The sub header or lead, as the first paragraph is often called, has played an important part in publishing for a long time. Just picture a newspaper. The first paragraph is usually emphasised in some way, usually through formatting. The font is often larger and emboldened. The function of the lead paragraph is to pull the reader into the article and convince him that the article is worth reading. It often summarises what the article is about or asks a leading question that the article is going to answer. It is the most important part of the article after the headline.
What can you do to make the first paragraph interesting?
You could ask a question. Let’s say you are writing an article about nutrition. You could open with ‘What would you do if you woke up with a hangover after a completely sober night in?’ The article that follows could then talk about foods that can make people feel terrible when eaten too often or in large quantities.
You could share an anecdote or a quote. In an article about fitness, for instance, you could write something like ‘life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving’. This quote is by Albert Einstein. If you need more inspiration for quotes you could go to one of the following websites: http://www.quotegarden.com and http://www.brainyquotes.com . Both have a very good searchable selection of quotes by famous people and they are a real treasure trove for anything quote-related.
Another way of opening your blog post could be to invoke the reader’s mind’s eye. So perhaps you could open the sentence with a phrase like ‘picture the scene’ or ‘do you remember when’. This invites the reader quickly into the story that is about to unfold and makes them more engaged.
You could use an analogy, metaphor or simile. You could write something like ‘Successful marketing is like a successful relationship; it takes time to get to know each other and to build trust before you pop the question. You wouldn’t ask someone who you just met to marry you so why do it in your marketing?’ This would lead to an article about marketing, about building trust and all that good stuff. So how you could use this technique for your opening paragraph?
You could also cite a shocking statistic. In an article about headlines I used this statistic: ‘did you know that 80% of your blog readers never read past the headline’? That would be a suitable opening paragraph if you write about blogging or the news industry. I am sure there are shocking statistics in your industry that you could cite. Remember that they must be true otherwise you are not being credible in your writing.
Over to you
Look through your published articles and examine your lead paragraphs. If they don’t draw you in, consider rewriting them by using one of the techniques listed above.
Would you like to learn how you can write better blog posts? Then why not get in touch and find out how I can help. Simply send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a chat.