Unfortunately, having a great idea for a blog post is not enough to draw readers into it and hope for a massive response.
The first thing you need to realize is that the headline is the most important part of a blog post. Arguably even more important than the post itself because if someone is not intrigued by the headline, how do you expect them to read the whole thing?
So with headlines taking the pole position, the second slot goes to the first two paragraphs of a post. Here’s why.
The sole purpose of the headline is to get people to read the first paragraphs. And these first paragraphs have a similar task – to get people to read the rest of the post. That’s why the pair of the headline and the first paragraphs is so important for the success of your new blog post.
There’s a number of different paths you can go when writing the introductory paragraphs of your post. Here’s my top six:
1. Starting with a quotation
This one is a no-brainer. Quotations by famous people are immediate attention grabbers. That’s because they convey some unique knowledge or point of view in a short sentence. Something that’s highly thought-provoking and easy to grasp in a short period of time, which makes your audience want to keep reading to see what follows.
2. Telling a story
We, humans, love stories. We have been told them ever since we were little. And now we watch movies and read fiction just to wrap our minds around some interesting stories. Stories are great because the readers can usually identify themselves with the main character in the story, and the simple question of what will happen to this character is more than enough to keep them reading.
You can use a personal story from your own experience, or made one up just for the sake of it. Or use someone else’s story. Maybe borrow one from a celebrity.
The basic rules of creating a story are: (1) introduce the character – the person whose story is being told, (2) present the problem, (3) describe what the character did to overcome the problem OR what he should have done to overcome it.
3. Giving an agreeable statement
This is a way of bonding with the reader. What you’re basically saying is that you (the writer) and they (the reader) have something in common, and probably belong to the same tribe. As you know, creating even the slightest bond with your reader at the beginning of a post is never a bad idea.
In a sentence, it’s a statement that the reader can agree with and think something like “yea, I know this too.” Here’s an example of such a statement: “Every blogger knows that content is king.” It’s short, just several words, but completes the task well enough.
Giving an incomplete solution
This is yet another clever lingual construction. Here’s an example: “But creating quality content alone is not enough to hope for a massive audience.” This is thought provoking. And that’s because the reader might have thought that they know the secret solution to whatever problem they’re reading about, but now you’re saying that there’s something missing”¦ “how come?”
Whenever an author undermines a commonly known solution for something, saying that it’s not enough to hope for a result, that usually creates a sufficient reason to keep reading. Everyone wants to know “what am I doing wrong?”
5. Saying something outrageous
This is the ultimate attention grabber. The idea is simple. You have to say something that the reader is not expecting. This is the trick I used in my IttyBiz guest post. The headline stated “What Being Drunk Can Teach You About Marketing and Life“ and if that wasn’t enough I started the piece with “Admitting that I’m a bit drunk at the time of writing is probably not the most professional way of starting an article, ain’t it?“ Pretty outrageous, right (I wasn’t lying, by the way)? This article is still driving new visitors to my blog (and a handful of “good job” emails too).
One thing to remember here – outrageous get’s noticed every time (-Bill Glazer).
6. Giving a direct promise
Now last but not least – giving a direct promise. Telling the reader why they should read your post. Explaining what’s in it for them.
Remember, no one cares about you or your blog. What people only care about is themselves, so tell them exactly what’s in it for them.
An example: “In this post I’m going to tell you how you can build a ridiculously popular blog in less than 3 months.” Sounds a little pitchy – I admit – but makes me want to keep reading anyway.
Notice that the sentence in the example above doesn’t give the solution right there. It just leads the reader into the post. At this point the reader knows what the post is about and whether or not they’re interested in that topic.
These six tactics apply to any kind of blog. It doesn’t matter if you’re running a personal blog or a business blog or anything in between, you still have to find a way to write some irresistible first paragraphs. The truth is that there’s no point in writing a post if you have no idea how to start it. No one will read through to the end of such a post.
This concludes the list, and now it’s your turn. Tell me what your favorite frameworks for writing the first paragraphs of a blog post are. Don’t hesitate and shoot me a comment.