How to Use Your Story to Grow Your Online Business

How to Use Your Story to Grow Your Online Business

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Celinne DaCosta is a brand story coach who teaches entrepreneurs to become confident leaders with powerful stories. Her work has been featured in publications such as Forbes, entrepreneur and business insider, and her past clients include prominent industry influencers like Amy Porterfield. As a gifted storyteller, Celinne helps people connect with their deeper truth, grow their brand, share impactful messages, and get visible in their industry all by telling better stories.

Celinne joins Her Life, By Design to discuss why storytelling is so important when growing a brand and a business online. She gives an inside look into the step-by-step process that she walks her clients through to discover their unique brand. We also talk about how to weave storytelling into all of your platforms, how to plan out your Instagram captions, why human connection is the ultimate driver behind growth online and so much more.

What made you decide to start couch surfing? 

In the podcast, Celinne begins her story with how she started working incorporate. She was doing brand strategy at an advertising agency in New York City, but it ‘never really felt right’.

“I finally got to the point where ‘everything I wanted’ came to fruition. The cool NYC apartment, the cool job at a top agency, the perfect all-American boyfriend, socializing and parties.” Celinne shares, “I had everything ‘I wanted,’ but it still wasn’t enough. I felt kind of empty. I was running on this hamster wheel and nothing was really fulling me.”

Until it got to the weekend when Celinne was doing little overseas trips and writing about her adventures!

From Corporate to Storytelling Couch Surfer 

“Three years into this I had a series of domino effects happen that pushed me over the edge.” Celinne reveals, “One of them was a volunteer trip that I took to an orphanage in Cambodia. Honestly, the typical dilemma of ‘privileged kid feels like they lack purpose and goes to a third world country to find it again’. I 100% own up to that, but it did transform me.” In the episode, Celinne reflects on losing her grandfather while she was out there and experiencing that with someone she really cared about while being on the other side of the planet. “I couldn’t be there for them, but had to be there for these kids who had nothing. It just really shook me.”

“When I came back to NYC, I remember I was at this meeting talking about a picture with a waffle on it, and how it needed to be replaced. It was going to be a $6K shoot and I just thought ‘Wow, this is so meaningless. I can’t participate in this.’ That day I decided I was going to change my life and when I made that decision my entire life started falling apart. I basically reached a point where the only choice was to get out.”

Following that, over the course of a few months, Celinne came up with the idea for her couch surfing project around the world. – “The biggest, craziest risk of my life, and the one that paid off the most! I think there’s a big correlation with doing scary things and having them shift you in the best possible way.”

Listen to the episode for more of Celinne’s compelling and life-changing story of how she navigated finding her passion. How traveling the world sleeping in strangers’ houses and telling their stories enabled her to rediscover who she was, find a way of expressing herself, and even write for Forbes.

How did you transition into being a coach in branding and storytelling from that journey?

“While traveling, the one thing I wanted to do was write and meet people. I thought ‘As long as I’m doing this, the answer to what I need to be doing next is going to come.’”

Every day Celinne would write and share a story of the people she was meeting on her travels, as well as her own.  “I was micro-blogging on Instagram back in the OG days when everybody was posting three words and emoji!”

At 3k followers, Celinne reached out to her first tourism board, in Romania. They spotted her trip for a week, in exchange for her stories about Romania that they could use. That’s how she realized she could barter her stories. People with 100,000 followers couldn’t get the partnerships that Celinne was getting. “I could just waltz in with my 5k following, tell them a story and they would want to work with me. I thought wow, there is something in telling a story that’s really powerful, both from a connection standpoint, as well as business.’” And so Celinne began to explore consulting. She started to reach out to people to see if they needed help with telling their business’s story. 

From Couch Surfing to Coach

“Statistically speaking, 95% of purchasing decisions are determined by our subconscious.” Celinne states, “You use logic to justify your emotional decisions; the point being that story is that emotion. Storytelling scientifically and statistically is the number one way to connect with people fast and deliver information. That’s how I started doing this work. I realized if you really want to move the needle in your business, if you’re not coming forth with a brand that grabs people and makes them loyal to you, makes them emotionally and irrationally connected, then you’re not going to last that long.”

Do you have any tangible steps I can follow to nail down my story and master the art of storytelling?

In the episode, Celinne explains how sharing your story is what will make you stand out against the noise. She illustrates how purely writing your stories down is not enough. Instead, there are a few things you first need to figure out before you put your storytelling pen to paper.

Within the podcast, Celinne shares some of her signature breakdowns that she teaches her clients to find, own and use their stories:

Step One – Understand what your ‘why’ is

“You’ve got to figure out what stories are relevant for you to use in your business and brand.” Celinne states, “So the first thing you’ve got to figure out is your ‘why’. Understanding your ‘why’ requires you to do your inner work, go deeper.” She invites you to ask yourself questions such as “Why are you using Instagram, why do you want 100,000 followers and the brand collaborations? What’s bigger than this? Why do you want this?”

Celinne’s personal ‘why’ is “to rediscover what it means to be human.” Evidently, she applies that to everything she does; “every caption, every course, every program, everything I do answers to why I’m doing it. That’s how people feel my passion. When I’m unaligned with that, I run into trouble, things don’t sell, or it burns me out. So number 1 is to understand what your ‘why’ is.”

Step Two – Figure out what your vision is

“You then need to understand what you’re going to do with your why.” Celinne explains how ‘what’ and ‘why’ are not the same thing, but many people fail to realize that. So tune in to the episode to learn the difference and for her personal ‘what’ as an example.

Step Three – Understand what your values are

“Once you know your ‘why’ and ‘what’, you need to understand the values that are governing every action that you take. Once you understand your key values, driving what you do, only then do you need to look into ‘what story I need to tell the world that is going to support this ‘why’, feed my vision and be aligned with my values. That story is the one that’s going to hit people in the heart.” She concludes.

What strategy do you use to plan out your storytelling captions?

“In short, my captions are not planned out. I wake up and think ‘what is happening in my day that can serve?’ because my story is my core now.”

Many of us are not there yet, so Celinne provides insight into the ‘reverse engineering’ she teaches her students for storytelling captions after they have done the above framework. She also shares some of that advice with us in the podcast.

Here are a few of Celinne’s pointers:

  • Break the year into quarters and look at your goals (this should influence your captions).
  • Think about what stories, around your values, could gain visible publicity and be seen in the media.
  • Ask yourself what you want to achieve through your captions in the coming week, for example, do you want people to join a free challenge? Sign up for a course or simply to connect with your audience through storytelling?
  • What strategic stories could you tell that go back to your why that will help you in your vision of what you’re looking to achieve in the coming week?

As well as many more points to help you plan your engaging, storytelling Instagram captions.

“Storytelling is encoded in our DNA, we all have the gift but we have to practice it.” Celinne affirms, “You will see that if you do this every day for a year, one day someone’s going to stick a microphone in your hand and say ‘tell a story now.’ And you’ll be able to flow because you’ve practiced, just like how driving a car feels natural.”

For more of Celinne’s incredible story; tips to discover your unique brand and story; how story is the driver behind growth in business and online as well as what’s next for her in 2020, then tune in to this episode of HLBD.


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If you enjoyed this episode, go ahead and hit SUBSCRIBE. There is a new episode every Wednesday and I would hate for you to miss a thing. Click here to subscribe on iTunes.

AND if you are feeling extra generous, take a few seconds to leave Her Life By Design a review on Apple Podcasts. Or post a screenshot on your Stories with some feedback. 😊Hearing what you think about this episode and the podcast as a whole means the WORLD to me. After all, this is all for you. More reviews = more listeners = better guests & content.

All you gotta do is click here to review, click “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review.” I’ll love you forever!  

relevant links:

Celinne’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/celinnedacosta

FREE Guide to 10 Hacks to Unapologetically Share Your Story: https://celinnedacosta.com/10-hacks/

Get a Story Clarity Intensive w/ Celinne: https://celinnedacosta.com/story-clarity-intensive/

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