A Celebration of Storytelling

As a content writer, I use words to share marketing messages and to help businesses tell their story. This storytelling enables them to differentiate their brand, products and services from the competition. I also enjoy reading for pleasure and sharing stories, which is why I am a fan of World Book Day.

World Book Day

World Book Day is an annual event promoting the benefits of reading and writing. It is a day to celebrate words and the power of language.

For young children, stories can help them spot patterns, learn sounds and rhythms and see familiar things. As reading develops, books open up new worlds and characters. Sharing stories from a young age encourages children to see reading as a pleasure, not a chore.

Books allow readers to safely explore new situations and worlds, see things from a fresh perspective and fire up their imagination. The great thing about reading is that you stay in control of the pace and the images that are created. No two readers will absorb and respond to a book in quite the same way.

Through lockdown, books have provided me with a means to escape the four walls of the home. I have read several travel adventures and stories set in foreign lands. It offers transportation to other cultures, even when you have to stay home. What books have you favoured?

Share a Story

World Book Day encourages us to share a story. This could be giving someone a book that you have read and enjoyed or reading a story to someone. Alternatively, you could listen together to a story being read online or an audiobook. No matter what your age, sharing a story can bring delight.

I believe that early interaction with books offers a great start in life. I read stories to my daughter from birth. We were regular visitors to the Aylesbury library and enjoyed the ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ sessions. She is now in secondary school, still loves reading and has embarked on writing an adventure story.

Community Storytelling

A few years ago, I was working on a community project. The need for more story groups for babies, tots and parents was identified. With a shelf of books at home, I decided to volunteer. ‘Storytime and Song’ was set up as a weekly session held at the Healthy Living Centre in Aylesbury.

When lockdown hit last year, we wanted to find a way to keep sharing stories. I started posting a weekly story on Facebook, which was shared with some of the parents and the in-house nursery staff. It has proved popular with other contacts too. This small local group has expanded to friends in Lancashire, Suffolk, Holland, Luxembourg and Portugal!

Lockdown has encouraged many stories to be shared online. If you have younger children, or even older relatives that might enjoy listening, check out Story Corner and Coles Books Facebook Page.

I am hopeful that it will soon be safe for the group to meet again.

Donate and Borrow Books

A great thing about books is that they offer affordable entertainment. When libraries reopen, you can become a member for free and borrow titles that appeal. Charity shops and second-hand bookshops are also great places to find the work of great authors at affordable prices. Then swap with friends and family.

My daughter and I also set up a street library during the first lockdown. Many books were donated and borrowed and people of all ages thanked us.

If you have novels going spare, you could donate them to a community library or charity shop when they reopen. If you have textbooks and resources that support study, Build on Books is a great charity that donates resources to schools in Africa.

Share a Story Today

If you have children in primary school, you may feel relief in not having to make or buy a costume this year. Dressing up outfits can be a challenge, but the real purpose of the day is a celebration of stories, reading and writing. Why not take the time to share a story today?


Reading and Writing

Unsurprisingly, blog writing and webpage content are not the top priority for many businesses at the moment. I also volunteer, running a weekly Storytime & Song session in a local community centre. That too is temporarily on hold.

My day is now largely spent facilitating home school, whilst keeping out of the way of my husband, (for whom home working does not come naturally). I was dreading it at first, but I can honestly say that I’ve learnt a lot!! Online lessons and worksheets from school have been much appreciated, but that still leaves time to fill.

One of the community projects that my daughter and I prepared is a mini-library. She is an avid reader and reluctant to part with books, but it took less persuasion than expected. We both sorted a pile of books that we were unlikely to read again.

Having filled a cardboard box, we created posters and flyers. The library was positioned at the end of the drive and flyers distributed during our daily walk. We also promoted the result on her school Facebook page.

Each dry morning, the library is ‘opened’ and we bring it in at the end of the day. It is great to spot which books have been borrowed or swapped. With further donations from neighbours, the library has grown to include different genres.

With the prospect of at least another three weeks of social distancing, we hope that this small community project will provide a few people with some fresh reading material.


What do your Customers Think?

As a freelance copywriter, work is always varied. Each project involves research to gain an understanding of the subject matter from the customer’s perspective. I need to convey the message that the company wants to deliver, in a manner which appeals to the reader.

No task has involved as much customer research as a three-month project that I took on at the end of 2018.

Gathering Views from the Community

A local charitable organisation wanted to submit a funding application. The funding body wanted clear evidence that any allocated funding would be used to directly benefit the community. Rather than look at demographical data, the funding body required that the organisation went out and spoke with the community.

I took on the challenge of compiling and executing a plan to get over 300 representative views, through direct conversations with community members. It was no mean feat!

I compiled the findings into a report, which accompanied the funding application. The outcome of the research was fascinating. Many of the reasons that people liked about living in the area would not have shown up on standard data; including the green areas, or the close proximity of family or friends.

The areas for improvement from the community’s perspective focused on cleaning up litter, making it easier for school children to cross the roads and more information about local activities and events. These points would not have been priorities if an outside agency was to look at employment, crime, free school meal allocation or other such statistics on the area.

The Importance of Speaking Directly to Customers

As a freelance copywriter, this community project highlighted the importance of speaking directly to customers for feedback on my services.

Every business knows that they need to meet the needs of their customers in order to survive. Many companies spend money researching their target client group. They sit behind a desk reviewing data and may even send out the occasional survey to get customer feedback.

Data can certainly offer insight, however, when it comes to customers, it can also lead us to make assumptions. We read data from our perspective and impart our own values and opinions on what it tells us. As the community project clearly illustrated, this does not necessarily tally with the experience of others.

Placing Value on Personal Interaction with Customers

I know that personal interaction has been fundamental in developing good customer relations, as well as future referrals. I enjoy meeting my customers in person and it is a skill I observe in many other freelancers and small business owners. It is this personal touch, combined with a willingness to adapt, that can give micro-businesses an advantage over large corporations.

If it has been a while since you last spoke to one of your loyal customers in person, I would recommend dedicating a little time to having an open conversation.

Bid Application

Unfortunately, this particular bid application was unsuccessful, although there was very positive feedback on the research.

“Everyone involved did a great job in reaching a large and diverse group of residents and gathering feedback from the community. The range of methods used was positive. The engagement process seems to have provided the opportunity to build new relationships with residents and local groups, which we hope will support your work into the future.”

Alex Kerney – Senior Partnerships and Learning Officer

All is not lost. The report is now being used to inform future funding applications that clearly tie into the priorities of the community.


How to Reach your Ideal Customers

Getting in front of your ideal customers, at the point when they need your services, is a challenge for any small business. As a freelance copywriter, many people don’t immediately see a value in my services. They can write, have a good command of language and know their business inside out. Writing website content is something that they can manage in-house.

I can drop optimisation into the conversation, or highlight the advantages of an object perspective, but these aren’t sufficiently strong convincers at that moment in time.

The trick is to identify the point at which writing content became an inconvenience. The moment when they realised that writing page copy was more hassle than it was worth. At this ‘pain’ point, it becomes far easier to sell my services.

Is it really cost effective to prepare content in-house?

Having previously worked in a Web Design agency, I had insight. When a web design project is commissioned, a high proportion of customers would decide to produce the content themselves. Against advice, they believed that their photographic, video production and writing skills would suffice.

Preparing all content in-house certainly helped to keep the cost of the website build down. For a start-up company, this budget conscious approach is understandable. For established, professional organisations, it seems short-sighted.

Content creation is a time-consuming task and their efforts could be put to better use in their area of expertise. Several weeks, or months, into the project, when content creation was still at the bottom of their ‘to do’ list, they realised that this was a stress they could do without. At this ‘pain’ point, they asked for help.

Small Business Networking

At small business networking, I’ve met with a number of web designers. By recommending my services, they provide a solution for their customers in the hour of need. This collaborative approach keeps the project moving, which leads to satisfied customers. It also helps to complete the job, so they can get paid.

In my local small business networking group, we considered who we should be working with, in order to reach our ideal customers at their point of need. These were the results of our discussion:

  • A High Wycombe based Interior Designer is looking to connect with independent bathroom companies to create showroom displays that would showcase her work.
  • A Berkhamsted based Will Writing Solicitor is interested in speaking with parenting groups regarding the importance of creating a will to clarify child care intentions.
  • A Stratford-Upon-Avon based Communications Specialist is keen to make connections with industrial estate managers, especially in areas with unreliable broadband.
  • A Watford based Cashflow Expert wants links to Business Coaches, Accountants and IFAs that have built trusted relationships with clients.
  • A Buckinghamshire based Commercial Photographer wishes to talk with event managers about capturing public interactions with displays, activities and exhibitors.

So, speaking directly to your ideal customers at the right time can be a challenge, but build up strong connections and you may find a way. Who should you be talking to? If you believe that I can help you, please get in touch:


Dementia Week Blog Writing

An inspiring lady called Benedicta Lasoye (Bee) recently visited my daughter’s school. Her aim was to increase awareness of Dementia in the younger generation.

With many of the children knowing someone with Dementia, Bee also shared ideas on how they could still interact with grandparents and friends. The suggestions included enjoying songs and music together, or looking through photos from the past.

My grandparents suffered from Dementia, so my daughter understood that conversations were often confusing or repetitive. She did make an effort to learn some songs and Christmas carols, so my Grandma would sing along; on one occasion, she even got my Grandma up dancing to The ‘Hokey Cokey’!

During Bee’s visit, the school pupils all agreed to become Dementia Friends. The teachers encouraged the children to write a blog based on what they had learnt. To mark Dementia Awareness week, I thought I would share my daughter’s blog writing skills.

Do Your Grandparents Have a Secret?

Bee from Dementia Friends recently visited TJS and we’ve become the biggest group of local supporters that she’s ever made in one day!

Although I am proud to be a Dementia friend, I think that it is important to spend time with elderly people, such as your grandparents, before they start forgetting things.

My Grandad is a bit wobbly on his feet now, but used to play county cricket. He’s taught me to play chess, but he hasn’t told me his ‘five moves to win’ secret, so he usually wins!

My Granny used to be an English Teacher. We share a passion for fossils and both enjoy word games. She spends a lot of time looking after Grandad, so we both enjoy going out together. I think Grandad likes it too (because he can sneak lots of chocolate whilst Granny is out).

If you enjoy reading books such as Grandpa’s Great Escape and Gangster Granny, you might be interested in the stories that your Grandparents have to tell you. Who knows, maybe they have some secrets too!



If you are an Aylesbury based business or organisation that is keen to build your awareness of how to become more Dementia Friendly, you can contact Benedicta: