Crafting the perfect blog post introduction can be the difference between being average, and being above-average.
Let’s try that again.
Blow your intro and no-one will read your post. Nail it and they will.
The average blog post doesn’t get read, shared, or liked, and it doesn’t generate leads.
If you’re going to write a blog post, you have to make it an above-average one. And give it a killer intro that doesn’t put your audience to sleep, or they’ll never know how great it is.
Get it right, and move from the average posts that get no attention at all, to the ones that are still floating around social a year or two after publication. That are generating leads years after publication.
A blog post is a funnel.
The headline sells the intro. The intro sells the post. The post generates engagement, awareness and leads.
Every stage must be strong.
A weak headline means no-one will even read the intro.
Weak intro? No-one will read even the first of your seven reasons, five ways or whatever. Your content upgrades won’t help you build your list, and your carefully-crafted calls to action won’t even be seen.
As we’ve seen, ‘whatever’ is pretty much the reaction the average blog post gets. And it’s mostly based on the intro, because that’s as far as most folks read.
Write a killer intro and you persuade the reader that your post is of value, so that they’ll follow an argument you present or a new idea, even if it takes several paragraphs to come into focus.
To present readers something of value you have to give them new facts and new ideas, and you can’t do that if they don’t trust you enough to let you build an argument.
(Maybe you’ve noticed that I got you to do just that with this intro – hopefully I convinced you too.)
So a strong intro = good. How do you create a strong intro?
The four elements
A solid intro has four elements that come after each other. They are:
1. The Hook
2. The Transition
3. The Thesis
4. The Sale
Let’s dive in to each one.
1. The Hook
The hook is the part of your intro that grabs the reader and tells them, ‘this is worth your time.’ It hooks them in. Make it provocative, emotive, urgent, funny, unlikely, intriguing, and make it early.
A good trick is to cut the first line of your intro and see if it still makes sense. If it does, cut the next line, and so on. You want to pare away everything between the reader and the hook.
The hook matters for a simple reason – you’ve got just a few seconds to convince a reader that your killer headline wasn’t just clickbait and you have some real value to share. No hook, no reader.
How to Hook
Remember the intro is a copywriting job. You’re selling the rest of the post. Someone’s clicked through, based on the headline.
What do you have to offer them? You’ve got about two or three lines (max) to sell it.
- What’s the question your post answers?
- What’s the myth it explodes?
- What’s the benefit of learning how to do what you’re teaching?
- Who will want to know?
- What could be the negative consequence of not learning this?
Don’t be afraid to talk to the reader.
‘If you’re in sales, you’ve heard this objection a million times.
“It’s just not the right time for us to buy.”
Fail to handle it, and you’re leaving money on the table.’
The audience is identified. In sales? Hey, that’s me! You’ve identified the problem that you’re helping the reader solve.
And you’ve named the benefit, in negative terms: if you don’t learn how to do this, you’ll always make less money than you could.
2. The Transition
Your transition is usually a sentence that connects the hook to the body of the post, making sense of the title and the post in relation to each other.
Without a transition, your hook and your thesis will just sit next to each other. Don’t make the reader figure out the connection: show them why the hook naturally leads to the thesis.
How to Transition
Your transition walks the reader from your hook to your thesis. We’re not talking about a whole lot of words here, but they need to be a clear signpost: this way to find out what’s going on.
‘I used to be in that situation too. It was frustrating, not making quota – when I knew my prospects would really benefit from our product.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.’
This transition establishes credibility – sounds like the person writing it has been right where you are.
And it walks you quickly to the point: It doesn’t have to be that way.
3. The Thesis
A thesis is the point you want to make, the thing you want to say is true. You’re summarizing the topic of the post, and making clear the point you’re going to be arguing.
The thesis is the post in miniature. You’re presenting the value, in truncated form. This is the proof to back up your hook: you told the reader you were worth their time, now’s the time to show them.
How to craft your Thesis
Your thesis is the point you want to make. Now you’ve hooked the reader and walked them over to the thesis with your transition, it’s time to give them an overview of exactly what you’re offering.
What’s the post really about?
‘I was lucky enough to get some great advice – from a source I totally didn’t expect – that made me realize I could totally handle this objection. All it took was some nerve – and some know-how. Because most folks who give you this objection? Truth is, they’re really saying something else.’
So I know what the post is about. It’s about learning to handle this objection. And the objection is OK to handle because it’s a cover for some other worry, which I can assuage and make more sales.
That’s a pretty great outcome.
Note that the thesis tells the reader what the meat of the post will be, but only in general terms. If the hook is the sizzle, this is the smell of the steak: a foretaste of what’s to come, but without the substance. (That’s what the post is for!)
4. The Sale!
The final part of the intro is the sale. You’re telling the reader, either in plain terms or by implication, that once they read your post, they’ll have the benefits you’ve promised and will be able to achieve the things you’ve recommended.
(Source: 11 Smart Tips for Brilliant Writing.)
The sale reminds the reader why they shouldn’t just quit reading now. They read the thesis, they get the idea. The sale reminds them that the real value lies in the body of the post.
How to nail the Sale
If you did the other three parts well, the ‘come on, let’s go’ section of the intro isn’t so tough.
But it’s pretty important.
It sets expectations, encourages readers to continue and restates the value of the piece clearly and simply.
Let’s find out what…
If most people who give you this objection actually mean something else, what exactly do they really mean? And what effect will that have on your work? Let’s find out.
Note that this ‘sells’ the rest of the post as a guided exploration: ‘We’ are going to find out, but in fact the author has done the work for you.
You’re going to be guided to the solution, but without being lectured or bored to death.
I’d suggest writing the body of your post first, then the conclusion.
Your conclusion is the intro inverted, reminding the reader of the key points you made, and it’s a lot easier to write it when you’ve crafted the body of the post and the ideas in it are fresh and clear in your mind.
Some people like to write a couple of lines, establishing what the post exists to say, then create their points, and then finalize them.
Firm up the headline, make sure it’s the one you’re really going to run with.
Only then write the introduction. You’ll find it comes much easier!
Crafting a great intro is about grabbing the reader’s attention, and then giving them a good reason why you wanted it in the first place.
Remember to think of it like a funnel: Your intro is selling the rest of the post, just like your hook is selling the intro.
Start strong; don’t be afraid to use bold terms or tricks. Attention is like respect: You don’t get it by asking for it or demanding it, but by showing why you deserve it.
If we missed out your favorite trick, or you have something to add, have at it in the comments!