“I write a blog post every two or three days,” Mary told me over a coffee, “I have many important things to say but I feel my message is all too often misunderstood or not getting through.”
Truth is Mary is not alone, many bloggers feel that they are not connecting with their audience, yet this need not be the case and a writer’s ability to tell a story has much to do with resolving this problem.
As strange as it may sound the art of blogging involves the ability to tell a story, and this is true whatever type of blog you are writing. More than 85% of all blogs in the world today are non-fiction, so the majority of blog writers don’t believe they are telling a story, they feel they are writing about their subject matter expertise, or things that drive their passion. The point is every blog post must tell an effective and coherent story in order to please the reader (including those that give lists, such as: “The top 9 Reasons to give up Smoking” or “Top Websites for Writers” as there should be a meaning behind the list). Many posts also tell more than one story.
What is the Story You are Telling?
Knowing the story is vital, blog posts should have a point, the writer should write them because they intended to inform people about a specific topic or subject. The story behind the car restoration, for example, starts with the rusted heap of junk that is discovered and how after restoration how new and shiny it looks. For the blog post it’s often best to focus on one aspect, one message the reader needs to walk away knowing, once their have read your post, and of course the story behind the message should has to be told — what leads the writer to reach the conclusions they did?
According to Alex Limberg “as humans, words are perhaps our most powerful tools. Words have crushed souls and built empires.” This is where the power of words comes into play with everything a writer writes, stories have the power to convince the hearts and minds of the readers, they add moods to the writing, whether told by a child suffering starvation in the heart of Africa or by a politician looking to win your vote and we have been telling stories since the dawn of time. According to Limberg “stories engage a deeper part of our brains than any logical explanation ever could,” so storytelling can be a great way to convey meaning even for the most complex of technological discussions.
Truth is your story may:
- Cause outrage
- Prick a conscience
- Cause empathy
- Motivate a person
- Make them laugh
- Make them angry
Even a dry corporate blog can use such tools to drive readership, showing how they care about their customers, provide caring solutions, etc., the point is a short story can relay feelings to a reader more effectively that a bare list of facts and life is full of great stories.
A Beginning, the Core, the Ending
It is recommended that blog posts will be somewhere between 750 and 1,500 words in length, there are times when they may be shorter or longer, but the average reader rarely reads more than 2,000 words unless the stories in them are compelling. Blog posts can have one or multiple stories within them and these stories may stretch from a couple of sentences to the whole post, but every story needs an introduction (the reason it needs telling), the body of the story, and a conclusion (perhaps a call to action).
The purpose of the introduction or conclusion is to link the story to the point you wish to make, transition from facts to the story and vice versa, linking the moral or seed you wish to plant into the reader’s mind, but it must be relevant to the purpose of the blog post, it can also show our attitude to the point in question. Truth is “our brains like stories, it makes them active,” it causes the reader to respond to what we are telling them, to attain an understanding.
Generally stories in a blog post should be short, exciting, and to the point, most not exceeding a paragraph or two in length, they say what drove a person to take a specific action, or help the reader understand the importance of the subject. But in association to a short story told in the body of the post, the whole of it may be told like a story, as a set of experiences.
Fitting it into The Blog
The purpose of telling a story is based on the need to engage, educate and entertain, yet many blogs fail to entertain. The steps of making a good blog post include:
- Know the purpose/goal of your post
- Hook the reader with your headline and summary
- Paint the setting (what we should be concerned about)
- Introduce the characters involved
- Identify specific problems
- Show options
- Show the choices that need to be made
- Identify why it is the right choice
Each area can benefit from a good story, in particular the introduction will tell the reader why they may be concerned about this problem, it can tell the story of what is wrong currently, which may simply be the situation, or the characters involved in it and how they are making things worse than they should be.
Kevan Lee suggests we start a post by telling a story, “the headline entices readers to clickthrough, the intro hooks readers into continuing” and Alex Turnbull and the Groove HQ team “found that storytelling led to 300 percent more readers than a post without storytelling.” Indeed Groove HQ suggest that stories cause readers to stay a massive 500% more than they do on pages without a story.
A month after first meeting Mary and giving her some of my thoughts about telling stories as a part of her posting strategy she informed me that she was connecting with her audience better than ever before and gaining comments, which she had never received before.
Buy Peter B. Giblett a coffee as a thank you for contributing his thoughts on telling the story in your blog post. All images used here are either created or owned by Peter Giblett or have been sourced from a public domain source.
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