On an average day, I probably skim through about 200 web sites. Most of these I subscribe to in my Google Reader, so that I can quickly scan the headlines and in some cases, the first bits of content for items of interest. Of those 200 items, I probably scan the body content of about 75. Of those 75, I probably read between 15 and 25. Of those, I probably am compelled to comment on 2-10 items.

We all want to figure out the secret sauce for getting more traffic to our content. The problem with only counting page views is, just because someone lands on a page of our site, doesn’t mean they are reading everything. They could be just like me – skimming for something interesting. If they don’t find it, they move on. That’s why I believe the more important things to track are comments, re-posts/shares, inbound links, and bounce rate. Those are not guarantees that people are reading, but they are a lot more reliable gauges than page views alone.

So how do we encourage people to actually READ and LEARN from what we are offering? How do we compel our readers to ACT upon what we’ve shown them – whether it’s to change a behaviour, or buy a product we are selling? I’ve broken it down to one simple concept.

Tell a great story.

Once upon a time I wanted you to buy my stuff. One of the biggest mistakes that people make online is they move to the sales pitch too fast. I like how Chris describes it – “I’m reaching out to shake your hand and you’re trying to put your tongue in my mouth.” If your blog post is entirely made up of you talking about how important you are and why everyone loves you and how much people pay you to do things, I’m moving on. I might even unsubscribe. If, the very first time I hit your web site, I see your squeeze page asking me to give you my email address or buy your $50 e-Book or $500 workshop, I’m outta there. For Pete’s sake, I don’t even know you yet!

Look. We all want to build our businesses. We all want to get to the end goal, being profitable, as quickly as possible. Many people are desperate – they’ve given up everything to start their companies, and now the cash flow isn’t there. The problem is, real sales takes time. People have to get to know you, trust you. They want to make sure they are getting something of value in return if they are going to give you some of their hard earned cash. It’s only fair that we respect that and be patient with our prospects.

And you’re right – it totally sucks having to be patient.

But rather than sitting around doing nothing, wondering why your hard-sell pitches aren’t working, why not focus on building up the reasons why people should want to be involved with you? Why not work on telling a better story about yourself?

My mind is a blank slate. Have you ever tried to write your own bio? It’s hard, eh? Difficult as it is, I think that anyone who wants to create content online MUST start by putting together their bio. Writing about yourself is a really great way to start to understand what you’re all about. And understanding what you’re all about is key to telling a great story. It’s a good idea to have someone else to help you with the bio. Ask them to interview you, or simply send them a draft that they can give you feedback on. Often, we are too modest when writing about ourselves, so our bios sound just like everyone else’s. But just going through the process of writing a bio can help you to understand a bit more about yourself, and getting someone else’s take can make you realize what you do and what you know that is of real value.

Once you understand more about who you are and what you have to offer, you can start to build stories around that.

Let’s say your background is in the telecommunications industry. You worked for 10 years with various major telcos, and this has given you a great understanding of how big companies work. You were a team leader there, so you have lots of insight into team building, empowerment, and creating successful collaborations. You were also there during the boom years AND the bust years of high tech, so you know all about how cutbacks can affect morale, and you’re an expert on survivor guilt.

How many story ideas are there in that last paragraph? Count them.

Write your bio. Then write a list of stories you can tell that relate to your experience. Start publishing those stories. And remember, if writing isn’t your bag, you don’t have to write. Grab a web cam, record your thoughts on video and put them up on YouTube. Get a portable audio recorder, create an audio podcast. Sure, you might feel weird at first, but with practice, you’ll get more comfortable, I promise.

Every piece of content that exists in the world is a story. In order to create great content, you have to be able to find the story in everything you do. Then, you have to sit your butt in the chair and express it.

Build stories and share. Build stories, and share.

I bet that before you know it, opportunities will be pouring in from people who want to hear more of your story. Sounds like a much more enjoyable way to make a living, don’t you think?

By the way – there are 8 story ideas in that paragraph. Did you find them all?

6 Responses

  1. Awesome post. Everybody has a story, most are either too afraid to tell it or too afraid to look for it.

    I had my bio written by a professional, there was no way I could write about myself what she did. I always felt like a braggart just writing my accomplishments down. She didn't. She had no problem digging even deeper and finding accomplishments I had long forgotten about.

    We tend to write off our experiences and under value them, it's human nature.

    I got six stories right away, I had to go back and look for the other two.

  2. Patience is a virtue not a business plan. Sales is delicate work and the timing can be tricky when assuming what's right for the other person in the conversation. But as you and CB point out – let's have a chat before we start flinging resumes and offerings at each other.

    I have always struggled with the sales side of my business because I love stories and unicorns and I get too focused on sharing ideas. Then the bank gently reminds me that patience, time, trust, followers, connections, blog comments and relationships are not their preferred mortgage payment option.

  3. What most bloggers don't understand is that people needs human touch in order to get their interest. In order to offer something to others one must connect with them and not just offer them something out of the blue.

    It takes time and awareness on the part of the blogger to master this principle. If he/she is wise, he/she would capitalize on this aspects. 🙂

  4. Great article, and I agree with the comments so far. Now, if only there were a way to stop people writing false stories. You know what I mean – the made-up stories marketers write because someone told them stories engage and sell.


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