I read a lot of fantasy novels. A LOT. Lord of the Rings, Name of the Wind, Furies of Calderon. You name it, I've read it (and probably have an overly impassioned opinion on it).
As such, I have always wanted to write one myself. Spin my own tale of a lad or lass living a dull life in a dull town, until one day a wizard shows up and whisks them away...
But I have never written my own "one day." I don't write fantasy novels. I write blog posts. There are no ogres, orcs, magicians. No sword fighting, swashbuckling, dragon-riding. No excitement, right?
Actually....wrong. That boy who longed to write a tale of knightly heroes, found a home in blog writing for a reason. Believe it or not, blogging and fantasy writing actually have a lot in common. You see, they both require the use of storytelling.
Anyone can write up a thousand words of monotonous information, but it takes true craftsmanship to make those words, engaging, relatable, and helpful.
Think your readers are only looking for the facts? Think again.
Reasons Information Alone Won't Cut It:
1. You Need to Be Engaged or Your Writing Will Fall Flat
Before we even touch on the readers, I want to start with you, the writer. If you have been doing the writing for your blog or company for some time, I probably don't need to explain to how important it is that you yourself are engaged with the piece you are working on.
You don't need to be inspired to write about every topic, but you do need to be inspired to write at your best. You need to care about a topic and its message, you need to want to entertain the readers as well as inform them, and you need to have a passion for your work. If you don't, your writing is going to be as boring for your readers to read as it was for you to write. You can't just plug in information (no matter how good it is) and expect readers to commit to your post.
So how do you get interested in a topic?
I know it isn't always simple to get into the writing "flow," but telling a story of your own can get you focused on the task at hand. Before trying to engage the reader, engage yourself. Think about how your topic applies to you. Go through your life and see if you can pull a relatable moment from its history.Get creative with it.
If you can't think of anything relatable, start writing about any experience and see what comes to you. If you are still finding it difficult, use someone else's story. Start a conversation with someone around you, or ask someone if they have a relatable story. You can even look online if you need to! Just find a way to get interested and engaged in what you are writing. Put some emotion, feeling, and humanity into it! If you find a way to love the piece you are working on, your readers will follow suit.
2. You Need to Grab Your Readers' Attention
How many times have you clicked on a blog post just to click out two seconds later?
If you are anything like me, this probably describes around 90% of your blog visits. But here's the thing— whether you know it or not, you don't leave because you can't find what you want. You leave because you aren't interested. And how can you expect your readers to be any different?
If you want your readers to give your page more than a cursory scan before leaving, you are going to need more than just good information. I mean think about—even if you have the exact information your readers are looking for, they aren't going to stick around unless they are intrigued. They are going to grab the fact they came for and run. And that isn't going to do you any good.
You need to grab the attention of your readers in those first few sentences; make sure that they are interested enough to stay on the page so that they read your whole post. If they are just grabbing your facts and taking off, your blog isn't accomplishing anything. You put hours of work into writing your post, make sure your visitors spend five minutes reading it.
Take a look at this post by Thomas Frank. He starts out by intriguing readers with a childhood story. He describes his "polite nudges" to his mother, trying to convince her to get him the video game he wants; he then moves to discussing the hard choice he faced after getting the game (choosing his first Pokemon). Since his blog is geared towards college students, the story is relevant, relatable, and humorous to readers. But most of all, the story grabs the attention of readers. They come for information on how to avoid choosing the wrong major, but instead are provided with entertainment.
Imagine if the blog post started "It can be hard to choose your college major. But avoiding these mistakes can help you pick the right one." Instead of becoming intrigued and immersed in the writing readers might choose to scroll down and look at the headings for his "dumb mistakes" scanning his content without becoming fully engaged. His story marks the difference between a return visitor and potential subscriber and a one-time visitor who will likely forget the name of his blog five minutes after viewing.
A compelling story ensures that you have your reader's attention. Give them a reason to read the post the way it was meant to be read. Don't let them miss a detail.
3. You Need to Relate to the Reader
If you have any experience in the field of marketing you should know that it isn't about selling your product, it is about selling an experience. When you write a blog post or article, storytelling provides you with the ability to sell your experience.
I like to look to videos for inspiration when crafting a relatable story. While the forum is entirely different, your goal should be the same.
When you tell a story, you provide readers with the opportunity to see you as a human being. In a sea of blog posts all covering the same topics and emitting the same narrative, this is of dire importance. Readers don't necessarily need to fall in love with your company or what you are selling (hopefully they will eventually) they need to fall in love with the voice you emit.
Once they are able to see you as an individual, they will be able to picture themselves through your stories and words. And when they develop a connection with your writing, they will come back for more.
4. You Need to Make Your Writing Memorable
Fun fact: Stories are 22 times more memorable than simple facts. That's right, 22 times. Why is this important? Think about all of the blogs you've visited. Out of all of those blogs, how many have you purposefully returned to?
With the takeover of mobile devices, readers could be accessing your blog anytime and anywhere. They might be reading your post during the short fifteen minutes they have between meetings, they might be reading it while waiting in line, they might be reading it in the bathroom!
Wherever they are doing their reading, odds are they aren't going to take the time to make a note of the blog they are visiting. You have to make an impression large enough to force a mental note of your blog into their heads. Storytelling is just the thing for it.
Storytelling allows readers to empathize with your experience. It creates emotional resonance>>Emotional resonance and empathy increase memory.
How can facts compete with all of this?
They can't. Facts are great for swaying our logical needs, but logic doesn't lead to submissions or conversions. Stories do. Google can turn up a million results for any question a user has in an instant. So why would simple information lead to a reader coming back?Want to engage your readers, but don't know who you're writing to? Check out our Target Profile Worksheet and start defining your buyer personas