April 26, 2022
The introduction of a blog post is an incredibly important but often overlooked piece of the puzzle. Quite often, it seems like writers and bloggers want to rush through the introduction and get into the good stuff as soon as possible. Yes, most readers were attracted to your title or headline because they wanted the “good stuff” but that doesn't mean you shouldn't give special attention to the intro.
If people are so excited to get to the guts of your blog and completely skip over your introduction, then give yourself a pat on the back because you created a headline that made such an impact they just couldn't wait. This doesn't happen very often, BTW, so don't use it as an excuse to write a shitty introduction. Here's everything you need to know about how to write a great blog intro.
The introduction of your blog post plays a couple of important roles. It's a natural way to introduce the topic and help guide the reader into the meat of the post. Also, it acts kind of like a ‘get to know’ you, small talk section that warms them up and helps them get to know you a little before you get into the good stuff. I know that many writers think of the introduction as more of an afterthought and completely take it for granted, and if that's you, it could be a big mistake.
Just because your blog idea is earth shattering and ground-breaking in your own mind doesn't mean that every reader is going to skip over your intro and get right into the post. Many people enjoy the journey and even unconsciously use the introduction to gauge whether or not they want to read the rest of the post. Like I mentioned above, it can be similar to that period of small talk when you first meet someone and they're trying to size you up to determine if they want to make the time investment to get into a deeper conversation.
Here are some proven concepts that should help you write a blog introduction that maintains the interest you created with your headline and helps guide the reader into the body of your post.
Perhaps the most logical strategy for writing a blog introduction is to set the stage for what's to come. This may include providing a brief synopsis of the sections and content the reader is about to get into, and it can also give you an opportunity to set the rhythm and tone of the blog. Many readers appreciate this type of introduction because it allows them to invest a tiny portion of their time to determine if they want to continue reading or not.
When you use your introduction to set the stage, you might tell them precisely what's to come and what to expect, you might instill a sense of foreboding or fear, or you might try to build anticipation for a solution you are going to deliver in the rest of the content. Whichever specific tactic you choose, taking some time to set the stage for the rest of the post will often prove beneficial.
As a marketer or businessperson, one of your main objectives is to solve problems. Your perspective customers or clients have a particular issue or problem, and you have the solution to make it better. This idea is nothing new, but you can really attract the right kind of attention by bringing it up in your blog introduction. You always want the right prospects reading your content, and by highlighting a common problem in the introduction, you'll have a much better chance of turning away any tire kickers and bringing in the people you really want.
It's a good idea to focus on one specific problem and not be all over the map and try to solve all the world's issues in one introduction. Yes, your customers and clients likely have multiple issues that you can help with, but that's what other blog posts are for. When you highlight a problem, you're going to create familiarity and rapport and also give them an incentive to keep reading so they can find the solution.
Using questions is an age-old direct mail copywriting technique that is supposed to pique curiosity and get the reader to move forward to find an answer. Typically, if you use questions in your introduction, that section will be shorter and to the point. Once the reader sees that question mark, they're going to want an answer and if you keep going on about other things in the introduction before getting to the answer part, they may lose interest and click away to something else. That doesn't mean your intro should only be one line, just make sure any content that comes after the question is related and is guiding readers in the right direction.
As with a headline or title, it's always best to answer open-ended questions that can't be answered with a simple yes or no. If your question is something like ‘Do you like potato chips?’ it can be easily answered yes or no and that may be the end of the interaction. An example using the same idea that may increase engagement and get them to keep reading could be something like, ‘Did you know eating potato chips may increase your risk of glaucoma?’ I don't know if that's actually true or not, but as an example you can see how much more engaging it is. Also, don't forget to provide the answers to your question in the body of your blog.
What can I say about quotes? There are entire websites, social media accounts and email campaigns based on providing interesting or inspiring quotes. People seem to love a good quote because they are short and to the point, they get you thinking and quite often they are provided by people we look up to or want to emulate. Adding a quote to your blog introduction may be just what you need to get someone's interest and inspire them to keep reading the rest of the post. Naturally, you'll want to use quotes from people that resonate with your target audience and won't turn them off.
Another direct mail concept is that people are mostly interested in themselves first. This plays out in just about every aspect of society and is easy to see if you pay attention. In the vast majority of cases, people have a ‘what's in it for me?’ type of attitude and they want to know how they're going to benefit before they give you their time and attention. This isn't anything inherently negative, it's just human nature, but you can capitalize on it In your ads, social media posts and blog posts. One way to do that is to highlight the benefits of your content in the introduction so they already know what's in it for them and that reading your blog post will be worth their while.
If you're going to use the highlighting benefits approach, remember that there's a difference between features and benefits. A feature is something about a product or service that makes it stand out or makes it unique, and the benefit is what that feature will do for your life or how it will make your life better. It's common for people to mix up features and benefits in their writing, and while this won't usually derail your blog writing efforts, it's still a good idea to be able to differentiate between the two and focus on real benefits if that's going to be your approach.
There's nothing like some good old controversy or conflict to get a blog post started. If you decide to take a definitive stand at the beginning of your blog, there's always a chance that you're going to create tension. You can make a pointed statement you know is going to get a mixed response, you can challenge a long-held belief or you can take strategic aim at a specific controversial topic in your industry or niche. When you do this, your readers will either:
Wonder why you've made the statement or are challenging the topic
And if you have orchestrated this sense of conflict skilfully, they will want to keep reading to find out more regardless of their personal stance. Keep in mind, taking a stand skillfully means not being overtly offensive or turning people off to such a degree they have no desire to continue reading.
As mentioned earlier in the post, your blog introduction is a good place and time to create rapport with your readers. This could be in the form of introducing yourself for your business and letting them know what you're all about. Or, it could be using any of the other tactics that have been mentioned in a way that will get them nodding their head and feeling like you have something in common. The dictionary definition of rapport is: “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well.” And while there are many different ‘how’s’ to get this accomplished, if you can keep this definition in mind, you should be on the right track when it comes to creating rapport with your readers.
This is more of a tactic than a way to write your introduction, but it can be highly effective. Sometimes, after you've written the body of your content and the blog post is basically complete, you may have a clearer view and understanding of which type of introduction will work best. There are times that you may write the introduction first and then find it doesn't really mesh with the rest of the content you've written, but if you write it last that will never be a problem. By writing it last, you can take a look at the overall blog post and then strategically create an introduction that makes the most sense for what you're trying to accomplish. You can sit back and say ok, what's the best thing to write here to get people ready for what they're about to read.
I remember reading a tip for writing introductions once upon a time that suggested cutting the first couple sentences of your introduction and then using that third or fourth sentence as the first. I think the idea was that writers tend to fluff things up a little bit at the start before they really get into anything meaningful, and by ditching those first couple of fluffy sentences your intro will have a lot more impact.
Your ‘what not to do list’ should be comprised of all the things that are going to potentially turn someone off, distract them, or otherwise get them to disengage and stop reading your blog.
Typically, you don't want to be too stuffy or rigid sounding in the introduction. In most cases, you want your introduction to be conversational and follow the rules of good persuasive writing, which means writing as if you're having a conversation with one person. You also don't want your introduction to drag on for too long. There's no magic word count that will always be effective, but if you're having trouble deciding, shorter is usually better than longer.
Before you release it to the world, sit back and digest what you've written and ask yourself if there's any possibility that this introduction is going to turn people away and not bring them into the rest of the content. It's true that you can't please everyone all the time, but you'll know if your introduction is a stop sign or a gateway. You want it to be a gateway, BTW.
No blog post about writing great blog introductions can be complete without knowing your reader. This applies to everything you write and it's just as true when it comes to your intro. Take the time to create a detailed customer avatar so you know exactly who you're talking to right from the beginning. When you know your ideal customers likes, dislikes, problems, fears, frustrations, wants, needs and desires, much of your content will almost write itself.
It's only when you have a deep understanding of what motivates your reader and what kinds of solutions they need that you can really create rapport and engagement on another level. It's common to include things like a name, gender, occupation, salary, etc. when creating a buyer persona, but if you take the time to go even deeper and include some of the elements listed above, you'll get better results.
If you'd like to know more about writing blog introductions, if you'd like to talk about content in any of its forms or if you'd like to discuss what we can do for you when it comes to your own content, get in touch with us today.
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