Although I’m a big proponent of original content, I also recognize the opportunity to raise your profile that comes with joining in on the conversation that other bloggers have started. The key, of course, is to not just link out, but to link out and elaborate in a way that demonstrates you’re someone worth listening to.
In the new media space, Scott Karp of Publishing 2.0 is a master at this. You can always depend on Scott to have insightful analysis of the latest news, and whether you agree with him or not, you’ll still come away with value.
While you may not be a rhetorical master, there’s an easy way for anyone to become a persuasive conversational blogger. The key is to offer more than just your opinion, since last time I checked everyone seems to have one of those. You’ll get better results if you give people something they can relate to at a personal level.
Tell a story.
Think about it. When having a conversation, you find something to say in response fairly quickly based on the personal memories that the speaker stirred. Without those memories, you’d have nothing to say. Those memories are tied to experiences, and experiences are stories.
The reason why a story works better than a simple statement of opinion is because it in turn evokes vivid mental imagery in your reader’s minds, based on their own memories of experiences. You’ve now created a relational bond with your readers that makes it more likely that they will see (and agree with) your point of view. Don’t tell them that you’re right; let them tell themselves that you’re right, based on their own similar experiences.
Give it a shot. Next time you see something that inspires you to blog, take a moment and identify the one or more experiences that prompted that reaction. It can be a personal incident, a professional anecdote, or a success story about one of your clients or customers.
Stories are the key to selling people on your ideas and authority in an engaging fashion. And your ideas and authority are the keys to selling them later on the things that make you money.
Reader Comments (41)
Are you sure you’re right about that?
Good advice as always, Brian.
Heh.. I would have told a story if I was riffing off of someone else. As it was, I was just trying to get this post done. 🙂
Maybe I should have commented on the dumb mistakes post. 🙂
Great entry, as usual, but if a blogger is a conversational person, shouldn’t your headline say “who” instead of “that”?
Ever since I wrote that grammar post I’ve been screwing up more often.
Must be karma.
Lisa Gates says
Boy, nobody misses a beat around here. I have no complaints, only appreciation. And I know that if you had the time, or were standing in front of a group of wannabe copywriters, you would demonstrate this–sort of a with story/without story approach.
You’re a natural teacher. Thanks for everything you provide.
Great advice, I’m going to try to start doing that more in my blogs.
Ed D'Urso says
My friend, Mike S. sent me the link to your page. He then suggested I should leave my response as a comment. So here goes…
“Very well said. Show a picture to invoke a personal connection with your reader. Add something else for the reader to connect to that isnt your personal experience, and you become a trusted blogger.
This reflects what I was saying earlier about writing fractally. A fractal is a recognizable pattern that always repeats differently. I would augment what the author captured well, by adding something taught to me by my teacher, Steve P.:
1) Name the pattern, and clarify what your writing about.
2) Give a word picture to show how the pattern repeats.
3) Give a personal example (tell a story) to get the reader to personally connect. Give a personal example to show how the pattern repeats differently.”
Thanks for your post, I found it very helpful.
Nice Ed… I like that.
Mark Goodyear says
I’m with you on this 100%. Stories are always the most powerful form of persuasion–because they provoke an emotional response.
And the best stories also provide logical support.
I was surprised to see that this blog post only modeled one story (about Scott Karp). Do you find that more than one story confuses the reader?
Nail on the head right here:
“The key is to offer more than just your opinion, since last time I checked everyone seems to have one of those. You’ll get better results if you give people something they can relate to at a personal level.”
My partner in crime at NLL is very good at this- stating her idea, telling a story but allowing everyone to take something away with them- value whether you agree or not.
Peter Cooper says
This isn’t meant to be a criticism as such, but I notice you’ve just changed the title. I don’t read every post here, and base my decision to read heavily on the title.. and I feel that while I clicked on the original title (and enjoyed the post), I wouldn’t have clicked on it with its new name.
Why? I’m not entirely sure, but possibly because it doesn’t appeal to the ego as much. Being ‘irresistible’ is cool, but being someone ‘people listen to’ is even cooler 😉 The benefit sounds more direct and less airy.
A one man sample doesn’t stand for much, but I thought you might appreciate at least my thought process once I saw the new title.
Thanks for the feedback Peter. I’ve written this headline 3 different ways so far, and I never do that after it’s posted. I can’t seem to get happy with it.
Peter Cooper says
It’s definitely an art! After I posted my comment I thought that it’s probably true that different people react in different ways to headlines. The bolder, more egotistical ones tend to catch me.. but perhaps other people get caught by different things.
Beyond the raw metrics, I imagine it’s rather hard to get an insight into what headlines really click with different demographics.
I sometimes worry that my blog is too story oriented.
Just the other day I was talking to a friend about this exact topic and he said – oh wait, there I go again… Sorry.
I agree with you Brian.
Stories are generated differently. And since it’s based on experience, it’s definitely new to everyone, unlike facts which most people probably know already.
Ronna Porter says
This is a huge subject. Corporate business is also waking up to the power of story-telling in an effort to ‘speak the same language’ as the people – employees, customers, investors, community members, or whoever – it wishes to influence. I agree with all you say, but would add that the emotional richeness, authenticity of experience, and memorability of the story can be greatly boosted by the effective use of sound and music.
Ashley Cecil says
I’m a board member of a nonprofit fair trade retailer that sells artisan goods from developing countries. It’s shocking how well people respond (with their pocket book) to stories about the family who hand knotted an oriental rug, a mother of 5 who knitted a sweater from her own sheep’s wool, or a young entrepreneur who collects tossed bottles to make recycled beaded jewelry.
A personal story creates a substantial difference between option A and B, which would otherwise be equal.
I’m finding this to be the case on my own blog. People comment when my posts are about a direct connection between myself and the person or organization I’m writing about.
But here’s the problem I’ve run into: the more personal the story is, the longer the post. I feel like going over a certain word count is dangerous as it loses your reader’s attention. What are your thoughts Brian?
Michael A. Stelzner says
You have hit on something that is very important to me.
I often wonder what the best way is to get my points down in writing.
Stories matter because people like to be entertained.
I also think it is important to write like you speak.
That simple conversational tone will help people follow along.
That is one important step to persuading.
Keep up the good work.
Mark Goodyear says
Ashley points out a problem that I have too. It isn’t so much that my personal stories have to be long. I just have more trouble editing them–because they are personal.
Badslacks, I wonder if that isn’t what you are talking about. Not so much that your blog is too story oriented, but that you have trouble controlling the stories and keeping them to an appropriate length.
Which makes me wonder, how long is an appropriate “story”? The Scott Karp anecdote here is two sentences. Does that count?
Ashley Cecil says
I’m anxious to hear others’ opinion on the length of a post, but for me personally, I will hardly do more than scan a post if it’s any longer than this one. I read too many and don’t have time. I literally give myself 8-9am to read and post on blogs and as you can see, I’m having a hard time sticking to that. Make it powerful, personal, short, and concise. Easier said than done!
Great Article about the content. I guess if you can initiate a conversation nothing better .
I tend to be a bit long-winded with stories, which also acts as a deterrent, since I write rather lengthy posts as it is.
Seth Godin is a master of the short personal anecdote that makes a compelling point. I’m going to work on that style a bit, but as they say… it takes longer to be succinct than it does to ramble. 🙂
Michael A. Stelzner says
It is much harder to say it simple.
Joanna Young says
Another great post! Re the headline problem…maybe you need to practice zen-like detachment?
By the way, how would I send you a trackback link if I was quoting one of your posts – I can’t immediately see it, but maybe I’m just missing something obvious.
Personal experiences are indeed great on blogs. But I guess it’s based on what you can give your readers best. I have read a lot of bloggers that use their insight and ideas mostly and I think that it’s also great.
That’s totally right, think about commercials, the good ones are the ones which tell good stories.
Ashish Mohta says
I was looking up for someone to say this.Many people say my english is not that good well there is only one reason I try to talk and when you talk english will never be prefect
Christian Tietze says
Great someone writes that down somewhere. I do this from time to time, but I never thought about using stories as a kind of “stylistig mega device”.
Patricia - Spiritual Journey Of A Lightworker says
Telling personal stories that prove my point seems to be my writing style. It seems to be working well with my new blog. It is good to find a blogging article that recommends using it. Thanks for the great article. I continue to learn more about blogging from your articles.
This is my best vehicle to get me to write. I’m glad someone already thought about it — I thought I was the crazy one who thinks this way.
Latarsha Lytle says
The power of story has a way of getting listeners to really hear what you say.
I love to hear from those storytellers who have the magic of heightening my experience in such a way that I feel like I was right there…watching the story unfold with my eyes.
Well, if selling online has nothing to do with client relations, (reverse) psychology, etc. who could’ve thought that whatever the motive behind a blog is, it should be provoking the people’s psychology.
Short, insightful.. great post. 🙂
Thanks for the posts. I’m just a student and a terrible writer trying to find advice on how to untangle my mind in order to write a decent essay…
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