By Mary Jaksch
Imagine that you’ve been invited to a party where you don’t know anyone. You’ve come through the door, grab a drink, and stand there feeling like a pony with five legs.
Nobody seems to pay any attention to you. After a while you start sidling to the door in order to escape. Or maybe you tough it out and start ‘making conversation’.
Ok, so this scenario isn’t much fun.
Here’s another scenario: You go to the same party. But this time the host spots you hovering on the doorstep, guides you into the room, hands you a drink and shows you around, introducing you to the other guests. That would feel a lot better, right?
The difference lies in the introduction.
In the first scenario, you didn’t feel welcome. Whereas in the second scenario, your host connected with you. When you think of visiting a blog and reading a post, the experience is quite similar. If there is no introduction to the post you’re about to read, you may feel unwelcome and leave. Why? Because the headline promised a wonderful experience, but the start of the post didn’t match up.
What makes the introduction to your blog post irresistible?
1. Invite the reader in
The reader will feel at home if he or she feels that their concerns will be met here. And that your blog is a friendly place to visit. One way is to address the reader directly.
What motivates you? Do you respond best to intrinsic motivation, or to extrinsic motivation?
From: How Motivation Works |Goodlife ZEN
Do you sometimes feel like you’re in a rut with writing? We all do from time to time.
From: Energize Your Writing |Copyblogger
2. State a commonality.
When you state something that you have in common with your readers, you create an immediate bond.
We all seem to be waiting for something to come to us before we can move on in life: ‘Waiting for a perfect partner before I can be truly happy’.
From: Sitting in Life’s Waiting lounge |Steve Aitchison Blog
Everyone agrees that fitness is good. It boosts your health, brightens your soul, calms your mind, and allows you to do more with your life.
From: Want to Be Fit – or Even Ultra-Fit? |Goodlife ZEN
3. Be personal.
Address your reader like a friend. A great way to do this is to tell a personal story.
When I was a young girl, I climbed trees, built forts, and swam fast. I didn’t shave my legs, wear make-up, sit on the sidelines or wait to lead the charge over a snowbank.
From: How to Be a Girl| Momentum Gathering
I’m a big subscriber to using whatever you can find to work out: pullups on trees, throw big boulders, flip logs or big tires, jump over things, sprint up hills.
From: Minimalist Gym| Zen Habits
4. Be exciting.
Create a mystery in your introduction that then unfolds in the main part. When you use this strategy, you create a bridge from the headline (which should offer a promise) to the middle part – which delivers the promise. The key is to intimate to your readers in the introduction what are you going to reveal to them in the rest of the article.
Your headline is the first, and perhaps only, impression you make on a prospective reader. Without a compelling promise that turns a browser into a reader, the rest of your words may as well not even exist. So, from a copywriting and content marketing standpoint, writing great headlines is a critical skill. Here are some interesting statistics:
From: How to Write Magnetic Headlines | CopyBlogger
5. Offer the ‘why’ of your post.
Write about what triggered this topic in your mind, or in your life.
When I started the 8-Week Fitness Challenge, I had no idea what the response might be. I was amazed when about 100 people joined the Challenge! It seems that there is a quiet revolution in progress.
From: Fitness: 5 Things that Make Exercise Enjoyable| Goodlife ZEN
6. Lead in with a personal story.
A personal story can be a great way to draw your readers into a post. Of course the personal story needs to focus on the key issue of your post.
Today, my mom was telling me about her life as a young married mother of two in the mid 70s. She worked full-time, cooked all the meals, did all the shopping, homework help, vacuumed, dusted, swept, mopped, made homemade bread, weeded an immense garden, cleaned the bathrooms, did the laundry and dishes. We begrudgingly helped a bit.
From: Do You Have a Chair of Your Own| Momentum Gathering
7. Ask questions.
A question that is unanswered feels incomplete. Questions intensify the reader’s curiosity. The key is to ask questions that the reader can’t answer without further information.
When a young Turkish boy named Celal Kapan first began to speak, almost the first thing he said was:
“What am I doing here? I was at the port.”
Later he told his parents that he had been a dockworker who had fallen asleep in the hold of a ship when a heavy oil drum fell on him and killed him instantly. Was he remembering a previous life?
From: Is there Life After Death?| Goodlife ZEN
8. State facts.
Details increase the value of your post, and boost your credibility. Use exact numbers if you can. Readers tend to trust numbers.
Sex may be a common topic in the US, but there are some facts about sex that most of the American population is unaware of. For instance, cold feet is probably the reason for a lack of orgasm. A UK study found that 80% of couples wearing socks during intercourse were able to reach orgasm, but 50% of those who were sockless weren’t able to reach orgasm.
From: Interesting Facts About Sex | Medical Billing and Coding
9. Use quotes.
Quotes are a great way to lead into your post. Everyone loves quotes. They are usually by well-known authors and through using their quotes, you are borrowing their authority. If you use quotes supporting the main points of your post, this will increase the reader’s trust in you.
In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.
About ten years ago, I stopped sleeping. It started on a vacation. The first night in this lovely beach rental, I couldn’t fall asleep and stayed wide awake all night. Of course I was a mess the next day, and the following night I was panicky that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again.
From: Just a Bad Mood or Are You Coming Unglued?| Live Bold and Bloom
What unites us as human beings is an urge for happiness which at heart is a yearning for union.
~ Sharon Salzberg
Have you ever looked into the mirror and wondered who is staring back at you? Or longed to unite the many parts within you? The friendly one, the angry one, the resentful one, the sad one, the calm one, the impatient one, the confused one – that are all jumbled up behind a public persona that’s buffed and glossed – but tends to crack when you’re angry or upset.
From: Unraveled? Here’s How to Knit Yourself and the World Together| Zen Habits
If you can find good anecdotes, the introduction is a great place to place them. Anecdotes are short, punchy stories. Speech writers often lead in with an anecdote because it help the audience to pay attention.
Google just introduced customizable background images on their site.
Here’s what happened:
“I need to search for someth…. wait, huh? What is Google celebrating today, the guy who invented transparency? A background image, oh weird, it’s like a mountain view. Oh I get it… Mountain View! I wonder who that woman on the dock is? Not a huge fan of big, busy images… too distracting. What other pictures are there? Yuck. Yuck. Nice for a photo album, but too busy for this page. Meh, the colored background is ok, red… no, gray, yeah, gray. Actually, maybe I want—Wait, I was supposed to be searching, how do I turn this off? Wait, why does clicking remove background image just return the original picture of the woman on the dock, I just want nothing to be there. Argh!”
From: A Google Background Image Anecdote| Plastic Mind
11. Moral stories
Since the dawn of mankind, people have told stories to illustrate and inspire. There are some great collections, such as Aesop’s fables. If you can find a story that exemplifies the core of your post message, then it may be something you can offer in your introduction.
The Hare and the Tortoise
The introduction is a crucial part of a blog post. It’s a chance to connect with readers and encourage them to read your post.
You may think that it’s common knowledge how to write a good introduction, but about 60% of all guest posts that land on my desk lack an introduction. It’s not a difficult skill to learn; it just takes practice. A great way to learn how to write good intros is to try out all of the eleven ways above in turn.
If you have some more tips on writing an intro, or if you have some interesting examples, please share them in the comments.
A quick heads-up
Leo Babauta and I have just opened registrations for our new A-List Blogging Bootcamp, The Art of Blog Seduction: How to Draw Subscribers to Your Awesome Blog. Join the Bootcamp now and grab your Early-Bird Bonus!
Become a better writer overnight with this FREE eBook
- Find daily inspiration
- Improve your writing overnight
- Get started, even when you don’t feel motivated
- Complete what you start
- Get WTD updates