What’s more intimidating than an angry Dwayne Johnson holding a baseball bat?
A blank page.
Scores of perfectly capable, talented writers have sat down with a fantastic idea for a blog, only to see their momentum come to a screeching halt when the time comes to write the introduction. What many people don’t realize is that many of the best writers follow formulas. By following a formula, you can take the angst out of writing your blog introduction, eliminating that roadblock and gaining the momentum you need to get your blog written.
What is this formula? Read on.
As someone who’s written and edited hundreds of blog posts for Clariant Creative’s clients, I simply don’t have the time to be held back by blog introduction paralysis. And as a marketer, neither do you.
So, because this isn’t a recipe blog, I’m going to get straight to the good stuff instead of making you read through a bunch of navel-gazing personal stories.
The Clariant Creative Formula for Writing Great Blog Introductions:
1. Surprise them
2. Give them the main takeaway
3. Tie it all together
Let’s dive into each of these elements.
You didn’t expect a blog about blog introductions to lead off with the image of an angry Dwayne Johnson holding a baseball bat, did you?
That element of surprise doesn’t simply highlight the fact that I’m a little weird (and a big fan of The Rock). As it turns out, surprise has benefits that you can use to your advantage as a marketing writer.
- Novelty and surprise are found to be “among the primary factors that arouse interest, motivate exploratory or avoidance behavior, and drive learning.”
- Surprise makes us pay attention. According to Tania Luna, surprise expert (yes, that’s a thing). "Surprise hijacks all of our mental processes and pulls our focus into one thing.” And there’s a medical reason for this: Surprise triggers the release of norepinephrine, which increases alertness, formation and retrieval of memory, and focuses attention.
To put this into practice, let your creative mind flow free. Maybe your blog topic reminds you of a song lyric, or a movie, or well-known quote. Or perhaps you can relate the topic to a common life experience like shopping for jeans or taking a road trip.
If all else fails, tap into emotion and find surprising similes:
- Is your blog about something exciting? What else is exciting? Christmas, lottery wins, a new baby, a roller coaster, a basket of puppies.
- Is your blog about something difficult? Other difficult things might be getting a toddler to sit still, doing your taxes, or getting along with your brother-in-law.
Once you have your quirky or surprising analogy or simile fixed in your mind, jot it down and head to the next step.
Give Them the Main Takeaway
What IS your blog about? As delightfully surprising as your audiences may find your references to your brother-in-law holding a basket of puppies while riding a roller coaster, that surprise will only carry them so far. Your readers want to know: What are they going to get out of reading your blog?
The answer to this question should be distilled down into one sentence (you can get away with two if they’re short but try to keep it to one).
In this blog, I’ve gone with a “By doing X, you can X…” framing, but how you write the sentence can vary, as long as it clearly tells the reader what they can expect if they keep reading, and more importantly why they should keep reading. After all, if the blog isn’t going to inform, entertain, or help them in any way, why would they want to read it?
Once you have your sentence (or two) figured out, congratulations, you now have the end of your introduction.
Wait…what? The end of the introduction? That’s right.
Saving your main takeaway for the end of the introduction not only gives your intro room to breathe, it’s a satisfying, weighty way to end the intro, providing the reader with another mini-reward and gearing them up for what comes next.
Tie It All Together
You have your element of surprise for the first bit of your introduction. And now you have the key takeaway for the end of your introduction. What about the middle? That’s where you tie it all together by going into more detail:
- If your key takeaway is promising the solution to a problem, use the middle of your introduction to describe the problem and how it affects the reader.
- If your key takeaway is about a new development, idea, or product your readers should know about, use the middle of your introduction to talk about what challenges led up to this point.
The smart folks at HubSpot, when describing storytelling, say that conflict is an integral component to an good story. This makes the middle of your blog introduction the perfect place to introduce this conflict, to pull the reader further into the topic, and to show them that this subject is relevant to the challenges that they’re currently facing.
Blog Introduction Examples for Difficult Industries
“That’s all well and good for marketing blogs,” you say. “But surely that won’t work for technical or niche B2B industries!”
It does work (and don’t call me Shirley).
Let’s look at a couple of topics, and create an introduction using the Clariant Formula:
Why Supply Chain Cybersecurity Is Important
You’ve just spent hours vacuuming and detailing your vehicle. It’s shiny, it smells great, and there’s not a speck to be found. Then, the kids get in and two seconds later, crumbs are everywhere, your truck smells like spoiled milk, and wait…was that a mouse? [Surprise]
With today’s interconnected supply chains, your efforts to keep your cybersecurity squeaky clean can quickly be undone by partners, vendors, or customers who practice lax cybersecurity hygiene. Unlike your kids, however, you can’t exactly threaten your supply chain partners with an early bedtime or no dessert. [Tying it together with the problem we’re solving] Fortunately, there are practical and diplomatic ways to get them to take the risks of cyberattack more seriously, helping you make your supply chain a stronger link in your cybersecurity efforts. [Main takeaway]
How to Make Your Institution’s Custodial Practices More Environmentally Friendly
In the 19th century, doctors prescribed heroin-laden tinctures for coughs. And while they may have been effective, it was soon apparent that these cures created as many problems as they solved. [Surprise] Today, we’re coming to the same realization when it comes to the products we use to keep our facilities clean and free of dangerous microbes. While harsh solutions may be effective, they’re in effect making us sicker, due to their harmful effects on the environment. [Tying it together by describing the problem] Fortunately, there are smart new tools, techniques, and products that allow institutions to maintain a hygienic facility without contributing to dangerous environmental effects. [Key takeaway]
Can this formula be used for every blog? Absolutely.
Should it? No.
You don’t want your formula to become, well…formulaic. And using the same format for every single blog introduction you write will soon grow both tedious and obvious.
Instead, consider the Clariant Creative Blog Introduction Formula as yet another powerful content marketing tool—one that you can haul out when it’s needed (i.e. when you’re stuck on the introduction and simply can’t seem to get over the hump) and use to powerful effect.
Writing blogs can be difficult. By keeping a reliable blog introduction formula in your toolkit, you can be better equipped to create the helpful, informative, entertaining content your customers will love to read, and can get it done with time to spare.