How can better leads catch and keep your reader’s attention?

Lead-elements

The lead, or the first few sentences of your blog post, are the most important. The lead’s job is to tell readers why they should take the time to read your blog post.

You may know you need to catch your reader’s attention from the beginning of a story or a blog post, but do you have trouble with how to start your post?. How can you start off your blog posts better?

The first few sentences of your blog post, which I’ll call the lead, are the most important of your story or post. The lead’s job is to tell the readers why they should care. Why should they take their time to read your post? If you don’t tell them that in your lead, they’ll move on to read something else.

Your lead must intrigue the reader, set the tone for your post, and move the reader into the body. In short, it must get your reader’s attention and keep it.

You might also need to establish credibility in your lead. On your own blog, you probably have ongoing authority through your posts and your About page. But if you’re doing a guest post on another blog, those readers may not know you. The lead is your chance to show that you are a believable authority on your subject and gain the audience’s trust.

So how do you write better leads? Let’s take a lesson from journalistic feature writing. A good lead should contain three elements:

  1. The Hook to lure the reader in.
  2. The Idea of what the story is about.
  3. The Transition into the body of the story or post.

Together, these spell the acronym HIT. You want to HIT the reader with a great lead. That’s easy to remember, right?

The Hook is what gives your audience a reason to read. You want your reader to be intrigued so they’ll pay attention and read your whole post. Show them how the topic affects them or helps them directly. This motivates them to continue.

The Idea is where you introduce your topic. Present your central idea near the top of your post so your readers know right off what you’re writing about.

The Transition is what carries the reader into the rest of your post. Some examples are: “Now, let’s get to it,” or “The first tip is …” or “Specifically” or “For example.”

How can you hook your reader in your lead? Here are five ways you can start your blog post.

1. The dramatic lead uses dramatic stories, or minidramas, to set the stage and draw readers into the story or post. This lead is good for when you want to give an anecdote or set a dramatic scene.

2. The question lead begins with a question that should entice readers into your blog post because they want to know the answer. The only danger with a question lead is that it can be used as a crutch. It can look like you couldn’t think of any other way to start your post, so you simply asked a question. Make sure the question really intrigues the reader, and be sure to answer it quickly.

3. The direct quote lead uses a quotation from someone else to start your story. Quotes from famous people are an obvious choice, but a quote from someone you interview or someone in your niche can work as well. This type of lead has a similar danger to the question lead: Don’t use it as a crutch. Make sure the quote you use says what you want to say better than you could say it yourself.

4. The setting lead uses the techniques of a fiction story to carry the reader to the place or time that the story is taking place. This type of lead works very well if you’re telling a story. You can set the scene, describe the conflict, and express the emotional impact.

5. The combination lead simply uses combinations of the other four types. You can stick with only one type in a post, but you don’t have to. For example, you could ask a question, then use a dramatic story to illustrate the answer.

Every time you write a blog post, you’re competing against other blogs and stories on the Web for your reader’s attention. Putting time and attention into your lead will help you grab readers’ interest when they first find your blog post.

Readers, what tips and tricks do you have for starting off your blog posts? Let us know in the comments.

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