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...and I’m back from vacation.
I’ll be honest. I missed writing these guides while I was away in Europe “working”. If you heard the last couple episodes of “Storytalking With Lakshya” then you are aware that I was writing without typing while on my work-cation. I literally just realized that I should have written this guide while I was there! Oh well, no harm done. I’m glad to have made these guides free for all to avoid the pressure and guilt of publishing a new guide every Thursday.
So, what’s on the agenda for today? Learning from pirates.
No, not the stealing kind of pirates. Actually, in this scenario, I’ll be the one stealing from the pirates! That’s a first. Yay!
So what can we (yes, you’re complicit in this with me now) steal from pirates to apply to our storytelling journeys?
^ say that out loud to fully feel the robbery in your skull and bones.
As you may or may not know, I’m not an expert on marketing. But over the last weekend, while I was doing my civic duty of being a speaker and mentor at Startup Weekend, one of my fellow mentors introduced me to an idea that truly educated me: the Pirate Funnel, aka AARRR.
So what’s AARRR?
Acquisition - Activation - Retention - Revenue - Referral
The A3R3 model was created for “growth hacking”, i.e. when you’re trying to get more customers/consumers for your product or service without spending more money. So you literally hack the growth of your product by getting a lot of people to use it and then keep using it.
But we’re not here to talk about growth hacking or product marketing.
We’re here to use the AARRR model to become better at storytelling.
So we’re going to go a bit into a time loop to work out the benefits of this model for writing stories.
So let’s start with the first step:
While in growth hacking this step means acquiring the customer to come try your product, in the context of writing (specifically, writing here on Launchora), you’re acquiring your reader (first) by one or two or all of the following:
story cover, story title, story description.
This is the one part I can’t stress enough: you could write the greatest story ever told (btw, that’s not really a thing but stay with me on this) but if you’re not putting enough effort into the cover or title, your story has less chances of being discovered.
For example (because what’s the point of explaining something with examples?!) - my most read story is called The Night After The Wedding. And while I’d like to admit my cover and description were equally important as “acquisition” bait, I have to admit the title created curiosity within the reader. Same goes for I Want A Divorce, I Don’t Want To Sleep With You, You Only Die Once, and so on.
Long explanation-short: you want me to read your story? Draw me in with an exciting / intriguing / not-click-baity-for-the-sake-of-it cover, title, description.
Alright. So you’ve passed the first hurdle of actually bringing in the reader into your story’s metaphorical store. Now what? Well, if this was an actual store, you’d need to show me something, right away, to keep me in the store. What in heavens would that be?
Your first sentence!
I am a big fan of strong openings. Don’t overplan. Just say the thing you want your story to open with, and keep me hooked by bringing in an equally strong second sentence, and so on.
So you’ve gotten my attention, and I’ve read about 3-5 minutes of your story. Where do I go from here? Because if you just kept the strong opening to “activate” me, and then got boring or just didn’t give me any substance to keep reading, I’m going to see right through that.
So, how do you retain readers after the initial spark of the beginning?
Writing dialogue is easy for me, most of the time. But just dialogue isn’t enough. The words you have your characters say must have a meaning, must lead to development of that character, and must also (hopefully) drive the plot forward. Don’t waste your reader’s time by just writing cool lines. Tell me a story that’s actually moving forward in time.
Well, this is where we have to be a little creative with the relevance of the word “revenue”. Sure, it can mean money! If you’re selling a book or a movie, yes, you can technically make money. However, in the context of “free” content that you create, revenue can also mean growth of your audience. It can also mean eventual actual revenue! If you’re a new storyteller, you may not be able to charge for your initial stories, but once you gather enough of an audience, you can start charging them for new content. OR if you want to keep the content free, go for advertising (like we will be doing with our podcasts soon!).
This is where the first loop ends. Once you’re acquired the reader, activated them to read the story, then retained them through an engaging set of characters and plot, and possibly made some money out of it (maybe), it’s time to give them a way to refer your story to others.
Sure, it’s nice when one person likes your story. But it’s even better if they like it enough to tell a friend. So, at the end of your story, ask your readers to share it! It’s not asking for too much, and if they like it, it’s just a simple click away.
Once that first person shares your story with a friend, you start the loop again with this new reader.
There you have it - the AARRR model for storytelling. So the next time you're writing a story, just zoom out for a bit and ask yourself - does it follow the pirate model?
So, given that this guide has been about the reader loop, how about we end where we started?
AARRR you ready to be a storyteller?
Start writing now.
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