journey.

Q8: Which personal brands do an amazing job at storytelling?

Who does an amazing job with their personal branding? You’ll want to check these people out:

Tara is a fan of our own CEO, Julia, as well as the actors behind the Marvel characters.

It’s no secret that Gary Vaynerchuk is pretty impressive! Both Julia and Zachary are fans of his.

Sherri thinks Gala Darling does a great job at sharing and connecting with her audience.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Mark your calendars weekly for Tuesday at 10 AM Central Time for great chats centered around content writing and marketing. Follow @ExpWriters to stay updated on our new topics and guests!

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The Write Podcast, E19: From Freelancer to Content Development Specialist- Talking Life, LARPing and Practical Brand Storytelling with Tara Clapper

Listen to “E19 From Freelancer to Content Development Specialist- Talking Life, LARPing and Practical Brand Storytelling with Tara Clapper ” on Spreaker.

Can you believe we’re almost at Episode 20?!

In today’s episode, I sit down with Tara Clapper, the Content Development Specialist here at Express Writers – yes, I have the honor of employing this wonderful woman! Tara has an impressive background in content marketing. She’s the founder and senior editor of The Geek Initiative, a community for women in geek culture, and worked as the Blog Editor at SEMrush before she joined my team last September. Tara knows it all when it comes to creating great content and the industry of content marketing. She’s edited, written hundreds to thousands of articles, hosted webinars, and even Twitter chats, to name a few things.

Today, Tara and I are talking about brand storytelling, and how you can weave the elements of story into your content marketing to create impactful, audience-engaging brand content. (Learn more about Tara’s storytelling process in her recent blog on LARPing!)

express writers write podcast e19

The Write Podcast, Episode 18: From Freelancer to Content Development Specialist- Talking Life, LARPing and Practical Brand Storytelling with Tara Clapper Show Notes

Tara started her career in content marketing just after graduating college. She struggled through the experience of getting started in the industry in a tough economy. In fact, she persevered through having the same job outsourced from underneath her…twice! At 35 years old, Tara says she “grew up when the internet did,” and learned to create a web presence from the ground up early on. One of the first pieces of content she created was an email newsletter for a community of Beatles fans in an online community. She went on to work in various agencies, write hundreds of content pieces, and worked at SEMrush as their primary Blog Editor before finding a home working in my agency, Express Writers.

Tara’s unique skillset for today’s discussion actually comes through LARPing, or Live Action Role Playing. She’s even created her own LARP game and started writing and marketing it on her own, which became a foundation for her career, rooted deeply in content marketing and collaborative storytelling.

In this episode, we discuss the following:

  • How Tara started The Geek Initiative. And how her experience working as an independent contractor with sites like Yahoo! helped her hone her skills and develop her voice.
  • Why it’s so critical for marketers to understand that content is a long haul. While it’s tough for some marketers to see why content is a long-game approach, understanding this is critical. Tara talks about how long it took her to achieve her own marketing goals.
  • How to find a story, mold it, and tell it in their content. Tara says you should practice storytelling without thinking about your brand or company. When it comes naturally, it feels more authentic.
  • Why it’s so critical to tell the stories you want to tell. And how marketers can make their brand storytelling stronger by practicing creative writing and developing stories with other people.
  • The importance of routine for freelancers. Freelancers seldom have solid, set schedules. Tara talks about how routine can help freelancers keep their work, quality, creativity, and storytelling strong.
  • Why Tara advocates working on the idea as soon as you get it. Tara talks about her process of bullet-pointing content, and then sitting down and writing it. This keeps ideas and content fresh.
  • Which brands she thinks tell amazing stories.

Favorite Quotes to Tweet

'Once all the content mills folded, all I had left was my site.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'Four years later, thousands of hours invested, my site has just started to turn a profit.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'Sometimes the investment in content, although it’s worth it, is SO long term.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'Content marketing is a long haul.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'The Geek Initiative is finally getting ad requests. Four years later, I am getting paid for my work.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'The only way I can do sales is to help people find the content they’re looking for.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'With content marketing, you’re not going to get a paycheck next week, but you’ll see results later.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'I didn’t see real results in links to my podcast till twelve months after it launched.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'It can be hard for brands to see the long-term vision with content marketing.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'I go for the 80/20 rule: 80% evergreen, 20% somewhat newsworthy content.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'My biggest tip for storytelling is to practice it without thinking of your brand.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'Work on the idea as soon as you get it.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'I love that @irishtara truly cares about what she’s selling to our clients.' @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet 'If you want to be innovative in your career, be on the ground floor.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'Be on the ground level of innovation. You’ll get a heads-up about what’s coming down the pike.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'Get right there next to the people creating things that inspire big companies.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'If you’re first in the ground floor, your content will be indexed.' @irishtara Click To Tweet 'Trust from brand to consumer is hugely important.' @irishtara Click To Tweet

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The Write Podcast Episode 2: Simple Storytelling Tactics & Why Your Story in Content Marketing Matters

Welcome to Episode 2 of The Write Podcast! In this episode, it’s just me, myself, and I…bringing you thoughts on a spectacular topic: the use of storytelling in content marketing.

Are you a marketer who has invested in online content marketing to boost your brand in any way (blogging, web content, social media – they’re all a part of the content marketing cycle)? Then you should be aware of how to use the essential tactics of storytelling. The amazing world of wondrous tales, stories, and deeds of lore… (stop me anytime)… can open up a whole new level of connection and engagement with your audience.

Wait till you hear Poo~Pourri’s ad – I included a clip in my episode! They’re an amazing brand that has succeeded in storytelling – to the tune of selling 4 million crappy products through a brilliant, brilliant ad.


simple storytelling tactics

In Episode 2 of The Write Podcast, Julia covers:

  • Why storytelling in today matters to content marketing
  • A story so good it sold crap, literally: Poo~Pourri
  • How to find and tell your story
  • Simple ways of finding everyday company stories
  • Examples of companies who have created a character that everyone relates to

Like my podcast? I would be honored if you rated it via iTunes. That really helps with the rankings and overall search/audience visibility. Thanks so much for stopping by and listening!

Full Transcription of The Write Podcast, E02: Simple Storytelling Tactics & Why Your Story in Content Marketing Matters

Julia: In today’s episode I’m going to discuss why storytelling in content marketing matters, how it is essential to 2016 content marketing in a few simple ways to integrate great story telling into your marketing. And to start us off right, I’m going to give you one of my favorite examples of entertaining storytelling and content marketing.

This advertisement is from a brand of Poo-Pourri. Here’s a clip:

“You would not believe the mother load I just dropped and that’s how I like to keep it leaving not a trace that I was ever here let alone that I just birthed a creamy behemoth from my cavernous bowels. Nothing is worth than stinking up the shared toilet at work, or the toilet at a party, or your lover’s apartment. Of course flushing removes the graphic evidence, maybe two or three flushes if your skid marks are as tenacious as mine. But what can be done about the subtle scent of a 300 cow dairy farm, aerosol air fresheners aren’t the most effective option, or the healthiest, trying to mask the stench giving you a nice blend of chem-lab carnations with just a touch of these beasts.

So how do you make the world believe your poop doesn’t stink? Or in fact that you never poop at all, Poo-Pourri, Poo-Pourri is before you go toilet spray that’s proven to trap those embarrassing odors at the source and save relationships.”

[MUSIC] Spectacular content writing & blogging practices for your readers and Google, social media content marketing tips, SEO, optimization techniques and much more. [MUSIC]

Julia: So the ad I brought in is a great example of what I mean by storytelling and content marketing. The brand managed to come up with this unforgettable ad for their products, and what amazes me is that everything they’ve produced is consistent with the same voice, same creative, crazy style.

The copywriting in the videos every piece content piece is branded the same way. If you go and read their content you’ll be blown away by how creative this brand is. I don’t think I’d seen anything like it, and it’s unforgettable. All over their YouTube videos people are saying that this is the best ad they’ve seen all year.

Not only that, but this company has sold over 4 million products. It’s crazy because their entire product is about pop, but they have been so successful. And I think that this gives us a really good example of how storytelling can manage to sell anything. Provided you have a really, really good story.

Finding your story and connecting to your audience with it could be the biggest thing you’ll ever do for your own content marketing. When a brand can identify and tell a story that triggers an emotional connection in their consumer they have a much higher likelihood of being remembered.

I think that storytelling holds the key to the future of content marketing online because this might be the only way to truly get noticed. We are coming to an era when there is so much content being produced on the web it’s crazy. For example every single minute Google gets over 4 million search queries.

Blog writers share over 1400 blogs every minute. There are over 200,000 tweets going out every minute and get this, over 200 million emails every single minute. Those are statistics from 2015, so the amount of content today is even bigger than that. I’m not discounting all of the other practices in content marketing I’m just saying that your story should fit into everything you’re doing for a brand.

Don’t miss out on finding and telling your story.

And I wanted to share a few tips on how to do that. First you want to think about an authentic story. A story is not going to connect you with your audience unless it’s actually true and it can be easier than you think to pull out various stories from your brand.

To begin make sure that you have your foundational story hammered out such as your founding story. How your business, how your company came to be. Stories of your favorite customer testimonials. Create blogs about pages, visuals, infographics and videos out of these base stories.

One engaging way to share your brand story is through an infographic. I saw a brand that made this their entire about page. It was a visual timeline of their history. Beginning with a picture of the founder in her home kitchen starting the creation of the product. And then going down with visuals into where they are today as a big brand. It was short, concise and visual, exactly the type of format to grab attention online.

And there are so many formats online that are great for telling your story. The possibilities are endless. Videos especially seem to do really well when conveying an engaging story. As in that clip I shared from Poo-Pourri. That was a YouTube video from their channel. People love to hear your brand story and the more relatable and down to earth you make it, the more they will engage.

You don’t have to disclose everything, but remember to be authentic. And that means you can even share your failures. What made you who you are, what made your company where it is today. Once you have your baseline or your founding story hammered out, then you can pull out daily stories.

Just from everything that happens and goes on around you, what are things that happen daily in your office? Take a picture, share it on your company Instagram, talk about it in your next blog.

What are challenges you face every day, perhaps managing your team or handling a crazy workload? Or making a difficult client satisfied? All of these can be turned around into stories, as you consistently share more stories.

Another tip I share is that having a personality and establishing that through out all of your stories would be a way to make your brand more recognizable.

Go back to Poo-Pourri, everything they’ve put out is the same voice, it’s consistent. It blows your mind with creativity and every other word is a pun on their product. Dollar Shave Club is another great brand that has established a clear, consistent, creative voice that you see everywhere on their website, graphics, visuals and videos.

So think about your consistency of personality, and try to maintain and establish that through out all the content you create and produce.

Another way to nail storytelling and content marketing is to create characters that your audience will love.

One of the best examples for this is Flo from Progressive Insurance. Nearly everyone knows who Flo is, she has her own Twitter and Facebook profile created and she’s appeared in over a thousand Progressive commercials. She’s a fun engaging character that has stayed consistent throughout all the company branding. I’ve also seen companies succeed at creating characters based on their target audience, they create a persona based on their niche demographics, and type and then they launch that as a character throughout all their marketing.

It’s a genius way to truly identify with your audience. A simpler character example is from BuzzSumo, they associate their brand with a cartoon sumo wrestler, and they get a custom drawing of this wrestler with every blog post, and piece that they publish. My last two tips for storytelling and in content marketing is all about the structure of your story.

Just like a good story that you’ve read in a book, remember that every story should have a structure, a beginning, middle, and an end. Also build up on your stories, don’t share everything at once, share bits of your story and continue to publish new stories as you publish and tell consistent stories that resonate with your audience, your brand will grow and your fans will love you.

[MUSIC] Thanks for joining today write podcast for more online content tips and strategies visit express And now here’s your host, Julia McCoy with a final message. [MUSIC]

Julia: If you haven’t already joined my Twitter chat, it happens every Tuesday at 10 AM CST on Twitter with the #contentwritingchat. I started it the first week of January this year, and it’s already been #42 trending in the USA on Twitter. I’m really excited to see the community grow as we bring in expert guests and discuss content marketing strategies live on Twitter. So be sure to join us, Tuesday at 10.

You can follow the chat Twitter account at @writingchat. Also my book is coming out: So You Think You Can Write: The Definitive Guide To Successful Online Writing. In this book I’ve summed up everything I’ve taught myself in the last four years to get To where I’m at as an online content writer and business owner. This is the perfect learning tool for anyone who wants create better blogs, better website content or learn how to take their writing skills online and become a successful freelance writer. You can also go to Facebook and join my community group around this topic. The group on Facebook is called Learn Online Writing.

With my book and the Facebook group & Twitter chat that I’m building around this topic, I want to bring awareness to the career that online writing is: anyone who is creative and has a talent in writing can bring their skills online and earn income just like I did.

There’s a growing need for high quality writers so keep an eye out for my book. It will be available to buy on Amazon by the end of this March.

And as always thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast! For more episodes visit

#ContentWritingChat February 2 2016 Recap: How to Use Periscope and Live Video in Content Marketing with Christoph Trappe

Did you miss this week’s #ContentWritingChat? Not to worry! We have you covered with our weekly recap of our third-ever Twitter chat, on Tuesday, February 2nd at 10 AM CST.

#ContentWritingChat February 2 Recap: Periscope & Live Video with Christoph Trappe

Our guest host this week was Christoph Trappe, the creator of the Authentic Storytelling Project, content marketer, a global keynote speaker, frequent Periscoper and blogger, and recipient of The Content Marketing Institute’s 2014/ 2015 Top 100 Most Influential Content Marketer award. We were thrilled to have him on!

And, exciting times – once again we became a trending topic in the USA, ranking in at #47 this time!

Known as The Authentic Storyteller™, Christoph is a frequent Periscoper and shared his expertise with us specifically on live streaming video.

With the growth of live streaming apps such as Periscope, MeVee, and Blab, many marketers are feeling the pressure to join these platforms. As a marketer, it’s important to be where your audience is if you want to reach them! Live video allows you to better connect with your audience as a brand and on a personal level. Plus, it provides such a great way to engage them when you can get immediate feedback.

Our guest host, Christoph, mentioned that his favorite live streaming platform is Periscope. However, you shouldn’t count out the others. You should definitely give MeVee a try and Blab. Blab is great if you’re feeling a little nervous and want to have someone co-host with you. Grenae is right: live streaming is a great way to put a name with the face.

As Maureen pointed out, live video is just another layer to the content you’re already producing. It provides a whole new way to connect with your audience and get to know them. Strengthen your relationships with your customers, as Grenae said, and your audience is sure to love you.

Do you want to do a better job on Periscope? Take Christoph’s advice: be real! It’s so important to be genuine and show your audience your true personality through your live video broadcasts. When your audience gets to know you and like you, they’ll start trusting you!

Michael’s tip of promoting your Periscope broadcasts in advance is fantastic if you want to get more live viewers. If you have a broadcast coming up on a popular topic or are just talking about something you really want your audience to hear, let them know ahead of time so they know when to tune in.

Broadcast on Periscope or do a live video stream when you feel like you have something to say. If you have quality material you want to share with your audience, go live.

Our CEO, Julia, mentioned that daily scopers are seeing growth, so you may want to ramp up your presence on the platform when you’re just starting out. It will help you be seen and grow your audience quickly.

However, you should also keep your audience in mind, as Grenae mentioned. Think about what time it is before you broadcast because you don’t want to go live when a majority of your followers are likely in bed. If you want live engagement, you have to give people the chance to join!

Ai is spot on in suggesting to share quality content. If you want to gain followers and keep them, make sure you have something of value to share with them. Christoph brought up the importance of interacting with your audience by answering their questions. Don’t ignore the comments that come up while you’re broadcasting. It’s a turn-off for your viewers. They want to know you’re listening to them!

Both Michael and Alejandro shared some great tips as well: create a plan before you go live. This will be helpful if you forget something or even if you get nervous. Just don’t plan it out word-for-word. Be natural when speaking! And before you sign off, give your audience a call to action. Tell them what they should do next!

Great advice from Christoph: If you want to attract the right viewers to your broadcasts, use a title that’s descriptive and states exactly what you’ll be talking about.

Use hashtags in your video titles as well. When you share your broadcasts to other platforms (like Twitter) your Periscope will show up, which will get you more exposure.

As with anything online, privacy is always an issue. Be safe, especially when you’re broadcasting a live video. Turn off location sharing when you’re at home, like Julia mentioned. Michael also brings up a good point about being aware of what’s in your background. You don’t want to accidentally expose confidential information.

We look forward to seeing you at the next #ContentWritingChat! Be sure to join us (@ExpWriters) on Tuesday, February 9th, 2016 at 10 AM CST.

Want to be a guest host? We’re still scheduling guest hosts out for 2016. Email Julia! 

poo pourri

A Tale of Crazy Good Marketing Storytelling: Poo~Pourri

We’ve got a pitch for you.

Imagine this: a tiny bottle of magical mist you can spray into the toilet to cover up unpleasant bathroom odors. People will love it, right?

If you’re like most people, you’re probably thinking, “That’s a crazy idea.”

You’re probably also thinking, “Aren’t there already 10,000 products identical to that on the market?”

You may even be thinking, “There’s no way that would ever sell.”

You’d be right on the first two and dead wrong on the last one.

Here’s why it would sell. Let your mind be BLOWN…

Be introduced to Poo~Pourri, a wacky “spray before you go” bathroom mist that’s gone viral and sold millions of products. “How,” you ask? Because of its incredibly creative use of brand storytelling.

I’m going to dissect just how this crap “made it” (so well, in fact); and five essential lessons you can learn from the way they’re winning. Let’s proceed!

poo pourri

Who (or What) is Poo Pourri?

Head to the Poo~Pourri website and you’ll find a page that immediately resembles something from Alice in Wonderland, complete with an embedded video of a pretty princess who is, presumably, squatting on her porcelain throne. The entire page, from the font to the color scheme is decidedly elegant and playful. And, at first glance, the only thing that really clues you into what the product is all about (besides the name, of course) is the slogan beneath the brand’s logo: “Spritz the bowl before you go and no one else will ever know.”

Before we hop down the rabbit hole of what makes Poo Pourri such a genius brand, it’s important to understand where the brand came from in the first place. At the top of the page, beneath a header titled “The Magic of Poo,” there’s an “About us” section (it’s called “The Story of Poo”). We must warn you, though, this “About us” is likely different than any you’ve ever seen.

It starts out innocent enough: the founder’s name is Suzy and she started the brand as the “first natural, truly effective solution to a universal problem.” In her words, “Poop happens, and it stinks!” She goes on to encourage you to “Take a shift!” and allow Poo Pourri to liberate you from “toxic thoughts and ingredients” because, hey, you’ve “got more important crap to worry about!”

Does this introduction have the six-year old inside of you giggling and blushing? Good, because we get the distinct feeling that that’s exactly what Suzy is going for. We’re willing to bet, however, that you’re also silently acknowledging that Suzy is indeed right. This is a universal problem.

And therein lies the first stroke of genius.

Since its inception, Poo-Pourri has sold more than 4 million products and that number only continues to climb. These products are neat little 2 – 4 oz spritz sprays, all natural with essential oils and no parabens or chemicals (which I personally love!), and start around $9.95 without shipping per bottle. The products even have cute little names, and the product descriptions themselves maintain the storytelling vibe.

poo pourri product

Even if you agree that nicely-packaged bathroom spray is a sensible idea, it still seems almost unbelievable that such a company should experience such runaway success.

It’s happening though, and the brand owes it all to storytelling. Something we talk a lot about (here, and here, for instance.)

How Poo Pourri Rocks Storytelling

Remember that embedded video on the main page of Poo~Pourri’s website? Well, they made a few original stories with the same lovely British redhead – 12, to be exact. Delight yourself in the crappiness of their entire channel, here.

Hilarious, right? Hilarious and slightly cringe-worthy, as well. The latter part owes largely to the fact that that video may be the single most daring and honest marketing video you’ve ever seen. Honesty is a theme that runs throughout the website.

From the unique section titled “Let’s Talk Crap” at the bottom of the home page (where you’ll also find the below “Hey Girl” gem) to the attractive product photos throughout the site, the brand’s home page manages to be hilarious, bawdy, and just sophisticated enough to pull it all off.

Hey Girl Meme

How does Poo~Pourri pull it off, though? And how do they take all of that storytelling and transform it into something that genuinely helps the brand make sales? The answer is that they use a series of tried and true marketing tactics that they infuse with their own individual flavor.

5 Marketing Lessons to Learn from the Storytelling Genius of Poo~Pourri

Here are the top 5 things we could all learn from Poo Pourri.

1. Know your audience

You’ve heard this before and you’ll hear it again but, come on, is there a brand out there that knows its audience better than Poo-Pourri? Doubtful. It’s clear from the get-go that Poo-Pourri is aimed at young, eco-conscious females everywhere that are having a hard time bucking the social norms associated with bathroom business.

If you need extra evidence of this, consider the video titled “Girls Don’t Poop.”

The video underlines the product’s quality by boasting that Poo-Pourri has more 5-star ratings on Amazon than the iPhone 5. It also offers a good-natured nudge at self-consciousness that generally surrounds bathroom visits. As Entrepreneur points out in their article on the company, “Everyone has a use for a spray that makes bathrooms smell fresh, but Poopourri did not target every Tom, Dick, and Harry.” Because of this, the brand is dominating while other bathroom spray brands are…stinking.

2. Be bold

If there’s one thing Poo-Pourri doesn’t do, it’s tread lightly. Phrases like “dirty little secret,” “tiny astronauts,” “chocolate éclair,” “intestinal cigar,” and “heaping dump” are prevalent throughout the brand’s advertisements.

And, yes, while we know that the majority of those phrases are enough to make you blush, they’re also bold. One of the best things this brand does is remove the timid language that often surrounds the topic of bathroom use. In doing so, they make the topic relatable and create an environment in which people can say, “Hey, yeah, I can totally relate. I’ll try this stuff out!” Unconventional? Yes. Brilliant? Absolutely.

3. Provide some comic relief

Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to talk about poop. But since Poo-Pourri does it in a funny, lighthearted way, it’s easier for customers to approach. Also, it’s infinitely obvious that whoever wrote the web copy for the company’s site had a great time doing it. This translates through to the reader and makes it easier for the customers to enjoy themselves on the page, translating into more sales and more brand engagement.

As a side note, let’s remember that, while Poo~Pourri is bawdy, a touch lewd, and very bold, it manages to balance those things with levels of professionalism, sophistication, and attention to detail that prevent it from ever coming close to unsaleable.

4. Be unique

What Poo Pourri is doing right now brings to mind what Dollar Shave Club has done in the last few years. While neither bathroom odor-maskers or razors are revolutionary products, both brands have managed to package and market their products in such a way that makes them seem so.

In the case of Dollar Shave Club, it’s ad copy that portrays the woes of people who don’t change their blade often enough. In the case of Poo~Pourri, it’s an all-natural product that comes packaged in a beautiful bottle that features a distinctly vintage appearance.

Reminiscent of high-class French toiletries, these little bottles instantly make customers feel like they’re holding an expensive and exclusive product. When a product looks great and performs even better, you can guarantee it’s going to be a hit with customers.

5. Own it

Throughout their website, Poo~Pourri continually says “Own your throne!” and they mean it. It’s evident, however, that the company takes that to heart. In addition to owning their thrones (as we assume they are) they’re also owning everything with the same flavorful style, from their brand message to their web copy. There’s not a piece of their website that feels boring, predictable, or pasteurized.

I think this is a huge key to their success across the board: they really, really commit to the level of storytelling they’ve exhibited. Which only means that someone over at Poo~Pourri is really, really, really, really… you get it… creative.

Everything is thoroughly, vibrantly on-brand, and it’s refreshing.

Take, for example, the social sharing buttons at the bottom of their home screen:

poo pourri

“Let me take a #shelfie,” “Ladies and gentleman, start your hot glue guns,” and “giveaways on giveaways on giveaways”? Of course I’m going to share that. Sharing that seems fun. How could I not share that?

Of course, that’s exactly the reaction those buttons are meant to produce and they do a fantastic job of it. Now, if those buttons had just featured the names of their respective social networks, it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun and I wouldn’t be nearly as compelled to share.

Poo~Pourri knows that in order to stand out in the minds of your customers, you need to craft a unique and original brand message that pervades through every aspect of your marketing. They’ve done this and, frankly, we could all stand to learn a thing or two from them.


If you’d never heard of Poo~Pourri before this post, I trust your life has been changed. What’s more, I virtually guarantee that you’ll think of this brand the next time you use the bathroom. While this little company is still small compared to some of the scent-eliminating giants out there, it’s obvious that their brand message is set to take them far.

This is due in large part to the fact that the brand is just so dang good at storytelling. From their commercials to their web copy and everything in between, Poo~Pourri is a brand that you can’t forget and can’t help but identify with.

Need a creative pen for hire? Check out our creative writing services.

How Creative Writing Has Changed the World for the Better

From Chaucer to Rowling, creative writing has often been the boon to our stressful, busy world.

It started as a way to maintain folklore tradition and tell us tales of knights in shining armor who brought whole countries together (King Arthur).

Excalibur! Forged when the world was young, and bird and beast and flower were one with man...

“Excalibur! Forged when the world was young, and bird and beast and flower were one with man…”  Excalibur (1981)


But creative writing has now become an absolutely powerful force for good. We see the wisdom of Gandalf and Baggins (Lord of the Rings)…

"You asked me to find the fourteenth member of this company and I have chosen Mr. Baggins."

“You asked me to find the fourteenth member of this company and I have chosen Mr. Baggins.”

…The humor of Bridget Jones, and the horror that only Stephen King (The Shining) can produce.

Whether you read or write a high fantasy novel or an epic crime drama, there will be an amazing impact. Creative writers of all types have brought about amazing results for the world and all they did was grab the nearest pen, typewriter, or computer and got down to writing.

I want to take a look at just how powerful creative writing has been for our society and just how it has changed the world for the better.

7 Amazing Instances of Creative Writing Impacting the World

Creative writing has been a huge part of making the world a better place. Here are some awesome instances of just how powerful it is.

1. It Captured Oral Tradition Giving Us Amazing Stories to Look Back At. When you think of creative writing, one of the first things many think of is the stories of the Brothers Grimm. They are dark and full of terrors, but those stories are also incredible for many reasons.

One reason these stories are so immensely powerful isn’t just because they provided us with great fairy tales that influenced our popular films, but they also captured history.

The Brothers Grimm traveled around, learning some of the popular folklore that was told in one way and one way only – orally. We all know how much impact those stories had (just look at all the Disney films we have).

A real fairy tale...

Preserved in time by the talents of a pen…

What would have happened if the Brothers Grimm hadn’t stored these stories? What would the world look like now? What a fascinating, and slightly terrifying thought to think. By writing down these creative folk stories, the Brothers Grimm opened a whole new world of creative possibility.

 2. Creative Writing Has Shown Immense Power in Physical Health. When the Brothers Grimm popularized creative literature, they probably didn’t realize what this would mean for the world.

A huge impact that all creative writing has had, no matter its age, genre, or format, is that of improving physical and mental health. There are so many amazing health benefits when you read creative literature, and that is a pretty awesome impact if you ask me.

When you write creatively, you can see some health benefits such as the ability to improve your memory and have a great format to release pent up emotions.

Reading creative literature also gives you immense health benefits including better cognition, relieving stress, and helping you sleep. That’s right, if you have a hard time sleeping, reading a good book might just be what you need.

The great thing about this is that creative writing and literature doesn’t have to be one type of thing – it can be anything. It can be a comic book, a science fiction novel, the latest study, or a great nonfiction book.

3. A Simple Novella Can be a Letter to a Loved One. Another way that creative writing has made the world a better place is actually something rather small. But, as well all know, those small things add up to something major in the end.

Neil Gaiman is an amazing author with an impressive range of works including The Ocean at the End of the Lane. While this seems like a jaunt into urban fantasy, there is something much deeper. This story started out as a simple, small letter to his soon-to-be-wife, Amanda Palmer.

He wanted to make sure she knew things about him, and he wanted to share his life with her, and creative writing was what helped him achieve this. It ended up turning into an absolutely gorgeous novella, but his small action was something Amanda greatly appreciated.

It might not have made a worldwide impact, but a small gesture through creative writing can change someone’s world for the better. And Amanda experienced something that many of us would absolutely enjoy.

4. Creative Writing Might Send You to San Francisco with Flowers in Your Hair. When you look at the world of creative writing, there are so many facets. There are books, ad campaigns, music, and more.

The 1960s and 1970s were a powerful decade when it came to moving and emotional creative writing. The United States was at war with Viet Nam, with protestors calling for peace. America and the entire world were also on the cusp of major social change.

And music and creative writing had an important role to play.

We had songs about peace, encouraging people to avoid war and work together to meet a resolution without the shedding of blood. People marched singing these songs, hung around in large groups with these songs, and many were backdrops to some of the most intense and saddest moments in American history.

Not only did we have songs about peace, but we also had songs about racial problems around the world but specifically in America. We had books such as To Kill a Mockingbird that highlighted these problems and a speech no one will ever forget:

“I have a dream…”

5. Fiction and Creative Writing Help Create Literate Children and Adults. I’ll admit, when it comes to creative writing and literature, my go-to author is Neil Gaiman. He has great wisdom about creative writing and its importance and he often illustrates that importance himself.

In an article for The Guardian, Neil talks about the importance of creative writing, specifically that of fiction. He points out how fiction can improve someone’s life, no matter if they are reading to escape, learn, or have fun.

He believes, and rightly so, that with literature, we open the door to a healthy society as well as a more literate culture. Did you know that New York City gauged the prison growth rate off of the amount of 10 and 11-year-olds that couldn’t read?

Now, what does that say about the need for literacy? Quite a bit.

While Neil does point out that a literate society does not equal a crime-free one, there is an immense impact of literature, bettering the world.

Creative writing and reading gives people the chance to formulate their opinions and to learn about other views. There are many things a person can learn just by reading and fiction has long had an amazing impact on many readers.

6. Creative Writing Provides Powerful Ads that Cannot Be Ignored. Powerful creativity isn’t just something you see in books and music but is also amazingly powerful in the ad world.

On September 11th, 2001, America saw one of the worst terrorist attacks on their soil and the world felt the immense grief radiating out from New York City, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania. People everywhere were making tributes to the fallen on that day, and there was one particular ad that brought everyone to tears.

Budweiser paid a gorgeous tribute to those who died that day with a Super Bowl ad that only ran for a brief time.

The lovely America, captured in the Budweiser 9/11 tribute ad.

The lovely America, captured in the Budweiser 9/11 tribute ad.

Advertising has done more than just paying tribute; they’ve raised awareness for issues, focused on social change, and worked to bring people together.

One such ad is a Spanish advertisement that only children could fully see. It sent out a message that if a child was being abused, he or she could reach out.

This was met with a fanfare of those who thought it was great and criticism from those who didn’t know if it would work. Regardless, it was still a great, powerful ad.

7. A Simple Children’s Story Can be Immensely Complex. What do I mean with those contradicting words? Easy – Harry Potter, when looked at on the surface, is a simple children’s story, it has all the elements.

The talents of J.K. Rowling.

The talents of J.K. Rowling.

However, it is also immensely complex. Rowling dealt with many issues that children’s literature often didn’t, which could be a major reason why so many adults read it.

This series impacted the world amazingly by giving people something positive in a dark time. And it also brought about something great – literacy.

It inspired so many children to read, especially those who weren’t big readers. It brought about a love for reading, which really did impact the world for the better.

In addition, a 2003 article from the University of North Texas pointed out that it also helped create discussion between children and adults.

Never Be Afraid to Read and Write What You Want

Creative writing really has had an immense impact on the world, changing it for the better, hasn’t it? No matter what it is you are reading or writing, know that it is exactly what you need.

It might get you through a hard time in your life, encourage you to try new things, and if you’re a business owner, help you bring in new clients.

Creative writing is just another thing Express Writers offers, and our team can help you get something epic and creative that people will definitely enjoy.


Photo credits: The Telegraph (King Arthur), John Howe (Lord of the Rings), Goodreads (book cover, Grimm), (Harry Potter book cover)

What Fantasy Literature Can Teach You About Great Storytelling For Your Content Marketing

Content marketing is absolutely incredible when you use a story in it. A storyline gives you the ability to create excellent content whether you are writing blogs, landing pages, product descriptions, and more. You can then send out this content, and convert people into leads, helping to grow your business and make it epic in whatever your industry is.

While developing a story in your content marketing is super awesome, it can be difficult, especially when you are running out of inspiration. I want to take a look at how you can actually gain some amazing content marketing inspiration from one of the leading genres in the fiction world, and one of my favorite genres to pick a book to read – fantasy.

Fantasy is a Leading Genre For a Reason

All you have to do is go to any bookstore or cinema and you can tell the constant theme in entertainment – fantasy. The fantasy genre has been around for quite some time with J. R. R. Tolkien being a huge influence, and “father,” of the genre. Fantasy is a genre that encompasses more than just trolls, orcs, and elves fighting a great evil. You have boy wizards fighting dark lords, a young man finding out he is from the land of faerie and falling in love with a star, and a whole realm fighting each other over a throne made of iron swords. You can even have fantastical elements set in large cityscapes, stories that mix fantasy and horror, and a lot more when you look for a fantasy story.

This wide range of topics and the ability to feel like good will win out over evil is often a huge draw to this genre, and it provides us with a unique take on content marketing. I want to take a look at how you can learn from fantasy to create epic, out of this world content that your clients are sure to love.

7 Great Lessons You Can Learn from the Genre

“Wait. My business isn’t in Middle Earth and we definitely don’t have any fairies flying around, so how will fantasy help?” Glad you asked! Here are some great ways I feel that fantasy can inspire your content, helping you create something absolutely incredible.

1. Give People Something Great that Fights Something Evil. When it comes to fantasy stories, you know the classic aspect that will be part of most any story whether old or new – the battle between good and evil. This is something that many people really enjoy about fantasy literature, and can be great for escaping when things get a little too overwhelming, especially when good wins in the end. But how can the classic good versus evil inspire your content? While you don’t have to go the direct route of fantasy, you can still give your clients this good and evil battle, helping them know how to win.

When you write your content, whether blogs, product descriptions, or anything else, you can give you clients a common problem and answer it with your product or services. For example, if you know that social media is the way to go when it comes to content marketing, you might find it hard to follow suit. Social media can be troublesome for many people, and if you don’t use it right, you won’t be able to get the outcome you desire. What would the answer to that be? Hiring a social media manager. When I write social media blogs, I give people a common social media problem, and I always answer what they can do when it comes to creating an effective strategy with an excellent solution. Therefore, I show people the “evil” side but then illustrate how good will win in the end, giving them a top of the line social media strategy.

2. Connect With Reader Emotions and Create Something Powerful. Fantasy does something that many genres aim to reach, but they don’t quite reach the mark of fantasy. So many fantasy stories are absolutely powerful and they connect with the reader’s emotions. This creates an amazing connection between the reader and the book, which leaves a major impact on their minds. Just think of your favorite fantasy story. How well do you connect with it? How do you feel when it is time to reread it? That feeling is what you want to happen with your content and you can do so by connecting with your clients and readers’ emotions.

Connecting with emotions is a powerful way to create content that converts, and help make your business an absolute success. You can create content that reaches emotions perfectly when you research your client base. You will know what they want to see, and also what makes them laugh, cry, or get angry. When you know this, you can write amazingly effective blogs and landing pages that will convince them to continue using your site and eventually buy your products.

3. Fantasy Tells Many Stories to Create the Major One. As you can see with fantasy, storytelling is amazingly powerful. People love stories, and this can make it a great aspect for your content marketing campaign. When you create a story, you are able to follow point two, and connect to the emotions of your client base, as well as visitors. Telling a story with your content isn’t as difficult as it may seem, however, so don’t let that worry stop you. Debbie Williams at Content Marketing Institute even gives some excellent questions you can ask to help you create powerful stories with your content, no matter your industry.


4. Create Evergreen Content for Something Familiar.


Photo courtesy Lord of the 

The Lord of the Rings was and is, a huge influence on the genre, and you can see it in most pieces of fantasy literature you read. It is always wonderful to read something that is familiar, which is one of the reasons many people choose fantasy literature when they want to escape. How should this influence your content? Well, this is a great example of evergreen content as common fantasy tropes aren’t something that will ever go out of style. Evergreen content gives you the chance to write on familiar topics with your own flair while creating something that is going to last for a long time. Just look at how exciting the stories in The Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter still are! Start creating some evergreen content to help drive views and engagement throughout the next few months and years.


5. Reality is a Great Basis for Something Incredible. A top content tip that I see regularly, and completely agree with, is writing on something that is happening in your industry. Writing on the reality, or news, can be a great way to create exciting, new content for your readers. In fact, even basing your content on past items can really help amp it up and make something your clients want to read. All you have to do is look at Game of Thrones to see how basing content on reality can create something stunning and epic. George R. R. Martin has regularly stated that he based the non-White Walker and dragon parts of his story on medieval history. Just take a look at this excellent video that details the similarities between Game of Thrones and a huge part of history – The Wars of the Roses.


6. It is Fully Possible to Stand Out in a Sea of Similar Stories. As you can tell, standing out in the fantasy genre can be pretty difficult. However, it is absolutely possible for authors to stand out, creating something unique and powerful for fantasy fans. Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, and author Neil Gaiman are great examples of this. How should this inspire you? Simply put, it can be daunting writing unique content where there are so many pieces that are similar to what you want to write. However, you can easily write content that stands out by understanding what your audience wants as well as letting clients see things going on in your business through photos and behind-the-scenes elements.

7. Your Content Can Connect Readers with Each Other. One of the many great things about fantasy is how it connects readers with hundreds and thousands (and millions) of others. How many people felt and feel the excitement when Harry Potter is told he is a wizard? How many cry (or epically freak out) over the deaths of beloved characters? We all feel this community when watching a show, film, or reading a book, and it can be such an amazing feeling. You can add a sense of community to your content, helping to promote engagement with clients. You don’t need to go the way of George R. R. Martin, but by giving your clients a sense of community by encouraging discussion, you can help them all feel like they are connected in some amazing way.


Double Double, Toil and Trouble

Do you want to make some wicked content that generates amazing leads for your business? Then just follow some of these inspiring aspects of fantasy literature to influence your content marketing campaign! What if you have a hard time creating content, you wonder? Never fear! Express Writers is here to swoop in on our awesome content dragon and save the day with fiery, epic content that is sure to spice up your website.

Take a look at our content marketing services to see just how we can help you create the fairest, most worthy content in all the land!

internal cliffhangers

What the Heck Are Internal Cliffhangers?

Image credit: Tumblr

Grammar Nazis: you have to love them, or hate them. When it comes to grammar phrases, clauses, conjunctions, and all that good stuff, this could bring images of nightmarish English teachers peering over a frosted set of glass to your mind. (However, if you’re one of these people, then it will probably make you think of rainbows and Skittles.) 

One phrase in the Grammar Nazi’s book that any typical layman would probably not understand is just what we’re going to talk about today: “internal cliffhangers.” Just what does this curious phrase mean?

Let’s take a look at internal cliffhangers with those rascally Supernatural hunters Sam and Dean Winchester as our guides.

Cliffhangers: Dean Might Be Going To Hell

You already know what a cliffhanger is, especially if you are an avid TV watcher. Supernatural uses major cliffhangers throughout the show and always at the season finale. Is Dean or Sam going to hell? Are they getting out? This is a cliffhanger on the macro level; something we are very familiar with in movies, TV, and books but let’s take a look at the micro level of cliffhangers. These handy tools keep audiences reading your content instead of glancing through and forgetting about you.

Internal Cliffhangers: Dean’s Going Downstairs but What’s Sam Doing?

Internal cliffhangers are those little statements or sentences that keep the reader’s attention throughout the whole article or book. In the podcast episode for The Lede, Demian Farnworth defines internal cliffhangers as the sentences that piece your story, article, etc. together with emotion or shock to keep the reader interested. You don’t keep watching Supernatural because of the old, overdone cliffhangers of a character going to hell, you keep watching due to internal cliffhangers like wondering what Crowley is up to or if Castiel will ever stop being awkward. These are story arcs that piece the grand story together, but keep you interested until it is time for a massive plot twist and the season finale. Using internal cliffhangers will help cultivate long-term readers and customers, which will help your Google rankings and make your business successful.

Utilizing Internal Cliffhangers In Your Content

You need to be using internal cliffhangers in your content to help generate buzz and keep the reader’s interest. Cliffhangers can help in many areas and you can find ideas for them everywhere. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. They Can Help Your Storytelling. Storytelling is a perfect way to keep readers interested in your content. You don’t necessarily have to write a “Once upon a time” sentence, but you can outline your content in story format. Internal cliffhangers work wonderfully for storytelling, as they are major parts of stories already. Get to crafting some intriguing stories for your site and you will see that internal cliffhangers begin to come naturally. Don’t stress too much when it comes to writing these, though. You do not want your content to come across like you are trying too hard. Just write naturally and see what happens! You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to get these cliffhangers by just being natural.

2. You Can Gain Inspiration from Other Stories. If you are having a hard time coming up with great internal cliffhangers, try watching a few TV shows or films. This blog is inspired by the CW’s show Supernatural and that show really helped with the outline. The show is a great illustration of the use of major and internal cliffhangers; it also is a fairly popular show that many people enjoy, therefore, keeping the content relevant.

3. Internal Cliffhangers Keep You Relevant. The best way to learn how to use internal cliffhangers is by staying current. Relevant content is what will keep readers coming back and using relevant and fun cliffhangers will help.

Stay Inspired, Young Hunter

If Supernatural isn’t your thing, never fear; there are so many wonderful TV shows out there that can inspire your writing and give you great illustrations of how to use internal cliffhangers. You can even try to read the latest book series or look to some old, yet incredible, stories. Some great authors who are perfect with internal cliffhangers are George R. R. Martin, Stephen King, and Suzanne Collins. Pick up a book and see how many times you keep reading because you have to know more. Find different things that inspire you and help you craft excellent content. It doesn’t have to be a TV show or another form of entertainment. It can be something as simple as taking a walk or watching how people interact with each other. Stay in school and be willing to learn new tricks every day!