Whether you’re a reader or a movie buff, I’m sure you can appreciate a good story.
An interesting story has the potential to take you on a journey to places you’ve never seen and meet characters you’d never otherwise have met. For the length of your read, you can be a boy finding out he’s a wizard, an orphan girl arriving at a sleepy farm on Prince Edward Island or one of four precocious sisters trying to find her place in the world outside of Concord, Mass.
Recently, Corie Farnsley, CorComm’s owner and creative director, encouraged me to read a book called “Building a StoryBrand,” by Donald Miller. While I’m only halfway through, I can already see myself applying his “story” principles to brand messaging, website content, articles and even blogs.
Blogging Element #1: Tell a story.
Miller’s viewpoint is relatively simple. Whether you’re writing a movie script or developing a brand message, you must use seven universal story points to connect with your audience. There must be a character, with a problem, who meets a guide, who gives them a plan, explains how they need to take action, to avoid failure and ultimately become a success.
When I started researching what makes blogs successful, this similar approach kept reappearing — tell a story, evoke emotion and your audience will come.
- Copyblogger encourages bloggers to tell a seductive story with a hero, a goal, an obstacle, etc.
- All Business warns bloggers to never underestimate the power of a compelling headline using “emotional” words to grab the reader.
- Web Hosting Secrets Revealed tells bloggers to showcase relatable human elements in their blogs so people can see themselves in your writing before they tackle your nitty-gritty content.
- Hubspot reminds us “We’re here to be told a story. And in the process, be inspired to take action…And while storytelling goes far beyond just your blog posts, it’s often your most shared resource; therefore, it’s the best place to start.”
It seems so simple when you think about it, but it’s so easy to gloss over the importance of telling a story in your writing when you’re trying to make a quick point.
As you consider your blog topic, who you’re trying to reach and what you’re trying to accomplish with your blog, find a human element to share. It could be a humorous anecdote, a memory, a learning moment — anything that helps put your reader in the right mindset.
Then turn your focus to these other elements.
Blogging Element #2: Use subheads and bullets.
Nothing is more painful than scrolling through a long article of plain text. Your readers have limited time on their hands. Make your article easier to navigate and skim by breaking it up with smaller paragraphs, helpful subheads and bulleted copy. Subheads boost search engine optimization and make it easier for your reader to return to areas they want to review again later.
Blogging Element #3: Use internal links to your website.
Did you know Google measures the time your readers spend on your pages? This can be measured through your page’s "bounce rate" and "average time spent on page" analytics. By including relevant links to other parts of your website, you’re encouraging your readers to stick around.
Blogging Element #4: Use appealing graphics and images.
You can also hold your readers’ attention by including eye-catching graphics or helpful “how-to” infographics. These graphics can also be used to promote your blog post on social media.
Blogging Element #5: Include a clear call-to-action.
This may be the most important part of your blog post. Consider the goals of your blog post. Are you promoting a new resource that’s available? Ask your readers to provide their email address for a chance to download this new resource. Do you want them to register for an event? Include a link for registration. Don’t be vague. Tell your audience what you’d like them to do, and your goal has a better chance of being met.
Blogging Element #6: Finalize your compelling headline.
I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Your story begins with your headline, so consider carefully how you want to draw your audience in. In fact, I often have to write my blogs first and finalize my headlines afterward, when I can choose a title that captures the essence of my blog’s point. Take All Business’ suggestion and use emotional words that catch people’s eyes and imaginations.
Blogging Element #7: Draft a meta description.
A “meta description” is simply a short description in Google’s search results that explains what your blog post is about. See examples of meta descriptions in the screenshot below. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t always use the exact meta description that you provide. Sometimes it will simply pull content from the actual blog page instead (as you’ll see in CorComm’s listing below, fourth one down). However, it’s still a good idea to provide one when posting your blog as another way to increase your search engine results.
Meta description examples
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What elements do you appreciate most when you visit a blog?
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