I don't know about you, but I have always been a voracious reader. Growing up I devoured series of novels like The Boxcar Children, The Babysitter's Club and Harry Potter like it was nobody's business. I've always been into novels more than non-fiction, probably because I love a good story. I love to be transported, to fall in love with characters and to be completely engrossed in what will happen next.
If you think about it, writing blog is a lot like developing and telling a story. I keep coming back to this post from Copyblogger about how Downton Abbey can inspire narrative marketing because I really think it's helpful and inspiring, whether or not you're a fan of the show. I focus a lot on the writing aspect of my personal blog, and people tell me it's a huge part of why they visit. There are a lot of talented and stylish bloggers out there, but if you can weave a story and draw your readers in with dramatic content – you'll put yourself miles ahead of your peers.
“Storytelling can be the secret sauce to luring in and keeping readers on your blog.”
And if you think about it, it makes sense. Blogging is about forming a connection with readers, and storytelling is a way of honing in on this connection. It's important to give your readers something — or someone — to care about. Furthermore, the narrative form is relatable to any reader, so here's why storytelling works for enticing (and keeping) an audience so you can grow your blog traffic.
4 Reasons WHY Storytelling Works to Keep an Audience:
1. Human emotion is a powerful thing
And tapping into those emotions on a personal level will have your readers coming back for more. Instead of simply presenting an outfit you wore, it may be beneficial to say why you wore it. Were you going somewhere special? Does it remind you of something? Who were you with when you wore it? Did something funny happen (or sad, or infuriating, or boring)?
For the most part, it doesn't really matter what happened, as long as there is an emotional element presented. Example: “While wearing this trench coat, I celebrated the Chinese New Year by eating dumplings — I've never felt so full!” may be a more enticing way to present it than simply a photo of the coat and a price.
According to an article featured on Fast Company, there is actual scientific proof that storytelling affects our emotions: “Further investigation has revealed that the actual physical process triggered by stories is the release of oxytocin, which is a hormone that’s usually affected by close emotional interaction, which is why its nickname is ‘the love hormone.' Researcher Paul Zak from Claremont Graduate University, California, explains how oxytocin makes well-crafted stories that we read in books and watch in films and on television irresistible: ‘We are empathetically engaged. We are treating this as if it is our real family. We can't help but care for these people.'” Through storytelling, readers will consistently want to “tune in” to see what's next.
2. More than just emotion, storytelling also taps into our intellect.
Why do you think stories of mythical creatures were once (and sometimes still) used to explain scientific phenomenons? It's because as humans, we inherently like to have an explanation for things — even if the explanation may seem outlandish, it's better than having none at all.
The same could be said of blogging; readers want an explanation for why something is posted and why it is important. Stories make it easy for us to string the pieces together and understand it all.
3. Storytelling also provides a certain relatability
It's a primal instinct to place yourself inside the story as the reader. The narrative can take us into another world where our reality is skewed. According to the article mentioned previously, “scientists discovered that fictional stories affected the same region of the brain that reacts when we ourselves are engaged in real-life drama. Stories create a bonding empathy which causes us to strongly identify with the made-up protagonist, as if we were, in fact, that person. In other words, stories have such impact because our brains actually get a little mixed up as to what’s real and what’s not.” Storytelling can let your reader live vicariously through your words, making the writing more alluring.
4. It's been a long-held marketing technique.
Brands have long used stories to sell products to their customers — how often have you heard about a product that came from a family farm? Or the long-standing struggles the CEO faced before he or she founded their multi-million dollar company? Politicians do it. Athletes do it. Oprah does it. And bloggers can, too.
Now let's uncover exactly how you can start to use storytelling on your blog in order to grow your traffic!
3 Easy Steps For HOW to Use Storytelling On Your Blog:
1. Set The Scene
- Whenever I write a post about an outfit I wore or highlight a product I that love, I set the scene for my readers. I want them to know where I was, what I was doing, who I was with, and why. I want to put my outfit in context, or show where I might take a certain handbag or wear a certain dress.
- Try to paint a picture for your readers that goes beyond what they can see in your images. Tell them about the smells, and the sounds. Let them know why you are where you are, and what you're going to do there. Hot tip: In an outfit post, use Instagram or scenic photos from that day to help illustrate the story of where you were, what you saw and what you did!
- In a trend story, or a post that showcases a certain item that you love, illustrate an occasion or two that puts your content in a certain time, place, season or reason.
2. Illustrate Colorful Characters
- A key to great storytelling is creating compelling characters. In the case of your blog, that main character, the protagonist, the hero, the love interest… That's you!
- Give your readers someone to care about. Someone to root for. Someone to love. Visitors will keep coming back if they have a vested interest in what happens to you, or are at least curious.
- You are so much more than the clothes you wear, as are your readers, so connecting with them on a personal level will help you relate and build a strong loyalty. Share only as much as you feel comfortable, but don't be afraid to develop your character. The other elements of your life – your family, where you live, what you do for a living, your hobbies and your travels – they all help define your style!
- Perhaps if you're not comfortable divulging every facet of your personality, create a personality! If you're creating a packing list for a spring break story or how to wear neon – tell your readers a little about the girl who's wearing these things. Why is she wearing them, where will she go, who will she meet…
3. Bring The Drama
- Think about the phrase, “a real page-turner.” It's a story that is so addictive and exciting that you have to read on and you must know more. This translates to action, intrigue and drama.
- Whether it's recounting an adventure or creating a seriously fierce outfit – drama gets readers excited, and it gets them sharing.
- Not every post you write will be full of highs and lows and tragedy and comedy – but you can tell those kinds of stories through social media on a smaller scale. Mix a dose of daily life with a hint of adventure into as many of your channels as you can.
- Create suspense when you can. Leave your readers hanging on the edge of their seat for your next post. Give them a hint or teaser of what's to come, whether it's a giveaway, a new outfit, you name it. Ways to do this include: showcasing part of an outfit on instagram; giving a hint at the end of a post; a colorful sentence or two on Twitter or updating your Facebook page status.
Remember: Storytelling can be the secret sauce to luring in and keeping readers on your blog.
What will you provide for your readers so they feel fulfilled and incentivized to come back? Have you tried storytelling as a writing technique?