10 Questions to Improve Your Brand Storytelling (and How they Helped Me)



I had an unpleasant realization recently.

I was at a retreat with some of my coworking friends and we were talking about the importance of storytelling as a way to humanize your brand.

I realized that, for as much as I talk about content, I’m not doing a great job of brand storytelling. I’m relatively well-known in the coworking world, especially when it comes to content marketing, but most people who follow me know very little beyond the fact that I’m based in Santa Cruz, California.

I made a commitment in that moment to dig deeper into my story, and be more courageous about sharing it as part of my brand and business.

I have some ideas in the works about the best ways to do that, including the soon-to-be-launched Coworking Out Loud Podcast, but I still had questions about where to start my story.

Then I stumbled upon this Social Media Today post that challenges people to answer key questions about their brand. I took the challenge and invite you to do the same. Here are the questions and my responses.

1. What is your brand story?

I spent 20-ish years supervising record stores. Most recently, I spent 16 years at Streetlight Records, an independent shop in Santa Cruz.

In 2009, I started freelance writing about music. That expanded into writing about community and the sharing economy for a bunch of different publications.

I joined my first coworking space when I started freelancing as a way to get out of the house. Although that first space wasn’t the best fit for me, I loved coworking from the start and I wrote as much about it as publications would let me.

I became known in the industry as the person covering the coworking movement.

In 2015, I went all-in on coworking content. I write primarily about shared workspaces for publications, and I help different spaces, regional alliances, coworking-aligned businesses and community organizations with their own content marketing strategy and creation.

I wrote an ebook titled Coworking Out Loud to help space operators create a content marketing strategy. I send a weekly newsletter out to coworking space operators. I launched the Coworking Content Alliance in May of 2017, and at GCUC Canada in Vancouver, B.C., I was recognized by Women Who Cowork as a pioneering person in coworking because of my writing and content contributions to the movement.

2. Who are the characters in your brand story?

Me, my coworking community, and the global community of coworking friends, space operators, publications, service providers and peers.

3. What is the setting?

Santa Cruz, California. I live here with my beloved partner of 22-plus years. We met in a redwood grove in the Santa Cruz Mountains and, it’s safe to say, I was bedazzled by her from the start.

Also, the world. The distributed coworking movement has no boundaries.

4. What are the lessons learned?

So many. Here are some off the top of my head:

  • Do what you love
  • Go all-in on your passions
  • Don’t be afraid to let things go to make space for new things
  • Be courageous
  • Be vulnerable – it’s where all the good stuff is
  • Running a one-woman business is hard…and awesome
  • Coworking, when done well, transforms lives
  • Community is everything. Without it, we are nothing
  • Everyone wants to belong
  • Content marketing works
  • Most space operators want content
  • Many don’t create it because they don’t make time for it, they don’t trust their writing, or they don’t know what to write about

5. What happened and is happening on the journey of building your brand and business?

I’m learning to better prioritize my to-dos, simplify my life and business, say no to some things so I can say yes to others, and let go of things that aren’t aligned with my goals and big picture vision.

Coworking space operators: Get the Coworking Out Loud newsletter, with curated articles, interesting ideas, and content tips, sent to your inbox every Thursday.

6. What differentiates your brand story from your competition?

What differentiates me from other content marketing experts is my depth and breadth of understanding of this industry – and my passion for coworking.

What differentiates me from other marketers in the coworking industry are my connections, human approach, longtime insider experience, and background in publishing. I’ve written thousands of articles and interviewed hundreds of people about coworking, community, the sharing economy and collaboration.

7. Why did you start your business in the first place?

I started freelance writing to make a little money on the side and satisfy my lifelong need to write.

I started writing about coworking because this movement makes my soul come alive, day after day. I want to use my best skills to further and support it.

8. What is your short, medium and longer term vision and mission?

Short term vision and mission:

  • Support and further the coworking movement
  • Continue to improve and streamline my offerings
  • Get my first course launched
  • Get the Coworking Out Loud Podcast launched
  • Continue to grow my content consulting business

Medium term vision and mission:

  • Support and further the coworking movement
  • Have a suite of products to help coworking space operators with their content, digital marketing and branding
  • Start a group coaching program
  • Do more workshops and teaching around coworking content
  • Travel more to coworking events and spaces

Long term vision and mission:

  • Support and further the coworking movement
  • Write more books
  • Do more teaching
  • Meet more people in coworking and the shared workspace industry
  • Continue doing work that makes my soul come alive

9. How do you do what you do?

I write. A lot. My friend Angel from Cohere Community says my tagline should be, “I like the alphabet.”

I’m also good at juggling to-dos, time management, and using tools that help me keep it all organized. Asana is my current favorite, but Trello and Google Drive are my old standbys.

I also walk, stretch, play music, bullet journal and golf pretty regularly. I gave up drinking and drugs 11-plus years ago, so being active and creative is the best way I have to decompress and give my mind a break from work to-dos and pressures.

10. Who do you help? What have the specific results been to date?

I help coworking space operators, regional alliances, community organizations and coworking industry service providers.

The results are a ton of traffic driven to websites, new coworking space members, local and international attention for clients, creating clear content strategies for spaces, lots of free content, tips and resources, and more.

Your turn: How’s your brand story looking? Can you answer all the above questions? I’d love to hear your experience with brand storytelling.

Each Thursday I send the Coworking Out Loud newsletter to coworking space operators. Join the community.

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