The opening sentence to a blog post, or really anything — a speech, paper, email, etc. — is the most important part of your entire piece. Now that may sound a little dramatic, but hear me out. In today’s world of short attention spans and intense busyness, the hook is your best chance to draw the audience in and entice them to read more.
It can also be the hardest to write (besides the title). So how do you go about writing that golden nugget? To help us out, I sat down with Content Matterz Senior Copywriter, Nicole Proctor, to discuss drafting the perfect opening line and get her tips for creating your next successful opener.
Here’s what she had to say.
Meet Nicole, our resident blogging aficionado
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, I’ll take a moment to set the stage. As our Senior Copywriter, Nicole comes to us with over a decade of writing experience and has a passion for cooking, reading fiction novels and fawning over her newly adopted dog, Oscar (looking at the picture here, can you blame her?).
Nicole’s favorite thing about writing? The opportunity to pause and think about the audience, the topic and how to best frame the words on the page to have the most impact.
Nicole is a big fan of the benefits of blogging. In her view, it allows businesses to showcase their expertise beyond the technical aspects of their products in a more personable setting. Prospects and customers can learn about the company while getting a sense of its personality and the contributors behind the logo. Not to mention, blogging helps bolster that valuable SEO we’re all after, which makes that opening sentence much more important.
Why is the opening sentence of a blog so critical?
A blog’s opening sentence is your best chance to capture the reader’s attention and get them interested in reading your article. If it’s weak or doesn’t speak to the audience — then it’s not going to get read, and all your hard work is wasted.
The first sentence of your blog post should support and complement your title and subtitle. If a post doesn’t have a meta description, then search engines will use the first sentence or so as the article preview, which in turn shows up on the search results page. (So make it good!).
Bottom line: Your opening sentence needs to be enticing while making sense for the topic.
Readers are savvy, and they’ll most likely see through clickbait. And if they don’t, they’ll be highly annoyed when the article isn’t what they thought it was, which is not a good look for you or your organization. If you don’t identify your audience at the beginning of the article, you are doing them — and yourself — a disservice.
Writing an amazing opening sentence can be tricky or generate writer’s block. Here are Nicole’s tips for crafting the perfect hook:
- Drop the marketing jargon. Keep your opening sentence plain and simple.
- Call out your audience as soon as possible. Right away, readers want to know if your blog is for them or not. Need a hint? Some ideas include: ‘For marketers who need x, y, z…or ‘For IT professionals who are overloaded with x.’
- Avoid cliches. Let’s face it, we’re all over ‘unprecedented times’ and ‘in times of economic uncertainty’. We get it. Things aren’t ideal, so get straight to the article’s point.
Talk to your reader in a language that they use. Remember, your opening paragraph doesn’t have to be long. make it short, sweet and to the point. Then you can dive into the details later in your blog post. If you are struggling, create a mental image of your reader (down to the clothes they are wearing, Nicole’s favorite trick!) and really put yourself in their shoes. What are they struggling with, what are their pain points?
Still stumped on that opener? If you can’t get it right away, work on the rest of your article and then come back for it. Don’t worry, it’ll still be there. But now, you might better understand what will hook your reader.
“It’s like rearranging words until they sing. – Nicole Proctor
How does SEO factor into a blog post?
To nail SEO, think in terms of what related questions a reader might ask regarding the subject and then frame your post around those. SEO functions as a storytelling device: your reader is asking Google questions, so put questions in your subheads. Then, answer those inquiries! But don’t saturate your blog with too much repetition.
How do you do this? Don’t overuse keywords and make your post sound natural. Instead of duplicating words in paragraphs and repeating keywords and phrases over and over, sprinkle your keywords throughout. Then, use alternative words or phrases that say the same thing in a way that supports your topic and drives your point home.
Writing for 2023 and beyond
When writing your future articles, don’t overthink it. Focus on less jargon, and foster more connection. Your blog posts give readers the breadcrumbs to learn more and make the next best decision. Provide short bursts of information to pique their interest, so they want to learn and read more.
Also, don’t forget that the C-Suite is changing from where it was five years ago. Buyer demographics are shifting and influenced by a new generation who is coming of age in the workforce. Media is consumed differently, so your blog posts should consider this new audience.
Now it’s your turn to put words on the page. But, if you struggle to create that next best opening sentence, we’ve got your back! Contact Content Matterz today to get the expert help you need to make the most impact on your readers.