Where do we start?

The introduction is an essential part of any compelling blog content. It hooks the reader in and makes them want to learn more. But lots of writers don’t know how to nail their intros. Common problems include writing intros that are too long, don’t clearly state the problem and value props, or simply are too confusing to understand.

Luckily, writing a killer blog post intro is more straightforward than it sounds. Take a look at some of our tips for writing good intros, and use some of our favorite great introduction examples as a guide to get you started.

Key Elements of a Top Notch Blog Post Intro

For starters, you need something to hook the reader. You’re competing with thousands (probably millions) of other pieces of content, many of which are trying to answer the same questions or solve the same problems as you are. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to just write a great piece of content with exclusive data and insights. You need something that’s going to convince the reader to start reading and keep reading.

Hook the Reader

That’s where your hook comes in. The hook can come in different forms. Whether you’re making a pop culture reference, providing a compelling quote or data point, or posing a topical question, there should be enough to grab the reader’s attention and make them want to continue the journey. You might skip the fanfare altogether and just state the problem as is. For readers that want to get right to the point, this might be the way to go.

Consider Your Audience

Your blog post introduction should be geared toward the problems and preferences of your target audience. Ask yourself, who are you writing to? Use language, tone of voice, examples, problems and potential solutions that will resonate with your target audience, upping your chances of getting the right people to read.

Offer Key Takeaways

Don’t leave your audience guessing. It’s a good idea to at least briefly mention your key takeaway(s) in your introduction. Nothing is more frustrating for online readers than consuming a piece of content that either didn’t give them anything valuable, or wasted their time telling them something they already knew. They want to know right from the beginning that if they make it to the bottom of the piece, they’re going to walk away with something valuable.

But don’t give away too much. You also want to encourage readers to actually read the rest of the piece. Readers shouldn’t be able to only read the opening paragraph and gather everything they need to know about the content. It’s important to strike a balance between these two.

Our Favorite Blog Post Introduction Examples

1. The Spruce

Fall is the perfect season to get your home clean and cozy for winter and the holiday season and complete household chores that may have been neglected during summer vacations. The heat of summer has passed, and the weather is still mild enough to be outdoors to make sure everything is ready for cold weather.

If you follow a checklist for spring cleaning, it’s time to repeat many of the same tasks. This time, you should start with the outdoor tasks and then move indoors as the weather becomes colder.

By doing some extra work now, you’ll be ready to enjoy a snug winter without as many worries.

See the list of areas and items in your home you should clean, repair, or inspect (or all three!) during fall below, and read on for expert tips for tackling each item on your fall cleaning checklist.

Our take: The Spruce offers tips and inspiration on lifestyle items like gardening and home decor. The introduction to this blog post (titled, “The Ultimate Fall Cleaning Checklist”) is warm and inviting, using descriptive words like “clean,” “cozy” and “snug” to make the reader feel good. Targeting a readers’ emotions is one of the most effective ways to get them to engage with your content, and that’s what makes this intro work.

This is also a good example of getting straight to the point early. Already within the first sentence, the writer has clued the reader into “household chores” as a key problem the blog intends to solve, before introducing the checklist idea.

2. Investopedia

Nearly 59,000 unplanned wildfires burned more than 10 million acres across the U.S. in 2020. This constitutes the second most acreage affected by wildfires in a single year since 1960 and reflects the rapid proliferation of wildfires across the country. By comparison, since 2000, an annual average of just 7 million acres has burned. Wildfires are becoming more common and increasingly devastating due to several factors, including a longer average season, hotter weather that increases susceptibility, earlier melting of winter snowpacks, and changing meteorological patterns due to climate change.

As wildfires become a more significant risk around the world, it’s important to consider the ways that fires and fire season affect the economy. An economic study has estimated that each additional day of smoke exposure from a wildfire reduces earnings in a community by about 0.04% over two years. Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the many effects of wildfires on both local and national economies.

Our take: This one goes heavy on the data right from the get-go, but for a piece covering a topic like this (titled, “How Fire Season Affects the Economy”) and targeting Investopedia’s more technically minded audience, this works wonders.

Wildfires have only recently begun to enter the national consciousness (I know, I know, I’m revealing how cloistered I am on the East Coast), so starting out with a lot of data points is a compelling way to attract the reader’s attention and convince them that this is a topic worth caring about.

3. Zillow

While the kids are out of school, the adults are doing everything they can to keep their little ones safe and healthy at home — and find creative ways to alleviate the boredom and frustration they may be feeling after weeks away from their school friends or grandparents.

With just a few materials you can order online (or pick up curbside at the home improvement store) and some tools you likely have lying around the house, you can keep those little hands busy while giving your house some TLC.

Here are five DIY projects to improve your home and give your kids a productive outlet for their energy.

Our take: This blog content from Zillow (titled, “Do It Together: 5 Home Projects for You and Your Household Helpers”) neatly blends heavy-hitting problem-solving with friendly and approachable language. This intro starts by outlining a very familiar problem for parents — finding things to do with their kids — before hinting at the journey the reader can expect to go on as they read.

With its emphasis on the do-it-yourself aspect of the projects, the reader knows that the information they’re getting is for something they can actually manage at home with their own supplies.

Blog Introduction Tips From Experience

Introductions can be tough, especially when you just want to get to the meat of the piece. Consider using some of the following tips to knock your intros out of the park every time.

Write the Introduction Last

This is a really useful one that can save you a ton of time later. Lots of writers intuitively think they should start with the introduction — and that would make sense. As many writers know, however, lots of times when you put pen to paper (or…fingers to keyboard) the direction of the piece changes as it comes to life.

If that happens — and if you’ve written the intro first — the piece might end up looking a lot different than what the original intro suggests, forcing you to rewrite the intro from scratch.

Doing the introduction at the end gives you a better sense of the final content and direction of the piece. They’ve finely developed their key points and takeaways and they’re better suited to frame the piece as it is in the intro.

Make It Clear What the Post Will Be About

This might seem obvious, but lots of people come from writing backgrounds in which the introduction serves to lead readers in without revealing too much about the content. For those writing fiction or even some long-form journalism, a piece is supposed to be a journey and the ending a surprise. In those cases, introducing all the main points right in the intro would defeat the purpose.

But in the world of content marketing — where attention spans are low and content options are almost boundless — time is precious. You need to hook the reader as soon as possible by making it clear from the very beginning that the piece is worth their time.

Decide if It’s Something You’d Want to Read

This one’s tough and requires you to be self-critical. Reread the introduction and decide if it actually makes you want to read the rest of the blog article. You’ll need to consider how compelling, clear and thoughtful the writing is, and whether there’s enough there to convince you that the rest of the article is worthwhile.

It also requires you to really understand who your target audience is and what they’re looking for. Writers aren’t always covering topics they themselves find interesting, but their audience might consider the subject matter essential to their business. It’s important for you to put yourself in the shoes of your audience and decide if your introduction suggests there is information of value in the rest of the piece.

Keep It Short and Sweet

This one depends on the type of content. But in the content marketing world, we’re talking about the long-winded, fluffy, meandering and unclear introductions that feel like they last forever. Literally.

Nothing is a bigger buzzkill for readers than intros that never get to the point — or the ones that leave them feeling confused and maybe even a little annoyed. Intros of that type are sure to get readers to click out of the page and look elsewhere for the information they’re on the hunt for.

Avoid this by clearing away any fluff and including only the information needed to draw readers in. Make sure any anecdotes, quotes and pop culture references are super relevant and don’t drag on. A general rule of thumb is to keep intros to around 100 words. That’s usually long enough to convey the key information while getting to the point in a succinct way.

Be Provocative (but With Caution)

This one depends on a lot of things. We all know provocation works, and a provocative introduction can get people to read when they otherwise wouldn’t. If you know your audience will appreciate a little flare, then provoke away! But do it with caution. Readers can sometimes get annoyed when the title or introduction of a piece is provocative but the rest of the content is anything but, and that can even cause them to lose trust in the brand.

Introductions are one of the most important parts of any blog article. A well-written introduction piques the reader’s curiosity, clues them into the content contained in the rest of the piece and gets them excited to learn more. Without a great introduction, the rest of the content will really suffer.

Dan Haverty is a Senior Editorial Specialist at Brafton. Currently based in Boston, he also spent time living in Ireland and Washington, DC. When he isn’t writing, Dan enjoys reading, cooking and hiking, and he recently became an avid yoga practitioner.