ClubHouse Masterclass: Storytelling Time With Alex And Jamie

This Thursday, Alex Harris and I are giving a Clubhouse Masterclass in London Fields on “Storytelling for your Brand”, hosted by fellow Work.Lifer Matt Dowling of The Freelancer Club.

Now, you may be asking yourselves: who the hell are we? (Forgive the profanity, but that’s actually an important question to come back to, for reasons that we’ll go into on Thursday.)

To tell a long story short, we’re freelance journalists who’ve been on staff at national magazines such as Men’s Health and GQ and consulted and written for brands including Guinness and Samsung. Now that we’re in the wild, we’re increasingly seeing a demand for our particular set of skills from brands like these. And when we say “skills”, we don’t mean black belt-level procrastination and Kelly Slater-standard deadline surfing.

Whether you’re a growing business or wannabe journo, we can hopefully help you to write good and do other stuff good too. These are some of the topics we’ll be waffling (read: offering insight) about.

Everyone has a story to tell

We know, we know. “Storytelling” is one of those annoying buzzwords. But it’s a distinct thing from “creating content”, although we do that too. Storytelling is an art, and people love stories. A good story helps your audience understand you – and resonates – on a deeper level than a mere slogan or marketing bumf ever could. And in a crowded, noisy marketplace, that’s vitally important. (See below.)

Brands are publishers

It’s no longer enough for you to set up a website then sit back and let the eyeballs roll in. You have to engage the consumer and keep them engaged with a steady stream of stuff, from social media updates to blog posts. And you will be judged by every aspect of everything you put out, from the tone of your content to the, er, content. You’re probably judging me on this article; this sentence.

Marketing and editorial are merging

The lines between advertising and journalism are becoming hazier than the censored version of the “Blurred Lines” video. Those who work in the former increasingly need to think like those who work in the latter in order to create quality content that’s compelling, as traditional display ads lose their impact. But they also need to temper their “commercial imperative” and play a longer, more patient game.

Attention is in deficit

The stream of content faced by today’s consumer is more of a raging torrent. Or to torture another metaphor, the marketplace is crowded and noisy. How do you make yourself heard without shouting above the din, which makes consumers tune out? Clickbait is one way – but maybe not the way that’s going to foster much brand loyalty. (You won’t believe point five – one weird trick all brands need…)

Freelancers are brands too

It sounds like self-help book-ese, but whether you’re a one-man band or an actual brand, you have a narrative that differentiates you from your peers. Consumers and clients – who are really another consumer – are faced with a surplus of options. Why should they pick you? Indeed, who the hell are you? And if they’re in any way unclear as to the answer, your story may not have the happy ending you hope for.


This was a guest post written by Jamie Millar. He will be speaking alongside Alex Harris at the Freelancer Club event Storytelling For Your Brand on Thursday 13th October at Work.Life London Fields.