Photo Credit nugunslinger’s photos
530377693_41851172c6.jpgThe first line of your post can be like an anchor pulling a sinking boat to the bottom of a lake.

Today’s Lesson

Have you ever picked up a book, opened it to the first chapter and read the first line?

If it doesn’t grab your interest, you’re less apt to buy it.

Blog posts are the same

If your first line doesn’t capture your readers attention, they are apt to move on to a post that does.

In addition to gaining your readers attention, a second reason emerges for having a captivating title and first line to a post.

If your loyal visitors subscribe to your post in Google’s reader, they see one line listed for your post.

It’s the title, photo credits (if applicable) and the first 20-30 (+/-) words of your post.

I’ll admit, in most cases, if I’m skimming new feeds, that is what determines if I will read a post or not.

The more blogs you subscribe to, the more ways you will find to cut back on your reading time. Unfortunately, this is one method I use.

Today’s Assignment

Are you conscious of your title and the first line of your post?

Do you concentrate on capturing your readers attention within the first few words?

Have you ever looked at your own RSS feed in Google’s reader.

If not, subscribe to your own blog.

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  1. CatherineLNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara – that is some sinking boat. I wonder if they managed to rescue it?

    I subscribed to myself in RSS by accident when I was still working out to use it. And every few days I check to see how my posts look in it and which I would be tempted to read.

    Sometimes I try to write titles that will appeal to RSS subscribers and sometimes for search engines. It would be nice to do both all the time, but it isn’t realistic – not if I want some search engine traffic. Then again, even for them you have to write a half decent title.

    Another thing I do is to look through the Digg RSS and see what stands out. You know – it’s nearly always posts with numbers in them that stand out for me. And I’ve noticed that some of my posts with numbers in that are the most read.

    It is difficult to come up with great titles constantly isn’t it? But, as you say, it’s essential, because some of us subscribe to hundreds of posts.

    I visit very few blogs on a regular basis – aside from yours and Ian’s. I also try to get to Hunter, Nez and Mrs Micah on a regular basis, but Mrs M writes too many posts for me to keep up. My RSS feed is so cluttered that I don’t use it to visit my regular blogs, which is why I never know when you’ve posted on OM – I just take a chance.

    So, for everyone else, I work my way through it. I no longer read posts every day and I rarely comment nowadays unless I have something to say. But, when I’m deciding what to read – it’s almost always the title that draws me in.

    CatherineL’s last blog post..Business Success Is Only A Deathbed Away

  2. DebNo Gravatar says:

    I’ve thought of this a lot lately. I try to have good titles, but sometimes I wonder about the first line. In fact, I’m going to go back and look at what I have written for today. BTW – not trying to spam here, but please drop by, I’m taking some of your advise.

    I’ve done some group writing projects that I don’t get a lot of traffic on. I think that might be because I put a blurb at the top that it is an entry. The next one I do I plan on putting it at the bottom just for that reason.

    I have my blog subscribed in the Google reader, but I have it set up for a full feed, so I didn’t think about the list just showing the first line. Thanks for the rememinder.

    Deb’s last blog post..Wordless Wednesday – Say Cheese

  3. I really don’t like how RSS readers show the photo credits as the first line. I wish it could somehow detect a photo credit and skip to the next sentence. But it is what it is, and that makes the title even more important if you start with a photo.

    On many blogs, I’ll just start reading from the third paragraph or so. I’ve gotten used to the fact that many posts will spend a couple of paragraphs as a sales pitch to get me to read the post, like a time management post reminding me that people don’t have much free time and convincing me that I’d like more. I wish they’d just start off with telling me how to do it! But I tend to unsubscribe from those blogs, and only read blogs where I want to read every word.

    I’ve heard people talk about the importance of the headline and the first sentence for drawing readers in. To write an enticing headline, anything straight out of Cosmo seems to work, although personally I find them too hyped up. I’ve seen formulas for opening sentences, but there are so many of them that I think the main thing is just to pay attention to making them appealing. I don’t pay much attention to that, but I should.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..What Color Is Your Focusing Crystal?

  4. CatherineLNo Gravatar says:

    Hunter – you took the words right out of my mouth. Photos credits are a bloody nuisance aren’t they?

    I’m going to experiment with putting the pics part way through the article instead.

    CatherineL’s last blog post..Business Success Is Only A Deathbed Away

  5. Subscribing to your own RSS feed is always a good idea. Besides being more focused on the content, it also lets you see if something goes wrong in your feed, or preview if you add an RSS footer.

    Joshua Clanton – Design for the WEB’s last blog post..A Novel Approach to Web Design

  6. BarbaraNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Catherine,

    I hear you. When blogging is a part time “hobby” (if you can really call it that), it is difficult to read everything you subscribe to, plus get your daily work done, your family taken care of, and live life away from the computer.

    Titles catch my eye, but if the first line in the RSS feed doesn’t “match” the title, I often won’t read it.

    Hi Deb, or should I say Debbie Yost?

    I just left your blog. Thank you for the link. That was a great post about “exposing yourself”, and a good title and first line. The post kept my interest all the way to the end. You’ll have to let me know when you start freelancing, so I can read more of your writings.

    Hi Hunter,

    The photo credits do take up some space, so all the more reason to concentrate on the title as well as the first line. I disregard the photo credits, and do read what the feed shows.

    I agree, some authors do a little (or a lot) of rambling before they “get to the point”. That’s why when I tell a story, I try to edit it down so as not to lose my reader’s interest. Web surfers and blog readers want answers “NOW”. Time is important to them.

    Cosmo’s sales are dependent on those titles. But, if the articles don’t deliver, readers will soon “catch on”. (Same as with blogs)

    Welcome Joshua,

    That’s a great point you raise about subscribing to your own feed and being able to catch problems.

    I visited your blog, and will be back later to read more, It appears you have some fascinating articles. See you soon!

    Barbara’s last blog post..Your First Line Can Sink You

  7. Are you conscious of your title and the first line of your post? Yes, I try to make it interesting.

    Do you concentrate on capturing your readers attention within the first few words? I try..I know the first few words are very important. Usually if it doesn’t grab me, I do a quick scan before I abandon the entire post.

    Have you ever looked at your own RSS feed in Google’s reader. No I forget to look at my reader, I opt for email, but my blog is apart of my yahoo feed.

    If not, subscribe to your own blog. I do.

    Natural Woman’s last blog post..Freedom of Speech, My Asterisk*

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