Company, Documenting Your Story, Celebrating Life

Everyone Has a Story to Tell: A Case Study

Grandson Walk - Used in Case Study.jpg

A legacy preserved forever.

Michael Fronk touched the lives of everyone he encountered with his sense of humor and upbeat spirit. Although he is well known and beloved in his community, he didn’t want to miss any opportunities to grow closer to his family. His family and friends arranged for TSOLife to interview and film Michael sharing precious life stories. The Fronk family is located all over the country, but Michael’s personal and customized documentary has brought them all closer. His memories are now preserved in a unique short film. The documentary will contribute to the personalized funeral service that Michael desires.

We believe that everyone’s story is worth telling and too often these stories are lost before they are ever recorded.

The challenge.

Michael Fronk’s family and friends felt the sense of urgency to capture his legacy before it was too late. Like many families, the Fronks didn’t have the time or resources to personally interview, film, and transcribe his stories. They wanted to find a way for Michael’s grandchildren and great grandchildren to know the kind and charismatic man that he was.

Documenting Michael's stories.

The Fronk family wanted to preserve Michael’s legacy before it was too late. The solution was a TSOLife customized and professional documentary.

Michael was touched when his family approached him with the project. In 2 hours and in the comfort of his own home, the TSOLife team was able to interview and film Michael as he recounted childhood adventures and passed down life lessons and wisdom.

With professional editing that included cuts, photos, and high quality cameras, the Fronk family had a truly unique and customized keepsake. In addition to DVDs, the film, raw footage, and transcriptions were all safely archived on the TSOLife online platform so that family and friends could share and access whenever, forever.

Fronk Collage.png

A unique & personalized documentary.

The TSOLife team visited Michael three months after delivering his documentary to check in. We had developed a special friendship and were thrilled to find out that he was feeling much better.  He beamed as he expressed his gratitude to us for helping him pass down and preserve his stories for his descendants.

Michael talked continuously about the many calls he received from long lost friends and even grandchildren who saw his video online and wanted to reconnect. As it turns out, Michael’s documentary had over 500 views on Facebook, was shared 20 times, and reached over 6,300 people! He was very flattered and pleasantly surprised by its success.

This documentary helped bridge the generational gap and strengthen the bonds amongst Michael’s family. Michael’s loved ones have peace of mind knowing that their beloved elder’s stories are forever preserved.

Fronk & Dj (1).jpg

What he likes about it so much is that “you can talk about a person all day long but to hear their voices, their stories, what their dreams were, how their fathers met their mothers… That’s immeasurable.”

The Fronk family has a unique and special piece of Michael that they can show at his memorial that goes beyond just a photo slideshow or scrapbook. Michael is comforted by the fact that he is controlling the message at his funeral, passing on advice and leaving his loved ones with an uplifting note. The documentary is not just a photograph but is a living memory.

“My documentary is something that my family will have to remember me by. They have something almost tangible, certainly visual, that serves as a reminder of my love for them.”

-Michael Fronk

View Michael's Documentary!



tso-logo.png

ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife focuses on creating innovative ways to preserve legacy and pass down life stories for future generations. Our mission is that no grandchild should have to wonder what their grandparent was like. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down personal stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!

How To's and Tips, Funeral Home

Is Content Marketing Right for Your Funeral Home?


Marketing Grafic.jpg

In short, yes. Content marketing is profitable, if you're doing it right.

But frankly, if you’re creating content for search engine optimization (SEO), you’re wasting your time. Potential customers will not find your funeral home’s website through generic blog posts titled What to Say at a Funeral or topics on traditional Malaysian cremation practices. These keywords are searched on Google, but the chances of them being typed by a potential customer in your area are slim to none.

However, that’s not to say that you should scratch your social media efforts and stop writing blogs altogether. Having a content marketing strategy based on the unique needs, issues, and perspectives of the ideal customers will give your funeral home brand recognition and set you apart from the competitors.

When it comes to content marketing, we think the funeral home industry could learn a thing or two. Keep reading to find out what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what you can do to maximize your results.


What is content marketing?

According to Hubspot, content marketing is a marketing strategy that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience. Marketers utilize social media networks, blogs, and other media types like Ebooks, case studies, webinars, and podcasts to put material in front of potential and existing customers. According to Kissmetrics, 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. It seems that everyone is doing it. Then why are funeral homes struggling to create effective content marketing? 

Web-based content marketing allows you to reach customers across the globe. However, for a funeral service, this is not necessarily an advantage when you're offering a service that is only applicable to customers who live in the area. For example, say you wrote a blog post titled "What to Say at a Funeral", and it had incredible SEO (search engine optimization). However, your funeral home is located in Florida, and your audience is the entire Internet community searching those keywords on Google. Your time and resources are wasted on writing that blog when your goal is to convert readers to customers, and the majority of your readers are not in a 30 mile radius of your funeral home. 

This example illustrates the common misuse of content marketing. To address this, it is important to distinguish the difference between content developed for potential customers and existing customers. 

Remember that all content you create should be original. Search engines reward content that is unique and catered towards a specific search. Creating good content takes time, and you'll benefit from making this a priority. Don't simply go through the motions.

According to Hubspot, content marketing is a marketing strategy that centers on creating, publishing, and distributing content for your target audience. Marketers utilize social media networks, blogs, and other media types like Ebooks, case studies, webinars, and podcasts to put material in front of potential and existing customers. According to Kissmetrics, 94% of small businesses, 93% of B2Bs, and 77% of B2Cs use content marketing. It seems that everyone is doing it. Then why are funeral homes struggling to create effective content marketing? Is this even the right approach for a funeral home?

What you’re doing right.

Families who are familiar with your funeral home look to you for support and answers along every step of the funeral process, from pre-planning to dealing with grief months after the service.

If you don’t already, make sure your funeral home has a FAQ on your website and pages on grief support, funeral terminology, types of services, tips on creative services, and more community resource. When building this content, ask yourself, "How can my customers maximize their investment?". Additionally, your blog posts compliment these pages. For example, the Grief Support page can incorporate inbound links to related blog articles you’ve written, like How to Help a Grieving Friend. This is great for the stage of customers who are already on your web page, but writing blog posts should not be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. The aforementioned resources will affirm your expertise, help you qualify prospects, and finally help make the sale but will not bring prospects to your site.

What you’re doing wrong.

Generic blog posts. Remember that all content you create should be original. Search engines reward content that is unique and catered towards a specific search. Creating good content takes time, and you'll benefit from making this a priority. Don't simply go through the motions.

Thinking that your blog is going to show up on the first page of Google. It most likely won’t, unless your content is extremely unique to the keywords being search. Don’t get too disappointed when your post is not ranking as highly as you thought it would on Google’s search results. The people searching for “inspiring quotes to guide you through grieving” are probably not your customers anyways.

Paying thousands of dollars to a third party to write your blog posts. Your money is better suited somewhere else where you can actually convert leads. In the next section we’ll dive deeper into where your resources will actually pay off.

What you can do to maximize results.

How do your offerings and expertise set you apart from competition? What makes your funeral home the best? In today’s competitive marketplace, it is essential to implement marketing that makes your firm the first to come to mind when a death occurs and families need to act fast.

Market yourself as the go-to resource in your community on all things funeral related. If families have benefited from your expertise services on death education, pre-planning, and grief support, they'll be more likely to recommend you to others. Peer recommendations carry significant weight in today's customer. Additionally, they’ll return when they know you are the best funeral home in the area. There's no need to explore other firms when you've proven yourself as the best funeral home in the area. This concept goes back to my previous point that content marketing will help you make the sale but will not get enough SEO to rank for generic keywords.

Now, in regards to getting potential customers on your page, you need to focus on solving your prospects’ needs. Why do your customers care about the content you're publishing? To do this, develop content that will get your brand name in front of your community. 

  • Hire a video company to create a virtual tour of your home. If you were looking for a wedding photographer, you’d want to see examples of their photos, not read a blog title 10 Best Most Flattering Wedding Poses. Similarly, when shopping-around for funeral homes, it’d be a critical asset to the families to be able to actually watch a short video showing off your space. Use the money you would spend on an inbound marketing company for a service that actually brings value to your customers.
  • Hire a professional to film your staff and interview the funeral director. Let your potential customers meet your friendly and professional team before they make that first line of contact.
  • Write a newsletter. A monthly newsletter gets your message directly to the community. This is especially applicable to your existing and previous customers. If they're already using your services, they've most likely given you permission to email them. Do you do any outreach programs or facilitate group grief support activities? Advertising these events in a newsletter is content marketing that proves that your firm is more than just a funeral home - you're an ally along the journey during this challenging time. 
  • Partner with community groups and businesses in your area and align your services with theirs. For example, partner with a personal documentary service and incorporate them into your pre-plan packages. Then you'll be adding value to your funeral home and will be able to use these inspirational videos as content marketing pieces on social media.

Reevaluate Your Strategy.

Being able to adapt your content marketing strategy based on the unique needs, issues, and perspectives of your potential and existing customers will help you attract the ideal customers and build trust with your existing customers. Be the expert on all things grief and design your content as support tool for every step of the process. 

Ask yourself, why would my clients read this? What need does this serve? Will my potential customers be able to find this content? Remember, designing successful content is challenging. So, put in the time, do your research, and remember, no one knows your service and customers as well as you do.

At the end of the day, content marketing for SEO is not going to get leads in the funnel. A blog does not build your relationship with potential customers, but the fact that you’ve been in the market for 80 years is what adds value to your funeral home. Market yourself on what will stand out to the customer. Is maximizing your SEO the best use of your resources? For most of you, probably not.

 

TSOLife Logo.png

ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife provides innovative solutions that go above and beyond to give clients the memorials they deserve. Include TSOLife's documentary service as part of your pre-need packages and set your funeral home apart from the rest. It is time to celebrate a life well-lived in a way that is engaging for the whole family. 

Learn More!


 

How To's and Tips, Funeral Home

What to Wear to a Funeral


Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 2.52.41 PM.png

Deciding what to wear to a funeral almost seems obvious, but wearing black is becoming outdated as more and more mourning services are being replaced by celebrations-of-life services. Figuring out what to wear to a funeral can be confusing, especially when your outfit is the last thing on your mind in the midst of your grieving. 

Have you ever wondered...

Why do people wear black to funerals? Wearing black has been a long-accepted tradition intended to show respect to the deceased and the family. Where did the association of black mourning clothing come from? In fact, this tradition can be traced back to the Roman Empire when the family of the deceased would wear a dark-colored toga called a toga pulla. This tradition spread to Europe during medieval times when widows wore black caps and veils to convey their mourning.

Do all cultures wear black to funerals? In other parts of medieval Europe like Spain and France, widows in their deepest mourning wore white. White is also traditionally worn in India and China. However, at a Chinese funeral service, if someone is older then 80, red is acceptable. Further, in Myanmar, yellow is acceptable, and in Iranian culture, mourners traditionally wear blue or purple.

As you can see, dressing for a funeral is not "black and white" when you take into consideration the venue, the family, and the culture - making us ask the question: what do I wear to a funeral?

Here are some general tips to help you dress for a funeral, memorial service, visitation, wake, or graveside service.

  • Choose a color. The inclination is to choose something black, but a gray, navy, or other understated colors is also appropriate in most situations. It should not be something that will stand out, as you should aim at clean, subdued color clothing. If color is specified or it's an entirely non-traditional ceremony, don't worry about dressing in dark colors.
  • Think classic. Dress appropriately and conservatively, especially if the service is in a place of worship. Keep in mind the guests that will be attending, and if they would find your clothing inappropriate, you should probably change. It is sometimes helpful to dress business professional - skirts, trousers, suits. 

Some further tips to add:

  • Are you a member of the immediate family? If so, keep in mind that you will be setting the dress code for the rest of the guests.
  • If you're outside and it's a summer day in Florida, you are most likely not expected to wear a full suit. 
  • A pre-planned funeral service may include instructions for attendees attires. 
  • Occasionally, the family will request that guests wear their loved one’s favorite color, sports team jersey, or something else that might have been meaningful to the person who passed away. They will usually note this in the service announcement.

Hopefully this post has helped you when deciding what to wear to a funeral service. At the end of the day, your presence is what truly matters. This is not a time for people to be judgmental, so unless you're wearing ripped jeans and a sweatshirt, you're probably OK. You can now have the peace of mind to be able to focus on grieving - and celebrating the life - of your loved one.

 

TSOLife Logo.png

ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife is a Florida based company that focuses on creating new and innovative ways to preserve legacies and pass down life stories for future generations. Our unique solutions create the most personalized way to pass down life stories that families will share and cherish for generations.

Learn More!


 

Documenting Your Story, Preserving Memories, Story Telling, Writing Your Memoir, Memoir

How to Start a Memoir

I remember when I was very young, and my father showed me my great grandmother's memoir that he and his cousins constructed into a book. Reading her memoir made my family history incredibly more meaningful. Because I never had the chance to meet her, Elizabeth's stories of living in the Great Depression, her experiences at Bennett College, how her father made my great grandfather wait to marry her, all painted a picture of the adventurous, intelligent, spirited woman that I was named after (well, my middle name). My great grandmother had no idea what impact her memoir would have on her great granddaughter, who might even read it to her granddaughter. I have a much greater admiration for my great grandmother, knowing that she took the time to carefully construct her memoirs, planting seeds she would not see the fruit of.

Eliz 2.jpg

So, why should you write a memoir? You most likely have explored the idea of writing your memoir, and are doing a bit of research into the process and best practices before you commit the time and energy. Whether you were inspired by a loved one's memoir or recently read a great memoir book (check out Jeanette Wall's The Glass Castle!), you're new to the idea and searching how to start a memoir. This post will help answer the why's and how's to get you started on writing your personal memoir.

WHAT IS A MEMOIR?

First, let's start by explaining what a memoir actually is, not to be confused with an autobiography, book, or journal, though a personal memoir can be constructed from or into any of these. It is defined as a collection of memories that an individual writes about moments or events that took place in the subject's life. It can be any type of combination of history and reminiscence, personal or public.

WHO WILL READ YOUR MEMOIR?

Memoirs are not just for the famous or those who lived especially eventful lives. Everyone has a story to tell. You can simply be sharing with your children and grandchildren the family they were born into. Your personal piece of history might be the lasting legacy you give to future generations. Your memoir is a glimpse of a life they'll never experience and the memories you leave behind will be cherished and spread by your loved ones. Nobody has lived or seen the exact same things than you, in the same place and moment. But, of course, as we’re all humans, the stories that you tell will echo on the others - as we all live, love, hate, and die. 

Dupre Wedding.jpg

However, even if you have no children or you're not convinced anyone will read your stories, the personal fulfillment is worth it. A memoir is a way to reflect on who you used to be and the journey to where you are now. My great grandmother initially started her memoir for her own enjoyment. An ancient memory of blue Popsicle juice running down your sticky chin might be the forgotten sweet memory that will put a smile on your face. You don't need an audience in mind to write a memoir, and this may also contribute to a much more enjoyable experience when you're not distracted with the idea of who will be reading your thoughts.

Further, writing your memoir has been proven to result in improvements in both your psychological and physical health. According to one study, participants who frequently engaged in writing about their past, current relationships, and their emotions had significant mental and physical health benefits and social and behavioral improvements. To name a few, writers had reduced blood pressure, improved mood, altered social and linguistic behavior, feelings of greater psychological well-being, a higher grade point average, and improved memory.

YOUR PERSONAL MEMOIR

Pretty astounding, right? If simply writing your memoir has all these benefits, why isn't everyone doing it? Staring at a blank piece of paper or screen when you have a lifetime of memories inside of your head may seem like a daunting task. To help get you started on your personal memoir, we've put together an introduction to writing your memoir with best practices, tips and tricks, and inspirational writing topics! You can download the FREE guide below:

Download the Intro to Writing Your Memoir Guide! 

You're now convinced of the importance of writing your memoir and you have the tools to do so. As William Zinsser said, "Writers are the custodians of memory." Take the time and write your memoir. Make it yours. You'll feel good and maybe with a little luck and patience, you might touch others too.  



 TSOLife Logo.png

ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLife, a personal historian service and online tool to help you capture, record, preserve and share the story of a life well lived. TSOLife makes it easy and enjoyable to document a personal history that will be cherished by future generations. We invite you to schedule a FREE hour with a personal historian to help start documenting your life story.

Learn More!

 

Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Story Telling

Is Social Media Making Us Narcissistic?

social-media

Social media tempts us to live in an attention seeking society and it seems that everyone is on board with it. The usage statistics of these cites are astounding. Every day, on average, 60 million photos are uploaded to Instagram. More than 20% of the world's population publishes details of their lives on Facebook, creating over 3.2 billion likes and comments every day.

To many, this might not come as a surprise. If you're reading this, you most likely came across it through social media. We've joined Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn , Facebook and all the rest and are fascinated, not looking away, even when we're having a face-to-face conversation. It's never been easier to see what your friends are up to, stay in contact with people, and, most noticeably, become a publicity-seeking narcissist. The constant desire to display our lives to the public, searching for this approval from others, has influenced a culture of vanity and self-endorsement.

But, is this really what our society has come to? For many, social networks are to blame for their narcissism, but others just need to find a balance before teetering on the edge.

I'd like to think that social media hasn't shaped an entirely egotistical existence. These platforms have opened up creative outlets, given a voice to the ignored, fostered relationships, assisted in a job searches, introduced us to new ideas and concepts, built time capsules for users, created a platform for documenting our life stories... The list could go on.

However, what happened that transformed our use of social media from casually checking our accounts into habitually surfing and refreshing for notifications? It's imperative to find a balance and prevent the dark side of social media from shadowing the positives. There are several good habits you can practice that will help you resist the urge from constantly checking your phone or computer:

1. Schedule "me" time. It's important to have time to yourself, but with hectic schedules, we're often moving from one thing to the next. Instead of using any free opportunity to check your social networks, do something that betters yourself first. Go for a walk, write a letter, read, call your grandparents, stretch, or simply sit quietly by yourself.

2. Get into the habit of not checking your phone for the first hour of your day. For many of us, it's first instinct to look at our notifications as soon as we get up. Instead, practice mindfulness and resist the urge. Start your day off on a positive note. Ensuring you begin your day quietly with minimal outside distractions can have a positive influence on the rest of your day.

3. Avoid distractions. When working or studying, exercise restraint from looking at your notifications. This can lead to unintentional time lost. If you have a strong desire to constantly check your social media, look at it on the hour as a reward for a distraction-free 60 minutes of work.

4. Don't compare yourself with others. You are simply viewing a certain aspect of someone's life, and everyone posts only their best photos or the exciting aspects of their lives. Be happy for their accomplishments, and understand that the people your viewing also face trials and tribulations.

5. Don't worry about being approved. Some people rely on social media for their self-confidence. Refuse to constantly check to see who's liked your post, waiting to feel validated. Feel happy and approving of yourself and don't give that control to others. Instill a healthy sense of esteem offline before logging on.

6. Give quality time to others first. The real relationships in your life are the most valuable. Establish a rule with your friends to collect everyone's phones when you're out to eat or instill in your children that phones at the dinner table are unacceptable. Giving attention to your friends and family when they're with you will be the memories you'll cherish in the future.

Only by being less self-obsessed and placing more value on personal relating can we impart these values to the next generation. A healthy balance of social media can be formed where the threat of becoming narcissistic is inexistent. Everything in moderation. And avoid announcing to social media your attempts to reduce your social media usage.

 

TSOLife Logo.png

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Family History, Family Tree, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories

Preserving Memories

photo-memories

Have you ever looked back on a photograph and immediately felt the sense of nostalgia? As if looking at that image brought you back to that exact moment in time? Memories are an important part of all of our lives. However, capturing the experience while also being in the moment can be a challenging task.

We are constantly hearing the expression "live in the moment", but we often use this phrase as an excuse to disregard the future. Many justify their impulsive actions  with this in order to assume no responsibility for the future. However, on the contrary, living in the moment is an expression to remind us that life unfolds in the present and that we should undertake our thoughts in awareness - not a rationalization to living recklessly.  Ironically, living in the moment can help you preserve memories for the future. Often, we're so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what's happening right now. Living in the moment is a paradox, because when we are focusing on the present, this will contribute to a happier future.

In Psychology Today's article, "The Art of Now" it writes:

"In her memoir Eat, Pray, LoveElizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, 'It's so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!' 'It takes all my persuasive powers,' writes Gilbert, 'to try to convince her that she is already here.'"

I'm sure we have all observed or personally experienced similar situations. If you have recently visited any tourist attraction, most individuals are affixed to their cell phones or cameras, neglecting to sit back and enjoy the view. However, it is difficult to not do so, especially when that photograph will be a cherished item many years from now.

Just as often as being too distracted by our cameras, I'm certain that we've also experienced the opposite, forgetting to document that special moment with a deceased loved one or of a once in a lifetime trip. Your children will never look as precious as they did in their matching holiday pajamas last Christmas. Your time in college flies by, and being able to look back on photographs of your first day of class or the time that maybe you shouldn't have done the keg stand at alumni weekend, will bring you back to the carefree memories of your youth. Will this be the last Mother's Day being able to celebrate your mother in person? Those moments are unrecoverable and the sentimentality of those photographs will hold true for many years to come.

Thus, the question arrises, how do we navigate the precarious balance between living in the moment and preserving the memory? Below are ten tips on preserving the memory while still being able to enjoy the occasion.

1. Don't stress about capturing the perfect photo. Take enough pictures to jog your memory. The meaning behind the photograph is more important then having an image worthy of National Geographic.

2. If you're at a wedding, take a few photographs of your own, but let the hired, professional photographer do his job to capture the details while you enjoy the day with friends and family.

3. Keep a journal. And write in it every night. In a few years, or even months, having that first person narrative of all the details will be just as special as a photograph.

4. Print, frame, and hang your photographs around your home. Too often we only store our photographs on our computers and forget about them. When we are able to view them everyday, the sentiment will bring happiness to our daily routines.

5. Use digital photo sharing websites like Flickr or Smugmug to safely store and share photographs with friends and family. Give Grandma and Grandpa the link to access these photos, keeping them updated on your child's big moments.

6. Similarly, make a Snapfish or Shutterfly book that collects the pictures from special event or vacation . These photo books make great gifts or coffee table books.

7. When experiencing a trip or event with others, have everyone share their photos in a  Facebook message. This way, if you forget your camera for an event or miss a special moment, you'll be able to look back on your friends' photos.

8. Make home videos. Gathering family and friends around the television to watch old home videos is something that the next generation will not have the privilege of doing. With video cameras becoming out of fashion, take the initiative to record video on your cell phone. Remember to frequently transfer the video to your computer as film requires a substantial amount of storage.

9. Take advantage of your cell phone to capture the memory, but ensure you're not getting distracted by texting or surfing the web.

10. At a special event, designate a friend who the event does not directly involve to take the photographs. This allows you to enjoy your child's baptism or birthday party and still have the photographs to reminisce at.

So next time you're cherishing a special moment, remember to document it while still living in the moment. As Ferris Bueller once said:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

ABOUT TSOLIFE

cropped-tsolbackground.jpg

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Company, Family History, Genealogy, Documenting Your Story, Story Telling

TSOLife: the Story You Never Knew

cover-photoAs TSOLife’s founder, I constantly get asked where the inspiration for the company came from. It is a question I have answered practically on a daily basis since September 2014 when the company was founded. We have produced videos, blogs, and marketing material that explain where this dream came from. However, one thing I rarely get asked is, “Ok, after you had the idea, then what?”.

That is a question that would cause any entrepreneur to pause. We get so caught up in the vision, working around the clock, that we forget to look back and appreciate all the small building blocks that had to come into place, making the company what is today. All the triumphs and failures, learning and unlearning, construct the stories behind TSO.

Truth be told, the company was built one Google search at a time. I began with simply an idea, no capital, no ability to build the product, no network of potential customers, and no clue or concept of how to market or make sales. I even had to search how to come up with a good company name.

We’ve come a long way since 2014, and are excited for what the future holds for TSOLife. In these years, we’ve been able to help our users preserve their legacies and share their life stories, enabling future generations to be able to hear their stories from the first perspective.

TSO has decided to share its journey through its own TSOLife account, revealing the stories from its commencement to the present. Every other week, we will be releasing a new behind the scenes story about the company, creating a timeline of our journey. Next time someone asks how the dream turned into a tangible business, we can refer them to our TSOLife account. Further, this entertaining series will serve as inspiration for other entrepreneurs and show our audience that they can do the same for their business, whether it be a fourth generation family business or a young start-up. To get these updates, follow us on Facebook!

ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLbackground

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, Story Telling

2016 in Retrospect

 

Brexit. Trump. The Olympics. These are the topics that dominated our conversations and social medias in 2016. Some of these stories have come to a close, while many are just beginning. Whether positive or negative, these events will shape our future generations.

2016 was a year against all odds, making the seemingly impossible happen. To put it into perspective, lets take a look at the probability of a few headlining events last year:

Leicester City winning the English Premier League: 5000 to 1

Donald Trump winning the U.S. presidential election: 25 to 1 when first announced

The Chicago Cubs winning the World Series: 30 to 1 at opening pre season

Brexit odds of leaving: 9 to 2 at peak

Last year the unimaginable occurred, and for many, that meant that 2016 was a year of new beginnings. In CNN's article, "Dear World, I wasn't all that bad. Signed, 2016," the significant strides the world has made in 2016 are monumental and noteworthy. The high school graduation rate is at its highest at 82.3%, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest in ten years. Your story of getting a new job after the historical economic recession is one of triumph and a story that not only your family members would love to hear but many in similar situations would be interested in listening to.

Our children will want to hear our perspective on the 2016 election. Future generations will wonder about where we were when we heard about the Orlando shootings. Our grandchildren will ask again and again to hear the story of when we were all gathered around the television, watching the final run that broke the curse as the Cubs won the World Series. Headlines that announced Fidel Castro's death are far more than newspaper stories to the Cuban immigrants who fled to the States in recent years. It is events like these that will dominate conversations at the family dinner table when we are visiting our grandchildren over the holidays.

1200px-formal_dinner_with_unidentified_family_17612250354

It's the little moments in life that they'll be curious about. Remember the summer trip to Europe you took with the family? How will you tell the story of the first time you saw the icons of Italy you've only read about or the breathtaking landscapes that dominated your travel books? Did you fall in love? Did you stand by your childhood best friend as she married her college sweetheart? Did you become an aunt or an uncle? Where were you when you heard the news that your oldest child was pregnant, making you a grandparent for the first time? What was it like when you watched your youngest walk across the graduation stage?

There is no denying that 2016 was a monumental year. But wasn't 2015? And 2000? And 1950? Finding out that your grandparents were influential leaders in JFK's presidential campaign in 1960 is story that will inspire you and help you better understand who your loved ones were in their youth. What was their stance on the Vietnam War?

In a few decades, 2016 will be looked back at with the same interest as the JFK presidency and the Vietnam War. There is a parallel to the events of 2016 and the historical events that occurred over 50 years ago. They are not only the events that dominate news headings but are also instrumental in our everyday lives, shaping us to be political activists or causing a close family member's life to drastically change. It is important to preserve these stories now while they're fresh in our minds, writing tomorrow's history today, because one day, future generations will ask what it was like to live in a year against all odds.

“It is important to preserve these stories now while they're fresh in our minds, writing tomorrow's history today, because one day, future generations will ask what it was like to live in a year against all odds.”

As the first month of 2017 comes to an end, we can only be optimistic about the future. Many will look back on 2016 negatively, but it is important to note the positive. Both the small moments and the historic events mold us individually and will shape our future generations.

ABOUT TSOLIFE

TSOLbackground

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Story Telling

Ancestry and Genealogy Research Resources

Unlimited genealogy research resources exist in the world. Fortunately, many of these resources are now available online. These days anyone can take an interest in genealogy without having to spend hours digging through libraries and archives and paying for photocopies. Online resources have changed the genealogy research world; however, navigating all the online resources can be an adventure.

“How do I know where to start?”

“What websites have the information I am looking for?”

The research process involves experimenting with different resources. Not one website works for absolutely everyone, because the sites pull from varying databases and collections. The documents these resources offer add value to your life story and your family history. As mentioned in our previous blog post, these documents add a sense of legitimacy to your life story. Here are some popular places to start your ancestry research and find these supplementary documents:

FamilySearch

FamilySearch is free for anyone to use. It is one of the biggest genealogy websites in the world with billions of online resources and additional physical locations with volunteers to help you in your family history research. FamilySearch connects you to other online genealogy searches increasing the amount of information available to you.

Ancestry

Ancestry.com works like a search engine by digging through databases and collections to find documents. This method has allowed Ancestry to collect billions of records from census reports to images to articles to the most extensive collection of immigration records. These documents can allow you to map your family history throughout the years. Ancestry.com is a subscription service and can cost more than its competitors. Ancestry’s extensive databases and additional services, for some people, may make it worth the price.

MyHeritage

MyHeritage is a fantastic genealogy search engine allowing you to search through billions of documents from around the world. The site serves as a community that allows you to connect with genealogists and better understand your family history. MyHeritage emphasizes that family history is for the family. They offer ways to get everyone involved with genealogy by providing games for kids and an easy-to-share family tree. Unfortunately, MyHeritage does not have Native American resources available. The site is easy to navigate and offers great features, such as DNA testing, a family tree builder, and a custom chart designer. My Heritage is known as a reliable resource and an enjoyable experience for the whole family.

FindMyPast

FindMyPast is not as feature-rich as other sites, but it still serves as a valuable search engine with access to 1.6 billion records from English-speaking countries around the world. The site does offer an easy-to-use family tree builder. FindMypast does not offer much support besides research articles and the FAQ section.

Archives

Archives has access to 4.6 billion records of varying types, including immigration documents, yearbooks, adoption records, and newspapers dating back to the 1700s. Archives is a great resource for rare and interesting citations and records on your U.S. or U.K. roots. If you have roots in the U.S. from 1790 to 1930, you can find U.S. Census records for your family. However, if you have family outside of these countries, you will not be able to find data about them.

GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank is a search engine for finding newspaper articles focused in the United States dating back to the 1690s. You can find records such as obituaries, marriages, community events and arrests in newspapers, making them useful in learning about your ancestors and the environment they lived in. GenealogyBank also collects local histories, funeral sermons, biographies, directories and other books allowing you to find more than just the usual standard birth, marriage, or death certificate.

The Genealogical Research Library

The Genealogical Research Library has a more global focus compared to other sites. The database is organized by geographic location, so it is easy to begin researching the places important in your family’s history. It does not have extra features like many of the other sites offer. However, it does offer some unique resources such as antique maps, historical books, and a collection of family trees. It is not a comprehensive site, but it is a great starting place to begin your research.

DNA Testing Options

Many companies offer DNA testing services so that you can truly find your roots! Ancestry.com offers DNA testing for $99. You do not have to have an Ancestry subscription to purchase the DNA kit. MyHeritage is now offering DNA testing for $79. 23andMe offers two packages for their DNA testing services, one priced at $99 and the other priced at $199.

 

23andme.PNG
Source: 23andMe

 

There is an overwhelming amount of information on the internet. These databases are a great place to start. It can be difficult to know which services will be of the most value to you. Researching your family history will take some time, but the knowledge gained will be immensely rewarding.

Check out how these sites rank on TopTenReviews.

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days

Ancestry, Family History, Genealogy, How To's and Tips, Preserving Memories, Story Telling

How Do I Make My Life Story Stand Out?

You spent hours. Many of these hours were spent wadding up papers or exercising the backspace on your keyboard. Despite these setbacks, the duration of these hours have led you to where you are now. You sit there staring at your creation. Your life story lies before you, in whichever form it may take. You exhale, and in the process, relax the furrowed lines of your forehead developed while deciding what events and memories were worthy of inclusion in this narrative. You inhale, empowered and exhilarated because of what you have just accomplished. It is not finished, of course. What life story ever is? But, you have found that stopping point where you can stop writing and move on to the next step, which is what exactly?

You wrote your life story. Now it is time for someone to read it. This reader may be a family member or someone you have never met. That decision is up to you.  It is one thing to write a story, but making a story interesting and engaging is a whole other ball game. How do you interest people in reading it? You may have heard the adage, “Build it and they will come.” As many of us learn in life, this saying does not always represent the truth. When it comes to writing and sharing your life story, more effort is involved than that of “Write it and they will come.” As a writer, you are tasked with keeping the reader interested while still staying true to yourself. So how, as a writer, do you make your life story stand out? Fortunately, there are many ways to create a dynamic and interesting life story without using excessively flowery writing or including exaggerated details.

THE NEXT STEP

Welcome to Step 2 of the writing process! It is time to add photos, audio files, videos, supporting documents, and a new perspective to bring your life story to a whole new level.

PHOTOS

Photos are a sure way to bring some excitement to your life story. Photos are useful in engaging those with short attention spans who are turned away by lengthy blocks of text. They are memorable and interactive.  People say a picture is worth a thousand words, however photos are even more powerful when combined with text than when they stand alone. When adding photos, it is important to document who was there and what their names are. Do not force future generations into playing the “Guess who is in this photo?” game, because you did not write a caption or label the photo. You can describe how happy you were on your wedding day. However, for a reader to feel that they were there, they need to see it. Add a photo to your story from your wedding day, so that they can see for themselves the contentment and excitement in your smile.

clark067

AUDIO

Record yourself telling your story, and add the audio files to your story. We understand how much value the spoken word holds. When recording your audio, tell the story. Do not just read the script. Let those reading and listening hear the inflections and tone of your voice. Let them hear your voice crack with emotion or increase pitch with excitement. Adding emotion will bring your story to life. The experience of listening while reading a story is much more dynamic than that of just reading the text alone. Generations from now, your family members will be grateful that they can listen to the voice of their great-great-great grandmother or grandfather.

VIDEO

We live in the digital age, so people commonly film important moments in their life. It is easy to capture even the smallest moments because of how widespread smartphones are. If you have the videos, add them. Do it. Videos are just fun, and are a sure way to drive engagement. They have the ability to influence the reader’s mindset and emotions while they read the story leading to more interest and involvement. It is fulfilling to watch a video snippet, see a moment as it unfolds, and then read the story about the events leading up to that moment and those that followed afterward. The addition of videos creates a very holistic storytelling experience that inspires the writer and the readers.

DOCUMENTS

Many stories can be supported with documents above and beyond photos and videos. Newspaper articles, birth certificates, artwork, scans of handwritten letters, diplomas, and census information add legitimacy to your stories. You may have some of these items laying around. Many of these items, however, may not be as easy to find and can require some research. Fortunately, many resources exist to assist in the search. A few of the more popular options include Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage.

PERSPECTIVE

Show your life story from a different perspective to keep people interested. Fortunately, TSOLife offers multiple ways to make that happen. The map view allows your life to be viewed from a global perspective and highlights your footprint on the world. Readers will immediately be able to see where you have traveled. Readers can also view your story on a vertical or horizontal timeline which offers them a chronological walk through of your life. These different viewing options allows your life story to interest a diverse group of readers.

By utilizing what resources you already have available to you, you can truly make your life story stand out. No matter who is reading it, whether it be family members, friends, or people you have never met, they will enjoy the exciting storytelling experience you are offering them. Even if you are writing for yourself as a way to reflect on your life, combining your written words with other aspects facilitates a more investigative and holistic experience. Pages of lines of text, tedious and not visually appealing, are a poor representation of the beauty and struggle in life—in your life. You have so much more to offer, so let your story shine.

Next week look forward to more information about resources available to find public documents and genealogical records.

 

Check out how photos and an audio recording bring this story to life.

Find supporting documents at Family Search, Ancestry, and My Heritage

Check out these new perspectives on a life story: map view, vertical timeline, and horizontal timeline. To learn more, read How to Write a Good Life Story.

 

ABOUT TSOLIFE

The Story Of Life (TSOLife) is revolutionizing how we record stories and present our legacy to future generations. We empower you to document your own history through our TSOLife web platform, allowing you to be remembered the way you want to be remembered. On TSOLife’s beautifully simple and integrative platform, stories, videos, photos, and memories can be securely preserved. Start writing tomorrow’s history today.

Get Started  Try it FREE for 30 Days