News article

Mastering the art of the “hook” in your content writing

The rise of streaming platforms means that we have access to more TV shows and movies than ever before. But this abundance of choice can make it almost impossible to decide what to watch.

According to IMDB, the average Netflix user spends 18 minutes scrolling before they make a selection – double the amount of time that those with cable TV spend choosing a show.

So, getting somebody to pick a specific TV show or film from a list of over 7,500 on Netflix is a huge challenge. That’s why “log lines” – a brief summary of the content explaining the key characters and central conflict – are so crucial.

The log line is the “hook” that encourages you to pick a certain show or film over everything else.

You might benefit from using a hook like this in your content writing as you’re constantly competing with thousands of other webpages. Research reported by Hubspot found that the average amount of time somebody stays on a webpage is 54 seconds.

A strong “narrative hook” – an opening that catches the attention of the reader – could help your audience invest in your argument so they continue reading instead of clicking off the page.

I just used the technique to introduce this blog. If it worked, you may have passed the 54-second mark and want to know more.

Read on to learn how to create an engaging hook in your content writing.

Analogies and metaphors are your friend

On the face of it, choosing what to watch on Netflix doesn’t have anything to do with content writing. Yet, it works as an analogy to introduce the topic because the function of the descriptions on Netflix is the same as a hook in your content writing – to catch and hold the attention of the audience.

More importantly, an interesting and relatable statistic about the average time somebody spends scrolling on Netflix is more engaging than a straightforward introduction about the nuts and bolts of content writing.

You were probably thinking, “that’s an interesting fact, I wonder where he’s going with this. How is he going to link this to content writing?”

So, you kept reading and here we are.

Using analogies and metaphors in this way can make financial planning topics a lot more engaging.

For example, instead of explaining the importance of protection, why not start with a story about trapeze artists using a safety net?

An article about the difficulties of decumulation might open with some facts about how it’s more dangerous to descend Mount Everest than it is to climb it.

By using an analogy or metaphor to introduce your topic, you convey the basic concepts in a more interesting way.

Understand why your audience should care about the topic

A good hook might be especially useful when writing about financial topics because, let’s face it, tax rules or estate planning tips aren’t always especially exciting. But with the right narrative opening, you can show readers why they should care.

Before you can come up with a hook, it’s useful to understand the core issue that your content addresses. For example, if you’re writing a piece about estate planning you may cover Inheritance Tax (IHT) gifting rules or the importance of a will.

The reason your audience may benefit from knowing about these topics is that it ensures their wishes are fulfilled and avoids any difficult legal problems for their family.

The reader probably cares about estate planning because they want to look after their family, not because they find wills exciting.

So, you could open with a story about a celebrity will dispute, to demonstrate the problems caused by poor estate planning.

Alternatively, you could write about the benefits of passing wealth to loved ones and giving the next generation a head start in life.

Once you tap into the real reason that the audience cares about the topic, they may be more likely to keep reading.

Get to the point

A narrative opening that engages the reader is great, but remember, they’re here to learn something. You set an expectation with your title and if you take too long to get to the point, your narrative opening stops being an engaging hook and becomes an unnecessary tangent.

If you find that it’s taking too long to get to the main topic of the article, you might need to rethink your opening and choose something simpler.

Get in touch

Finding the right opening for your content can be tricky and you only get one chance to grab the attention of your readers.

If you’d like some help keeping them engaged, we have a team of experienced writers on hand to support you. Email or call us on 0115 896 5300 now to learn more.

Stay in touch


Sign up to receive our hints, tips & ideas to improve your marketing.
As you’d expect, we’ll never pass your details to anyone else and if you don’t like what we have to say, you can unsubscribe at any time.