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4 Ways to Write Your Next Blog Post Opening that Works

blog post openingFor a blog post to work, many things need to be just right.

Your headline must be compelling and offers a clear benefit so that people actually click on it.

The topic must be relevant for your audience. Occasionally you can sneak something in that doesn’t exactly fit within your niche, but on the whole, you must stay on topic.

The post itself must be interesting, offer something new or say something with a fresh perspective.

And finally, your post needs a specific call to action. What is it that you want your readers to do? Leave a comment or answer a question? Share among their friends or get on your list? Pick one.

All of the above; headline, topic choice, presentation and call to action are no doubt important, but there is one more thing you can’t afford to ignore.

Your opening.

After the headline, the opening sentence is the most important part of your blog post. And when it fails to engage the readers, the end result is they miss out on a post you spent hours researching, writing, and perfecting because they just didn’t give it a chance.

The most important sentence in any article is the first one. If it doesn’t induce the reader to proceed to the second sentence, your article is dead. And if the second sentence doesn’t induce him to continue to the third sentence, it’s equally dead. Of such a progression of sentences, each tugging the reader forward until … safely hooked, a writer constructs that fateful unit: the lead. Willliam Zinsser, On Writing Well

There is one and only one purpose of your opening sentence. To get readers to read the second one, and the third one and so on.

It is not enough to get your opening right – you have to nail it. And to help you do that, here is a handy list of four ways to start your next blog post.

#1 Ask an empathetic question

State a need or a problem that is universal. Make a statement that they identify with. Ask something that will helps them develop a bond with you.

Don’t you just hate the thought of …

I know writing is no fun when …

Blogging is super hard …

The aim is to make the reader go, ‘OMG … this is what I was thinking about.’

Check this out:

How do you make decisions? If you’re like most people, you’ll probably answer that you pride yourself on weighing the pros and cons of a situation carefully and then make a decision based on logic. You know that other people have weak personalities and are easily swayed by their emotions, but this rarely happens to youPersuasion Triggers in Web Design.

#2 Paint a picture of what is possible

Imagine if you were …?

What would you do if …?

Ask your readers to think of a scenario that is highly attractive to them. What would they do? How would they feel? How to get there.

Check this out:

What if, 30 days from now, you had a finished, well-crafted eBook sitting on your hard drive, ready to distribute and sell?

That might sound next-to-impossible to you, but it’s not. … How to Write a High-Quality ebook in 30 Days. Ali Luke.

#3 Hook them with a story

Everybody loves a story. By telling a story, you can hook your readers and draw them in.  You can certainly make it personal but if it’s hard for you to do, talk about somebody else.

Check this out:

The doctor cleared his throat. “I’m sorry, but I have bad news.”

He paused, looking down at the floor. He looked back up at her. He started to say something and then stopped, looking back down at the floor.

That’s when Pat began to cry.

She’d argued with herself about even coming to the doctor’s office On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas. Jon Morrow.

#4 Make a shocking statement or a claim

Or share a startling statistic, or a quote. Be absurd. Be hilarious. You get the idea.

Check this out:

What if I said you are worth more when you can do less?

You’d think I was nuts, right?

Right.

Heck, I’d think I was crazy, too.

But new research slaps us both in the face, and in this new video, I show you how to increase your prices by offering LESS value … How to Raise Your Rates By Offering Less Value (Yes, LESS value). Derek Halpern.

Now go back and reread the first few lines of your post.

But this time, assume you are a busy human with 2 minutes to spare.

Did it pique your curiosity? Did you make you feel like you have to open and see what it’s all about? Was it just ho-hum for you?

Would you read this post, bookmark it or would you simply delete it?

Ouch!

Be honest.

And be wiser, for next time.

Have you taken my 3-minute Client Attraction Quiz? Check it out now, it’s awesome! :)

25 Comments

  1. Amanda Thomas Says :
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 1:41 am

    Such awesome tips. A well crafted intro will also help get people clicking over from G+ and Facebook!

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on May 14, 2013 at 5:19 am

      You are totally right. Intros also help out in social media platforms which has more room for text such as Google+ and Facebook. Thanks, Amanda. 🙂

  2. Lalanthi Says :
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 2:20 am

    Great post, yes I am going to change the way I start my posts. Thanks again Maryafor these valuable tips.

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on May 14, 2013 at 5:19 am

      Glad to be of help, Lalanthi. Cheers. 🙂

  3. Andrea T.H.W. Says :
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Good hints, one better than the other. And you’re surely right on the impostance of beginning well a post as well as writing a good description of it.

    Probably I should go and check my posts to see what I can improve. 🙂

  4. Alice Alech Says :
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 7:18 am

    What wonderful information,thank you for these hints.Many thanks for sharing.

  5. M A Jan
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Excellent and practical tips .I especially recognize point# 4 – making a shocking or startling statement – being the most significant one. I remember very vividly my professor once entering class room and telling with straight face – do you know that sun did not rise in the east this morning ! This way he would immediately get the attention from the class.( He would later explain how his statement was correct).

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on May 15, 2013 at 3:23 am

      And what was the answer to that question?

  6. june Says :
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Great post….much needed advice!! also just read your post “how to get your first 1000 email subscribers….” on problogger……brilliant! Your blog and posts are your own advertisement, they are so good (which I guess is kinda the point)…thanks for posting!

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on May 15, 2013 at 3:24 am

      Your comment put a huge smile on my face. What a compliment. Thanks, June. 🙂

  7. Henneke | Enchanting Marketing Says :
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    Great examples, Marya!

    I’m adding a few to my swipe file 🙂

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on May 15, 2013 at 3:25 am

      Thank you for dropping by, Henneke. Appreciate it! 🙂

  8. Craig Playstead Says :
    Posted on May 14, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Great post, I totally agree. I always tell people to think of the first sentence as a resume. You need a resume to get you to the interview stage. You need a killer opening sentence to get the reader to move on to the next phase of your work.

    The shocking claim is great, you just can’t lay it on too thick.

  9. Sneha Says :
    Posted on May 15, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Hello Marya
    Great Article awesome stuff of information as a Newbie writer this is best to enhance my knowledge Thanks a lot share this valuable Post.

  10. Muhammad Saeed
    Posted on May 15, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Love the third tip. The story should be strong and hookable. Should add some value to the customer benefits.
    Overall, the post is excellent and easily digestible!

    Thanks Marya for your wonderful post!

  11. Benjamin Cargile Says :
    Posted on May 15, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    Marya,
    Thank you for the great information. Which of the three types of opening do you think works best? Have you tested them on your blog much to see which get the most views or comments?

    Ben

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on May 17, 2013 at 9:33 am

      Thanks, Benjamin. And no, I have no hard data to show which works best. I do find that personal posts draw more comments and have greater interaction from readers, but that is just one metric. Open rates, click throughs and links are are something to consider too.

      Marya

  12. John Says :
    Posted on May 28, 2013 at 12:12 am

    Hi #4, I cannot resist those quirky statements that draw you in to the copy. Wish I could think of a few but reviewing sheds is not that exciting.

    Thanks John

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on May 30, 2013 at 10:28 am

      Hi John

      How about … Let me tell you my most favourite way of using a garden shed (and it’s not what you think) … build on to tell an amusing anecdote or something that is just plain bizzare – or funny. Anything works ..

      Thanks for dropping by!
      Marya

  13. Jessica Benavides Canepa Says :
    Posted on June 10, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Great tips Marya!

    I love that you gave examples for each. Tip #2 resonated the most with me; people tend to be immediately drawn to the possibilities.

    • Marya Jan Says :
      Posted on June 12, 2013 at 1:18 am

      Thank, Jessica. Appreciate your dropping by.
      Marya

  14. Melissa Curran Says :
    Posted on June 26, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    Love your tips – I asked a question as my opening sentence and hope this is the start of something big!

    I really like the layout of your site. What is the name of the widget or plugin that you use in the sidebar entitled “around the web”?

    Thank you!

  15. Torri Thompson Says :
    Posted on November 12, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Hi Marya,

    I really like the way you have your posts structured as the content flows really well.

    Great tips for creating blog content. It’s becoming more difficult to write for certain topics since so many others are writing about the same thing, so these tips work great for being unique.

    I especially like the idea of sharing stories and think it’s a good way to connect better with your readers, plus it helps get the point across in a more effective way.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m going to bookmark this post so I can keep up with your future posts.

    Take care,

    Torri Thompson