She sat before her slightly smudged MacBook Pro screen.
Turning on the desk lamp, she realized something was missing.
Something completely out of place, yet she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was.
So, she sat—staring at the blank document on her computer screen.
And there it was.
The absent piece hit her like a line-drive to the head.
She had no story. Nothing to add that would tantalize. Nothing to grab her reader's interest and walk him through her content.
All she had was a boring old business blog post outlined that'd likely leave her few readers fumbling for the back button.
Just then, her face lit up. Her heartbeat sped and her mind began to churn with something.
Something that'd leave her readers taking what would've been a boring business blog post, and devouring every word with a digital fork.
It's the story.
The story takes a reader and involves them. Examples clarify and the story keeps them gobbling up every piece of information you shell out.
It's the simplicity in the story that makes it so desirable.
Not the overuse of fancy words to leave your reader stopping and restarting and stopping with hesitation over a verbose flaunt. And then giving up on your content like the loser ex you should've ditched way back when.
There's just something about a story.
Maybe it's the journey the author leads you on, hand-in-hand, down the path of discovery. Or maybe it's taking a concept that may be boring or tedious, and giving it a face—giving it a pulse.
Regardless, stories are what bring your reader into your content.
Whether you turn a fictitious character into a blog post accompaniment, or if you use real life examples to show your reader what you mean—they both hold extreme value for your target reader.
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Something I've found as a fiction-writer-slash-business-blogger, is that I gave up on storytelling when I was working on simplifying text for the web.
But, as time went on and I naturally began to weave in a little story or vivid example here and there, I noticed several things from my readers:
- Pageviews per blog visitor near-tripled
- Email subscriber opt-in rate tripled (twice)
- The average time spent on individual blog posts grew (meaning more visitors were actually reading the post as opposed to simply scanning) from 3 and half minutes to over 4 minutes
- My bounce rate decreased from 39% to 32%
Why Stories Are so Important
I used to hate non-fiction.
I always wanted an escape from reality when I'd spend the time to read a book. Why read about real things? I thought.
Well, just because something's real, doesn't mean it isn't a fascinating story.
I've found as I'm getting older (or maybe it's with all the kids) that I'm now more drawn to what's real now. Fiction feels like a waste of time when there's a stack of parenting books, and a slew of business-related Kindle books waiting to be next in line for retinal consumption.
Personal preference aside, what attracts readers is the story.
When a new visitor stumbles onto your blog post, they can do 1 of 3 things:
- They can scan the headlines, pull what they think is enough and bounce (leave your website after viewing only 1 page).
- They can read the introduction and realize it wasn't what they were looking for and, well, you guessed it...
- They can get hooked over your introduction or, simply, the very first line of your story-injected blog post.
Which would you prefer?
- Stories draw your reader in as a participant.
- Stories can turn more blog scanners (people who skim the headlines instead of actually reading your post) into readers.
- Stories can make people care about what you have to say.
Outline every blog post
As tedious as that may seem, when you have a foundation for your blog post, you're more likely to form solid stories, as well as better content.
The main points you should cover for every blog post outline are:
- A working title. A "temporary" title just to help you develop your content. Like, for example, this blog post's working title was "How Telling A Story And Giving Examples Adds Extreme Value To Your Blog Posts".
- A target reader. Who are you writing the post for? This post was written for newer or soon-to-be bloggers, or those who's blog posts aren't picking up any steam—even with strong marketing behind them.
- A main goal or focus. What do you want to gain from publishing your blog post? To build authority or exhibit your expertise? To sell or promote something?
- Your number one reader takeaway. What do you want readers to be able to do after they read your post?
- One, main example or over-arching story.
How to come up with an example or story idea for every post
Once you have a working title, target reader, your main goal or focus, and the number one factor you want your reader to take from your blog post, you can then brainstorm the main points inside your content.
Your main points, essentially, can become all the sections (with headlines) within your blog posts.
When all these pieces are in place (regardless of how set-in-stone you allow them to be when it actually comes to drafting your post), you can then come up with a story that will exemplify your content.
Have you ever thought of an experience you had or a story that just opened up a flood gate of ideas in your head?
Maybe you see the value in building a lesson from an experience for others.
Maybe an experience or overhearing a conversation of someone else's sparks an avalanche of a blog post you never thought you could (or would) ever write.
Regardless of how you come up with your story idea or example, always put your reader first.
How will this content help my reader?
Every time you come up with the 4 keys elements of a blog post, brainstorm examples or think of similar experiences you've had in life that would serve as a relatable or understandable example for your readers.
You can make up characters or situations to help clarify something to your readers. Just don't claim them as real people or situations if you'd ever be tempted to do so...
Observe people. This is a big one for me.
By trying to understand why people do things or what they're doing in specific situations, not only can you come up with awesome blog topic ideas, but you can stumble upon some pretty good "Aha!" moments for example and story ideas.
Something else you can do is to explore the world of case studies or reference other people's content or works to explain something. Or to seed an idea.
There's always a way for you to find inspiration.
Sometimes you just need to look around you. Sometimes you need to ask yourself, "How would someone write about me writing about this?"
Put yourself in the situation.
See what unfolds.
What story idea are you cooking up right now?
I know this post had to spark at least one idea.
Write it down. Now.
Even if you don't use it for your next blog post, write it down for a future one.
It'll help you with not only generating new blog post ideas, but for also coming up with stories or examples for your blog posts.
TIP: Every morning, jot down 10 ideas.
They don't have to be well developed, and they don't have to make much sense to anyone else but you. However, it's the process and the act of writing these ideas down that can totally change your content development for the better.
They can be project ideas, posts, stories—whatever you have on your mind, write it down.
Imagine never having to fumble for a blog post idea or dig insanely deep for a story or example to help make your post relatable.
Begin with your 10 daily ideas.
Simply start a note on your phone, in a Composition notebook, or create a journal entry and list out 10 ideas every single day.
You can do it.
And you definitely won't regret it.