Five Storytelling Strategies

When it comes to the content on your site – whether it’s a weekly blog or occasionally updating a module on the homepage – it’s never a bad idea to shake things up and offer something fresh. Your reader (and your writer’s block) will thank you.

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The Straight Up Story: Longform, traditional, journalistic – call it what you want to call it, writing in this format works great for narratives. Stick to this method if your content requires lots of description, explanation or emotion. These things are harder to capture with a charticle or slideshow. Sure, Internet users get antsier as time goes on and have less time to sit and read. But don’t let this sway you from writing a good ol’ longform blog post. Why dumb down a great story by breaking it up into bullet points, numbers and little icons?

Dear Diary: This type of content is great if you’re keeping a running journal or calendar of sorts. Maybe you’re going to Paris and what your family to follow along. Or maybe you’re trying 365 cheeses in 365 days. A lot of blog themes are already set up in a diary-friendly format. If not, use the headline. For SEO purposes, you need more than just the date in the headline, so add a brief description to beef it up for Google and let your reader know what the heck you’re writing about.

Pretty in Pictures: If your piece of content includes great photos, why not highlight the art vs. the text? Slideshows are great for how-to’s, step-by-step instructions and before/after posts. If your slideshow player is designed to recognize captions as text and count them toward SEO – you’re golden. Otherwise (and a good rule of thumb in general) you’ll want to write solid, descriptive alt text for the photos.

The Conversation: I’m a huge fan of Q&A’s because they make for quick reads and provide a fresh voice on your site – especially if that voice is one of authority or celebrity status. After the interview, don’t feel obligated to publish every question. Like other forms of content, think quality over quantity. Also, most publishers (even in the editorial business) are OK with editing/fudging quotes to enhance the flow of the Q&A. Obviously you should never change facts, and you wouldn’t do this for a quote within a story. But with Q&A’s, it’s generally acceptable to takeout the “ums” and tweak grammar.

Get Graphic: A charticle is more or a less a combo of traditional text, pictures and graphics that together form a cohesive thought – aka your headline. This format is great for lists. Top 10 this, Best 5 that, Worst Places for this other thing. Online readers are growing bored with huge chunks of text. They want to get the info and move on to the next thing – probably a cat video. So by breaking content up into shorter, prettier, more digestible pieces, they’re likely to stick with it until the end.

So next time you sit down to write a blog or update content to your site, try using one of these less traditional methods to spice up your lineup.