Choose your own adventure: What will change your 2021?

Take our quiz to determine what interactive learning session will take you to the next level on content in 2021!

Click the image below if you can’t access the embedded quiz above:


How to tell a story

Storytelling is one of the strongest tools for connection, empathy and memory. And while telling a great story comes naturally to some, it’s also a skill that can be learned.

In the newest free guide, Minerva Media Co. is sharing how to tell a great story, with the exact formula for three different story types.

Take your story from cocktail party chitchat to storytelling that sticks in your audience’s minds long after they’ve read it.


The best newsletter tools for your small business

newsletter tools

It’s no surprise I’m a fan of email newsletters — I started Raleigh Convergence as a free newsletter before expanding to a website; I’ve worked on local to national newsletter concepts in my career before my leap into entrepreneurship, too. 

Company newsletters, or brand newsletters, are powerful in their ability to connect consistently and build customer loyalty. Unlike social media, you don’t have to worry if your audience has even seen your message. And good newsletters that include a call to action link will have about 10% of people clicking through. 

One of the workshops offered on a regular rotation is a start-to-finish interactive, live training on email newsletters.

It’s perfect for those of you who want to fast track getting that company email list started for your small business or startup!

But I also wanted to share my top tools for email newsletters that I personally use on a regular basis. 

Here’s the better news: Most of these are low-cost or free newsletter tools!

Mailchimp email newsletters

This is a great, free option to get started. The email newsletter templates are great for beginners, and you won’t have to pay until you reach a certain number of newsletter sends or audience. 

Mailchimp works e-commerce services like WooCommerce and payment platforms such as Stripe and Square, using different integrations. 

And you’re not locked in — if you get started with Mailchimp then decide to switch to a different service, you can export your opted-in subscribers to a newsletter alternative. 

Canva for design

Yes, this is a design platform. But you’ll want to create consistent assets, headers and other design elements for your newsletter. Just plain ol’ text gets a little boring. Canva is free to start and also offers a paid option with access to a larger creative library and other tools such as resizing. 

Flodesk vs. Mailchimp

While I use Mailchimp for my editorial newsletters, I switched to Flodesk for my Minerva Media Co. newsletters, for a few added benefits.

The newsletter templates are much cleaner and design-focused without needing to create external graphics and insert those images into the newsletter. It’s more in line with the look and feel for Minerva Media Co., too. There’s also conversational example text, which is great for beginners. 

The embedded sign-up forms are also better. I struggled to get beautiful, well-designed Mailchimp in-line sign up forms on my WordPress site, and Flodesk makes it far easier. 

Better tagging: Segmenting your audience can help tailor your message to better serve your brand’s community. With tagging by sign-up form, it makes knowing who’s received what content already and who’s interested in what service far easier. 

If you’re interested, you can get 50% off your Flodesk subscription with Minerva Media Co.’s affiliate code. We also benefit and receive $19 when someone joins using our link

Are you ready to get started on your email newsletter? 

I’d love to hear how it’s going and your questions on newsletters as I prepare for the next newsletter workshop! Send an email to minervamediaco@gmail.com

EVEN MORE WORKSHOPS: Storytelling and tools, in an interactive and virtual setting.


Workshop: Voice + storytelling for startups!

I believe in small businesses. In startups. In local innovators. 

I feel lucky enough to be a part of this special, supportive, Raleigh community, and I believe when people bring their whole selves to the community’s metaphorical table, it makes a difference.

That’s why I’m offering virtual workshops to share lessons and skills I’ve developed along my journey as an editor, content strategist, entrepreneur and storytelling coach. 

The first workshop is aimed at startups and entrepreneurs and it’s on Monday! 

From 1-2 p.m. ET on Zoom, in a small-group setting, we’ll workshop: 

Creating an engaging brand voice: You’ll walk away with a worksheet that describes who you are to your target audiences.

Telling your story: Your “About” page is crucial. Transform it from a bland description (or list of headshots) with storytelling! We’ll workshop the components of a story — and what to avoid. 

Don’t miss out on this transformative $30 workshop!

*update: this workshop is now closed!*


Your enneagram and content creation hangups

What is your enneagram type and how does it play into your work life?

I’m a big believer in the enneagram, and as I was thinking about creating a launch guide, I was really thinking about how different personalities might run into challenges. 

Here’s my guess, by type:

✨Type 1: Must have all the content perfect on the website before launch!

✨Type 2: Will this story mix be best received by a wide audience?

✨Type 3: Creates an unrealistic set of goals but gets caught up on creating the BEST EVER launch (hi, this my type!)

✨Type 4: Loves the creative process, but gets caught up on pressing the publish button

✨Type 5: Is researching all the things first

✨Type 6: Is working so hard, but feeling anxious about their content.

✨Type 7: Loves content! But also there are so many other exciting elements to launch just needs a roadmap.

✨Type 8: Is reading this whole post skeptically.

✨Type 9: Needs some motivation to spark the process. 

OK, this post is just for fun — I’m definitely not an expert in the enneagram! But I *am* an expert in content strategy, storytelling and editing. 

That’s why I thought about all of these different types of personalities and how they might be helped by my *free* launch guide! In it, I break down the five pieces of content you need to launch that business, initiative, idea or project.

Get the guide, then respond with your enneagram!


The five pieces of content you need to launch

So you’re ready to launch your newest product or idea — what pieces of content do you really need out there to get started?

In this free guide from Minerva Media Co., we’ll share exactly what you need in place pre-launch and how to make sure it’s optimized. 


A new Minerva Media Co. look and direction

Growing up, my summers always included a trip to my grandparents’ beach house. 

It wasn’t fancy. But that little yellow house — which always smelled of sand, Hawaiian Tropic and bacon omelets — felt like summer as soon as I stepped in the door. 

Inside, my grandfather usually had a puzzle going on one of the tables. 

Like everything that happened at the beach house, it was done at a leisurely pace, after trips to the beach but before dinnertime and card games.

Piece by piece, the islands of puzzle pieces widened and the edges stretched to the center.

Somehow the slow process in the background suddenly seemed done in the blink of an eye, the picture in focus. 

I’ve been thinking about time lately, and how it works on a different schedule these days. It’s moved both slow and fast for me, and maybe you too.

I’ve been quieter here, working in the background on the puzzle of what’s next for Minerva Media Co. This summer, the pieces of my past experiences, the things that get me up in the morning, my skills and values have come together in a clearer picture for the future.

I’m excited to finally share what I’ve been working on!

I’m overhauling the brand and services to be more in line with what local businesses, innovators, marketers and nonprofit professionals need now. 

As a content strategist, longtime editor, experienced trainer, community-minded leader and entrepreneur, I’m focusing squarely on my areas of expertise.

I didn’t start my own company to retain the status quo. I started Minerva Media Co. to transform the content industry.

With this new direction, I’m putting the skills of storytelling and better content creation in the hands of people in my community.

Here’s what that looks like: 

✨ Workshops: Virtual (at least for now!) trainings will help you tackle your biggest content challenges, on topics from finding your brand voice for startups to crafting your story for small business. [read more]

✨ Content strategy templates: From launch roadmaps to quarterly content planners, these content strategy templates will guide you through key moments for content in your business. Look for these to go on sale soon!

✨ Limited custom content strategy consulting will continue to be available, but for a small number of clients. 

I’m thrilled to share this news with you. I’ll continue to share more details, on-sale dates, free guides and more on my email list. Sign up so you don’t miss out! 

–Sarah Day, founder of Minerva Media Co.


A new guide for communicating through a pandemic

If your business plan just went out the window after COVID-19 began affecting our communities, you’re not alone.

One of the ways I want to serve you is to continue to produce resources that will help you get by and worry a little less about making sure your bases are covered. 

It’s with that in mind that I’ve created up a new free guide, with a checklist of where to make sure you’ve communicated your current reality.

I hope it makes getting through this time a little easier.


Social media marketing in 2020: Here are the numbers to know

In our latest free guide, we’re sharing the stats for U.S. social media network usage, perfect for planning your 2020 social media strategy.

Included in this new free guide for social media:

  • The most recent, 2019 demographic snapshots of the top social media networks
  • Actionable analysis from Minerva Media Co.
  • Which social networks might not be right for you.

All in a digital format you can save and reference!


How to set goals with a vision board

Want to make a vision board, but not sure how?

In my latest for BossBabe, I shared how you can build your own vision board, with the help of professional coach Denise Stewart.

“A vision board, also known as a mood board, is a collage of images, pictures, and affirmations to help visualize specific goals.

Many of the most groundbreaking leaders we know create a vision board when setting goals as a source of inspiration and motivation.” [read more]

PS: A vision board is even more effective with the help of a coach, and Denise is leading a workshop on Feb. 22 in Raleigh. [register]


Holiday content ideas for your brand [free guide!]

Feel like you have a ton on your plate this holiday season? You’re not alone!

That’s why I’m sharing an easy and free guide to planning your holiday content through the New Year.

This will be a turnkey guide for you if:

☑️ You want to authentically connect with potential and existing audiences before the end of 2019.

☑️ You want to build excitement about your goods and services — without the heavy sales pitch.

☑️ Use data you already have to inform your content ideas.

Ready to make life 10x easier until 2020 arrives? Click here to get the guide

holiday content ideas

[image: SC Stockshop]


How to write a press release (link)

Check out my latest advice for BossBabe.com, how to pitch to the media in 7 steps.

In the post, you’ll learn:

  • How to tailor your pitch to the right reporter or editor
  • How to find the best organization for your story
  • When it’s time to outsource media relations
  • How to get your story told again

What is content strategy and how does it work with branding?

So you have a solid brand. One with a strong visual identity, voice, values and target audience.

But that’s just the beginning in the big picture of modern storytelling strategies!

Building a strong brand can lay the foundation for a strong content strategy — but you need both to truly build and grow relationships with your target audience.

If branding is the *what* and the *who*, content strategy is the *how.*

Here are three ways content strategy works with branding:

A good content strategy includes communication and engagement plans for different segments of your target audience.

For a small business, that might look like prospective customers and customers segmented by loyalty.

For nonprofits, that might look like major donors, current donors, first-time donors, volunteers and donor prospects.

A good content strategy tells stories that show, not just tell, the value of your brand.

Through using the ‘personality’ of your brand, effective content strategy shows target audiences how your organization solved a problem for a similar customer or brought value to their life.

For mission-driven businesses, good content strategies show results or how a real person’s life was changed by what that organization does.

A good content strategy is dynamic, while a brand can be static.

When goal-setting for the year, content strategies should align and support those goals, adjusting to actual results from projected results.

Content strategy keeps your brand message strong and moving forward to authentically connect with the audience you want to reach.

Ready to take your business from a brand to an effective storyteller? Set up a free 30-minute consultation with Minerva Media Co.!


Content planning roadmap: Learn how to align your goals and content strategy

In this easy-to-implement content planning guide, you’ll work through aligning your business goals and your content plans. 

Inside, you’ll find content strategy worksheets, examples and a checklist so you won’t miss a step.

Ready to jump in?

If you’re in business, you’re in the content business. Content marketing is an effective and authentic way to connect your organization with people — and grow.

Yet often, businesses share or create content that isn’t in line with what they actually do — or where they’re strategically going.

A smart content strategy can be built onto your business strategies. In this free guide, Minerva Media Co. will guide you through examples, worksheets and a helpful checklist.

Free content planning guide


How to be a better writer: Sign up for our new guide!

Want to transform your brand’s storytelling with the help of an editor? In this totally free guide from Minerva Media Co.’s founder and longtime editor for national and local publications, learn:

  • What are the components and structure of a good story?
  • What type of stories resonate with businesses sharing stories
  • Common mistakes editors catch even from experienced writers

And more insights to take your writing for your website, social media posts and even in-person storytelling to the next level.

Are you ready to be a better writer? 


Amazon Alexa skills are open to brands. Here are some content marketing ideas for voice.

A bar cart at a home in Palm Springs
Want to create a content experience for customers at home?

With the rise of voice virtual assistant, Alexa, and hardware Amazon Echo and Dot, you might be wondering what that means for your business. Earlier this year, Amazon opened up building skills to everyone — which means its the perfect time to start experimenting.

First, let’s talk about what storytelling using Amazon Alexa is. It’s not repeating an ad message. It’s serving a function for users as an engaging, modern storytelling strategy.

It’s a prime example of content marketing (which the Content Marketing Institute says produces three times more leads than traditional outbound marketing).

Instead of pushing products to consumers, good storytelling on Alexa develops a trusted, expert voice that develops brand loyalty and converts consumers.

Here’s an example of Alexa Skills storytelling:

Talisker, a scotch brand, is using Amazon’s Alexa to give drinkers a tasting experiencemuch like you might get on a distillery tour and tasting IRL — but this is from the comfort of your home.

The head of tech and innovation said: “Voice is the perfect technology to do just this and provide an enhanced brand experience by putting the consumer, product and brand at the centre of a tasting, in a completely seamless and non-intrusive way.”

How to determine your Alexa skill content strategy: Enhance an experience

While the scotch company might be building digital ambassadors and brand loyalty with their virtual, self-guided tasting, it also smartly considers how it can enhance an experience that’s already happening: People drinking scotch, maybe their product, at home.

Ilker Koksal wrote in Forbes that brands should think about how people are currently engaging with their brand and translate it to voice.

For example: People use Food Network in the kitchen. When their hands are messy, it looks up recipes. Starbucks allows a hands-free ordering service for commuters on the go. “Focus on the experience for similar ideas to translate your brand to voice marketing,” he writes.

Alexa Skills marketing for businesses who sell products and services to consumers:

Some examples that Hubspot mentions in its guide is brand-building efforts by Purina (ask about the best dog breeds for kids) and Tide (whose stain-removal instructions voice storytelling positions them as an expert in removing stains).

Hubspot writes: “Your Alexa Skills plan should complement your company’s existing content strategy and should be a natural extension to the queries your customers are conducting in other formats.”

How to get started with Amazon Alexa Skills

So what does this mean for small to medium local organizations without a fleet of developers? Like with anything, you’ll be investing resources with time or money, but if you have an organizational modern storytelling strategy, you can determine if it’s right for your business by whether or not it fits in as a tool to meet your goals.

If you want to learn more, The Amazon Skills site has resources for marketers, trainings and more.

Decide it’s a yes? These components in a good strategy would help you decide on your Alexa storytelling:

SEO research: What do people look for most in your industry or area?

Website analytics on your site that determine most popular content — and least.

Social media analysis that shows how people engage with your business and brand now.

Audience analysis that looks at your existing customer base.

What customer problems you can solve from the discovery process.

Need help in creating your strategy?

Find more storytelling strategies like this in the Minerva Media Co. newsletter.


So what is content strategy? A proven success in content marketing

Have you ever heard of someone actively seeking out an ad on the Internet? Probably not.

But did you know that AirBnB has a magazine? Or that MailChimp has a podcast around pivotal moments in a person’s career? Or that Creative Mornings has a newsletter that shares inspiring links for creatives?

Increasingly, businesses are becoming publishers of their own stories — and of other stories that connect with their target audience.

It speaks to a larger trend: Traditional publishers are no longer the gatekeepers between the public and a business. And now, consumers expect that they can engage with a brand on social media. This has necessitated that all businesses be storytellers and we’re seeing the effects:

Marketers spent a reported 56% more on content creation over the last year, making it the top growing area for content marketing.

Content Marketing Institute’s 2019 trends report.

Content creation and strategy is so central to business in 2019 that Axios published a story a few weeks ago with this headline: “The job of the future is editor in chief.”

Quoting their chief financial correspondent, the article went on to say: “(it’s) Much better to create something that people do want to read directly, and give them that.

“You know how every company is a technology company? Well maybe on some level every company is a media company, too. There’s no point felling trees in forests if nobody hears them.”

That last point is key — a content strategy outlines what story you’ll tell but how it will reach and engage your target audience. Just blogging isn’t enough — you have to think about the whole customer journey.

Content strategy increases your success

The Content Marketing Institute report shows a huge increase in just having a documented strategy for content. Of their surveyed respondents, 65% of “most successful” content marketing performers had a strategy, compared to 39% of all respondents.

That means if your strategic goal is to up your blog game this year, you can’t just get an intern to create some posts about the cool stuff you’re doing and hope that works. You can’t pick clip art memes or try to hashtag every #NationalWhateverDay.

You should be creating optimized content that supports your business goals — and if you’re a business owner like me, you don’t have time for things that don’t work. That’s where Minerva Media Co. comes in.

With more than a decade of experience in content production and more than 8 years in social and digital strategy for content, Minerva Media Co. can help you create a sustainable plan for content that performs.

So, what are you waiting for?


How storytelling helps your business

If you’re like me, your passion didn’t come from pursuing a degree in business. It started with a passion for something else — design, a cause, a craft.

That’s why I’m often in the library, poring through the business book section. It’s where I found my latest inspiring read, “Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets.”

In a chapter on strategy, it discusses the importance of having a story. It’s important for businesses pursuing investors and businesses hoping to connect with customers.

The authors, Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney nail it here:

A quote from "Playing Bigger" by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney.
A quote from “Playing Bigger” by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney (Harper Business)

“Stories alter perspectives and exert influence. … Raw information reaches us on an intellectual level, but stories reach into our hearts and our pants.”


The research supports it:

The book cites two studies. One is a Stanford study, “Narrative Stories as Mediators for Serial Learning” showed a link between stories and memory.

A more recent study by a Claremont Graduate University found a connection between strong storytelling and an increase in oxytocin.

“Oxytocin is an empathy chemical, and it motivates cooperation and understanding–quite important when trying to convince someone to, as Apple used to say, think different,” the book says.

So what does that mean for your business?

Content strategy should be a central part of your marketing and advertising efforts. You can hope that your work speaks for itself, but there’s an economy to making your passion sustainable.

And content strategy is another opportunity to authentically talk about why you do what you do, build empathy and loyalty with existing and potential customers.

How to start with content marketing strategy?

Here are a few easy prompts to start thinking about your story:

  • Is there a project that you can show the behind-the-scenes process on? What might make it more human? A note from the project lead, artist or director?
  • What was the genesis of your business or organization? Is there a retelling of that story that expresses vulnerability and authenticity? What emotion does it express? Is there something that you can tie in that’s an action point to leverage that emotion?
  • Was there a time you learned something or felt connection to the community you’re trying to serve? What happened? Write out what that story might look like, with words and visuals.

Without a distribution strategy, your content will live on its own little lonely island.

Think through these questions on what’s right for you: How will you get it in front of your ideal audience? Think about platform-specific storytelling, not “pushing” out the same version connecting Instagram and Facebook. How can you be consistent?

This is just the beginning of a content strategy that leverages storytelling for connection with the people you hope to reach.

Looking for more? Sign up for the Minerva Media Co. newsletter or contact minervamediaco@gmail.com for help on creating your own modern storytelling strategies.


How to create the best email newsletter for your small business

Hey y’all, Sarah Day Owen Wiskirchen here, founder of the newly launched Minerva Media Co.! For my first blog for businesses about content strategy, I wanted to start with my favorite platform. Nope, not Instagram. Email.

I love email newsletters, and with the tools available now, it’s easy and free to start in just an afternoon. That said, you want to think about your newsletter strategy first.

Here are some things I’ve learned through experimenting with newsletters.

Decide on your goals

Newsletters are a great way to deepen loyalty. The people who sign up for your newsletter are likely existing or interested potential customers. Newsletters shouldn’t feel like ads, they should feel like a more intimate letter from a friend.

Think about your greater business goals: Is there a certain day that you want to drive more traffic to your brick and mortar? Is there an upcoming event you’d like your loyal readers to evangelize?

Then, think about how to make it a measurable goal. Is it total sales on Thursdays? More registrations to a free event, or ticket sales? Mentions on social media? Come up with an actual number.

Decide on your value for subscribers

What’s your incentive to get people to sign up, and how can you keep that value consistent?

You want to have a short explanation of what you’ll offer that gets people to sign up that doesn’t exceed a sentence.

Consider putting together a Google Doc with ideas so you know you have enough topics to fulfill what you’re promising. And bonus, when you have writer’s block, you have a list to pull from.

Think about the logistics: Who and when?

You want to be consistent enough for people to anticipate your newsletter — maybe it’s weekly or even monthly.

Deciding who will own the project will make sure it happens. You may also want to set up a system for looking over the newsletter before it’s sent.

Respect people’s inboxes

Quality over quantity. Newsletters that consistently don’t add value will result in unsubscribes and low open rates. You have to win them with every email you send!

Also, consider making the reply email one that people check. Newsletters are all about deepening relationships, so being responsive counts!

There’s a lot more you can do with newsletters, like setting up welcome sequences, adding personalization and following up with people who haven’t opened a newsletter recently. This blog post just outlines the basics!

If you’re interested in learning more about what content strategies can work for your local business, sign up for the Minerva Media Co. newsletter! We’ll send insights via email so you won’t miss a thing.


What is Minerva Media Company?

Today is the launch of Minerva Media Co., a different kind of local media company whose expertise is modern storytelling strategies.

With the Raleigh Convergence, we’re creating a conversation around ideas, engaging on issues at times Raleighites can take action and sharing stories of creative neighbors.

With Minerva Media Co., we work with local businesses to create authentic connections with potential and existing customers through sustainable content strategy.

On this blog, you’ll find new content strategy ideas for your small or local business! Looking for a blog on journalism? Find us on Medium.

Looking for something else? Send us a note at minervamediaco@gmail.com.