...that will attract people who have a problem that your storytelling can solve.
Are you tired of working too hard as a storyteller and still not getting ahead financially? Of the boom-and-bust cycle that keeps you too busy half the year and too poor the rest?
This 6-week course will give you the key for getting off the storytelling treadmill.
A telephone-plus-web course led by Doug Lipman. Limited to 6!
Are You Like Sandra?
Quite a few years ago, Sandra fell in love with storytelling. She felt joy when she performed. Most of her performances were successes.
She worked with coaches, tried out different audiences, and took her family out to dinner the day she got her first check for telling stories.
"I love this,” she said. “I'm going to try to do this full time."
Over the years, she worked her way up to a good number of performances every year. She began to offer workshops, too, and even got some school residencies.
Sometimes, she had so much work she couldn't squeeze any more into her schedule. But it always seemed that the busy times were followed by times without enough work, where the money was low.
Even in her best years, she was never able to save much. As the years went by, it dawned on her that she had no prospect of retiring. Sure, she could probably keep this up through her sixties—but eventually, she'd be unable to maintain this pace.
Naturally, she tried to increase her marketing, hoping to get more higher-paying performances. She put energy into updating her brochure every year, renting school and library mailing lists and sending out brochures, letters, even postcards. She took some marketing workshops. She paid for a logo design, a website design, and even some professional ad-writing.
Each of those things seemed to help a little. But, in the end, she found herself running out of energy for half the year and out of money for the other half. And sometimes she didn't have enough of either energy or money.
Worse, she was spending so much time fretting about money and bookings that she wasn't enjoying her life as a storyteller like she used to.
What could Sandra do?
Sandra began to yearn for the simplicity of an ordinary job where she'd at least have her evenings free to do what she loved.
But her passion for storytelling wouldn't let her give up. She knew she had something to offer that the world desperately needed more of. Turning storytelling back into a hobby would mean that her skills, honed over decades, would not be available to the audiences who needed to hear stories. She couldn't easily accept the tragedy of not using her gifts.
All the same, every time the local school and library budgets went through their down cycles, she was at the point of despair. How long could her passion compete with her exhaustion?
Do You Know This Dilemma?
Have you, like Sandra, discovered the tyranny of trying to live exclusively from offering direct services? Have you discovered that you can never do enough to get ahead? When you're in high demand, there's not enough of you to go around. But neither do you earn enough in the fat times to support you in the lean ones.
The problem isn't with Sandra, or with you. Working in a field where the pay is both fairly low and fairly erratic, almost no one can make it work without dipping into their physical, emotional and financial capital.
It's true that a few tellers are popular and energetic enough to create a living for a few decades. But only a small fraction of those are able to save for retirement, much less grandchildren's college tuition.
If relying exclusively on direct services is the road to exhaustion and relative poverty, what's the alternative?
Wisdom Products Change the Equation
The complementary source of income that can get you off the treadmill is wisdom products.
To be sure, Sandra had invested quite a bit of money and effort into CDs —and CDs are, indeed, wisdom products.
What is a “wisdom product”? The value of a CD isn't the piece of plastic; it's the stories, songs, or lectures on it. The way I'm using the term, those are forms of “wisdom.”
The glory of wisdom products is that they are scaleable. That is, once you've booked 300 days of performances in a year, there is no way to multiply that by two, much less by ten or a hundred.
But suppose you sell 500 CDs in a year. Well, there's no theoretical reason that you couldn't sell 5000, or even 5 million, if you had the customers. In this sense, wisdom products are scaleable: you can scale up the income without any theoretical limit.
But CDs aren't enough to take most of us off the treadmill.
Why can’t CD’s solve the problem?
Well, CDs—like books and videos—are subject to what economists call “commodity pricing.” The amount people will pay for a CD (or a book or a video) is not gauged by how important the CD is to them, or by what changes it could make in their lives or their families. Instead, it’s gauged by the format.
CDs have a known price, a commodity price. Without knowing anything about the wisdom on your CD, your potential customer knows that a CD should cost between about $10 and $20. Similarly, a book or a video should cost somewhere between $10 and $40.
Even if the wisdom in a book could make your life happier and you’ll read it every year for the rest of your life, it still sells for only $15.
To break out of the treadmill life that Sandra found herself trapped in, you want wisdom products that are not commodity-priced.
What’s an example? Think of my Image Riding Toolkit. It contains 13 CDs, 100 pages of written materials, a poster, a laminated business card containing the “rules” of Image Riding, and comes bundled with coaching and other services and discounts.
None of those have commodity prices. In other words, no one knows what a Toolkit issupposedto cost.
Given that we don’t look to the format for the price, then we look to the value of the wisdom: “What is the wisdom worth to me?”
That’s the only way that most of us can really survive and even thrive: to offer people a solution to an important problem they face—a problem that is important enough to them that they are willing to pay to solve it, not $10 or even $50, but even more.
When we deliver the solution to such an important problem, both their and our lives will be enriched.
Even better, it's prohibitively expensive to reach the thousands of people you'd need to reach, in order to make, say, $10,000 with a $15 product. But with a $250 product, you only need to reach 40 people to add $10,000 to your income.
If the Need is Important, They Look for You
Solving an important problem is worth more money to customer. This reduces the number of customers we need to reach. But there is another, equally important advantage to solving an important problem.
People don't often search very hard for a solution to a minor need. But if I offer a solution for a major problem, potential customers look for me at least as diligently as I’m looking for them.
After all, I’m less than a needle in a haystack. Even with a website, a toll-free number, a mailing address and all the rest, I’m a very small needle in a very large mountain of hay. So, if someone isn’t looking hard for me, they won’t find me.
But if they are looking hard for me, they will put enough energyinto the search that there’s a good chance they’ll find me. This further reduces the cost to me of finding customers, because I don't need to be in their faces; I just need to be findable.
Jane Yolen likes to talk about the Japanese word, saku-taku-no-ki. Taku, she says, is the sound that a chick makes tapping inside an egg, trying to get out. Saku is the sound that the mother hen makes, tapping from the outside, trying to release the chick. No-ki is the breaking of the egg when their tappings reach the same spot on the shell.
So saku-taku-no-ki is the moment when the mother and the chick find the same place in the egg and the egg cracks.
As storytellers, we’re eager for the moment when our offerings—that we put out into the world from inside our egg—meet the pecking by a customer, seeking exactly what we offer.
That’s the magic moment of marketing connection. That moment allows the customer to get what they desperately need—and allows us to be able to continue to offer our gifts to the world.
What You Need to Know
What do you need to master, in order to be able to create such magic moments, again and again?
First, you need the ability to create wisdom products. There is learning involved, but it’s not actually that difficult. The good news: once you learn, you can repeat the process again and again, year after year, for the rest of your life. Certain techniques, in fact, can be reused endlessly in various kinds of products.
Second—and this turns out to be more important—is the choosing of a niche. You want to choose a niche narrow enough that you can stand out in it.
If I put up a website that says, “I have sugar for sale,” who would come to me? I’m not convenient compared to the grocery store or the 7-11. No one will be looking that hard for sugar, especially if there’s nothing special about my sugar. Sugar is a commodity.
Similarly, if I put up a website that says, “I tell stories,” the chances are tiny that anyone will even contact me. After all, there are so many storytellers who are more famous than I am, who have dozens of CDs and books and have been on PBS, etc. If all I am offering is “storytelling” in general, no one would care enough to work their way down to me.
But if I offer storytelling for a very specific group, the results will be different. Suppose I’m offering storytelling instruction for those who themselves need to collect the stories of ordinary people whom their organization serves, so that those ordinary people’s stories can go out to the world for social change.
In this case, I’m offering something specific enough that few people—maybe even no one else but me—would be specializing in it.
If I have the only website that speaks to that particular subject, then there is a good chance that those seeking help with that subject will find me. Even better, the people who find me will be thrilled that I’m available. I’m not an also-ran; I’m the solution they’ve been looking for.
These two things—knowing how to create a wisdom product and finding a niche—can join to help you attract people who are interested in what you have to offer.
A simple, elegant, inexpensive way to combine these is through what I call a Mutual Discovery Website.
The Mutual Discover Website
A Mutual Discovery Website (MDW) has one and only one function:
To entice people who are interested in what you offer, to give you their email addresses.
Such a website is not there to show how great you are. It is not to get people to hire you. (It can lead to those, but that’s not the function of this site.)
How do you get people to give you their email addresses? You offer them something that is of urgent interest to them.
What do you offer? A free wisdom product, a wisdom product that will be highly interesting to exactly the people who would be interested in your offering.
One Morning, I Had a Problem
On the morning of February 5, 2006, I realized that I had a problem.
In several hours, I was about to be interviewed on a national public radio show, Work With Marty Nemko, on the topic of storytelling in the workplace.
I had prepared well what I would say, how I would answer the questions Marty had sent me in advance, and what short stories I would tell. I congratulated myself on being well prepared and able to relax until the show.
Suddenly, the thought came to me: if Marty's listeners liked what I said and wanted more, how would they get in touch with me? More importantly, how could I assure my ability to get in touch with them over time, if I developed a program or product to sell to them?
To be sure, I could suggest that listeners sign up for my storytelling coach newsletter, but that seemed like a poor match with the subject of work. What I needed, I felt, was something that would tempt them to learn more about my approach to storytelling in the workplace.
In other words, I needed a prize I could award them free, in exchange for their email addresses.
Thinking quickly, I remembered a whitepaper I had prepared a couple years previously, titled, “Seven Opportunities You’re Missing If You’re Not Using the Power of Storytelling in Your Business.”
Next, I scanned the list of domain names that I had already registered, looking for one that might fit this situation. I chose “BusinessStorytelling.com,” in part because it contains two "keywords" ("business" and "storytelling") that someone might put into a web search; this could give the site a slight boost in search-enging rankings.
Still moving quickly, I found a free website template on the internet. It was blue and plain and reasonably business-like.
The next step was to make it so that visitors to that site could "subscribe" to get the whitepaper emailed to them. Fortunately, I could use the same software I already used for my general newsletter.
I set up the website in a couple hours, announced it later during Marty's show, and then added a link to it from my StoryDynamics.com home page.
Then I promptly forgot all about it.
Jump Ahead 18 Months
I didn’t even look at the names and email addresses that the BusinessStorytelling.com site collected, for over a year and a half. But when I came back to look at it in the summer of 2007, there were over 1000 names!
Suddenly, I realized that I knew 1000 people who:
Were interested in business storytelling;
Had liked my approach, as described briefly on BusinessStorytelling.com;
Had already downloaded (and probably read) this 16-page whitepaper I had written about some details of my approach.
One thousand people is not enough to earn a living from. But it’s enough to earn part of a living. Today, in 2010, there are 2663 valid addresses from that site, and more coming in every week.
This was my first Mutual Discovery Website.
$10,000 From One Small Website
Think of what this means. Whenever I have a product or service that might appeal to them, I can email these 2663 people.
Over the last two and a half years, I have sent five emails to that list about my online courses that have related to business storytelling. I sent a single email to the BusinessStorytelling list for each course. (Once, I sent a second email announcing that one student had dropped out, and I needed a replacement. Someone registered from the list, the next day.)
For the first course, I got 3 students from this single email. Now, if the course had cost $10, three students wouldn’t be much to brag about. But at $795 a person, this added up. In fact, BusinessStorytelling.com has provided from one to four members for each of my four business-related courses, providing a total income to me of more than $10,000.
To be sure, I had to create those online courses. But $10,000 is a lot of supplemental income for a few hours work. In fact, it's more than most storytelling websites—filled with testimonials, program descriptions, audio samples and more—ever bring in in a lifetime.
Even better, I have the ability to keep contacting those people again and again. Even though someone wasn't ready for a course before, he might be ready the next time I send an email.
All this is from a website that I have done nothing to promote since the day I created it!
Do It Again for New Niches
A Mutual Discovery Website (MDW) helps me find the people who want something that I can offer in a wisdom product. No one Mutual Discovery Website will create a living. But 10 or 20 of them could.
Once you know how to do it with one group, you can do it with another. Right now, I have a second MDW operating, www.HelpMyPeopleTell.com. Soon, I’ll have a third. There will be more after that.
So, if you know how to do three things:
Find a niche,
Create a wisdom product, and
Create a Mutual Discovery Website,
then you are in a position to earn a living without being stuck on the direct services treadmill. In fact, that's what I've done for the last 15 years.
A Four-Course Series for You
Having discovered something that works so well for me, I would like to share it with other storytellers.
For those who want it, I will offer a series of four brief courses, beginning with “How to Create an Irresistible Offer....”
The second course will teach you the details of how to create a free wisdom product quickly and easily, through offering, publicizing, and recording a free conference call. It will take you step-by-step, even giving you a chance to practice your call with other course members.
The third course will teach you everything you need to know about dealing with the mp3 audio file that will result from the conference call you give.
The fourth and final brief course will show you how to put the audio file and your knowledge of your desired customers into your own Mutual Discovery Website. Amazingly, this course will come with a functioning MDW website, pre-installed, in your choice of designs, ready for you to add your individual information.
Please note: each skill that you'll learn in this series of courses is one that I use again and again in my efforts to augment and even-out the living I earn from performances and in-person workshops and trainings. Taken together, these skills can form the basis of your future prosperity.
Take One or All Four
This series of four courses allows you to drop out at any point in the series. If you don't want to learn about audio files, for example, you can skip that course. (Perhaps you already know how to prepare audio files for publication, or would prefer to hire someone else to do that work for you.)
If you stay with the series, though, you'll end up with a Mutual Discovery Website of your own. You can set it and forget it if you want, but it will keep attracting the kind of people you want to know—day and night.
What You Need the Most Help With
Some of the technical information in the second through fourth of those courses can sound daunting, but I can teach you those skills, or you can teach yourself, or you can hire someone else to do it for you.
What you can’t hire someone to do for you is to figure out:
What you have to offer; and
Who is hungry for it.
In other words, the hardest part of this process is discovering who has a problem that is important to them, that your storytelling can help solve.
That's what the first course, to be offered (for the second time) in the fall of 2011 is designed to help you achieve: How to Create an Irresistible Offer...that will attract people who have a problem that your storytelling can solve.
What Will This Course Teach?
In this upcoming course, How to Create an Irresistible Offer…, there are just two lessons. The first lesson covers how to figure out who has a problem that your storytelling can help solve.
The second lesson covers the free wisdom product: how to create a title, and how to decide what goes in it.
You can learn what you need to know about each of those in a two-hour group lesson on the phone.
But I have discovered over the years, when I take people through the process of doing those things—when I give them a sequence of simple tasks to do and say, “Do these! Come back to me if you have problems”—then they end up not doing them.
Why? Well, it’s just too hard to get your mind outside of your own point of view.
Discovering How Much People Need
Last November, I did a workshop at my house on marketing. On the first day of the workshop, I said, “I’m going to coach someone in front of the coach, to model the process you’ll do together in pairs.”
I coached the first person for about 45 minutes, got her to the point of finding an audience whose problem his storytelling could solve, and then said to the others, “So, you see the process I took her through, right?”
They said, “No. We don’t see it.”
Naturally, I modelled it again with the second person. “Do you see now?”
“Um, actually, no.”
So I realized I would need to coach each person individually. This wasn’t because they weren’t a sharp group (they were exceptionally sharp). It wasn’t because they hadn’t thought about these issues before; in fact, several of them have survived as professional storytellers for many years. It was because of a central fact about this stage of marketing work: it’s just too hard to do it well by yourself.
That experience gave me the idea for this new course, based on the success of that workshop: I will limit it to six people, and the first lesson will have three coaching calls following it, allowing me to coach each of the six course members individually in depth.
I will coach each person on the phone during at least one group call. That way, people will learn from each other’s process, and each person will have my help to succeed.
I Promise You'll Succeed
In fact, I am so determined to help everyone in this course succeed that I promise this: if you don’t succeed during the scheduled group calls, I’ll schedule additional time and keep coaching you until you have found a problem and a market that fits you and your unique storytelling gifts—no matter how long it takes. (I feel confident that the six hours of coaching calls will suffice, but I won’t stop until everyone in the course succeeds in articulating a group, their problem, and how your storytelling skills can help them solve it.)
In the second lesson, I’ll give you the information you need to make informed decisions about the title and content for your future free wisdom product that will attract the people you want, via your future Mutual Attraction Website.
At that point, we’ll have a final, 2-hour coaching call, which should be long enough to help you apply the information to your unique situation. (But if you need more time for any reason, I’ll make sure you get it!)
Why Should You Learn This From Me?
I’ve been freelancing since 1971. In fact, this summer is my 40th anniversary of leaving my last full-time job and beginning to support myself through my art.
Fifteen years ago or so, I discovered the value of the non-commodity wisdom product. It has transformed my life!
Among other things, such products allowed me to move to Oklahoma, where I had no storytelling contacts, in 2005. After 35 years in Boston I moved to a different, more impoverished region—and matched my previous income the very first year!
I have learned much of what I’ll teach you the hard way.
I have put thousands and thousands of dollars into courses, workshops, books, and hiring helpers.
I have learned from many mistakes.
Doug Lipman (photo by Pam McGrath)
Even in this down economy, I am continuing to support myself practicing what I will teach you.
Why do I want to teach you this? I hate to see so many wonderful storytellers working themselves to the point of discouragement, exhaustion, and even illness. So I am always trying to find ever-better ways to offer this vital information in a digestible form.
"Exciting and motivating! It was like lights coming on to illuminate whole spaces in my mind map I hadn't even thought of being there. And to have your creative ideas on my behalf, how cool is that?"Ron O'Reilly, Ringoes, NJ
Ron O'Reilly, master storyteller, clinician, educator and personal historian
I believe that each time one of us succeeds, it helps all of us succeed. If you’re someone who meets the four requirement listed above, I heartily invite you to make this fall a watershed in your storytelling career.
"I am amazed at your business skills along with your knowledge of the world and the powers of storytelling. Keep doing what you do best!"Mary Jo Huff, storyteller, Newburgh, Indiana
Mary Jo Huff, award winning author, recording artist, storyteller, Early Child Educator, professional development presenter, Keynote speaker and children’s programming artist
"It changed my life!"
I learned from Doug that marketing is not what I thought—this dreaded awful thing to avoid!! It is instead the wonderful beautiful experience that I already love and do so well.
What Doug teaches about marketing will change your thinking, your experience and your life. It did mine.
I now look forward to 'marketing' in the form of creating more connection. This is invaluable!
—Annie Hart, Trainer, Consultant, Coach, Inspirational Storyteller
I guarantee that, if you work with me and let me help you, you will succeed in finding a market, a problem people are urgent to solve, a way to solve that using your unique storytelling gifts, and the title and outline for a free wisdom product that can attract the people you seek.
In fact, I will continue to coach you—at no extra fee—until you succeed in all the above! We'll schedule additional group coaching or else private coaching, as needed. I won't let anyone fail in these key tasks!
I believe this course will deliver on its promises. After all, I"m willing to give you as much extra support as you could ever need!
But if you take this course and feel that it did not do everything I said it would, I'll return every penny of your tuition—and give you a $100 certificate good in my store for any product, as a partial payment for your inconvenience.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is This Course for Everyone?
By no means. This is for a select group of people, all of whom have these three things in place before the course even starts:
Your storytelling needs to be in good shape. You don’t have to do everything perfectly, you don’t need to be the “best” storyteller. But you do need to have substantial, successful storytelling experience.
You need to be willing to think out of the box. If the only thing you really want is to do more performing, to tell at more festivals, to be chosen for the National Storytelling Festival—this course won’t help you do that. This course, instead, will help you supplement your performing and other work to make a less exhausting, more reliable living, by approaching earning money from an unusual angle.
You need to be willing to put some energy into this course. It will last only six weeks, starting in early October and ending before Thanksgiving. (We’ll schedule some make-up dates the weeks of November 28 and December 5, just in case some contingency requires rescheduling. But we’ll be finished before the onset of the time-consuming winter holidays.)
Not only will there be two hours on the phone each week, there will be another hour (perhaps more sometimes) of preparation and follow-up for you to do each week. Therefore, the fourth requirement is:
Be willing to spend at least 3 hours a week on the calls and working on the course materials.
You need to be committed enough to follow through on the course assignments, which are individualized and lead directly to accomplishing the course goals.
This doesn’t mean you can’t miss a call or two: the lessons and coaching calls will be recorded, so you’ll be able to catch up later. But you’ll still need to put in the same number of hours, even if some are time-shifted, to complete the course.
2. How much of my time will this take?
This course will take about 3 hours of your time each week for 6 weeks. Of course, you’ll have the option of spending longer!
Since this is a work-related course, though, the hours you spend on this course will really be hours on your job, not away from it.
The skills you learn in this course are ones you'll be able to use again and again, for the rest of your working life.
3. When will this course meet?
The first call will occur during the week of October 3, 2011 and the last call, the week of November 14. (We'll hold make-up dates the weeks of November 28 and December 5, just in case a postponement is necessary.)
The calls will happen on weekdays, either during the day or in the evening, depending on our mutual availability.
Once I have accepted the course members and surveyed you on your schedule needs, I’ll create a precise schedule of the conference calls that works for everyone.
After I’ve sent you the schedule, you’ll have a chance to get a quick refund of everything you’ve paid, in case the schedule doesn’t work for you.
4. What If I Need to Miss a Call?
Don’t worry! All calls will be recorded and posted on the course website. You’ll have a chance to listen and absorb at your own rate.
5. What Does All This Cost?
This course includes 6 two-hour conference calls, plus access to the password-protected course website, where you'll be able to ask questions of me and the other course members.
The course also includes four sets of assignments, meant to be sure you get the maximum benefit from the two lessons and four coaching calls. I will be an active participant in the course forums and will respond to your postings and assignments.
Since I charge $195 and up for an hour of coaching (or $1800 for a one-day intensive), the 6 two-hour calls by themselves are worth nearly $2400—not including my responses to your assignments, feedback from the other course members, etc.
tuition for this course is a bargain. And, since it is fully guaranteed, I have absorbed the risk for you. You can’t lose!
Apply Now to Hold One of the Six Places
Since this course is limited to six people and is fully guaranteed, I will screen admissions. If the course interests you, click to request a no-obligation application:
I will send you back a simple, five-question application to fill out. (Note: You make no commitment until the point when your application is accepted and you decide whether to register.)
Once you are accepted, you will have 3 business days in which to complete your registration, in order to continue to hold your place.
A relatively small investment now can allow you to continue offering your storytelling gifts long into the future. You will reap the benefits of this course for years to come!
Yours in storytelling,
Get an application now:
(Problems with the above link? Use my contact form instead. Mention that you want an Irresistible Offer course application.)