Want to hear a story? Most people do, and that’s why kicking off a blog post with one is a great way to capture and hold attention.
Back when we discussed opening strategies for bloggers, telling an anecdote or quick story was one key method. We’ve talked a lot about the power of stories to connect, captivate and persuade, and that’s why they are such a great way to grab hold of a reader right away before they become distracted by something shinier.
Stories make for strong openings because they are:
Here are a few ways to develop stories that fit in with your content and the actionable goals you have for your blog.
Seems like the obvious choice for a blog, right? The difference will be in the presentation. Many bloggers follow a certain “process” when blogging news that consists of the set-up, block quote, elaboration and close methodology. Let’s see if we can’t be a little more engaging.
Take the news and make it your own. Tell the story as if you are speaking to a friend whose opinion you value, and forget all together that you have a cut and paste function.
Using a relevant news story full of rich details that support your point or product makes persuasion easy. As long as the news defines the problem and encourages the use of the solution you’re selling, real life is selling for you.
Like news, customer and client success stories are effective because they offer real life support for your business objectives, except with the added power of being specific to your solution. But watch out, because the testimonial has been used and abused to such a degree that they could have a neutral or even negative effect.
For blogging, one might want to reserve the testimonial story for truly remarkable scenarios that simply beg to be shared. Further, use these types of story leads to make a point or leave an impression in the prospects mind rather than to support a call to action. That may sound like copywriting heresy, but remember, you can always write another post tomorrow that asks for the action while the memory of the last story lingers.
Remember also that blogging is a relationship medium. The well-told customer success story is one of the most effective ways to grab attention and deepen the relationship with prospects, as long as you don’t cross into a space where the reader reacts in the wrong way.
3. Biographical Anecdotes
Finding the perfect historical or biographical story that jives with the theme of your post can make for a fantastic opener. I’ve always found inspiration for content by stumbling across stories about other people, especially if they are well known to a general audience.
It’s a bit more frustrating to have an idea for content first, and then go in search of the perfect story match. Resources like Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes are great, and I’ll often thumb through just to see if something strikes me.
Stories from your own life work as well, but just keep in mind that we often attach much more significance to our own experiences than others will. Make sure your personal account is relevant and objectively interesting to your readers.
Remember the technique of “invoking the mind’s eye” from 5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post With a Bang? What you’re really doing there is writing a piece of fiction that literally captures the reader’s imagination and draws them deeper into your content.
Imagine your shock after battling your way through the collective works of the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, only to discover you’ve heard a lot of it before. Then, it clicks.
“Hey,” you suddenly exclaim. “This Aristotle guy is ripping off all my favorite business gurus!”
That example opening is a bit tongue in cheek, but you get the point. A fictional story that sets the stage for the rest of your post can be an extremely effective opening strategy.
Start in the Middle
Starting a post with a story requires extremely tight writing, and that’s often difficult to do if you feel the need to explain the scenario. Not only will that draw things out, it’ll be less enticing as well.
Think about movies and how they start. You rarely know what’s going on from the first frame, but if done well, you raptly watch until things reveal themselves.
The same strategy will work for your opening. Pick things up with the action already in full swing, preferably at a dramatic or tantalizing moment, and let things unfold from there. When you open strong, people will generally read more supporting detail than otherwise, which allows you room to properly establish your point.
Becoming a masterful storyteller has long been a differentiating factor for successful sales, and people simply enjoy being around someone who can spin a great yarn. Bring that skill to your blog and you’ll set yourself apart from the competition.