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Blogosphere Trends – What Bloggers Are Writing About This Week

This column is written by Kimberly Turner from Regator (a great tool that gathers and organizes the world’s best blog posts). – Darren

After reading this post, you’ll not only know what the ten most blogged-about topics of the past week are but you’ll also have at least ten great options for the opening line of your next post.

The opening line above makes a promise. And I hope that it made you want to read more. (You’re still here, right?) After your headline, the opening lines of your post may be the most important words you write. They determine whether visitors will continue reading or click past your post. Making a promise, like I just did, is one of many techniques you can try. I was digging into the ProBlogger archives and stumbled across Darren’s 2008 post “11 Ways to Open a Post and Get Reader Engagement,” which reminded me that it’s all too easy for bloggers to overlook the importance of those first few words. That’s why, as we look at this week’s blog trends (generated by Regator), we’ll also take a look how effective opening lines helped a few specific posts stand out from the pack.

  1. Gulf of Mexico/Oil SpillMashable identifies a need (in this case, the desire to understand the severity of the disaster) with the opening line, “Wondering just how much damage April 20′s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform explosion has caused?” Then, just as importantly, goes on to provide a solution. This technique is the number one tip on Darren’s list for a reason: It works. Painting a picture with words can also help you snag readers’ attention. The Gaggle does this very effectively in its opening line: “At last, it’s here: after more than two weeks of waiting, the eerie pinkish-orange foam mixture of seawater and crude oil that has been creeping ominously closer to has now begun to wash ashore the barrier islands off the coast of Louisiana.”
  2. Times Square – Intriguing or surprising statements are another way to draw readers in with opening lines. The Daily Beast does this with the line “The wife of the accused Times Square bomber lived a suburban life of shopping and Everybody Loves Raymond–until her handsome young husband became a monster.” Daily Intel uses the same technique: “The more we learn about wannabe Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, the more normal he seems.”
  3. UK Election – Asking a question that readers are curious about is another way to engage them. Toby Young asks, “Why hasn’t Gordon Brown resigned?” He follows through by hypothesizing and offering up possible answers. Starting with a question without a definite answer and offering up your own opinions can be a great way to elicit comments from those who agree as well as those with other opinions. Young’s post has, indeed, drawn a lively conversation from commenters.
  4. Greece – As Darren points out, “Your opening line need not be a textual one.” The Gothamist‘s photo of a riot officer falling to the litter-covered ground after being hit by a chair is a powerful and effective image that makes me want to learn more.
  5. Federal Trade Commission – Stats and figures can be quite attention-grabbing. Marketing Pilgrim uses a figure to create interest: “The FTC created quite a stir last year when they announced their new blogging guidelines to crack down on bloggers who receive products free in exchange for mentions or reviews. The FTC reassured bloggers that the rumored $11,000 fines wouldn’t affect them…”
  6. JJ Abrams – Darren points out that stories that illustrate a post’s point in an indirect way make for strong opening lines. FilmSchoolRejects uses this well in its post “Why J.J. Abrams Gets Away With Mystery,” starting with a paragraph-long story that compares mysterious roadside attractions and JJ Abram’s latest project.
  7. Lawrence Taylor – “If I asked you on May 5, 2010 who Lawrence Taylor was, you would probably respond that he was one of the best linebackers of all time.” This opening line from Bleacher Report acts, in some ways, like a question. It causes readers to ask themselves what has changed since May 5, 2010.
  8. iPad 3G Cult of Mac uses a combination of wordplay and a totally unexpected statement to create an opening line that’s tough to walk away from: “The iPad is smoldering hot, especially in a professional grade microwave where it goes in pristine, then bursts into flames and comes out a charred, broken brick.”
  9. Lynn Redgrave – An analogy can put a story into context for your readers. “Before there was Bridget Jones, there was Georgy Girl,” says Shine’s Manage Your Life blog. This helps readers who might not be familiar with the actress a reference point and reason to read on.
  10. Conan O’Brien – Strong quotes are a brilliant way to draw readers into your post. In a recent post on Conan’s first interview since The Tonight Show debacle, PopEater begins by setting up then using this quote: ‘I went through some stuff,’ O’Brien told ’60 Minutes’ on Sunday. ‘I got very depressed at times. It was like a marriage breaking up suddenly, violently, quickly. And I was just trying to figure out what happened.’”

Here’s a challenge: Armed with these examples and Darren’s tips, try a type of opening line you don’t normally use this week, then tell us about it in the comments.

Kimberly Turner is a cofounder of Regator.com and Regator for iPhone as well as an award-winning print journalist. You can find her on Twitter @kimber_regator.

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Comments

  1. LJP says:

    Thanks for the article! I now have lots of great ideas for opening lines for my posts.

    Cheers!
    LJP

  2. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Darren,

    Thanks for posting this info. I’m going to do what you mentioned this week.

    Thanks for providing your insight!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  3. Jean Sarauer says:

    I read through Darren’s ideas for opening lines and realize I’ve never opened a post with a controversial statement. I need to quit being so darned nice :)

  4. Alicia says:

    Never thought about using stats or starting out with a surprising statement as an introduction. These are some very beneficial tips. Thanks for sharing.

  5. axel g says:

    That’s most helpful pointers!

    I still have a long way to go…

    Thanks for posting.

  6. anawia says:

    now I see so many friends who update their blogs blog with a post “about me”.

  7. Great list, I did post about the UK election myself and read about a few of the others. It’s intersting to read about your opening statements, I’ll put that into practice in the posts I’m writing for later in the week.
    Jade

  8. Glad to see that there is more world news and events, versus all of the celebrity garbage that tends to hit the high traffic.

    Some day I hope that entrepreneurialism will leave more of a mark the way it needs to, since that is what makes this planet tick.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  9. I think the main topic of discussion for the past week would probably be outsourcing. It is a very hot topic now-a-days

  10. Roshan Ahmed says:

    I really thought about this. I’ve never tried to use something like that on my blog. And of course without these stuff reading a blog will be boring. I need to invest more time on this. I am supposed to write a blog post today, but I have not much time so I would go for one of my ‘backup posts’. I guess I should research and try to make my post interesting.

    If I am writing a blog post about ‘Lost’ season 6, I would open it like “Now what?” (Just another Lost fan :) )

  11. I think another item to add to this list is the hot topic about how GoDaddy and WordPress crashed thousands of blogs over night.

  12. Shaz says:

    Great article Darren.

    I really impressed with your opening line. You not only provided us with the info, you showed us how to do it. Now I know how to attract my readers.

    Thanks :)

  13. nich says:

    That article really does make you want to rethink the way you make opening statements.

    Thanks, really useful techniques

  14. What you are writing this week daren?? btw, i am going to write on digg and traffic building to my blog. Ankush, http://ankushwood.blogspot.com

  15. In my last post I used the question thing for the first time… What does William Shakespeare have to do with this blog? In this post here http://www.i-blogger.info/2010/04/ive-have-another-great-i-blogger-quote.html

    Thanks for the useful tips!

    Brian M. Connole

  16. @Josh – could you be a bit more insightful with your comments.

    Thanks for the great comment.

    Chat with you later,
    Gerry

  17. Gwen McGreen says:

    It is very interesting, indeed, to have a list in order to compare all the topics and discussions that are being considered to be worth posting on line. Normally, we will find that a lot of subjects will appear on every week’s list….heading mentioning facebook? haha. And for those of us that not always search for information on new and different blogs or websites it is a way to discover new sources and new approaches to the same topics. Good idea! Thank you for sharing it!

  18. Topps says:

    Very good and informative post. Writing great headlines is something I’ve been struggling with for a long time. How to engage your audience and give them a reason to read further into your post.
    I suppose that counld be a great headline in itself.

    Thanks to this post, I am getting better at it.

    cheers

  19. Adam says:

    The election is always a topic that will cause a buzz, I was suprised to learn that the lib dems did a turncoat on the tory deal and are now talking with labour! its scandalous and an insult to voters if you ask me. Thanks darren

  20. Great post! I certainly learned a lot about what makes a good opening line!

  21. Amy says:

    What’s next?

    No, I’m not asking a question. ‘What’s next?’ Is the opening line for my blog this week, and it was very satisfying. Not only did it work well in the context of introducing the blog, which was about planning for the future, but it also works as an intriguing twitter link.

    Doesn’t do much for the SEO thing…but my follow up did!

    As a longtime reporter, I can certainly appreciate the value of an opening line that ‘hooks’.

    Thanks for the reminder Kim!

    Amy

  22. Brigitte says:

    Thanks for that and a great catch up on weeks news too.

  23. Dan Wheeler says:

    Glad to see some actual world events on this list

  24. Like this list and certainly more effective than Digg because here we got an idea from your perspective.

  25. Computing says:

    All I can say is keep it up. This nice blog is so necessary in a time when everyone just wants to talk about how many people someones cheated on their wife with. I mean, thanks for bringing intelligence back to the web, its been sorely missed. Good stuff.