We Need To Talk About Your Blog Introduction – Examples & Inspiration – Blogcentric #102

Opening Paragraphs – We Need To Talk About Your Blog Introduction – Examples & Inspiration

I was a teenager when I first read the words “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” I was hooked

George Orwell’s 1984 has remained one of my favourite books ever since.

In this, the first part of a series on how to write blog posts that people will keep reading to the very end we’re going to take a deep dive into writing opening paragraphs.

Your guide to writing great blog introductions, examples and inspiration

You’ve captured your readers with a great headline and great image. What’s next?



The first few lines of a book have to be good. The decision to keep reading is mostly down to that first paragraph.

We may have picked it up because it’s got an interesting cover, or because someone told us about it or we liked the title. We might like the previous work of the author but by the end of the first paragraph we know if we are going to keep reading and how easy or hard a read it’s going to be.

The same goes for our blog posts. We may have enticed readers in with a striking image and strong headline but unless we manage to sell the post to the reader in the first few lines we’ve lost them.

What makes a good opening line?

The brain twister

That opening line to 1984 made my mind spin. I felt excited and confused. This was going to be something new, a book like no other I had read. I like to call this feeling a brain twist.

Opening your blog post with a brain twist can have the same effect that 1984 had on the teenage me. What is your equivalent of the clock striking 13?

For me it could be:

“I see a time in the future when I’ll be writing my 5,000th Twitter character in a single tweet.”

And I can but that’s for another day.

Climbing inside your head

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth

Those are the opening lines of JD Salinger’s Catcher In The Rye.

We’re catapulted into the protagonists head. We know from now on we will feel his pain and live his joy.

Because of the first person style, it’s easy to translate this into a blog post.

Opening with a story told from your perspective immerses people in your world. They’ll not only keep reading but if you get it right you’ll capture their empathy too.

But this isn’t always the easiest thing to do, how can you find your voice?

Start by reading your words out loud. Does it sound natural? Does it sound like you reading the words? If not try it again, try narrating your words rather than writing them.

This is something I find challenging. I don’t always get it right but since I’ve started podcasting it comes more naturally.

Start in the middle

Cut straight to the meat. Sometimes taking the first few lines or even paragraphs out of your post results in a better hook. Sometimes re-ordering your paragraphs to start in the middle and then return to the beginning of the story will have more impact.

Virgina Woolf does this in the opening line of her novel ‘Mrs Dalloway’

Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.

These words tell us so much, Mrs Dalloway already sounds like a perfectionist and one who is a bit snippy. (I haven’t read the book I’m just guessing here).

Instead of twisting our brains like 1984 it gets them churning. There are unanswered questions and we’re going to want to read on to find out more.

When we’re blogging we can do the same. Start with a statement that leaves people wanting to read on. My original opening paragraph for this podcast was:

The first few lines of a book have to be good. When we pick up a book and make the decision to keep reading it’s mostly down to that first paragraph.

After thinking about Virginia Woolf I changed it up to:

I was a teenager when I first read the words “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” I was hooked

These literary examples are all well and good but we’re business bloggers not novelists. We have to ask ourselves…

What’s in it for the reader?

When someone lands on our post they aren’t sitting down to read a book. They haven’t allocated time to read our blog so if you can’t convince them in the first few lines that it’s worth their time, that they will learn something, you’ve lost them.

One of my favourite blogs to read is Copyblogger.

Just look at the opening to their post “How to Find a Juicy Writing Idea When Your Creative Well Has Run Dry”

blog introduction example copyblogger
Copyblogger address their readers problems

It describes a problem writers will relate to and then it promises to fix it. I’m in, I’m going to keep reading.

A more straightforward style can work too. Look at this from Ian Cleary’s RazorSocial post ‘Why you need Outbound for Inbound Marketing!‘

 

blog introduction ian cleary razorsocial
RazorSocial introduces us to the topic in an entertaining way

It sure makes me want to keep reading

Although these two examples are written in different styles, I read both. Both told me up front what the value of reading was.

There’s problem with writing that opening paragraph…

It can be crippling trying to write it. You can spend so long procrastinating about it that you never start writing. Sure isn’t there a kitchen that needs cleaning and a cat to wash?

Don’t let that be you! Instead, sit down and start writing. Write your entire post and then go back to your opening. Once you’ve written your words you’ll find it much easier to write an introduction.

One last thing

Your opening paragraph could be a work of art but remember it’s job is to keep people reading. So at the end of the paragraph make it easy for people to read on.

Think about leading people on to the next paragraph

Eleanor Goold’s writing style makes it hard for us to stop reading. Here’s the opening of her Medium post: 8 Types of Client to Avoid if You Want to Get Paid

opening paragraph Eleanor Goold
Eleanor Goold’s writing style keeps us reading

 

What’s next?

Go back and look at your last blog post. Look critically at that first paragraph. Does it work? Does it make people want to read on? Does it flow? Does it twist or churn the reader’s brain? In short, could it be better?

Next time you write schedule some time to go back and work on it. A good first paragraph could make the difference to someone reading on or leaving straight away.


Thanks for the additional voices in this podcast:

Sarah Sussman: Sussman Marketing We specialise in helping Irish companies selling to the French & German language markets.

Jeremy Corner: The Greeting Card Project

Jessica Stone: Dear Reader Show


Super Duper Catchy Blog Post Title Challenge

The winner of the Super Duper Catchy Blog Post Title Challenge is: 

How to really scare your brain this Halloween from Dr. How’s Science Wow’s.

Thank you to the worthy runners up:

No Offense but…

1 Simple, Scientifically Proven Way To Increase Your Happiness

7 Steps to a Simply Awesome LinkedIn Profile

For full details of the scoring listen to the podcast.

Go Do Video Workshops – Boost Your Online Visibility With Video Content. Join us at our workshops in Manchester 15th November Herts 16th November Newcastle 9th December

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We Need To Talk About Your Blog Introduction - Examples & Inspiration

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