It’s a phrase I’ve heard many times before: “But I’m not that interesting!”
Someone has convinced you that your story isn’t interesting. That no-one wants to hear about how you got to where you are, what your studio is like, the sort of creative techniques you use.
That is BULLSHIT.
You are super interesting. Your story is fascinating! You’re going to find out exactly why … and why you should share it with your audience … in just a moment.
Your story – where you come from, what inspires you, why you do what you do and a thousand other things – is a core ingredient of your marketing.
Whether online or offline, you can use your story to help your audience form a deeper relationship with your product. Rather than ‘just’ a nice cup or painting or design service, that product is now a part of a much bigger story.
The story of your travels and how you’re inspired by traditional tea ceremonies to create clay mugs.
The story of your grandma’s jewellery box and how it helps you dream up new jewellery designs.
The story of your obsession with colour, pattern and image to create beautiful graphic art.
Stories are magic, fun, exciting and integral to who we are.
Yet creative people worry.
How do I share my story without feeling embarrassed? Without feeling cringey? Without feeling cheesy?
There are a lot of tactics you can use to share your story in a way that makes sense for you, your business and your audience.
You can write a literal story (“I started off making …”). You can show them older work. You can photograph your studio.
But if you don’t feel confident in your story, you won’t end up doing any of those things.
So what I want to do here is give you the ammunition you need to blast that inner critic into outer space.
Here’s why your story NEEDS to be shared with your audience.
1. We are born to be storytellers (and listeners).
Every culture uses stories to teach people how the world works. We use stories to frighten, cajole, encourage, impress or enlighten someone. There are stories for everything around us, from how we should behave to how we make a cup of tea.
Stories help us make sense of the world because we are pre-disposed to pattern-spotting. Pattern-spotting helped us survive by explaining the world to us in a way we could understand and maybe predict – for example, a simple story is “put hand in fire, hurt hand”.
A story is a pattern we can understand very quickly and easily, which helps us feel comfortable and more assured of what the hell is going on.
Sharing YOUR story with your audience is a way to give them a pattern: something they understand so they get comfortable with you and your way of doing things. Your story might be different to their own, unusual or even unique, but it’s still a quick route to helping them feel comfortable and pay attention.
Stories connect us with each other and help us make sense of the world around us. Your story, framed in the right way, helps connect you with your audience – immediately and meaningfully.
2. Stories add magic to everyday products and services.
Each one of us will have emotional attachments to certain objects in our lives; maybe a dress, a ring, a certain picture or an ornament. This emotional attachment doesn’t come from the object itself – the actual material or design or shape or colour. It comes from the story attached to it.
The story is that your mum handed the dress down to you, or your dad made the ring, or the picture is a scene from where you grew up, or the ornament is a memento from your travels.
When someone says “That’s a lovely picture”, you don’t say “Yes, it’s painted in oils on a piece of stretched canvas”. You say, “Yes, it’s where I grew up”.
Even things we buy because we like the look or feel of it come with a story: “It reminded me of autumn leaves” or “My first house looked a little like that” or “It was the perfect size for my morning coffee”.
Even services we buy are made better by the attachment of a story. A florist doesn’t just create fabulous arrangements; they help create your dream wedding. An accountant doesn’t just sort out your finances; they help you save up for that once-in-a-lifetime holiday.
By attaching your story to what you do, whatever product or service you sell suddenly gets better. It gets magical, because it’s attached to a story. And people LOVE stories.
3. Sharing your story gives your audience something meaningful to talk about.
People love stories, but more importantly they love sharing stories. Spoken stories came long before written stories, and we tell stories to babies long before they can read – stories our parents told us.
By sharing your story with your audience, you are giving them something meaningful to talk about. You’re giving them something to share with others in a transaction that might normally be personal and solitary.
Here’s an example: You buy a beautiful scarf for yourself from a local knitter. The knitter tells you a brilliant story of where the wool was spun and the inspiration for their design.
You haven’t just bought a scarf. You’ve bought a scarf with a story. You keep the scarf for yourself … and share the story with other people.
The knitter has given you something meaningful to talk about with other people.
People want to connect with each other. We want to give and share and be part of something. So buying something is nice, but it’s just for you. Sharing a story about what you bought makes that transaction into a potential opportunity for connection with more people.
The difference between saying, about a picture, “Yes, it’s painted in oils on a piece of stretched canvas”, and “Yes, it’s where I grew up” is the second statement starts a connection. I’ll ask, “Where did you grow up? What was it like?” and suddenly we are two people in a vast cosmos sharing a magical connection.
Your job is to create a ‘dinner party worthy‘ story. You’re giving your audience something to share at a dinner party when someone asks them what they’ve bought recently, or listened to, or read, or compliments them on their new scarf.
By sharing YOUR story with your audience, you’re giving them the opportunity to connect with others.
So no, you are not boring.
You are not not interesting. Your story is valuable to your customers and your work. Because …
We are born to be storytellers (and listeners).
Stories add magic to everyday products and services.
Sharing your story gives your audience something meaningful to talk about.
And, ultimately, sharing your story is a way to connect you, your creative work, and your audience in a deep, magical way.
Looking for help to tell your story confidently?
Try my Writing Tips Mini-Journal!