Are your blog visitors vanishing from your site too quickly?
It could be that your blog story lead copy is telling readers: Please don’t read this piece.
It’s a common issue for even the best content writers. They’re able to write amazing content, however, they can’t create opening paragraphs that engage readers.
Have you read this far? Then I guess you can trust us on the subject of leads!
This article will explain steps you can take to write leads that will grab readers’ attention and make them want to READ ON.
Tips for Lead Writing
Most Common Lead Writing Mistakes
Most ineffective leads fall into one of three categories:
Boring leads that put readers to sleep.
Long leads that don’t get to the point.
Clever leads that readers don’t “get.”
The worst leads combine two or all three of these features.
The one thing they all have in common is that they tell people interested in your subject matter to go elsewhere to read about it.
Figure Out what Your Article Is Really About
Begin every lead-writing exercise by asking yourself these two questions:
What is this piece of content about?
What is this piece of content really about?
For this article, the answers are:
Tips for creating better content.
How to avoid common errors writers make developing leads, and how to write lead copy people will want to read.
The answer to question one is accurate but vague. It could be about any aspect of content writing and doesn’t provide a hook for readers to grab onto.
The answer to question two is much more accurate because it’s precise. Any lead you write based on it will get writers with a lead writing problem to read on.
It’s always a good idea to answer question two several times, ideally on different days. It will help you fine-tune your answer so it’s entirely accurate and precise. Also, ask yourself some variations on the question to make your answer even better:
What is the content really about for the audience?
What is the content really about for the brand?
The audience question will provide you with an answer that will shift the focus of your lead from yourself to the people in your target audience. The second one will ensure it includes a brand benefit to the reader.
Don’t Write the Same Lead Over and Over Again
One of the most significant issues with leads is that they’re often so generic, that they could be copied and pasted into multiple articles, and no one would know the difference.
Make it a point to write leads that could only introduce a single article in your unique brand voice. It’s okay if your first draft is a little generic. Make it more original as you refine your piece. Set your article aside for a day and read your intro copy with a fresh eye to ensure it isn’t generic.
As part of your copy editing process, have editors check that leads from different writers don’t seem too similar. Writing in a single brand voice can often result in some unintentional sameness.
Ask Yourself: Would I Read This?
To write good leads, it’s critical to think like your reader.
When you’re done drafting your copy, step away for a few minutes.
Then, with fresh eyes, read your lead.
Ask yourself: Would I want to read this article? Would my ideal reader want to read this article?
Be completely honest. If the answer is NO, revise and review until you get it right.
Ensure Readers See the Point
There’s so much content the people you’re targeting could be engaging with. You have very little time to explain what’s in it for them if they decide to read your piece. You need a single sentence or short paragraph in an introduction that lets readers know why this piece of content is relevant and valuable to them right now. This bit of copy sets the stage for all that comes after and gets readers to want to read more.
Incorporate this copy in the first three to five paragraphs. Any later, and it won’t matter.
If you find it challenging to write value statements, read news articles and other content and see if you can identify examples. Ask yourself:
How does the writer communicate value?
How does the copy help focus the story?
If you can’t find this kind of statement, do you want to continue to read the piece?
If you’re unsure if your lead communicates value to the reader, ask someone to check it out and see if your intro makes them want to read on.
Make Your Copy "Glanceable"
Most people will read your copy on a smartphone. They’ll glance beyond the headline to skim the copy to see if it’s something they want to invest time reading.
Make it easy for them to do that. Keep sentences and paragraphs short so they convey value at a glance. With all the content available to them on their smart devices, people aren’t willing to invest a lot of time or effort in figuring out what they want to read.
Treat Your Meta Description as a Lead-in to Your Lead
Don’t simply copy and paste your lead into the meta description field. Take time to write a unique meta description that explains the value of reading your content in 155 characters. When people search for content about your topic on Google, a good meta description will get them to click on your link and feel enthusiastic about reading your piece. It will carry some of the load of your lead.
Make the Most of Your Subheaders
Many readers completely blow past the lead when deciding if they want to engage with a piece of content. Instead, they scan the subheaders. Good writers simply use subheaders to send search signals to Google. The best ones also leverage them to get website visitors to read.
So, aren’t you glad you made it through this article’s lead and read this entire piece? Now you know what you need to know to write engaging leads, copy, and how to let Google know your writing is valuable.