Explosive Blog Intro 2

5 Simple Ways to Write an Explosive Blog Intro (and Avoid Publishing a Dud)

Baghdad.

Several US riflemen have cordoned off the area.

The roadside bomb has been isolated.

And Sergeant J.T. Sanborn seems a little too relaxed, as he remotely controls the disposal robot.

This is the first two minutes we see in The Hurt Locker, a movie that went on to win six Academy Awards in 2010.

It’s opening scene is a prime example of irresistible storytelling – starting in the thickest of the action.

You’ve seen this approach a hundred times over …

Think of Troy, which starts with Achilles in a one-on-one battle. Gladiator, with Maximus leading the fight against a barbarian horde. Or 300, with its now infamous THIS IS SPARTA introduction (yes, I’ve got a tickle spot for swords and shields).

As viewers, we’re given a truckload of credit by the director – who knows we’ll build a fast story around the action in our heads.

Learn how to do this with your blog intros and you’ll become a more explosive writer over time. 

5 Dynamite Blog Intros You Can Try Right Now

Kathryn Bigelow had a camera and a professional film crew working with her on that explosive opening in The Hurt Locker.

When blogging, you just have a keyboard and your wits.

So, how do you kidnap attention in the same way?

You employ any (or a combination) of the below ‘tricks’:

Let’s talk on that last one for a second.

Picture this …

It’s bonfire night, and you can smell gunpowder in the air.

You light another firework on the lawn, only to watch this one fizzle and fail to launch. Your neighbour’s 12-year-old wants to help and starts running towards what she thinks is a dud.

The feeling you should have in your gut right now, has been created by the scene you just painted in your mind.

I didn’t paint it – I just handed you the brushes before my description by saying ‘Picture this …’

It works with lines like ‘Imagine this for a minute …’

Or even just ‘Imagine:’

And it’s one of my favourite copywriting tricks from the school of Demian Farnworth.

Your Only Formula for Writing a Good Blog Intro

I’m no Farnworth. And I’m no Kathryn Bigelow either.

Sometimes, there is no way I can replicate the calibre of intros I’ve admired down the years.

The only way for me to guarantee success is to keep trying … and use what works, more often.

One of the rising stars of online marketing, Ryan Hanley, has found his winning formula in the question-themed intro. Nine of his last 10 blog posts begin with a question - one that’s already in the mind of his audience.

It’s a smart way to light the fuse. And I reckon we’re all going to learn more from Mr. Hanley as time goes by.

If you find an intro (or anything) that works, go back to it and stitch it into something new.

It’s simple, but effective storytelling.

What About the Blog Writer in You?

I get it. As a writer, you’re likely grow tired of using the same approach over and over.

But as long as you’re not using the same ‘trick’ every time, then it’s rare for readers to even notice, let alone get itchy about it.

This mindset ripples down from the very beginning of the game - when Claude Hopkins was teaching the world how to approach advertising.

What’s working for you right now?

Share your best. I’m always looking to steal the next best method.

 

Image source: UXO Rachaf 
License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
Contrast edited by me using G+

Copywriting Painkiller 3

Try the Unlikely Painkiller for Copywriters Who Work Too Hard

Why do you work so hard?

Let me give you my answer for a second before we get into the painkiller I’ve been using in 2014 …

If I don’t have a knot in my spine at the end of the day, I can’t sink myself into a session on Call of Duty.

It’s backwards – but it’s just how my mind works.

And I realised this during the most depressing year of my life …

I graduated in 2009 and told myself I deserved a year out from The Grind (… as if university was ‘tough’. I had three lectures a week - at most. Typical student, eh?).

So, I stuck to my 16-hour a week part-time job in the local electrical store. And I barely broke a sweat in any of my shifts.

Post-graduation, I was taking it easy. Really easy.

Like I said, it was the most depressing year of my life.

I couldn’t enjoy the things I wanted to … because I felt like what my brother likes to call an ‘oxygen thief’.

Only when I started volunteering did I regain that sense of fulfilment, purpose and happiness.

Then I got my role as a junior copywriter and finally swallowed a lungful of deserved air.

The hard work had begun.

Are You Working Hard or Working Smart? Or Both?

But I now realise that long shifts — even in a job I love — are not the answer to happiness. And certainly not the answer to being my best.

A lot of us work overly hard no matter what we do – like my girlfriend’s aunt who has four jobs (cleaner, car park attendant, carer and bingo hall operator). Or Claude C. Hopkins, who is regarded today as the founding father of modern advertising.

– Note: You might consider David Ogilvy to be the founding father of modern advertising … but Ogilvy swore by the works of Hopkins. Perhaps Claude ought to be considered the grandfather. Your call. –

His book, Scientific Advertising, is the Big Bang … and all the ‘How to’ guides we’re reading from today’s copywriters are merely shrapnel from that first BOOM.

He wasn’t always an ad man.

Hopkins was a hustler. He worked 18-hour days for fun. And he shot up to become head bookkeeper at Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company in his earlier years.

The job was well paid at $75 a month.

Hopkins had grabbed that position by the nads through gruelling determination and hard work – two traits he’d owned for his entire life.

Those 18-hour shifts had paid off. Big time.

But not big enough …

He soon realised that the steak he’d been chewing was a rag of beef in comparison to what he could be tasting if he ditched that cushy bookkeeper’s job and became a salesmen.

From his seat at the top of his bookkeeping career, Hopkins could see that it was the salesmen who were bringing in the business, rolling in the cash and making it rain.

It wasn’t about working 18-hour days to get to the next prize meal.

It was about working smart – and learning what he had to learn in order to enjoy the juicier fillets in life.

Brian Clark talks about the same thing in the first episode of New Rainmaker.

Those who bring the profits into a business will always earn more kudos, respect and money.

They are the rainmakers. They make the rules. And they work smart.

I’m still trying to figure out the trade-off between hard work and smart work. 

Are You Learning Enough to Stay Pain Free?

See, working too hard can cause a nasty rash on your happiness.

New Rainmaker and the books of Claude Hopkins have been my calamine lotion. 

You’ll learn more about being an ad man, marketer (or whatever your role in advertising might be) from these two, than you will from any marketing-related degree. 

In fact, I’m willing to say that you’ll learn more about the principles of great advertising from these two than you will from a year in a marketing agency. 

I know Drayton Bird often underlines how nobody reads anything. And that probably includes your boss.

Are You Prepared to Sacrifice Zombie Enjoyment for True Happiness?

If you’re truly a copywriter, you’ll install more happiness from these than you will from your Xbox or HBO.

It’s soothing to learn from the best and to actively train yourself to be better than you were yesterday.

I don’t need a knot in my spine to enjoy being educated (plus it’s nice to get through one night without being disappointed in my deteriorating first person shooter reactions).

You’ll enjoy identifying the parallels between New Rainmaker and Hopkins’ literature – each delivered nearly 100 years apart. And if you’re making a living as a writer, you’ll get to implement what you learn today, in your job tomorrow.

Soon enough, your own confidence and knowledge makes that job a little easier.

This dilutes your stress levels. And your happiness is topped up, daily.

So, that’s your unlikely painkiller – studying.

Now it’s just a question of whether or not you’re willing to take the medicine.

– Note: I’ve got a feeling that if this is the painkiller for hard work, then Charlie Hoehn’s ‘Play it Away’ might just be the permanent cure. And that goes for everybody, not just ad men/women. –

Turns out Hopkins continued to work long hours, even as a rainmaker … not sure if that’s my kind of deal. And in all honesty, I’m late to this feast he’s been hosting since the 1920s.

But the food here never goes stale.

Pull up a seat.

If you’ve got your own remedy for relieving the symptoms of hard work, please share your best advice in the comments below (all suggestions are welcome. I know one copywriter who uses rum to unwind – that’s more than valid in my book).

Finding Good Copywriting Blogs

How to Find Good Copywriting Blogs

Finding bloggers is easy. Finding the best bloggers takes a little bit of scouring – but not much.

Although I think Brian Clark would probably like to think of Copyblogger as an exclusive underground club for content – it has naturally developed into the copywriter’s Serengeti.

With the exception of a few weathered legends like Drayton Bird or John Carlton, every writer I followed in 2013 was found through Copyblogger.

Whether that’s because they guest-blogged an incredible 800-worder or posted a blinding comment – I caught wind of them somewhere on the savannas of Leave Lame Behind.

At face value, here’s what you’ll get from the average Copyblogger post:

  • Insight into something cool about content marketing
  • A valuable lesson delivered with precision
  • Another reason to sign up to Authority

But look beyond that and you’ll get so much more:

  • An author, who is real, proven, and probably has a personal blog
  • A reference to another remarkable writer within the copy
  • A list of comments from people just like you, the author and everyone else in between – all of who probably have blogs and/or recommendations

UPDATE (24 March 2014): Copyblogger actually went ahead and removed comments … meaning my final point can no longer be applied to that particular site. Still, the lessons here are transferable to other great websites. I highly recommend diving into the comments over at Blog Tyrant to find good copywriting blogs.

Look even further and you’ll never stop hunting down the advice you’re after – because all of these people share their insight on G+. And they’re all sound.

After taking this predatory approach to just a couple of posts, you’ll have a list of classy bloggers too big to follow properly –  which is why you need to set up a decent Digg reader.

What’s your approach to hunting down quality bloggers? Share your secrets in the comments.