Why Aren’t I Getting More Work as a Storyteller?

Marketing is about matching what we enjoy giving, with what others are hungry to receive.

Sure, we love to tell stories—but who lies awake late at night, restlessly worrying about “I need a storyteller; where will I find one?"

Pretty much no one is desperate for “a storyteller.” But many people are desperate for what we storytellers can do.

What Do You Have to Offer?

Calling yourself “a storyteller” may be like a political candidate calling herself “a politician.” People don’t really want people to just run for office; they want people who will help lead them to a better future.

We may, in fact, be leaders, but if we tell people only that we’re politicians, we’ll get precious few votes.

So if good politicians are really leaders, what are good storytellers?

Lots of things! It all depends on what you most love to do and can do well, as a storyteller:

  • Do you like to engage people’s imaginations? (Maybe inspired business leaders need your help.)
  • Do you like to communicate the points of view of different cultures? (Maybe people concerned about diversity are lying awake wondering where they’ll find you.)
  • Do you like telling stories that help motivate people? Or that help people act as their big selves? Or that convey information clearly and memorably? (Find the people who care about what you care about!)

Don’t Call Yourself a Storyteller?

Calling yourself a storyteller can be like a computer programmer calling herself a typist. Yes, the programmer types, but that’s just a skill that aids in a much larger project.

In order to know what to call ourselves, we need clarity about one (or more) things that we help people accomplish. Only then can we expect people to understand whether we could help them with something they deeply desire.

(By the way, notice that the more desperately people want something, the harder they will look for it—and the more it will be worth paying for.)

So, to market yourself successfully:

  1. Brainstorm what you most love to help people do, through your storytelling;
  2. Find folks who are likely to desperately want help with “1”;
  3. Learn how to describe what you offer in terms they will understand; and then
  4. Find ways to reach them with your message.

To reach out to folks without knowing the answers to 1-4 is a waste of your time.

But to reach out once you know the answers to 1-4 is to offer water to the thirsty, skills to the stymied, or hope to the desperate.

Discovering 1-4 is not a simple task. But if we don’t complete it, we will be left wondering, yet again, “Why doesn’t anybody hire me?”

If not a storyteller, what? The professional coaching example

What's an example of another way to package your storytelling skills?

Please list the top seven gifts you believe that your storytelling offers. 

Now check that list. Do you see any phrases roughly similar to the following?

I love to:

  • Tell just the right story to just the right person;
  • Hear people tell the genuine stories of their lives.
  • See people becoming aware of their strengths and desires;
  • Strengthen people’s motivation through stories;
  • Use stories to help people overcome obstacles;
  • Help people discover the value of listening.

If so, you might want to consider becoming a "professional coach”: someone who helps people overcome problems in their professional lives.

In fact, many coaching skills overlap with storytelling skills.

Professional coaching is one of many possible ways to earn money using your storytelling skills.

Have you had success with this—or any other way to present yourself without labelling yourself simply as "a storyteller"? Let me know by leaving a comment, below!