The art of storytelling is essential to selling. Whether that’s a product, a photo, or your blog you must tell a compelling story. One reason so many creators or aspiring creators suffer with this necessary skill is because they haven’t discovered the story they need to tell. Or truthfully are afraid to let it all hang out. We fear that giving the masses the inside scoop on who we are and what we’ve been through will cause them to desire us less. When in actuality it may make them long for us more. Let me share with you my own tale, how I’ve honed in on telling it in various ways, and how it has led to me securing brand deals.
First and foremost you have to ask yourself who you are.
Not simply ethnicity, gender, and where you are from; but the other pieces that make you. Are you fun loving, spontaneous, and on the go? Or are you more of a homebody, who enjoys their city or town more than the open road? Married or single? Kids or none? These details help bring together the personality that you’ll need to entice a brand to work with you.
In the beginning when I started blogging I was a single mom of one, finishing college, and trying to navigate how to express myself on a limited budget through fashion. Living in Los Angeles while my sister resided in New York City we created our blog, Flyy Coast 2 Coast. We were both diving into understanding our natural hair, learning to dress as grown ups, and figuring out our tastes along the way. It’s easy to tell you that now. Looking back we weren’t able to package that clearly which is why we ultimately didn’t continue with our blog. Being able to determine your story upfront will enable you to create on brand content plus find brands and other creators who are likeminded – for collaboration.
Nearly 11 years later, I am figuring out the story I want to tell…
If you ask me what my story is today I will say it has evolved. Now I’m a mother of three, married, full time entrepreneur, and television personality. While I still have a heart for fashion and style, my focus has shifted to educating and inspiring women. With this blog and any of the work I do, my goal is make room for Black women primarily and other women of color to succeed. My desire is to look good while I do it and incorporate the brands I use as a way to inspire others to keep pursuing the things they want in life without fear.
Take note of how I nailed down the who, the what, and the why. My who is women, firstly Black, but all can be included. My what is to grant access for their dreams and goals through my blog, television, business, style, and more. And my why is to inspire and educate. Being able to transcribe that here let’s you know that I have no issue saying it out loud. If someone asked, I could rattle it off like my phone number and that’s what you should be able to do as well.
More often than not creators jump the gun and go directly to brands with the goal and desire of wanting to make money. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting money, needing money, or desiring more of it. That is how we survive. What I have discovered is that if money is our only goal we will continue coming up short when we set out to pitch various companies because there will be no real connection behind our ask. This leads me to step two of learning to tell your story to secure the brand deal.
Nail down your story to 3-4 sentences or a 30 second elevator pitch.
When sending pitch emails no one wants to hear your entire journey. What they do want to know is, why you’re reaching out, how the collaboration benefit them, and why they should work with you. You should be able to drop that knowledge quickly. Many times it isn’t that you aren’t popular enough, smart enough, or even influential enough in your circle to work with a brand, it’s that you didn’t convey the why enough. There are plenty of influencers out there aiming to sell you workshop after workshop to teach you how to do this. Giving you pitch email templates, inside secrets to finding appropriate contacts, and the like. The real secret isn’t in another $500 course but in learning why you’re sellable.
Your story is your selling point. I’m not the only married mother of three in the world by far. But I am the only one who has walked in my shoes. I’m the person who started my first business at 8, who went on start another business with little capital that has been featured in Essence gift guides, on multiple television networks, and worn by celebrities. I cohost a culinary show that infuses comedy. That’s MY story. We cannot be afraid to tap into our losses, our wins, and our growing points to intrigue. Allow me to assure you that this isn’t easy and will likely take a few iterations until you reach the right one. However once you have cracked it – the sailing gets smoother.
Finally you need to study and research.
When I first started thinking about incorporating branded content into my business I found myself seeking out the brands I already saw working with other bloggers. While this strategy can pay off because it means that the company is already willing to shell out dollars for partnership, it also means they have been allocated. I have since moved on the from the brand lurk and begun to keep a running list of companies that are on my radar. They are on my list because I already use them, I enjoy their brand mission, or I have a identified a pain point that I can help them fix. The latter is one of the best ways to get a brands interest.
In each of those three areas I am able to intertwine my story into their brand story. I’ve learned how to tap into what the brand is currently doing to see how our goals or mission are aligned. While this may not result in a surefire partnership it is certainly a great way to get the door open. Think of a brand whose story you love. I’ll use Happy Planner. I love that Happy Planner encourages people to keep using a traditional pen and paper to plan. For me, digital calendars aren’t enough to keep me organized. It’s why I get a Happy Planner annually. The accessories for the products, the in depth way they aim to help women, and the fact that it’s a women run and owned business only further connects our brands. For this reason they’d be a great potential partner for me.
Frankly if being an influencer or full creator who earned income was easy; everyone would do it. People would be cashing checks left and right from brand after brand on spon con. You and I both know that isn’t the case. There are a myriad of reasons why it’s not but one of those reasons is most certainly because most people don’t know how to tell their story. That is where authenticity comes into play. When you are able to marry your story to a brands then your audience will be more inclined to believe you.
outfit details: blazer – zara (old) // tshirt – ellaandemm \\ jeans – zara // purse – henri bendel (rip) \\ sunnies – carrera // hat – zara (old) \\ shoes – gucci
Now that you are equipped with how to get started on figuring out how to tell your story, I’m encouraging you to get it on paper. Let’s recap, start at the top by asking yourself who you are, move on to nailing down that down to 3-4 sentences or something that can be shared with someone else in thirty seconds. Then end by making a list of brands that are akin to who you are. Once you have completed these steps you’ll be closer to securing brand deals.
Photography: Kaye McCoy
I always love to hear from my readers, if these steps gave you some clarity – share with me! If you have more questions shoot me a message on Instagram, let’s get this bread baby!