Thanks for stopping by, but it’s time to leave.
Seriously… I’m sure you have better things to do than read this blog, right?
The headline was enticing, so you came to the party – but now?
“That post is pretty long, maybe I’ll come back later and read it”
But you never do.
Don’t worry, I’m exactly the same.
If a blog introduction doesn’t grab me by the shirt, throw me down in my chair and compel me to keep reading, I’ll happily skip off the page.
Getting people to go beyond the headline is one of our biggest challenges.
Your elevator pitch…
Meeting new people makes me uncomfortable. (I’m introverted, but that’s no excuse)
Whenever it comes to the first introduction, it always feels like I muck it up.
I’m so obsessed with thinking of questions to ask, I completely forget to nail my elevator pitch.
‘So Will, what is it you do?’
A minute of stuttering and unfocused rambling goes by until the person I’m meeting stares blankly into the distance.
They couldn’t figure out what it was I was trying to say, and to be frank – neither could I.
This is how I feel when I’m reading some blog introductions.
There is no clear purpose, no clear mandate – and why the hell we should be bothering to read at all doesn’t come until it’s too late.
We’re already gone.
Your blog introduction is your elevator pitch.
It’s why anyone bothers to keep reading your content, share it on social media and sign up for your email list.
So instead of being the fumbling, unfocused content writer – let’s take a look at how to write a blog introduction so people have a reason to stick around and keep reading.
The Big Stuff
1. Smack them in the face
In your blog introduction, you need to create a big WHY for the reader.
It needs to be painstakingly obvious why someone should be reading your blog. When I read your intro I need to burn a little inside.
You know that feeling you get when you read something and it feels like the person who wrote it is inside your head?
It feels like that because they have nailed the why.
They have found a compelling reason to write a blog post, and they’ve delivered it in a way that immediately resonates with you.
You know what’s coming next, and that’s why you keep reading – because the writer has made a promise. A promise to help you overcome a challenge you face every day or a shortcut to your biggest goals.
By creating a big WHY you are tapping into the hopes, dreams, fears, and worries of your target audience by speaking to them in a language they understand. Then you are compelling them to sit down and listen up – because what you are about to say next is seriously important to them.
The team over at Smart Blogger are the benchmark when it comes to ‘smacking you in the face’ with a big why early in their content.
Here is an example from their managing editor Glen Long.
If you are a writer reading Glen’s post who feels like your content isn’t hitting the mark, or you are struggling to find that core audience who loves what you have to say – no doubt you will want to keep reading.
Hint, hint – Glen is about to offer a solution to your problem.
2. Talk about canoes
Metaphors and stories help us engage people in a way that facts and figures will never be able to.
They come to us naturally, our ancestors have been sharing history through stories for centuries.
When packed together, metaphors and stories allow us to find complementary meaning for ideas.
They allow us to access understanding we never thought possible and accelerate the time it takes to learn a new concept.
A good metaphor allows us to fight our way through complexity and come out the other side. On this side we get it. We understand it. We can explain it to others.
This is the side we have always wanted to be on, and you can enable others to get there by using a simple metaphor.
Bryan Harris from Videofruit is a master at finding bizarre metaphors to explain complex topics. Below is an example of his ‘canoe caddie’ metaphor that was picked to help people understand the concept of content upgrades.
The big kicker?
Metaphors actually help you understand what you are trying to say even more.
In short, metaphors and stories rock blog introductions.
3. Make it personal
If I was to lay out every single successful blog there is, they would have one thing in common…
They connect personally with their audience.
The reason most blogs and businesses get it wrong is that they make it transactional.
“How can we get more content up?”
Forget about the amount of content, and start focussing on the personal connection you make with your audience.
I don’t care how often you post, if your audience cares about you they will come back for more.
The blog introduction is the perfect place to spark this feeling within your audience.
They need to respect what you have to say, resonate with you as a person and believe they can take action on your advice.
A great mentor once told me;
“Get them to aspire to be like you, but not think it is impossible to get there.”
That is our job as content marketers.
Your readers have to want what you have, and it is up to you to deliver it in a way that connects with them.
James Dillon from Gorilla 360 has a unique way of connecting personally with his readers.
Catch a glimpse in the screenshot below:
He has found a way to access the part of our brain that takes us back to childhood – we are happy, excited and most importantly connected with him for helping us feel that way.
4. Ruffle some feathers
In its essence, we are trying to initiate change in others when we write a blog post.
But change isn’t an easy thing to create in someone else.
Most people are looking for the tactic, strategy or shortcut – but there isn’t one.
Unfortunately, we all hold unhelpful assumptions and beliefs in our head that are holding us back.
They are embedded in the way we think about life, society and how things work. And the only way for us to change as individuals is to challenge those beliefs and find a more empowering way to look at the world.
Your blog introduction is where you need to be challenging these beliefs and assumptions your audience are making.
What do your prospects currently believe that is holding them back from doing things differently?
For example, you may hold the belief that creating a website is a long, arduous process that requires a massive time and financial commitment.
Until you experience otherwise, a belief such as this could hold you back from creating a digital presence for your business.
Neil Patel often challenges what we believe on his Quick Sprout blog.
See an example below in regards to link building and the future of SEO:
5. Give them a map
Often we find a way to be so mysterious, that all it does is confuse our audience.
How about instead, you give your readers exactly what they want to know.
Spell it out for them.
Because there is only really one question on their mind as they are reading your blog introduction:
“If I keep reading, what’s in it for me?”
What journey will you take them on?
What tip, tool or tactic will they be able to put into action after reading your blog post?
How will their life be different at the end of the blog post?
Start with the end in mind, and articulate exactly what your intention is up front.
Highlighted below is an example of how I used this tactic in a post:
6. Play your ‘Ace’
The ‘Ace’ of your blog post is the topic or statement you will anchor the rest of the blog too.
This concept comes from the public speaking sector – speaker’s use one over-arching point that guides the rest of their talk.
The idea being that if attendees are to leave with just one message, it is the ‘Ace’.
So what is your ‘Ace’?
It is your point of view, opinion or standpoint on whatever topic you are talking about.
It’s unique, catchy and memorable in its delivery.
It tells your readers what is important and gives you a reference point as you write other parts of your blog.
It provides an acid test – everything you talk about needs to reinforce your ‘Ace’. If it doesn’t, then don’t say it.
Below is an example of Ana Hoffman from Traffic Generation Cafe using this concept:
The topic of Ana’s post is influencer marketing, but her unique overarching point is ‘Nobody really makes it on their own’.
The Little Stuff
7. Keep them thinking
Asking questions is a common tactic used in killer blog introductions.
By asking a question, or several, you keep the reader thinking.
Every time they see that question mark, they are subconsciously figuring out the answer through their own lens.
It does two very specific things:
- If the reader is desperate to get the answer to the question you pose, they will keep reading
- Or, if they already know the answer, they will probably keep reading anyway because it has just made them feel smart – quick wins create engagement
The types of questions you should ask in an introduction are universal. Ones that tap into broad-based challenges and desires. They are open-ended.
The aim is to bring as many people along on the journey as possible, not polarize individuals.
Here’s an example from one of my favorite bloggers Danny brown.
You will see that Danny has used multiple questions in this introduction, and they build on each other. This layered approach to questioning is a quick way to draw your reader in and have them chomping at the bit for more.
8. Pack some punch
Have you ever landed on a blog and felt overwhelmed?
The intro was so packed full of text, it felt like you were back at school – it strained your eyes.
Use short, punchy sentences instead of bulky paragraphs.
We all have pretty short attention spans, and short sentences help us consume content without freaking out.
They guide our eyes down the page and encourage us to scroll for more. Much like the use of questions, they keep the reader interested without overwhelming them with too many ideas.
Mary Jaksch from Write to Done has nailed this concept in the example below.
Imagine if she had written all of that in one lengthy paragraph?
It wouldn’t have had the same impact, and the chances of you scrolling would’ve dropped substantially.
Blogging is about user experience, not sounding smart. So make it easy for your readers to consume your content and tell the grammar police to take a chill pill.
9. Keep some slack in the rope
The last three tactics tie in nicely together…
They are all trying to encourage your readers to trace their eyes down the page and eventually scroll to the rest of your post.
This concept is known as delayed transitioning, and it is a growing trend.
Brian Dean from Backlinko is a key exponent of this tactic, see below.
You will see that Brian has used three dots after the initial point…
This means that he isn’t finished, there is more to come. Naturally, readers will want to read the next line to find out what they have missed.
I have used the metaphor of a rope because that is exactly what is happening. You are leaving some slack in the rope and slowly pulling your readers down the page, line after line.
10. Play trips instead of deuces
Three is always better than two when it comes to explaining something.
The idea is to triple up on adjectives when you are describing a concept or making a point.
It’s rhythmic, enticing and memorable…
See what I did there?
I found three reasons to play trips instead of deuces, and I packed them one after the other for a compounding effect.
For some reason, this style of writing is built into our makeup. It helps us digest ideas and makes us want to learn more.
11. Be bold
Draw your readers in by formatting your blog introduction – tap into the visual senses.
Use italics, text bolding, dot points or colons.
By breaking up your text it helps people consume it quickly, reinforces key points, and draws their eyes to the most important information.
Here is an example from Robbie Richards (notice how he has used a bunch of the other tactics I’ve spoken about too);
Your intro is important.
It makes or breaks – will someone keep reading or will they bounce?
In this post, I’ve offered 11 principles that make for a compelling blog introduction. Sure I use some of these tactics, but I didn’t come up with them. I’ve learned from the best…
Veterans of writing and blogging figured all of this out long before I did.
You don’t have to use all 11 principles in every post – the key is to mix and match. You will begin to find a writing style that suits your strengths and captures an audience that resonates with that style.
Just don’t take these things for granted. Your blog introduction is your elevator pitch – don’t mess it up.