Have you ever asked yourself why a specific blog post stopped you dead in your tracks?
Did you truly feel the author’s pain?
Maybe the post was so captivating that you shed a tear, finished the entire piece, and left a comment thanking the blogger for sharing his story and changing your perception.
There are patterns at play here. Patterns that I ignored for too long.
You might be ignoring these elements — and one in particular — and your content marketing may be suffering for it.
I’ve made it a bit of a mission to study these patterns, and I’ve found at least three specific elements that can help you write remarkable content that readers love and share …
Brené Brown — author of The Gifts of Imperfections and famous for her insightful TEDxTalks — is known for her discoveries about the powers of vulnerability.
Vulnerability in writing is a willingness of the author to be transparent.
When you’re vulnerable, you can tell your story wholeheartedly and honestly. Dr. Brown explains that vulnerability allows us to develop authentic connections with one another; and connection is what humans are all about — it’s the reason why we’re here in the first place.
You may be familiar with Jon Morrow’s post, On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting For Your Ideas, or Brian Clark’s The Snowboard, the Subdural Hematoma, and the Secret of Life.
Take a good look at why these posts are so captivating.
Why is it that almost every comment starts with the words, “Wow?” It’s because they tell their story without holding anything back. They are vulnerable to their audience, provide value, and tell a truly compelling tale.
Stories enchant your readers.
Storytelling (along with a solid headline and an engaging first sentence) sets a rhythm in motion to allow your readers finish what they had started.
Take a look at Dr.Brown’s TEDTalk, or read one of those two posts linked above. They follow two of the elements we’re discussing: vulnerability and storytelling.
From my perspective — after reading those posts multiple times and watching that video an innumerable amount of times — what it feels like is an honest, heart-to-heart conversation. I can’t help but lean in and pay attention.
One of my best and most-shared blog posts was about the nine unforgettable lessons I learned attending Seth Godin’s 3-day intensive seminar in July 2012.
Arriving home, I knew I had to write about it, but I was also scared. How could I encapsulate my experience in one post? And how could I write a concise post that didn’t undervalue my experience?
Naturally, after having realized these patterns of vulnerability and storytelling, I embraced it — regardless of how frightening it may have been to start out of nowhere.
I imagined the reader sitting directly across from me, and told him the story in simple, direct, compelling language. I just talked to my reader like I would speak to one of my best friends.
The results? Seth linked to my post, it was shared by thousands of people, and the emails came flooding in thanking me for sharing my experience so honestly — I was even asked to speak at the National Center for Student Leadership in 2013 (which, of course, I accepted.)
The concoction of vulnerability and storytelling is a force to be reckoned with.
Ignore these two elements at your own peril.
People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.
~ Simon Sinek
Why is Copyblogger your home base for online content marketing insight, rather than one of the thousands of other blogs on the Web?
In his now famous TEDTalk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, Simon Sinek explains the golden circle.
In the middle (the smallest part) is the “Why.” Why do you do it?
The second, the “How.” How do you do it?
And the largest, most easiest part to identify is the “What.” What do you do?
His talk explains that in order to get others to take action — vote for you, buy your product, spread your message — you must clearly communicate “Why you do what you do.”
The reason why many are so entranced by Apple is because their “Why” is the desire to challenge the status quo.
How? By designing and creating sleek, gorgeous, user-friendly devices accessible by everyone.
And the “What they do” is create computers (large and small), and software, which of course, is the easiest to identify.
So what is it? Why do you do what you do? Why should we believe in your message? How do I not only feel a part of your journey, but also accept it as my own?
The moment you can clearly communicate your “Why,” your vulnerability and storytelling will fortify your platform, ideas, and the spreading of your message.
Practice the skill and turn it into a habit
Storytelling and vulnerability won’t always come easily.
Clearly identifying the “Why” factor will take time to develop and communicate — it may even change from time to time.
But if you don’t start now, then when?
Embracing and executing these elements will be daunting because we live in a world where vulnerability is rare. Good storytelling is a skill that’s only mastered by doing it relentlessly. Once you realize the immense benefits of practicing these three elements, only then will you start to see a shift in your business, content and the attentiveness of your audience (as well as your life!)
Look around you. Which blog posts captivate you? Why do you subscribe to certain blogs in the first place? Can you spot these elements in the author’s writing and delivery?
By practicing vulnerability, storytelling, and clearly communicating the “Why” factor, it can transform into a habit. A habit that will yield love and appreciation from your tribe, stories of your idea or product being put into practice, and a strong foundation that will reinforce your business and life.
Tomorrow, when you sit down to write, have these three keywords in front of you …
Remind yourself of two things: You can either write content that is dry, safe, and has no personality, or you can write something daring and transparent — something that will shake the floor beneath your reader’s feet.
You have this power within you. All you need to do is use it.