How to write awesome blog opening paragraph

How-to-write-awesome-blog-opening-paragraphThe second hardest thing for me when writing any blog post after the headline is the opening paragraph. How to write it in such an away that reader will continue reading even after that. And at the same time so that it isn’t boring “In this blog post I will…” variety. Which seems to be my unconscious go-to solution.

To get some help to my problem I naturally turned to Google to see what wiser heads have written on the subject. The thing I struggled at first though was, what is the correct term for first paragraphs of a blog post? Is it introduction or opening or what. But as you see from the title of this post I felt that opening paragraph is the most descriptive in my opinion. Feel free to correct me in the comments.

I found several blog posts on the subject but to my surprise,  they were really close to each other in content. For this article, I chose to draw on articles from Problogger, Michael Pollock, CopyBlogger, and CoSchedule. I try to combine tips from all of those articles to rough categories or themes if you will.

Question

The biggest thing in common was question-based openings. All of the sources used suggested at least one. Be it simply a Question or further defined as Multiple Choice Question, Readers Questions or just worthwhile question.

The important thing to note is that the question should be thought-provoking. You want to make your reader wonder about the answer to the question. So it is quite self-evident that questions which can be answered with a simple ‘No’ are not really good in arousing interest in the reader.

Storytime

A second big group of ideas I combine under the heading ‘storytime’. The opening could be a funny, a quirky story, or even a success story. Something to make reader emotionally interested in the full article. I would also include analogies and metaphors as examples of storytelling for the purposes of a blog opening paragraph. Something to place the reader in another persons’ shoes to prime the mind for the coming article.

Quote

A quote and / or an anecdote was to found from all of the sources. To see that in action, please check Michael Pollock’s article. I think this works best if the actual quote acts as an inspiration for the article. If the quote isn’t 100% relevant (and a continuation of the headline) it might feel glued on and turn off for the reader.

Facts

You could also go with cold straight facts or statistics. Nothing much to add other than to again repeat that whatever kind of facts are presented, they should be relevant and they should be thought-provoking.

Controversy

I think this ties up with the previous one. Or could be used in a hybrid form. If you want to debunk a conventional wisdom it might be best done with a statistic or a fact. Controversy could be also be built by making a bold claim which then makes the reader interested (or skeptical) to know how it is possible.

Random openings

Well not really random, but this group collects ideas that were not widely suggested in the source articles. Be it a cliffhanger beginning or description of benefits about to fall on reader upon finishing with the post.

One of the tips was to write the opening as the last thing and that is something I personally need to try. I get way too hung up on perfecting the opening paragraph before I am able to move on with the rest of the article. If the opening doesn’t come out easily I might be better off just to leave it to the end.

A Formula

Or you could use a formula. One such is provided by Marcus Sheridan in a small video segment. The video includes an example as well so it is worth of the almost four minutes it takes to view it.

Formula is as follows

Expertise + Empathy + Unbiased

Sounds like a decent framework to collect thoughts around when figuring out the optimal opener.

For this article, I did write the opening paragraph as the first thing and I haven’t touched it since. I think it goes under the storytime heading but I don’t know how well I bring up my expertise when the first thing I write about is how much I struggle with blog openings. I guess the empathy is there, though. Unbiased comes along in the second paragraph and that will have to do this time around.

What are your best openings and how do you approach writing them? Always the first thing or always the last thing to write or something in between? Let me know in the comments.