How to Plan Content Like a Storyteller for Your Small Business
Have you ever opened an email, watched a TikTok video, or read an Instagram caption only to be left wondering, “Why did they share that?”
Did it negatively affect how you viewed that person (or how they do business)? Did it negatively affect how you feel about sharing your own story?
Every time I’ve questioned why someone shared something, it was because of what they shared
- Was completely unrelated to their niche, industry, and business,
- Included way more personal information than necessary to get the point across,
- Or made it clear they didn’t plan what they were going to say ahead of time.
I find that when most people consider sharing their stories to grow their audience, they think
- they have to know everything there is to know about their field or niche,
- no one will care about what they have to say,
- Or they have to share all their personal business to connect with people.
The truth is when it comes to sharing your own story, your audience doesn’t need you to be a perfect version of yourself. Your people don’t need you to have it all together. And your community doesn’t even need you to be the next big guru.
They just need you to be YOU!
Everything you need to build a relationship with your audience already exists inside your story. It’s those experiences that
- will help your people feel understood by you.
- got you to where you are today.
- will help someone else get where they want to be too.
Sharing your story is the perfect way to guide your audience, customers, and clients through your shared journey but with way more insight and ease because they have you to help them.
But that doesn’t mean you have to share everything with them!
So how do you share your story without sharing all your business?
By sharing stories that are relatable to your audience and relevant to your business.
By sharing stories that you are comfortable with a lot of people you haven’t met yet asking you about.
And by planning your content (and what you’re going to say) before you share (or say) it!
Step 1: Get clear on what your audience needs to know about you and your business.
Are you creating content to nurture and connect with your audience on Instagram? Are you working on a presentation you have coming up? Or are you trying to figure out the content of a workshop series you’re launching soon?
Open your calendar so you can see the next 90 days. Take note of any events happening during that time period making note of things like
- speaking engagements,
- Live and in-person workshops,
- Product or program launches,
- Investor pitches and presentations,
- Important dates and deadlines,
- or important seasons in your industry.
Once you’re clear on all the events you have coming up over the next 90 days, get clear on the amount and type of content you’ll need before, during, and after each event. Also, think about when and where you’ll be sharing each piece of content.
Then start brainstorming stories to share based on who your audience is and what you want them to know about you, your business, and your niche during that time period.
For example, this blog post was a part of my general nurture and connect content focused on step 3 of my Transformative Helpful Content method — organize your thoughts and ideas.
Step 2: Get clear on your purpose for sharing each story before sharing it.
Just because you want to share certain stories doesn’t mean you should. Remember how I said every story you share needs to be relatable to your audience and relevant to your business?
After brainstorming stories to share with your audience, review each one making note of why you’re sharing it.
Does the story back up your brand story? Does it tell people
- who you are,
- who you serve,
- what you believe in,
- why you do what you do,
- or how you do it differently?
I know how difficult it can be to go from the idea phase to the execution phase so that an idea doesn’t become something that never sees the light of day.
Everything I share to support step 3 of my framework is focused on helping you sort through
- your brand story,
- Your story library,
- Your expertise,
- and any idea that comes to mind
without becoming overwhelmed, from the point of view of a creative professional who does it for a living!
Step 3: Make sure each story is right for your audience.
Your audience doesn’t have to have the exact same experiences as you to relate to your story, though it does help.
After brainstorming stories to share with your audience, ask yourself if each individual story will resonate with your audience. Can your audience relate to the experience or the lesson in the experience?
For me, it’s important to acknowledge that a lot goes into creating content and marketing your business, no matter who you are.
So while it makes sense to share stories about what getting through the process looks like in my ad career, it may not make sense to talk about office politics among ad creatives or what it’s like to work with a 40-person production team.
Why? Because my audience is full of small business owners with no or very few employees like you! You’re probably not an advertising creative or marketing professional working in a corporate environment.
(Though you may be one who supports small business owners!)
Step 4: Set goals for each story you plan to share.
You know your stories are relatable to your audience and relevant to your business but what do you want people to do with the information you’ve shared with them?
Do you want them to follow or subscribe to your account? Do you want them to sign up for your lead magnet and email list? Do you want them to click on a link?
Do you want them to book a call with you? Or do you want them to like, comment, share, or save so you know they’re resonating with your content?
I share simple, educational content in Instagram Reels and then encourage people to follow for more storytelling tips because most of my views come from people who aren’t already following me.
(If you’re not following @showandtellacademy on Instagram, do it now!)
I share more detailed personal experiences in emails and then encourage people to read blog posts like this one because the story either prepares them for the information shared or backs up why the advice in the blog post is so important.
Step 5: Use a content calendar to stay organized.
I find most content-related advice is focused on social media and other online content but I want you to think bigger than that!
In step 1, I suggested reviewing your calendar for the next 90 days and making a note of any events happening during that time period so you know the amount of and type of content you’ll need.
Once you’re clear on which stories you plan to share, where you’ll share them, and why, you’ll want to keep them organized. The easiest way to do that is with a content calendar!
A content (or editorial) calendar is a resource that helps you plan and organize your content for sharing with your audience. Depending on your needs, you can organize your calendar on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even bi-annual basis. (Via SemRush)
Regardless of the timeline you choose, the purpose of a content calendar is to help you keep track of all the content you or your team will eventually create and share.
How you organize your content calendar depends on your needs and your team but I do share the one I found to be easiest to use in the Show Up & Share Your Story Starter Kit.
In my own content calendar, I organize my thoughts by sticking to one theme each month (or two). That means 3 to 4 blog posts, 4-5 emails, and 14-30 Instagram posts cover one step in my Transformative Helpful Content method.
And each email or Instagram post was created by pulling directly from a blog post like this one!
Ready to learn how to use the power of your story to grow your audience no matter where you share it?
Download my free guide so you can learn:
- 7 practical approaches to sharing your story,
- Why each technique is so powerful (& why it works),
- How to use them effectively for your needs,
- And my 4-step method for sharing your story.