I am first and foremost a story blogger. I love to hear and read other people’s stories and I love to share my own. To me, a story is one of the most powerful ways to share the important truths of life as well as the fun and frippery that makes life enjoyable. But as a blogger, I’ve learned that stories can be extremely hard to communicate on a platform where I have someone’s attention for less than three minutes (on a good day). And nobody’s writing tips for story bloggers.
As bloggers, we’ve been conditioned to cull our content into lists and bullet points, creating bite-sized, easily digested nuggets of information and the art of story and personal connection is falling by the wayside. Blergh! Stories weren’t made to fit this format!
Does this mean that it’s time to stop sharing stories, to adjust and go with the mainstream? I’m thinking no. It just means the stories need to be that much more engaging, the hook–the problem–needs to be presented that much more plainly and the words need to communicate in the most conversational way possible. Is that selling out or dumbing it down? No. And if you feel like it is, then your stories will probably come across as condescending to your readers. And who really wants that in their life?
So what does this mean for story bloggers? Do we need a magic formula? Is there a way to make sure that our stories are told in the most powerful way possible? Do we have to give in to the click-bait, lists and bullet points?
I don’t think there is necessarily a magic formula, but with three years of writing, reading and editing the stories for a story blog, sitting through various online classes and webinars about writing and storytelling, and combing through Pinterest for blogging tips, I’ve definitely learned a few things about how to be a better story blogger.
Writing Tips for Story Bloggers
- Before you start writing, decide what is the one and only thing you wish to communicate to your reader. (Hint: It shouldn’t be YOU. ) Yep. Just one. Any more and you will be rabbit trailing. Because 600-800 words don’t go very far. Are you helping by providing a solution to a problem or sharing a belief that could make their life better? Start off with that so they want to keep reading.
- Use normal, everyday words. Using big words doesn’t make you seem smart, it makes your reader feel dumb. And if you’re sharing faith stories, try to avoid “Christianese” phrases like “storming the gates of heaven” unless you’ve established and conditioned your followers to expect that from you. While those types of phrases may feel natural to you, they could be a big turnoff to someone else. Waxing eloquent doesn’t win you extra points.
- Choose a title that clearly communicates what your blog post is about. Don’t try to make it sound so vague that no one will know what it means unless they read the post. I know as a storyteller this can be such a hard line to toe. We want our titles to be clever and engaging and they definitely can be. Titles stumping you? I love this post about how to up your title game: How to create engaging titles that get clicks.
- Edit yourself. Oh my goodness! Sometimes I get so attached to my words it’s not even funny. A “best blogging practice” is to close out your post and come back to it 24 hours later. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own headspace we assume our reader has crawled into our brain and knows the whole backstory of the blog post. Make sure every one of your words supports your ONE thing. My editor Mikkee has some great tips on editing that you can read here: How to Edit Yourself
- Create “breathing room” in your writing. This is also known as white space. Unlike books, blogs should not have long “text walls” in them. Break up long paragraphs, add in pre-made tweets for sharing, include photographs within the blog posts, use headings to give visual cues to your reader in case they skim. Want to know more about creating this breathing room? Check out this: How to Make Your Blog More Readable
- Be conversational. Be you. Imagine your reader is sitting across the table from you at a coffee shop. Think about how you would tell your story to them in that scenario and then write your story that way.
- You are not the center of the story. Even if you are sharing a very personal story it should be for the purpose of providing something of value to the reader. Don’t just share a story that has nothing for the reader in it and expect them to read all the way to the end. Make sure your reader can easily identify why this story is beneficial for them.
I’ve been learning so much about how to write a better story and the value of the story as a business tool these last couple of months, but the best thing I have ever done is to spend some time learning from Donald Miller. If you want to become a master storyteller, I highly recommend spending some time on the StoryLine Blog or subscribing to his Podcast. He’s a brilliant storyteller and an amazing guide to help others build their own stories.
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