The Storytelling Lab - Ep15: Business Writing with Annie Beth Donahue
Updated: Apr 27
Ever wonder how long your online blog should be? How to write for healthcare professionals? Or, how to turn academic journals into plain language for a larger audience? Well, this episode is perfect for you! Rain discusses actionable writing tips with Annie Beth, a long-time friend, freelance healthcare writer, and children’s novelist.
Do you ever get excited about reconnecting with an old friend from high school on Facebook just to be disappointed that they have nothing in common with you anymore? Maybe they still live at their parent’s house, think Chili’s is fine dining, post racist rants on their timeline...
Well that's exactly the opposite of what happened with my friend Annie Beth and me.
In school, Annie Beth played violin, excelled in academics, and was always the best singer in the musicals. I played sports, experimented with drugs, and was also in the musicals -- but as an actor that played several roles and had no lines.
We didn’t necessarily run in the same circles.
But when we connected on Facebook in 2008, I realized that we now had a lot in common.
Our post-high-school friendship started with Annie Beth frequently commenting on my health-related posts. Then, she was a music supervisor on my friend Camden’s documentary, Abandoned Allies. But, we really started connecting when I moved back to North Carolina in 2014 and was in the middle of making Raise Up (which she contributed to in a crowdfunding campaign).
At the time, she was working with low-income communities in the health space and had started her own nonprofit.
I worked with nonprofits frequently -- also in the health space -- and was passionate about helping those that are underprivileged (the ethos behind the Raise Up movement).
Annie Beth quickly became one of my most loyal supporters.
She contributed to crowdfunding campaigns for my films, offered to write for a health and fitness show I was producing, and just constantly offered feedback on the things I was dedicating myself to.
We started chatting more often and our goals lined up in an uncanny way.
Even now, I look to her so much for advice.
Recently she came to Durham for a concert and we talked for over an hour about writing, empathy, and connecting with our communities, all while my six month old daughter looked at us like we were crazy.
Annie Beth is currently a freelance healthcare writer and children’s novelist (and still one of the smartest people I know).
I asked her on the show because she understands storytelling way better than I do.
That’s how much I care about you guys -- I only bring the best!
If you are struggling to start an online blog, wondering how you should write for professionals, or learning to turn jargon-filled industry talk into plain language for a larger (and more general) audience…
Well, this episode is perfect for you!
Annie Beth and I discuss actionable business writing tips as well a mystery novel for middle schoolers, titled No Clues, You Lose.
If you write for work or pleasure, this episode is chalked full of useful information.
Some highlights of our conversation:
Who Annie Beth refers to as “business creatives” -- (I totally stole this term!)
Healthcare/Nonprofit writing and how to tell those kinds of stories
No Clues, You Lose - Annie Beth’s middle school mystery novel
How writing a story can also convey information
There should always be a call to action at the end of a blog post
People - especially in the healthcare world - think of storytelling as fluff. How do we convince them differently?
When we see/read characters that are “like us” we know, like, and trust those characters
Before writing for a business or nonprofit, imagine the ideal person that you would like to serve. Who is your ideal audience?
How to create characters that people can relate to
Proper blog post length: cannot be under 300 words, 500- 800 words is standard, 1000-2000 is considered long form
Long form (i.e. cornerstone content) is starting to perform better because, generally, it is evergreen
You need subheaders! Info that lets people know what’s ahead but is more of a teaser for the next section. Visually, subheaders are a bolder font and slightly larger
All paragraphs should be one thought and should not be longer than 4 lines!
Plain language: turning academic journals into layman’s terms for the general public. This doesn’t necessarily mean less words, but more common words. Shoot for a 5th grade reading level-- simplicity is KEY! (Watch your language to make sure you are not using industry specific words or phrases)
Overlaps in medical writing and fiction writing
Writing what you know, especially, when it comes to perspective! Write from a perspective that you understand. Know when it’s “your story to tell.”
And last but certainly not least...
To be better storytellers we need to be better listeners (I love EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS)
As always, I hope you enjoy the episode!
Peace and Love,
Follow Annie Beth on Twitter @anniebdonahue
And check out her website (and short stories) at anniebethdonahue.com
For more storytelling tips and tricks,
Follow us on Instagram @sixsecondstories
Visit our website sixsecondstories.com
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