Tuesday March 21, 2017
Don't you hate it when you're supposed to write some content for your business, but you just can't figure out what to say in the first few sentences?
One of the biggest challenges for a writer is knowing where and how to start. I've noticed this in my capacity both as a marketing copywriter and a novelist - sometimes, the first scene or paragraph is the hardest.
This challenge stems partly from the fact that the first sentences are the most important. They're the ones that help your readers to decide whether or not to keep reading, so if the first paragraph is boring or irrelevant, the rest of the content is unlikely to get read.
So how do you write an opening paragraph that gets your audience's attention, and makes them want to keep reading or watching?
Here are three tips I use to create opening lines that make people want to see more:
Tip #1: Imagine that your first sentence is the preview on Facebook.
This one is both a writing tip and a fact of life. Depending on the settings in your blogging platform, the first sentence of your blog post might be used as the content for your link preview when you share your blog post on social media, so you need to make it count.
I've personally been steered clear of many a potentially boring opening line by following this rule.
Anytime you write the first line of something, ask yourself: "If this was the only part of my content people could see, would it give them a reason to click a link to see the rest?"
Tip #2: Think about what your audience is looking for.
Even if you would say "yes" to the opening question of "Do you want to become more mindful in your business practices?", your audience might not even know what the question means.
What does being mindful mean? How will it help them to grow their business or improve their day-to-day life?
Even if they DO know what "mindful" means, or can take an educated guess, it doesn't directly relate to the things they desire the most. I doubt that many people lie in bed at night, thinking "If only I could become more mindful".
Instead, they're likely to think in short, specific, practical terms. "I wish my business was making more money. I'm not getting enough clients; what if my business fails? I hate selling. I just want to coach people. Why do I keep getting into arguments with my clients?"
The more your opening paragraph - and the rest of your content - match the phrases your clients use, the more likely they are to be interested enough to keep reading.
Also, the more your content matches the phrases they type into search engines, the better your odds of showing up in their results.
Tip #3: If it isn't self-explanatory, make it curiosity-provoking.
While keeping things self-explanatory is a good rule of thumb, there are instances where a little mystery is a good thing. Just make sure that that mystery provokes curiosity instead of confusion.
For example, one of my past clients wanted to call a piece of her content something like "The Caged Song". This might be a good title for a novel, but not for a piece of educational content.
It sounds nice, but it doesn't tell the reader anything about what it is and why it's valuable, and it doesn't give them enough information to get them interested.
Here some examples of better curiosity-provoking opening lines:
"Today, I'm going to tell you about the biggest, most embarrassing mistake I ever made in my business."
"I was completely sure that this date idea would flop. I'm really glad I was half wrong!"
These two lines give the reader a general idea of the topic - one is about dating, and the other is about business - but they don't say exactly what results the clients will get from reading and using the content.
Still, they imply that there's an interesting story there, and they also make the reader wonder if they're making that mistake or could use that date idea.
Hopefully you found these three tips helpful. If you did, I encourage you to say so in the comments, and to share your own tips for writing attention-getting opening lines!
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