Welcome to this free, on-the-blog series “Blissful Blogging.” This series includes tons of great tips and strategies on how you can create a blog that you can feel happy about, that doesn’t stress you out(!), and that meaningfully connects with others so that you have excellent content, authentic readers, better traffic, and overall happy vibes. Here are our posts in this series —
- PART 1- How blogging can help you live meaningfully
- PART 2 – How to tell stories about your life, work and passions on your blog
- PART 3 – How to use photos, images and creativity in a meaningful way on your blog
- PART 4 – Growing your blog readership authentically and meaningfully.
This week, let’s talk about how to tell stories about your life, work and passions using your blog platform.
OK, to start with, I wanted to give you a bit of history about blogging:
- Blogs began as journals. Hence, the name “web-log,” which was shortened to “blog”.
- The first blog was by a college student from Swarthmore College named Justin Hall, whom Wikipedia credits as “the first blogger”, and who was mentioned in the New York Times as “the founding father of personal blogging“. He was one of the first people who documented daily life using a journaling platform. He wrote about college life, what he was learning, stuff he was doing. (Factoid: Justin just celebrated his 20th year as a blogger last January 27! Read his post on his blog.)
Now, here’s my personal history as a blogger:
- I began my first blog in 2001, on pitas.com. It was a daily journal, a place where I’d write about anything under the sun: love, my struggles, my religious beliefs; mostly introspection.
- I deleted the pitas.com blog in 2003 to concentrate on website management, including one of the first social networks in the Philippines, genrev.net from 2002 to 2005.
- It wasn’t until I started blogging again during my pregnancy in 2009 that I began documenting my life again. I called the blog “My Name is Vito“, after my son. It was a free WordPress.com blog that was more like a baby book about my son, and through it, blogging came alive for me again.
- I began my third and final blog, Dainty Mom, in 2010 on Blogger. It went on to become an award-winning blog, before it finally helped me launch a writing business, a blogging workshop, and a workshop series for work-at-home moms.
As you can see, blogs have a way of telling one’s life story in a way that a book can’t. You follow someone in real time, through whatever they choose to share on their blog. It’s a powerful, influential platform that can even help a person live our their best life.
But, before a blog can help you launch a business, build a network, or become something that serves a great purpose, it has to do one thing well, and that’s telling a story.
GOOD BLOGS TELL GOOD STORIES.
As I’ve spent more time in the blog world, there are certain bloggers I’ve “stayed with” throughout the years. They all have one thing in common: They know how to tell great stories. Now, this doesn’t mean that all of these bloggers use words or write long blog posts. It’s the way they are able to keep me interested in them that makes them bloggers worth following. Whether they’re photo-bloggers, video bloggers or the regular narrative bloggers, they all tell their stories very well, in a way that makes me love them, trust them and value them.
And so, I came up with my own way of explaining how these bloggers write blog posts. I first showed this diagram during Blog:Inspired last year, but it’s the first time I’m sharing it on the blog. I call it “The Anatomy of a Meaningful Blog Post.” It’s a simple way of remembering the key components in a blog post that (1) tells a story, and (2) imparts meaning and a call to action to the reader.
This format works for any type of blog media, whether you’re a photo-heavy, video-oriented or (like me) a narrative-type blogger.
ANATOMY OF A MEANINGFUL BLOG POST
Having some kind of structure for your blog post can help you tell your story better. This is a great format for any type of story you want to write, whether it’s about work, life, or your passions/advocacies. Here’s how to use this blog post format for every post you’ll write from here on.
1. The Head. The “head” of a blog post is the overall idea or topic. It answers the question, “What is the theme of your blog post?” and “What is my main story for this blog post?” It provides the direction for the blog post, and guides all the other elements.
For example: Zen Habits’ Leo Babauta has lots of brilliant “heads” on his blog. He gives straightforward titles so that you’ll want to click on each post and keep on going, because you know you’re going to find something helpful and meaty in each post. A clear idea, a clear topic; that’s the “head” of a blog post.
2. The Grabber: In journalistic writing or in social media writing, a “grabber” is that little bit of text or copy that “hooks” you to read on. It answers the question, “Why will my readers want to keep on reading this blog post”? Think of those status updates that you almost always click on on Facebook or Twitter: See how they “hook” or “grab” you so that you click on the link and read on? Well, it’s the same on a blog post: While planning your post, think about what will make your readers read on.
For example: My blog post on “Bad Mommy Days” got lots of hits, because the words “mommy” and “guilt” are total grabbers. Every mom can relate with these two words and this type of story, making the post a “grabber”, something that pulls other readers in because it is relatable, familiar.
3. The Heart: These are the main points of reflection or realization in your blog post. These are what truly make the post meaningful. It answers the question “What will make my opinions and insights unique?” and “What will make my readers think about their own experiences?” This is where you usually ask probing, rhetorical questions that have made you think, but will also make your readers think and reflect. Questions and statements often make good “heart” points.
For example: I wrote a post on “Why I’m a Work at Home Mom and Blogger”, wherein I posted a number of statements about my beliefs. These allowed me to process my thoughts, as well as provide readers with talking points of their own. These statements are the “heart” of the post.
4. The Feet: Known as a “call to action,” this is the part of a blog post that encourages an action from the reader. This answers the question “How will I help my readers keep talking about what I’ve written?” The feet can go beyond your comments section and spill on over to your Twitter feed, Facebook updates and other social media channels where you talk to your readers.
For example: Read any of my blog posts, and you’ll find that I always ask readers to leave comments or tell me their views, after they’ve read a blog post. This is one way of encouraging interaction and conversation on the blog, which is one of the best ways to build a relationship and “walk with” your readers. That’s why calls-to-action are the “feet” of a blog post.
I hope this post has shown you how you can create blog posts that can make your readers relate, reflect and take action in their own lives, even blogs. This format can work for any blog topic that you want to start and end on a meaningful note, and as I mentioned, any media: photo blogs, video blogs, and regular text-driven blogs.
Looking at your current blog posts, is there a flow to them that makes your readers relate, reflect and take action? Let’s discuss this in the comments and see how we can help each other.
This week, try writing a blog post with the “Anatomy of a Meaningful Blog Post” format. Does it make the writing process simpler or not? When you write the blog post, remember to link back to this Blissful Blogging post as well.