We’ve recently been discussing writing blocks over in The Copy Kitchen (come and join us and get involved!). And one of the biggies that came up was how to get started on your blog post – how to get the ball rolling once you’ve decided you have something to share.
So this is for you if you’ve done some content planning, you know what you want to write about, you know what you want your reader to get out of it, and you know how it will nurture your business. You’ve done that bigger picture thinking.
Now it’s time to get down to the fundamentals, flex your fingers and write the damn thing. You open up your laptop, you go to the ‘add new post’ bit of your website and…nothing. Knowing what you want to write and finding the words to get started on it are two very different things.
Here’s how you can make the leap.
1. State your intent
There’s a well-used concept in presentation-giving circles of the 3Ts: tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you’ve told them. This is a useful thing to bear in mind when starting your blog post. What’s in it for the reader? Don’t beat about the bush, let them know how they’re going to benefit from investing the next four minutes of their life in you.
Something like: ‘With winter coming, now’s the time to think about nourishing your skin to prevent chapped lips, dry, sore patches and tightness. Here are five simple things you can do everyday to keep your skin in tip-top condition, however cold it gets.’
It doesn’t have to be beautiful (you can always prettify later). Just tell them what you’re going to teach them and get on with it.
2. Use a quote or statistic
90% of people remember statistics compared with generalised statements of fact.
OK, I made that one up. But when you’re trying to grab people’s attention, an honest statistic sets you up beautifully. Statistics are beautiful little sticky nuggets for our brains. Open with one, and use it as a springboard for what you want to share.
Ditto with quotes. If someone wise or famous (or preferably both) said something pertinent to the message you want to share, let them take the strain of the opening sentence for you and jump off that.
3. Use a story
Painting a picture of something that happened – either in reality or in your imagination – creates connection. We all love stories because it brings concepts down to a human level. And we’re all nosy by nature! Starting a blog with a tale of something that happened to you, and going on to explain why it’s relevant brings your reader closer, let’s them into your world and keeps them reading.
Here’s an example of a story-opening blogpost I wrote earlier this year.
4. Start anywhere
If you’re stuck at the start, pretend you’ve already written it. Jump right into the middle then come back and sort the introduction out later. Start where your head takes you, don’t worry about what you’re writing, knowing you’ll have chance to tidy it up. With blog writing, most of the ‘writing’ time is actually editing – so let yourself relax knowing the first draft can be a complete dog’s dinner.
5. Ask a question
Asking a question is a great way to start a blog because it naturally becomes a conversation – you’ve involved your reader from the outset. And participation is key to both staying attentive, and to learning. So asking a question such as ‘When was the last time you felt completely relaxed?’ means your reader now has a stake in what you’re saying. They become part of the blog.
Make it captivating and purposeful
Whatever you do, and however you start, remember the only job of a sentence in your blog is to keep your reader interested until the next one. To keep them reading. This is not the place for waffle or ambiguity. It’s a place to capture attention.
Warm yourself up if you need to. If you want to start your blog with:
‘It’s Wednesday morning and I’m in the mood to write and because it’s autumn I wanted to share all the conversations I’ve had recently about letting go, and how it’s a perfect time to do that. So here I am.’.
Then by all means, do. It’s a great way to crank up your brain and get into to writing flow. But before you hit publish, go back and check that every word is working as hard as it possibly can be.
Is it drawing your reader in? Does it bring them closer to you or offer them the promise of a better life (in small ways if not big ones) as clearly as it could do?
If it doesn’t – don’t be afraid to cut it. You’ll probably find that the sentences you wrote next are the true crux of the matter. Your reader wants to feel connected to you, but they don’t need an extended introduction. No-one’s got time for that. They want to know what’s in it for them.
Whatever you do, however you get started, start! As Jodi Picoult said, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.”
See you over in The Copy Kitchen for more words, messages, connection, copy and content chat!