Storytelling in Technical Writing
5 min read
Storytelling is a very important skill in life. It is something that everyone does in their own way.
When I first started my youtube and blogging journey, I had no idea that a good story would be the key to success. And I don't just mean success in the terms of having more views on my videos, or likes on my tweets.
Let me explain, when I started taking my online presence seriously, it was just before Covid hit. I was a programmer at home with more free time on my hands and I saw this one article about some person called Florin Pop who had grown his audience from 0 to 30 thousand in a month. I thought to myself, I could do that.
Well, I was wrong and right. I first started writing on my blog and posting tweets and youtube videos. I would share them on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, anywhere really to get visibility. It worked a little, but honestly, it failed. I would get a few likes, a few views but not much retention any many people didn't come back to revisit new work I did.
It wasn't that I was a bad writer, or that I lacked content, I was putting out great tutorials, going into depth about technical topics, and trying my hardest to put out a level of quality that was on par with other tech blogs.
What I lacked was a different approach to getting my content out there. That edge, that something that would make people want to read my content. What I lacked was a story.
The video that hit it off was when I did a day in my life video. That was my first viral video, and it's because there was a real story there. It was about my own life. But I realised I could apply this in both blogging and other videos.
This is when I started writing my technical posts in a story format. I would tell the story about how I came to write that article, what I learnt, and how it affected me. I would share all the hardships that I overcame to get to the end result. I would share the data that I gathered. I would share all the steps that it took to get to that there.
What makes a good story
Well, here are the main points that I learned to get people interested in my content. These are the things that will make you go viral in your niche.
- Align with your audience.
The story you write has to be something that your audience would enjoy hearing (hopefully). Developers build really awesome things all the time, but often behind closed doors. You want to give them value in your stories. You want to tell them about the work you do, the struggles you overcome. Talk about what you feel you can connect with them on. Make them feel like they are part of your story.
- Make it relatable.
Developers share common problems. Pain points. Frustrations. You can work with that to draw upon humor in your stories too. Look at other similar stories, other people who have done something similar, and take the best elements of their stories.
- Make it human.
Developers are people. So tell people about yourself, your experience. Talk about your failures, but also share your triumphs. Share the data you gathered along the way. Share how it affected you. Tell people what you learnt. The number of times you did something. The mistakes you did. The hardships you overcame.
Storytelling in Technical Writing
The best way to kickstart a story based blog is to start from a real life experience. Look at the common problems you have, like learning a language, or a new skill in a framework, and tell a story about how you overcame them. That will be a story developers can connect with.
- Build the story around a Problem, Solution, and Struggle.
This will help you improve the kind of written or video content you create. This will pave the way to a successful audience and will put you in front of people or companies you might not have otherwise had an opportunity to. And it will help you in other aspects too
Jobs, Pitching and Work
I've told you a story about how I learned the importance of storytelling, but what I didn't tell you was that I used it to get my job. Instead of simply saying the skills I have, when I applied, I told them a story of my struggles and how I overcame them, and how it helped me.
Also, writing a blog that tells a story will help you find clients, find jobs, and yes, even get better work.
If you write a blog, and share it with your audience, and one of those people is the right fit for your skills and career, and they see your blog and connect with it, and they offer you a job, and you accept it. That isn't luck. That is an opportunity created by storytelling.
I started communicating better with my friends about my experiences in life, and with strange ones too.
To create content, you need an idea. To get an idea, you need to ask yourself the right questions. To get the right questions, you need to ask yourself the right questions about your stories. And to get to those right questions, you need to open up and be honest with yourself.
When you ask these questions, look at them as a story. Ask yourself if you would want to read it, be a part of it. Make the story relatable or funny or something that people can connect with. And then share that story with the world.
Do this, and you can go from a just Developer to a Blogger, Storyteller, Educator, and much more.