Life writer taking notes

You know that great biographies interweave local, discrete details of daily experience with global patterns and universal themes. Yet, unless our clients have been diligent lifelong record keepers, journalists, or diarists, then the vivid details from bygone days have faded into oblivion. Chances are most haven’t done this work in advance—which is why they hired us!

Sure, we can help clients recreate scenes from the past, but wouldn’t it be awesome—and make our jobs a whole lot easier—if clients had the tools to tell their stories in real time? And if you could rely on an app to organize those stories for you, so you have them at your fingertips when you sit down to write? What if technology existed to automate, facilitate, energize, infuse your books with new life? Good riddance to the pain points of life writing: hours spent organizing audio recordings with texts and images; hours wasted spelunking through your files looking for that perfect anecdote.

Biograph’s new app was built by life writers, for life writers. With Biograph, your clients tell stories in real time. The Biograph app encourages users to reflect on their lives using our open-ended, inspirational self-interview guides to caption photos and tell important stories. The app also creates full transcripts of every session in the app, with searchable text and automatically generated keywords that help you find key passages when inspiration strikes. Working with Biograph, your clients document their lives for you—creating rich resources without needing you to hold their hands.

We’ve created a tool that will help you collect your client’s stories and keep them organized. With the Biograph app, you can spend more time doing what you love—telling your clients’ stories. And you’ll spend less time overcoming the obstacles we all face. In the rest of this article, we walk you through five familiar challenges and show how the Biograph app can help make your job easier and more fun:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Scalability
  3. Transcription
  4. Privacy
  5. Design

1. COLLABORATION

Life writing gives you the chance to work with fascinating people while learning from their experience. Yet there’s a limit to how much time you can spend working directly with clients. Maybe you heroically accept calls from clients at all hours. But ultimately selflessly fielding every phone call doesn’t serve the client or you. Your time would be better spent on bringing the story to life. If the process is piecemealed, not compartmentalized, life writing can be death by a thousand paper cuts. Still, the client deserves to voice their concerns and flights of fancy as they occur. Biograph gives you tools to collaborate with your clients—without sacrificing your focus. Clients can use the app to record their thoughts for you, as informally as if they were just dropping you a line or a quick voicemail. And you can save their thoughts for the moment when you’re ready to do in-depth edits.

2. SCALABILITY

As hardworking and gifted at multitasking as you are, there’s still only one of you, and every client wants more than just a piece. Maybe dedicating yourself to one major client a year is enough to keep the lights on, but more likely you must cobble together a living from many projects at once, each with its own personalities and unique challenges. You’ve taken the burden of authorship off your clients, affording them freedom to enjoy the process and simply tell their stories, leaving the sweat and logistics to you. But with Biograph, you can serve your clients without sweating yourself. The Biograph app automates time-consuming tasks—photo captioning, transcription, asynchronous follow-ups. You save time and energy to serve more clients and grow your life writing business.

3. TRANSCRIPTION

Transcripts are the lifeblood, the foundation, the raw material of life writing, through which your authorial alchemy transforms spoken words into living text that inspires and endures. Yet transcription is expensive: 25 cents / minute for automated transcripts, over a dollar a minute for human transcripts. It’s time-consuming too. It keeps you from the parts of your job where you really thrive: playing, experimenting, imagining the big picture, drawing surprising connections, telling a story. Whether you transcribe yourself, hire humans, or trust automated transcripts for the first draft, it can be a drag. It no longer has to be. Biograph provides high-quality, automated transcripts for everything that anyone records in the app—whether they’re sending you a late-night note about the caption on page 60 or musing on a cherished childhood memory.

4. PRIVACY

Your clients hired you because they like you, they trust you, they want to confide in you, share with you the details of their lives. Still, sometimes our presence in the room might hamper personal stories, unduly restricting spontaneity; so long as you’re there, they’re speaking for your benefit. The Biograph app doesn’t necessarily replace your face-to-face meetings and longform interviews with clients. It enhances them: giving your clients the space to reflect—in private and on the record. Further, it allows them to tell their story on their schedule. Maybe your previous interview inspired the client’s wheels to turn—now it’s 2am and they’ve woken up with a revelation. The Biograph app is there for private reflection and representation that clients can share with you and the world later. Finally, Biograph never sells your data or your clients’ data. When you use our app, you can trust that everything you say on it is private—until you’re ready to publish.

5. DESIGN

Our app has been tested by writers and clients alike. We worked hard to ensure that it’s intuitively organized and elegantly designed for everyone who uses it. That means the learning curve is low, for you and your clients. If you work with Biograph, you won’t waste time trying to learn a complex and theoretically useful machine. You and your clients will be able to start creating immediately from the moment you open the app. Biograph is a space to play for you and your clients: a space where creativity flourishes, unhindered by obstacles that usually nip it in the bud.

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