I see dead people.

Editor’s note: Marty Boardman is a Realtor, real estate investor and instructor in Gilbert, Ariz. He’s the chief financial officer for Rising Sun Capital Group LLC, a real estate investment firm that buys and sells distressed real estate in the Phoenix metro area. He’s also an accredited instructor for the Arizona Academy of Real Estate. You can read about his successes and failures on his blog, www.freerealestateeducation.com or contact him directly at marty@risingsuncapitalgroup.com.

I see dead people. That’s what Haley Joel Osment’s character said in M. Night Shyamalan’s first box office hit called "The Sixth Sense."  It’s been 11 years since I saw the movie and I still remember that line. Why is that? If you’ve never seen the movie I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this cinematic masterpiece had one of the most memorable endings of all time.

When I first embarked upon my quest to become a blogger (about 17 months ago), I posted this question on a LinkedIn question forum: What is the single most important thing I can do to drive traffic to my blog? The answer may surprise you. It wasn’t search engine optimization or frequent posting.

Almost everyone agreed that the best way to drive traffic to my blog was to write good content; much like M. Night Shyamalan did when he penned the "The Sixth Sense" script in 1999. So before I enter the blogosphere I remind myself that every post should:

1. Tell a story.

2. Have a beginning, middle and a memorable ending.

3. Contain me, us, my subject, me, us.

Tell a story

The best way to tell a story is to become a voracious reader. Read everything from newspapers to blogs to books and even People magazine. It’s amazing how much context you can give your posts when you incorporate funny stories, insightful anecdotes and timely real-world news. Since I started blogging I’ve written about autopsies, roller coasters, golf, the Loch Ness Monster, Tiger Woods and Santa Claus. I’ve managed to do this while keeping with a real estate theme.

Have a beginning, middle and a memorable ending

The other night I read my daughters "Mary Poppins." This story is perfectly constructed and engages the reader from page one. Best of all, it incorporates a nice moral at the end.

I’m not saying you have to write a cliffhanger every time you blog or be the next Mark Twain. To begin, share a story. It could be funny or sad — just make it engaging. If you don’t know a good story, then find one (that’s what the Internet is for). The middle is the easy part; it’s your subject, the meat in the sandwich. Your ending should evoke emotion (laughter, tears, or at the very least an "ah-ha" moment).

Again, if you can’t find the right words for your ending, then go find some. I love to use www.brainyquote.com whenever I’m stuck.

Contain "me, us, my subject, me, us"

I discovered the "me, us, my subject, me, us" formula by accident.

From 2002 to 2006, I accumulated more than $16 million in real estate assets. Then suddenly in August of 2007 the music stopped and I didn’t have a chair. It took me only about six months to lose my assets (with emphasis on the first three letters of the word). I was forced to stop pretending everything was going well when I traded in my Mercedes Benz for a ’95 Honda Accord.

It then occurred to me that few real estate professionals talk about their failures because it’s bad for business. Rather than hide from my past I decided to share it with others on my blog. And you want to know something funny? By outwardly discussing my successes AND failures online I’ve discovered I can connect with people on a much deeper level.

These days whenever possible I begin a new post by talking about a mistake or shortcoming I have that a broader audience can identify with (the "me, us" part of the formula). I then jump into real estate stuff ("my subject") and finish up with how the reader and I can apply the information ("me, us").

Does it work? Yes, most of the time. Just be memorable because that’s what keeps your readers coming back. How do you do that? By helping others learn. It’s like Andy Rooney once said, "Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives."

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