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How to Start Blog Posts Without Boring Your Readers

Examples of intros that get to the point in a few sentences

young-woman-watching-movie-on-laptop-in-cafe
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexel

I don’t know about you but when I click on blog posts titled:

  • “3 Ways to…”
  • “Why You Should / Shouldn’t…”
  • “Want to…? Do This!”
  • “5 Proven Methods to…”
  • “How to…”

…I want the writer to tell me immediately what those methods, solutions, and reasons are.

But I often click on the headline and the next thing I get is a long intro that gives me tons of background information and reasons why what I’m about to read is important.

This is what makes me skip the beginning of the post or, in the worst case, click away.

Here’s how we could start our stories more effectively.

Analyzing an introduction I wrote

A few days ago I published a blog post titled “How to Become and Be a Good Vegan — Forever”.

This is the first draft of the introduction:

I was a meat eater for 24 years.

To me, a meal wasn’t a meal if I didn’t have a steak, pork ribs, or cold cuts on my plate.

In 2011 I listened to a speech by an animal rights activist on YouTube and became a vegetarian literally overnight.

5 years later I went vegan.

Switching to a plant-based diet is one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life. But it took effort. I faced challenges, learned lessons the hard way, and made mistakes along the way.

I’ll share some of these in this article and give you my tips and advice on how to go and be a good vegan forever.

If you’d like to go vegan, I hope that what I’m about to tell you will help you understand what veganism really involves.

***

Could this be more succinct?

Could I save my readers’ time by using fewer words?

Could I get to the point in fewer sentences?

Here’s a shorter version.

In 2011, after being a meat eater for 24 years, I became a vegetarian.

Five years later I then went vegan.

Quitting meat and fish first and then switching to a plant-based diet, were life choices that took effort. I faced challenges, learned lessons, and made mistakes along the way.

I’ll share some of these with you, hoping they will help you on your journey to veganism.

***

This second version gives the same information but in a much more succinct way.

I like it a lot more than the first and it’s, in fact, the one I published.

I didn’t use ChatGPT to make it shorter. I could have but I love writing and improving my craft. ChatGPT would have stripped away all the fun.

I edited it by myself — here’s how I did it.

The thinking behind the editing

Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

I wanted the introduction of my article to do three things:

  1. Let the reader know I was a meat eater, then became a vegetarian, and finally went vegan. I needed this information so the reader could trust my advice.
  2. Make it clear that going vegan was hard for me. I needed this information so the reader could connect with me since I wrote the article for people struggling to switch to a plant-based diet.
  3. Tell the reader what I was going to talk about in my article.

I looked at the first version of the intro and thought, This is too long. How can I keep it as snappy as possible so I can quickly get to the point?

I started removing and compressing sentences.

Here are some sentences from the first version that don’t appear in the second one.

  • To me, a meal wasn’t a meal if I didn’t have a steak, pork ribs, or cold cuts on my plate.

I thought this was unnecessary information. I wanted to show readers how much I loved meat but then realized these details could easily be omitted. Who would eat meat for 24 years if they didn’t like it?

This is the next sentence I removed:

  • …I listened to a speech by an animal rights activist on YouTube…

Also unnecessary information at this stage. It gives relevant details but I thought they were too specific for an introduction. So I decided to move it to the main body of my article.

  • …is one of the best choices I’ve ever made in my life.

Unnecessary. Saying I’ve been vegan since 2016 already suggests I don’t regret making this choice.

  • …and give you my tips and advice on how to go and be a good vegan forever.

Repeated information as I say this in the headline. The reader already knows what to expect in this article: tips and advice on how to go vegan.

  • If you’d like to go vegan,

Unnecessary — what else are they reading my article for?

  • I hope that what I’m about to tell you will help you understand what veganism really involves.

I could have left this one, but it was too wordy and impersonal. I like the one I used in the final version more as it’s shorter and more relatable.

Check the final version again. Notice how it presents all the essential information I wanted to give without wasting the reader’s time:

In 2011, after being a meat eater for 24 years, I became a vegetarian.

Five years later I then went vegan.

Quitting meat and fish first and then switching to a plant-based diet were life choices that took effort. I faced challenges, learned lessons, and made mistakes along the way.

I’ll share some of these with you, hoping they will help you on your journey to veganism.

Less is more — always.

However and unfortunately, some writers would have started this article by saying how much they loved meat when they were kids. They would have shared stories about them going to the butcher to buy beef for their grandmothers or killing chickens on their uncle’s farms.

There’s nothing wrong with this. Writing is an art, not a science, so I’m always suspicious of anything too prescriptive.

But I’m not a fan of those long intros as we’re writing blog articles here — not books.

An article, to me, falls under the umbrella of short-form content so there’s no time to muck around.

Get to the meat! (Even if you’re vegan). 

Eve Arnold, a successful Medium writer, is great at that.
 

An example from a top writer

Eve introduces her readers to the topic in a few sentences and then…boom! We’re in.

This is the introduction she wrote in her article titled “What I Learned For 3 Years of Creating Alongside My Full-Time Job”

The best way to learn anything the first time around is to get stuck in and have a go. The best way to learn something the second way around is to teach.

I’ve been creating on the internet for the last 3 years, it honestly feels like I’m just warming up, but here are a few ideas and thoughts if you’re just getting started.

That’s it.

In 3 sentences she tells me why she’s writing (to teach me what she learned), why I should trust her advice (she’s got 3 years of experience), and what she’s going to talk about (a few ideas and thoughts).

And that’s all I need to know.

And that’s why I read her articles.

And, I guess, that’s one of the reasons why — at the time of writing — she’s got 20K followers on Medium.

Let me give you one last example of how you could write shorter introductions.

An intro I could have shortened

The following is the introduction from “4 Simple Ways to Improve Your Listening Skills with Podcast Transcripts: Tried and tested activities I’ve used with my learners” — an article I wrote about a month ago.

The major problem in listening to connected speech is lexical segmentation — recognizing where one word ends and the next one begins” (Lynch, 2009).

Podcast transcripts can help you solve this problem — if you know how to use them.

Maybe you already use podcast transcripts to check unknown words and expressions. Maybe you enjoy listening to a podcast episode while reading its transcription.

That’s good. But there’s more you can do.

I’ll show you 4 simple activities to improve your English listening skills using transcripts. I’ve used them many times with my learners of English and they work. I’ll also explain why these activities are effective.

I’ll be talking about podcast transcripts, but you can use transcripts of any kind such as YouTube, TED Talks, and movie transcripts.

All right, let’s take this to the barber and give it a trim.

Barber
Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash

Here’s the clean-shaven version.

The major problem in listening to connected speech is lexical segmentation — recognizing where one word ends and the next one begins” (Lynch, 2009).

Podcast transcripts can help you solve this problem — if you know how to use them.

Here are 4 transcript activities I’ve done with my learners of English. They worked for them and might work for you too.

Neat. To the point. Sexy.

These are the introductions I love to read.

Wrapping it all up

Introductions should do just that: introduce the reader to the topic in the quickest and most efficient way.

You can do this by cutting all unnecessary information and details that you can easily include in the body of the article.

Ask yourself, “How can I get to the meat as soon as possible?” Then take your intro to a skilled barber.

This may be ChatGPT. But if you’d like to become a better barber, you should use your own scissors.

I hope this helps!

I organize book clubs for advanced (C1/C2) learners of English and have a private email list where I share book recommendations, tips and updates on my courses.

You can join me here.

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