What Makes You a Storyteller?

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine said something to me that caused me to dig deep into my creative side as a blogger. We were at the Detroit Podcast Festival (DPF) mixer at Marble Bar and she mentioned how I am a storyteller because I am a blog writer. Of course, I’m paraphrasing because it was just a really quick thing she said in passing. But after I left the event, I couldn’t stop thinking about what that means. 

I remember on the ride back home I kept asking myself, Am I really a storyteller? Because I’ll be honest with you– before my friend shared this with me, I never considered myself a storyteller. 

I’m actually pretty hard myself when it comes to my writing style. I always feel like I could do a better job. Sometimes I even struggle with what to write about. I know writer’s block is a common experience for many writers, but what I mean is I struggle with sharing my story. Or maybe I should say stories.

I often find myself feeling afraid to share a particular story. I have a long list of reasons why I stress over this. I worry about how my story will be received, for one. I worry about my writing voice. Do I even have a voice? Will people hate what I have to say? What if my writing comes across as juvenile? 

And the negative comments— what if I get a shit ton of negative comments which will then trigger my anxiety and cause me to contemplate giving up blog writing forever? 

Ha! Not really. But REALLY

It may seem silly, but these are some of the thoughts I fret over when I think about sharing my stories. I keep a journal of my story ideas that I would like to share on Good Life Detroit (GLD). My ideas are usually about opinion pieces I’d like to write on a social justice issue or my thoughts on a women’s topic. I keep those stories to myself, though, because my anxiety gets triggered.

I always thought a storyteller was a person who writes books, poetry, or short stories. I knew there were storytellers who tell oral stories, like with acting in films or on stage. But me a storyteller? Yeah right. 

It makes sense, though. Blogging is a different type of storytelling. Depending on the person’s niche, a blogger shares stories on many types of life topics. For instance, a mom blogger shares stories about motherhood and womanhood. While a travel blogger may share stories about travels to exotic destinations. 

The stories I share on GLD are about my experiences at Detroit events, insight into various women’s topics, and sometimes a little community news.  

Detroit Podcast Festival
Erin Allen and Joy Mohammed are the co-founders of the Detroit Podcast Festival.


Not to sound like a cheesy blogger review, but attending the Detroit Podcast Festival 2019 really did open my eyes to the art of storytelling. I walked away from the festival with a greater appreciation for podcasting and the motivation to share my written stories on GLD. 

I also felt empowered as a blogger to find what stories I am passionate about sharing. At the DPF Mixer, I connected with other creatives and I learned the importance of networking. It was also at the mixer where I learned a blogger can be a storyteller! 

Shannon Cason’s Homemade Stories live podcast event showed me how sharing relatable stories can connect us. When we discover others have similar feelings or thoughts about a topic, it comforts us to know we’re not alone. 

NPR’s Snap Judgement host Glynn Washington at the Detroit Podcast Festival Mixer.
(Photo by J. Hamra)
Shannon Cason Home Stories
Glynn Washington, Shannon Cason, and Lily Be (Photo by J. Hamra)

The Black As Podcast event introduced me to an array of Detroit podcasts that I wasn’t familiar with yet.  Here are the Detroit podcasters who were featured at Black As Podcast.

Since the Black As Podcast event, I have added the featured podcasts to my list. Now some of the podcasts do discuss adult-oriented topics so make sure you read each podcast description. That way you don’t accidentally have listening ears *cough* like the kids!

Am I the Only One Podcast
3 the Hardway Podcast

On the selection of the podcasters for Black As Podcast, DPF co-founder Joy Mohammed said: “We wanted to create an opportunity for Black people to come together and in a safe space that’s for them, by them, and with their voices.”

Joy said she was very picky with her selection of podcasters for the Black As Podcast event because “I wanted to make sure that we’re not hearing the same narrative.”

“There’s a lot of the same narratives that are that make us look monolithic because there’s a lack of uniqueness,” Joy continued. “With podcasting, there is such a low barrier of entry. We really hope [the Detroit Podcast Festival] can amplify unique voices.”

Hashtag Eastside Podcast
Hashtag Eastside Podcast
CockTales with Cocktails Podcast
CockTales with Cocktails Podcast


During the podcast mixer, Joy and I spoke some about why the DPF was created. Together with her friend Erin Allen, Joy and Erin founded the Detroit Podcast Fest to create an opportunity for all people to come together” to share their stories and their unique voices. 

Unique voices like Lily Be, a Chicago-based storyteller who shared a very relatable story about her fear of mass shootings. I saw Lily share her story at Shannon Cason’s Home Stories podcast event.

Lily Be Chicago
Chicago storyteller Lily Be at the Shannon Cason ‘Home Stories’ live podcast event.
(Photo by J. Hamra)


The Motor City Woman Women’s Podcast Brunch was also a great event that connected me to more women podcasters. I was introduced to Robin Kinnie, founder of Motor City Woman Studios.

Robin is a Detroit-based entrepreneur, podcast producer, and a storyteller. The brunch featured at least four different women-led podcasts. You can connect with Motor City Woman here if you like.

Something else I gained from attending DPF 2019 is learning what it takes to create a podcast and also host one. (Side note: I’m not interested in creating a podcast. Writing is my thing!) To be able to go on-air and verbally share stories and keep listeners engaged takes great skill and talent. 

Motor City Woman Studios Detroit
Motor City Woman’s Women’s Podcast Brunch closed out the Detroit Podcast Festival.
(Photo by J. Hamra)

Knowing the ins and outs of interviewing guests, creating new story ideas, and having the right equipment for the podcast is no easy feat. After attending the Detroit Podcast Festival, I definitely have a greater appreciation for podcasters. 

“I want people to have a chance to uplift each other– a chance to come together,” Joy told me. I think Erin and Joy accomplished their goal in creating a festival that highlights podcasting and the art of storytelling.

I know I felt very uplifted from attending DPF 2019. The podcast fest inspired me to continue discovering and listening to podcasts and the stories that are shared. I walk away from this experience feeling uplifted as a creative, a woman, a person of color, and as a storyteller.

Lynn Golodner, host of Make Meaning, interviews Amy Haimerl the founder of Shady Ladies Literary Society and David Dwaihy the owner of the Detroit City Football Club.
(Photo by J. Hamra)
Good Life Detroit
Piper Carter also hosts a podcast and you can get more info about her podcast and other work by clicking here.


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All photographs are courtesy of Jennifer Hamra for Good Life Detroit.

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