Your introduction is the second most critical part of your blog post after the post title. After you invest time into carefully crafting a MAGNIFICENT blog post, how do you write a blog introduction that hooks your reader and compels them to read on?
As Martha Barnard-Rae from Word Candy says, “80% of readers never make it past the headline, so make it count.”
Know your audience and match their expectations
If you don’t know who you’re writing for, you won’t know how to bait your hook properly.
You need to know what kind of blog post you’re writing and match reader expectations for that kind of content.
For example, if you’re writing an informative ‘How to X’ type of post, the reader doesn’t want to know about the time you turned up to work wearing mismatched shoes … unless it relates directly to your key message. Highly unlikely.
Skip the waffle. Get to the point.
Spell out your intent
Be clear about the intent of your content in the opening paragraph.
What is the one thing you want someone to take away from your post?
Show that you identify with their problem (e.g. people not reading beyond the first paragraph) and that your post offers a solution (e.g. how to write a blog introduction that hooks your reader).
Your introduction doesn’t have to have to provide the actual solution but it should let people know you have one.
Now that you have their attention, keep it.
Deliver on your promise
The best way to keep your reader’s attention is to deliver on the promise you set up in the opening paragraph.
If you say you have a solution, your post had better deliver it or your reader will be clicking back to the search results faster than you can say odd shoes.
When editing your work, cut the content that doesn’t relate to what you stated in your blog’s introduction.
Save the story of the mismatched shoes for another day.
Write your blog intro last
We’re prone to putting incredible pressure on ourselves to nail our introduction before moving on to the rest of the content.
But the reality is, we don’t have to write the intro first.
Instead, writing a blog outline before writing the post can be an enormous help. I wrote an outline for this post and refined the introduction during the editing process. Given this is a post about how to write a blog introduction, I know I have to nail that first paragraph as a good example. Pressure!
Adopt the journalism approach
Journalists use the inverted pyramid method of storytelling in news articles.
They answer the most important information upfront, covering the who, what, when, where, why and how.
Check any news article and you’ll find that they have the key information in the first couple of paragraphs. As the article continues, the information that’s less important is further down the page.
Because we know that most people aren’t going to read our full post, it makes sense to include the most useful information up to the top.
Check that you’re addressing the who, what, when, where, why and how in your first few paragraphs. You don’t have to jam it all into your introduction, but ensure that key information is in the first third of your page.
Unlearn how to write
Unlearn that academic writing style you learnt in high school or university where your arguments and evidence build to your final point wrapped neatly in your conclusion.
Your teachers may have taught you to build up to a big reveal. Don’t. It doesn’t work for blog writing. You’ll lose readers before you reveal your plot twist in the last paragraph.
And while it’s OK to use storytelling to hook your reader in, don’t let the tale of the mismatched shoes overshadow the point of your post.
Examples of great blog intros
What better way to explain how to write a blog introduction than to share some good examples.
5 years to a million dollar biz – Denise Duffield-Thomas
Denise is a fabulous storyteller. She’s authentic and relatable, and her conversational tone makes me feel like we’re friends having a chat. I read this blog post’s opening sentence and I’m immediately intrigued.
“Here’s the honest truth – it took me five years working full time to crack the million dollar mark in my business. It didn’t happen overnight and it didn’t happen by accident.”5 years to a million dollar biz
That opening sentence sparked many questions for me. So, how did it happen and it sounds like you did plan for it—but how?
In the next paragraph, Denise squashes the myth of the stereotyped ‘overnight success’.
“I didn’t just ‘start a blog’ and people threw money at me. This isn’t even my first ever blog (I’m not counting that in my five years calculation), and this is definitely not my first business (that would have been my bracelet business back in 1988).”
I find her relatable because I too was coming up with ways to earn extra money back in 1988. I too had scrappy little business ideas (hellooo removing lint from windcheaters and tracksuit pants! ?).
I’m intrigued. I relate. I want to know more.
Because I’m Denise’s target market, this is a good blog intro because it compelled me to read on.
The SEO files: The curious case of the competitive keyword – Nat Alleblas
I’m already in love with this post because of its clever title. Nat is also known as The SEO Sleuth, so I love that she’s using the sleuth theme in this blog title.
I get Nat’s weekly SEO Sleuth email tips. Nat has an uncanny ability to weave tales of how everyday life translates into lessons for business.
But that’s not what I love about this post, it’s how she sets up he intro perfectly with the right mix of problem identification, problem solution, and intrigue.
“The challenge of ranking on page 1 for a competitive keyword is one that many SEO consultants love but businesses with small budgets fear.
Some are blissfully unaware of the pitfalls of targeting a competitive keyword and spend hours and money creating content that fails to convert.
My years of smart sleuthing strategies have helped many crack the case of the competitive keyword and in this blog, I’m going to share some of my secrets.”The curious case of the competitive keyword
I feel confident that Nat’s going to walk me through my problem—how to avoid wasting time searching for keywords that are too competitive—and help me find keywords I can actually compete for.
Even if I didn’t know Nat and found this page via search results, I’d definitely read on.
What the heck is a nurture sequence? (It’s not only for hippies) – Jay Crisp Crow
Jay is an awesome conversion copywriter and I’ve followed her for years, so it’s no surprise she knows how to write a good blog post introduction.
Mmm, nurture sequences. They sound so comforting. Like snuggling up in a blanket, sipping a cuppa, and having a little bonding sesh with your reader.
Truth be told, they’re not entirely unlike that. But first:
What the heck is a nurture sequence anyway?What the heck is a nurture sequence
Jay often uses humour and colloquialisms in her writing and I like the way she draws the comparison between a comforting snuggle in a blanket to writing nurture sequences.
From this intro, I feel confident that Jay will explain exactly what a nurture sequence is in an entertaining way.
Using humour is an excellent way to entertain while informing, and Jay does this magnificently.
Examples of not-so-great blog intros
Rather than pick on individual bloggers (because that’s not very fair) instead, I’ll pick on blogger types.
1. Every recipe blogger ever
Have you ever visited a recipe site where you have to scroll through 1000 words of waffle about grandma’s unique secret ingredients and colour of the awning above a quaint little grocer’s shop tucked away in an obscure laneway before you even get to the ingredients list?
Yeah, don’t write that blog post intro.
Show me the ingredients. Show me the process. Be the inverted pyramid.
2. The keyword-stuffing blogger
You might have heard the joke, an SEO consultant walks into a bar, pub, public house, cocktail lounge, nightclub…
There are blogs you come across where the intro content sounds repetitive and oddly phrased because the blogger has stuffed the intro full of every juicy keyword they want to rank for.
“You want to know about the best widgets for kids in cars, right? Children in cars love the best widgets because the top widgets for kids in cars to occupy their time during long car drives are widgets that hold kids attention in vehicles. In this post, I share my unbiased views on the 7 best car widgets for kids in cars.”
Say no more, right?
Keywords are important though and while you should include in your primary keyword in your introduction, don’t try and shoehorn every keyword into it. ?
3. The thinly veiled BUY MY STUFF blogger
You’ve been lured to a page from the search results. The blog title and description look like it will solve your problem, so you click on it.
While it seems like the blogger understands your problem you quickly realise that they’re not so much trying to solve your problem as sell you their solution to this problem.
In fact, the so-called ‘blog post’ is actually a sales page. At least buy me a drink first. ?
4. The not-so-controversial blogger
Then there’s the blogger who states in their intro that they have a MASSIVE secret to share that will TOTALLY BLOW YOUR MIND and how they have UPSET THEIR INDUSTRY by sharing their CONTROVERSIAL VIEWS.
And then you read their post.
There is no secret. My mind’s not blown. I already know this stuff. Their industry is not shaken. Their views are pedestrian. ?
Why a blog post introduction is so important
Research predicts that most of your site’s visitors will spend 80% of their time on your site above the fold—they won’t scroll to read more information.
If you take too long to get to the point, if you don’t set up the value of your post, or if your title doesn’t match your content, you’ll lose readers. They’ll return to the search results and visit someone’s site that does meet their expectations.
A good blog post introduction will lure people to read on, making the time you invest in content creation worthwhile.
It’s a lot like the way you flick through songs and how you can tell from the first couple of bars whether the song is the style of music you like.
Those opening bars give such important cues. Those cues tell you if you should flick to the next track or settle in for more, and maybe even the whole song.
Writing is a lot like that—our opening paragraphs set people up to decide whether to flick back to search results or settle in to read the whole page.
Do you have tips for how to write a blog post introduction? Share them in the comments below.