I didn’t write anything last week; well, that’s kind of a misnomer. I wrote an article for my accountant’s blog, but that’s it. I decided to take a week off to get my mind straight and come to grips with a problem many of us bloggers have… that being some of the comments on our blogs. To better describe it… I’m going to start with a little story.
I played piano from the age of 10 until the age of 40. It was a pretty interesting 30 years that started inauspiciously enough and ended with a standing ovation. Continue reading →
I’ve had a video channel for nearly 8 years, but it’s only since 2011 that I started adding videos to it. I actually have two channels, but my other channel is mainly about leadership and business topics. The channel the videos below cover includes blogging, social media and writing… as well as pretty much anything else I’m in the mood to talk about. 🙂
I was talking to my friend Kelvin yesterday and he was telling me that he was listening to some of his podcasts while driving to an event out of town. I happen to mention that sometimes I go back and watch my own videos and, if I say so myself, they’re not all that bad most of the time. Continue reading →
A bit over 4 years ago I wrote an article titled The Art Of Storytelling, where I talked about some of the stories I’ve written on this blog as it related to the topic of writing. A few days ago I came across another article where the author was purporting to talk about why storytelling wasn’t good for business but in actually he was rebutting something he’d read where the author said storytelling was bad for business. What a twist eh?
This article isn’t about writing; it’s about you, your person, your life, and what you’re ready to tell the world so that you can get what you want from it and from others. That sounds a big daunting and a little bit narcissistic, doesn’t it? It’s not; let’s talk about it.
There’s a guy named Ryan Biddulph who writes a little blog called Blogging From Paradise; some of you might know him. Basically, he blogs about his travels throughout Southeast Asia and how he gets to live a pretty good life, along with his wife, because of the success his blogging has led him to have. I learned about him through my buddy Adrienne, and checked out his blog and read some of his life story before deciding to buy his book, Blogging From Paradise (well played Ryan lol).
It’s a pretty good book but truthfully, the reason I bought it is because he told a good story and I thought that the book might either be uplifting enough for me to figure out my own thing or that I might pick up a few things from it. The story he told, and continues to tell, is his own, and he’s pretty open about it (the story about giant roaches crawling on his face… okay, that one I didn’t need…).
The reality is that most of us who buy things online often buy them from people we trust and have gotten to know. A website with hundreds of thousands of visitors every day probably sells less product than someone who has 500 visitors a day who comes because they like the person whose blog or website they’re visiting. I like to talk about the “100 True Fans” concept I got from Chris Pirillo many years ago (I’m dropping a lot of names in this post aren’t i?) where he said if you could get just 100 true fans you’d probably get rich because they’d do all the marketing for you without having to be asked based on their enthusiasm, and it could carry you to ultimate success.
My wife always asks me why I talk about so many things that happen in my life through my blogs. Truth be told, I hold a lot of things back; there are stories you’re never going to read on any of my blogs because they’re none of your business (of course, if you want to learn a lot of personal stuff about me you can check out my 100 Thing About Me post); how’s that to get some of your interest? 🙂
Yet I do share a lot of stories, true things that happen in my life. I’ve had a lot of adventures that I can relate into talking about blogging, writing, leadership, diabetes… you name it, I’ve got a story for it. I tell the truths that some others might not tell; I don’t always end up looking good, though I like to say that as long as the story ends up being good, it’s all good. lol
Why do I tell these stories? One, because they have a point. Two, because sometimes they’re funny. But three, because I hope it shows that I’m a pretty real person, such that if you or anyone else decides you want to look at something I’m marketing (like my latest book, Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, or links to other books I recommend) because of the stories I tell, who knows, you might buy something that not only would put a smile on my face but a small chunk of change in my pocket. That would encourage me to write more often; who wouldn’t love that? 😉
There’s definitely a place for content that only covers “how to” topics; heck, I write some of those. But there’s also a place for writing content that passes a message along that came about because of something that happened in your life. If you can tell that story well enough to intrigue people, and you have other stories you can tell to try to get them coming back often… who knows, you might end up rich beyond your dreams.
Or at least making a living doing something you love… whatever it may be. Think about it. While you’re at it, here’s a story I told about trying to get Verizon FiOS in my house back in April. I share this because, strangely enough, it’s become the 2nd most watched video on this particular video channel; who knew?
I’ve written a lot of posts about blogging on my other blog, including some tutorial stuff, so if you want more than what I’m going to talk about in this post you can check those things out here. I find it incredible how many people I run into that, when I start talking about blogging, they start having palpitations. Did almost everyone really have that much trouble writing papers in school?
Writing is as easy or as hard as one decides it should be. Earlier this evening I was reading someone else’s blog post where the guy said he spends 6 to 8 hours writing each blog post. Most of mine takes between 10 & 15 minutes, depending on how much I write and how much internal linking or image adding I do. Most people I talk to say it takes them between 30 minutes to 2 hours to write blog posts.
Remember story writing when you were in school? The teacher told you that every story has to have a beginning, middle and end. Any time you start thinking about writing a blog post, the beginning and the end should write themselves for you most of the time. If you start with a certain point, that’s going to be one paragraph. Unless you write a list post your closing paragraph will be kind of a reiteration of what your opening premise for your post was, with a few things thrown in from the middle.
That should take care of anywhere from 50 to 100 words for you, maybe more. Since the recommendation is to try to write at least 250 words (300 or more is better) you’re already 20 – 40% of the way there.
What should your middle be? It can obviously be almost anything but what are you prepared to do? If you don’t consider yourself all that prolific then let me help you.
Let’s use baseball for this exercise. Let’s say you wanted to write something about the Boston Red Sox and their chances for winning their division in 2014. You don’t know everything about the team but you know enough to be dangerous.
In your opening paragraph you indicated you were going to talk about the Red Sox in 2014, so in your second paragraph you could start by mentioning how the team did in 2013, which included winning the World Series (yes, I’m a Red Sox fan). You could mention the immediate offseason hopes and dreams and how it all collapsed quickly (oh yeah, that’s how this season is ending; sigh…).
Then you could talk about players the team still has, how David Ortiz might fare in his final season, and so on. You could mention any new players coming into the fold and how good or bad they played the previous season.
Finally you could talk about whether you believe they improved, went backwards, or stayed the same. You could mention how you they didn’t so enough to catch the Yankees, or how management seemed to have given up on the team early by sending off its two best pitchers.
With your first paragraph pretty much done and your middle complete, your last paragraph could be a quick summary, something like “The 2014 Red Sox lost their momentum from last year’s World Series victories but looks like a contender heading into the next season. With unbridled enthusiasm and some great young players coming up it should be an exciting season next year.” That was 41 quick words, and I could have said more.
Blogging doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s not necessary to hit a home run, if you will, with every single post. Blogging isn’t meant to be a series of white papers; it’s meant to be a series of thoughts that not only help you show whatever expertise you have, but to help your main website, if your blog is attached to it, with its SEO properties. You can do this; trust me.
When I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago asking How Far Would I Go, I mentioned that I was in a story contest to try to win a free Kindle. Well, I didn’t win, and I can’t say I placed since I think there was only the main prize. Hey, that’s just how it goes sometimes.
However, I did get one critique on the story, which was a drastically cut down version my tale on meatloaf. The guy said he liked the story and laughed at it, but that I used the word “I” too many times and that if I’d tightened that up then the story might have been stronger.
Let’s talk about storytelling for a moment, if I may. Back when I wrote my series on book writing, I talked about the art of telling a story. People love stories, and the better you can tell your story, the more people love to hear it. My dad loved telling stories, and I think I got that from him. Our friends Charles, Allan and Jessica tell some wonderful true life stories. And of course there’s Hyperbole and a Half; ’nuff said.
If you’re telling a story in general, it’s often recommended that you try not to use one or two words over and over. For instance, if you’re writing fiction and your story’s main character is Henry, you shouldn’t always be writing “Harry said” or “Harry thought” or something like that all the time. The idea is to weave Harry’s name in there every once in awhile to make sure everyone knows when it’s Harry or someone else, but otherwise try to make one’s story flow better by not stopping on every sentence by saying “Harry”.
That explains writing other stories; what if you’re telling your own tale? Suddenly the rules change, at least in my mind. It’s would sound silly if you were trying to convey your thoughts and you said “there was this thought that” or “Johnny wondered” if your name was Johnny.
If you’re telling your story one would expect you to use “I” most of the time if you’re in it. For instance, I was the main protagonist in writing my stories on The Keys or the poker tournament I was in back in 2009. How else would I have told those stories without the word “I”? If it was fictionalized maybe one finds a different way, but if I, or you, are telling our own story, how ridiculous would it be without “I”?
There is an art to storytelling, though. Beginning, middle, end; that’s the script, just like the script for most songs follows a 1-4-5-1 chord progression. We want to be introduced to our hero, so to speak, early on, and then we want to see what happens to that character, and then we want to see how it’s resolved.
Stories can be short or long; in essence, they are what they are, as I stated in one of my posts on better blogging. Stories need to follow a progression; not everyone likes stories that suddenly go back in history, or take sidebars that don’t seem to have anything to do with the story.
We want it direct, in order, fleshed out as much as needed, and then concluded in a way that makes us feel something; happy, upset, or even laughing. And if it’s your story, we want to know how you felt, what you thought, and if you have to use “I” often then so be it.
Of course, I could be wrong on this, but I doubt it. As I was reading Traci Lords book Underneath It All I was struck by this thought; how could she have told her story otherwise without the frequent use of the word “I”? She couldn’t; that’s the point. If you need to use it, use it as long as it’s about you.
If it’s not about you, or you’re telling a story about someone or something else, then it shouldn’t be an issue with that word, but you need to be careful in looking at the words you do use to see if maybe there’s another choice every once in awhile.