Picture your reader suddenly breaking into a smile,
They’ve just started reading your latest blog post. Something in it tickled them – and touched their imagination, arrowed deep to a passion they hold dear.
It’s an awesome image, isn’t it?
You’re already 6 seconds into this blog post… Why have you read so far?
I’m guessing it’s partly because you respect this spectacular blog and it’s fed you value in the past. Also, the power of a title will carry you some way into even the dullest of posts, like a 100-metre sprinter who realizes he’s on the wrong track after the gun’s been fired.
But also I think you dived right in because in the very first sentence I evoked an image in your mind:
‘Picture your reader suddenly breaking into a smile’.
It’s something as a blogger you desire, right? Maybe even crave. It might be the solution to a problem or fear you have. It’s emotional. It’s visual. It was carefully thought out, because;
The first sentence – the Hook – is the second most important part of your post.
I’ll call it ‘the hook’ like we do in copywriting and journalism. Because in my un-humble opinion, blog post-writing should be just as potent. We’re taking up someone’s valuable time and we have an important message to get across.
So, how can you use your first sentence to truly hook that mind-wandering visitor?
I’m about to reveal some little-known copywriting wisdom.
Here are 13 examples of hooks that work a treat
“You want more free time, right?”
(Use a question which gets the reader to scream ‘yes!’)
“Want more retweets? These seven expert tips will reveal how: ”
“What’s the second most important part of your blog post, after the title?”
(Another kind of question. The kind that gets them guessing, and itching to know the answer)
“Let me tell you a quick story” or “Once upon a time there was…”
(Who hasn’t got time for a story?)
“In 3 minutes you’ll know how to make $20,000 on Elance”
(BIG, exciting promise)
“Grab them from the first word. That’s step one”
(This is a powerful sentence, inciting action. And refreshingly unusual)
“These days, I write pretty darn fast. The first draft of this 1,300 word post took 51 minutes”
(Impress them with an almost unbelievable claim. And show your credentials)
“I was frozen in terror”
(Use some good old-fashioned novel-opening tricks. Start in the centre of some exciting action)
“So I was standing there, drenched in water – in the middle of Starbucks!”
It will please some of you to know that I almost called this article ‘What’s My Name, Bitch?’
(Be funny, or shocking. Or both)
“Do you sound smarter when you use big words? According to a study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, the answer is no.”
(Challenge conventional wisdom)
“Imagine this:” or “Picture this:”
(Immediately get their imagination running wild)
“A seasoned marketer like you will know this already.”
(Tell them what they know already, and flatter them a little. It builds trust)
I nicked a couple of these examples from this top post on blog post openings by Michael Pollock.
And now it’s time for some more delicious copywriting knowledge.
The mindset for a powerful hook; 7 juicy tips
- Be fast and punchy
No more slow introductions. Just begin fast. Boom.
To shake your style up, try starting your first sentence with ‘Ok’ or ‘So’ – as though you’re already slap bang in the middle of a story with someone.
- Make it a short sentence
Cut out unnecessary words. Trim the fat. Say it fast, strong and well.
A quick example – as I reread this post, in the second sentence I wrote ‘went deep like an arrow to a genuine passion they hold dear.’
Then I realized I could say it with less words: ‘arrowed deep to a passion they hold dear.’
Start thinking like this. Don’t ramble. People hate ramblers. (Sorry to people who like walking in the mountains; I don’t mean you. Everyone loves you guys).
- Make it a one-sentence paragraph
Don’t be afraid of that ‘Enter’ button on the right hand side of your keyboard, just under your right pinkie. I love that button. I hit it all the time. In fact, I’m gonna hit it right n…
- Evoke an emotion
Try to picture your reader, all serious-faced at their computer. Picture them breaking into that grin, or at least their eyes lighting up with eagerness, like a toddler watching their favourite cartoon.
Think hard. What can you say in those first few words that will make them have that deep emotional reaction? What will ignite that flame?
- Get straight to the heart of the matter
Don’t piss about. Get straight to the meat of it. Bam.
Right into the action, like the opening scene of a good movie or action novel.
- Address their deepest problem, instantly
What is your reader’s deepest problem and desire around this topic? Say it in the first words, and also let them know that if they keep on reading – they might just be closer to solving it.
Tease them with what’s to come. Build anticipation.
- Bonus trick; leave out the full stop
Here’s a little copywriting trick. A ‘full stop’ or ‘period’ (as I believe my American buddies call it) – at the end of a sentence – unconsciously tells a reader to ‘stop’.
Leave it out! Use a comma or nothing instead. Your reader will flow right on into the next sentence and get lost deep in the depths of your blog post.
“But wait Konrad, you’re breaking the grammar rules!”
Well I guess I’m just the kind of crazy badass rule-breaker who breaks a few eggs to get results. Just please don’t tell the grammar police, ok?
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