The Awesome Power of Seemingly Pointless Stories

The Awesome Power of Seemingly Pointless Stories

Some people tell you a story always needs to have a point, but I disagree.

Sometimes, you tell a story with no other purpose than bonding with your audience.

For instance, here’s a snippet from the newsletter of Gary Halbert, perhaps the greatest copywriter who ever lived:

A few days ago, after finishing my workout, I went to a small diner and ate three steak sandwiches.  After that, I was overcome with the desire to hurt somebody.  I mean bloody their nose, blacken their eyes and kick them in the balls.

You ever have that happen to you?  You ever became enraged for no reason whatsoever?  I decided it would be a good idea to pound on the young musclehead a few feet away from me in the diner.  Then, it hit me.  I suddenly realized that if I went after him, the bastard would probably fight back!

I hate that part.  When they fight back.  I’d truly kick a lot of ass if I could find a steady supply of people who wouldn’t fight back.

Oh well.  My mood instantly evaporated.  I gave the musclehead a friendly greeting, tipped the waitress and left the restaurant with no broken bones or bruises.

What was that all about?  I really don’t know.  I haven’t a clue why that sudden rage overcame me.  Plus, I don ‘t have a clue why I’m writing about it.

So, I’ll stop.  I’ll go off on another tangent.

Hilarious, right?

Now, here’s the shocker…

Gary wasn’t writing to a bunch of juiced up jocks or martial arts fanatics. He wrote a marketing newsletter targeting business executives.

And yet he’s talking about wanting to pick a fight with random strangers!

There’s no moral to the story. He doesn’t somehow tie it back to a business lesson.

But here’s the thing…

Most business executives are men. And most men with a decent supply of testosterone will relate to the occasional, random desire to jump up and start a fight for no reason. Fortunately, they change their minds, just like Gary did, but those feelings of anger and impotence don’t go away. Worse, most men don’t have the verbal skill or courage to talk about how they feel.

So, what happens when Gary tells a story describing exactly how they feel, putting it into words better than they ever could?

He makes them feel understood.

Down deep, I think the strongest desire all audiences have is to find someone who deeply and truly understands their worldview and who can communicate better than they can. Doesn’t matter if they are business executives, stay-at-home moms, or political activists. If you can communicate the things they feel but cannot express, you own them. Forever.

So, ask yourself…

What have you experienced that your reader has also experienced but cannot put into words?

Make a list of those stories. Make a point of telling them whenever you need to create a bond with the reader.

Oh, and if you’ve never heard of Gary Halbert, you should be ashamed of yourself. Click here for a free archive of all his newsletters, and then read through them all, starting at the end and work your way up. Study them.

Gary was one of the most gifted writers to ever put a pen to paper. I never knew him, but I cried when he died in 2007. No copywriter currently alive comes anywhere close to his talent.

Rest in peace, Gary. You were crazy, but I think you were also smarter than us all.

About the Author: Jon Morrow has repeatedly asked to be called His Royal Awesomeness, but nobody listens to him, so he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger. Poor man. 😉

P.S.: What do you think of short posts like this? Want to see one every now and again? Leave me a comment, and let me know.

91 Comments

  1. Tariqsalim
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 09:34:26

    I like the longer posts. Especially when I’m really enjoying your article, which is most of the time.

    And I think it’s hard to capture an idea with shorter posts. Every reader is built differently and some might need more detail to really understand what’s going on.

    It’s kinda like reading a stupidly FAT novel, you can really get a feel for the author the more you read.

    I’m not sure if I’m explaining myself correctly? What do you think?

    But yeah, I vote for longer articles! AND I’LL SETTLE FOR NOTHING LESS! 🙂

    • Melissa Chu
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:16:55

      I think that shorter posts can be good too. I think of shorter posts as being “crunchy” – they provide food for thought and are easier reading.

      Longer posts are good for in-depth explanations and how-to’s for those times when you are really focused on learning about how a concept works.

      It’s kind of like snacks vs. sit-down meals – they each have their own benefits.

      I think a mix of short and long are good. I do that for my readers (70% long, 30% short) and people like the variety since it keeps things fresh.

      Keep up the good stuff!
      Melissa

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:33:55

      Getting some pretty passionate responses. If it keeps up, we might have to have a cage match between the long post and short post people. 😉

      • Merlot
        Apr 16, 2016 @ 16:48:46

        Or a cage match between the posters! Roar! 😉

  2. Kevin J. Duncan
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 09:48:13

    Hi Jon,

    I love a good story! True, mine usually have a point and segue into the theme of the blog post I’m writing, but the occasional “where did THAT come from” story is always fun. 🙂

    As for short posts, keep ’em coming! Last year, I wrote only short posts (“blog musings” as I called them) for three straight months. To those who were introduced to me via my long Smart Blogger (formerly Boost Blog Traffic) posts or my even longer “How to Write a Blog Post: The Definitive 10,273-word Guide” on my site, the change was surprising.

    BUT, readers loved them. If not for the fact I ran out of ideas, I’d still be writing them. 😉

    Off to tweet. Have an awesome day, Jon.

    – @kevinjduncan

  3. Jini Maxin
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 09:56:52

    Anythin’ by Jon Morrow will do. Btw, what i meant was, the post is spot-on. Point well made. When the lake water is sweet and promising enough, quench your thirst with it. Ehy exhaust your energies goin’ after the salty ocean water. To use a cliche: Good things come in small packages.

  4. Tam Francis
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:24:00

    Woo Hoo! I love that this confirms what I have been doing intuitively. Maybe b/c I’m a woman, it makes perfect sense. I’ve been trying to strike a cord with readers in just this way. Thanks for the great example and affirmation!

  5. Tim Milosch
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:25:05

    Great point about how stories increase our pathos and ethos with an audience, which contributes to greater persuasive power.

    On the surface it may not look like the story is relevant, but its communicative subtext is powerful to the end goal of Gary’s newsletter – conversion.

    Short post vs. long post? Mix it up. I think both work great. Longer, great for topical education, shorter great for quick, singular action and application. Both have educational value.

  6. Kathy Porter
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:26:11

    It’s good to mix it up. When you can hit the sweet spot every time, the length of a post is immaterial.

  7. Karen Heaster
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:32:34

    This was short? So many people these days can’t be bothered to read anything over five words (a little sarcasm there). Anyway I like the length of this one. However the point ISthe point and you made it.

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:36:29

      For us, this is really short. Most of our posts are over 3000 words. 🙂

      • Sarah Hall
        Apr 16, 2016 @ 02:03:15

        I love both your long and short posts, but I’ll admit that sometimes I have so much to do that I either skim too much or say “I’ll read this later” and then forget. I was just about to sign off for the night and might not have stayed for a longer post (long day!) but this length was perfect. So much so that I stopped to tell you so. 🙂

  8. Dave Chesson
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:42:28

    Funny that you ask that question. In my website I write really really long posts because I want to ensure I cover every step to a process and give my readers everything they need to act after reading the post.

    However, after writing a 4K article on How to Pick a Book Title, I emailed my grou and asked them if they’d prefer I break that post into four distinct other posts. Funny thing is, my readers have identified that my website is different because of the details i put into the post. Only 20% wished they were shorter…the rest were like “That’s why I read all of your stuff.”

    All of that to say, I’ve identified with your writing as a place to come and really learn the nitty gritty to the subject you are covering. However, with the article above, you made the point you needed and I learned what I needed. So, it was appropriately wrote it to the right size.

    But understand that I come to your site, prepared to read to its full extent.

  9. Anthony Metivier
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:52:05

    (Seemingly) pointless stories have definitely served me well. Just yesterday, to tell a quick story, I met a member of my core product in Beijing and he was telling me how much he likes my smooth marketing style and how I’m not pushy and take time to be relatable with vignettes.

    So I told him that I was honored to hear this, but he was shocked to learn that lots of people say the opposite: That I’m pushy and chewing up precious time with endless deviations.

    The point to my pointless story is that narratives not only draw some people closer to you, but can repel people too. I don’t know if Halbert talked about or coined the phrase “repulsion marketing,” but theoretically, you can use stories to attract the right people while weeding out ones that aren’t currently and probably never will be aligned with your message. So it works both ways.

    Thanks for the great post, by the way. I’ve always liked the short messages in Serious Bloggers Only. Those brief blasts are some of the best writing I’ve read from you.

    • Leanne Regalla
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:20:34

      Agreed on the posts in SBO, Anthony.

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:40:25

      Halbert was indeed polarizing. I used to be, back in my early days. I actually got more hate mail than all the other writers at Copyblogger combined, but I got more fan mail too. Should probably go back to writing some things like that. You’re right, it is great at getting rid of the people who aren’t a good fit for you anyway.

  10. Katharine
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 10:54:15

    Love a short story.
    Can tolerate a short post.
    Absolutely love a short story or two within a long post.
    However, if a short post can get the job done, then I suppose it’s great for those days when time is short.
    Just don’t have too many of those days. If I know everything is always a short post, I might not bother…maybe here, but not elsewhere, for sure.

  11. Philip Gardner
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:01:34

    All I can say is this – I was cleaning up my inbox by unsubscribing from the vast majority of those who send me emails.. However after reading your message I have decided that you have made the cut. Thanks for the laugh. I look forward to getting to know your work.

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:41:06

      Woohoo!

  12. Charlene Anestis
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:17:54

    A shorter post once in a while is great and this one was good and got the message across. I do prefer your longer posts that feel like a nice conversation with a knowledgeable mentor. As far as Gary’s story…Maybe he ate an angry cow 😉

  13. Leanne Regalla
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:18:44

    Love the stories! Long or short, doesn’t matter.

    Stories are great learning tools, they’re memorable, they bond with your readers and all that. But for SmartBlogger, I think they’ll also “change the pressure” on your readers – be a refreshing change of pace in other words – that keeps people on their toes, interested, and engaged.

    My prediction, anyway. 😉

    • Leanne Regalla
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:21:27

      But as I think on it, I do prefer mostly longer posts.

  14. Minuca
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:28:10

    Hi Jon,

    I love your literary style. As you said, you aren’t only a teacher, you are also a performer that understands and entertains his audience. In the last weekend I’ve read all your posts from the last 2 years and I saw all your interviews (video and audio). Your interview from The Badass Project is amazingly inspiring.

    I think you should alternate long posts with shorter posts. I also believe that your loyal readers will read everything you write, no matter the length. I also like your headline a lot. You’ve used some awesome power words in it.

    Thank you for everything you are teaching me!
    Minuca

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:42:03

      Thanks Minuca!

  15. Eric Dobson
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:28:41

    This is long for a link post. Most bloggers would’ve linked to his archive with a single paragraph. You took the time to give it context and, in a sense, sell us on why we should click over. You’re still comprehensively covering a topic. This was just a very simple topic with a very simple action for readers to take.

  16. Will Bontrager
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:28:48

    I love short, to-the-point articles I can understand the first read-through. Much obliged, John.

    Will

  17. Patt
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:30:47

    I enjoyed it! It was perfect for now, for a little learning tib-bit (when I am supposed to be doing something else!) But when I want to focus on learning something, I’d prefer longer posts. It’s good to mix it up though, right. And as far as stories about nothing, Seinfeld made a fortune doing just that! We relate to stories about nothing because we spend a lot of our days living dramas that are stories about nothing. I often feel that I have hours that would be good for a sit-com except I am NOT in a sit-com and for that reason, they are not particularly funny. As I live them. They are funny to tell others though …

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:43:13

      Seinfeld is a great example of this principle. 🙂

  18. Esther
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:31:43

    LOVE the short post. Reading it I realized that if I take this short post and do something about it my writing can be completely transformed. ie. I checked out the recommended website and read a great ad he wrote that inspired me. I simply don’t always have the luxury to read long posts.

  19. Sara Korn
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:35:50

    Yes, I like the short posts, I am more likely to read short posts these days because I’m so busy. The exception is when I’ve set aside time to learn about something in depth. But if I’m only mildly curious about a topic I prefer the short post. In fact, I am more likely to click on links/open emails by people who I know are going to get to the point fast (like Seth Godin).

    I like how your example in this post shows how you can open with something that creates an emotional bond with your audience, in just a few words.

  20. Mai Bjorklund
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:36:14

    Thank you for sharing with us, in any format, HRA! Your font of wisdom is, as always, timely and appropriate – just when I am struggling with lengthy posts infrequently, or shorter posts frequently!
    Your short posts are awesome for getting to the point – while the long posts are perfect for peering into the inner workings of your fine-tuned mind. Both are a gift, for which I thank you.

  21. Leonie Burmeister
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:40:40

    The DOWN DEEP or DEEP DOWN (?) thing is my trigger in life
    Long story or short story
    If there is no Down Deep thing then it misses what I am yearning for
    Just this morning a person talked to me about their need for a medical scheme which they actually cannot afford due to circumstances
    The conversation went beyond the original subject and in the end the Down Deep thing took over from her side first …followed by my own.
    Your short post puts me there again.
    But I suppose it is because I am a person to person freak
    Once I have completed the GB certification I shall probably end up in the self improvement niche for this very reason
    I like to understand why people are who they are and respond to that
    I love you all from the bottom of my heart and wish you well
    Thanks for the meaningful journey so far
    Cheers

  22. Leibrun Jr
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:44:33

    Long post or short post? All possibilities are possibles: Mix it up or not? Why not!

    The Most important is the quality of the story no matter the numbers of words you can use when you reach your audience

    Great post and thanks for the good job ?

    _ @leibrunjr

  23. Valerie
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:50:15

    OK. I admit it. Never heard of Gary Halbert. Till now.
    Thanks Jon for bringing him to my attention.
    I am new to blogging and copywriting. Reading Gary’s letters will be a pleasure.
    Admitting ignorance is not hard, doing something about it is the tricky part.:)

    I like a mix of posts, short to the point, or long deep exploration of a topic.

  24. Sunita Rajwade
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 11:57:42

    I enjoy short posts especially since I don’t have too much time to read at all.But stories with no point? I don’t really see the point. Call me old fashioned if you will but I feel cheated if there is no happy ever after or the moral of the story . Is it generational ? I am on the wrong side of 50.

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:45:48

      Don’t really think it’s generational. Actually, if anyone enjoys stories without points, it’s probably older folks. Hell, my grandfather tells me the same pointless stories over and over again. 🙂

  25. Jasbindar singh
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:04:01

    Loved the short post! But equally value the long ones too! Either way, I learn heaps from you posts, Jon. Thank you!

  26. Hugo
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:05:35

    Not my cup of tea.
    I’m definitely not the kind of guy who cares about what looks like a hollow or “who knows what happened” story.
    This guy is not a friend or a related person so what he told means nothing to me. Nor was I in a similar theoretical situación, either.
    For me, long and rich content posts, always

  27. Ed from My Dapper Self
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:10:46

    Loved the post and story.

    I do like (should I say enjoy?) your longer posts that I can spend some time with along with a cup of coffe; posts that give me so much valuable information I can use.

    But I also liked this shorter format, it’s concise, tells a nice story and doesn’t drag longer than it really should. I guess what I’m trying to say is, variety makes for a great way to keep readers’ attention and interest. Not knowing whether you’ll get a short and concise post or a long guide when clicking on a link can be kind of fun.

    Keep it up, Jon!

  28. John Yeoman
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:23:53

    Yes, Gary was fun, but crazy. I remember his shocking tale of the time he went snorkeling with his secretary and she had a wardrobe malfunction, to wit: her thong fell off.

    Why did he write about that? He couldn’t say, but presumably he felt there was a marketing moral in it. He couldn’t get away with that stuff today. He’d be trolled by feminists all the way to Las Vegas.

    And that’s where he’d write his next newsletter, along with a poignant plea for his fans to send him $5. Why? He’d made a million bucks the previous week then gambled it all away.

    Both those stories were probably true.

    Crazy or a genius?

    • Leanne Regalla
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 15:33:02

      John, thank you! You always crack me up! 🙂

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 20:42:17

      Something tells me Gary would have loved being trolled by feminists. 🙂

  29. Christine Rosas
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:49:38

    Hell. Whatever you say and however long you take to say it, I’m gonna read it!

  30. Gwen Irwin
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 12:56:16

    I like the shorter posts–love getting in a quick read with a good point. Writing always resonates better with me when someone is telling a story about their experience rather than just giving me information.

    I recently had the experience of asking a friend to read through my book after I had it line edited just to make sure it flowed content wise. I tell a lot of stories throughout the book, mostly to make points. She ended up giving me quite a bit of feedback and at one point she wrote, “Less about you now.” I wondered if my ego was getting the better of me–in general conversation I’m not one to talk about myself much. But then I realized I’m not talking about myself as much as allowing whoever is reading to possibly feel something they understand.

    Perhaps she related and it made her uncomfortable, or she just does not like my style of writing. Either way is fine.

    Thanks so much for posting this today Jon–it has helped me get past my dip in self confidence–perfect timing! Thank you for all that you write–I have gotten so much out of your posts!

  31. Marian Schembari
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 13:24:58

    This is my biggest professional frustration—when businesses get scared of getting personal.

    Even worse? When copywriters (I’m one) say “It’s not about you, it’s about them.”

    While I understand and embrace the theory behind it, I also know businesses are more likely to connect with their ideal customers and retain them FOR LIFE when those customers feel a sense of connection.

    So I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 20:42:56

      Excellent points.

  32. Camille Harris
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 13:25:40

    Like it! Had just enough time to read it, and it DID make a point!

  33. Tegan
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 13:45:11

    I actually don’t think this post is that short! It’s a good size, and is long enough to make a point, give and example and explain – which is all you need! I still like the long ones as well though. I find a lot of blogs publish super short posts (like 500 words) which I find a bit annoying and not very helpful.

  34. M.C. Simon
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 14:04:27

    Gary is under my magnifier for some time already. I don’t really believe in total departures so, as long as his work is here, he didn’t leave.
    But I have to admit that Jon Morrow is completely magnified and totally dissected by my brain. Of course, his free side 🙂 I am still searching for hidden elements. Thank God, Jon can challenge anyone’s mind. And my tiny mind supposes that he belongs to a global conspiracy; specialized in boredom eradication.
    Oh, my. I forgot to answer.
    I love the awesome power of a brilliant short post. Can’t wait for the next one, Jon! Thanks a lot. You have revamped this world into a more engaging place.

  35. Laurie
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 14:14:44

    I always try to find a universal problem and personal solution. Living on this planet is difficult. Many can relate to our troubles and are interested in how we solve them. They may not agree, but that doesn’t keep them from reading. Great post. Thanks.

  36. Jacob McMillen
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 14:34:18

    Haha one of the more interesting posts I’ve read in awhile and also probably the shortest. Love the changeup. Now I want to read more “random” stories.

  37. Elva
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 14:35:47

    I loved this article! I think that writing stories with no point is a great way to connect deeply with your audience, only insofar as you are being yourself and have a genuine desire to connect with your audience. I wrote a Facebook post recently which didn’t have a point and was more like rambling. I was worried that I would be seen as a wanna-be writer with a lack of talent but I guess your post proved me wrong. Thanks!

  38. Andrew Stark
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 14:36:00

    These are exactly the sort of length blog posts that I love.

    It takes a couple of minutes to read and gives my a lesson that is practical and actionable. Far better than long winded content posts where I get bored and end up wondering why I even started reading in the first place.

  39. Tim Mann
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 15:16:05

    The answer to Jon’s question is like the process required to cook a tasty dish: once everything has been blended in that makes it perfect, why add anything else? At that point, any additions will be extraneous, won’t add to the quality of the dish, and may degrade the dish so no one likes it.

    Now, a dish can be complex and involved, or simple and easy; it depends on what you want to eat, and your skill as a cook. As both a cook and a technical writer, I understand that writing what people want to read is a very similar process; to be successful at getting my information across, I need to know them, get inside their heads, feel what they’re feeling, and understand them, as Jon points out in this piece.

    And the only thing more important than that, is to write what I care about more than anything else in the world. Although you may think you’re doing a good job of writing about “something that will make you money”, people can tell if you don’t really love your subject. As my wife says: “everyone knows everything; they just don’t know that they know it”. And that will haunt your writing career forever until you ‘fess up and fix it by doing what you love most.

    I’m 63, have had multiple careers, and made lots of money; but the times I had the most fun (and made the most money, effortlessly!) were the times I was working at something I would have done for free because I loved it so much. It’s what I’m doing now.

    To end with, here’s what The Master had to say about this subject:

    “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that he make every word tell.” E.B. White, The Elements Of Style

    With Warm Aloha from Hawaii,

    • Susan Rifkin
      Apr 25, 2016 @ 15:17:53

      That E B White quote is new to me, but clearly and concisely expresses what i was thinking about long vs short. And Jon’s example of “short” was plenty to communicate a new idea, and then show me where to go for more. Maybe it is my science background, I only tell stories that relate to the TOPIC. I would never think of a pointless tidbit in order to BOND. Call me….Spock.

  40. Mary Jaksch | WritetoDone
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 16:12:38

    Short post? I was amazed to find out that it was only about 550 words long. It seemed longer when I was reading it because you focused on a narrow topic (pointless stories), gave an example and explained the ‘how’ and ‘why’ .

    It was a well-rounded post.

    I think that the ‘right’ length of a post is related to how wide or narrow a topic is. If the topic is narrow (like here), it’s fine to write a short piece.

    In any case, short or long, your posts are always outstanding, Jon.

    • Jon Morrow
      Apr 14, 2016 @ 20:44:53

      Thanks Mary. 🙂

  41. Maggie Mongan
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 16:55:55

    The trend is shorter more digestible. I thing whatever story makes the point, sooner than better is better. I’ve been going shorter: from 600-800 to 350-500 and it seems to be a better approach for my readers. In one way shorter is easier to write and another it isn’t (I post 3 times/week). My clients, Business Owners, appreciate the shorter to the point with a longer post from time to time. Big shift for me and my topics lend well to the series concept. As a reader I like a combination from those I follow. Mix it up!

  42. Mel Wicks
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 17:46:17

    Loved it. Short, sweet and punchy. Like an appetiser before the main meal of your longer posts. I want them both, please. But then, I’ll greedily gobble up anything you decide to dish out.

    Cheers, Mel

  43. Jan Tucker
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 18:25:29

    This short, pointless story concept confirms something from a spiritual point of view, too: There’s a reason for everything. The story wasn’t pointless.

    By the way, I know why he “was overcome with the desire to hurt somebody” after working out and eating three steak sandwiches.

    This has been proven by Ayurvedic medicine. It’s because he was overloaded with testosterone–first from the workout, and second from consuming the testosterone-loaded meat. The cows released testosterone throughout their bodies when they were slaughtered.

    It’s true…

  44. Mary Lou Green
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 20:38:57

    Hi, Jon!
    Thought I’d write a comment before throwing two or three steaks on the grill.

    I have been feeling that shorter posts are a good idea because we’re competing with videos lasting three to five minutes embedded in online courses. “Chunking” the story or information seems to fit with grabbing shorter attention spans. (Not that anyone would ever quit reading a post you wrote, no matter the length.)

    I am not acquainted with Gary Halbert. Now I will be thanks to you.

    Please keep experimenting and let us be your guinea pigs.

    Warm regards,
    Mary Lou

  45. Cris
    Apr 14, 2016 @ 21:02:02

    It feels strange to read something short from you, Jon. But then again, I might’ve gotten used to posts from BBT.

    Anyhoo, great analysis on seemingly “pointless” stories. I guess it’s kind of like being in parties, when someone tells a somewhat insane story. You wonder why people even say those things. And then you see the crowds surrounding them laughing or crying. It’s when you realize pointless stories are for grabbing attention.
    In Gary’s case, I guess it’s for laughter. After all, it’s great for breaking tension.

  46. David Gillaspie
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 00:10:59

    Hey Jon,

    You had me at pointless stories. It feels like the art that finds you, the painting you can’t look away from. Pointless? Maybe to some.

    You tapped into my latest adaptation: “Walking away isn’t the big deal. We do it all the time. It’s what you take with you that matters.”

    I’ve got some of that Morrow magic, and so does everyone else commenting on your post.

    Thanks Jon,

    DG

  47. Yashu
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 01:08:50

    Nice post thank you for sharing with us.

  48. Bryan Collins
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 04:25:15

    Great post Jon. I always enjoy reading your work. I’d echo Mary’s point about this feeling longer than 550 words. I bought the Boron Letters by Gary Halbert recently and can’t wait to dive in.

  49. Igert
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 05:03:00

    Hi John

    I often start a comment by saying: You make a good point.

    This story proves that even when you don’t make a point you can still make a good point.

    The fact is, I enjoyed it because it is a story and being in my second childhood I love stories. I also like short. Short goes hand-in-hand with sweet and I like sweet too. Then of course it also radiates the Morrow magic.

    Thanks for posting.

  50. Daniel Welsch
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 06:18:40

    I’ve listened to a lot of Gary Halbert’s audios, and it’s true… He tells these absurd stories which seem to go nowhere, but they make him a lot more likeable.

  51. barry
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 07:59:50

    The story got my attention and isn’t that the point? Personally I prefer shorter posts and if it’s a teaching post better still.

    When I first started I struggled to write enough words and watched the word tally closely. Now, I struggle to keep it short.

    Tell me what you are trying to say as quickly as you can then beat it. That’s what I think. My daughter at times says to me, “next time you have a thought, let it go”.

    Isn’t that endearing?

    Barry

  52. Freddy Junior
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 08:45:12

    Hi Jon!

    Story telling uh! 😀

    Stories are a great way to communicate with people – and yeah, you are right, they don’t always need to have a point.

    But when they do – it is just the best way to teach something!

    For some reason, people remember stories a lot better and for a lot longer – than anything else.

    Stories get stuck in your head!

    That is a fact – and that is why a lot of great copy writers use stories.

    I love reading stories from real people – all the time. It is addicting. And you know what, that is what makes a social network like Facebook so addicting as well.

    Essentially, you are really staying up to date with your friend’s life story on Facebook! … right?

    You love to read your friends little life stories, don’t you?

    Stories are so interesting to us – whether they have a point or not – because we can resonate with them and we love to hear from real people in the “real” world.

    Great topic here!

    Thanks for sharing this valuable post!

    Keep up the great work!

    Have an awesome weekend! 🙂

  53. Blaine Wilkerson
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 10:46:09

    I waited a day to reply.

    Why?

    Well, it’s been about 24 hrs and I still remember the core message, the copywriter (already know about him, though), and the lesson.

    Actually, the story echoed in my head all day.

    It’s a common branding, sales, and communication tactic, but you don’t see many posts about it.

    I love it. And I love the fact it didn’t take 2 cups of coffee and 1000 calories to consume.

    Can’t say the same about monster posts.

    Sure, monsters are useful and entertaining…but I no longer have the patience to read 5K-10k word posts. Its like reading a textbook or instruction manual.

    Yes, I bookmark the huge posts. And I save them for later when I might actually use the info.

    But otherwise, I don’t see the point in reading a tutorial unless I’m ready to implement the instructions soon.

    Of course nowadays I’m drifting into a different audience segment. I’m totally burned out on reading huge tutorial posts that I’ll never use (not in the next 6 months anyway).

    Plus, long in-depth posts often conflict with the info and guidance presented in online courses. I often hear “don’t do what my blog says…that info is for beginners and for people who can’t afford the course”.

    Anyway, yes. Please write more short, bite-sized chunks of wisdom.

  54. Charles
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 12:20:49

    My favorite article is the long “How to” post that goes in-depth with tactics and truly solve my problem (it doesn’t simply make me feel good about it).

    Though I certainly see value in short post like this one, as an introduction to something new. In this case, you do a great job at attracting my attention on something I never thought before (writing pointless stories).

    Now I want to know more, and if next time you write a “How to write compelling stories people crave to read?”.
    However, you could also write a ‘short’ one “What is an example of a good story vs a bad on?” that is replying to a short question.

    I see value in both kind of articles.

  55. Tom
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 13:45:29

    Hey Jon,

    I love a good short post that gives me something valuable, something that I can use in an immediate sense. This one was a great example of why I love them. I never considered the seemingly pointless story, but it makes a ton of sense.

    The corollary to this is that long posts that teach something specific, such as how to build a better blog, provide value that can be studied and utilized in the long-term. I’ve got a library of awesome long posts that I refer to constantly to help me build my skillset, and to improve my work.

    Keep producing both of these valuable posts!

  56. Dan Stogsdill
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 15:36:24

    hi Jon, I just got done reading your article on Ability Mission. While searching for financial mortgage assistance. I also have spinal muscular atrophy and the diagnosed at the age of two. My parents were told that I would live to be a teenager. Everything you wrote I can totally relate. I’ve been struggling just to get by working as a seasonal worker. Being confined to my home as I no longer drive and living off the government money of $700 a month is killing me. I was married for 23 years and after my divorce three years ago I’ve been trying to keep my home living off of a part-time job for the 12 months of the year. I don’t know I guess I just wanted to say that I can relate to your situation in life and really just trying to find a way out. I don’t think I have the ambition or the strength To move to Mexico though LOL.

  57. Kathryn Aragon
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 15:41:36

    Great point, Jon. I feel like you just gave me permission to make relationship (bonding) a conversion goal. Weirdly, I knew that, but you put it into words. lol. Thanks!

  58. Kaitlyn Schlicht
    Apr 15, 2016 @ 22:06:32

    I like both kinds of posts. I think when you are giving information, the longer posts are great because you really elaborate on the topic, which I appreciate. But the shorter posts are nice for a quick lesson that doesn’t need as much deep diving.

  59. Jinal shah
    Apr 16, 2016 @ 03:09:41

    I like the shorter version. To the point, quick and easy to remember

  60. Robert
    Apr 16, 2016 @ 14:04:20

    This is definitely an interesting take for bloggers. I have to agree that seemingly crazy stories that have no immediate relevance can really help build a blog audience when done correctly. Thank you for sharing some truly funny thoughts.

  61. mohinish nirwal
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 02:13:00

    Yes, keep it short and punchy pls.

  62. Thom
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 08:09:38

    This post is aperfect length.
    I actually read it, enjoyed it, learned from it and
    Will read many more this length.
    Thank you

  63. Michael Yardney
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 09:35:33

    In this busy world I prefer the short posts. Keep them long enough to teach me and short enough to keep me interested

  64. Matthew K. Loomis
    Apr 17, 2016 @ 21:59:23

    Hi Jon,

    Sorry I’m late. Loved this post. A story about Gary Halbert authored by a master content creator like yourself is a winning combination.

    The post did feel a little longer than 550 words, in a good way. Interesting to read the debate going on in the comments about post length. I agree that mixing things up is good. I tend to go over 1000 words minimum and rarely post shorter than 600. I think I’ll test some short posts in the near future.

    Congrats on the re brand. Cheers to Smart Blogger.

    Matthew

  65. Blake Powell
    Apr 19, 2016 @ 11:44:12

    Hey Jon,

    You make an excellent point about bonding with your readers. Not every story has to have a point, and I think that’s why many famous people connect so well with their audiences, because they use the stories from their life to bond with their followers and highlight everyday things everyone experiences but would have trouble expressing into words themselves with any eloquence.

    Thanks so much for your posts and your insights.

    As for the short posts vs. long posts, I think both are beneficial. I didn’t feel this one was exceptionally short, and carried as much value as your other ones. It can definitely be exhausting to keep up with a lot of long posts, and as they come less frequently there are definitely benefits to shorter and more frequent shorter posts.

    As long as the value for the readers is there in the end, I don’t think it matters much as to short versus long, but more “is this valuable or not?” I’ve read life changing 100-word posts, and exceptionally boring long posts, so I don’t think “long versus short” is the way to look at it as it’s not as black and white as that.

  66. Will Edridge
    Apr 20, 2016 @ 16:06:03

    Hey Jon,

    These “pointless” stories are actually a great way to position yourself in the “in group” from a psychological point of view.

    And, once you’re on the inside of this group the group has a tendency to attribute more positive attributes towards you in a similar way to the halo effect.

    You can get this in-group by using a similar language to your audience as well which I’m sure you already knew 😛

  67. Eli Seekins
    Apr 20, 2016 @ 16:56:44

    Nice post Jon!

    Stories make a huge impact. I think they’re crucial.

    Storytelling is an art. It really enables you to connect with people. Master it, and you can directly influence people. You are so right.

  68. Transport George | Onehalf AU
    Apr 22, 2016 @ 02:26:21

    Great post Jon! Pointless stories help you connect with your audience and let you convince them that you truly understand their pains.

  69. Bill @ The Money Professors
    Apr 25, 2016 @ 09:44:43

    I am a fan of quality over quantity. If you wrote a 300 word post that explained how to turn lead into gold I would be much happier with you than a 5,000 word post on how to make ice cubes 🙂 I actually think there is a need for both types. Short posts are great when you are in a hurry or just need an inspiration, etc, but ultimately the long posts generally provide more detailed information that we can use and implement in our businesses/lives.

  70. Nicholas Rossis
    Apr 25, 2016 @ 09:50:05

    Short and sweet. Loved it!

  71. Zak Mustapha
    Apr 25, 2016 @ 15:35:42

    Yep. All depends on the topic.
    If it’s a how to post, there’s no way you’ll be able to put it into a 500 word post unless it’s vague. Or it’s simple to do.

    Glad to see a variation of both long posts and short posts on the blog.

    1. Long in-depth how to posts.
    2. Short posts that want to pass a message or present a point etc.
    3. Surprise us.

    Thanks.

  72. Will
    Apr 29, 2016 @ 00:07:58

    Dear John,
    I noticed your posts are very short word count. Whats the optimal word length now? People are giving conflicting opinions. Some say long as possible (5000+ words) like Neil Patel

  73. Happiness Overload
    Apr 30, 2016 @ 07:40:06

    Long and short posts have their own advantages. If funny and witty, even short posts pack a punch. But serious and informative posts should be a little bit longer. whichever, a good writer can still engage. Well done on your blog!

  74. Imran Soudagar
    Jun 06, 2016 @ 05:45:26

    You Royal Awesomeness,

    I totally agree, we men need to tell stories without any moral or any point. We just feel the need to tell something we felt, something that moved us or not.

    Many times, I felt this need to tell pointless stories. These stories get stuck in my throat. I can’t get them out coz people will start asking my sanity and I can’t bury them in my heart coz then a good pointless story would be dead. And as a writer I can’t bury stories, pointless or otherwise.

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