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11 Creative Strategies to Hook Your Readers

Mastering Engaging Opening Lines: 11 Creative Strategies to Hook Your ReadersMastering Engaging Opening Lines: 11 Creative Strategies to Hook Your Readers

My wife’s first words to me were…

‘Hi Michael, it’s nice to meet you’

…which was both funny and memorable since my name is DARREN, not Michael!

 

Ever wondered how some posts keep you hooked while others don’t catch your eye?

It’s all in the opener. The first words you utter or write can set the tone for any relationship or conversation…

Just like in real life, the opening lines of your blog post can make or break your reader’s engagement.

 

In my last post in this ‘how to craft a blog post’ series I identified your blog’s title/headline as the most important words that you’ll write in a blog post and I said that the purpose of the title is to get people to read your opening line.

The second most important words in your blog post are those that follow the title – your opening line. Their purpose is to get people to read the next line – to draw people deep within your post. Here’s how you can craft compelling opening lines to captivate your readers from the get-go.

 

11 Effective Strategies for Blog Post Openers

So how does one craft an opening line to a post that effectively engages readers and stimulates enough interest to get them to read your blog post? Here are a few tips that I’ve found helpful.

1. Identify a Need

Kick off your post by pinpointing a reader’s problem or need.

Sound familiar? It should – I’ve talked about reader needs and problems in my post about choosing a topic and crafting your post title.

If you haven’t got it by now you should be starting to see that I place a lot of importance on identifying a reader’s need and solving it as a key to writing successful blog posts. You don’t have to solve the need or problem in the opening line but an effective way to get readers to read deep into your post where you do solve it is to tell them that you will in the opening line.

2. Ask a One-Answer Question

Engage readers immediately by posing a question that nudges them to say “yes”. This is a technique that copywriters have been using for a long time and it works. I did it in the first line of this post: “Ever wondered how some posts keep you hooked while others don’t catch your eye?”.

Asking this type of question does a couple of things. For starters you’re communicating what the post is about and the need that it will fulfill in the reader; but secondly (and more importantly) you’re drawing out a response in your reader and one which puts the need that your post will solve squarely in their mind. Anyone reading and answering ‘yes’ to my question above enters into this post having just said that they want to discover how to write engaging opening lines – this ‘buy in’ helps in the communication process that follows.

Asking ‘yes’ questions can actually be something you use more than once in a post. Ask a series of them scattered through your post and you can actually take your reader on a journey that leads them to your call to action.

3. Pose an Intriguing Question

Spark curiosity with a question that promises an interesting revelation and leaves readers eager for the answer.

Questions like:

  • “What do Bill Gates and Martha Stewart have in common?”
  • “How did I take my subscriber numbers from 0 to 51,346?”
  • “Is the Nikon D700 the best Digital SLR Camera Ever Invented?”

All of these questions will appeal differently to different audiences – but all leave readers wondering what the answer will be and give them a reason to read on further into a post.

4. Offer a Surprise

Use an unexpected fact or personal anecdote to grab attention. Sharing something unusual or personal, as I did with my wife’s greeting mix-up, can make your post more relatable and engaging.

The opening story I include in this post attempts to do something a little ‘different’ or ‘surprising’ to grab readers attention by sharing something personal and at a first glance ‘off topic’. I don’t talk about my family often on ProBlogger – so this opening line is designed to break the pattern and encourage readers to take a second look. I find that when I do this it seems to ‘snap’ readers out of the way that they normally approach your blog and take a little extra notice for a moment or two (which can be enough to hook them into reading your post).

Of course – the unexpected opening line should relate to your post’s topic on some level.

5. Tell a Story or Share an Analogy

Stories or analogies can transform a mundane topic into an intriguing narrative. Whether it’s a brief anecdote or a detailed account, stories often make your content more relatable and absorbing.

I find that telling ‘stories’ to open posts can be one way of snapping people out of their ‘ho hum’, ‘eyes glazed over’ state that many of us have while surfing the web. This is particularly true on a blog that is more serious or formal in nature – to share a story means you’re switching genre’s for a moment or two which can be enough to grab your readers attention for at least a moment or two. Stories can be short (a one liner like I did above) or longer (although you probably won’t want to go too long). They can be your own personal stories or stories of someone else. They can be true or even fiction.

I’ve often open posts here on ProBlogger with ‘tangents’ – analogies or stories from my life that are a little off topic – but which go on to help illustrate a principle. I find that these types of openings often draw in a new type of reader and get more reader engagement with others. Perhaps it’s just a refreshing change from the normal type of posts or perhaps it shows a more personal side that appeals to some.

For example (titles and opening lines):

6. Make a Bold Claim

Start with a strong assertion or promise to solve a significant issue. This approach sets a high expectation, compelling readers to dive deeper into your post to find out more.

  • “Today I will teach you how to give up smoking”
  • “In this post you’ll discover the secrets to taking the perfect portrait”

These sorts of openings simply tell your reader what they’ll get if they read on. They are short, sharp, to the point and effective.

Alternatively you can make a claim about your own achievement. I still remember the impact that this post had on establishing ProBlogger as an authority site. The opening line was:

“It just hit me – like a truck – that I’ve just become six figure blogger”

The only thing I’d say is that you better be able to back up the claim or promise in the post itself or you could have some angry readers on your hands.

7. Stir Controversy

There’s nothing like the hint of controversy to grab people’s attention and cause them to stop in their tracks and take note of what’s going on.

Strongly state your opinion on a company, product or even another person and you’ll find people will want to read on to see why you’ve said it and to let you know if they agree.

8. Paint a Vivid Picture

Encourage readers to visualize a scenario by engaging their senses. This method is especially effective for making abstract concepts tangible.

I’ve used this technique a few times in public speaking and it can translate across into writing effective blog posts. The basics of it are to get your reader using their imagination to picture some kind of scenario.

This can be used in both positive or negative ways:

  • Positive – get them to imagine a scenario when they achieve some success or overcome some problem.
  • Negative – alternatively get them to picture the consequences of a problem left unsolved or a failure that they might fear.

Engaging the imagination of your reader is a powerful thing which can evoke emotion, help them to get in touch with fear and feel needs but also give them real motivation to make change.

9. Highlight Startling Statistics

Using a statistic that packs a punch can effectively communicate a need and grab attention.

Example10 Techniques to Get More Comments on Your Blog – Opening Line – “Only 1 out of every 100 Readers Comment on your Blog”

10. Start with a Powerful Quote

A well-chosen quote can lend authority to your post and resonate with your readers, setting a thoughtful tone right from the start.

Examples with opening lines:

11. Lead with an Impactful Image

Sometimes, a striking image can speak louder than words. Opening with a relevant and powerful image can draw readers into the textual content, especially in visual mediums like blogs.

I have been using images combined with words on almost every post in my photography site for some time now and have long noticed that when I open with an image it tends to draw more readers into a post and can lead to more comments. I’ve even had readers tell me that they only reason they read a post was as a result of seeing the image in their RSS reader.

The key is to find an image that is on topic, that is striking and that readers find compelling or intriguing.

Will You Share Your Best Opening Lines With Us?

The above 11 techniques for opening lines of blog posts are just scratching the surface of the ways that you can grab attention and draw readers into your blog posts. You’re unlikely to use more than two or three of them in any given post and will most likely want to not use the same one in every post that you write (loyal readers ted to become numb to them if you do).

What other techniques do you use to open blog posts?

Read the Full Series

This post is part of a series on how to craft blog posts. It will be all the more powerful if taken in context of the full series which looks at 10 points in the posting process to pause and put extra effort. Start reading this series here.




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