Once upon a time there was a novelist who wanted to be a blogger. Having never blogged before, he lamented that he had nothing to offer the so-called blogosphere, and feared he would quickly be labeled an outcast, tossed under the literary bus where the rest of his career resided.
But the novelist did have an agenda to promote. What blogger doesn’t, he rationalized, and so he pressed forward into this strange new world.
Hearing of this, several wise elder bloggers whisked him aside and with gentle wisdom assured that he did indeed have something to share with his more blogulated peers. Something, in fact, that every blogger should know and put into practice. And that when he did share it, the world would rush to listen and his agenda would one day become legend.
That hasn’t happened yet, of course, but the approach is already working. In fact, you’re in the middle of a story right now, and while it’s not exactly Harry Potter, you are hooked.
Because you, as a blogger, have a stake in the outcome.
Story telling is story selling.
A common myth is that storytelling is the province of the blogging diarist, a quaint habit of legions of what-I-did-today journalizers and twitterers that seem to have this venue confused with Facebook.
But the ancient truth of the advertising and marketing realm applies in blogland, too – storytelling is a proven and powerful way to grab a reader and lure them into the promotional agenda at hand. Informercials and advertorials are based on it, and the entire network marketing industry relies on it.
To make it work, though, the astute blogger must understand the difference between a story and a pitch. The latter simply introduces a concept, product or solution with a roster of features and benefits, while a story makes it personal through vicarious emotional resonance.
The essence of story.
The definition of story is conflict. Someone needs or wants something, and there are stakes attached to that need. The pursuit of it becomes a quest, and for it to become a story there must be opposition in play.
After the set-up the hero takes courageous action — that would be the purchase or application of the blogger’s solution — and the opposition is thus conquered.
It’s Story 101, and it’s everywhere, from books to movies and great ads.
And make no mistake, it works in blogs, too. In fact, it’s working right now.
Every story needs a hero, and in blogs it is either the reader or someone who has adopted the solution of the day, rather than the solution itself. Like, our novelist with blogilicious aspirations.
Example: you’re selling an ebook about, say, writing ebooks. You could just blog a litany of the brilliance it delivers, and you might do well provided it is, in fact, brilliant. But will the reader feel it? Hard to say.
You’ll do better if you tell the story of an entrepreneur who set out to compose an ebook without a clue what she or he was doing, and how that effort fell on deaf ears and empty wallets because it wasn’t born of an informed development process. Enter the brilliant solution – the ebook being pimped in this example – with the entrepreneur/hero appling it to her or his problem, and thus is now empowered to reach her or his goal.
Just as you, the reader, can do it, too.
And bingo, sales happen. Because the product and the merchant suddenly have the credibility and emotional resonance of real life.
When the reader relates to a problematic scenario framed as a story, they feel the impact of the solution. They desire that solution for their own use. And they’ll buy it quicker than if they were simply schooled on what it does.
Stories, like the best blogs, are highly personal exchanges. They represent intimacy, and intimacy is the cornerstone of trust. Which in turn, is the prerequisite to closing a sale.
Most blogs don’t sell anything directly, of course, they just position a solution in context to a common problem. Which means, blogs were made for storytelling, because the same criteria apply.
So when you can, use your blog to frame your pitch as a story and watch the comments flood your inbox. People love to tell their own stories as much as they love to read them, and when you get them emotionally involved they’ll engage.
Just don’t open with “once upon a time.” That only works once, and it’s been taken.