If you don’t have them hooked from the start, you’ll never hook them at all. That’s what you’ve heard for years. And it holds just as true from your very first English class to today, dear reader. Your first paragraph is, arguably, your most important. For a good reason. First impressions matter.
There’s this idea in psychology: the primacy effect. The first part of anything is more easily remembered and more influential than anything that follows (besides the conclusion, that is).
But how do you write an opening paragraph that hooks readers and compels them to read your blog posts all the way to the end? Here’s a few things to keep in mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Personal
Sharing anecdotes or injecting a bit of personality into your opening go a long way towards attracting your readers’ attention. People notice and pay attention when they feel like they get to understand you a little more. Why would anyone want to bother with a faceless, generic article? I wouldn’t.
You can talk about how the topic you’re exploring in your piece is personal to you or relate a story of how your topic affected you.
Give Readers a Taste of What’s to Come
Hint at what readers can expect from your article. You might throw in a line like:
“Thanks to these new techniques, we were able to attract one thousand new followers in one week.”
Notice that we didn’t say what those techniques were. There’s just enough mystery there to make readers wonder what you’re trying to say. Leave a thread of intrigue. If readers are curious about figuring out what you’re going to say later or how you’ll get from point A to point B, they’ll read on.
Effective Titles Are Half the Battle
As you realized from opening this article in the first place, the title was probably half the reason you even opened this. Your title needs to work in tandem with your opener. If your opener doesn’t seem like it relates to the question your title is trying to answer or the concept you’re trying to explore, why would readers want to continue? Chances are likely that they’ll feel cheated by it! We can write a whole article alone about what makes a good title. But just make sure that your title is descriptive. Feel free to be inventive.
Ask a Question
While you shouldn’t overuse this trope, asking a question can be an effective way of drawing your readers’ attention. For example, you might ask something like this:
“Are you tired of writing blogs that don’t retain readers? There’s an easier way.”
Make sure the question makes sense and is something that your target audience actually would want to find out and know more about. Otherwise, the resounding response to your questions is going to be “Why should I care?”
Don’t Be Gimmicky
Empty gimmicks make readers feel cheated and insulted. We mean openings like this: “Read to the end and you’ll be entered to win $1 million dollars!” “Read this article or you’ll be a loveless loser.” When openings feel like they’re deliberately designed to attract attention or mislead the reader, it ruins your credibility as a writer.
Don’t insult your readers’ intelligence. This is why you need to be careful about using humor as an opener. Done right and it can be a memorable ending. But when it doesn’t work, it’s jarring.
Your openings need to relate to your content, set readers up for what they can expect from your piece, and, ultimately, make a good impression. Do that and you’ll be on your way towards writing openers that get readers hooked from the very first sentence.