Storytelling. This word, you see it everywhere … Everyone talks about it. Everyone writes on the subject. It is said that your articles will become spectacular if you start telling stories. And yet … No one is able to explain to you what it is for, and above all, How? ‘Or’ What we are using it…
It’s not for lack of trying: you’ve read tons of articles on the subject. But in the end, you are not more advanced: all that is written, it is only theory, blah. No example, no method from which you could be inspired to use this famous power. You’re tired of this.
Rest assured: this article is different.
Here is what you will know once you have finished reading:
- Why storytelling is so powerful (with concrete examples that prove telling a story is effective in blogging);
- 5 examples of stories you can use to tell your own stories;
- And 5 tips to make them captivating (instead of putting your readers to sleep).
But before that, let me tell you a story (yes, what would be an article on storytelling if I didn’t do it 😉).
Once upon a time there was a man named Shahryar, King of Persia. He ruled a gigantic territory and had a magnificent woman … who made the heads of many men turn. One day she cheated on Shahyar. Mad with rage when he heard about it, he had his wife executed immediately, then began to think.
If his wife had betrayed him, so would all the women. He considered all women to be treacherous, liars and untrustworthy. This is how he set up a system of revenge: each evening, he would marry a virgin woman … And on the morning of the wedding night, he would have her executed.
This revenge lasted a long time. So long that one day the eldest daughter of the grand vizier, Shéréazade, had more than enough. She is Harborvolunteered to stop the massacre, and worked out a ploy with his younger sister.
So, in the evening and just after her wedding, she told a breathtaking, thrilling, hectic story to the King … without finishing it. Wanting to know what happened next, the King decided to save his life for another day. The next morning, the king asked Shéréazade to tell him the end of the story. What she did.
But as soon as she finished her story, she told a new one.
Once again, the king absorbed the young woman’s words. Once again, Scheherazade does not end its story. And once again, the king saved his life to know the end. This stratagèlasted me forever.
Do you want to know exactly how long? And how does the story end? You will have to continue reading to find out … Because for now, I would like to tell you about the blogger’s most powerful weapon: storytelling.
What can you learn from a 1,500-year-old story as a blogger? I will be frank with you. Whatever your topic, whatever article you want to write, everything has been said. Hundreds, if not thousands, of bloggers have already written about what you wanted to convey.
How to do ? How to differentiate yourself? Do like Scheherazade: tell stories.
Rather than barbering you with a long explanation, here is a list of what storytelling does:
- It makes things memorable: read an article that contains neutral words like “key” or “paper” and your brain has no reason to remember. On the other hand, read an article that incorporates a story with words that are out of the ordinary like “perfume” or “coffee”, and the article becomes remarkable. It’s not me saying it, it’s science;
- It allows you to sell (using storytelling with his films, Lego catapulted its sales);
- It makes an article pleasant to read: it’s not new, humans love stories. That’s why you like to read a good book, watch the evening movie on TF1 and tell anecdotes to your friends.
And I’ll prove it to you.
As I promised at the beginning of this article, here are examples that show that storytelling can make content fascinating.
The power of storytelling, the example of Charity Water
Charity Water is a non-profit organization. Its objective: to make access to drinking water possible for developing countries. A noble mission, but one that was not crowned with success. Why ? Because their first campaign was a failure. Donations did not take off. Instead, look for yourself. With this video full of facts and figures, people did not react.
However, the problem is serious. A billion people don’t have access to clean water, and tons of people are dying … Yes, but there it is: people don’t donate if you talk about their logic. To get there, you have to address their emotions. When Charity Water understood this, they launched a new, shorter, more shocking ad.
I let you discover it.
Guess what: with this ad, donations exploded. And it’s thanks to one element: Charity Water had just told a story. That of an entire city where families are forced to walk to get stale water. All that for drinking. All this for a living. With storytelling, they addressed the emotions of people, who felt empathy … and who acted. The campaign was a success.
It’s fine, but here we are talking about blogging.
Exact. That’s why I’m going to show you what Groove, a startup that has a blog, has achieved with storytelling.
Storytelling and blogging go hand in hand
Giving useful content is no longer enough today. If you want to have a popular blog, shared and commented articles, it takes more than that. It is necessary to entertain your readers.
The proof. Groove performed an A / B test on one of their articles entitled “How we recovered + 1000 subscribers with a single blog article in 24 hours”. On the first version, they went straight to the heart of the matter.
“Step 1: Make a list of influencers of your thematic. If you want to have a big mailing list, you have to get close to the big fish in your niche… Bla bla bla… ”.
But on the second version, Groove started by telling a little story. Well … WOW. The result is surprising.
With the second version, 300% more people read the article to the end. 300%. I don’t know if you realize, but it’s gargantuan. And that’s not all: people who read the article with the story at the start stayed 5 times longer on it than people who read the classic article.
“Readers don’t want to learn. They want to be entertained … and then learn. “
With these insane figures, you understand that storytelling works for blogs. It transforms bland content into sparkling, sparkling content that stands out.
Now I have a question for you. If you were given a list of story formats that work for you to use as inspiration for your own articles, would you be interested? That’s good: I prepared it for you just below.
The 5 story examples you can use to make your articles delicious to read
1) Personal history
I have to warn you about one thing. Some people think storytelling is about telling a story that happened to them, and that’s it. They think that by doing so, their readers will be delighted. They are wrong.
Telling a story can be devastating if you tell it from the wrong way. Instead of pleasing your readers, your article will bore them to death. You want to avoid this trap, right? Okay, follow the guide.
I’m going to show you 2 stories: the two are identical, but not the way they are told. One is interesting, the other makes you yawn.
Imagine that you have a dog blog:
A few weeks ago, I came home from work, and I almost collapsed when I opened the door: my dog had pooped on the carpet. Again ! It’s so frustrating. But looking at the problem, I realized that my dog hated leaving him alone at home.
In fact, being alone for more than 3 hours was stressing him out … And I was then entitled to an unpleasant surprise when I got home. So, the week after, I tried something. And I bought a robot dog to keep my real dog company. Here is what happened…
Do you see this story? This is the one you should NOT write. Personally, I read a story like that, the first thing I think is “I don’t care about your life”. It’s not mean, just a normal reaction. What you need to do is tell the story from your reader’s perspective.
I will do it by repeating the same story and you will see the difference. Forward:
Have you ever felt it? This feeling of frustration when you get home and you see that your dog has just ruined another one of your carpets. Seriously: what’s going to make him hit you every time? Is it revenge? A sign to make you understand something? Or would he just be afraid? But yes ! And if that was it …
I remember reading, not so long ago, an article explaining that some dogs were afraid when they were left alone. It could have come from there. Decided, the following week I bought a robot dog. Yes, exactly the one your little nephew received last Christmas.
What do you think ? Adorable puppy or future Terminator?
And you know what ? What happened is incredible …
Do you see the difference ? Here I address the reader from the start: Have you ever felt it? When he reads this, he wants to know more. He is obliged to continue reading. And this is where I tell my story. If you tell your story that way, your reader will feel empathy, identify with your story, and devour your article as a good dish that we appreciate.
Speaking of good dishes…
2) The story of your grandmother, your grandfather
Imagine: you are writing an article on “How to fix a car’s engine”. Tell the story of your grandfather who, several years ago, drove to his date.
Unfortunately, it broke down in the middle of the road. Covered in sludge, he arrived an hour late. But it doesn’t matter: the young woman who was waiting for him found it funny to see him arriving like that, his face covered in black. This young woman … who is your grandmother today.
A story like this makes an impression on your readers and brings you closer to them.
Ladies and gentlemen.
I’m taking the microphone to ask you something. For the following examples, imagine that you are keeping a blog on the theme “Home and decoration”, and that you are writing an article on “How to match your furniture with your fabrics”. You see the thing?
Give a brown coffee table with a cream white curtain, or even a shelf with your sofa cushions … Yes I know, it doesn’t look crazy crazy … But that’s exactly why I chose this niche .
I want to prove to you that we can:
- Make anything interesting with storytelling;
- Tell stories about areas we don’t know (believe me, I don’t know anything about interior design).
And it happens immediately, in the third type of story.
3) The story heard
So … what can you say about matching the colors of your furniture and fabrics? But yes ! What did your former roommate tell you about his father’s passion already? He was passionate about antique furniture, right? But yes, remember: he told you that his father was going around the flea markets looking for furniture dating from the time of Louis XIV. Or this documentary on carpentry that you watched with half-closed eyes the last time before falling asleep, what did it say? What did you remember?
Everything you hear, all your discussions are a potential story that you can tell your readers.
My advice: don’t try to remember everything. Just listen. If something is good enough for you to remember, write it down.
Try it: tell an anecdote that you heard in your next article. You will be surprised by the pleasant reactions of your audience. And if you ever have trouble remembering it, try the next type of story.
4) The story of your reader
Don’t have a story in mind? Anything that comes to mind that you could relate? Perfect. You will use your player. Slip into his skin. Imagine his situation, the problems he encounters. Here, your reader is reading an article from your blog “Home and decoration” … It is legitimate to think that he is decorating his new apartment.
Why not start your article with this story where he would be the hero? All this preparation, all these combinations … Doesn’t it get on your nerves?
Curtains here, cushions there. The sofa finally goes with the closet, but it is no longer in tune with the bedside table now. Decorating a new apartment can be long, complicated and tedious… Especially when you don’t know how to combine all these objects.
Don’t worry: at the end of this article, you will know exactly how to match the different colors in your apartment.
You see ? Put yourself in your reader’s pumps, feel what he’s going through, and write.
5) The invented story
It’s good: you have the right. Making up a story is not a crime. Reminder. You use storytelling to:
- Distract your readers;
- Make your message memorable;
- Create a relationship between you and your audience.
You don’t have to tell a true story for that. After all, when you were little, your parents told you the story of Little Red Riding Hood right? And yet, it does not exist. No more than the big bad wolf.
But beware, there is an inviolable rule: you must never lie about yourself. Make up a story ? Ok. Inventing a past, a success, a diploma … Not ok at all. (But I know you will never do that 🙂)
Ah, another thing: don’t place yourself as a hero in an invented story. For example, for the blog “House and decoration”, do not tell that you met Valérie Damidot and that she came to your house to revamp your apartment (unless it is true. That would make a great story.). Take another person as the main protagonist.
Here’s how you can do it:
he was once a rich man. très rich. He hasbuilds a large house, which could easily be confused with a castle. Unfortunately, this large house had a problem. From the outside, it looked sublime. But as soon as you put your foot in it …
I am arresting you. No, there weren’t any monsters waiting for you at intérieur. No, ahe foul odor did not attack your nostrils as soon as you opened the door. It was something much more serious: as soon as you entered, you wereget assaulteded. Injured. Tortured.
It was your eyes. They were struck by something ugly, awful … Everything vsbecause of the colors.
The favsone whose millionaire hung his curtains with his walls or his sofa with his furniture was just hideous. And the guests he invited did not fail to point out to him. Despite all the money he could have, this man did not have a nice house.
Your message with this story? That you don’t need a big budget to have a nice decor. And you continue with your advice as I do now showing you the five tips that you must know at all costs if you want to master storytelling.
5 essential tips to tell a captivating story
Now you know the five story formats that work every time. You just have to know the 5 tips that transform a vulgar bar counter discussion into a sublime story, to integrate in your next article.
1) An idea, a story
Your story has one goal: to anchor an idea in the minds of your readers. To show you how it works, I’ll take the example of Jon Morrow, one of the best bloggers in the world.
In this article, “How to quit your job, get paid to change the world, and move to heaven” (the most shared post in the history of ProBlogger, the huge blog marketing), Jon tells his story. The story of a man who, after being hit by a car, will change his life … and live off his blog. But if Jon tells his story, it’s to support an idea that has been there all along: you can do the same as him.
You can live the life you have always dreamed of. He uses storytelling wonderfully to reinforce the message he wants to convey. Same in this article called “On death, mothers, and fighting for your dreams.”
Here, the message he wants to get across is that you can touch people with your writing … but you have to fight to get there. So, once again, he tells his story. He tells how his mother fought to make him live, how he fought to make his dreams come true, and how he finally got there.
Your story should be the bridge that will allow your message to flow through your article.
2) If your story is good, it should speak for you
Don’t say, show.
Scientific research shows that when people read classic words, the brain translates information like text. But when these same people read sensory words (which refer to the five senses of the human body), different areas of the brain activate.
Again, it’s not me saying it, it’s science.
To sum up: an article that contains a story? Great.
An article that contains a story AND sensory words? Spectacular. A real triumph.
I’m showing you how.
Are you telling a story about a steak you ate the other day at a restaurant? Don’t talk about a simple steak. Instead, describe how tender, rare, and seasoned the meat was. Your readers should have mouth water when they read you.
Were you at the beach recently and want to share it with your readers? Make them dream. Share the feeling you had while enjoying the moment, feet in the water, with this refreshing breeze that caressed your face and the rays of the sun that warmed your skin.
Your stories should carry your reader. If you do that, they will never forget you.
“People will forget what you say. But they will never forget how you made them feel. “
3) Having trouble building your story? Don’t take your head
Follow a proven structure. The structure I’m about to reveal was used to write the scripts for the biggest Hollywood movies. And many books also use it.
You may be familiar with it… I of course want to talk about the famous 3-step structure.
- Trigger (or roller coasters as I like to call them);
I’ll use Jon Morrow’s example again, as it is a perfect illustration of the use of storytelling in blogging.
Watch how he structures his story in three stages in “How to quit your job, get paid to change the world, and move to paradise”:
- First, he talks about his car accident that caused him to quit his job;
- Then from his trip to Mexico;
- And finally from his new job as a blogger, thanks to which he earns his living while helping others.
A secret that is not one: the human brain loves everything that happens in three stages. You just have to see how popular these stories are:
- The three little pigs;
- Goldilocks and the three bears ;
- The three Musketeers.
Do not hesitate, and use this structure too.
Start your story by laying the foundations, putting your hero in context: you at the bakery, your reader on the metro…
Go on a roller coaster: What’s going on? You don’t have enough money to pay for your wand? Someone is attacking your reader?
And start the resolution: you manage to negotiate the baguette by being courteous to the baker. Your reader manages to get out of this delicate situation thanks to diplomacy, and everyone applauds him in the metro …
As I like you, I will tell you something that few people apply (oddly).
When telling a story, be sure to have a powerful introduction and an engaging conclusion. It’s primordial. And George Lucas, director of Star Wars (do I need to present it), agrees on this point: “The secret to a good movie is a captivating start, a punchy end, and just don’t be silly in the middle.”
4) The 3 golden rules for telling a story (again the number three … definitely)
Here they are. Your story should be:
- Familiar: the more the reader identifies with your story, the more your article will be remembered and liked;
- Emotional: put emotion. Again. More. Your audience wants twists, drama, suspense …
Which brings us to our final tip for writing an exciting story.
5) Never be boring
This advice will be brief: when finished, read your own story again.
Are you yawning? Repeat.
Aren’t you excited about what’s going to happen? Repeat.
You have no interest in what is going on and the action is shit? Repeat.
do not bother never your readers with a story.
The truth about storytelling
Do you remember the story of Shéréazade at the beginning of the article? Thanks to her talent for storytelling, she realized the unthinkable: for a thousand and one nights, she never stopped telling her stories.
In the end, the king recognized his value and made him his queen. Through the power of her storytelling, she survived … But she also saved the lives of thousands of other women. All thanks to the mesmerizing power of his stories.
Here’s the truth: the world is full of bland blogs. They just give tips. Advices. Tutorials. You read these blogs once to fix a problem, and you never go back. Because they are hollow, empty.
Do you want to become a blogger whose articles will be read, shared and commented on? Show your personality… Tell a story. That way you will be special. Your readers will return to your blog over and over again. They will be impatient that you take out your next article. They will only read you, because they will be addicted to your content, fans of your work, lovers of your writing.
Go for it. Write with your guts. Put some emotion. And tell this story, that only YOU can tell.
About the Author :
Blogging. Copywriting. Storytelling.
Théo Rossi is this blogger who is tumbling into the world of web marketing.
He is on a mission to help bloggers turn their ordinary readers into real rabid fans.
You can download his free book “10 Secrets for Articles Read, Shared and Commented” on his site BloggingEnchanteur.com to conquer your theme.