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Why Stories are an Effective Communication Tool for Your Blog

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of November 2009 Featured Posts, Writing Content 0 Comments

Screen shot 2009-11-02 at 9.56.45 AM.pngAs I write this it is the first Tuesday morning of a new month and I’m sitting in a local coffee shop going through my ‘start of the month routine‘.

It involves a large lattè (everything else hinges on this) and some delving into my blogs metrics to see how they’ve been performing.

While I do keep track of the traffic stats of my blogs each day I like to set aside an hour or two at the start of each month to go a little deeper and do some more analysis of trends on my blogs – I find that when I do this I notice things that I can build on to continue momentum on my blogs.

This morning as I was looking at the type of posts that had done well in the last few weeks on my blogs I noticed an interesting trend – many of them were ‘story‘ type posts.

Both posts got a lot of traffic, were linked to by numerous other blogs and were re-tweeted more than normal.

I’ve always known how powerful ‘story posts‘ can be on a blog but I decided to dig a little further to see whether this continued deeper than just the last month.

What I discovered was that story posts have been among the most popular posts on this blog over the last 5 years time and time again. They’re not the only type of post that does well (there are a few other types of posts that do well – we might explore these in a later post) but they certainly have performed very well for me.

Here’s a few more examples of popular story posts:

I could go on…. and on! Each month that I looked back on through my blog here at ProBlogger a story type post featured in the top 2 or three posts.

Why are Stories Effective?

A lot could be said about the reasons why stories tend to do well on blogs but here’s a few reasons that I’ve seen in my own experience:

  • Stories engage the imagination of readers
  • Stories go beyond facts and theories
  • Stories reveal something about yourself as a blogger (they’re personal)
  • Stories trigger emotions and the senses
  • Stories are conversational they stimulate others to react and tell their stories
  • Stories provide hooks for readers to latch onto in your blogging (they’re relatable)
  • Stories grab and hold the attention of readers
  • Stories are memorable – while people don’t always latch onto facts and figures – a good story can be remembered for years
  • Stories illustrate your points in ways that can be much more convincing (and convicting) than other types of information

The key with stories on blogs is making them tie into the rest of your blog – ie make them relevant and ensure that they have some point to them that is useful to your readers on some level. While telling the story of how your dog dug up your vegetable patch might interest you, the readers of your blog about (insert your blogs topic here) may not be quite as fascinated – unless you use the story to illustrate something about your topic.

Now that we’ve looked as some of the reasons stories are effective on blogs – in my next post I want to extend the idea of story telling with a 2nd post that explores some of the types’ of stories that you might like to use on your blog.

This post is another part of the Principles of Successful Blogs series. Previous principles explored are Listening, Trust, Usefulness, Community and being Personal.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. Good. You are described the side stories as a blogger. Normally a technical blog was read like a reference book. Readers not mind who wrote it. Also the author is targeting money. It is because of new culture of human beings. Any way your blogpost is interesting…:)

  2. Darren,

    I totally agree with you.

    Stories really pull the reader in and I believe it does create a better connection.

    I think the great thing with blogging is that you can let people in (to a certain extent) and interact with people you’d never get a chance to do any other way.

    Stories are great and some of the best copywriters have (and continue) to use stories to persuade people and sell.

    Great post!

    Krizia

  3. Hi Darren:

    I have seen a trend in the blogs I read: stories. Some reminded me to tell stories about myself to get the readers involved; some reminded me to incorporate stories into my blog (just like yours).

    Besides the reasons for stories being an effective tool that you mentioned, there is another big reason why we love stories. Humanity has been telling stories ever since the dawn of time. It is almost conditioned into out psyche.

    Stories were a primary way to pass on the information in a memorable way. Our parents read us stories when we were little. We read stories of dragons, pirates, princess and princesses; we watched Disney movies about Aladin and Beauty and the Beast.

    Therefore every time, we catch a story, it bring us back to those happy times. It makes us part of the human history.

    I am myself looking forward to your next post about the type of stories I can tell. Is there a book or an article that you can recommend to become a better story teller?

    Thank you so much for this information!

    Best,
    Tomas

  4. A good story makes for a good blog post. I’ve found that looking at recent past events, finding a common thread in those events, and then spinning them into the theme of our blog has worked well to grab the readers’ attention.

    Sometimes you have to be creative to mold the story into your point, but a good tie-in with creativity can often make for a very popular blog post.

    Rob – LexiConn

  5. You are right in line with Aesop, Chinese seers, and Jesus. So I imagine you are probably correct.

  6. Ooh! I agree. One of the best stories on my blog is the following one about how I got into a fight in a restaurant and the lessons I learned.

    http://www.mokurendojo.com/2007/05/boys-will-be-boys.html

    That one gets a lot of traffic and a lot of comments (via email – not on the post itself)

    I’ll have to work on telling more stories.

    thanks!

  7. Sofie says: 11/04/2009 at 2:47 am

    Hello again Darren,

    Stories are normally effective but it depends on how a person tells the story. Just like what I’ve wrote in your blog entry, The Power of Being Personal in your Blog, your story is effective because you write your story with humility and honesty.

    In my observation, your stories are not exaggerated unless someone would like to disagree with me. :)

    Even if the story is good but full of exaggeration, I probably won’t finish reading the story unless it is a fiction like Harry Potter, etc. :)

    Have a great week!

  8. I am very comfortable writing in a conversational story style, anything else to me is too much work and really belongs in the pages of The Wall Street Journal or some other old boring publication.

    Blogs to me are more about fun and expression, so telling stories is the best route :)

  9. Not all stories are an effective tool for blogs, I think only good ones. For myself, I am very glad to reading the stories in blogs. Maybe I would like to fee the difference between other people and me. But actually, I am not a good storyteller, lol… I will learn more about it. Thanks your post.

  10. I couldn’t agree with this post more. I was a Top 40 radio DJ before entering the world of PR/Marketing and have found that what I learned from a story telling standpoint has proved to be extremely valuable!

    Ryan Shell

  11. Tomas, I would go further than saying storytelling’s almost conditioned into our psyche– I believe it’s hard-wired into our minds, and essentially makes us who we are.

    Think about the way we write stories based on scraps of information. The mind looks for patterns and fills in the gaps. Which is why intense relationships with a lot of distance built-in can be so maddening– every little contact becomes a clue for the larger story the mind’s writing (whether or not it’s true).

    Or think of the Kuleshov effect, where an image of a face and then of bread becomes a story of a man dying of hunger…

    Which is all a quibble, perhaps. Go story!

  12. Stories give an intensely personal slang to my writing;l find I’m not just giving information to people but opening up inside, to my worries,fears, joys, mistakes; things everyone can relate to and this is probably what makes it more memorable than any other type of post

  13. I can believe that the stories engage readers but the reason you got the readers was because of the subject/headline

  14. Something else I noticed … all these posts were written by you.

  15. Hey Darren,

    Stories are the most effective communication tool.

    * They’re interesting – people LOVE stories.

    * They’re personal – people can relate.

    * They’re convincing – a personal experience with results shows that what you’re saying works – it’s not just an idea or theory.

    And, as Tom said in the comments, stories have been the way people pass information from person to person, generation to generation. If it’s worked for centuries, then it’s pretty much a fool-proof way to effectively communicate.

    Thanks for the reminder to focus on continuing telling stories and making them more personal.

    Best,
    Oleg

  16. I literally was writing this up as a guest post. Dammit.

  17. These posts mainly tell true experiences of yours! So it gives more authenticity to those stories as well as personal as you have pointed out.
    These are inspirational and a good read. Apart from these, stories of Darren Rowse are surely more interesting than Mike Skel, an unknown person.

  18. Great point on telling stories. I find that when I use stories to get my point across in the classroom, it really drives the point home. It’s no different when blogging!

  19. Sometimes personal stories can reveal too much, though.

    I believe that it takes talent and finesse to be able to tell your readers intimate details of your former life as a Brazilian waxer (both male and female, mind you!) without turning them away completely.

    In my case, I get requests to do follow up posts.

    :)

    ~ Chelle B.

  20. Awesome stuff. Looking forward to your next post.

    I agree that your story has to illustrate a point that’s relative to your blog. Nothing worse than reading something that’s totally irrelevant!

  21. Excellent point about the power of stories. As a speaker, this is the thing that people remember the most, and the same is true in blogging as well.

  22. Darren,

    Couldn’t have put it better. Stories are a great way of capturing reader’s imagine and can be a real success on your blog.

    The trick is to not over do it. Too many blogs stick to one way of written and never expand their writing skills.

  23. Definately, stories are the fabric of history and cultures they are the very thing that draws us together like music, movies and family

    They are intriguing

    Most of what we hope to bring over usually gets lost, but give a person a story and a personal one at that and it has the potential of becoming viral

  24. Just as I type my next post, which IS a story. First personal story on my blog actually. Thanks for reassuring me…

  25. I guess only yesterday I wrote a post in which I described my experiences in my first year of blogging..lol..today I visit ProBlogger and I find Darren writing on stories himself..I feel stories are a must on only some blogs..Technical blogs like mine will refrain from personals but in some way or the other, I do tend to write out my experience in the form of stories giving examples as well..Blogging needs stories..Punch Line

  26. I totally agree with this article. Stories are a big part of my blog. I think it helps my readers get to know me better. People tend to pay more attention to advice from people who have actually experienced what they are advising you on.

  27. There’s always a child in us.. that’s the reason why stories remain the top communication tool in every blog. Nice tips.. I’ve learned alot.

  28. You’re absolutely rite Darren. A story post not only keeps the reader excited but it also makes them visit your blog again and again. I am an avid blogger since 2006 and I have seen a great transformation in the blogging scene. I started blogging to express my thoughts to the whole world. I use write poems and stories. I am not a technical person but I could see enough visitors to my not-so tech blog. I think if you write honest things in your site then you are more likely to get enough visitors. You should never try to be a different person while writing. I love to write anything that comes to my mind and eventually you create your own niche with you kind of post. Stories do sound great. I am totally touched by this post Darren.

    Thanks a lot!

    Keep writing…

  29. Yes you are right we can communicate with our reader by informing them about some nice stories. Well till now I did not try this tips, Every time I write new post I try to improve it, I think next time when I write one new post, I will try to add story with reference with my article.

  30. Stories are indeed an effective communication for our blogs. It’s just like building a better relationship between you and your readers. And, like in a friendship, friends always tell stories which builds their friendship harder and better. :)

  31. Darren even this post is very effective because it is a story of your routine as a highly successful blogger. These are definitely the posts that have the most impact on me. If you look at some of the best selling authors like Chip and Dan Heath (Made to Stick) and Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers etc.) they use story telling very effectively and include a wide range of stories as well. The art of storytelling goes back thousands of years (the Bible). You can’t dispute history.

  32. Interesting post. Since stories are my business, I couldn’t agree more. I too see an increase in popularity and comments with a well timed, thoughtful story or memory. I try to make them vivid so readers can relate. I think these personal accounts take a blog from ordinary to special because these experiences are what make us individuals. It makes a blog richer, deeper.

  33. Most of my blog posts are Cast Studies or short stories. They are all written with a long tail SEO strategy. I don’t get huge traffic yet but they convert to sales. One of my clients, contractors, got over 25 jobs this year totalling over $100,000 in gross business. Another picked up a $90,000 job. The story was convincing enough to presell the job. Stories, or more importantly Case Studies, are a very effective advertising strategy.

  34. @ Eric C. Don’t despair; if you use your own personal slang, then you will be saying the same thing but as yourself. As in Georges Polti’s 36 dramatic situations, there is no new story; just the same stories rewritten within the context of ‘your’ story. You might be saying the same thing but how you say it will make it different. The Internet is a great example of a place where you will find many people writing about the same thing. It’s how they choose to present it, their experiences and their own personal touch that makes it unique.

  35. *whew*

    Now THIS I do!

    What a relief…something “un” technical yet “sticky.” Hooray!

  36. Yep I really agree with this. I’m a writer by trade, so I can relate to this. And even on my small new blog I’ve noticed this trend to be true.

  37. I think that the power of story posts is association factor. People like to compare their journey with someone else’s to see how they’re doing. This practice can be dangerous because no 2 people are alike, but if you can take the positive from an instance it can help you.

  38. I couldn’t agree more, stories are magnetic and persuasive. I’ve also noticed that my blog posts which feature case studies — especially about local businesses — garner the most attention.

  39. Real stories and real case studies are the most persuasive posts.People really love to know how one successful person did it and how he overcomes his mistakes

  40. The two blogs you listed as being popular the past few weeks were easily my favorites. Thanks Darren.

  41. Allen says: 11/05/2009 at 6:13 am

    A great book on this topic is The Story Factor by Annette Simmons. It breaks down storytelling from a business perspective. It’s in its second edition, and IMO one of the best books on the subject.

  42. My brother turned me on to your site, and what a nice surprise. You are one of the premier bloggers in the world, yet your write like you’re talking to a friend across the kitchen table. It’s a gift! I started in the radio business as a DJ and wrote my own advertising copy. After selling my stations a few years ago, I find that the thing I miss the most was the creativity involved in copy writing years ago.

  43. Your analysis certainly meshes with my experience, Darren. I really dig your stories, and my readers dig mine.

    Even better, I dig theirs, they dig each others and so on and so on!

    Many thanks for your ace assessment. It’s nice to know I’m on the right tram, even if I’m a fair few stops off the pace!

    Best regards, P. :)

  44. What a great post – it’s something that I’ve noticed on my own blog too.

    The posts that are more tutorial style with dry content don’t bring in half as much traffic as a post about the same concept written as a story.

    I’m focusing 100% on writing this type of content now – it gives people useful content while also helping to build a relationship between myself and my readers.

  45. Stories or linkbait? lol – There are lots of stories to tell which can attract attention. Just caught your “what kinds of stories..” post as well. That should keep alot of folks busy, not to mention open their eyes to what they can talk about on the blog.

  46. Alecs says: 11/05/2009 at 8:53 pm

    Maestro Darren you are quite right truthful histories are written
    very attractive the participants of these histories for reading

  47. It’s really excellent article. I liked your way of describing it. You did a really great job here. Keep posting.

  48. Just a reminder that blogs are still about real people and their interest in other people’s real lives.

  49. Stories allow me to fantasize. I’m always looking for that moment of escape. I’m not surprised by the data.

  50. Really enjoy your posts. Something about your writing that I like. I want to share this stuff with my friends and readers but it’s almost like you are a good secret to keep to myself!! Great inspiration! Keep up the good work.

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