Want to grab your reader’s attention with the first line of your next blog post?
Have them pause… forget their to-do list and get lost in your words?
Then read this:
The power of an opening line
There’s plenty of copywriting advice out there on how to write an attention-grabbing headline, but once you’ve got that licked, it’s the first line that pulls your reader into the meat and potatoes of your article.
And having something to help you write a gripping first line isn’t just for the benefit of your reader, it can save your sanity as a writer too. Hands up who loves to stare at a blank screen?
So, next time you’re writing a blog post for your business, here are 10 different approaches you can try to have your reader at ‘hello.’
1. The ‘pull them to one side’
The abstract approach is like an interruption. It doesn’t always tell you anything specific, but it sounds like it’s going to get juicy.
Here are some examples of abstract openings:
There are some things that knock you for six when you hear them
I would have never guessed that this would ever happen to me
It’s one of the weakest approaches because of it’s lack of relevancy or specificity to your audience’s interests but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. It’s a style you see often on blogs that already have a loyal audience but it might be worth trying out on your own blog.
2. The blockbuster beginning– explode or simmer
Blockbuster films always open dramatically. Whether it’s explosive or quietly dramatic, something ‘big’ happens at the start and you can do the same with your writing.
So a personal trainer might have a story that starts with an explosion:
Excruciating pain ravaged my body as my vision was replaced by flashes of light. I stumbled, and that’s when they said I passed out just moments from the finishing line.
Or a content creator might choose a slow simmer:
I remember pausing before clicking the publish button. I didn’t know it then, but this was the post that would change everything… and not for the better
3. The curious case of…
Curiosity can be a powerful tool for opening lines, but you have to use it right. For more info on curiosity writing you can read this article I wrote for Copyblogger.
For opening lines, use these 2 rules:
- Make it specific to your audience
- Challenge their beliefs
For example, if you’re selling security software to WordPress website owners you might open up with something as simple as:
“There are 5 things you need to do to protect your WordPress site from hackers…
And they’ll go against everything you know about website security”
One more important rule about using the curiosity opening – you must follow through on your promise otherwise your credibility as an expert will be shot.
4. An opening named desire…
Very simply, state what you know your customers wants:
You want to be a better writer, right?
You need more sales
You’ve got to crush this diet and fitness regime once and for all
It gets to the point, it’s specific to your reader and it implies very quickly that you’re going to spend the rest of the article explaining how they can do what you’ve just mentioned.
5. Hey, what’s the problem?
The flip-side of the above is simple. Tell them what they don’t want and you’ll also get their attention.
“If you have to take one more snotty request from your boss you’ll kill him with the stapler…”
“You’ve just hired a wedding planner… and you hate them”
As with number 4, follow this up with a promise that you’re going to give them the answers they need if they just read the article.
6. Ask a question
Another simple one is to ask them a question you know will catch their eye:
Would you know what to do if your caravan broke down on the motorway?
Can you build a successful blog by writing just once a month?
How do you get more people to read and share your content?
You can follow this up by explaining how you’ll answer the question in your post, or even add in a layer of curiosity with a line such as “the answer might just surprise you…”
7. The downright bizarre
Sometimes the bizarre gets people’s attention so it may be worth experimenting with. This plays along the curiosity route because the idea is your reader is left thinking “what the heck is going on here? Let me click through and find out.”
I don’t know how it happened, but because of a mouthful of almonds and one unexpected sneeze I was marched out of the hotel by armed guards, banned from ever entering a sci-fi convention in the state of Arizona again.
There is a caveat with this method. Your audience has to either care enough about you, or about the subject to keep reading. Lots of bloggers have built their fan bases through their personalities. James Altucher is a favourite of mine and a lot of his blog posts start with unusual or shocking openings.
One other rule, if you start out shocking, the rest of your post needs to justify it. If you can’t tie in a relevant point to your opening story you’re going to disappoint your audience and they won’t be back.
8. Make them a promise
Be bold and make your audience a promise.
After you read this article you will be able to pick locks
Read this to have a simple, powerful marketing system for your craft stall
Just make sure you can keep it of course.
9. Once upon a time…
One way you can hook your reader is to set the scene and tell a story. Unlike the downright bizarre approach this should be related to your subject:
My first time public speaking I was so nervous I knocked over my water glass and the organiser complained about me. One week later I got a standing ovation and an invitation to speak internationally. What had changed in 7 days? Read on to find out…
If you’ve got an interesting story to tell in your blog post let people know up front (without giving the game away).
10. The truth flipper
Take a commonly held truth and then find a contradiction or a surprising angle that your readers might not be aware of:
Having a child is one of the most joyous occasions in the world… and it can also be your worst nightmare.
Running your own business takes time, effort and perseverance. So what if I told you the really successful entrepreneurs only relied on luck?
Regular exercise boosts your energy and immune system but it might just be killing your sex-life. Read on to find out how.
So there we have it, 10 tips for gripping your readers attention after curtain call.Can you think of any more?