It’s one thing to have bursts of inspiration…
…It’s quite another to develop them into compelling pieces of online content
I was on the phone the other day with a speaker who is looking to dive more into creating online content with the brand new lifestyle portraits we just created.
Since I’m a big fan of getting into the weeds with people about creating social posts and blog articles, I started spitting out the why behind creating a memorable online presence through the creation of compelling and valuable content. I told him that he wants all of his online content to either inform, entertain and/or inspire his audience into action.
I then dove into the importance of generating idea nuggets, and how they are the backbone of your storytelling strategy.
These are the insights, conversations, and moments that happen throughout your day – work and personal lives – that are the sparks of inspiration to create these compelling and valuable pieces of content.
Then, I started talking to him about the relationship between these idea nuggets and the image content that he now has at his disposal. The images, I explained, visually punctuate the sentiment of every story that he wants to share, whether it’s for social media, blog articles, an ad, presentation or even copy on his website.
As I was about to dive deeper on how to leverage his photos, he backtracked for a second and asked me:
“How do you develop an idea nugget into an actual post?”
Now, there’s a lot of books that have been written on this subject. You know, the Greeks and Romans put in a lot of work on this subject already, 🙂
Over the years, I’ve gleaned some valuable information on storytelling development from these foundational pillars.
But, as I’ve embarked on creating content that resonates with my audience, I’ve created my own customized framework in order to develop a process that makes sense to me.
Essentially, I break down online content development into 4 primary storytelling sections:
- Opening Spiel
- Meat And Potatoes
- The Closer
- Call To Action
But before I dive into what each of these sections mean to overall story development, let’s start at the beginning.
IDEA NUGGET CREATION
While I’m going about my day-to-day work and an interesting idea enters my consciousness, I’ll make sure that I write it down in my phone. Now, for you, that might mean writing it down on a post-it, whiteboard in your office or in a notebook.
The key here is that you’re writing it down and protecting it from your shitty memory that fails you on a minute-by-minute basis – especially in this hectic, short attention span world in which we live.
In some cases, I’ll go ahead and develop the idea immediately from my phone, or I’ll store it away for a rainy day and develop it at a later time.
Regardless of when I further develop it, the first step is to figure out what this idea nugget represents in the grand storytelling scheme.
Does it represent a teachable moment for my audience? Is it an actionable step for them? A funny and catchy title? A revealing statement about what motivates me as a human being? An example of my expertise? Does this share the type of experience I offer clients? Is this an interesting zinger that can be used to wrap up the post?
Or, does this idea nugget serve to inspire a completely different idea altogether?
Once there’s more context placed around this particular string of words with respect to the value it offers my audience, the next step is to determine where they fall within the storytelling structure I mentioned above.
Let’s take a closer look at these sections to help you understand their purpose.
DISSECTING THE STORYTELLING SECTIONS
What can I say, I’m a fan of Yiddish words, 🙂
Set the scene of your post by sharing a story that eases the audience into the point of this piece of content. This story introduces and reinforces the need for audience members to keep reading because they are going to learn something valuable, whether it’s related to their pain points or related to them getting to know you better.
What does the opening spiel look like?
Well, if we look closer at this article, the idea nugget that I had written down that spawned this article was simply:
Create an article that talks more about idea nugget maturation – from a thought to a post.
When I sat down to develop that insight-inspired nugget into a compelling and valuable story, I remembered a conversation I had with a client in the not-too-distant past about this very topic.
I realized immediately that was going to be the topic of my opening spiel.
Now, that’s one specific way to create an opening story, but there are many ways to open your post:
- Start with a question that relates directly to a particular client friction point
- Start off with misdirection – walk your audience down the “wrong” path before you grab their hand and course-correct them in the rest of the post
- Create a contrast between the way you used to think about a topic, and how you approach it now (which represents the teachable moment for your audience)
- Pull a quote from something you read that relates in one way or form to the lesson you want to share with those you serve
- Share an observation that inspired a particular way of thinking about a topic
- Share something that places you in a position of vulnerability
Regardless of how you begin your story, create an emotional connection and relate it to the reader from the very first sentence, and that will hook people in with your opening spiel and give them a reason to continue reading.
Meat And Potatoes
I like the phrase meat and potatoes because, for me, it symbolizes sustenance – the true value of what you’re sharing with those you serve. The opening spiel, however you choose to craft it, serves to move people directly into this section.
These are teachable moments – actionable steps, deep insights, and further elaboration – that your audience can take away and implement into their own businesses and lives.
Whether you’re providing them insight that illustrates your expertise, life as a business owner or life as a human being, this is the section where you flesh out these important story points.
Taking this article as an example, the meat and potatoes is the storytelling framework that I’m fleshing out for you now.
This is the takeaway that I want to impart to everyone reading this so they can create and implement a smoother and more fluid storytelling process.
Still got room in your belly for more? Cool – let’s keep it going, shall we? 🙂
After you tickle them with a feather of value in the meat and potatoes section of your post you then need to tie a bow on this piece of content that ties everything together.
How do you approach this? You could:
- Summarize what you’ve shared in a way that distills the important pieces into a handful of sentences
- Share the potential results of them being actionable in the way you describe in the meat and potatoes section
- Write a punchy and quick-witted closing paragraph that allows your personality to shine
- Add a twist to the story and allow your audience to see everything you just shared with them in a more valuable and beneficial context
- Offer them a motivational kick in the ass to get them moving in a positive direction
- Create an emotional and touching conclusion that will resonate with your audience beyond the information itself
I have a bit more to go before I reveal my closer, so hang tight for it. I can tell you that it’s related to one of these above examples – and that’s all I’m telling you for now, 🙂
Why do we need one of these?
Although it’s great to impart valuable and compelling content, it’s important to include a next-step.
After all, we’re not in the business of posting content simply to throw out into the world and enlighten a couple of folks. We’re looking to build relationships with a community of folks that we serve and establish our value to them.
We also need them to know HOW we offer that unique value.
With that in mind, what do you want your audience to do once they’ve consumed this particular piece of content?
- Pose a question to incite engagement on this post
- Provide a link to sign up for your newsletter
- Point them towards more content related to this topic in your blog
- Encourage them to follow you on social media
- Have them sign up for a webinar/workshop/online course related to the information shared in this post
- Pick up the phone and call you for a consultation
Each piece of content that you create has its own call to action, so, you can think of different and interesting ways to allow your audience to further connect with you beyond the post itself.
Don’t flood your audience with multiple calls-to-action – keep their effort simple by only using one per piece of content.
I haven’t figured out my call to action yet for this post, but I’ll have something by the time we get there, don’t worry, 🙂
AHEM…AND NOW, THE CLOSER
Creating consistent and valuable content is a pain in the ass, there’s no doubt about it. Even when we have interesting idea nuggets at our disposal, it’s still challenging to build entire stories around them.
That’s why it’s essential to have a framework in place to help facilitate the storytelling strategy process.
My hope is that the framework in which I leverage on a daily basis helps you in your efforts to create memorable, compelling and valuable online content.
Now, take what you’ve learned and go write some magical content, will ya?
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