9 tips from travel bloggers who share how to write a great first sentence for a blog article. If you struggle with how to start an article with a great lede (intro, paragraph) to hook a reader to so they continue reading your article keep reading!
This episode is part of the “Travel Blogging Quick Tips Podcast Series”. Starting a travel blog isn’t easy and this is podcast series is here to help you navigate the way easier and faster!
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How to Start an Article
This is podcast Episode 172 and features 9 tips from established and successful travel bloggers focusing on writing really good first sentences or intro’s to articles so you hook your reader into reading more. It’s also a great way to establish your personality and writing style and gain a loyal following. It’s never too late to implement good techniques and tactics.
If you want to become a better travel blogger or travel writers, improving your writing should be an ongoing goal. If you are truly passionate about traveling and writing and want to build a better website experience, start with good writing!
There are some essential first steps to writing great content for your travel website, so let’s start with the first sentence! Writing a great lead (sometimes known as a lead) is how you keep web visitors reading past your first sentence or paragraph. Below we dive into how to write a lede and the importance of a lede in content creation and building an audience.
If you want to write better and have a successful travel blog check out these tips from 9 established travel bloggers.
What is a lede? The introductory section of an article that is intended to entice the reader to read the full story.
9 Tips to Start an Article with a Great Lede (First Sentence)
Rather listen? Check out the full podcast episode!
1. Zoom in & Zoom Out
Tip From Chris Dunham of Chris Dunham Photography
Blog Niche: Ethnic groups of Southeast Asia
Website Bio: My travels inspire both my photography and my writing. I’m fascinated by other cultures, especially the ethnic tribes of Southeast Asia. This lifelong interest was sparked by witnessing the funeral rituals of the Torajan people in Sulawesi, Indonesia 15 years ago. I love seeking out quirky details and the challenge of capturing the moment either in words or images. I’m a London-born linguist, living in the Canary Islands.
Follow Chris on Instagram
How to hook your reader in your first one hundred words… As a travel photographer, I’m used to zooming in to whatever captures my attention. In fact I do exactly the same thing in my travel writing. And then I zoom out. It’s the perfect way to get your reader hooked immediately.
A detail – a smile, a few words you remember from chatting to a local – can draw in the reader and spark their interest. When you zoom out again with an interesting fact about the destination as a whole, the chances are they’ll keep reading.
2. Note Taking with Stream of Consciousness
Tip From Cecilia and Scott of Lovicarious
Blog Niche: Adventure Travel
Website Bio: Scott and Cecilia are the two halves of Lovicarious, an adventure travel website focused on bringing you outdoor adventures, unique accommodations, and thrilling experiences around the world. Lovicarious.com offers readers with helpful city guides and entertaining travel stories, while their instagram account provides a constant feed of travel inspiration.
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While traveling, take time each night to record what you did, saw, and felt. Sometimes at the end of an activity-packed trip we are left wondering “what the heck just happened?” Recording what happened each day helps us to capture the emotion of a moment perhaps inspiring excitement, deep empathy, or even enlightenment.
Putting those initial thoughts to paper allows us to digest the experience and reflect on how we would like to communicate the experience to our audience. It is this personal and thoughtful account that will make for an attention-grabbing first sentence. Furthermore, one of the most difficult things about writing an article is starting.
By writing down our stream of consciousness, we move over that first hurdle.
3. Get Personal
Tip From Mikaela Ferguson of Voyage Tripper
Blog Niche: Outdoor Adventure Travel
Website Bio: Voyageur Tripper is an outdoor adventure blog that enables people to get outside in meaningful ways and explore the backcountry safely and comfortably.
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I’m a travel blogger and most of my traffic comes from Google, so one of my top priorities when writing a blog post is to quickly establish myself as a real person and a genuine authority that the reader can trust. That means I’ll often start an article with something specific about me and my experience in the subject.
For example, if I’m writing a blog post about camping trips in Canada, the first sentence in the blog post could be something along the lines of “Having spent the last 5 years working as a wilderness guide, I’ve had the opportunity to experience some of the best camping in Canada.” For a post about a destination, I’ll make it abundantly clear that I have spent a considerable amount of time in the destination.
For example: “It’s been almost a year since I moved to Vancouver and during this time I’ve managed to complete an incredible 32 hikes in and around the city – so today I’d like to share my top recommendations for hikes in Vancouver!”
This ensures the reader knows that the article is written by an individual who is accountable to the accuracy of the post, and therefore a more trusted resource.
4. Ask a Question
Tip From Erin Clarkson of Savannah First-Timer’s Guide
Blog Niche: Travel in Savannah, GA
Website Bio: Erin is a freelance travel writer and photographer based out of Savannah, GA. She authored the Savannah First-Timer’s Guide and is known for sharing her love of the surrounding “Lowcountry” region of coastal South Carolina and Georgia.
Follow Travel in Savannah on Facebook
I prefer to get my readers involved right from the start by asking a question to draw them into the post. For example, I open this post with the question, “Can you imagine my surprise the first time I strolled past 17hundred90 Inn and Restaurant in Savannah?”
I then go on to explain the scenario and what led to my feelings of surprise before leading into the details of the post.
Another perk of phrasing your introductory sentence as a question is that voice search is becoming more popular (think Alexa and Siri, for example), and by inserting a question your post may rank higher in search results for that topic.
5. 1st Thing That Comes to Mind
Tip From Anukrati of Bulbul On The Wing
Blog Niche: Travel
Website Bio: I am a dreamer, writer, and traveloholic from India. One day I got tired of answering all the questions about my trips, so I started writing about them. One thing leads to another, and here I am. Welcome to my blog bulbul on the wing!
Follow Bulbulonthewing on Instagram
Close your eyes and think about the first thing that comes to your mind when you imagine yourself in the destination about which you are writing. Visualize yourself there and see what is the thing that your heart says or wants to express.
This tip always works, especially when you are in the travel niche. Taking yourself to the destination, with your eyes closed would surely give you a feel-good nostalgic factor. That would help you to pen down the starting paragraph effectively. You would not need to edit that while giving your blog post a finishing touch.
The reason is simple, the beginning of the article would be reflecting your heart.
6. Lead with the Senses
Tip From Lia Garcia of Practical Wanderlust
Blog Niche: Responsible travel on a budget
Website Bio: Practical Wanderlust is a travel blog & podcast that pairs practical advice with humor and storytelling to emphasize travel as a tool for education, connection, growth, & positive social impact.
Follow Practical Wanderlust on Instagram
My favorite way to start a travel article is to lead with the senses. Describing sights, smells, and sounds immediately immerses your reader into a place and a moment in time, which is a strong start for any travel guide or destination-based story and a delight to read as someone who enjoys travel.
When writing your intro, be specific with your description to transport your reader into the destination where your story takes place. Imagine yourself in that place: what do you see, smell, and hear? Can you hear chirping birds, rustling leaves, running water, or the chatter of crowds? Do you smell sizzling steak, wafting jasmine, or smoky incense curling up into balconies hung with heavy, rust-colored rugs? When it comes to what you see, go beyond general travel cliches like “sweeping vistas” and be more specific: what flora and fauna are around you? What colors? What textures?
7. Assure the reader
Tip From Shelley Marmor of Travel To Merida
Blog Niche: Merida, Mexico
Website Bio: Shelley is a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world! She relocated to Mexico in 2018, visited 14 states, lived in 3, and ultimately settled down in Merida in 2019 — where she runs the site, TravelToMerida.com. Shelley is a Mexico travel writer, Mexico travel blogger who provides Mexico travel tips.
Follow Travel to Merida on Instagram
Unless I come up with something clever in the moment, I stick to a tried and true opening paragraph formula to keep it simple and not stress myself out.
In about 90% of my articles, I use my opening sentences to 1) assure the reader they’ve found the right article to get the info they searched for (inserting my main keyword here) and 2) to establish my credibility.
For example, I recently wrote “The Ultimate Guide to Merida, Mexico Travel” for my niche travel site about Merida, Mexico. Since “ultimate” is a pretty bold statement, I wanted to qualify that right away….
So my first paragraph went something like this:
‘Planning to do some Merida, Mexico travel? You’ve landed on the right article — and by the end of it, you’ll be an expert on visiting Merida. How do I know? I’ve lived in Merida since July 2019, and I’m about to share all my best tips with you!’
In my opinion, many get caught up thinking they have to clever, witty, profound, etc., in their opening, but I believe assuring the reader they won’t be wasting their time reading your article can be just as important.
8. Jump right into your topic
Tip From Michele Herrmann of Michelemherrmann.com
Blog Niche: Travel
Website Bio: Michele Herrmann writes about travel, arts/entertainment, culture, history, food and drink and other fun stuff for various publications and companies. Her adventures have taken her as far as Fiji, to date.
Follow Michele on Instagram
The first sentence in an article or post is often the toughest one to write. Believe me, I know; I still struggle with this. What I found is that readers often look to travel articles and blogs to get direct information or answers to potential questions. So tell them right off that bat what your article is about. Is it a tip-based piece? Or a narrative based on something that happened to you, what you learned from it or how can you give advice on what to do or not do?
Once you know what you’re going to write about, think about what is the main thing you want to get across? How can you sum up what your piece will be about in a sentence? What do you think people want to know first? Think of it as though you’re catching up with a good friend and you want to share the key points or big takeaways from a trip or something that happened to you.
When you supply potential readers, or your established audience, with a solid introduction, then you’re providing what they’re looking for. And they’ll keep reading!
9. Write as if you’re talking to a friend
Tip From Lotte Eschbach of Phenomenal Globe
Blog Niche: Travel
Website Bio: Lotte is an avid traveler and founder of Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog, where she shares her travel experiences and travel tips. Lotte has made it her mission to inspire you to travel (more) and help you plan your trips!
Follow PhenomenalGlobe on Instagram
Write as if you were talking to a friend! What does this mean? It means you should use contractions and use the active verb.
- So don’t write: You will be traveling to country X to see the most amazing beaches
- Instead, write: You’ll travel to country X and see the most amazing beaches.
This makes you sound much more like a person instead of a robot. Your copy will have a friendly conversational tone and readers are going to connect with you more easily. It’s easy to forget this simple trick so once you’ve written your article, go back and search for verbs like am, will, have, etc. Change them all to I’m, you’ll, you’ve and your intro (and article as a whole) will sound much more natural!
Want to contribute a tip to an upcoming show? Please check out the current topics.
What topics would you like me to focus on next for this series? What blogging topics do you want to understand better? Let me know here!
Travel Blogging Resources
- Learn more about honing in on a niche on episode 163 : The benefits to creating a niche travel website
- Want to contribute a tip to an upcoming show for this podcast series? Please check out the current topics.
- How To Start A WordPress Travel Blog — Step by Step guide
Start a Travel Blog
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Super valuable post!
So many good tips here! I know I (like many others) often struggle with getting started on a post, so I loved this. I’m really enjoying this series – and looking forward to new episodes.
Thank you Alexa, for these great tips on writing. It was very interesting to read. Interestingly enough I used some of the techniques that were offered by your guests-travelers. I agree with all the contributors and am excited to use the tips that I liked the most.
I thought I knew how to start a story but these are some great suggestions! Thanks for creating this podcast!
Great tips Alexa. My students have the hardest time getting started. I am enjoying your new podcast!
I will definitely keep these tips in mind the next time I am writing a post. Many are also very helpful for SEO as well.
Yest, the first sentence is very important. You put it right. Love this article!