Blog introductions are like first dates. You only get one, and if you fail to pique the interest of your date (or ramble on about your five cats), he or she probably won’t stick around to see what comes next.
Making bad first impressions can be a bummer for your love life, and it can be equally disastrous for your content strategy. The idea, after all, is to get people to read and engage with the content you work so hard to provide.
So, if you struggle with writing captivating introductions (or landing second dates), fear not. These four strategies will help you master the art of writing introductions in no time.
1. Catch Their Attention
If you don’t catch your reader’s attention in those first few, vital sentences, they’re not going to stick around to see whether or not you have anything worthwhile to say. Think about it from the perspective of your ideal reader. What will appeal to them? How could your introduction convince them to keep going and see what else you have to say?
Here are a few simple hacks for immediately grabbing the attention of your readers:
- Ask a question. This could be a rhetorical question directed at your audience or one that will be answered later in your post. In either case, questions set the expectation for the answers you’ll reveal later in your blog.
- Start with a quote. Leading with a relevant and captivating quote can quickly get the wheels turning in your reader’s head and make them wonder what you have to say in the context of the quote.
- Say something controversial or unusual. Shocking your readers from the start can be a super effective way to hook them in, but proceed with caution.
- Share a surprising fact. Ultimately, your readers are there to learn something. If you can teach them something weird or exciting before they even get through your intro, you’re likely to spark an immediate interest and set your blog post apart from others on the same topic.
If your introduction doesn’t provide anything interesting for your readers, you’re going to lose them. The more intriguing your introduction, the more willing your readers will be to continue. (You still with me?)
2. Keep It Clear & Simple
The attention span of the modern internet user lasts for a matter of seconds. So, when it comes to your blog content, you need an introduction that will work fast and tell your reader exactly what they’re getting. If within the first few lines your reader doesn’t know what your post is about or why they should read it, you’re in trouble.
Use keywords that show what your post is about.
Are you writing a blog about a new development in technology? Name that development up front, and let your reader know why it should matter to them.
Writing about a new pest control concern? Don’t meander on about all the other services your business offers in the introduction. Instead, offer a clear, concise look at the service you’re explaining in this post.
No vague introductions.
When you were in elementary school, your teacher probably told you that the introduction is for telling your readers what your paper or essay is about. That rule still applies.
Your intro should never mislead, lack a direction, or make false promises to your reader. Though you might keep them reading for a couple more paragraphs, you may lose them for good when they realize your content doesn’t deliver.
Rather, your introduction should clearly and concisely explain what they’re going to get from your post.
Check back in once you’re finished.
Did your blog post go in a direction you didn’t expect? If you wrote your introduction before you wrote the body of the post—and many writers do—go back and make sure your introduction still jibes with the content of your post.
3. Leave Them Wanting More
Let’s revisit our first date analogy. On a first date, there’s a fine balance between being too vague/mysterious and giving too much away, and so it goes with your blog introductions.
A little seduction goes a long way toward keeping your reader on the hook.
If you reveal everything in the introduction, you won’t have anything else to unveil. Likewise, if you don’t give your readers enough to make them want more, they’ll get bored and move on. Here are a few tips for finding that balance:
- Don’t make your readers work too hard. Short, simple sentences provide just enough information to tease, without giving it all away.
- Give them the ending first. What was it that made this particular story worth telling? This doesn’t mean that you give away the surprise—just that you offer them a snapshot of what’s coming.
- Offer a question that your reader really wants the answer to.
Your introduction shouldn’t contain the substance of your blog post. Instead, use it as a teaser to pull readers in and make them want more.
4. Generate a Connection
When your reader feels kinship with you, whether through a funny, relatable story or a shared lifestyle, experience, interest, or need, they’ll be more likely to give deeper thought to what you have to say. Creating a connection with your reader makes them appreciate your perspective, even when they don’t necessarily agree with it. Write an intro that grabs them and makes them feel as though they’re sitting down for a conversation with someone they relate to and trust.
Address the reader.
While some technical or business blogs may find third-person perspective more appropriate, many others will find that using an informal “you” to address the reader is more effective for engagement. They feel as though they’re being spoken to directly, rather than lectured at by a well-meaning speaker.
Understand their problems.
What are the key problems that plague your customers? What brought them to your blog in the first place? Be sure you understand the pain points your customers experience.
Then, use your introduction to show them you get it and that your blog post is there to solve that problem. Connect with them by directly mentioning the problem. For example, users who can’t remember their passwords, a glaring security flaw that isn’t being addressed appropriately, or a child who has a common behavior problem. This helps convince readers that you understand what they’re going through and gives them the incentive to read on to see what solutions you offer.
Create some conflict.
Every connection doesn’t have to be 100% positive. In fact, a negative connection—one that runs contrary to your reader’s beliefs—can be just as effective at getting them to keep reading as a positive one.
Consider telling readers that they’re wrong about a commonly held misconception. Introduce them to an opinion or perspective they may have never considered, or offer an opening remark that will generate an immediate emotional response. Many readers won’t be able to help but read to the end!
Keep the personal information minimal.
Sharing personal anecdotes can be a great way to keep readers interested. But, proceed with caution: The more personal you get, the less interested they will be.
Think about it: would you rather visit a recipe blog that offers a quick scroll to the recipe, or one where the writer goes on and on about what the recipe means to them? Tell your stories when appropriate, but make sure they actually add value to your post.
A strong introduction is the foundation of a great blog post. If you really want to engage your audience, make your content more shareable, and most importantly, get your blog posts read, focus first on crafting a killer introduction. By mastering this art, you’ll immediately become a better, more effective writer.