If given a choice between listening to a lecture on the rules of hockey or watching a documentary, which one would you choose? Most likely, you’d prefer the documentary. There’s a greater chance there will be pictures, graphics, and a story behind the information. With a lecture, it’s most likely all facts, even if it’s the identical information. The same idea goes for blogging.
When you are attempting to connect with your audience through a blog, providing information in a story format – as opposed to a list or bullet points – can be very effective. In fact, many bloggers suggest using the story theme in every blog post, even if it’s simply mentioning you’re writing your post at a coffee shop. While this goes against my advice for blogs attached to businesses, stand-alone bloggers can add personal tidbits to their blogs to help forge a relationship with people they may never meet.
To take the concept of storytelling a step further, I challenge every blogger trying to make a mark in the blogging world to write a post on the journey that led them to blogging.
For me, I fell into it before realizing it was a way to express myself and make a living. I have always been a writer, sending long emails during college from my semester abroad in Australia (skydiving in New Zealand was the highlight), writing essays on my experiences living in New York City (that only my family and friends read), and writing book reviews to my book-loving English major friends. Writing was in my blood, but it never occurred to me it was how I could make a living.
I spent years in New York working in the sales and marketing department of Entertainment Weekly before moving home to Chicago. For the last few years I was working at a publishing company helping to produce licensed children’s books.
We worked with Disney, Sesame, Nickelodeon, and many other children’s characters. I won’t lie, it wasn’t my dream job, but I was working with books, words, and characters, and so I was happy enough. Although, not naming names, I will say there are a few characters (ahem, Dora, ahem) that I cannot even think about any longer, let alone watch or read.
Early in 2010 a member of my family, who had been the unwitting recipient of my years of long, involved emails, referred me to my first client. My aunt had overheard a divorce lawyer talking about a blog he was starting but didn’t have the time or writing chops to keep up. She gave him my number and a week later, my first freelance writing gig was born.
I agonized over the first post. It was less than 250 words and took me hours. But by the end, I was hooked. Blogging was a drug and I wanted more. The obvious next step was to start a blog of my own. It only took a few weeks to set it up, and I immediately began writing and updating daily. As my blog gained more content, I started putting the word out about my freelancing services. Through word of mouth, networking, and even Craigslist, I started building up a list of clients, many of whom I still work with today.
It wasn’t always easy. I was working full time and basically freelancing full time as well. I had trouble prioritizing and found myself up late, late at night trying to get it all done, then I was too exhausted the next morning to be of any use to anyone. Especially since I am of the breed that needs 9-10 hours of sleep, not 4-5.
Eventually it was freelancing or the steady job, and freelancing offered me the opportunity to write every day, not just for myself, but for paying clients as well.
Today I help maintain or contribute to approximately twelve blogs on a regular basis in addition to writing web sites, press releases, case studies, and any corporate writing a business can think of. It’s an amazing feeling.
My ability to be a freelance writer all stems from blogging. Without my first blog post I’d still be reading Dora books instead of working with companies and people, using the power of quality copy-writing to improve their business.
That’s my story. What’s your blogging story? How did you get into blogging? Did it bring you as much happiness and success as it’s brought me?
Next week I’ll give some guidelines to follow when writing your own story.