A well-told story can stay in someone’s mind for their whole life.
As a blogger you want to find the right balance between telling and selling your story.
Gee Nonterah from the Create and Prosper Podcast joins Jenny Guy, Mediavine’s Senior Director of Marketing, in a conversation about communicating your story in a way that is both relatable and profitable.
She offers some great tips for creating a community of superfans that you can start implementing today!
- Repurpose Like A Pro: Mediavine On Air Episode 4
- Gee’s Youtube
- Gee’s Instagram
- Gee’s Website
- Gee’s Podcast
[MUSIC PLAYING] JENNY GUY: Guys, it is already November. It is November 5, Thursday to be exact, which means that the holiday season is practically upon us, and this dumpster fire of a year is almost over. Can you believe it?
This is Teal Talk, and I am your host, Jenny Guy. I’m Mediavine’s Director of Marketing. And I have a very important and seasonal question for you. Where do you fall on the Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah scale?
Have you already decorated? Are you listening to the music already? Are the Hallmark movies on repeat like they are for some of the Mediavine teams?
Say hi to us in the comments. Weigh in. Tell us where you fall, because it is a super important and polarizing topic.
I personally am of the opinion that whatever you want to do in 2020 is perfectly valid. If you want to do Christmas before Halloween, yes, do that. If you want St. Patrick’s Day in November, fantastic. If it provides you and yours with a modicum of joy this year, I say just go for it.
I’m also in favor of normalizing full celebrations for random holidays. So in that spirit, I would like to say, Happy Men Make Dinner Day! Did any one know that was a thing? Because it is. I did research on all the random holidays.
Today is Happy Men Make Dinner Day. Yes, it’s a thing. We’re going to share the link in the comments. It is the first Thursday in November, and there are rules. And to make things more inclusive, I’d like to change it from men to whichever partner doesn’t normally cook.
And if you normally cook for yourself, order from a locally owned restaurant. I don’t know. Just celebrate. Celebrate your life. Have a great Thursday. That’s what we’re here for.
I know I’m celebrating today because, one, we don’t have to talk about anything that’s happening in our nation for an hour. My guest and I were just talking about that. But I am very much celebrating because my returning guest is the wonderful Gee Nonterah.
She shared so much good stuff during your Summer of Live episode on repurposing content. And we kept having to rush through certain topics, and we didn’t have time. And we kept saying, we’ll talk more about that later. And she was kind enough to come back and talk about the concept of story selling and email marketing, which we will go into more in a second. But hello, Gee! Welcome back.
GEE NONTERAH: Hi. I’m so excited to be back.
JENNY GUY: I’m so excited to have you because you’re awesome. I’m going to read her bio because she is an impressive lady. She is a former registered nurse and medical scientist turned blogger, freelance writer, and YouTube creator. She is the host of The Create and Prosper Show which helps bloggers and writers create amazing content and build profitable businesses. She started My Online Biz Journey in 2014 to chronicle her journey into online business and succeeded in using that blog to attract clients for a social media content creation business.
You can find her currently on geenonterah.com where she’s passionately helping her audience make a living and build a powerful and authentic personal brand with their writing. When she’s not creating amazing content, she likes to watch spy movies. What up? All right, Gee, hello.
I’m going to start out with a question for our audience. Tell us, all of our content creators out there in the audience, do you consider yourselves salespeople? Easy question. Do you consider yourself a sales person in addition to being a content creator? Put that in there.
Gee, welcome back. Thank you for coming you are a wonderful breath of fresh air during this week and year. Let’s take it from the top. What the heck is story selling? Tell us about it.
GEE NONTERAH: OK. So I want you to think about your favorite movie. I want you to think about your favorite movie. So I’ll give you 30 seconds. Think about– Jenny, and you told me earlier on that you were in theater.
JENNY GUY: I am.
GEE NONTERAH: So think about your favorite play or movie for a minute–
JENNY GUY: All right. Got it.
GEE NONTERAH: –or less than that, OK?
JENNY GUY: All right. I got it.
GEE NONTERAH: But when you think about your favorite movie, or play, or even music video, each of these always tells you some kind of story. And if you’re being honest with yourself, even when you were in school, the lessons that stuck out to you, the teachers that stuck out to you were the ones not just dispensing information, but the ones who were always telling all these incredible, crazy, funny stories, even if it was morbid stories, if you’re like, wow, I had a professor who always told these morbid stories.
JENNY GUY: And you’re talking about that person in the lunchroom because they’re making an impact on you for sure.
GEE NONTERAH: For sure. So as human beings, we have been using storytelling to communicate with one another for centuries, for years and thousands of years. And so storytelling is just something that our brains are used to. We love them. We gravitate towards them.
So then, when we start to talk about story selling, and when I ask you to think about your favorite movie, you probably did not have to think that hard. It just came on. And you probably would be able to tell me everything that happens in that movie with accuracy because that’s how well our brains are wired to store stories. And there’s research to prove this, by the way.
So when we talk about story selling, we’re talking about using the power of story and the power of the elements of story, and we’ll talk about that, too, to sell. And it’s important for any content creator. And I know there are so many bloggers, or YouTube creators, forecasters that listen to this show.
It’s important to incorporate that into your selling strategies, into your brand building strategies because that’s how– remember, I told you, you remember the stories, right? You remember the teacher or that person that’s always telling you the weird stories. This is how you are going to gain mindset in the minds of people when you incorporate those elements of story in to your brand and into your selling process.
JENNY GUY: I am obsessed. And I’m going to take two seconds to combine the two elements you just told. My mentor in grad school– shout out Amy Herzberg– she’s probably not watching, but she always used to say in our training as actors that people do not change behavior based on facts. People change behavior based on feelings.
So while you’re trying to get someone to quit smoking and you’re reading all of the facts, people know the facts. They get the facts. They don’t change the behavior until they become emotionally invested in this process. So that goes right along with that. I love it.
GEE NONTERAH: Truly.
JENNY GUY: Can you give us some famous examples of the story selling beyond just the– beyond our favorite movies which we’re all now thinking of? And how do you use story selling in your own business?
GEE NONTERAH: OK. So I’ll start with answering the question, how do I use story selling in my own business? So I used to have this e-book on how to become a social media manager. And I sold a few thousand dollars’ worth of those copies because of a simple story. And here was the story.
The story was that I had moved from the East Coast of the US to the West Coast. Anybody who has ever made that move knows how expensive the West Coast is, and especially if you live in a place like San Diego. And so when we moved, we moved from Philadelphia to San Diego. We immediately realized– so I’m telling you the story, OK?
JENNY GUY: Yes.
GEE NONTERAH: We immediately realized how expensive San Diego was. And then since I had been blogging for about a year, I leveraged my blog and used that to land my first client as a social media manager.
JENNY GUY: Love that.
GEE NONTERAH: Three months later, I was making $1,200 extra for my social media management business. And that allowed us to keep on paying our bills and enjoy the city we had just moved into. That’s the story I told to sell the e-book.
Now, why is that powerful? That’s powerful because I share– so in this case and in every story– and I am sure you know this. In every story, there’s a hero. And the hero in the story faces a dilemma. They face some kind of problem.
And then they are on a journey to solve that problem. And in that journey, they find a solution. And ultimately, that dilemma is resolved by the end of the story.
So what was the dilemma I faced? The dilemma I faced is I had to moved from one city to the next. It was two or three times more expensive. And I had to find a solution. The solution was starting my own freelance business. And in about three months, I was making over $1,000 per month managing other people’s social media for them.
So why is this important? Now, if I had just ended the story with myself, the people would be like, OK, well that’s cool. But how does that–
JENNY GUY: We’re happy for you.
GEE NONTERAH: –concern me?
JENNY GUY: Right.
GEE NONTERAH: You know? So then I move on. And so I used this in my copy when I was writing the sales page for the e-book. I moved on to say maybe you have– you found yourself in a place where you need to make a few extra thousand dollars a month, or you just even need an extra $500 a month so that you can pay for child care. Social media management is a great way for you to do that. And here’s an e-book that shows you this, and this, and that to do to establish your own social media management business in 30 days.
And it worked. That page converted. I forget now because I stopped selling that book. But I think the first day I sent the email, I converted at maybe 5% to 10%–
JENNY GUY: That’s great. Wow!
GEE NONTERAH: –to the email list. And most of the time, for those of us who are watching this and who may or may not know, when you send out emails, usually the industry standard of conversion is like 2%. Yeah. So conversion means getting somebody from not buying, from reading the page to buying.
And so the people that bought, that was my conversion rate. And I was super excited about that. So the part of– that’s how I’ve used storytelling in my business to sell an example, this example here.
But some really famous examples that I can also think about, I want to think about even somebody that’s also in the online entrepreneur space that I immediately clicked with when I heard his story. So I’m sure if you’re a blogger or if you’ve been online for any amount of time, you probably know about Pat Flynn. Yes.
Back in 20– I want to see 2012, I discovered Pat Flynn because I read his story of about how he was let go from his job in 2008. And I was– we were all here in 2008. We know what happened.
JENNY GUY: Oh yeah.
GEE NONTERAH: People were losing their jobs left and right. The market was crashing. Unfortunately, people were even committing suicide because of that. I remember it was a really dire time. The housing market was crazy. Everything was crazy.
And this is when he lost his job. And he talked about the fact that that ended up being a blessing in disguise because then it allowed him to start blogging and build his business. So when I read that story, I was like, wow, that’s such an incredible story.
And so at that time on his blog, he used to have a little snippet. The introduction was I’m not a millionaire yet, but I’m the crash test dummy of the internet. And I will tell you about what I’m doing to make money online. I’m like, tell me, brother. Tell me!
JENNY GUY: Yes!
GEE NONTERAH: So he used his story, something that had happened to him personally, to set the premise for, hey, this really bad thing happened to me. But here’s how I’m pulling through, and I’m pulling you along with me. And I’m still a Pat Flynn fan after almost a decade because of that story. So these are just two examples of how your story can become the springboard for convincing people why they should buy from you, why they should follow you, why they should read your blog, all that.
JENNY GUY: I love it. And it sounded very like– while it was emotional, and it was compelling, and it was vulnerable for both you and Pat to discuss your own money problems or your own what might be viewed, objectively or subjectively both, as failure, if you wanted to classify it like that, but you’re making that vulnerability open to other people. And then, you’re not only doing that. You’re then systematically tying it into other people. So that becomes part of it, too. It’s not enough, like you said, to just say, I failed period.
GEE NONTERAH: Nobody cares.
JENNY GUY: And then, right. Correct. No one cares. Yes, thank you. Good. It’s true. I mean, why? No.
GEE NONTERAH: And I don’t want to be mean about it. It’s just–
JENNY GUY: No, it’s not mean. It’s the truth.
GEE NONTERAH: It’s the truth. Most people are thinking about their own problems. So they’re not necessarily going to– they may sympathize and empathize, but they also have stuff going on. At the end of the day, the story really has to tie in strongly into why it matters for the person you’re trying to sell to.
JENNY GUY: I love that. All right. So now that we understand what story selling is, how can our audience incorporate and implement this strategy in their own business? How do they tell their own story? How do they use these person– how do you use personal stories to sell?
GEE NONTERAH: Right. There are two prongs to this, and I want to talk about that.
JENNY GUY: Fantastic.
GEE NONTERAH: So remember how we just said that you always have to think about how it relates to the other person? I think in order to be a really good storyteller for your specific business, you do have to know the audience you’re speaking to. You do have to know them.
So this is where I’m not the best person to ask about when it comes to choosing an avatar or all that. But this is where you really have to think about the people that you serve or the people that you’re going to sell to. And selling is a service. I always see selling as a service and not as “come buy my stuff.”
And so you have to think about the people you’re trying to serve. And think, what are their problems? What are their fears? What bothers them? Because when you’re able to figure that out, you’re able to pick up on the language they use.
So for instance, one day I was working on something else, and I jumped into a Facebook group. And I knew that these people– this was a group of women. And I knew that these individuals would be– would fall into that demographic I was trying to reach. So I asked them a question about writing books, and so because I talk about writing a lot.
And so I asked them, what’s stopping you from writing your first book, because I know a lot of people want to write books? But I just wanted to hear what they had to say. And I got about 10 responses of people telling me in their own words why they hadn’t finished their book or why they hadn’t started. And I ended up using that in some copy somewhere.
So in the first part of really figuring out how to use your story to sell is to figure out what your client’s ideal customer is, reader is, whatever, listener is. What are their problems? What are their issues? What are they looking for? What are their aspirations?
Once you have that down, then I want you to think about a story that can connect to that. So if your audience is mostly 25-year-old Gen Zers. I think they’re Gen Zers, but anyway–
JENNY GUY: They are Gen Z, I think. Yeah.
GEE NONTERAH: They are Gen Z, right? So it’s 25-year-old women who have just– or let’s say 22-year-old women who just graduated from college. A lot of these women went to college in the time of COVID. They just graduated from college.
The language they use is completely different from somebody like me that graduated from college, oh, I don’t know, almost 15 years ago. It’s going to be very different. So the learning that language is important.
And then finding a story that fits that. So because I knew my audience was around my age– they were mostly working women that were trying to find a side hustle– I was like, oh, OK. They’re working women that want to have a side hustle. I’m a working woman who has a side hustle in social media management. But why was that side hustle important? Why are they trying to find a side hustle? Because maybe they–
JENNY GUY: They have a problem.
GEE NONTERAH: Yes, there’s a problem they have. The reason they’re trying to find a side hustle, maybe they’re underpaid at their jobs. Maybe at this point in their lives, they have other responsibilities that don’t make it possible for them to take on a second job.
And so I have to be able to identify all of those, and then, when I tell my story, link it to those narratives that are going on in their heads and for them to say, yes, yes. How does she know? We’re in the same boat, of course. I want to get this, of course. So I really do think that the way you begin to story sell is figure out what the needs are of your audience. Then figure out a story that relates.
If I tell the same story of coming to San Diego, trying to– and starting a side hustle of a social media management business to individuals who are trying to start up a tech business, it would make absolutely no sense because that– they don’t even– like what? I’m trying to sell my own tech startup. I don’t care about side hustles.
So knowing that will help you choose the stories. So good example. But if I was going to talk to the tech startup people, I would choose a completely different story.
JENNY GUY: Yep. I want to go back a little bit. You have an amazing way of doing this. You find these little tidbits that I just want to go back and hear more about, because I think the reason why I asked this– and the audience hasn’t responded– but it’s a thing that I think a lot of content creators struggle with, is the idea of being a salesperson and embracing that and not feeling really icky about it.
I feel like a lot of them are amazing at– we’re amazing at building these relationships with our audience. We’re amazing at connecting with them, being vulnerable, speaking their language, having them want to consume the content. But then when we get to the point of it’s time to sell or it’s time to ask them to convert or do anything like that, it becomes uncomfortable, awkward.
It feels like it’s too much. It feels gross. But when you just described you think of selling as a service, I think that’s a huge mind shift that I would love to hear more about from you.
GEE NONTERAH: OK, yeah. I think of selling as a service because just think, I always think of it in terms of pain. When I was having my son, I was in a world of pain in the– at the hospital and as millions of women go through every single year.
And when the physicians came in and were like, do you want an epidural, I was like, yes, I do. I don’t care what it costs. Just give it to me. So I know that’s an extreme example, but– and so at that point, I wasn’t even thinking about cost. I was thinking, I want to be out of this pain. Where is the solution?
JENNY GUY: Solve the problem now.
GEE NONTERAH: Right. So you are going to, most of the time– and not all of the people in your audience are going to be at this point. But there is a section of your audience that is at a point where they badly need a solution to their problem, and they don’t know where to get it. But you have it.
And if you have it, then I think it’s a disservice to them to make them continue to suffer when you have a solution, because at that point, most of the time, I found– and I’ve charged people– I have different packages of things that I– because I coach people as well. And I’ve had people that I’ve had up to $700 coaching sessions with for a few hours. And they didn’t wink at the price. They didn’t say, can I get a discount or anything like that, because at that point, they needed my $700 service, right?
JENNY GUY: Yep.
GEE NONTERAH: They needed it badly. They were chasing me down for it. At that point, I wasn’t even asking them for it, but they knew I could solve their problem for them. And so they said, I want you to help me. And I’ll pay whatever you say.
JENNY GUY: They’re looking at it as an investment to get their thing solved.
GEE NONTERAH: Right. And we went through that coaching session, she got what she needed, and she keeps on sending me messages to say thank you. So here’s the deal. Even if you have a million followers right now, at some point there’s a section of your audience that has the specific pain problem that you solve that need a solution now. You have the solution, but you can’t just give away that solution for free because we’re in a business. We’re not always giving charity, right?
So we’re in a business. So now it’s our turn to help those people by offering them that e-book, by offering them that coaching, by offering them whatever it is that you sell. So that’s how I think of it, is at some point, somebody is in dire pain. They will pay whatever it takes.
And not in a– and I don’t want you to also abuse that, because that can also be abused when you know that there are people that really need what you have. And so you go to nickel and dime them. But yeah, absolutely. But you do have that.
And Amber is saying in the comments, “This reminds me of something said to me offline. You have a moral responsibility.” Yes, exactly. There are people that need you.
And when you don’t– and you see, I want to speak to the people that are afraid to sell, because I know I used to be like this. And to be honest, there are times when I still have some kind of fear in my heart about putting out my prices and all that. And I think that’s just a normal–
JENNY GUY: Thank you for sharing that. Thank you.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. I think that’s just a normal human response when you think about it and you’re like, I don’t know. I just want to give this e-book. Like if you leave me alone, I’ll give things to people for free. But my husband always scolds me about that.
So I do think that because you have that moral responsibility, because you’re running a business, it is your moral responsibility to serve those people. And so when you move away from slimy sales person mode to I really want to help these people solve a problem, it becomes much easier to sell. So it really is a mindset shift. And you would have to do the work for that, but it is a mindset shift.
JENNY GUY: OK. Yes, it’s a total mindset shift. It is a game changer because you are solving those problems. You’re not forcing anyone to do this. And they’re at your– they’re consuming your content for free at this point by being there. So offering them your solution is not a bad thing at all.
You mentioned you have to find out what it is that your audience wants. You asked a group of women about writing. How do you find out what your audience wants?
GEE NONTERAH: Right. Most of the time, we– I’ve able also overcomplicated this part of it. Don’t do that. Just ask.
There are people on your email list, likely. We’re going to talk about email marketing. There are people in your email list.
There are people in your Facebook group. There are people in your own– who like you on Instagram. There are people that follow you on Twitter. Even if they’re just 10 people, ask them.
Ask them. Just put the question out there. And as your audience grows, ask the question again because the people that saw the question six months ago are not the same people seeing the question now. Ask again, what would you like me to create?
So I have a YouTube channel. And one question I ask on that YouTube channel pretty frequently is, hey, I want to make sure I’m creating the best content for you guys. What do you want me to create?
Recently I put out a question like that about three mini courses. I was working on some mini courses. I asked them, what do you want me to create? I had two people respond, but those two people gave me some incredible answers.
So don’t be afraid about the volume of responses. Just care about the response that you do get. And when you get that response, respect that. Thank them for that.
Another way you can also get to know what these people want is I have actually gotten on the phone with people in my audience.
JENNY GUY: Oh, really? What?
GEE NONTERAH: Yes, I have. Yes.
JENNY GUY: Whoa.
GEE NONTERAH: So I called them. And I spoke to maybe four or five people. It was such interesting conversations.
You don’t have to use your phone, though. You could use Zoom, you could use Skype because, yeah, people do get creepy and try to call you and text you. So I wouldn’t say do what I did, but use Zoom or Skype.
And just invite people. You’re like, hey, I have some time this week. I have one hour. I’d love to talk to some of you. Here’s a scheduling form. Here’s a scheduling form.
JENNY GUY: We’re sharing your YouTube channel.
GEE NONTERAH: Just click on this to schedule a 15-minute call with me. So people can do that. And then you get on Zoom with them. And you can do this every quarter, you can do this every one month, whatever schedule you choose.
And then I get on like, hey, what’s going on? Hi. We just did the little pleasantries. And I remember one question I asked somebody was, why do you follow me? And she gave such a great answer.
She was like– she told me, I bookmark all your emails. I delete most emails, but I bookmark yours because you’re the only person that gives– I’ve forgotten exactly what it is… She said, you’re the only one that actually gives advice that I would have to pay for somewhere else. And that was telling because that also means I wasn’t serving them well by selling, but you have–
JENNY GUY: You’re giving it away.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. But by speaking to her for 20 minutes, I was able to listen to the words she was using. What words was she using over and over again? Sometimes you use a word in your little niche that you think everybody knows it. No, they don’t.
So for instance– I want to think about a good example. Let’s say, so this is my iPhone 7. The new iPhone 12 has features that are almost– with the camera that allows you to have that bokeh effect. The pictures are really great.
If I was a photographer and I was selling a course, I could say, OK, well, this is how you get depth of field. This is how you get– and people are going be like, what’s depth? What’s that? That’s a technical term.
So most of the time we’re using technical terms. You may even be using “side hustle,” and people are like, what’s a side hustle?
JENNY GUY: I don’t know what that means.
GEE NONTERAH: I talk about freelance writing. One day somebody wrote to me like, what’s freelance writing? You’re here using all these technical words, and you don’t know that they’re using completely different language.
So by speaking to them, I get to learn what language they’re using. Maybe they’re saying, “I want to start a business on the side” instead of side hustle. Or they’re saying, I just want some extra income. Or they’re just saying, I’d just like some extra dough.
Whatever language your audience is using is what you need to be incorporating into your content creation process, which you’re going to incorporate storytelling into that. So that’s another way. Your email lists, your social media pages. Actually inviting people to speak with you is another way.
Then the last way that I’ll share is to go to a website called quora.com. So Quora. It’s Q-U-O-R-A. It’s a question and answer website. And I recently have gotten hooked on it a bit. And the reason being there are all these people that are asking questions in the subject area that I talk about that I didn’t realize people didn’t know anything about.
So they’ll be very, very basic questions where– because when you– I think there’s this idea of the curse of knowledge, that the more you know, the– you forget what it was like to be a beginner. So if you forget what it’s like to be a beginner, how can you speak to beginners? So I go there to see what beginners are asking so that I can also use that language. So all of these are ways to really tap into what your audience may be thinking and asking.
JENNY GUY: There’s also a certain aspect of the fact that if you’re really good at it, it comes so naturally to you that you don’t think about the things that people don’t know from the very– like you said, so talking to someone and connecting is great. Another point that I thought about while you were talking about asking your audience, just asking and not being afraid to do it every quarter or every six months, not only are the same people not necessarily going to answer you. Your needs change.
I don’t need the same thing, talking about 2020 specifically. My needs are not what they were. In February of 2020 to March, there was a real big seismic shift in what I needed when I went online. I think anyone out there who bakes sourdough bread can speak to this very firmly. The sour dough starter industry boomed because we were all stuck at home.
And that’s an extreme example, but the truth is people’s needs change. And you might not be addressing them anymore if you’re not checking in on those needs. I love all that.
GEE NONTERAH: Absolutely.
JENNY GUY: Going back to what you were saying about– we talked about this over the summer. One of my favorite concepts of yours is superfans. Talk to us about superfans and how we can use story selling to create some of those, because I think there aren’t many content creators out there who wouldn’t want one or many superfans.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. So the whole idea of superfans, I borrowed that from Pat Flynn, too, by the way. He had [INAUDIBLE]–
JENNY GUY: Oh, Pat Flynn.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah, I know.
JENNY GUY: He said, what is he? He’s the crash test dummy?
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. He used to have that, but he doesn’t have that on his website anymore. I just happen to be a big fan of his. And he lives in San Diego.
JENNY GUY: Oh, have you met him?
GEE NONTERAH: Yes, I have. So it’s fun. I try not to fangirl. But one of the books he recently wrote was Superfans, and there’s a lot of lessons to be learned in that book. And I think if that’s not a book you’ve read as a blogger, content creator, I think you should read it.
So one of the ideas is what I’ve already shared, and that’s pretty standard in a lot of marketing material. Find out what your avatar, your ideal client wants or needs by speaking to them, by asking questions, all of that. Then the next step you want to do, the next thing you want to do is you want to make people feel like they belong. You want to make them feel that they are part of a community, like they’re insiders. And there are so many ways to do this.
So once you found out what their language is and you begin to write or create content that speaks to that and begin to use stories that speak to that, there are people that are going to begin to gravitate towards you. But they’re not like your inner fans yet. You’re like, OK, I think this girl. I think I like this guy. OK, I’m going to stick around, but there is a point–
JENNY GUY: They’ve maybe swiped right on you now.
GEE NONTERAH: I’m sorry?
JENNY GUY: If you’re on Tinder, they’ve swiped right on you, but they’ve not– you’re not on a date yet.
GEE NONTERAH: Right. You’re not on a date yet. Exactly. So it’s like, OK, I see you. But then there is a point that comes where that individual becomes– I don’t care what you create as long as you create it.
And I’ve had people– and I’m not saying anything of any of these things to brag. I’m just saying it’s something that all of us can do because my background is not in content creation. My background is in science. So I’ve also had to learn all of this stuff. And so if I learned it and it’s worked for me, I know it’s going to work for you, too.
So here’s the deal. You want them to feel like they’re insiders. So as they come close and they– you start giving them content that gives them small wins.
Let’s say, for instance, I have this video on YouTube about how to become a freelance writer. And I gave a really quick tip in that video. I’m like, do this right now.
So somebody did that. And then they were like, oh my God. I can’t believe this. I did this and then this. I got this result. And all of the sudden, that person was like– wanted to be my best friend.
JENNY GUY: They trust you. You showed them.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah, because I had given them some sort of quick win which triggered something in their brain like, oh, if I can get this quick win from just listening to this 5-minute video, then what else can she do for me? Right. So give them quick wins. So as you learn what they need, give people quick tips that will help them do things and then give them a quick win.
And then as they– now they’re in that excited mood, you want to start to bring them close. And by in doing that, one of the things you can do is by creating events. So an event doesn’t– these days, we don’t get to go to actual events. So you can create online events. We are having an online event right now. I’m pretty sure there’s some superfans of Mediavine who will watch almost every live of Mediavine or at least most of them or will watch–
JENNY GUY: Hope so.
GEE NONTERAH: –the replays and will share them and will defend you if everybody– anybody ever tries to badmouth you. That’s superfan status. And you want that because– I mean, you don’t want sycophantic fans, but you do want people that love you so much that when they meet somebody else who has a similar problem, they’re like, oh, you should check out this person. You must go follow this other person.
So give them small wins. Make them feel like they belong by creating events. So one thing I’m doing personally in my own, with my own brand currently is that I’m a writer. I talk about writing. So in this season, the NaNoWriMo is going on, which is the National Novel Writing Month. It’s a month where authors all over the world will set aside time to write a 50,000 word book.
Now, I’m not writing a 50,000 word book. But because I know that there are people in my audience who want to write books but who have not overcome the fear of writing a book or think it’s such a tall order that they cannot do it, I go live every morning from 8:30 to 9:30 AM, and we write our book together.
JENNY GUY: That’s awesome.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. So we go. And I started announcing that somewhere in mid-October. I’m like, hey, guys, I know so many of you in this community want to write books. I’m going to go live. You and I, we’re going to write a book together. And so now you can build a community around that. And I have people like, oh. I have people waiting to join the live.
JENNY GUY: That’s awesome.
GEE NONTERAH: And they’re in there like, hey, say hi again. Today was day four, but I’m already seeing people who are showing up everyday. People who are usually at the end of the one-hour of the Write With Me session, I tell them my word count. And I’m like, hey, today I wrote a thousand words.
And somebody says, I wrote 600. I wrote 500. And people are sending it in even after the live has gone off air. So building that community of people who want to write books, and now I’m giving them an avenue for all of us to connect with an online event is really powerful. So that’s what you can do with building.
Then that’s how you can begin to build superfans, is give them– of course, you learn about them, give them quick wins, make them insiders. Start to create a community around that subject. And as you begin to create that community, eventually what you’ll begin to notice is that the people within the community begin to talk amongst themselves. They’re not even talking to you anymore.
You brought them together. You were like the matchmaker that brought them together. And at that point, it’s like, yes, you know you’ve won. But you really can build people that absolutely love your work that becomes superfans that will follow you onto every platform simply by following these rules of knowing them, talking to them, giving them small, quick wins, then building a community around the subject that you have chosen.
JENNY GUY: And so much so I would say even more now because people can’t connect in other ways. Creating a space for people with shared goals or wants, values, whatever it is, that people can come in to a place and actually feel connected, it’s huge.
GEE NONTERAH: Absolutely.
JENNY GUY: It’s what we all want right now.
GEE NONTERAH: Absolutely.
JENNY GUY: OK. Let’s take it– so you’ve talked a little bit about how you’re creating. What platform are you going live on? Because we’ve talked about how we can sell via our blog with our writing, but how are you making this? Can you give us some platform-specific examples on how to use story selling on your different platforms, beyond just a blog, beyond just writing?
GEE NONTERAH: Right. I think, of course, as bloggers, your first point of storytelling would be through your blog. But I also think a platform like Instagram is really great for storytelling just because Instagram is very visual.
I don’t know if “stolen” is the word, but they’ve also borrowed features from a lot of popular platforms because the stories idea was originally on Snapchat. They now have Reels which was originally on TikTok. And so they have all these features that you– on Instagram that you– and it’s really versatile– that you can use to tell different stories about what’s going on, and so about what’s going on with you.
So I think that for bloggers, Instagram– and you don’t have to use Instagram. I’m just using this as an example because I use it, and I’ve seen others use it powerfully for storytelling. And the idea there is to have a compelling image and then to write a caption. And you would use the same rules you would use when you’re writing a blog post with opening strongly.
So have a very strong opening, too, because the way you’re going to get people to read the rest of your blog post is when your title and your opening are powerful. And so it’s the same idea. You’re going to open powerfully with your first sentence.
And so a story I tell, I’ve told one story about how I moved to San Diego and all that. But I remember recently, I was telling a story about 2020. It’s a post, and I’ll read it because–
JENNY GUY: Tragedy, obviously.
GEE NONTERAH: –that ended up being one of my most engaged posts during that month. And yes, definitely allows me– I’m just pulling it up because I want to read–
JENNY GUY: You’re good.
GEE NONTERAH: –exactly what I said.
JENNY GUY: You’re good.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. So I have a picture of me and my son. And I took that picture at a really low point in my life. This was the beginning of 2019.
I really had a really low moment. I was depressed. And I had bought a new camera. So I told my husband to go out with me and my son and to take a picture of us. I just wanted to like do something that didn’t keep me at home.
So I was really in a sad place. And I took this picture with my son sitting there. We’re kind of hugging. So that’s already like a melancholic picture a bit. It’s like you’re sitting on a bench hugging your child, and you’re kind of looking away from the camera. So compelling picture, that’s the first thing.
Then I wrote, “Honest moment. This year I haven’t posted a lot on Instagram because everything I am doing seems pointless in light of the heavier issues in the world right now. We’ve dealt with COVID, Black Lives Matter, we’re in election year.” And at that time when I was writing this, there was also something going on with Nigeria, and I’m from West Africa originally. And I’m not from Nigeria, but it also affects me because it’s in the subregion.
And I said, “I cry at least once a week over one issue or the other. And as a sensitive introvert, I do think everything I’m doing seems pointless.” Then I go– because I knew that this was something people were feeling because that’s what I was hearing. And I also felt the same way. So I posted that.
But then I changed the tone of the story a little bit. And I just say, “But is my business pointless, though? Are the books I’m writing pointless?
They are not. A lot of us are feeling a lot right now– anger, disappointment, disbelief, wondering how much more can anybody take this year. And how can you even think properly about your business at a time like this? It’s hard, I’ll admit. But I also want you to realize that your work does matter, and it’s OK to promote your product, to continue to sell and serve.
It’s all right to tell people to watch your videos, and read your posts, and listen to your podcasts, because in some way–” and I’m sorry, I’m getting emotional again. But in some way, I do see this as activism. When you continue to do the work that you’re doing, I do see it– sorry.
JENNY GUY: No. I’m–
GEE NONTERAH: I do see it as some kind of activism because I do realize that when you have money, that’s when you can donate to causes that matter to you. When you have the money, that’s when you can influence certain decisions, even in your own little way. When you have the money, that’s when you can change people’s lives.
So it’s OK that, in a year that has required so much of us, that you still can sell. It’s OK because you are serving. And when you have that money from what you have sold, then you can put it towards things that mean a lot to you. And I got a lot of feedback on that.
So the reason why I think Instagram is powerful for that is because you can make posts like this that are there for a long time and really speak to something that a lot of people are feeling but don’t have the words to articulate. But then also be able to say, it’s OK that in 2020 that you can sell. It’s OK, but this is how we can reframe it maybe and make it about when we have the money, we can do things that matter.
So I share that because of the question that you asked. And sorry I got emotional. But then another thing that you can do is to–
JENNY GUY: Don’t you dare apologize for getting emotional. I wasn’t talking because I was emotional.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. You can also use Instagram Stories. I like to use Instagram Stories to bring people to throughout my day. Like today, I realized that I had made a mistake on my calendar. And so I said that in my Stories.
And I’m like, hey guys, today, guess what. I goofed up, and I overbooked myself. But it’s going to be great. And then I take them along. And then I’m sharing my journey of writing this book that I’m writing with my audience with them. I’m telling them, hey, come join us, and let’s write this book together.
So there’s so many elements of Instagram, for instance, that you can use to storytell. I think you can do something very similar on Instagram. You can do similar things on Twitter as well. But any platform that you choose, the whole– the bottom line is that speak to what people are feeling and going through, because then you make the connection.
JENNY GUY: I’ve seen, yeah, everything you said. And thank you so much for sharing that with us, again being vulnerable. That’s a gift that you give to your audience. And I think it’s a gift that all content creators give to their audience, whether it’s a laugh that people need or a need to– ability to cry or express the vulnerability to share. Like you said, they don’t have the ability or the words necessarily to say it. They don’t have the freedom for whatever reason.
But you sharing it using your platform to express it gives them a freedom, gives them that cathartic because everybody needs it. Whether it’s a piece of music or an Instagram post or whatever it is, give people the ability to get that feeling out of themselves. Get it out, that’s festering. I don’t know. I’m not being articulate because I’m also emotional, but thank you for sharing that.
GEE NONTERAH: We’re having– it’s an emotional year. It’s OK.
JENNY GUY: It is. It really, really is. It’s hard. And like you said, it’s so hard not to also just look at everything that’s so big and huge and not go– feel that what you’re doing doesn’t mean anything. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard not to.
But I will speak and say that I’ve seen content creators and the work that you guys do valued more than ever this year because it’s been one of the only ways that people have been able to experience fresh content and people reflecting back to them what their lives are like in this really dark time. So yeah. Don’t ever feel like what you do doesn’t matter if you can help it, because it does. It matters.
Let’s talk about email marketing before I start crying again. We talked about email marketing a little bit this summer. And I would love to talk more about it.
What role does story selling play in your email marketing? And give us your top email marketing tool or tip, because I think anyone who has any experience in selling, or sales, or affiliate know that email marketing is gold in terms of conversions and actually building those superfan relationships. So please, share something there.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. Yes, absolutely. Email is powerful. We already know that.
And one of the more reasons why is because a social media platform can be pulled out from under you at any point. But if you have your email list, then that’s a way for you to keep in touch with at least a section of your audience. So I do think it’s important to build one, and I do think it’s important to communicate with them regularly.
Now, that could be different for a lot of people. I do recommend at least once a week. I think once a week is a good place to be. If you can do at least once a week, that works.
There are times when even I fall off the wagon, and I’ll email once in two weeks, so maybe twice a month. But the point is to keep the conversation going. And the way you do that is, again, by telling these stories. The ones– there’s always the emails where I’m giving a story or speaking to [INAUDIBLE]–
JENNY GUY: Can I just say that you– everything you say is so freakin’ mind opening and eye opening to me.
GEE NONTERAH: Oh, really?
JENNY GUY: No, honestly, when I think about email, it never would have occurred to me to think keep the conversation going, because we look at it as a way that we’re talking at somebody. And looking at it as a conversation is a totally different way of looking at email. Sorry [INAUDIBLE] what you were saying [INAUDIBLE].
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah, no problem. I’m glad to– I really do see it as a conversational tool. Yes, it’s a powerful tool for you to send your blog post and your YouTube videos and all that. And I do that, too. But I think it’s also a powerful way to just talk to people.
And I will usually invite people to reply to me. Sometimes people reply, sometimes they don’t. I gave the invitation, though. But when I do get replies, it’s very impactful.
I’ve had replies from a 16-year-old. There was a 16-year-old that was signed up to my email list. And she was like–
JENNY GUY: That’s awesome!
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah, it was something crazy. But she told me, yeah, I want to start a business, but I feel like I don’t know if you’re the right person to tell this. But I feel like I’m not very nice to my mom, and I just need somebody who can help me with that. And I was like, I don’t know why she thought I was the person to speak to. But I think I just–
JENNY GUY: I can guess, but I’ve been around you a couple times now, and I figure probably that’s why they want to talk to you. But that’s good.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. But I just said, I just– I gave her some advice. I don’t even– I just wrote something. I’m like, hey, I’m pretty sure your mom is just trying her best. And just try to see things from her perspective and do your best at school– something very grown up.
And then she wrote back and said, oh my God, thank you so much for responding. And thank you so much. That helped. I’m going to do exactly that. I’m like, what? It’s like what just happened?
So there are people on your email list that are– that will follow you just because they feel like when your email hits their inbox, they’re just getting a letter from one of their friends. And because you’re keeping that conversation going and they’re interested in what you have to offer, when you do offer it, they’re most likely going to get it, because they do need it. But they also enjoy your companionship.
So I do see email as– so it has to be frequent. A friend that hasn’t talked to you in two years is different from a friend that talks to you every day. They’re two different relationships. So keep it regular.
I would say also that I– there’s been some arguments, and I’ve read different sides of this, of whether your emails need to be long or short. And I think it’s a mix because you will meet– you have different people on your list. There’s some people that need to see three bullet points, and then they’re good. And there are people that want to read, and read, and read.
But what I find is that if the email is too long, people usually skip, don’t read the whole thing. So I try to be somewhere in the middle where I do have emails that are super short. And I’m like, go watch my YouTube video.
Then I have emails where I’m telling a story. And usually I’ll start out by saying, hey, you’re going to need some tea for this.
JENNY GUY: I like it.
GEE NONTERAH: You’re going to need a drink for this. So go and grab your favorite juice and then come and listen to what we have to say. And then we make it– again, make it conversational. That’s another tip that I have.
So regularity, so keep the conversation going. At least once a week send something out. Short or long is up to you, but I think somewhere in between works.
And then the last tip is do collect emails. The only way you’re going to have an email list is to collect emails. And sometimes I’ll go to people’s websites. I’m like, oh, you don’t have any kind of offer to email. So if you don’t have that– and I know most bloggers at this point, Mediavine bloggers are so [INAUDIBLE].
JENNY GUY: [INAUDIBLE] how many that I’ve met that say, I have emails, but I don’t do anything with them.
GEE NONTERAH: Right. So if you have, so build it. But to that, I love that you brought that up. I have emails, but I don’t do anything. There are a few ways to go around it.
You can start emailing them. A lot of people are going to unsubscribe because you haven’t emailed them in a long time, and they’ve forgotten who you are. And that’s going to be fine.
But the reality of the matter is that even though they’re signed up for your email, there are also people that cross pollinate. So they do follow you sometimes on one of your social media platforms as well as your email list. So they still get to see– they get some interaction from you.
But what’s worse is if you don’t email, you don’t update your social media, and you don’t update your blog. Then that one, what are you doing? So that’s where it becomes a tough one.
But I think that because some people may be so connected with your social media, when you send those emails, those people will still stay on your email list. And the people that want to say like who is this will just unsubscribe, and that’s fine. But once you do that, then you just keep going.
A little trick I used to use– I don’t do it as much anymore because I just don’t have the time– is actually– I’m just reading Michelle’s comment. But actually–
JENNY GUY: [INAUDIBLE] Hi, Michelle.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah. Actually, I learned this from another bigger blogger a long time ago, but to set the way– you know how you set time aside to write your blog posts? So at the beginning of the month– let’s say you’re going to send out an email a week– prewrite your blog. Prewrite your emails. So if you know that you’re going to release some video content, some blog content, whatever, just prewrite the emails and then have them ready.
So then every week you can just push send. You can just maybe add a link or change something and push send on that email because you would have already created it at the beginning of the month. And this becomes really useful for when you– of course, when you’re going to launch anything. You should be doing that way in advance.
But when you’re going to launch anything, if you’re doing affiliate marketing, if you’re trying to get people to come read a blog post or listen to the podcast, that becomes really relevant. That becomes really helpful in being consistent and not having so many unsubscribes.
And Michelle says, they are going to unsubscribe and complain about this. Yeah, but this even happens when you–
JENNY GUY: But if you are [INAUDIBLE]–
GEE NONTERAH: And this even happens when you email regularly, by the way.
JENNY GUY: Oh, really?
GEE NONTERAH: Sometimes, yeah.
JENNY GUY: I mean, but the thing is, like Michelle said, I’ve heard people say, well, but my email list is– I lost 300 people. But did you have them if you weren’t emailing them? And then when you email them–
GEE NONTERAH: Exactly.
JENNY GUY: –they don’t want to be on your list anymore? I don’t feel like you have them. Plus it’s more expensive. So if they’re not your people, then they’re not your people. And that’s OK.
GEE NONTERAH: They’re not your people.
JENNY GUY: They’re not your superfans. You’re not building a super fandom. And yeah, I think that that’s important.
All right. We’re almost done. We’re almost out of time, which is heartbreaking. I want your top takeaway for our audience so they can start right now in Q4 three weeks before Black Friday.
Are we three weeks? I don’t even know. Four weeks? I don’t know. What is time?
But Black Friday is this month, I do know that. And Cyber Monday is this month. So if you can give us top tips on implementing story selling now, I’m going to make a quick announcement, and then we’ll come back to you real quick.
Guys, our next episode of Teal Talk is in two weeks. It is Thursday, November 19. We are at this point going to be talking to Mediavine own Danielle Speisman, Influencer Marketing Associate, and Stephie Predmore, Director of Influencer and Marketing. It is going to be everything you ever wanted to know about working with brands but were afraid to ask. We’re going to talk about stuff from what brand reps will be looking for in 2021 to items that you absolutely must negotiate in your scope of work. So don’t miss that.
Also, if you are watching and whether you’re live or on the replay, please subscribe to the Mediavine YouTube channel and like our Facebook page, so you won’t have to miss another episode of Teal Talk with amazing guests like my wonderful one today, Gee Nonterah. Gee, tell us that– where we can get in touch with you. And also give us that top tip, if you don’t mind.
GEE NONTERAH: Thank you. Thank you so much again for this opportunity. I really appreciate it.
JENNY GUY: You’re awesome. Thank you for coming here, making my week.
GEE NONTERAH: Yeah, absolutely. So you can find me on geenonterah.com. That’s my website. These days, I mostly produce content on YouTube because #momlife. So I don’t have quiet to write as much. But I do YouTube videos. So I think my YouTube channel was– the link was shared in here. Thank you for–
JENNY GUY: We’ll share it again, though.
GEE NONTERAH: To Mediavine, thank you for sharing that. I’m also very active on Instagram. So @geenonterah. It’s just my name. So I’d love to connect with you there. Come say hi.
I think my biggest tip as far as story selling goes is– I was sorting through all the tips in my head, but I think one would be to start getting ready for 2021. You can begin to start talking to your audience now. A super easy thing you can do today is wherever your audience hangs out, wherever you hang out the most, I want you to put out an announcement and say, hey, I’d love to chat with five of you on Zoom in the next week.
Here’s my Calendly schedule. Schedule 15 minutes with me, and I’d love to talk to you, because I’d really love for you to be able to talk to the people behind the screen who are encountering you and find out, why are they reading your blog? Why are they following you on social media?
What are some of their fears? Where are they in life? Who are they? Even if all you can do for the rest of the year is talk to five of such people, I think that you’ll be way ahead in your story selling game because you will begin to tell stories that matter to those people, because if there’s one like them, there’s about 100 or 1,000 like them. And you’ll be able to speak their specific language and get even better at selling.
JENNY GUY: Gee Nonterah, you are as always an inspiration. Thank you for sharing your tips, and thank you for sharing your heart. We’re so glad to have you again. And everybody else, please be well. Take care of yourselves. Take care of each other. And we will see you in a couple of weeks. Bye now.
GEE NONTERAH: All right. Bye.
JENNY GUY: Bye.
GEE NONTERAH: Thank you.
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