What story are you trying to tell with your blog? 

Can you explain that story in one sentence?

Can you explain it in one word? 

These are the questions Wade Kwon posed to us at Friday’s Bloggers Who Brunch event on the art of digital storytelling. We had about 30 people gather in the side room of Nabeel’s for an afternoon of lunching and learning.

Wade Kwon speaking on the art of digital storytelling

“You’re telling a story with your blog,” Wade told us. “As storytellers you’re not just dealing with story or narrative, you’re dealing with a theme.”

If you’re having trouble determining the theme of your blog, summing up your site with one word or one sentence will help.

“The one word or one sentence can help you when you get stuck,” Wade said.

Your one sentence, your one word, can help you through writer’s block and help you make important decisions about your blog such as what to include and what to exclude and the different ways you will share your story. These days we have so many channels outside of our blogging and writing with which to tell our story — such as Twitter,  Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Vine.

The theme could also help you decide if your audience will help tell the story. Will they be part of the narrative? Will they help shape it? You can include your readers in a number of ways from allowing them to leave comments to asking them to share stories of their own.

One thing that’s important to remember, Wade reminded us, is that with digital storytelling your audience is not experiencing your story from start to finish the way we experience books or films.  In digital storytelling there is no clear beginning, middle, and end.

“It’s all middle,” Wade said. Therefore your theme has to permeate every post because that post might be the only chapter a person reads of your story.

We had over two dozen bloggers attend this lunch event. 

In addition to theme, it’s important to determine voice and brand. Do you want your blog to be serious? Authoritative? Warm? Collaborative? If your site has a number of contributors how will you include diverse voices while maintaining a distinct brand? Your theme can help you do that.

If you’re sitting there staring at the screen thinking you have no idea how to describe your voice or brand, and if you’re thinking you have no idea what story you’re striving to tell with your blog, that’s OK. The answers to these question will become clearer in time. But you must keep writing.

Being persistent and consistent are key, Wade advised. Keep blogging and eventually your voice will be stronger and your fan base will grow larger, too.

During his talk Wade shared a story about the great success Birmingham blogger Tanya Sylvan had with a recent post. In her post Birmingham — I Run This Town, Tanya composed a photo essay of her favorite sites to see when she runs through downtown Birmingham. Tanya’s blog tells the story of her running adventures and in this post she included her love for Birmingham and her love for photography as well. The post went viral and her readership increased by 300 percent. But Tanya, who attended Friday’s lunch, stressed that this was not her goal when she wrote this post. She just wanted to show why she loves running downtown.

The point is simple: be authentic. Whatever the story of your blog may be, tell it with passion and sincerity. That’s a story people are going to want to read.

Today is the last day to register for the Y’all Connect social media conference, where you can learn even more about digital storytelling. Use SJW89 to receive a $30 discount. Click here for more details.