It's the dreaded cursor-on-a-blank-screen experience all writers -- amateur or professional, aspiring or experienced -- know and dread. And nowhere does it plague writers more than when they're writing their intros.
I mean, you already have a blog post you want to write. Can't you just dive in and write it? Why all the pomp and circumstance with this dag-blasted introduction!?
Well, intros don't have to be long (in fact, I prefer them to be quite quick), nor do they have to be hard. But they do have to exist. They tee the reader up for the content they're about to read, and provide context for the rest of your post.
So let's break down exactly how to write an introduction that's short, effective, and relatively painless. If you're ever having trouble churning out those intros, come back here and re-read this formula to lift yourself out of that writing rut.
How to Write an Intro
As a lover of all things meta, I will, of course, use this post's introduction as an example of how to write an intro. Let's break down all the components of this post's introduction so you have a formula to refer to.
Component 1: Grab the Reader's Attention
There are a lot of ways to do this. You can be empathetic or tell a story, so the reader immediately feels an emotional resonance with the piece (Yeah! This post totally gets me!). You could tell a joke (Ha! This is fun! Let's read more of this!). You could shock the reader with a crazy fact or stat (Whoa! That's crazy! I must know more!). For this intro, I went the "empathetic" route.
Writer's block stinks. Blank screens and taunting cursors? The. Worst. Who's with me?
Component 2: Present the Reason for the Post's Existence
Your post needs to have a purpose. The purpose of this post? Well, it's to address a specific problem -- that writing intros can be a pain in the butt ... but we all gotta do it. There's a problem that needs to be solved: making writing introductions easier.
Remember, just because you know the purpose of your post, doesn't mean the reader does. Not yet. It's your job to validate your post's existence, otherwise readers won't see a reason to keep reading.
Component 3: Explain How the Post Will Help Address the Problem
Cool, there's a problem that totally resonates with me, and I really want a solution. Time to dive into the post? Not yet. Quickly tell the reader what the post will provide. This is the expectation-setting portion of the post. For instance, I wouldn't want a reader to expect this post to dive into the reasons introductions are important ... but without stating otherwise, that's a totally valid expectation. (Remember, readers might have skimmed over or altogether forgotten the title of your post at this point.) Tell the reader exactly what the post will provide, and why it's valuable to them.
In other words: Keep reading! That problem we just agreed was a problem? I'm about to give you a solution to it. ;-)
Make sense? Now, there are other valid ways to write introductions to your marketing content. Don't feel the need to follow this formula for every single piece of content. But this should help provide a solid framework you can follow if you're just getting started or if it's one of those days when the words just ain't flowing.