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Writing a Great Hook

writing great hooksDo you fear your content is not delivering results? How do you ensure your writing can grab a reader’s attention and  hold it long enough to get your message across? It’s all in the “hook”. Master it and your readership and conversions will increase – guaranteed.  Writing a great hook is the most important writing skill there is.

A hook is useful in all forms of writing. It consists of the first sentence or two which tell a reader to “drop everything and pay attention to this!” Of course, the hook accomplishes this indirectly by evoking emotion, asking a question or instigating an action.  Hook writing is also an excellent way to customize search engine results and make people click through to your content.

The first step to developing a hook that works – know your audience. For example, a blog post is more informal and conversational, but if you are writing a marketing proposal for a major corporation; you would obviously want to avoid being too casual.

Next is understanding the goal of your piece. Are you solving a problem? Sharing information? Trying to get people to buy something? Your goals also determine the type of hook to develop.

Once you know the goal of your piece and your audience; you can create a hook that speaks to your customer.

Solving Problems

If your article provides a solution, immediately state the problem and invoke feelings of empathy for the reader. Let them know you understand just what the problem is and how it feels to have that challenge. This develops an immediate connection and sense of trust.

Example:  Do you have problems falling or staying asleep? Does your mind race uncontrollably, keeping you from being able to relax and enjoy a restorative sleep? You’re not alone, according to XYZ study from the Institute of Sleep Research, millions of people struggle with insomnia caused by stress.  Fortunately, SleepEasy has been designed to help relieve the anxiety that keeps you lying awake, watching the minutes tick by.  Wouldn’t it be great to fall asleep peacefully and stay that way until morning? With SleepEasy, you can be well-rested by tomorrow.

The hook above appeals to your reader’s emotions, lays out the problems, cites an expert source and names a solution all in the opening paragraph.  It also appeals to the chronic impatience of most people by stating this problem can be solved today.

If your piece is informational? Sometimes opening with a question is best. Ask your reader something thought-provoking.  Your reader likely has ideas in mind already, but will want to see how their notions align with yours. Questions pique curiosity and draw people in.  We all have an innate desire to see if our line of thinking matches others.

  • “Have you ever wondered why…?”
  • “Do you ever feel..?”
  • “How do you handle …?”
  • “Have you considered…?”
  • “Did you know…?”

The questions above all pique curiosity.  Once you have done that, then state what your piece is about.

Use Captivating Words

Use captivating words and for Heaven’s sakes don’t be boring…. “In today’s article I will discuss..” zzzzzzzzzzzz Don’t make it about you! ALWAYS write for your reader – no matter what type of writing you do!

Make that intro pop.  Solve a problem, ask a question, pique natural curiosity.  If it suits your brand, start with a controversial statement (not recommended for most, but it does make people read!)

So, there you have the basic components of what makes a great hook. Practice makes perfect and this is one skill you want to hone.  It will benefit you in every aspect of your career, from marketing yourself, to pitching queries to editors and more.

Did I miss anything? What are your tips for creating great hooks?

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