This is a guest post from David Masters.
Your blog readers have the attention span of a goldfish. No, really.
A third of people browsing the web will abandon a web page in under five seconds if it’s still loading.
And research shows that attention spans are now as short as nine seconds – the same as that of a goldfish (a century ago, the average adult had an attention span of 20 minutes).
In other words, you’ve only got a few seconds to hook your readers with your blog posts. Otherwise they’ll go elsewhere for their internet fix.
A reader clicks a link to read your blog posts because your headline grabbed them. Your opening paragraph, also known as a hook, has to keep hold of this hard-won attention. The aim of your hook is to arouse curiosity and keep your readers’ eyes glued to the screen.
Let’s take a look at five powerful (and baited) hooks you can use to reel in your readers.
1. Diagnose a Malady
Your blog posts help readers solve problems, right? You help them with something they’re stuck with. That’s true of most blogs, at least, because being helpful is how you get readers.
So, open your blog post with the problem you’re about to address. Don’t be shy. State it outright. By doing this, you’re showing empathy. Immediately your readers think: “This person gets me, I want to find out how they can help.” You’ve got them hooked.
To make your hook as powerful as possible, ask yourself:
- What does this problem look and feel like?
- How does it impact their lives? What pain does it cause?
- How did they end up with this problem?
Answering these questions will give you a vivid, compelling hook.
2. Spin a Yarn
You hear the words “once upon a time”, and your ears prick up. Our brains are wired to enjoy and listen out for stories. That’s why Americans spend over $10 billion a year going to the cinema.
When you begin your post with a story, go immediately to story’s heart: conflict. Where’s the tension in the story you’re telling? Open with that.
3. Quote Someone Wise
“I’ve compiled a book from the Internet. It’s a book of quotations attributed to the wrong people.” – Jerry Seinfeld
Jokes aside, quotations are a powerful hook. There’s something about seeing a quote that signals things are about to get interesting. I think part of this is because reading quotations is like over-hearing a conversation. You’re getting the inside scoop on the latest gossip.
Quotes also act as social proof. When you quote someone your readers know and like – be it Socrates, Lady Gaga or Daffy Duck – their like for that person rubs off on your blog post.
Everyone loves novelty. Coming across something new activates the pleasure centers in the brain. So surprises always get our attention. They’ll get your readers’ attention too.
You can surprise your readers by:
- Contradicting common knowledge.
- Admitting something about yourself that few people know.
- Disagreeing with someone famous (for example, an A-list blogger in your niche).
- Using an unusual or shocking metaphor.
- Citing a statistic or fact that seems unlikely.
5. Ride the Hot Topics Wagon
An easy win when writing hooks is grab something that’s already at the front of your readers’ minds. To use this hook, write you’re opening line on something you know is occupying their attention.
This could be:
- A national or international news story that’s made a big splash.
- A national festival or holiday.
- The current date. Pretty much every day of the year has something associated with it. There’s even a National Bugs Bunny Day.
Topical hooks are obviously time limited, but they’re powerful while they last. And they’re a great way of coming up with new ideas for your blog.
The Common Link Between All Great Hooks
Writing attention grabbing hooks takes practice, and an eye for what arouses curiosity. There’s no formula that will always work, and the best hooks often break the mold of what’s been done before.
That said, all good hooks have one thing in common: They focus on the reader. Their aim is to pull in the reader, not show off the skills or opinions of the writer.
Keep your readers in mind, and every hook you write will be baited.
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Category: Writing Content