Give me a few minutes in any store, and inevitably, I’ll get into a conversation with a stranger. My friends and family tease me for it, but it’s one of the reasons I majored in journalism. People love to tell stories, and I love to hear them.
So, when we meet out in the suburban wilderness that is my local mini mall, we talk.
For example, as I walked through the supermarket parking lot last week, the security guard shouted a Doctor Who reference in my direction then approached me. That’s what happens when you wear a fandom shirt. Instead of being freaked out, you end up asking a complete stranger, “Who is your favorite doctor?” (pun completely intended) and you get to hear a 10-minute analysis of the character and how he’s similar yet different to his regenerations.
The week before that, I asked the clerk at an art supply store whether he had some extra Hello Kitty erasers available (they’re perfect for my hand-drawn coloring books), and he launched into a very long story about why he loves cute and tiny things, especially Japanese products, and how he has “little boy feet” and owns pink shoes with Hello Kitty designs and socks that match them.
Those types of interactions happen regularly to me. A few words exchanged, I ask something, and the person starts sharing something about himself or herself that’s strange, silly, or delightful. Sometimes, all three.
This curiosity about others is why I majored in journalism and why, of the two websites I have, this one hasn’t been updated for a long time and why my other site has steady traffic and comments from readers.
See, I could tell you about myself—random facts pouring out of me like candy from a piñata—but a narrative is better. Readers want to hear a story, something that gets inside them, whether their funny bone, heart, or brain. The story changes something in them, so that, after hearing, reading, or seeing it, they leave you better-informed, better-loved, or just… better.
WIITTR? (What’s in It for the Reader?)
At MarketingProfs, where I was a senior content writer and editor for nearly eight years, I always had the question before me (literally, taped to my computer screen): What’s in it for the reader? As I continue to write and manage content for The Invisible Scar, a passion project dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse and its effects on adult survivors, I have that in mind as well as Why would a reader care about this? Who wants to read this? Why? What feeling do you want them to have when they leave your website?
One reason this blog was on pause for a while was because I was crafting stories for MarketingProfs full-time and spending my weekend free time on writing for my passion project. Research must be done, outlines must be scrawled, stories must be told. But not about me. About the topic, about its nuances, about what gets to heart of the reader.
Having a personal blog about me isn’t as exciting to me as telling other people’s stories. And that’s what content writers do. We find good stories and share them.
The security guard who approached me in the parking lot did speak to me about Doctor Who. In detail. A lot of detail. But I didn’t share the entirety of the conversation in this blog post because good writers also know they need editing.