How to Share Your Brand Story as an Introvert Entrepreneur

Reading Progress:

29 min read

By now you may have heard me (and many others) talk about this thing called storytelling.

Storytelling is HUGE. It’s powerful. It’s not a trend. It’s as old as human history. And it’s not going anywhere.

Having said that, it’s a pretty subjective area with lots of room for interpretation.

I want to explore this within the context of being  both an entrepreneur and an introvert.  (Foreshadowing: Maybe one step at a time)

There’s a lot to unpack here so expect to see packing bubbles and peanuts flying. I don’t want this to be a regular article about storytelling.

Note: If you haven’t read the first blog in this series, which is about boundaries and sharing online for introverted entrepreneurs, I invite you to do that first.

Why stories mean so much to introverted, thinking/feeling types

A story can be as deep and complex as the Tolkien legendarium,  or as simple as information put into a narrative form. A story can be written, but also can be told in a visual or audio format.

Stories can be written, spoken, sung, or translated into just about any communication medium.

Stories can be standalone creations, or exist as part of an intentionally curated collection or canon. The common phrase “Painting a picture” is a wonderful way to convey that a broader story can also be the sum of its parts.

Stories reach a part of our brains that non-narrative data cannot.

Most entrepreneurs limit their storytelling to their ABOUT page, and think of it as writing a journal entry instead of a story that serves a purpose.  Your brand story is important and needs to be treated as such.

Most entrepreneurs, including myself, tend to get stuck and hung up on this for various reasons.

Some don’t know what to write because they feel pressured or uninspired.

Some go about in randomly and make the entire focus on themselves without any of the other elements that make up a good story:

  • A backstory/founder’s story, (Exposition)
  • A compelling plot (The Hero’s Journey is a great framework)
  • An interesting character and character arc that is primarily about the HERO of the story (Your ideal client)
  • A Call to Action or Climax of the story (This all eventually leads somewhere)

And many, many others get stuck because they prefer not to reveal their “life story.” (I can definitely relate)

So how can we weave a narrative into our brand in a way that feels right for us as introverts?

Via sharing. This blog will be a continuation of my previous blog about boundaries and sharing, and I want to give you some more tips before I write another one about the actual structure of a good story.

With any form of storytelling, there must be some level of sharing.

The goal with almost any plot and character arc is that we CARE about what’s going on because we can identify with the story and the character on some level.

This is hard to do without some level of sharing, including that which makes us vulnerable. There will be some inherent risk.

It’s also about a willingness to share our values and perspectives, which can be uncomfortable or even scary, especially in the times we’re living in when diversity of thought isn’t exactly flourishing, or even frowned upon. (Notice what I just did here)

It’s also about building credibility, but it’s not what most people think. It’s not about simply showcasing your expertise. There’s more to it than that. When an author or screenwriter takes the time to provide some background and build a world that feels like you are right there in a specific place and time, this is another level of sharing, and it builds trust.

When everything lines up, the result is that the story doesn’t feel like random bullshit. In fact, we are drawn in even further.

If we’re talking about a brand, we are far more likely to relate to and trust what is being said.

If we’re talking about fiction, we’re able to actually suspend our disbelief and go along fully for the ride. Our subconscious mind buys fully into the notions of light sabers, magic wands, and the technology driving the Starship Enterprise or Serenity.

When everything doesn’t, the result is a movie, book, or intellectual property that isn’t compelling, or a brand that feels “off,” boring, and all over the place. (This is exactly the problem with most wellness entrepreneurs and their brand) 

This is why I often say that the beginning stages of marketing are about creating a world and and story, and inviting the audience into the world and the story to experience it.

Tolkien and Lucas were masters at this.

I think many of us introverts can relate, and why many times we choose to immerse ourselves in a good story rather than engage in meaningless conversation and gossip about weather, what the neighbors are doing, or exchanging recipes.

This is why I get tired so quickly of the conversations I have here in  a  community of extroverts in Bosnia (who spend a lot of time socializing)

Not because I don’t like them, I do. And not just because of the language barrier. (I speak the language but have not mastered it enough to really express myself properly)

Truthfully, after 20 minutes of these kinds of shallow exchanges, I’m good to go.. and ready to go home.

It’s the same reason why I just could never really get into Instagram. I might be missing something, but for now, I prefer to dive into a good YouTube video that actually takes me somewhere. (Often down a pretty cool rabbit hole) Or a good book or film.

I know that you also have a compelling story to share.

My messaging is also designed to attract introverted entrepreneurs who aren’t afraid of putting in some time and effort into their business and brand.

It doesn’t need to be an epic screenplay or even close to perfect. The goal is to start becoming more curious about storytelling, and to start exploring ways you can add it into everything you create.. from your ABOUT page to an email.

As an introvert, I know that the challenge in sharing a story often isn’t about being shy or concerned that developing a compelling narrative takes time.  It’s about whether or not it’s worth it to share.  The old phrase “Throwing pearls before swine” comes to mind. And that’s just ONE reason.

There are plenty of people out there that I don’t really like. (Honest INTJ here) It’s also true that it’s not necessarily the other person’s fault if they aren’t excited about the things/ideas that I treasure, and this definitely does play a role in how an introvert shares their story.

Introverts often spend a lifetime studying, exploring,  mastering skills, and talking about ideas. At a certain stage in our lives, we may discover that most people don’t care.

This makes sense, and I wouldn’t expect everyone, or even most people, to be interested in what I accomplished (of course) but also not even in the ideas I love to geek out about.

I’ve also encountered enough people who will change the subject to something trivial in an instant to make me decide that it’s not worth it to share much.

It makes more sense for me to document my experiences and direct someone who may be interested in what I have to say, and is open to a later conversation, to something I’ve already taken the time to write.

I can pour out my story in writing so that someone can access it if/when they are inclined to, and when they are not distracted.  And find polite ways to exit conversations when they get trivial.

Instead of opening up and wasting my time on those who are genuinely more interested in what’s happening around them in the moment, I’ve developed a system that conserves my energy and is respectful for everyone.

Tips for telling your brand story as a thinking introvert entrepreneur

This is the part where I’m expanding on my previous blog, which was about boundaries and sharing online.

Now I’m going to get more specific, in a very nerdy and introverted way, about the when, why, who, and how to create a story around your brand.

Many of us crave a deeper connection, while at the same time, we may not feel like sharing much, let alone intimate details, with anyone but maybe a few people we trust. (I can count them on one hand)

It may feel as if we don’t really have much to say that will be of interest or make a good story.  Or that sharing something just for the sake of it feels kinda.. cheesy.

So what do we do, especially when everyone’s talking about storytelling and authenticity these days?

I want to explore a question:

How much sharing are we talking about here?  And how do we know what to share and what to keep to ourselves? 

How do we harness the power of storytelling if/when we prefer to keep our private lives sacred, maintain a sense of mystery, or allow ourselves extra “space” during periods when we need it the most?

How much TIME will this all take?  This is a really good question. I find that most introverts don’t mind spending time on something if there’s a payoff.

I also know that we are especially drawn to stories.

So far my message in a nutshell is: Stories good. Me Introvert.  When and How share stories and not make hard?

The first thing I like to remember:

What would Gandalf or Dumbledore or Yoda do, say, teach, or share?

Art credit: Lucas Graciano (DeviantArt)

In business, the story is less about our personal story, and more about our audience. More specifically, the audience/ideal clients we want to attract.

We are there as a guide, much like Gandalf or Obi Wan or Dumbledore was there for Frodo, Luke, and Harry.

Personally, I would LOVE to hear what was going through Gandalf’s mind at many points in the LOTR trilogy.

At the same time, can you imagine these wise mentors oversharing on social media?

Or focusing only their own past or struggles? To to point where it becomes more about drama than insight?

Or not having the confidence to clearly articulate their values and insights?

Or even living as hermits and never sharing their wisdom to our favorite heroes?

I can’t.

They are at a place in their lives which is more about providing empathy and authority. They actively listen, and may choose to share something about themselves ONLY to those who have earned it or would benefit from it in some way. They may not even go into great detail.

Or they may share with the general public if it makes sense. Of course, this is trickier.

They also didn’t just say “I’m sorry this is happening to you. Now I advise you to do this.” This is actually kind of arrogant, and sadly, I see life coaches and “healers” who do just this very thing.

Gandalf does much more by also providing context and choice, because he respects the people he counsels and interacts with. This is illustrated clearly in the scene where Frodo wishes he never came upon the Ring and Gandalf delivers his famous line:

A good leader also has an approachable vibe.  And maybe, if they are lucky, the counsel of a wizard or Jedi Master.

Well, now that you know I can be a LOTR nerd, there are plenty of examples in other stories you may love.

I think that this can be a useful thing to remember when thinking about what to share (or not) online, and how to share it.

I also wonder if these famous wise characters had tips for us mortals, and what they might be. So I wrote a list of advice that perhaps they would share.

The key questions to ask yourself as an introvert when deciding when how to tell your story online:

1. First, and most importantly: How do you feel about sharing a particular piece of information?

If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. Trust your instincts. (Trust The Force)

That’s it.

However, I’m an INT (J/P) so I think about stuff. And I don’t think that this is a bad thing, necessarily.  So let’s look at that.

2. Could this information be used against you?

It doesn’t have to be something negative. The same can be true of things that are positive and dear to us.

This sounds like a crappy thing to say, but unfortunately it’s true.

A few examples:

An ex might find a way to shit on your happiness.

Family members can be especially weird about our own personal choices, preferring to stick to what they made up their mind about us years ago.

If you live in a small town where gossip is the local sport, posting on social media can make you a target. I also have to be careful because even an innocent or benign comment could be misinterpreted because of the lingering tension in the area I live in. (I’ve watched this happen to some of my friends) I’ve joked about not wanting to start another war (I have a weird, dark sense of humor) but seriously.. my peace of mind is important to me.

One could easily say “I don’t give a single fuck what anyone thinks of me.”  This thought can guide and direct you as well. Go for it!

If you have something to lose or that could be compromised, like the safety of a child, pet, or your home, again, posting on social media may not feel right to you.

If you are even moderately famous, you may also be a target: Neil Patel, who owns a multimillion dollar SEO business, has been sued for trivial reasons, because he has money, and prefers to protect himself legally as well as keep his private life sacred and separate from his business life.

I know a YouTuber who had to move his family because they were getting visitors coming to their front door once they hit around 1M subscribers.  (Scary and totally inappropriate) He could probably be an expert on the balance between visibility and privacy, and also happens to be an INTJ.

I don’t want to focus too much on the negatives here, because truthfully, the goal is to become more visible, not hide, if we want to succeed as entrepreneurs.  However, as an introvert, I get it. I don’t want to throw just anything online just for the sake of “visibility” anymore, and that’s why I wrote this blog!

Aside from obvious choices that might cause problems later,  I think that all we can do is refer back to #1.

You may also want to do periodic checks on your privacy settings and make sure you stay on top of your online reputation. (Google yourself) I also think that it’s important to maintain positive relationships with not just new leads and clients, but those you’ve worked with in the past.

This could mean a PAUSE on replying to someone who isn’t happy, stepping back, and having some replies at the ready that you can customize after a cooling off period. (And then make sure that you go back to focusing on attracting only the right clients for you so that this is much less likely to happen in the first place)

Personally, I’m not a big fan of big review sites like Yelp.  I’ve never used them. and don’t plan on it.

I don’t think they are used properly or honestly, and that it’s all too easy for someone to use it to exact revenge on someone for almost any reason, and difficult to remove those reviews.  Same goes for positive reviews. It’s become more arbitrary, less constructive and less informative, and to me, makes little sense. (This is a perfect example of another point I’m going to bring up in #8)

There’s probably more I could say about this, especially with new AI technologies, but I want to save this for another blog.

3. Does it “resonate” with your audience?

First, whatever you post must be relevant. This blog is a great example.  If I were to post an excerpt on social media, would not be relevant to everyone.

Second, it must resonate. This is where our message and unique “voice” plays a key role.

Does it mean being formal and “professional”?” Not necessarily. However,  if that’s aligned with your message and brand, then yes, you can lean into a more formal vibe.

If your brand is more about being a rebel or maverick, your posts will need to reflect that.

If your brand is about being friendly, down-to-earth, and accessible, then you may be posting pictures of your pets or sharing everyday experiences, and this will also come across as relevant.  (Note: This needs to come from YOU, not generative AI)

If your brand is infused with humor, nerdiness, or passion, (you get the idea) then your posts can, and probably should, reflect these things.

What isn’t good is being “all over the place” (mixed messages) or wanting to attract a particular audience but leaning into an entirely different message online.

I want my brand to have a little bit of mystery in it, which I’ve discovered recently. It doesn’t mean that I can use it as an excuse to hide, but it will color how I show up.

Another aspect to consider is SEO. I’ve seen entrepreneurs go off on philosophical tangents in blogs that nobody, let alone their ideal clients, will find in a Google search (or other engine search) online.  When you have a relevant story to tell, you want to make sure it resonates, but it’s equally  important to include relevant keywords.

Just like a movie is marketed and titles and trailers are VERY well thought out, we want to do the same for the content we work so hard to create.

4. Does it provide insight or entertainment?

It’s a pretty straightforward question, but it’s even more important in the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey.  (The later stages are for those who are actively searching for the product or service you offer)

This generally includes social media and email marketing.

Examples on social media:

I recently saw a post about sobriety. It was insightful and thoughtful. It didn’t come off as preachy, nor did it strike me that the author was leveraging gratuitous vulnerability. (Vulnerability porn)

I also saw a post from a friend who just sold a puppy to a famous football player. It’s a great “feel good” post with a good message, which happens to be right on brand for her.  I don’t think you can go wrong with puppies and heartwarming stories ever, but this really works well for her brand.

As a digital nomad, I would post pics from various locations I was working from, but also stories about the realities of travel in Europe, as well as a few bold statements against the travel blogging and “Lifestyle Influencer” BS that was everywhere back then.

None of these were sterile/”professional” posts. People don’t go on social media for that. They go there to be inspired and entertained.

5. Is it respectful to our own privacy AND theirs?

This is again about your own instincts, but it’s a good question to ask yourself before you post.

6. Is it about empathy and appropriate sharing?

Empathy isn’t about those “I’m so sorry to hear about your loss” posts. It’s my opinion that those kinds of posts just make many of us feel unsatisfied (as the poster who probably needs more support than any FB post can provide) and awkward (as a commenter: What the heck do we say?)

I’m so happy when I see real empathy and appropriate sharing modeled online.

For example, I know of a marketing expert that exudes a warm, empathetic vibe about entrepreneurship and marketing. Every word he says conveys that he truly gets it. He responds to individual questions in a thoughtful and respectful way. He makes one feel as if they really matter.

That’s HUGE. And it’s a great skill to cultivate.

I can tell that he put some thought into the stories he has told about his own experiences.

Some are “founder’s stories.”

Just like Spiderman and Batman have their own origin stories that answer a lot of questions for the audience and help us relate to a human bestowed with superpowers, founder’s stories are about potentially life-altering moments that made someone decide to head down the path they are currently on and help others.

Some are “in the moment” stories that we can relate to, like lost luggage or tech glitches.

Of course, sometimes it’s one’s JOB to get VERY specific about life challenges.

There is a YouTuber who calls her brand “The Crappy Childhood Fairy.”

Obviously, she’s going to share topics that are not generally considered appropriate for sharing, but in this context, she’s dead-on specific. You can tell she’s been in the trenches, but the focus isn’t about her, but a blend of empathy and authority (as well as context and choice/agency) about topics like toxic relationships, gaslighting, and childhood trauma.

She does this well because she’s an expert on this topic.

7. Can the lesson/insight/experience be turned into a compelling story?

metaphor for a compelling story: A river lit by a sunset that has a magical feel

This is something I’ve been actively working on, and that I believe takes practice if you aren’t used to storytelling or making use of narrative.

If I have an insight, it’s natural for me to want to share it as pure information: Bullet points, quotes, tips, researched data, making a strong case for something, and educating.

More and more, I like to frame my insights, experiences, learning, and growth  in the context of a narrative.  I’m still studying and geeking out on storytelling, and learn something new every day about things like how to introduce a character, how to write a strong character arc, and how to avoid certain tropes and plot holes.

So I’m challenging myself to play with this more and more by applying it to my own brand and content.

For example:

The other night I was trying to write the previous blog in this series about sharing and oversharing,  and felt stuck. Something felt flat. Something was missing.  So I decided to add some personal examples and stories that highlight these insights as a narrator, rather than as a textbook full of information and data.

See what I did there? This last paragraph of course isn’t the most brilliant thing I’ve ever written. It checks most of the boxes: It’s relevant, feels right, respects privacy, and can help someone understand the point in a way that the brain is more likely to grab onto and remember.

However, the above paragraph on its own is not super compelling.  I think that the story I’m trying to convey is contained in this blog series, not in a single paragraph. The bigger story also unfolds in everything I post, write, or share in a video or podcast.  It’s also about the images I choose.

You get a sense that the tone of my brand isn’t the same as the typical “Female Entrepreneur” brand.  And this is very, very intentional.

The same goes for the clients I work with.. I LOVE watching their narrative unfold.

8. Here’s the curveball: Is it something that might rock the boat?  AND.. because of this, not in spite of it, will provide value to the people you want to attract?

This is the essence of Point of View marketing.

Avoiding “oversharing” doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding something that may be a bit polarizing. (I’m not necessarily talking about religion or politics here) Some talk about “safe” topics that are guaranteed not to piss anyone off, but still overshare.

For example, someone who shares very intimate and detailed and frequent accounts of her daily life.

Some have strong opinions that go against the tide, and although it may feel scary to share them, it’s not necessarily oversharing when they decide to share an unpopular opinion.

For example, it’s not popular these days to tell entrepreneurs that they might have to do some hard work and remain consistent over time. As in years, not months. But more than a few of us in my industry agree.. and they also feel strongly that telling people that it’s supposed to be an easy, joyful walk in the park every day is bullshit.

I’ve also got some strong, specific, and potentially unpopular opinions about where I think the wellness industry is heading because of undercharging and a general resistance to embracing every aspect of being a business owner, including marketing/defining a brand.

This has, by the way, resulted in getting to know some of my colleagues that I’ve always admired but was hesitant to approach!

Popular doesn’t always mean better. Sometimes it pays off to take a stand on something and speak up about it. It can mean new friendships and alliances, or illuminating the darker aspects of a prevailing paradigm.

So in this case, if I’ve run it past these 10 “criteria”  and decide that it’s a go, I may also decide that the perspective I’m offering is actually much needed.

Because those who want and need to hear the message will be so glad that someone is finally talking about the things that they may not want to say out loud. They may be thinking, or even let you know: “I’m so glad that I’m not the only one.. THANK you!”

9. Are you aware and prepared for any consequences, both negative and positive?

When I spoke about not having information used against me, this is kind of a gray area. I find that if people want to use information against me, even if, (or because) I’m silent and keep to myself, they will.  Heck, I’ve lived in a small town in Bosnia as a foreigner long enough to learn that if people can’t find shit about you to gossip about, they will make something up.

However, I can’t hide forever. There comes a time when I will feel the need to speak up and share things that maybe right now I don’t want to share.

For example, I could write an entire book about my adventures and relationship with my dogs here, and how the culture here isn’t exactly dog-friendly.

When I do, I’ll be going through this list, but also be prepared for the consequences: No matter how diplomatic I am, there will be people that probably won’t like what I have to say.

And people who will agree with me 1000%. This could mean that I need to step up even more, or make my introverted self a little uncomfortable about being in the spotlight.

Both are “consequences” of speaking up.

10. Does your decision feel in alignment with your personal brand?

I know this sounds like marketing speak, but hear me out.

Recently, I took a quiz called “Which Fascination Type Are You” (Sally Hogshead) I’m the “Secret Weapon.” So of course, my brand is most effective if I embrace my natural tendency to maintain a certain sense of mystery.

I take this into consideration when I share. For this reason, you probably won’t see me making any “watch me get ready for my day” videos on Instagram.

There was a time when I considered being more like Amy Porterfield or Marie Forleo. But I would feel ridiculous trying to be like them.

This is related to #3 (Is it relevant to your audience) but is more about it being authentic.

For some types, (I encourage you to take this quiz) it will make sense to share more, as it will be part of your personal brand. The Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How you share will also factor in.

For example, Tad Hargrave of Marketing for Hippies is fantastic at “In the moment” videos of him at home. They feel genuine and there is a slight sense of intimacy there, as if you were part of a group of friends meeting up at his home for coffee.

My jam, on the other hand, is creating blogs and podcasts or even books. I like making that time up front to create something that will serve me for months or even years.  I’m not as much into the ephemeral and “in the moment,” at least for now.

Even when I’m speaking in front of people live, which I don’t mind, I want to have plenty of free and low-cost resources in my library to share so that I don’t have to remember every single little thing I’ve written over the years, or feel the pressure to be “ON” all the time.

(The pressure of being ON all the time would make a great blog..)

Others show up in a fun and entertaining way which is completely in alignment with their brand (and checks all the boxes above)

To sum it up and apply the 10 tips to a real world scenario:

Here’s an example that you can run through all 10 of these checkpoints:

I distinctly remember the toxic “positivity culture” of the 2010’s and a period of major depression I went through when this was a “thing.”

Without oversharing, (I wanted to respect my own privacy) I still wanted to speak up on behalf of those who were being told that they could simply “choose to be happy.”

I wanted to make sure none of what I shared could be used against me. (Although realistically, I’m not sure this can be guaranteed)

I wanted it to help others who felt alone because of this nonsense.

I thought about whether it might be relevant or not, in context of the work I was doing at the time. As an acupuncturist, I would say yes, definitely.

I thought about what someone wise might say to a friend, acquaintances, and the public.

I at least wanted to start or be part of a greater conversation about this topic.

So I spoke up. A few of the perpetual members of the “positivity cult” were a tad put off, but I actually got a VERY positive response from even more of the people who were watching me on social media.

Later, I noticed that many others were also starting to speak up about this, and eventually the trend lost much of its momentum.

Slowly, I think that the stigma around depression is lifting. I want others to keep telling their stories and be heard, so that they never have to feel alone and subject to toxic trends like this again.

That’s just a start. I could write more examples, but maybe you can think of more. In fact, I’m going to invite you to do just that over the next few days.

Now that you’ve come this far in reading this blog (cool!) can you come up with a list of things you might want to share, stories you might want to tell, and ways to tell them?

Then run them by these 10 criteria to determine if it’s a YES or a NO, or even a “Maybe Later.”

I hope that this article is helpful to you in some way, when it comes to deciding what to share and what to keep to yourself.  I would also love to know what YOU think!

A business strategy that works for introverts

A lot of marketing advice comes from extroverts: Lots of time on social media, too much sharing, low-quality “small talk,” and what feels like a waste of time for us introverts.

There really is a better way.  My goal is to help as many brilliant introverted entrepreneurs succeed on their own terms without the external noise or pressure to show up a “certain way” online.

I offer both 90 day coaching packages and 2.5 hour strategy sessions to get you started on a business that actually works.

Hi! I’m Julie. 

I’m a self-described nerd when it comes to branding, marketing, and websites. I’m an INTJ/P who loves working with “thinking” introvert entrepreneurs who are also passionate about their ideas and serious about their business.  Feel free to explore a topic or search for something specific. 

Brand archetype quiz

Take the Brand Archetype Quiz!

A fun quiz that will help you define and refine your brand. You will get more than just a result.. I’ve got all kinds of goodies ready for you and your specific brand type.

9 Steps to Diversifying Your Income As A Wellness Practitioner

9 Steps to Diversifying Your Income As A Wellness Practitioner

The rallying cry lately has been “income diversification,” which has moved from being perceived as an “ideal lifestyle” that many were not aware could even be possible.. to almost a necessity for many. Whether or not this will be a permanent adjustment or not remains to be seen.