What happened at work today? How did the meeting go? What was that call all about? How did you end up here? What are you working on?
Here’s another question. Why is that people who answer questions like these every day, probably several times a day, clam up when they’re asked to write or contribute to a blog post about their business?
It’s become en vogue to talk about content writing in terms of storytelling, and for once, I agree with the pundits. While others will point to Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, I’ll spare you the discursion into literary theory. I already did that once. You don’t need to understand the mechanics of storytelling because you already instinctively know them. You tell stories every day.
When you told your spouse over dinner last night what happened at work yesterday, that was a story. When you reported to your boss how your meeting with a client or prospective client went, that was a story. When you interviewed for your current job and the interviewer asked you why you wanted to work in this business, you told a story.
In content creation, I think, we’re often guilty of overreaching. We feel we need to be authoritative but our words end up weak and empty. That’s because we’re not telling stories. But there’s always a story behind everything we know. We talk about “thought leadership,” but thoughts don’t just pop, fully formed, into our heads. We know what we know because things have happened to us and we have learned from those experiences.
If you’re looking for stories, you’ve got tons of them.
Last week I wrote about a method we use at my agency for getting feedback and direction from clients on potential blog articles. Among the questions we ask clients for each blog title is, “Can you provide examples from your experience of dealing with the situations discussed in the article?” I think this is the most important question we can ask our clients, yet it’s the one that almost always goes unanswered. Maybe it’s because we’re afraid of talking about real life, because real life isn’t perfect. Things don’t always go the way we want them to or expect them to. But real life is where our customers live and it’s where we live and it’s what our blog articles should be about.
If you’re struggling with what to write about in your blog, or what to ask your clients about, start with what you (or they) did today and what you (or they) learned from it. Don’t worry, if something different happens tomorrow and you learn something that contradicts what you learned today, you can write about that, too. That’s the power of story; it helps people understand why we think what we think.