New Year, New Look, New Outlook

Standard

As my intelligent and beautiful ones of readers have already noticed, I’ve not only changed the look and feel of my blog, I’ve changed the title too. A Look Through Lorie’s Lens was created when I was working in video, and while video production will always be my first love, it doesn’t reflect me or what I want to do any more.

laptop-820274_960_720I want to tell stories, my own and other people’s. So, We’re All Just Stories in the End was born from what was on editing room floor. (Bonus points to anyone WHO knows where I got the title from.) With the change in title comes a change in perspective.

We’re All Just Stories in the End is going to focus on telling stories. I’m going to look at how business and individuals can use stories in their marketing to grow their reach and their profit. I’ll be talking about how different mediums can help tell stories. Of course, I’m also going to talk about telling my stories.

Regulars readers will also notice that I’ve added a page with samples of some of my writing. This is all part of my plan to continue to work as a freelancer to help people tell their stories. If you’d like to talk to me about your story, and what I can do to assist, just drop me a message here.

I’m really excited about the opportunities that lay ahead in 2017. I hope you’ll join me.

 

 

 

Recommending Recommended

Standard

I told you about the website Recommended  a short time ago. In this time of shopping and searching for great service, I thought it was to talk about it again. This free site is a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook for businesses and freelancers. Like other sites, Recommended lets people set up a page with information about their business or services and then get recommended by their customers. But it goes a little deeper than that, they’re working to fill a gap between social media and business in a way that no one else is.getrecommended1graph

Full disclosure, I first learned about Recommended, and its founder Aaron Lee, when I did a little freelance user experience testing for them. I was very impressed with what I learned about the site during the testing, so much so that I joined the site and have been sharing it with friends and business contacts. Let me tell you why.

Websites like LinkedIn and Facebook are great and have their place in marketing, public relations, recruiting and brand awareness. LinkedIn is a great place to find contacts, that is what it was made to do, but it doesn’t do much to really give small business and freelancers to show off their skills. Facebook is a great way to market, but it doesn’t necessarily give people a full picture of the services someone offers, and how their clients feel about them. It’s these things that Recommended does best.

Recommended allows users to market and make connections, but it’s more about what the business does. It also does recommendations better than I’ve seen anywhere else. As a consumer looking for a business or service, you get a user friendly website that allows you to dive past the hype and glitter of marketing and look more closely at what the business or freelancer does. You get the opportunity to read recommendations and leave them in a way that feels more honest and real than other sites. As a freelancer or business owner you get a site that looks clean and professional and lets you get your message out without the clutter and advertising that are all over other sites.homepage-illus-large-real_people

Since I first mentioned the site, they’ve added new functionality, and have even more in the works. One of the new additions to the site is “Work” – a portfolio like  option that allows the business or freelancer to showcase some of their best work. For example, a software developer could provide information for the kind of work they specialize in and pictures of what they’ve done. They haven’t finished perfecting the Work pages yes, they’ll be expanding it to accept different file types to allow someone (like a freelance writer) to add different kinds of examples. You can check out examples of Work at work

These are still early days for Recommended. They’re adding new functionality all the time. As I’ve told everyone I’ve discussed Recommended with, I think that this has the potential to be huge. It could be a real game changer for small businesses and freelancers by giving them more freedom and options than are currently available.

I recommend Recommended wholeheartedly. I encourage you to get in on the ground floor and be part of this effort before it explodes. Take a look around, I think you’ll be impressed.

Lorie’s List – 9/9/2016

Standard

And I’m back with another addition of Lorie’s List! This one is pretty short and sweet because I wanted to tell you about two new websites I came across this week that you’ve got to know about. One is business related and the other is writing related. If your business is writing then I suppose they’re both business, so I stand corrected. Regardless – on to the websites.Person on computer with smart phone and notebook

  • getrecommended.com – I learned about this site during a freelance usability project I did earlier this week, and I’ll tell you I found something I was really excited about. The site is built to be an virtual word of mouth – a cross between LinkedIn and Facebook – where you talk about the business your do and recommendations from people that have used your products or services. It’s still somewhat early days for Aaron and the team at getrecommended.com, but I see a lot of potential here! After talking to Aaron and hearing about some of the things they’re working on I think this could be huge!woman-865111_960_720
  • Inkitt.com – I stumbled across this a few days ago when I heard they were sponsoring a writing contest. They company helps get authors published, I won’t go into the details, but it’s based on algorithms to determine what’s getting the most hits and what is most likely to sell. Right now they’re sponsoring a novel writing contest that will see three finalists get their books published, a professional cover, and money for marketing. The books will also be presented to bigger companies for additional distribution – which could be huge if one of the companies pick up the book!

I would love to know what you think about both of these sites. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

4 Ideas to Make Storytelling Easier

Standard

I’ve gotten some questions recently about storytelling, and I thought I wold share some of the discussion with everyone. First, let me clarify what I mean about storytelling.

Old Typewriter

Tips for telling your story

To me, storytelling can be anytime you’re telling people something. That could be in the traditional sense like a novel or autobiography, or in a marketing sense like a marketing or social media campaign. Instructional design, script writing and video production as well as content development can all fall under storytelling – you’re trying to share information or persuade someone by telling someone something. I look at all these things as storytelling because it puts you more in the mind of getting your information out in a creative and/or interesting way that is more likely to hold interest and make an impact.

With that out of the way,  let’s look at 4 ideas (and a bonus tip) that will hopefully make storytelling easier for you.

  1. Who cares? I know, everyone should care about what you have to say. Unfortunately, that’s not actually true. So ask yourself, who am I telling this story to? Who is going to care from the first word, and who do I want to make care? Spend a few minutes thinking about the audience the piece is for and what you want them to take away from the story your telling.
    Old photo from New Your Times Newsroom of reporters working, on phone and reading

    These guys might care….

    I know that’s the first step in any kind of writing, but too often I see people trying to tell a story, market something or teach something taking a shotgun approach – spreading the information as thin as you can to try to reach as many people as possible. The majority of the time that only makes the story boring and too diluted to have the impact you want.

  2. Watch your language. It’s no secret that when people write for business they write more formally, it’s what we’ve all been taught. But, that’s not always the best option. You need to look at the audience and the story you’re telling. If you’re talking about profit and loss margins something more formal is probably the best choice. If you’re talking about a client’s theme park or telling people about the time you were having such a run of bad luck that your left shoe fell down a sewer grate and you never saw it again, you probably want to be a little more informal.

    What do I mean by informal? Using contractions for one. A lot of people seem to have issues using contractions in their writing, and that quickly makes everything more formal. Word choice is important too! Using slang can also be a big help in making what you’re writing more approachable. If your writing a young adult (YA) romance novel and say, “Would you like to go spend time at the local shopping complex?” versus, “Do you want to go hang out at the mall?” your reader is going to feel like they’re reading a text book – and chances are if they’re reading a YA romance novel they probably get enough of text books in their daily lives and won’t give your novel the time of day.

  3. Let your Medium guide you. I’m not talking about Madam Elaine, Psychic to the
    office-620817_1920

    Let your medium Guide you!

    Masses, I’m talking about the medium you’re using to tell the story. Are you telling your story verbally or in writing? Are you doing a slide show presentation or blog post? Consider the length of time or space you have to tell the story. Shorten or expand as necessary.

  4.  Say it out loud! One of the easiest and fastest ways to check on how your story sounds is to read it out loud to yourself. Listen to how it sounds. Does it sound too formal? Not formal enough? Is there a sentence that’s hard to understand when you hear it? Is it something that is easy to understand and hit the notes you’re looking to hit? The answers to questions like these will tell you a lot about the writing style you used for the piece (or your writing style in general) and the how others will hear it – even when they read to themselves most of your audience will be hearing their voice saying the words so in a way they are hearing it out loud.

    Bonus TIP! Reverse it! If you’re worried that your writing style or speaking style is too formal and you want to work on that, start verbally rather than in writing. This especially works well if you’re telling your life stories. Record yourself telling the story verbally before you start to write. Listen to it carefully. What do you notice about how you tell the story? Is your word choice different than when you write? Are your sentences shorter? Do you use a storytelling voice that is warm and approachable? Keep these things in mind when you start to write and see the difference it can make in the final product!

I would love to hear from you! Drop me a note and let me know what you think of the post and what tips or ideas you have to make storytelling easier!

Telling Your Organization’s Story – Find the Passion

Standard

I’ve been telling a lot of stories lately, but let’s take a few minutes and talk about telling your organization’s story. You see, people don’t just have stories, businesses and other organizations like non-profits do too. And, being able to tell the story of your small business, or non-profit organization, can go a long way in helping it be successful.

Old fashioned typewriter

Who is telling your organization’s story?

Part of your business’ or organization’s story is tied to the person(s) who dreamed up the idea to start it in the first place, and that’s where its story starts. Just like the story of what makes you who you are has ups and downs, struggles and successes, so does your business or non-profit. But it has something that makes a huge difference when telling its story that other stories don’t. You.

Your passion, and if you’re willing to take the time and energy to start a business or be involved in a non-profit then you do feel passionately about it, is what really sets the story apart. It’s the passion you feel and bring to your organization’s story that makes the difference. No one can tell that story than you and the people in the trenches with you can.

Don’t worry if you’re not a “marketing” person. Or if you don’t know anything about social media. These things can be learned, and I hope in the coming weeks I’ll be able to help a little bit. What you can’t learn is the drive and the passion you feel for your business or non-profit. That fire begins and ends with you. That is the most important part of telling your organization’s story.

You are the storyteller! Are you ready to start telling your story?

Miss Communication: Selling is a Two Way Street

Standard

I was catching up with a friend recently and heard a story about a painful proposal meeting with a client. Her team was on top of their game — they were prepared, practiced and professional. Too bad the same couldn’t be said about the client — they were late because someone on their team sent out the wrong room number, people took calls during the presentation and two of the people came to the meeting knew nothing about changes the technical supervisor requested and spent the first part of the meeting getting them up to speed. My friend was proud of how her team handled the situation, but she wasn’t sure if she wanted the client to accept the proposal. If this is how they handled a meeting they asked for, how are they going to handle requests for information and deadlines?

Business woman on the phone

Is this the right time to be on the phone? Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether you’re in a proposal meeting, a job interview or sales call it’s important to remember that communication is a two-way street. Obviously the one doing the selling, proposing or being interviewed is the person in the hot seat, but it doesn’t mean that everyone else is off the hook.

Put yourself in my friend’s place. Getting more business is a high priority, but so is being able to successfully deliver on what they promise on time and within budget. In the interactions she had with the potential client, she could already see where there was a high likelihood for problems and a low likelihood for success. After some discussion with senior staff, they were considering withdrawing their proposal.

Think about job interviews where you’re grilled about your background and qualifications, but aren’t offered much information about the mission, team or work environment of the potential employer. You may spend an hour or two selling yourself but may not be sold that this is the organization where you belong.

Even when you’re selling a website redesign, you can go into the meeting with a great design and an awesome pitch but if the client is rude and seems difficult to work with you may just walk away.

Just like how you are communicating when you aren’t speaking, you’re selling yourself even when you’re the client. All the verbal and non-verbal communication cues you give off do as much to sell you and your business or product as any presentation or product. And if you aren’t careful about what you’re communicating (or not communicating) you could be the one loosing out on important business opportunities.

It’s good to remember that just because you’re in a “Power Position” it doesn’t mean that you’re the only one with any power. Sales, job interviews and proposals are two-way streets. You need to give people a reason to want to work with you. Communicating clearly and professionally will go a long way in making sure that happens.

Marketing, Strategy and Storytelling

Standard
English: Quill pen

English: Quill pen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s so easy to get bogged down in what we have to do every day that we can lose sight of the story we’re telling. I’m not talking about your social media strategy or your marketing strategy. Hopefully you’ve put that marketing plan in action and things are buzzing along. I’m talking about the thread that ties it all together.  I’m talking about the story you’re telling about your organization through your marketing.

 

Everything from your logo, to your letter head, to the voice you use when you tweet are part of the story you tell about your organization. When was the last time you sat back and looked at the story your telling? Does the story coming from your Twitter feed match the story being told by your website? Does it match the story being told by your brochures?

 

Everything doesn’t have to match perfectly, but they should seem like they’re being told by the same people. The stories should have the feeling of organization. Your stories should propel the messages from your marketing plan. They should help the audience feel like they know the organization no matter where they see it.

 

Take a moment for an objective look at the stories you’re telling. Make the most of the stories and you’ll be making the most of each of your outreach opportunities.