Before we jump into today's interview...
I want to give a quick shout-out to my former coaching student, JoEllen Anklam of Story Canoe.
A professional voice actor, JoEllen takes events from her storyteller's life to create an old-style radio show. Check out the sample that kept me on the edge of my seat here.
Now, on to the show...
Dawn Roode of Modern Heirloom Books creates visually stunning life story books
In this episode, Dawn talks to us about transitioning from the magazine world, where she worked on publications such as Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, and Parenting, to creating a life story business.
Listen as we discuss:
- how a creating a tribute book after the sudden loss of her mother spurred Dawn into founding Modern Heirloom Books
- the difficulties of selling
- how life's milestones—a wedding, a funeral—are the times when people most want to take stock of their lives, and recognize the value of saving their stories
The longer you speak, the deeper the narrative becomes."
(By the way, the above is an example of a pull-quote, something we also discuss in the interview.)
Modern Heirloom Books' "Dear Daughter" Signature Product
The wedding industry is huge. So from a business standpoint, it made sense for Dawn to create a line of beautiful books for brides. Parents hire her to record stories about their daughter's life and surprise her with the book on her wedding day [Hint: It's best to do it before she's ready to walk down the aisle; inevitably, the bride reacts with tears of joy!] This is also a way to build the opportunity for future life story projects within the family.
Take a look at Dawn's stunning promotional video
Life Story Links, a Roundup of All Things Life Story
Every two weeks, Dawn does a great service to the life story professional community by publishing her Life Story Links. The round-up gathers together all the blogs, videos, tweets, and posts that pertain to life stories, biography, and personal history.
If you've posted something online that you'd like to appear on the Life Story Links round-up, submit it to Dawn here. And if you don't have anything to post, check it out anyway. You're sure to get some great ideas from other life story writers, genealogists, photo organizers, and more.
Thanks for listening. Now go out and save someone's story.
Links and Stuff:
Submit your post to Dawn's blog round-up
Amy: 00:03 Before you started, you had a career as a journalist in lifestyle magazines. I'm curious why the jump from that into doing life stories.
Dawn: 00:16 I think there are so many people transitioning out of the media world right now. It's an industry in great transition unfortunately, sadly for me in many ways, I feel like I was in it in the heyday of the magazine publishing, which I'm very fortunate. I loved my time in the magazine world and I was fortunate to always straddle the art side with the editorial side. I got a lot of the business in there, so I feel like it fed me in so many ways professionally and I was able to grow, but the business as a whole has just changed so dramatically that I wanted to do something that I was able to use my talents but deal with people one-on-one a lot more. Um, so to follow my own path and use the same talents and for me it juxtaposed with a personal.
Dawn: 01:10 Something that happened in my personal life was that my mother passed away very unexpectedly when my son was about three months old while I was still on my maternity leave. I'm figuring out my next steps professionally. I had every intention of going back to magazines, but when I eventually created an heirloom book and honor of my mother, I did a tribute book for her. It was so healing and such a rewarding process for me. Uh, somewhere along the line I had an epiphany that I wanted to do that for other people as well. So we'll deal with a lot of those people and the talent from that industry. But I'm putting those talents in a much more personal direction.
Amy: 01:54 I've talked to a lot of people who get into this business because they wanted to save an elder of the family, their story, but boy, to lose your mother when you have an infant. I, my heart goes out to you and I can absolutely see why that would have spurred on that kind of project and then you know, how lucky that it probably opened your eyes to a passion that you might not have ever known that you would have had. So you found your path, even though I'm sure it was a hard path to travel. Um, I'm glad that you brought up the part about the art and the business. We all bring certain skills with us and talents like you said. And what a boon for you to have both a business background and an art background. I'm interested how that applies the things that you've learned in the magazine world and how you've carried that over into the books that you're producing.
Dawn: 02:47 It's been about a two year journey for me, I think to find the types of books that I really wanted to create that best use my strengths, but also really resonated with the people who are reading the books. And for me, that's what I try to do the most, is create a book that someone will pick up and look at often and most importantly for me, that will generate new stories. So what I really want to do is have the book be a living heirloom so that who's ever stories we've captured, the next generation will pick it up and say, oh my Gosh, look what my grandmother told me or this resonates with me and this is what happened to me. And begin sharing their own stories with again, the next generation. For me, when I lost my mom, as you mentioned, my son was three months old.
Dawn: 03:36 So for me, I was over the moon with joy and also overwhelmed with grief, right? It was really interesting time to navigate in that regard. But all I wanted to do was talk about my mother with people and I have a very small family. No one was really close to me who I could share those stories with. And as crazy as it sounds, I found myself talking to my newborn, right? Telling him stories about my mom. Um, my son was with me when I was cleaning out my mother's house, so I would find things that reminded me of her and begin to just talk to him as I was doing it. And each book I created, I think it hit home for me that the storytelling itself, the gathering of the memories in an interview setting was as much a gift as the final book.
Dawn: 04:28 So for me, using what I learned in magazines we really wanted a lot of entry points for people, right? So if you have someone skimming a magazine and they don't want to read a 2000 word article necessarily, they might read a pull quote, they might read the headline and the captions and something like captivate them enough to then go back to read the whole article. Um, and I feel like with, as media has changed and the way we consume our media has changed on devices. Attention spans are shorter and I really love incorporating images in beautiful ways, but in ways that draw you in to want to read a longer story, if that makes sense. So the captions tell a story, the pull quotes tell a story, they bring you closer to the person who is sharing their history. Um, but they also, for me, like I said, generate conversation among the people who are reading the book.
Amy: 05:26 That all makes a lot of sense. Okay. So just in case people don't know a pull quote, could you give the definition that's, you know, that's something that we see in art or in magazines all the time. We don't necessarily see them in life story books, although I, I think that they are a very good idea. Can you describe what that is?
Dawn: 05:41 Sure. So, and I'm sorry if I use some technical terminology, but a poll quote is a quote that is just pulled out at the text and graphically set a little bit larger. So you've read it. So it looks like a headline. So when you're flipping through a magazine and sometimes you see a, a boulder quotation that would be a pull quote. And I use a lot of the design devices from magazines to really bring people's stories to life. It's why I call my books coffee table books because I want people to be able to open them at any page and read them. The stories are still incredibly edited and told in a way that is engaging, but I feel it's important that people don't take, spend a lot of time on a history book such as this and then have it sit on a bookshelf. Um, to me it's really important that those stories be passed on and are engaging.
Amy: 06:34 And then what does that look like as far as the bulk of the text goes, the books that you're doing, if they're coffee table books and you and I had talked earlier and you said that you want somebody to be able to pick up one of the books and just dive in at whatever page. So is it one continuous narrative or do you sometimes chunk them out and according to themes or arrows or, or something like that.
Dawn: 06:57 So I always say that the person telling the stories leads me on how the book should be created. So it varies, but my folks tend not to be chronological. Like chapter one, chapter two, chapter three, I sometimes refer to the way I tell the stories as life story vignettes, so I will capture a lot of memories and then depending on the themes that resonate from what someone has told me, we will group things accordingly. So it could be from time periods in someone's life, it could be family time but there, there could be a, you know, 7,000 word chunk of narrative, but it will be broken up by images and quotes and, and maybe even a fun list or a graphic that tells the stories in just more engaging ways. So there still will be on occasion 200 pages of text. Um, but for me it doesn't look like a novel. It looks like a book that you can just open up and died.
Amy: 08:03 Yeah, that's a really interesting approach. And I think that, I know my books tend to be one long flow of narrative, so divided up into chapters. I'm almost always, it's chronological. The structure is a chronological one just because it, it suits the story, that type of story the best. But I can absolutely see how it would be great, especially if you're, if you want to engage people who maybe haven't hit that age where they're terribly interested in an elder story. So I'm talking about, you know, if you're not a 60 year old woman and your father is 85 and you haven't heard all of his stories, so it's, you know, you're going to want to read a long book about him, but maybe you're the grandchild and you haven't quite hit, you know, you're, you're not quite mature enough to realize, oh my gosh, all of the life stories that, that the elder is sharing. So I like that idea a lot. Now, do you do anything. It sounds like you probably do some interesting stuff with photo captions as well. Do you tend to ever have long captions or do you use those as design elements as well?
Dawn: 09:08 I definitely do. Sometimes the captions are repeating something that is in the narrative, but most often I try, and this is definitely a magazine habit. I try to have something completely new in the caption, so it is important for me. These are historical documents, I definitely want the full name of the person that is photographed there the year and the context of the photo whenever possible, but I often elaborate and have it be another storytelling mechanism. So there might be a very deep caption with that relevant information, the data, uh, in the beginning followed by a few quotes that, that begin to tell the story and invite the reader in even more. One thing that I find interesting is even people of that age who have lived a full life so often tell me, well, my life was an interesting, right? I don't have the stories to tell, but once they get talking, as you know, I'm sure from your experience, those stories flow and build upon one another in such rich ways. And the lessons become apparent and the longer you speak, the deeper the narrative often becomes. And I think it's important to layer that. So as you say, someone from a younger generation might just read those captions and, and someone, their parents might get in there and say, oh my gosh, how special that I captured this from my mom. I never heard her put it in quite this way. So that the story is fleshed out in the narrative, but it's told also through those longer captions and other graphic elements as well.
Amy: 10:48 Right. And I've, I've found the same thing too as far as just doing the interviews. There's usually an, I tell people this before we start because I don't want them to, to feel surprised by it. Something that they weren't expecting, but usually there's a honeymoon period where they're telling the stories at the very beginning, you know, the early interviews they're telling the stories that they've told a lot of times before, the stories that bring them joy, the memories that are sort of like an, you know, a well worn pair of favorite jeans, you know, that we like to pull them on because they feel good. And then there is always a very distinct point when it drops down to a deeper level and they start. They don't necessarily have to be talking about things that are really traumatic or tragic or anything. But then they do get into the things that that are deeper. You know, that, that are meaningful to them, but maybe it's not something that they've really pulled out into the light of the day and reflected on very much because you know, who does that very often and that's something that they usually surprised at during the process. And it can be, it adds to that, that fulfilling feeling of talking about your life to somebody who's never heard your stories before.
Dawn: 12:06 Oh, I agree. And I love that expression. You said it's like, well worn shoes. I think you said there are some stories that they're like family law, they are told over and over and you know, when daddy was young he did this and those are important too to capture as well. But once you get deeper and as you said, it's not necessarily a traumatic experience or a major turning point, but sometimes it's very small decisions that were made in someone's life that took a turn and once they have a listener and the time and the space to share and reflect, it's truly a gift. I feel.
Amy: 12:44 Exactly. And that is one of the things that I wish people could know ahead of time, but 100 percent of the people that I work with, they have before we start the interview process, they have no idea what the conversations are going to mean to them. It's not until we start that, that they realize that for them it usually is equally, if not more important than the end product, you know, then receiving the book, it speaks to different needs. Um, but, it's so powerful and I wish more people would realize that because so many more people would be wanting to find life story professionals like us to help them do their stories. Are the stories of their loved ones. Well, okay. I want to actually turn a little bit. And, uh, you, you said that you started your company, which is Modern Heirloom Books. You started it about two years ago. So I'd like for you to talk a little bit about what challenges you had being new to the career and then we can talk a little bit about the changes that you made and why you made those changes.
Dawn: 13:45 Sure. Well, the challenges for many say that in the beginning I never expected to find myself on an entrepreneurial path truly once I got there and once I made the decision to commit to the business, I had great faith in my abilities to execute the types of books I wanted, but the business side, despite the fact that I had, you know, overseeing budgets and overseen staffing and had launched new magazines, that business side was still very intimidating and particularly because the industry, I'm not even sure you could call it an industry at a certain point there. There are so many names we were calling ourselves by collectively and I still think that's the case and that's okay. I think we're finding our way as an industry, but there was no one I found to look to to say I want to do it exactly like that.
Dawn: 14:40 That's much more challenging than I anticipated. And the sales part came very difficult to me. I had gone out on sales calls, for example, at Harper's Bazaar and at other magazines I worked at. And I was very good at talking about the benefits and the pros of, of putting your money behind something, but once it became mine and there was a personal attachment to it, it's really hard to put yourself out there and to potentially here. No. Um, so those were huge struggles for me in the beginning. Defining exactly where I wanted my business to go, the price points I wanted to set, and being able to talk about it in a way that didn't make me feel bad, if that makes sense. I sometimes felt guilty like I felt like I'm selling something very intimate and personal and valuable, but the salesman ship behind it made me feel almost dirty. I think that's a weird word to use. But for someone who had never been in sales, that was tough for me.
Amy: 15:41 I think that's a very common thing that almost everybody that I've talked to, almost all of our colleagues have gone through the same thing. And it is, it's a process to bring yourself from one frame of thought to another. And for me, it's just a matter of thinking, well, I can't do this as a volunteer. I mean, I, I do usually have at least one volunteer project going at any given time because I think that it's important to give back to the world and the best way that you can. But in general if the services and the products that we're providing for people, if we're not able to make a living doing it, then they don't get those, you know, then the world, their life is poorer for the fact that we didn't grapple with this conflict, you know, this inner conflict of saying, okay, this is what a book is worth. Or you know, this is what a project is worth. So how did you, was it just a matter of practice or what did you, what steps did you take to make that better for you and get good at the sales conversations?
Dawn: 16:46 Well, I'm not so sure I'm good at it yet. I will say that, you know, I've read a lot. I read certain books were very helpful to me, but until you get out there and you put yourself out there and you fail, and I had heard that advice from so many people, but I didn't want to accept it. I'm someone who generally went out, did well when I, when I tried something new, so to know that I needed to go out and maybe learn from some failures was, it was really tough for me. But honestly talking about the books when I wasn't necessarily ready was definitely the step that I needed to take because I was able to hear the questions people had. I was able mostly to realize what I didn't yet know and the best piece of advice I ever got. And I got this from books and from people business people with whom I had networked was make it easy to buy.
Dawn: 17:44 And I think what I struggled with is that none of this is easy to buy. I couldn't find anyone where it was like, you go and you buy and you say, yes, I'm going to get that life story book. I'm going to do that. There are so many variables, there's so many. Does someone want to be interviewed just about their war stories or do they want to be interviewed about their entire life? Do they really want to be interviewed at all? Might it make them feel uncomfortable? Do they want a book? Do they want a video? How much do you spend on something like this if you've never heard of it before, you have no idea as a, as a customer, a consumer what you might want to invest in something like this. So the challenge I gave myself about a year ago was try to make the process easier for the consumer.
Dawn: 18:35 Um, I had not, up until that point, published prices and I have not published any kind of package. I wanted to be as open ended as possible. I wanted to offer everything and I realized that was overwhelming for a person who even was really interested in what I was selling. So I relaunched my website and I spent a full year coming up with signature products and putting price points on them by actually doing the products. So in some cases I even did a few books for free so that I could have confidence in my pricing and in what I wanted to offer. Uh, that in turn makes me much more confident in the sales part because I know how much time it took to create a particular book. I know the variables and I'm confident when I put a number to it that I can talk about it intelligently with someone. So it makes me feel better and more equipped during that sales process, if that makes sense.
Amy: 19:43 Absolutely. So when you are sitting down across from somebody and you, you are presenting the package and you're presenting the price to them, do you get very much into the details of, you know, it costs this much because I am doing this and this and this or is it you're showing them a sample book and saying this is the sample book and it cost x dollars.
Dawn: 20:06 So I generally will have a free consultation where I really want to hear what they're looking for and I will bring samples. So for me it's not. I never want to sound like I'm justifying my price that it's because I do this or this. I never quote an hourly rate, although my prices are all based on that and are, if someone really wanted to get into the nitty gritty and wanted to understand, I could do that with them, but I think that that's more alienating than helpful. But what I do find helpful is pulling out a book and saying, well, here's an example. That's something like what you are looking for, it sounds like, and something like this would cost in the range of here to here. And then we can talk about, well, can it get lower or what would make it higher? But it becomes in terms of what they want and not in terms of the money. Um, so in terms of what the book could be for them, and I do find that the books themselves are the best selling tool so that when they see other people stories come to life and realize that that could be their own words and their own photographs. Um, it, it makes the conversation just more fruitful.
Amy: 21:20 Absolutely. I mean, every time I show a potential client sample books, you could actually see them across the table, you know, if you made at a coffee shop at their house or something, you could see them pick up the book and you can see them project their life into that book. I mean, it's almost, it's almost like you could physically see that happening, especially when they start talking about stories. You know, they'll see the picture of somebody they don't know in a book about a person they've never met and that will, that will bring forth a memory of something specific to their life. And yeah, that's, that's the same for me. The biggest selling point is being able to put those books in their hands and say, here, have a look at what I've done for somebody else.
Dawn: 22:02 Magic. And I will say, getting back to the business side and my struggles, one of the struggles I had was not always listening to conventional business wisdom. So I was told by a few early mentors who are incredibly successful business people. You can't rely on showing someone the product to have to sell it or you can't rely on a half hour free consultation. That's too much of your time invested and that I struggled with that for the longest time and then I thought, you know what, my maybe my business model is a little different and what I'm selling is different. Once I accepted that, maybe I didn't always have to listen to the business advice I was given. It was a great freedom for me. I would say I, I allowed myself to experiment a little more and see what worked for me. So I think that there's a wealth of business knowledge out there and I do advise finding a mentor or multiple mentors or networking. I have benefited from that greatly, but sometimes your gut is right and that was an important lesson for me.
Amy: 23:04 I had the same experience with one of my business mentors who knew nothing about the life story business and there are so many roles that just don't apply. I mean, we're, we're not selling something that is a commodity that they can find anywhere else. And I know there are other products like ours out there, you know, that that also are not highly commoditized, but there's not that many. So you can't, you can't say, you know, if you're selling widgets, of course you're not going to sit down for somebody within a half hour for a half hour or an hour. Um, but for this kind of project where you have to establish a relationship with a person, they have to see that they can trust you with their memories, you know, with stories that they've potentially never told anybody else. I'm absolutely, you have to do certain things like having that initial conversation. Um, so yeah, some of, some of the business advice is great and some of it we just have to let fall by the wayside because it does not apply to the life story business.
Dawn: 24:05 Yeah. And, and as I just said it, it was hard for me because with business not being my strong suit coming into this, I felt like I needed to listen to every little nugget that you know. So, so I think coming to terms with that took a little longer than I anticipated, but, you know,
Amy: 24:22 well it sounds like you're there or on your way. So that's great. Well, I, I I'd really love to hear you talk about your dear daughter, uh, books you'd legacy books that are for brides. Um, it's, I think it sounds like a wonderful niche. And why didn't you tell us a little bit why you decided to do these, but start off by telling us what they are.
Dawn: 24:46 Sure. So, so one of the products that I recently launched is called Dear Daughter on Your Wedding Day, and I joke that it's the book guaranteed to make your daughter cried tears of joy on her wedding day. But in reality so far for every book I've done, that has been the reality.
Amy: 25:03 Oh, so they need to give these books before the makeup goes on.
Dawn: 25:08 I market it in that way, but I, I tell parents who are gifting their daughter with this book that maybe you should do it at the rehearsal dinner at the date. It's a gift. It's such a niche product. And I never thought I would do something so specific, but there is a real business reason behind my doing it. It's a book that I discovered by doing for one individual and realized I could do it for more people where I interview the both parents of the bride to be, uh, we, we kind of go back through her memories and her history from the, from her first steps till now she's going to be walking down the aisle, which is a very emotional journey for the parents. So it's a really great time to solicit those memories and go through the photos and the mementos. And then we also include wisdom for the future and we include some space at the end where the bride can actually write in her dreams for the future as she's on the precipice of this next chapter of her life.
Dawn: 26:09 And so the first book was hugely rewarding for me. It was just such a beautiful thing. We were focusing mostly on happy memories and the journey of this bride, which obviously that's not always the case when you're doing a life story book. And of course we were including struggles and difficult experiences, but because the milestone of getting married was just such a big one in her life and the parents wanted to inject so much meaning into it. For me as the listener, I felt like a recipient of these was even a gift to me. I thought it was a joyful process. It was something that fed my soul as a life storyteller. But the more I thought about it from a business standpoint, as I mentioned before, the biggest struggle is how do you market something so expansive? How do you make it easy to buy?
Dawn: 27:03 This product had a built in marketing plan. The wedding industry is a huge one and it is very easy to market to a smaller target audience. So the thinking behind it was, let me make this part of my signature products because that individual will hopefully come back to me for more stories in the future. That was a gut feeling and it was also based on some demographic research, but it's already proving true. And I've put no money behind it yet in terms of paid advertising. Um, but word of mouth has brought me new books in terms of the bride loved her books so much and hurt her parents, talk about the process and now she's getting a book celebrating them for their anniversary. And so that's the thinking behind it is this customer will hopefully number one spread, spread the word, but hopefully they're young enough that they can come back and be a loyal customer. Um, so the twofold thing there, it was the really targeted marketing that comes with this. Uh, it's, I'm finding it a lot easier to figure out a route to get the word out there about these particular books and then hopefully that will help support the other books that I love to do as well.
Amy: 28:30 That's genius in business. Going back to conventional business advice is you want to, it's easier to retain an existing customer than it is to go out and find a new one. And I've thought I've thought long and hard about how I could apply that to, to my life story writing business because generally when people do a life story you know, if there were 75 or 80 or 85, they're not going to have a second volume coming out years later. I mean, that, that could potentially happen. And I have had a couple of my younger clients who've said, oh, I'm going to need to update this in a few years. So far it hasn't happened and I haven't really been able to figure out, well, you know, how, unless it's, you know, a husband doing the book and then in the wife then decides that she wants a book too.
Amy: 29:23 But in general it's not a very easy way to figure out how to have multiple cell, multiple projects within the same family. So I think that's genius of you to come up with this idea because I can also see where, if, if the parents are telling the stories about their daughter how that could maybe inspire them to either tell like not, not the daughter, uh, but actually inspire the parents to say, oh, we need to leave a story about our own life or if you think about the demographics you know, if you've got a daughter who's getting married, you know, that puts her in whatever she, it could be any age, but in general, like sort of a certain age bracket and then maybe the parents are 60 ish or so and, and their parents are elderly. So I can see, I could see if they have a really good experience telling you the stories about their daughter, how they might say, Oh, you know, our parents are getting older. We need to look at doing something for them now. Um, so really I'm, I'm impressed by your marketing savvy.
Dawn: 30:33 Well, you know what else it is. Thank you for the hat, but it's also my belief that it doesn't always have to be, excuse me, the older generation that we market to my experience and I think quite a few other professionals who I've spoken to are often selling to the children. The children want to capture their parents' store. It is, as you say, and absolutely it might be that 60 year old parent in my case of the bride, right? Who wants to capture their parents' stories, but often it might be the millennial who wants to capture their grandparents' story and what I find is at these milestones in life when there are transitions, whether it's a wedding, a funeral, right? A loss of a loved one. The emotions and the sentiment around our loved ones in our family, our. When we realize, oh, we need to capture these stories. Again, it goes back to that, do I want to mark it at these times of vulnerability and does that make me feel not right? It did for a long time and then I thought, no, because what I'm quote unquote marketing to these people is something that will enrich their lives and make their life better and it just happens to be a time. I think when they're open to hearing about it,
Amy: 31:54 the definition of us taking advantage of somebody is if they regretted having a done afterwards and I seriously doubt that any of the people that are getting the life story books from you or the bride book, the dear daughter books from you, I seriously doubt that any of them are regretting it afterwards. So that to me is proof that no, we're, we're providing them something we're in. Like you said, we're enriching their life and you know, a good business deal is where you give as the provider you give more than they're expecting and you are fairly compensated and I think that's in general what we're doing for people.
Dawn: 32:33 Absolutely. That's a great way to.
Amy: 32:35 Yeah. Well I know we're getting a little bit short on time, but I do want. Well, Hey, I want to encourage people to go and look at your website. If for nothing else to look at some of the videos that you've done there are absolutely stunning. They're such high. They have such high production quality. Um, I was, I was pretty much blown away. I watched the, the dear daughter line of books and um, yeah, I, I, I would love to incorporate something like that on my own website. I think it's just stunning. But the other thing that I want to make sure that the listeners know is that you do a blog roundup. Um, so could you talk just a little bit about that?
Dawn: 33:14 Sure. I do a biweekly blog roundup that really has anything life story, first person biography, memory keeping in those themes and it's a really great opportunity for other people in the industry. Whether they are video storytellers or um, they, they make books or even if they just do oral histories. If you are out there and you're blogging on any of these topics, I'm happy to include you in the roundup. And it's also just a really great place to get your news. I think that one of my strengths from the magazine world is curating. And I love kind of looking at what's out there and picking out what I think might be of interest to other people. So the links that you would get are of great value to your own website, Seo, and then just as a reader as and as a fellow colleague within this industry, I think it's a great place to. I'm trying to make it anyway, a great place to get your news and kind of get your fix on, on some great first person storytelling.
Amy: 34:16 Absolutely. And just to add to that, you include, you don't just include blog articles, you include tweets, you include videos, pretty much anything that can come across the computer screen it seems like, and it has something to do with life story. You have it on this roundup. Um, and, and I think it's a wonderful service. You touched a little bit on, on the Seo benefit. It's not an seo benefit to you, it's an Seo, the search engine optimization benefit to the people whose links you're sharing. And in case in case people don't realize, if you have a website and you want to increase the chances of it ranking when somebody does a google search, any backlinks, so something that links to something on your website increases your your visibility with google. So that's something that's, you know, a little hidden benefit that you are giving to the people involved in life story business. And I'm not even sure that people even realize that.
Dawn: 35:20 I know I tried to point it out at various times, but I think, you know, everyone who's in this business is at a different level of and using different media to mark. So there aren't that many people that I am following. There are a handful that are using say twitter or, and those are usually those links I just include because I think they're fun and I'm active on those platforms. But the blogging, some people think, oh, I just have to do it. Or they might do it periodically. And you mentioned that there's no seo benefit. For me. I think the seo benefit is for both honestly. Um, it's definitely better for the inbound links for the people I'm linking to, but I'm having the opportunity to write about all of this rich life story memoir or biography. I'm using a lot of keywords in these roundups so it is helping me as well. I would, I wouldn't do it if it weren't worthwhile and I find it worthwhile just enjoyably, uh, it's a fun thing for me to do and I'm out there reading all of this stuff anyway. So sharing it as a nice little side benefit. Yes.
Amy: 36:28 Okay. Just, we won't get too deep into this, but where, what are some of the key words that you're using?
Dawn: 36:34 Uh, I'm not, I don't know that I think you can look at my site and figuring it out. I will say I'm very free with sharing my wisdom and business opinions, but I found no one doing that and I spent, I don't know, probably at this point, hundreds of hours researching keywords. It's paying off for me now. My inquiries have become significantly more through organic search. Um, but I do think it's something each person needs to sort of figure out, but you can look at my site in particular, those roundups you'll see the phrases I'm using over and over. They need to be long tail key phrases. So not just the word memoir, but how to write my memoir or a memoir writing for non-writers. I am just throwing things out there. These are not that I use all the time, but um,
Amy: 37:25 and just to explain in case people don't know. So when we're talking about keywords and key phrases, that's what a person types in to a search engine. So if you go onto google, what you type in that would be um, on the WHO's ever site comes up top, that's what they are using as a key word and you put it within your website, you put it in key places on blog posts and things like that. And that makes Google be able to find you.
Dawn: 37:52 Exactly. And then you want to make sure you're finding the right people to right. We mentioned earlier that I put my prices on my site and another business reason behind that was you're kind of putting people into a funnel to kind of eventually be your customer and my website is as much as I'm inviting people in, I'm also getting people out of that funnel if they're not my target customer. So it was hard for me in the beginning when I was relying primarily on Seo because I was getting a lot of people who were completely outside of my price range. Um, but it's hard when you love what you're doing and you want to hear these people's stories to kind of just say, oh, I can't work with you. I'm Ms Dot time is worth a lot of money. So it sucking up a lot of my time. So that's another reason for that to make seo a little more effective that I won't get the calls from the people hopefully that are not my true customer. Right.
Amy: 38:46 Yeah. I think that's very important. It should be an important part of anybody's strategy because like you said, we all have a finite amount of time and if you're, if you're not willing to do things at really, really low prices or you know, if you know exactly what the product is that you're trying to sell and how much work goes into it and how much you need to how much of an investment it needs to be on the client's part, then there's no reason to be trying to cast the net too wide. Well, this has been wonderful, Don. Um, if people want to get a hold of you, I'll put links on the show notes, but where do they go to find you?
Dawn: 39:29 I think my website is the main place, so it's Modern Heirloom Books.com and then my social media accounts. I'll link from there as well. So I'm pretty active on instagram and twitter.
Amy: 39:40 I was going to ask you that. I forgot. I meant to ask you that because you have, you seem to have such a strong sense of, of, you know, the visual is very important for your works in, in what you do and I've don't know how to use instagram. I've never been on it, but it seems like that might be a very good medium for for people who are more drawn in by the visual element. Is that right?
Dawn: 40:04 I think so. I, I won't say that I'm really using instagram as a selling tool at this point, but because it's something that I like, uh, so I don't mind spending a little time there, uh, to be daunting. I enjoy it. I have met really great creative professionals with whom I have networked and there's a whole community particularly of creatives that I've benefited from. So for me, both twitter and instagram are less mean marketing to a consumer and more marketing to fellow business people. So if there, if I have multiple books at once and I'm using a designer, a lot of the people I tap are from my magazine days, but I've just met some great people that way as well and I've gotten a little interest here and there and products, but I would not advocate necessarily using those as primary means of selling.
Amy: 40:57 Yeah. Well that's a good heads up. Thank you. Well, thank you for sharing with us and talking to us about everything that you're doing at Modern Heirloom Books.
Dawn: 41:07 It was a real pleasure. I really am enjoying this podcast and I hope it can get the word out to particularly young life storytellers who are just starting. I think it's an invaluable resource, so thank you for doing well. Thank you. I appreciate that. Okay. Take care. All right. Thank you.