Send Your Social Proof Hero On Fiction’s Most Famous 12-Stage Journey

January 13, 2016

the-heros-journeyThe “hero journey” concept (or “monomyth”) is central to story telling. It’s been described by Jung, Joseph Campbell, and plenty of others.

Think about the latest film you saw, or TV series you watched, then take a look at the 12 stages on this image. The “hero’s journey” is present in the best, most compelling, most memorable stories.

And it’s SO relevant to the fitness industry, isn’t it?

Do you use the idea of a “hero’s journey” in your content?

It could be for your own story or – more likely – your clients’ stories.

Here are the 12 stages of the “hero journey” (with my own thoughts about how it applies to fitness industry content):

1 = Ordinary World

Where your client is before he finds you. He’s safe, but bored and oblivious of what awaits him on his journey. We get to know all the details about him at this stage. He’s human.

2 = Call To Adventure

Something happens to launch our hero onto his adventure (journey/transformation). Is it a threat to his health? A wake up call? It’s something that disrupts the safety and comfort of his Ordinary World. What is the challenge or quest that presents itself?

3 = Refusal Of The Call

Your hero might want to accept the challenge, but he’s got fears/doubts. There are barriers. He refuses the call… and suffers (again) in some way. Does his health suffer? Or his self-confidence? How do things get worse (and why did he refuse)?

4 = Meeting The Mentor

Here’s where you come in! Your hero needs expert guidance… and finds it. For the fitness world, the “mentor” he meets is in the form of advice, training, and practical guidance. He now has the strength and courage to go on his journey.

5 = Crossing The Threshold

Our hero is ready to go on his journey to better health and fitness. He crosses the threshold from his old, familiar world, to this new one: the fitness lifestyle. What actions does he take to signify his commitment? Where does he go?

6 = Tests, Allies & Enemies

The middle of the story. He’s out of his comfort zone but he’s not yet at his destination. There’s plenty to threaten him, tempt him and derail him. External sources (environment, foods, lack of supportive peers) and internal (self-doubt, dip in motivation, lack of self-belief). What tests does he face? What obstacles? Which os his skills are tested? How does he overcome (and how do you help him)? He finds out who can be trusted (…you!)

7 = Approach To The Innermost Cave

The “inmost cave” in our fitness context could be mindset, belief, eating issues, prior failures with diet or training. It will be a huge internal conflict and something which lots of your readers will also recognise in their own story. As he approaches the mouth of the cave, your hero once again faces his biggest personal battles. He’ll need to call on everything he’s learned. This is a chance for a pause in the story to recap on where he’s come from, how he got here, and what he learned.

8 = Ordeal

This is the ultimate test in your hero’s journey. It could be a big physical test (useful for fitness stories) or a massive emotional/psychological crisis. His biggest fear, or his most terrifying enemy. He needs to face it, and he needs to face it now. It’s time. Through this ordeal, he will be “reborn” and the new version revealed. This is the high point of the story, but everything is on the line.

9 = Reward

The enemy (within or without!) has been defeated. Your hero has been transformed (<<< ooh, what does THAT remind you of in the fitness industry?) He emerges stronger. And with a reward. The reward in our context could be better health, improved home life, or a better body (very visual and easy to use as social proof).

10 = The Road Back

Your hero is ready to return victorious. He’s not anticipating any threats or battles. Instead he is looking forward to some form of vindication. What would that be for your hero?

11 = Resurrection

Oops, there’s one more challenge for your hero to overcome before the end of his journey. He will face up to something bigger than himself, and the victory will have far-reaching consequences that leave an impact beyond his own journey. Your readers need to feel part of this: his success (or potential failure) will have a real emotional impact on them.

12 = Return With The Elixir

Your hero is back home, a changed person. He’s grown (maybe literally, in our fitness context). He’s learned plenty. He’s changed. He is the person he always dreamed of being. He is a hero. What does his journey mean to others? Hope? A solution? Proof of what is possible?

Remember the structure of the “hero journey” next time you’re writing some story-style content. If I can help you brainstorm ideas, structure content, or write copy, get in touch.
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Send Your Hero On Fiction’s Most Famous Journey is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Advice for small businesses: how (and why) you should write in an authentic voice

October 3, 2012

I do a lot of business networking. Today, one of the groups I belong to (Athena Reading) asked me to talk to the group about making an impact through writing.

I don’t talk a lot about my job on the blog, but I’ve been a freelance writer since 2004 – I write features for magazines (mainly sport and fitness titles) and I also write content for businesses. It’s with my copywriter’s hat on that I attend local networking meetings.

Various people have asked for notes from my talk so I thought I’d pop them up here. If you work for yourself, are thinking of starting up in business or are part of a small team with no external marketing assistance, I hope you find them useful. 🙂

How to write in an authentic voice which engages readers and builds trust, encourages recommendations and ultimately leads to more business.

Writing is a crucial part of your marketing strategy – even if you don’t think you have a one! If you’ve got anything “out there” in writing which is promoting your company, then you have got a marketing strategy!

As a copywriter, every word I write needs to make an impact and, more than that, it must make the correct impact.

First impressions count. If the first contact your customer has with you is your website, your Linkedin profile, or even a message on social media, those words need to convey your message, your brand and your character.

Those of us who run our own business – sole traders, one-(wo)man bands, franchisees, entrepreneurs and start-ups – are in a unique position. We are our business. That presents us with a great opportunity. If you always write with authenticity and honesty, you can’t go far wrong. Your character and your values will always come through your writing, and this will only serve to strengthen your brand or product offering.

Wording can – and should – convey your brand’s “voice”. So why is it important to be authentic with your writing?

People like to work with and buy from people and brands they trust. It will soon become clear whether or not you are being authentic with your writing, and this is important whether you’re writing a more informal piece of copy (like this blog post) or more technical or sales-driven content. Everything you write builds up to become part of your business and it needs to support and strengthen your brand, not contradict or confuse it.

How can you find your voice?

You’ll know when you haven’t! And you’ll know when you’re attempting to write in a voice which doesn’t serve you or your business. Obviously a chatty, informal tone won’t be suitable for every type of content. A technical document, or a press release will need a different tone of voice than your Tweets, blog posts and customer newsletter articles. But there should be something running through the centre of all of them which is authentic to you, your brand and your business’s identity.

If you don’t yet know what that is, then you need to take a step back and do some groundwork on branding and corporate identity. This is a really important exercise which will feed in to your marketing and networking (on- and off-line).

Think about what impact you want to make. What is the purpose behind the piece of writing you are about to to? Do you want it to drive sales, create more business, to encourage business partners to work with you? How do you want to be seen: as an expert, the go-to person in your field, an educator, an information hub/curator? Or as a place to get great service, fantastic products, or a unique business offering?

How to use your voice to connect with readers and make an impact

It’s never been more important to think about the quality of your content and the voice behind your words. Not so long ago, you might have needed content for a brochure, maybe flyers for special events, and probably a website. These days, most companies will have content on:

– websites
– brochures or other paper/leave behinds
– press releases
– editorial and articles
– adverts
– email marketing and customer newsletters
– blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Linkedin
– etc!

What’s great about all these newer platforms for content is that they give you the opportunity to create a community and a following for your brand, products or business. But you have you get it right. When writing for social media or any new and regularly updated content (website news pages, customer newsletters and emails), consistency is key.

Think consistency rather than frequency.

Stop worrying about how much, how often and even how good! Sometimes perfectionism can overwhelm the writing process and stop us from doing anything at all. Write consistently, get your message out there regularly, create a following of readers who look forward to what you’ve got to say. Don’t think that everything you write has to be ground-breaking, or very long, or painstakingly researched. If you are writing for a news section of your own website, your own blog/Facebook/Twitter, or your own business newsletter, then it’s far more important to write regularly and consistently.

How authenticity breeds trust and recommendations

The bottom line is that being authentic builds trust. This is true for the written word as much as it is true for what you say, your body language and how you treat people. In business, the words we write do a job for us, so make sure your words are working for you and not against you.

Make it easy for people to use your words to help you in business. You will spend precious time writing, so make your words easy to forward on, share, retweet or pass from hand to hand. Make your content something which people want to pass on, whether that’s to their friends and family (if you’re B2C) or to business contacts, clients or partners (if your business is B2B). So think about your content being useful and interesting, something people want to read and then want their most valuable contacts to read, too. Get the most out of everything you write.

Practical tips for producing quality content on a regular basis

– brainstorm – don’t wait to get started
– create an editorial schedule
– treat writing as a job
– remember, it’s part of your marketing, not a fluffy extra
– set aside and schedule regular time, then commit to it
– get it done. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike.
– don’t be a perfectionist
– remember, something is better than nothing to get started

Ideas and resources which might help (they help me!)

WordPress for blogging
Hootsuite for social media management
Teuxdeux for to-do lists
Google tasks for keeping notes
– Draft an email, save it and add to it over time (useful if you work with a copywriter or marketeer)
– Good old fashioned pen and notebook! Carry pen and paper with you at all times and jot down any ideas for writing, no matter how small or random. Chances are they’ll turn into one of your most popular and successful pieces of content.

If you’ve found this post useful, you might also like:
How to engage with fitness journalists and bloggers
The importance of quality content for fitness professionals
How I became a freelance writer (and other FAQs)
A few fitness copywriting examples
– And a few more here.

Advice for small businesses: how (and why) you should write in an authentic voice is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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