GUEST POST BY SHELBY DEERING
The day I opened my writing business over three years ago, I felt a spark.
My experiences, the inspiring people I’ve met, and the articles I’ve written have now fanned that spark into a glowing, warm bonfire, lit up by joyful moments, intentional living, and true authenticity.
It was only when I followed my dream of working as a full-time lifestyle writer that I achieved this authenticity, a devotion to real connection, interactions, and words that stir the soul. Although Insta-perfect photos and seamlessly-styled blog posts will continue to serve as shareable content, there is a movement, a perceived shift in the direction of authenticity. More than ever, customers, clients, readers, and followers are clamoring for genuine stories, interactions, and behind-the-curtain truths.
Peppered in between my assignments for national magazines and lifestyle websites, I’ve taken on a number of copywriting projects for fellow small business owners, brands, and non-profits. Although I have now shifted my entire focus to writing for publications, my experiences with my clients and with running my own business taught me one thing—people crave emotional connection.
THE WAY TO ACHIEVE THAT?
Letting your guard down and putting the spotlight on your entire business, not just the one that looks pretty on social media. The parts that prove you’re not an overnight success. That perhaps you prefer the slow, intentional approach to the hustle. Your quirks. Your hobby that isn’t exactly popular. Your you-ness.
What is the best place to let your genuineness shimmer? Your content. The words you share through blog posts, social media platforms, e-books, online courses, and your website. Even your emails to clients are opportunities to get real.
HOW DO YOU GET THERE?
The following tips just might inspire that first step on the path toward creating authentic content around your business.
1. Create an authentic space.
As a décor writer, I have found that working in a space that feels completely me inspires authentic writing. Perhaps you’ve hung up all of those motivational quotes in your office: “Hustle.” “Don’t stop until you’re proud.” “Work hard.” If those feel aligned with you and your values, great! But if they don’t quite line up with your approach, gather wall art and words that resonate with you. I recently hung up a print in my office that says, “Do not worry. The universe is guiding you.” Every time I look at it, I feel calm and centered.
Wrap in colors, patterns, and sentimental pieces that encourage your truest self to emerge, to be soothed, and to think clearly. The words you write will feel true to you if your surroundings feel true.
2. Make a list of soul-centering words.
In the past, when I started a copywriting project, the very first thing I did was to make a list of buzzwords and phrases that represented the client. Those words typically weren’t everyday or generic. Think of highly-descriptive words like “luminous.” “Magical.” Or “courageous.”
I have my own list I refer to in my business, and I go back to it when I want to weave in my “power words” into my website copy or social media posts. It also bodes well for branding when you use words and phrases that make your business instantly recognizable.
So, sit down and make that list. Don’t just use ordinary words. Dig deep. What are the words that resonate with you? Move your soul? Perfectly encapsulate your values, talents, and approach in your business? These words are your jumping-off points as you create heartstring-tugging content.
3. Don’t publish something if it doesn’t hit your sweet spot.
Most social media articles I see recommend posting every day to stay in your customers’ consciousness. Yes, this is a valid point. But what about this approach instead? Don’t publish content for the sake of publishing content. If you’ve spun out a blog post just so people will have something to share that day and the words fall flat to you, don’t hit the “Publish” button. Make sure that every word you’re putting out feels good in your soul.
In fact, ask yourself these questions before going live with a post or copy:
Does this truly represent my brand values?
Does this feel like something I’d say in real life?
- Will this go beyond simply converting people into customers? Will it make an emotional connection?
- Will I be proud to read this 5 years from now?
4. Emulate the things you love to read.
For most business owners I know, on some level, the demographic they serve is strikingly similar to them: similar personalities, beliefs, tastes. Chances are, the things you like to read will be the things you’ll write well. And when you’ve connected with the copy you’ve written, your clients will sense it. They’ll connect with it, too.
If you can’t get enough of listicles, create some for your blog. Emotional magazine stories? Draw from that style when you write text for an Instagram post. A biography you can’t put down? Pinpoint your favorite aspects of the book and interlace them into your About Me page.
In conclusion, people want to hear your story. Audiences are very wise, and nowadays, they tend to spot the anything-but-sincere, just-out-to-make-a-sale brands. When you tell your authentic story, you make room for emotional connection. A stake in your goals. Relatability. And guess what? When the words you share feel just-right in your heart, you’ll attract the clients and opportunities that vibe perfectly with you. And when the vibe is right, the work simply shines.
Authenticity—it’s the spirit of your business and everything you do.
Shelby has been telling stories all her life. It started when she created her very own “magazines” as a child, binding together crayon-scrawled words and cut-out pictures with a few staples. Today, as a lifestyle writer, print + digital journalist, and soul-centered storyteller, she’s still writing for magazines through her business, Shelby Deering, LLC. You can find her work in Midwest Living, Flea Market Décor, Bella Grace, Vintage Beautiful, and more. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her hitting a trail in her hometown of Madison, Wisconsin with her corgi, Ginger, or looking for the perfect turquoise bracelet at a flea market. Follow Shelby’s stories on Instagram at @shelbydeering.