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.
Reader Comments (39)
Amelia stood at the mouth of the long, dark hallway, one slender hand clutching at her heaving breast. The bodice of her ivory lace nightgown was soaked with sweat. Emboldened, she walked on, her bare feet cold on the stone floor.
You mean like that?
Yes, like that. Now can you please continue? 😉
I would but I plagiarized it from an actual romance novel 😉
Hi Brian – What book would you recommend to someone who is interested in learning about incorporating the art of storytelling in their writing?
Kelly Kilpatrick says
Great ideas. I’m looking forward to incorporating them in my new blog. I especially like the idea of anecdotes.
The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling by Annette Simmons
Brian, Make that book title an affiliate link and I’ll buy it today. Create a “Copyblogger Library of Recommended Books” and I’ll continue to do so. 🙂
There’s an affiliate link to Story Factor (and other books) on this page.
And my other copywriting book recommendations are here.
Thank you for your patronage. 🙂
Brian, thank you for that. Just purchased the Story Factor + using your affiliate link. Great post today as usual.
My favorite story starter …
“It was a dark and stormy night …”
Nobody writes like Snoopy 🙂
Marc Kantoori says
Hmm, sounds interesting. Allthough telling stories takes a lot more time than cut-and-paste, it might just captivate readers a bit more. Gonna try that one on my next post, thanks 🙂
Karen (Miscellaneous Mum) says
I nearly always do this – including today!
Thanks. This is exactly what I need to work on.
Ted Demopoulos says
“The short bald man was mysteriously cutting onions while sitting on his stoop in Brooklyn while a helicopter full of stale jelly donuts on the way to . . .”
I get the idea, but my execution may need some work
Benjamin Solah says
Being a fiction writer and political blogger, this is very effective for me.
Thanks for the reminder, I should really do it more often.
Rian Brooklyn says
Great info…tips I need to keep in mind. I just ordered Cialdini, can’t wait to learn from one of the persuasion masters. Another technique I might try is to study why certain books (novel or biographies) captivate me, and use similar techniques in my own writing, as applied for web copy.
Siddharth Thakkar says
Wonderfully presented thoughts. Darren Rowse has a great way of blogging and really incorporates story-telling perfectly in his blog.
It’s always heartening to find out that what you have already been doing (in this case, beginning with a story) has been the right thing. 🙂 Thanks for the good advice Brian.
Thanks for the guide. Basically I was doing the cut-paste job with a little bit my own..
But now sure i WILL MAKE IT 100% MY OWN!!
These are great approaches. Thank you for the advice. I appreciate the insight.
Lewis Brode says
This one makes sence “One’s first step in wisdom is to kuesstion everything – and one’s last is to come to terms with everything.”
This tip is so powerfull that it shouldn’t be allowed to float free on the internet. 🙂
I knew about this for a time, then forgot it – until now. Thank you Brian!
Haute Concept says
Great tips! Thanks for the useful info!!!
Jef Menguin says
Wow! Thank you very much for these very practical tips. I am an inspirational speaker and your tips will really be of great help.
Tomorrow I will training pastors to deliver effective sermons, and I will share with them your ideas on telling tantalizing stories.
inspirational speaker, Philippines
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