To get readers and subscribers, you must tell great stories
Having authored and co-authored a number of books, I’ve come to the realization that being a great storyteller is my biggest asset as a writer. On some occasions, I tell stories directly from my own experiences. On other occasions, I share things that actually happened, but I take a bit of creative license with the story I’m telling to keep the reader engaged.
According to writer Danielle Featherston, “Storytelling goes beyond simply listing valuable facts, providing formulas for success or defining the universal principles for a great life. Storytelling gives information an emotional framework that inspires a feeling that people remember. As an author, you may not be able to break out into a dance before your readers’ eyes, but you can punctuate your message with powerful stories.”
No matter what approach I take, I’m sure to rely on the devices used by storytellers to manufacture an interesting and magnetic narrative. When I do this, the story is a monstrous success and I keep the reader coming back for more.
Authenticity and Storytelling Go Hand in Hand
Your personal brand and your corporate brand are forever intertwined. People’s interaction and experiences with you – in person or indirectly – will have an impact on how they perceive you and what their expectations are of you. The stories you tell must align you with the image you’re trying to portray to them. You must be authentic and real in every story you tell. Failing to be authentic will eventually catch up with you because your audience will soon figure it out.
The good news is that it’s possible to craft authentic stories while still building an engaging narrative. When you tell your stories, don’t be afraid to share the good and the bad. You may think that you want your readers to only see the “sunny side” of life, but that’s not reality.
Your readers are looking for solutions to their problems…to have better lives themselves. Telling stories that show them that you are human, that you’ve faced similar challenges and how you overcame them will endear your readers to you and have them wanting more.
Let Your Stories (and Skills) do the Talking
Great books are nothing more than a collection of stories that validate or demonstrate something that you know. Some of the best books out there are simply stories that have been captured on paper and then embellished with the author’s creativity and knowledge of the topic.
For example, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein wrote All the President’s Men in 1974. It was their account of the Watergate Scandal from their experiences in covering it as reporters for the Washington Post.
In the book, they shared the real-life stories that chronicled the seamy underbelly of politics in Washington in the early 70’s as they unfurled for the reader what happened in the Watergate Scandal in explicit detail. The stories – the five-figure bribes, lies that were told, the hair-raising interviews they told, the sub-plots and scandals, etc. – were riveting and they were relayed to the reader with extreme authenticity.
Time magazine said this about the book in their All-Time 100 Best Nonfiction Books list, “the work that brought down a presidency…perhaps the most influential piece of journalism in history.”
Back then, the book rights garnered over $1 million from publishing giant Simon and Schuster and Robert Redford paid $450,000 for the movie rights. For perspective, that would be like paying $5.2 million and $2.35 million in respectively in today’s dollars.
Woodward and Bernstein had a unique set of skills and qualities as reporters and they translated perfectly as authors for their book. They let their award-winning reporting do the talking for them as they shared stories of what they uncovered in their journalistic activities.
As you write and tell stories, take stock of your unique skillset and the value that only you can bring to the table. Be sure to highlight those qualities that you own at a high level and are proud of. Approaching your writing in this way will go a long way in securing a reader that will become a subscriber who follow you wherever you go.
Your Core Story is King
One of the best stories you can tell to hook readers and then keep as subscribers is your Core Story.
Your core story is crux of who you are as a person – of what your company is all about. It tells the business you are in, who your customers are, and what value you bring to the table. Most importantly, your core story compels people to want to do business with you.
Rather than using an elaborate sales pitch with all kinds of salesy jargon, statistics and selling tactics, you can use your core story to help people relate to you and the value you can bring to them in making their lives better, richer and more fulfilling. It also helps your customers to “get it and you” faster and easier, which will help you stand out from the competition when it comes time for your customer to make a decision.
The best part is that amazing things happen when you tell your core story and then reinforce it with other stories. First, you connect with readers who identify with you at an incredibly high level and second, you repel readers for whom you aren’t “their cup of tea” and third, you keep your readers vested in reading what you write today, tomorrow and long into the future.
Telling stories – especially your core story – not only gets your content read, it gets your idea, product or service consumed faster and more often. You must weave stories throughout every piece of content you put out to the masses if you want results.
Remember, if you fail to use stories…you’ll fail to get readers.
What does it take to become a great storyteller?
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when telling stories in your writing;
- Be true to yourself: While you don’t have to bare your soul, you do need to let readers see the side of you that’s not perfect. Readers are looking to identify with you at a high level and being open and real helps them do that. Authenticity is key.
- You control the narrative: You are the director of the stories you tell. Make sure the narrative leads your readers to the conclusions you want them to come away with…seamlessly and naturally.
- Be creative: Don’t just tell the story as you know it. Add life to the story through humor, sarcasm, drama, excitement and punctuating points. Your readers don’t just want to learn, they want to be entertained.
- The story doesn’t have to be yours: If there’s a story that makes your point, but it isn’t yours, run with it anyway. You’re looking to add value to the reader in any manner possible. Just be sure to give credit where credit is due.
The thing to remember is that you don’t have to be an amazing writer to be a great storyteller. If you can talk and relay a poignant message in the form of a story that you experienced and heard…you can tell a great story. Be sure not to skimp on the details as they can be your biggest ally in telling a meaningful, impactful story.
Get the Creative Juices Flowing
The last thing you want from the content you produce is for it to look like a book report. You need to connect with your readers, draw them in and then keep them hooked through some effective storytelling. Being a good storyteller doesn’t require a PhD or anything fancy, it simply requires you to be thoughtful as you’re writing. As you plan what you write, think about how what you’ve learned, experienced and seen in life applies to the message you’re trying to send. Then, let your creative juices flow.
Remember these tips about storytelling for your next writing project:
- Stories are about people: People don’t connect with things, they connect with people.
- Readers get bored easily: Use stories to capture and keep your reader’s attention.
- Stories are about emotions: Stir your reader’s emotions to keep them coming back for more.
- Show me is better than tell me: Stories generate pictures and feelings so your reader gets more involved with what you’ve written.
- The truth shall set you free: Make sure you’re authentic so your message gets delivered.
- Be clear: When you confuse, you lose. It’s as simple as that.
To add to your storytelling prowess, ask yourself the following questions the next time you’re about to put pen to paper:
- What are some of the best stories I’ve heard and what lessons can be learned from them?
- What stories from my life apply to the topics I’m writing about now?
- What have I already written – and not released – that I can reframe with a good story or two?
- Who do I know that is a good storyteller that I can leverage to help take my writing to the next level?
If you’d like to see how storytelling can work to help you bring in more readers and subscribers to build your client base and community, go to www.digitalpresident.com