Reader alert: this post expands on my previous blog post: Designing an About Story for a Swiss Travel Blogger

Story ROI Test

Readers of travelmemo.com or other blogs are justifiably selfish. Everyone deserves a minimal return for our time investment.
Our mind unconsciously asks:
1. Does your story make me care?
2. Does your story show me what’s at stake?
3. Does your story tell me what you want me to do next?

Next is Walter’s original ABOUT page texts.
My comments of how well it satisfies the Story ROI Test for a passive travel blog reader are below.

ABOUT TRAVELMEMO.COM
travelmemo.com is a travel blog on ‘luxury destinations’ worldwide. Discerning couples enjoy inspirational travel reports from city trips, tours, boutique and design hotels, golf, wellness and spa resorts as well as gourmet restaurants.

+Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create travelmemo.com.

For six years, Walter was in charge of developing web initiatives for two leading Swiss tour operators: Kuoni Group and Hotelplan. He was part of a team of experts that collaborated to create various innovative websites. During this time, Walter’s assignments were predominantly in Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Italy. Furthermore, Walter‘s formal training as an architect has provided him with expert knowledge in visual communications – a skill that has contributed greatly to develop his photographic eye, which he spends time to perfecting at every opportunity.

Still in its early stages, travelmemo.com has grown quickly, due in part to Walter’s current successful blog; a (German-language) Swiss travel blog (http://reisememo.ch) and the valuable social media resources that he acquires with his current position as a business development manager.

What Can Make Your Experience Better?
The main focus of this blog is to inspire travelers to expand their horizons and make the most of their worldwide adventures. We are happy when we inspire others to dream more, learn more and do more.

The main topics include unique accommodations, fine dining, romantic escapes, inventive activities, detailed itinerary suggestions, exceptional golf courses and much more!
Please contact us with any suggestions or requests for specific destinations, locations or events.

Applying the Story ROI Test

1. Does your story make me care?
2. Does your story show me what’s at stake?
3. Does your story tell me what you want me to do next?

In travelmemo.com’s older version reproduced verbatim above, Walter clearly explains “what” his blog is about and “how” he is uniquely qualified to publish it.

Test 1: Does his story make me care?

What I’m missing is that crucial “why factor” we all crave. Remember for purposes of this exercise, my role is a passive travel reader, with no specific current or future travel agenda.

Walter’s explanations of what his blog features doesn’t make me seriously care one way or another about his choice of destinations – or care about Walter himself. Not that I doubt his sincerity. Very likely he does have a passion of photography (his photos show that), for boutique and design hotels, for golf, wellness and spa resorts. I don’t care at this point because I don’t know “why” Walter is passionate about these things or his blog.

Pause with me here for a second; a blog reader will likely forgive the blogger reviewing destinations that are not their cup of tea – premier golf courses for example if you are not a golfer – but you, the blog publisher, will never know because your readers won’t care enough about you to even leave a curt comment like “my husband plays golf – I want reviews about romantic bed & breakfasts in Ireland.” And what you don’t know you can’t fix. You’ll be left trying to decipher high bounce rates or low time-on-site analytics.

Test 2: Does his story show me what’s at stake?

What are the stakes for me if I don’t click further or return later to his blog? Does he tell or show me any valuable lessons that would save me time or money from having a bad travel experience? Not really. Thankfully, Walter didn’t try to put lipstick on his matter-of-facts with startling data preceded by creative adjectives. A common trick that annoys readers more than titillates.

But if Walter told me what was at stake for his blog, and the consequences of failure, I would likely have clicked further, read deeper; because I might learn something that might be useful in my life’s journey. Even something as quotidian as the risk of losing his office job while publishing a travel blog in his spare time.

Test 3: Does his story tell me what he wants me to do next?

The third Story Test question, of particular importance for bloggers or anyone selling an idea, product or service: did Walter’s ABOUT text tell me what he wants me to do next? Well sort of: the last sentence appeals for feedback, and if you scroll to the bottom, there’s a request to subscribe in the site’s footer. Unfortunately, too little too late.

The problem isn’t about asking for comments or shares, or whether it should be in sidebar, footer or pop-up; the problem is how you’re asking for it. In my Story Workshops, the first step we nail down in designing a good story is to KNOW YOUR STORY’S PURPOSE and the action you want the reader to take during or after reading it are closely linked.

Everything in your story needs to work together to serve that ONE purpose. For a travel blogger like Walter, his About story’s purpose is to get people so engaged in his blog, they spontaneously desire to vicariously participate in more travelmemo.com experiences.

When you win your reader’s heart with a good story, it’s natural  they’ll want to share, comment, contact or buy from you (again).

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