Introductions are hell. How many times have you stared at the blinking cursor wondering what to write? I’ve done it more times than I can count. And the worst part? No matter how many times you write introductions, each is its own beast.
That’s why writing blog posts is less about following a set of rules, and more about approaching introductions with the right mindset and attitude. Here’s how you can do that.
1. You don’t have to write the introduction first
Just because you read the introduction first doesn’t mean you need to write it first. You can write the introduction last. You can write it halfway through your post. Writing isn’t a linear process.
When I wrote my thesis for grad school, I jumped around between sections. I’d pick a section, write until I couldn’t anymore, then switch to a new section. Eventually I’d circle around back to the original section, but by then, I’d know what the next step needed to be. Writing introductions is like that.
Once you finish writing the body of your post, you’ll know what your introduction needs to accomplish. You’ll understand the direction you need to lead your readers for them to grasp your topic and continue reading.
2. Forget essay writing
This isn’t your high school English class. It’s not even your college composition class. Blog posts have nothing to do with school whatsoever.
So don’t write like it does.
Adopt a conversational style. Use white space. A paragraph doesn’t have to be four to six sentences. It can be one. (See paragraph above!) A traditional introduction has a thesis statement where you spell out exactly what you’re going to talk about.
Don’t do it. Find a way to set up the topic without giving away what your post is about. You want to create interest.
3. Know WHO and WHAT
Who are you writing for? What is your purpose? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, your readers won’t either. And that makes for a very poor introduction (and blog post).
Knowing who you’re writing for will let you meet your audience at their level. You won’t insult their intelligence. You won’t talk over their heads. You’ll talk to them like you’re one of them.
Knowing why you’re writing the post and what the purpose is will give you laser focus. Good introductions—and blog posts—give readers a reason to continue reading. Knowing what your purpose is will help you give readers that reason.
4. Hook ’em
If you don’t hook your readers within the first few sentences, they’re not going to continue. Is that a lot of pressure? Absolutely. But the beauty of writing is that your reader will only ever see the final product.
Write as many hooks as possible for your introduction. Choose the best one. Think like a reader. What hook would make you read the rest of the post? That’s the one you want.
5. Your introduction is more than your introduction paragraph(s)
The decision to read your post doesn’t start at the introduction. So what else influences people?
The title of your post. It should be clear and informative. If I don’t know what a post is about after reading the title, I’m probably not going to read it. The bonus of a clear and informative title is that it’s good for SEO too.
The design of your blog. Is your font small? I probably won’t read it unless you’ve got something so thought provoking I can’t help myself. If your background and font color is too similar or hurts my eyes, I’m not going to read. How your blog looks on a mobile device counts too.
How you share your post on social media. Writing the title and sharing the link isn’t enough. Why should someone read your post? What benefit does your post have? Your tweet or update should answer those questions somehow.
Have your say: how do you bust through the frustration of writing blog post introductions?