Every time I open a new post, I re-write the first sentence at least five times, delete it, and finally come back to it. What’s the big idea? The introductory sentence in a blog post is arguably the most important. Its sole purpose is to lead visitors into reading the rest of your post with its succinct and captivating tone.
When writing the introduction to your post, keep in mind that this is your post’s first impression. What can you do to make your post lead, or lede for the journalists in the crowd, stand out?
- Keep it simple. An ideal lead is about 35 to 40 words long and only a sentence or two. If you write too long of a lead, you may lose some of your readers. Instead, you want to grab their attention as quickly as possible.
- Be creative. My favorite leads often pull from other resources, such as music or pop culture. If you’re writing an opinion piece about something on the news, can you tie in an individual narrative or a surprising fact? For humorous posts, what about a funny pun or pop cultural reference?
- Stay active. Using strong verbs and straightforward writing in your lead is more enticing than a sentence chock full of fluff. The details of your tale can always be added later, but you want to make sure you have your reader’s attention before diving into them.
For bloggers, we sometimes use images to introduce our stories as well. Photos can be a great tool for pulling in readers when used as an enhancement for your post. Writing a post about your recent road trip? Starting off with a picture of a stunning vista or that wacky roadside attraction can pack just as strong of a punch as a clever, word-based lead.
First impressions only happen once, so if you’re unsure of how to start your post don’t be afraid to write out of order. After you’ve written out your entire post, go back to the beginning of the story to add your lead. Sometimes, you won’t know how to begin your blog post until it’s already been written. This can also help you to organize your thoughts as you summarize the main points of your writing and what you specifically want to convey in your first attention-grabbing line.
Do you have any tips for grabbing a reader’s attention? Do you prefer to let photos pull your readers in or your writing?