5 Blog Intros Guaranteed To Hook Your Reader
You’ve done it!
Your headline snatched your prospect’s attention. Your subhead was sooo good they couldn’t help but click.
Congratulations! The reward for your hard work…
You now have 8 to 12 seconds to hold their interest…
Or else they’re going to ditch your precious post and never return.
Look, I’m not trying to scare you. This is simply the reality of today’s hyper-competitive attention economy. Reader’s are a fickle bunch. If you bore them, you lose them.
You need to get them interested quickly if you want them to continue reading. Making a good first impression is more important than ever.
How do you do this?
By writing an introduction that lassoes them in!
Your introduction is arguably the most important part of your blog. It’s the sales pitch for your post. It’s pitching your audience on what’s to come. It should offer them a compelling reason to continue reading.
While there are millions of different blog intros, most successful ones fall into 5 categories.
In this article I want to share these 5 categories, show you popular samples from each type, and teach you how you can use them to hook in your readers.
Check them out below:
Intro 1: Shock Intro
Holy shit! New York. The Big Apple. The sprawling cultural mecca of the world. “Is completely dead”!
Consider me intrigued.
The example above is taken from James Altucher’s blog “Why NYC Is Dead Forever”. This post generated a lot of traffic and controversy. Legendary Comedian Jerry Seinfeld even penned an Opt Ed in the New York Times criticizing the article.
I’m not here to take sides. Agree or disagree, the intro grabs your attention. Once you start reading it’s hard to stop.
“Why NYC Is Dead Forever” is an example of what I call a “Shock Intro”.
The Shock Intro begins by stating an extreme opinion, controversial point of view, or challenge to the audience. These bold statements are meant to provoke your reader. They create tension that can only be resolved by finishing the article.
Not all readers will agree with your conclusion. Some will find it repugnant (ie Jerry Seinfeld). But most will be intrigued. They’ll want to see how you defend (or fail to defend) your infernally hot take.
Word of warning! Use this intro with care. Shock Intros deal in extremes and have the potential to piss off parts of your audience. If you start with a strong opinion, have the facts to back it up.
Also make sure what you share has value to the audience. Avoid shock for shock sakes. No one likes a troll!
Intro 2: Misconception Intro
I took the excerpt above from Kevin Kelly’s blog post 1000 True Fans. The opening paragraph is a classic “Misconception Intro”.
The Misconception Intro is one of the most popular ways to start a blog. Think of it as a gentler version of the Shock Intro. While the Shock Intro calls for an all out assault on the reader’s beliefs, the Misconception Intro is a nudge in the right direction.
The Misconception Intro questions your audience’s beliefs, but in a friendly way. It often starts by stating a common assumption about a subject, and then teases or reveals a new way of looking at it.
The intro works best when the new information makes the reader’s life easier. This is why Kelly’s 1,000 True Fans works so well.
It replaces the audience’s onerous assumption that they need a million fans to be a successful artist or entrepreneur, and replaces it with the manageable fact that they only need 1,000 true fans to make a living.
Intro 3: Benefit Intro
I copied this introduction from James Clear’s (author of Atomic Habits) article about the creative process. It’s the most direct introduction we’ll discuss. It leads with the main idea of the article (the creative process) and then enumerates the benefits of learning about this idea.
When a reader opens up your blog post they’re asking a single question in the back of their head:
“How does this information benefit me”
This sounds selfish. But we can’t help it! People (you and I included) read content because we believe it will benefit us in some way: whether that’s helping us solve a pressing problem or simply entertaining us on our lunch break.
The “Benefit Intro” addresses the audience’s self interest head on. It shares the rewards they will receive at the top of the article.
This is even more effective when paired with reassurance. Some audience members assume that certain advice only works for a select “type” or “group” of people they don’t belong to. It’s useful to assure them that they too can enjoy the benefits outlined in your intro.
The introduction up top achieves both these ends. In the first paragraph James Clear spells out the benefits of the creative process. He then uses the second paragraph to assure the reader that they can reap the benefits he’s described.
Intro 4: Analogy Intro
Before reading Steve QJ’s piece I’d never thought of writer’s block like signing a birthday card. Yet, his description of staring dumbly at a birthday card evokes the horrors of looking at a blank page and having no idea what to write.
***Side note: if you don’t know who Steve QJ is do yourself a favor and check him out. He’s one of the best writers on Medium!
Steve is a master of the “Analogy Intro”. An Analogy Intro compares two seemingly different things. This comparison should highlight the main idea of your writing, or offer a new way to look at the subject.
Analogies often use recognizable images, familiar scenarios, or imagined experiences to make their point. They can take the form of statements like:
A great ____ is like _____________.
Have you ever done __________. If you have, you know the pains of ______.
Imagine a world in which _______.
While analogies share similar forms, they offer limitless space for creativity. Use them to envision your topic in a unique way, and share it with your audience. When done well it’s an almost act of alchemy: combining elements that shouldn’t mix into a coherent compound.
Intro 5: Question Intro
Mark Manson’s “Fuck Yes Or No”, one of the most popular dating advice articles, opens with the question above.
On its face the question is simple. And if we were reasonable and level-headed about our love life (spoiler alert: we’re not) we’d empathetically answer “I’d never date someone like that”. But if you’re like most people, the question dredges up memories of unhealthy relationships.
“Fuck Yes Or No” is one of many blog posts which starts with a question. Manson’s question about unrequited love is rhetorical. He uses it as a device to get his audience thinking about the topic, and to tease his idea of Fuck Yes and Fuck No.
This is just one way to use a question. Some others are:
Question As A Benefit: Disguise a benefit as a question (see benefit intro). For example: Do you want to learn a blogging strategy that doubles your readership?
The answer to this question is (obviously) YES. But the answer is not the point. You’re using the question to introduce a benefit your audience will receive from reading.
Intrigue: Intrigue questions spark the reader’s curiosity. Usually the question itself rivets your prospect and makes them read on to find the answer. An example would be: Do blog writers really have higher IQs than Rocket Scientists?
Blog introductions are important, but they don’t need to be difficult!
The 5 intros above are easy and adaptable. They work for any niche, and on all types of audiences. Use them in your next piece to hook your readers!