Storytelling makes sales letters and blog posts so much more entertaining to read. If done well it gives you huge boosts in credibility and will in general significantly increase your sales. So what are the elements of a great story? How can you use it in your blog posts to increase your credibility? And how do you use the emotional connections to make blogging work so much better for you?
Here are the most key skills and elements to master as a blogger, can you incorporate any into your blog posts?
Start with a Lesson
Every story needs to have a crystal clear lesson. The lesson could be a moral one (e.g. “Don’t cheat your customers”), or it could be a technical one (e.g. “What happens when you only pay attention to CTR and not page quality in Adwords”).
Whatever the case, the lesson needs to be clear to you before you start to write the story. Never try to put two lessons in one story and never start writing a story before being clear on the lesson. If you break these rules, you’ll find yourself in a mess. Your story’s lesson doesn’t have to be clear to your reader until they get to the very end. But it must be clear to you before you write a single word.
Use Characters Your Readers Can Relate To
If you’re talking to couriers starting out, will they relate more to a story about a widow’s driving mistakes, or the driving mistakes of a young but rash would be courier? The latter works best as your target market has all been rash and young at one point in their life, they can relate to that story better. Fewer people have been widowed and then gone on to start a courier business, so you are much less likely to form a connection with the majority of your audience.
The more you can use characters your reader can relate to, the better your blog post will be.
Even in a very short story, aim to develop your character as much as possible. The reader needs to be able to get a taste for their personality and their current emotional state in their story. Every character should want something. They may or may not get it in the story, but the desire itself creates tension in the air. “Will they get it?” is the question that should be on the reader’s mind until the end of the story.
The Two Ways to Build Credibility with Stories
There are two main ways to build credibility with stories.
The first is to tell true stories. This can be done slipping credibility points into the story. An example – teach your audience how to build a successful blog by telling a story. In the process, you can quote comments from other people about how unique your process is and why it works.
In telling a story about how to be a successful courier, you might “slip” into the story the fact that you beat 95% of the other courier companies out there to win an award or contract, then go right back into the story.
There are claims that would sound presumptuous or even like bragging if said outright, but these facts can be safely said in a story.
The second way to build credibility? To clearly demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about by giving top-notch tips and advice. Some bloggers think this is giving away too much information, I don’t see it that way. I see it as a credibility building exercise – you are demonstrating your expertise.
Use the story to illustrate an educational point and really give your users something valuable. The credibility doesn’t come from talking about yourself, but just really demonstrating that you know your topic inside out.
Connecting emotionally with your readers
Your most loyal readers will connect with you not just through your content, but through your emotions. An emotional connection with your readers is just as important as the actual content, the stories, in your blog posts.
So how do you connect emotionally with your readers?
Share Personal Experiences and Stories
Share personal stories from your life.
- Tell them about the time you got rejected by the one you were in love with.
- Or about the time you staked everything on a business deal and lost it all.
- Talk about your big mistakes and your big successes.
- Talk about where you came from and your dreams of where you want to go.
- Talk about what you’re doing today and why.
Reveal yourself to your readers.
Of course, you’ll always want to tie everything back to a lesson or a moral they can learn from the story. It shouldn’t be “about” you, but you can share aspects of yourself throughout the process of teaching a valuable lesson that’s remembered through the emotional connection.
Pace, Pace, Lead
The “Pace, Pace, Lead” technique first originated from Milton Erickson, one of the three therapists whose techniques were used to form today’s NLP techniques. The “Pace, Pace, Lead” technique was Erickson’s primary technique for building trust and emotional connection with his clients. Using this technique, he was able to get even the toughest clients to trust him and open up.
What is the “Pace, Pace, Lead” technique? Basically, start by pacing, or “following along” with your reader’s emotional state. Describe their frustrations, their wants, and their emotional frame of mind to them so well that they feel like you really understand them.
Then and only then do we try to “lead” them to where you want to go- a lesson you want the reader to learn, a different emotional state, etc a solution to their problem etc. See how that connects in with storytelling
Be Genuinely Emotionally Engaged
In face to face conversation, your body language and facial expressions convey your emotions to other people without you needing to say a word. In other words you are there. With phone conversations, subtle variations in your tone of voice give people cues on how you’re feeling, even though they can’t see your face.
This also happens in writing. Though there are fewer cues to go on, people can sense when you’re genuinely emotionally engaged through your words. If you’re really enthused about a subject, it’ll show in your words as you write. If you’re genuinely angry about an injustice, people will know. If you actually love a product you’re endorsing, people will feel this – this is key when marketing affiliate products.
Written communication doesn’t convey emotion nearly as well as face to face communication, but this human-to-human emotional link can’t be ignored, even in writing. In other words, put yourself into the right emotional state before you start writing. Write during peak emotional moments and don’t wait until inspiration has disappeared before your start writing. Write when the emotion is there. People can tell and they’ll connect with that.
Writing to connect emotionally with your readers takes more dedication and vulnerability on your part. It entails revealing more of yourself than if you were just writing factual articles. But that’s what it takes to build a deeply loyal readership.
Storytelling and emotional connection is a powerful tool in any bloggers arsenal. It might feel awkward at first, but with a little bit of practice this skill can pay off for the rest of your life.
Got any examples of how this has worked for you?