I used to work with someone who described people as ‘funny onions’. Here’s what you can learn from her

I used to work with someone who described people as ‘funny onions’. Here’s what you can learn from her

You’re probably wondering what on earth I’m talking about so let’s dive in. 

When I left university I started working at a well-known high street jewellers (as you can see I was putting my law degree to good use). I needed money and the job came up so I made the best of it. I’m not slagging off anyone working in retail – you deserve a medal – it just wasn’t where I saw myself when I left university. 

But I’m so glad it happened. 

I learnt more about sales and people from this job than I thought possible, and what’s copywriting if not a form of selling? It’s like when Steve Jobs says you can only connect the dots looking back – it all makes sense now.

I worked with a lovely woman, who one day, after a customer had left and not bought anything, said:

“ She was a funny onion wasn’t she? “

I replied: “ A funny what? “

“Onion. You know it’s a saying isn’t it? “

“Not one I’ve heard “

[Lean over and ask the other ladies working there if they’ve heard it]

Nope. No one.

“Maybe it’s just something my family says then.”

She didn’t let this new knowledge put her off. She OWNED her phrase and I’m glad she did because it bought out a side of her personality I wouldn’t have got to see otherwise. I liked her more for it because she wasn’t following everyone else. She was happy doing her thing. 

But how does this relate to you and your business?

It shows that if you want people to connect with you, you need to add some personality and not be afraid to stand out from the crowd – that’s the whole point after all.

If you’ve read this far and are thinking ‘ but Ash I don’t really have a big, wacky personality to share ‘ that’s fine! Just because you’re not super loud and cray cray doesn’t mean you have no personality – you do – and we need to coax it out of you and onto the page.

Try this:

1. Don’t edit yourself. When you sit down to write something, just write whatever comes up. I’m basically asking you to throw up your thoughts onto the page. Go on, spew all over it.

Let’s say you need to write an Instagram caption – they’re reaching micro blog status these days after all – think about what you’re getting across with your image and just write what springs to mind. Whack it all down. Don’t overthink it, just do it.

Now have a look at what you’ve written and you’ll see your personality start to show because you’ve not had time to edit it out and write what you think people ‘want to hear’. 

Obviously you can go over it and tidy it up but try not to edit your essence out of it. I’ve found that if you write something and feel slightly uncomfortable about leaving it in you’ve probably hit personality gold. It’s scary putting a piece of yourself out there. 

The more you do it the more you’ll get used to it – as is the case with most things in life.

2. Add an anecdote. As you can see I started this post with an anecdote, and you’ve read to this point so I’m guessing you found it interesting enough to capture your attention. 

What I like about adding a little story is that it instantly gives your content personality and helps you stand out from the sea of other blogs and businesses who are doing something similar to you. It’s also incredibly difficult for someone to steal your anecdotes – they’re yours after all. 

Now, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have no anecdotes because your life is boring. 

It isn’t. 

What seems mundane to you will interest someone else. If I told you about how I start my day (getting my 18 month old daughter up and giving in to her demands to watch ‘pat pat’ – that’s Postman Pat to you and me – while I make her a face out of grapes, strawberries and raisins for breakfast) you probably feel you know me a little better, even though I do it every day so it seems dull to me

Stories can come from anywhere – your routine, conversations you overhear, things your family say, something you’ve watched on tv or something that happened to you years ago. It’s all there for the taking you just need to tune in to it. 

And make sure you relate it to what you’re writing. Like in this post I’m trying to get across that putting personality into your copy is a good thing so I told you about my friend. Don’t get too hung up on this though, you’ll be surprised how you can link most stories to what you want to say. 

Take my husband who’s a joiner, he could start a blog by saying that the other day he saw our daughter drop her ice cream and it made him realise how upset people get when things don’t go to plan. He could go on to outline ways people can plan ahead to avoid disappointment when they’re having a kitchen fitted. Two seemingly unrelated things have now been bought together to make a point.

Don’t worry she got another ice cream.

Now go forth and write you funny onion.

Photo by K8 on Unsplash

Ashley is a copywriter + digital content strategist. She's also a firm believer that the best way to eat a scone is jam before cream. She helps creatives, entrepreneurs and brands get paid to be their fabulous selves. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @_ashleyhoyland.

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