Telling Your Story

Thoughts from a freelance writer

As a freelance writer, I have the opportunity to work on a lot of different projects, from websites to writing magazine articles. Recently, I was approached by a local historic organization and asked to write the brochure for their upcoming home tour–one of their primary fundraising events.

Unsurprisingly, the project required me to take the home tours myself, meeting the current homeowners and talking to them about the history of their homes. As one who firmly believes that a building is more than just a collection of wood, windows and the occasional archway, I also wanted to know more about the homeowners themselves.

One of the people I had a privilege to meet had an amazing story to tell. Born in Boston, she met her first husband during World War II, married him four years later and moved to northwestern Montana. There, this first-generation American became a self-taught artist whose works have been purchased by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. Widowed while still in her 30’s, she raised her four children on her own, moving them across the state to Billings to ensure they had better opportunities. Her home–one of the most distinctive I have seen in quite some time–is warm and beautiful, a perfect reflection of her own personality.

As I talked with her, I became enthralled with her unique life story and asked her if she had written that story. With a wave of her hand, she laughed and suggested that few, if any, would be interested. Detailing the many things I’d learned about her in our time together, I suggested otherwise.

I’m always amazed how people are hesitant to tell their life stories. I’m also surprised at how many companies are equally as reticent to do the same. Oh sure–they’ll tell what products they sell or what services they offer, but they too often refuse to get to the heart of what makes them different, and that is their own story.

Why did the business begin? What was it like in those first years? How has it changed? Why do they offer the specific products or services they do? How do they relate to their customers?  What truly, madly, deeply, authentically sets them apart?  

Failing to take the time to tell your story (and tell it well) means that you’re failing to take advantage of the opportunity to reach your customers.  If you’re having a hard time telling yours, I hope you’ll contact me.

 

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