How To Write A Blog | 8 Killer Lead Paragraphs You Should Know

how to write a blog

Your Attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish!

Seven seconds is all the time you have to grab a readers attention. So how do you get it? How do you keep it?

In this article, I’ll explain how to write a blog lead paragraph that holds our goldfish-like attention span and won’t let go. By the end of this article, you will know the main types of leads, how to use them and some to avoid.

As you probably know, the “Lead” is the leading paragraph (sometimes as many as 3) of a written article. It follows the headline and it has the job of converting a casual, semi-interested browser into a reader. Headlines pull people in, the lead has to deliver instant gratification. It has to justify the reader’s decision to click through the headline.

There are two types. Hard and Soft leads

Hard leads tend to be less than 30 words, to the point, and factual. The Who and the What, closely followed by the When and Where. The How and Why are closely dealt with in the main body of the article.

#Hard Leads

There are two main types of Hard Lead.
  • The Summary Lead – is as if you are explaining the story to someone over the phone and your battery is about to die.
“The implementation of ‘pay-to-play’ by WordPress will strain SME’s budgets, Professional Blogger for JACKEDCONTENT.COM John Jeffries announced at last week’s BlogCon”

The newsworthy portion is the strain on the budget, not that there was an announcement!

If the main subjects (people) are not widely known to your audience, then you may want to delay revealing who they are until later on. This is known as a delayed identification or a blind lead.

  • Blind leads – This is a type of summary lead, but the names or locations are delayed until later on. If the names are not well known, then I would consider using a blind lead for your article.
“For raising site traffic by 2000%, two JACKEDCONTENT.COM Bloggers were treated like royalty.
In an event, worthy of A-List celebrities, Dave Davidson and Alex Roth received awards for their How To Write A Blog series.”

The names are not well known, so they are delayed until the following paragraph.


#The Nutgraph

Before I explain the next set of leads (my favourites are coming up), I need to explain something briefly. The Nutgraph!

“What The **** is A #NUTGRAPH!”

After each lead, whichever you choose, you then move into the Nutgraph. When you are using a soft/creative lead (coming up next), you might not get to the important facts upfront. You may have delayed them. But they do need to appear. This is where the Nutgraph comes in.

This is the story, in a NUTshell, condensed into a paraGRAPH. This contains the story in a nutshell. It is important to arrive at the Nutgraph within the first 3 paragraphs to avoid our goldfish swimming off.

how to write a blog


#Soft Leads

The second main set of leads are the soft leads. Sometimes known as the creative leads. I would recommend one of these approaches unless you are dealing with a hard news topic.
Here is the full list of the soft leads to choose from:
  1. List Lead
  2. Scene-setting Lead
  3. Storytelling Lead
  4. Punch Lead (As Used For This Article – You can scroll back to see, I’ll wait for you :D)
  5. Opposite Lead
  6. Wordplay Lead

#Soft Lead Examples

List Leads

This one is easier to show than to explain. You’ll get the idea straight away.
“Obama did it. So did Cher. Rankin, Platon and Madonna. Yep, they all discovered the secret of being utterly recognisable personal brands: Mononyms”

Scene-Setting Leads

AKA Scenic Lead. Begin with a description of the scene surrounding an event. This is a good choice for stories in which the setting is prominent.
“Not even pitch-black conditions could stop progress. With the whirring of computers and the frantic clacking of keyboards, the graveyard shift at JACKEDCONTENT.COM would get the How To Write A Blog article out on time.
The Lead Writing story would allow their readers to ….”

Storytelling Leads

This has a very narrative style in which you introduce the main characters and the conflict first. You really need to feel the drama. This works great when you use a delayed identification. Readers are left wanting to know what happened next. When it comes to How To Write A Blog, this is my favourite lead style.
“The reader lifted his head from within his hands “I thought this would explain How To Write A Blog!”, Jay Williams said, holding back tears.
The next thing Williams knew, he was staring at a webpage full of 90’s GIFs. Williams, a Lead Content Editor for JACKEDCONTENT.COM was the victim of Clickbait.”

Punch Leads

This is where the fact is so startling that it really punches the reader. Open with an amazing fact, or a startling statement that arouses the reader’s interests. The most startling find in a survey, for example:
“Content Creators spend an average of 18 hours a day surfing the internet!”
(NOT TRUE – I made it up to make a point)

Opposite Leads

Cite one point of view and then immediately cite an opposite view or contrary observation. The leaves the reader wanting to know which way their opinion should fall, so they read on. You might find this in an Op-Ed piece or coverage of a political debate/product launch. Here is my completely fabricated example (they never said this, to my knowledge):
“”Medium format is the best possible quality for your photography,” Hasselblad‘s lead designer, Mike Crompton said in a press conference last week. Chris Burkard, a professional lifestyle and adventure photographer for Surfer Magazine, says that subject choice matters much more than camera choice”

Wordplay Leads

A clever turn of phrase, name or word. Very similar to newspapers, but a word of warning. You should be careful when using this approach as it can easily look like a gimmick and has potential to mislead the reader.
“Obama got taken for a ride by a website. So did Jay Williams. The two well known public figures were among some of the first people to use WUber. A free taxi-like service and app that uses driverless cars in the Leeds City centre …”

#How to Write a Blog Lead

When creating a lead, don’t settle for the first one that you come up with, you need to work on them. In the world of blogging, more people will read the headline than the article. For those who make it to the article, few will read past the first paragraph unless they are grabbed. It follows then that, your lead is critical to leading someone into the story.


#Bad Leads

Topic leads – Don’t do it. It’s lazy, boring and … just. Don’t. You can tell if you have written a topic lead if your response is “So what?”
“There was an Editors meeting yesterday. On 5th June, the Content Editors of JACKEDCONTENT.COM met in the Penthouse meeting room to discuss the How To Write A Blog article.” … SO WHAT!!!
Here are a few other things that you should avoid:
  • Don’t start with a quote or a question
  • Avoid the phrases “Picture this…’ or “Imagine this…”
  • Don’t state the obvious! “It’s Apple launch event time again …”
  • Avoid wordiness
  • Avoid WHEN leads, unless the time is THE MOST IMPORTANT FACT
  • and, as mentioned above, Topic leads

Writing the lead for an article is my favourite part of a blog article. It lets me get to work on the crafting of words. I like to make every word count and it’s all about guiding a readers attention. I’m not an expert in this, but I think I do a pretty good job and I know the reasons for the way I write certain things.

Just remember, you need to get the reader interested and then deliver. They have taken the effort to click through. In this digital age, we goldfish need instant gratification. Write a killer lead.

Thank you for your time and I hope this article was of some use to you. It was a bit of a mammoth, but I think there is a lot of useful information in this one that you can start using right now to improve your writing. Let me know what you think and, as always, follow me on Instagram or Twitter to keep up with all things JACKEDCONTENT. Speak soon,

Ta Raa!

#J

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