Working with clients from all walks of life first involves seeing the world through their eyes. Whether that client is an artist, a translator or a soapmaker, the art of writing for them is all about being able to walk in their shoes, and capture some of the excitement that art, translation or soap brings them.
That empathy is a vital first step to being able to enter your world, and write with spark about what contribution you want to make to it.
It also applies of course to your clients. Whether you’re selling works of art, translations, body scrubs, or even your own potential as an employee, I need to understand what’s in it for them. What is the problem to which your product or service is an answer? For that I have to step out of my own shoes and work with you to enter theirs — to work out what excites them, what drives them, and what wakes them up at 3 in the morning.
Part of that can come from interviewing you, and asking you questions about your own target market, and part from taking a deep dive into similar websites, blogs and reviews, and becoming intimately acquainted with what people talk about in that world, and how.
Only when that bit of the puzzle is in place can we begin to find the right words to express it.
When it comes to writing your story or your profile, the beginning is the same. It starts with sharing the excitement about getting that story out into the world. But there’s a subtle difference as you begin to tell me all the details.
In this case, part of my role is to step back and see the bigger picture. Your life, the way you tell it, is all about the people, the encounters, the events. But because you’re so familiar with them, it can sometimes just seem like a series of unconnected dots, not part of a pattern, and not the work of art and feat of resilience it really is. And sometimes you may lack confidence about whether your story deserves to be heard. I constantly hear people saying “But there’s nothing interesting about me”.
That’s when it’s time for me to step out of your shoes and bring an outsider’s perspective. In my experience, every human story is fascinating, whether or not the person at the centre of it is aware of it. It’s just a question of framing it in such a way that what makes you unique stands out.
The people I write for are often amazed at how their life suddenly appears from the outside, and proud of what they see. It’s not about adding facts, spice or glamour — just capturing that uniqueness, and being able to convey it to others. And because humans are addicted to stories from childhood on, those who read about you inevitably then get caught up in your narrative, as long as it’s told the right way.
Shining a light on your individual journey is always a hugely enjoyable process. As is seeing the reaction of others. One of the phrases I hear most often is: “Hey, I never realised my life was that interesting!” Simple words, but which pack a huge impact.