It’s the middle of February. Technically, we’ve only been in tax season for two weeks since we couldn’t even START until January 31. But I’m already planning my after-tax-season reward. (My family owns a tax practice, in case you’re wondering why I mention tax season!)

What does this have to do with writing, publishing, or blogging?

Because my after-tax-season reward is a five-day long backpacking trip along the Verde River. And I’m already starting to collect notes for the book I’ll write after the adventure!

Let me tell you about the trip so you have a frame of reference. Ben (and Pete-dog) and I are being dropped off at the bridge at Perkinsville Ranch the afternoon of April 16th (Wednesday). Our pull-out point is 23 miles upriver at the bridge at Old Highway 89. This happens to be the headwaters of the Verde River. Since it’s such a long trip, I’ve already started getting in shape to be hauling a 35 pound pack up hills and around bushes. Oh, by the way, there’s no trail! I’m calling it the bridge-to-bridge trip and have been boring the tax clients to death talking about it!

Bridge at Perkinsville Ranch along the Verde River.

Bridge at Perkinsville Ranch along the Verde River.

So what am I doing differently about this writing project than any other project? Well, first off, even though this is a non-fiction project, like most of what I write, it’s a very different type of project because I’m planning a memoir of sorts about the trip. It’ll be non-fiction insomuch as that the trip actually HAPPENED but I want to write it with all the tension and story arcs that usually accompany fiction.

  • There will be characters: me, my boyfriend Ben, his dog Pete.
  • There will be tension: hopefully just the type with weather, flora, fauna, and sore muscles.
  • There will be change or growth in the character: I’m a different person now than I’ll be at the end of the trip.

Staying true to my non-fiction, how-to loving roots, I’m also planning on incorporating a bunch of backpacking tricks and tips that I discover both in the planning stages and once the trip is underway. And I know what I DON’T want the book to be like: boring! I’ve read a few memoirs recently that were set during really fascinating periods in the authors’ lives. But the narrative reads more like a grocery list than an exciting adventure.

While on the trip, I’ll be sucking it up and hauling the extra weight for a journal and writing utensils. (I’m not an ultra-light backpacker, by any stretch of the imagination but I don’t usually pack extra stuff either!) I’ll be taking lots of notes; not only about what happens (facts) but also about the “other” stuff, the emotional side of the journey.

Then, when I’m at home, I’ll weave the more factual, how-to information, into the narrative of the trip.

I’m sure you’re wondering by now how am I going to make this relevant to you, right?

Let me ask you this: have you been engaged with my story so far? Have you imagined what you would do if you decided to undertake this adventure? Maybe you’ve thought about just how much a 35 pound backpack weighs. Or what sleeping in a tent for four nights would feel like. Imagining what you’d take to eat.

By telling you something personal and letting you help me dream-build about my trip, I’m engaging you into my article.

Rather than just a boring article that says:

Use personal stories, client examples, and metaphors to help your clients engage with your content.

I’m illustrating the concept by explaining about my trip.

But I want to caution you to always keep the end in mind. The goal of this article is to illustrate how using a story can help your readers engage with fact-based materials. However, in my excitement about my trip, it very easily could have JUST turned into an article about this upcoming trip. And while that may be interesting to some, it really has nothing to do with the focus of my business.

Always keep the end in mind but use personal stories to help your readers resonate with your message, learn more about you as a person, and engage with your content. There’s a saying in network marketing that is 100% applicable when you’re writing:

Facts tell but stories sell.

Stories can be about you personally or about the results or successes that your clients have achieved. When you interject more of your personality into the article, your readers feel like they know you and you become more of a real person. This really increases your know, like, trust factor.

So try it in your own writing. Instead of just relating the facts, open yourself up and really share with your readers!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

And if you’re interested, I’m resurrecting an old blog of mine, TieYourBoots.com, to hold my pre-trip articles. These will be along the lines of planning, ideas for packing, products that I’ll be evaluating for the trip, etc.

Find me!

Kimberly Eldredge

Kimberly is an author, illustrator, and entrepreneur. She helps coaches, speakers, and authors take the content they already have and FINALLY get their book written and published.
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8 Responses to Using Stories to Engage the Readers

  • What a great example of how to do this! Stories are such a great way to make it more interesting and personal :-)

  • I loved your story and it made the article easy to read, plus it was a great example of the subject matter! I am a hiker too and am dreaming of when the weather gets better so I can get out and hit the great outdoors! Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • What great tips! I have a weekly video series on my blog for fitness tips and today someone told me I needed to entertain them more during the videos. I think they were sad that I was back to a normal video after a silly one I made for a contest I entered, but it’s a good thing to consider. Delivery is key to helping our message stick. Thank you :)

    • You bring up a great point, Catherine! Engaging your audience is the same regardless of medium. Let’s see the funny videos!

  • Great story and great point, Kimberly! Your old blog sounds very interesting too – I think it’s the story aspect peeking an interest!
    Sue Paananen recently posted…Email Marketing – How to Master This SkillMy Profile

  • What a fantastic example of story telling. I’m grinning over here as I think about how much I would not want to take your trip! However, I love your idea of blending non-fiction facts with a little fiction drama. I’ve been doing that more on my blog recently and have had some good response.
    Stephanie Calahan recently posted…Get Your Message Out Farther by Getting Rid of Your Visibility Blocks (Part 2)My Profile

    • Stephanie,

      You crack me up! Ben & I were JUST talking today about how excited we are and about my plans to beef up on the exercise in the next three weeks to get my muscles ready for the trip.

      Don’t worry, you can adventure vicariously: I’ll send you pictures!