Due to the fantastic response I've gotten from my personal narrative, How Sorrow Set Me Free, I've experienced first-hand the power of storytelling and the impact it can make on the teller. I've gotten such heart-felt feedback from readers who also had to overcome a crisis of identity to discover their true calling. I've also heard from people who are currently struggling with their own loss of identity and are searching for a new path.
I've also had quite a few requests for rates from potential copywriting clients, which tells me that sharing my story and letting the world know what brought me to my profession as a freelance copywriter is an effective marketing tool. By putting myself out there, I've started to build relationships with others who can either relate to me or would like to work with me.
I'll be honest: I was concerned that exposing my history of mental illness would have a negative impact on my professional life. But I felt compelled to share my story, not only because it's a guidepost in my life to make sure others dealing with depression or anxiety know they're not alone, but also because I needed potential clients to understand the depth of my passion for writing. It was a risk worth taking: those 1200 words have put my career on course and have given my blog a new, more focused direction.
Now it's your turn.
I want you to have a similar experience of audience connection and career growth through the act of storytelling. If you’ve experienced a personal struggle that changed the course of your professional life, I'd like to share your story. That's why I'm creating a new weekly feature in my blog called Tapestry: a series of personal stories of struggle and growth that, when woven together, create a picture of the human condition. You can contribute to the series as a guest blogger, or I can write the post on your behalf. It's up to you.
Why should you tell strangers your story?
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Alaura,” you may be thinking. “It's all well and good for you to be vulnerable in public, but what could putting the stuff I've had to overcome out there on the internet possibly do for me or my business?”
First of all, if you're still dealing with the fallout of a personal crisis, creating a narrative can help you come to terms with things and move on. On a personal level, this is an opportunity for you to examine where you've been and where you're going. On a spiritual level, this is a way for you to look back at the person you dreamed of being and find appreciation for the person you're becoming. On a social level, this is a way to reassure people who are currently dealing with a similar problem that they’re not alone and that there’s hope.
Second of all, as I've mentioned in almost every blog post I've written, storytelling is good for business. Personal stories, when told right, not only can win sales, they can also win followers.
The Art of Asking
Take rock star Amanda Palmer, for example.
Her masterful TEDTalk on "The Art of Asking" has inspired millions to spread her story of how she went from living day-to-day as a penniless street performer to leading a crowdfunding revolution. What makes her TED Talk work on so many levels was how vulnerable and human she came across: although her presentation is motivational, she doesn't come across as a guru or even as someone who has it all figured out. She's still on her journey, and she makes us want to join her on it.
The Power of Vulnerability
The word “vulnerability” belies weakness. In fact, it shows a deep sense of personal strength, confidence, and trust in one’s fellow man. When we investigate the origins of the word “vulnerable,” we discover that the Latin root, vulnero means “I wound.”
Words can have power. Words can wound and they can also heal. Making yourself vulnerable by telling your story can expose your audience's vulnerability as well, thus creating a deep connection between storyteller and listener. In another fascinating TED talk, researcher Brene Brown has suggested that vulnerability can increase human connection and inspire empathy and loyalty.
These are all things we want from our business relationships, aren’t they?
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to share the story that's been sitting in your heart, waiting to be told. You’ll be all the better and so will those to whom you tell it.
If you'd like to write a guest post for the Tapestry series, great: just email me a pitch. I'm looking for stories (1000-1200 words) that explore how one's professional and personal identity changes after a struggle with physical or mental illness, addiction, financial setbacks, or the loss of a relationship. If you have a great story to share that doesn't deal with those issues but still exemplifies a personal journey, I'd be willing to consider it as well. In exchange, I’ll make sure you have a byline, bio, and link to your blog.
If you have a powerful story to share but aren't confident in your writing skills or don't have time to write it, no problem: just send me an email and I'll reply with some questions for you to answer. I'll craft your words into a compelling post (with your final approval, of course) with links to your business website.