An unexpected journey and the power of stories

June 21, 2019

Today you're going to learn a simple trick that will make your writing better.


Two things have defined my life over the last few weeks.

  1. Holidays - I've been on one

  2. Journeys - I'm into them

I've almost been back for a fortnight already (wait, what?).

Before that I had been running my own one-woman survey of the UK’s best sweet shops.

But that was just one reason for the trip.

The other was to take the two day Content Design workshop hosted by Content Design London.

If you know nothing about Content Design, know this. These guys literally wrote the book on it. Needless to say, it was good.

I expected that I would learn a lot during those two days. And I did.

I also expected that, on my travels, I would see lots of castles, recite lots of history and walk a lot. And I did.

I didn't expect that my trip would renew my love for stories.

Wondering how to enter the wizarding world at Kings Cross Station.

Dreaming of Milton and Mr Thornton while walking through an old mill in Dundee.

Having a pint at the Eagle and Child, all the while thinking that this is where the respective merits of ring wraiths and the four Pevensie children were debated.

(reckon you know all four book references? Hit reply and let me know!)

And I read.

It's been so long since I read.


Books help us flex that muscle that allows us to step into someone else’s shoes and understand their world.

And it's an important muscle to flex.

It’s the muscle that helps us understand our audience's journey.

What is the trigger that gets them looking for you? Are they generally searching or going to you specifically? Are they happy, stressed, doing something that they don’t really want to do?

Spoiler: this might change for different pages of your website.

One day, your audience's story might be 'I have an event coming up and I need a dress. What do I do next? And next? And next?'

A few days later, a totally different story emerges. 'I bought a dress for my big event but it doesn't fit? What do I do next? And next? And next?'

By mapping the story we can:

  • Identify when they might be searching for us (hey, this is a good time to write blog posts to drive search results!)

  • Take note of when people will be delighted to hear from us (your package is on it's way!) and when they might be less than thrilled.

  • Uncover new content ideas - maybe our journeys take us to unexpected places! That would be fun!

  • Keep our content on track - we'll always have a clear idea of what we want the user to do next.

Now, here's that tip that will make your writing better.

Instead of just dreaming up these audience stories, we should, you know, ask them about it.

The more we ask questions of our audience, the more we will understand their needs. We're also more likely to understand the words they use, and write in a way that suits them.

If you're stuck for questions to ask, I heard this one the other day on a podcast. I liked it.

"What have you tried before that hasn't worked?"

Simple. Short. Effective.

Not at all like this article.

Until next time...happy journeys!

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