It’s said that the hardest part of writing is starting. The greats attribute this to heady existential fears of failure, judgment, or an imperfect product. But what’s the real reason starting a writing project leaves many of us frozen in fear? Because it’s so difficult to write a good introductory sentence! And if you’re a blogger churning out content, it can be hard to keep your introductory sentences fresh.
Well, fear no more! In this post, I’ll provide some models of introductory sentences for bloggers that you can tailor to your needs. I’ll demonstrate those models using some examples our authors wrote for some of Hit Subscribe’s clients, and I’ll also give some advice along the way about the right mental mode for introductory sentences for bloggers. By the end of this post, you should be able to get past that first sentence hurdle, unlock your creative speed, and race to the finish.
The Dive Right In Model
Who says you have to start by just dipping your toes in the pool? Cannonball!
Actually, the most effective introductions, both from a reader and search engine optimization (SEO) perspective, are short and to the point. While I’ve titled this the Dive Right In model so I could take some artistic liberties, it might also be helpful for you to think of this as the Waste No Time or Cut the Crap model.
Here’s an example of one of our authors wasting no time:
—Author Sylvia Fronczak
While, as a writer, it might feel nice to set the scene and ease your reader into things, you don’t need to do that. (Although you certainly can, as you’ll see in our later models.) After all, your reader, presumably, Googled something related to, oh, I don’t know, OWASP, for example. They then clicked on your blog post titled “OWASP Top 10 Overview,” so they shouldn’t be surprised when your first sentence is this:
—Author Erik Dietrich
See? With introductory sentences for bloggers, there’s no need for bells and whistles. When you go for a longer introduction, you’re probably putting yourself in your reader’s shoes and thinking, “I need to give my reader context.” But you can also think about your reader as a searcher. And if your reader is searching a question your post answers, then they don’t need the context to the answer. They just need the answer.
The Truism Model
If you hang out here often, you might recognize this model from my post on transition sentences. Many of the models in that post also work as introductory sentences. That’s because a transition sentence introduces a new idea in the post. So you can mine that post for more first sentence inspiration.
As I pointed out in my other post, the Truism model can take three forms: the straightforward truism, the thwarted truism, and the “it’s complicated” truism.
Basically, in the Truism model, you make a generalized statement that’s widely accepted or believed to be true in your industry. From there, you can affirm it (the straightforward model), subvert it (the thwarted model), or affirm it with an asterisk (the “it’s complicated” model).
Here’s an example of the straightforward Truism model in action:
Every application uses secrets to function. These secrets include usernames and passwords, API keys, and other similar private keys. Applications running inside Kubernetes are no exception. —Author Daniel Longest
Like the Dive Right In model, the Truism model has that added SEO and readability bonus of getting right to the point.
The (Brief) Storytelling Model
OK, but maybe you want to be a little more creative, SEO be damned. After all, it’s your blog! You should be able to have some fun, right? You can do that, but I still encourage you to stick to some SEO best practices.
Namely, rein in your creativity and keep your introduction short and to-the-point. And, most importantly, keep it relevant.
Our author Carlos is a master of adding flavor and creativity to his writing while also staying on topic. Here’s an introductory paragraph he wrote recently:
The goal of enterprise software is to enable the activities of large organizations, supporting a wide range of different user roles. Over the years, this type of software has acquired the reputation of being slow, bloated, and bureaucratic, much like the organizations it’s named after. But in a plot twist worthy of M. Night Shyamalan, enterprise software is making a resurgence and is suddenly trendy again. —Author Carlos Schults
Notice how Carlos’s first sentence follows the Truism model. He then jumps off of that to the Storytelling model using the phrase “over the years.” Finally, he solidifies the narrative theme of the introductory sentences with a pop culture reference to M. Night Shyamalan’s plot twists.
The Question Model
This model, again, will look familiar if you’ve read my transition sentences post. And it’s pretty straightforward. The Question model is a great introductory sentence for bloggers to use because it helps you to succinctly set the scene and address why your reader might be coming to your post.
Here’s an example from one of our authors:
Have you ever considered different launch strategies for product updates? Did you ever experience the launch of a feature that the audience of your application didn’t actually desire? Dark launches are here to save you! —Author Michiel Mulders
Like the Question model, our next model also speaks to your reader’s questions and search intent. Check it out.
The So You Want to Be a… Model
Remember those books way back when that all were titled “So You Want to Be a [fill in the blank]”? In my (perhaps faulty) recollection, these started out as serious books for adults, akin to a less lowbrow version of the “…for Dummies” books. Now, though, the title seems to be more common in children’s books. Regardless of who the title targets or how cliché reading “So you want to…” either in a title or at the start of a blog may seem, the phrase has persisted and is instantly familiar to just about everyone.
But let’s agree to drop that cliché, OK? OK.
Of course, you can adopt the “So you want to…” phrase for your introduction. But what I’m recommending is that you use that message as inspiration for your introductory sentence. As a tech blogger, many of the posts you write will address aspirational goals searchers are looking for. So, the So You Want to Be a… model is a great point of inspiration to speak directly to your searcher’s intent.
But If That’s Cliché, How Do I Use It?
Let’s say your reader is curious about DevSecOps. If they search the term, you can assume they’re asking “What is DevSecOps?” So, mentally frame your introductory sentence as something like this: So you want to learn about DevSecOps. But we already agreed that sentence, as is, might come across as a bit cliché. Or maybe more than a bit. So let’s help that sentence grow up a bit. You might take that sentiment and reframe it into something like this:
If you’re a person working in security or software development, you’ve probably heard about DevSecOps before and wondered what it is or if it even works. —Author Elizabeth Kathure
See how that sentence keeps the vibe of the “So you want to…” phrasing by speaking directly to searcher intent? But the benefit of rephrasing it is that now the reader won’t think twice about whether they should take you seriously. The So You Want to Be a… model is a great point of inspiration to put yourself into your reader’s shoes and start your post with something that speaks directly to them.
Your Introductory Sentence Is Just Your Launchpad
In this post, I gave advice on how to write introductory sentences for bloggers. And you now have five models that you can adapt to your needs.
Before you go, let me give some parting advice. You’ll notice that in many of the examples I shared, I didn’t share just the first sentence on its own. I also included the next sentence or the entire first paragraph.
There’s a reason for that.
When you’re starting a post and you think of the first sentence as an isolated thing, it creates extra pressure on you to come up with some deeply profound revelation. And that pressure makes it even harder to start your writing project.
That’s why you need to look beyond your first sentence and think about what sort of tone you want to set with your introduction. Your first sentence is less important than you think. The introductory sentence, for bloggers, only matters in relation to the sentences that immediately follow it.
So, rather than getting hung up on that very first sentence, ask yourself, “What do I want to say to start my post?” By focusing on what you want to follow your introductory sentence, that first sentence will come more easily.
And these models should still help as an inspiration for thinking about your introductory sentences and get that first sentence on the page.