July 14, 2016

Selecting what to write about

I had an email conversation last week with David, who is a Nurture Email Mastery course graduate. David had a question about story selection.

I was wondering, how do you decide what to write about each day? I understand that you have a wealth of material in your Evernote journals to pull content and stories from but how do you decide which ones to use and when to use them?

My response:

Regarding story selection, quite often I will just get excited about a particular story I want to tell or share. The Tony Blair image from this morning came up in my Facebook news feed, and I thought it was too good not to use. I actually had a different email ready to go, which will now go out next week.

So I’ll normally have a story in mind that I want to use, but if I need to I can go rooting around in Evernote. I add 3-5 notes to Evernote a week, mostly based around my incessant habit of watching BBC documentaries.

Remember you can always use the reconnect to fit story to content.

I’ve had a few additional thoughts on story selection I thought worth sharing.

If you write regularly everybody expects you to write about obvious things. If you run yoga classes, everybody expects you to write about yoga. If you sell copywriting, everybody expects you to write about copy.

The problem when you do this is you end up regurgitating the same information over and over. You cannot regurgitate the same information and then be surprised when everybody yawns in your face.

The trick is to tell a surprising or seemingly unrelevant story, and then make itrelevant to your message.

As mentioned above I’ll normally have at least one ’emergency story’ in reserve, in case I’m stuck for things to write about. Monday’s Q-ships article was actually an emergency story. Often on a Monday I won’t have prepared what I want to write for the week, so Monday’s emails often dip into the emergency story reserve.

When you select a story you have to do a quick reference check to make sure people will know what you’re talking about. If you look at the Q-ships article I deliberately started by talking about the Battle of the Somme, not about Q-ships. When you select a story the opening has to be one people will at least recognise.

After Monday I’ll write out a rough plan for the week. I’ll spend about 15 minutes scribbling out a rough outline for each day (15 minutes in total, not 15 minutes for each email). Normally I’ll just identify a ‘one idea’ for each article, and sketch out the rough flow.

Each article is then prepared at the latest the day before, at least as far as draft format.

Annoyingly many of my ideas come during the night. Roughly two days out of five I’ll go off-piste and write about something completely different when I wake up.

The deadline for each daily email, as you know, is 9AM. After that I have 9 – 12 blocked off for client work, on days I am working. I recommend setting a deadline like this, otherwise these things expand to fill the available space.

This month’s Confusion Clinic webinar is on July 27th, and will look at the story selection process in more detail. There will be more reminders on this in due course but you can register for the webinar here.

Rob Drummond

Rob Drummond runs the Maze Marketing Podcast and Maze Mastery. Rob specialises in content production, ad creation, storytelling and CRM systems. He has two published books, Magnetic Expertise and Simple Story Selling, affordable on Amazon.