What’s the second most important sentence of your blog post?
You just read it…
Your first sentence.
The most important? Your title.
Okay, technically, the title is not a sentence but it’s what people see first.
It’s the reason they will or won’t read further.
But if they decide to read on, your first sentence must entice them to continue reading.
So how do you start a blog post that keeps people glued to what you have to say?
Create the best first sentence you can.
I’m going to show you how to do this by giving you 10 ways to hook your readers so they want to keep reading, hopefully all the way to the end. 😉
What makes an Effective First Sentence?
- Your opening sentence must be easy to read – The easier it is to read the better the chances people will keep reading. Leave out jargon and uncommon words. Make it as short and direct as possible. Keep it simple and effective. If an eighth grader can read and understand it, you’re on target.
- Your opening sentence must grab attention – The whole idea is to evoke a response, even better if it’s an emotional one. You want to entice people to read the next sentence and the next… Speak directly to the reader, using words like ‘you’ rather than ‘they’ or ‘one’. Choose an interesting way to start your sentence.
- Your opening sentence must serve the post’s purpose – Make sure the sentence is relevant and appropriate for the topic and tone of your post. There’s no point in having an amazing first sentence if what follows does not support it. Most blog posts are intended to solve a problem. Allow your opening sentence to move readers in the direction you intend them to move.
Keep the three points above in mind as well as what best suits your blog niche and brand when considering an opening sentence for your blog posts.
Here are 10 different ways to write an engaging first sentence:
#1 Ask a Question
A popular and effective way, and of my favorites is to ask a question.
Not just any question. One that makes readers think.
The aim is to engage them so they keep reading.
Avoid questions that are obvious and don’t need to be asked. E.g. If the title of your post is about how to make money online, don’t ask readers if they’d like to make money online. 😳
Also, avoid questions where the answer does not matter so the reader thinks, who cares.
Questions are also great for arousng curiosity. Look at this example from SmartBlogger.
Everybody has doubts. Right? But what doubts is he talking about? There’s only only one way to find out and that’s to keep reading.
Another good idea is to ask a multiple choice type question. Your initial question should be short and intended to arouse curiosity.
E.g. Which of these frustrates you more?
Follow up the question with three or more options. As a reader, if you’re curious, as most of us are, you’d read on so you can choose one.
#2 Make a personal statement
Share something personal about yourself. This type of sentence often starts with “I”
It’s a great way to start a post when you intend telling a story about an experience you’ve had.
Usually the story will be about a problem and how you solved it. Since this will be related to your niche, it’s likely your target audience will find your learning helpful too.
Here’s an example taken from the Chris Guillebeau blog.
Starting with a personal statement is an ideal way to create a closer connection with readers and a way to demonstrate transparency.
It’s probably best used on personality oriented blogs where the person’s name is the brand.
Remember that readers are more interested in themselves than you, so make sure your post always clearly makes this connection for them as soon as possible to keep them engaged.
#3 Start Ultra Short
Legendary copywriter, Joe Sugarman, teaches that the first line of any copy should be so short and compelling that it’s impossible not to read it.
This works just as well for blog posts, and it’s used to great effect by many bloggers.
Ultra short sentence don’t usually provide detail, which means they automatically spark your curiosity to read further.
A very short line can of course often be a question or personal statement too.
Here’s an example of a first line that couldn’t be much shorter, taken from the Enchanted Marketing blog:
It can be a lot of fun coming up with interesting short sentences. Here’s some more examples, a few of which I’ve used myself.
#4 Cite a Statistic
People love statistics but only if it’s mega interesting, newly released or startlingly shocking.
When using a statistic make sure that it’s directly related to the topic of your post.
Here’s example from The One Thing blog:
#5 Quote someone
If you quote someone famous or an authority in your niche, this is bound to be more effective as the perosn quoted will be easily recognized and embraced by the reader.
I think it’s fine to quote someone who isn’t famous as long as the line you quote is really insightful or clever so its wisdom is appreciated by your audience.
Regardless, quotes can work very well which is why they are often used, not only in blog posts but at the beginning of speeches, book chapters and films.
This example is taken from well known personal development blog, Pick The Brain.
#6 Be Controversial
There’s little doubt, controversy attracts attention but this is one that should be used with plenty of caution.
Being controversial means that whatever you say has the potential for public disagreement since your view will be going against popular opinion.
It requires you to be brave, take risks and be prepared for the consequences which could go either way. Let’s face it, you’d hope it goes viral for the right reasons, but it might not.
A controversial opening line only works if the topic you’re covering is actually controversial. Your view must have a solid basis that you’ve articulated well in the rest of the post.
The example I’m sharing was written by Seth Adam back in 2013. He basically suggested that to have a successful marriage you need to be selfish.
Controversial? I’d say.
The post was shared millions of times, was even translated into other languages, led to television appearances and a book deal for the author.
Here’s how he started that post:
#7 Tell them what they’re getting
A far more effective way than announcing what the post is about, is to tell readers what they’re going to get if they keep reading.
If it’s not obvious, clearly state how reading the post will benefit readers.
Beware of making claims however. E.g. “This post will turn you into a billionaire.” It’s a great way to get attention but be sure you can back up and guarantee your claim.
Brian Dean, a very well known and established expert in the field of SEO often starts his posts by telling readers what they’re going to get.
#8 State a problem
When you state a problem and the reader identifies with it, there’s a good chance they will continue reading to find out if you’ve got a solution that can help them.
This is especially effective if you can evoke the emotion that goes with the problem.
E.g. When someone tailgates my car, my blood pressure goes berserk.
The problem can be stated as one you’ve had previously, as above, or it can be stated in general terms as Mel Wicks did in her post, written for SmartBlogger.
#9 Get the reader to imagine
Getting the reader to imagine something, no matter whether it’s a positive outcome or nagging problem, is a powerful way to start a blog post.
This transports the reader to another place in their mind. It can also frequently evoke a powerful emotion at the same time, one of the most effective strategies to engage people.
Using words like “imagine,” “picture this,” “do you remember when” will help here.
Here’s an example by Christine Ellis from her post, which was also published on ‘Pick the Brain.’
#10 Use Sentence starters
Sometimes when I’m trying to think of a different way to start a post, my mind draws a complete blank. Ever happen to you?
When this happens I like to use ‘sentences starters’, a few simple words to help get my creative juices flowing.
An example might be, “Are you tired of…?” These words may encourage me to think about whether I want to start my post with the problem. So if my post is about how to pick a WordPress theme with ease, I might make my first sentence, “Are you tired of trying to decide which WordPress theme is best for your blog?”
As you read other blog posts, whenever you come across an opening sentence you like, add it to a swipe file on your computer. It could be the whole sentence or just the first few words. Then later you can refer to your list when you’re having one of those blank moment days.
I came up with my own list of 50 simple ways to start a sentence. These can be used to start any sentence but I mostly use the list when I want an opening sentence.
If you want my list of sentence starters, click below, complete your details and I’ll email it you.
How to start a blog post – Wrap Up
After the title, the first sentence of your post is your next opportunity to engage your reader and and keep them reading.
Knowing how to start a blog post means coming up with the best opening sentence possible.
Here’s a tip that works for me which may be useful for you too. I only write my first sentence and paragraph after I have finished writing my post. It is much easier and faster to do this when you already know exactly what’s to follow.
Which of the ways in this post do you currently use? Are there any you haven’t used which you now want to try? Did I miss an idea that you want to share with me?
Got Questions? Something to say? Leave a comment. Let’s chat
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