97% of bloggers increase their readership with these opening paragraphs

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Did you know that 88% of statistics are made up? That cats are the secret overlords of the web and the pugs are trying to takeover? No? Okay, the statistics in the headline and the first sentence were clearly made up to get your attention. Now that I have it, shall we talk about opening a blog post and creating a powerful paragraph that hooks readers in?

AbeLincoln

How to write your opening paragraph so that it gets read  - no trickery involved.

My daughters are fans of the Sound of Music, they listen to it everyday, singing along. In one of the songs Julie Andrews sings “let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you start with A-B-C”.. you know the song? Opening or starting your blog post with a story to illustrate the point is a great place to begin.  I opened this paragraph with a story example. In the next paragraph I’d tie in how the story relates to my ideal customer and include the first in a series of really useful tidbits to lead them down the post until they reach my call to action. Stories make great opening paragraphs to blog posts but they are not the only way.

Another way to open your blog post is to

Ask a question with the intent to engage your target audience.

“Have you ever noticed that some bloggers just jump straight in with the facts and figures? Why do they do that?  “Isn’t it frustrating when…” Readers that experience the same as you feel a connection with you and are more likely to comment and share – after all you understand them. You can make this type of opening paragraph short and sweet or expand it with a  thought-provoking quote. Quotes (like the statistics but use real ones please) add an element of interest and credibility to your blog post. Remember to attribute the quotes correctly and if you have the time add them to a beautiful image to make them pinnable.

Or

 Experiment with the question on an image.

Yes, that’s a start the post with an image and see what happens. It’s not a frequent occurrence here on this blog, but I do open the occasional post with an image just to spice things up a little. Yesterday’s post was opened with an quote around writing time from Peter de Vries. It was perfectly matched for the post and a nice opener. Last week’s post about experts that don’t use the terminology correctly also opened with a great image. Every now and then an image makes a great opening.

Paint a picture in the reader’s mind.

Paint a colourful scene with words, be descriptive and make your reader feel like she’s there with you. Let’s make the reader by part of our morning routine at Chez Arrow:

The alarm is buzzing but nobody is stirring. The sun streams through the curtain onto the sleeping faces and in some part of the house a cat yawns and stretches. Dad wakes with a start, we’ve all overslept and although the day is warm, all the rushing around getting ready for school makes everyone is grouchy. They’d much rather be in bed sleeping still.

When you you open with a powerful visual paragraph you must remember the point is to get the reader to continue to read to the next paragraph. Blog posts with this kind of visual opening can also be closed with it. It helps tie everything in the post together and make it flow better. This type of open and close can be tricky, so expect to write a good number of them before they “click” and read naturally.

Start with a bold statement or claim.

Get it out there! I opened with a made up statistic, how’s that for boldness? A claim was made in my headline, but they work equally well in the opening paragraph of your blog post. Would you read this bold opening paragraph?

“In my 9 years of blogging, I’ve come to the conclusion that most bloggers just don’t get it and are, in fact, endangering the businesses of their readers.”

Bold claims must be backed up with some evidence, they can’t be mere random thoughts pulled from your mind. Attributing and listing your research makes your post more credible and if you misquote or make an inaccurate assessment based on the data then at least you know where the information came from. Dave Munger has some great advice when it comes to a research post here.

If all else fails…

Study other articles in online and offline publications see how some of the most shared blog posts are opened and create a swipe file of the better ones so you can model their openers. That’s model not copy word for word. See what techniques other writers are using to get attention in with their opening paragraph and see if it can be adapted for your niche.

Over to you – what works best for you when opening your blog posts?

This article “97% of bloggers increase their readership with these opening paragraphs” first appeared on SarkeMedia

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Sarah Arrow

Sarah Arrow

Chief Blog Coach at Sark eMedia
Blogging an issue for you? Social media not quite working how it should be? I'm the creator of Birds on the Blog (listed 3 times by Forbes as a top 100 website for women) and grew into a kick-ass blog coach You want your blog to make a difference, so add me to your reader and stay in touch. My updates will help you connect the social media dots.
Sarah Arrow

@SarahArrow

Leading blogger & entrepreneur. Pinball wiz, author, sci fi fan, chief Bird on the Blog, wife to Kevin, mother of dragons. Known for wry observations.
Marketing: How Often Should I Email My List? - How often should I email my list is one of those... http://t.co/Rgl0ZO24ZJ #Social #Content - 60 mins ago
Sarah Arrow
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Comments

  1. Janeen Violante says:

    I recently posted a blog with a snappy title. I think that title alone gave me a dramatic increase in traffic great post here

  2. Great tips Sarah, I often find myself forgetting to put as much thought into my opening paragraphs as I should because I'm so focused on getting across the meat of the content. I'll definitely be taking these into account when I write my next blog post :)

  3. I always like to start with a bold statement or question. It helps if the bold statement or question is one that a lot of people are googling as well…
    My recent post Can social media increase sales? Yes, and here’s how

  4. Hey mamacita — I am printing this out as I type. I'm questing for greater readership. Shhhh. I don't want anyone to smell my ambition. xo

  5. Awesome advice. I need to work on that first paragraph for sure!
    My recent post Upping My Game With The Belkin Ease-Fitt Armband

  6. Hi Sarah – good to see you here :)

    I agree with you about the starting paragraph and also the title, which are the two main things, followed by a powerful image and of course the content that really attract a person to your blog post. Yes, there are so-so many ways we can really start off a post, which again mainly depends on your content and the thought you give behind it.

    I've noticed that when you really sit and take the pains to think a little deeper, the title and opening paragraph do wonders to any posts, though not everyone really takes the pains to go into such details. Speaking of myself, I keep trying various ways – sometimes there are questions, sometimes just a statement, or then anything else. Some people even have totally unrelated opening paragraphs, which I feel isn't right as they could even misguide people to read something that's totally in contrast to what you mention otherwise in your post.

    Thanks for sharing. Have a nice week ahead :)
    My recent post Relationship Issues: How to Avoid Them

  7. Great ones. I love the headline of this article… and I am still a die hard Sound of Music lover!
    My recent post Getting fat after marriage: yes, please!

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