Does anyone even read introductions anymore?
Well, I guess we’re about to find out.
According to traditional content writing practices, an introduction should introduce the topic, outline the main points, and provide some sort of hook for the reader to, well, keep reading.
In modern digital content writing, introductions are often boring or confusing, as most writers in the digital space believe that no one will read the introduction. They expect readers will just skim through the headlines and devour the main points of interest.
And in a lot of cases, they are completely right.
However, they might also bounce back to Google and read someone else’s post on the same topic. Which you probably (ie definitely) don’t want.
For everyone who is looking to intrigue their readers with valuable and resonating content – here’s how (not) to write your intros.
Clarity vs. Confusion
The first thing a well-crafted introduction needs to be is clear. It needs to provide enough information about what is to follow to keep the reader interested without getting lost in a series of unfortunately long-winded sentences.
Ideally, you want to stick to one point – your main one. There may be other minor tangents you fly off on somewhere in the article, but the one clear message you are looking to convey is your main talking point, the entire purpose of the article.
Distill your idea down to that one core thought – the purpose of your post – and introduce that. All the other valuable and useful information you will be adding in doesn’t need to be introduced too.
Your headline, subheadline, and introduction are the building blocks of interest you base all of your upcoming words on. By making them sound, you’ll have an easier job getting down to the actual business.
Here’s a post to illustrate this point: Newsweek’s article on hybrid mattresses. The title cuts right to the chase: Best Hybrid Mattresses 2021. There can be no doubt what the post contains.
Then we have the subtitle: Looking to upgrade to a hybrid? We reviewed and listed all the best hybrid mattresses of 2021. Again, straight down the middle, defining who the article is intended for – shoppers looking for a hybrid mattress.
The intro itself is brief and very clear, outlining what a hybrid mattress is and what the key features to consider are.
Perhaps not the most interesting of introductions – but a good one nevertheless, serving its purpose to the T.
Boredom vs. Entertainment
Another amazing way to introduce your topic is to be entertaining.
Let’s be perfectly clear about this point: you can write a good intro without being entertaining. You can’t write a boring intro and expect it to be good.
A boring intro is one that repeats itself, that takes too long to introduce the topic, or that uses a whole lot of words to say absolutely nothing at all.
On the other hand, you can make your intro entertaining in a number of ways.
You can play on your reader’s emotions and evoke some you know are close to their heart. If you know them well, you can offer comparisons or speak in a way you know will cause a certain reaction.
You can also be funny. Again, understanding what tickles your audience is the key here too. Telling a story works well more often than not – as stories are what ultimately binds us together and helps us relate to one another.
Finally, you can grab someone’s attention by drawing it to the problem they are dealing with and promising a solution, if they would just be so kind as to keep reading.
Here’s an entertaining intro for you in this post about kitchen scales. The author opens with a very personal story that should serve to establish a clear repartee with the reader. It’s a bit funny, but not too much, and it still tells you what the post will be about, though in an unconventional way.
If you are looking to make more of an impression, this is the kind of intro you can be aiming for.
Wit & Wisdom vs. Minimal Viable Intro
And now for the main question: how do you walk the line between what is essentially a witty intro and one that outlines the topic clearly and sets the stage for what’s to come?
In perfect honesty, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes the trick is in knowing when to be funny and when to do nothing more than write a minimally viable intro.
Your choice will entirely depend on the audience and the purpose of the article. If you expect most of your readers to skip it and dive right in, you can write an intro that is simple, entertaining, and concise.
However, if you want to wow your audience with your wit and keep them entertained, then you need to inject that bit of humor and personality into your writing. Knowing when to do which can be tricky.
And you can tell me how good of a choice I’ve made with my own one here today.
As a final illustration, take a look at this post about outreach link building. The intro is a bit of a blend of the two tactics we’ve just been discussing: a tiny bit on the casual and laid back side, but still cutting right to the quick of it. It establishes a voice of authority right from the beginning, but without being dry or difficult to swallow.
Final Thoughts or the Equally Important Outro
Let me sign off here by reminding you that your outro should match your intro. So, if you were trying to be very haha funny, then please keep the signing off as light, too. On the other hand, if you were serious and focused more on data and information, recap the main points at the end of the piece.
It will turn your article into one of those firmly wrapped tortillas, as opposed to the kinds that ooze sauce all over your plate.
Tommy Pruchinski is a marketing consultant for small e-commerce brands. He’s also a stand-up comedian and Brazillian jiu-jitsu practitioner.
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