This is a guest post by Alex Fakhri.
When you run a blog your aim is drive visitors to your site, attract them to an article with a cleverly worded headline and somehow entice them to read the article from start to finish, right?
Now if there is one thing that grabs almost everyone’s attention, it is a good story. We all love listening to good success stories about how someone went from zero to hero in no time at all. Just take a look at these headlines; each one telling a compelling story. You can tell it’s going to be a good story just by looking at the headline. (Note: Strong headlines are so important)
- How I Made 5-Figures Freelancing in 2011, Revealed
- The Naked Truth About How I Got 7,568 Subscribers in 5 Months
- How Danny Iny Launched a Successful Blog in a Year and Partnered with Brian Clark and Guy Kawasaki
Now give me one good reason why you wouldn’t want to read any of those posts.
I bet you can’t, you’re here to read about online business and how to be successful online.
Three things you need to know about great stories:
- You’re very likely to read them, especially if they have a title that draws you in.
- You will most probably remember that story, and any thing similar which happens will hold an association with that particular story.
- Finally, you’re most likely to share it with someone.
So what has any of this got to do with driving traffic and creating a thriving audience?
Let’s take a quick look at why you visit a blog and why you’re interested in the content written by the author. I want you to do this by answering the following questions:
- Do you know who writes the content?
- Do you know how they came to creating that blog and do what they do?
- What else do you know about them? (Favorite holiday, past work places, other projects they may have worked on, and you may even know much they make from their blog)
- How do you know all this information?
A lot of your answers will relate to reading one of their compelling stories, right or wrong? (Tell me in the comments below)
So is the key to great traffic writing great stories, or is it presenting your facts and what you did in a story?
Storytelling Vs. Persuasion
Firstly we need to understand the difference between story telling and persuasion. Stories come from the heart, they have meaning, and they have been created and lived by someone. A story has a real meaning behind it and most of the time (in some shape or form) we can relate to it. That’s why it captures us so well and we feel more inclined to read it.
Persuasion is the art of selling. Remember the last time you walked into a shop and the sales guy tried to come up with his best sales line and you saw straight through it? It had no meaning because he didn’t even try to relate to you. He tried every trick in the book to try to sell you something and you still weren’t convinced.
Now think about that great sales guy who had you walking out of the store with more than you came in for. I bet that he didn’t have to persuade you. He just told you a compelling story. Persuasion appeals to the person in a, “I know you want this” kind of way, but a story captures a persons imagination and makes you think, “This guy is so right”.
Can you see how a story is so much more compelling and enticing?
Compelling Stories are retold over and over again
I recently read the manifesto by Corbett Barr called 18 Months, 2 Blogs and 6 Figures, I can’t remember how many times I’ve told people about it. It’s a fascinating story that is based on real life and it captured me from the minute I read the title. I could relate to that story because that’s the path that I am heading towards. I could relate to him on so many levels throughout the story as he described his struggles and successes.
Now when I tell someone what I do and where I’m heading, they often think I’m a little crazy. Making money online is still a very unheard of career or business path here in the UK. When I’m asked for an example of someone who works in the same field as me or has already achieved what I am on my way to achieving, whose story am I likely to share with them?
How Do You Write A Compelling Story?
Relate To Your Readers
What is it that your audience will benefit from? Try and relate yourself to your audience to understand what they may struggle with by putting yourself in their shoes. What is the information they’re lacking, or how can you relate to them?
For example, in the story, ‘18 Months, 2 Blogs and 6 Figures’, Corbett relates to his audience by writing about how it was possible to make a full-time living from blogging and also travel at the same time. Here he answers so many questions about his business and what he does; can a blog really make that much money? Can I create a business from blogging? How long will it take to create a successful money-making blog? How can I create my own online business?
These are all questions that his audience would want answered. He was once in their shoes, so he related back to them and answered the questions he wanted answers to before he started with a story.
Note: See how I’m using his story as an example? I read it, loved and now I’m very likely to tell it to other people. I’m now introducing him to you and helping him expand his audience at no further effort on his part. All he had to do was write a great story for me to read.
Telling The Story
This is a crucial step to get right. You want to hook your readers in with an introduction that they just wont be able to resist. Create an outline of your story but make sure you don’t give too much away as they might not read the rest. You want to give them a little insight into how this story will help them. Asking a question that they might be potentially asking themselves can be very enticing.
For example, if I were to write a story about how I attracted 10,000 visitors in a week I might start of my story with:
So you want to know how to get a flood of targeted traffic to your blog?
In this question I address a potential question that you may want answered. If it is – then you’ll be likely to carry on and be drawn in. Even if this isn’t a question you want answered right now, it might be thought-provoking enough to get you reading anyway.
Once you have your reader, you then have the task of impressing them with your story and making sure you answer the question. In your story you want to put in as much relevant information as possible – including facts, figures and timelines. You want to answer questions directly and not sidestep around them.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
How do you make a story more compelling, believable and genuine? You have proof! I like figures and I’m pretty sure when it comes to a good story you’re probably the same. Pat Flynn from the Smart Passive Income blog publishes his income every month in a shape of an income report. They are his most popular posts on his blog with the most views and most comments.
Why you ask? Because it’s the proof of his story.
Try and figure out how you can include proof. Screenshots, emails and photos can help you get your points across and seem more genuine in your approach.
Honesty above all
Now the key to all of the above success is honesty. Everyone has a story behind him or her and a real reason as to why they do what they do. Readers who buy into your stories, buy into you and what you do. Use your story to create a thriving blog and build your audience on the real passion and motivation that drives you.
Over To You…
Why not try telling a story next time you want to write something? Give your audience a little insight into who you really are with a story that will capture your audience’s attention and answer some of their burning questions by telling the story of one of your experiences.
The bottom line is: if you read a story about someone doing something amazing, you think, “If they can do it, so can I”.
About the author: Alex is the author of Blogging Toolkit teaching people how to start successful blogs from the ground up, covering the topic starting from the basics.