Home > Blog > Blog > How to Clear the Phlegm from Your Blog Posts

How to Clear the Phlegm from Your Blog Posts

Carol Tice

Do you sometimes write blog posts that fail to get any comments?

It could be the phlegm.

What do I mean?

Many bloggers start their posts in a rambling, roundabout way. Then, readers don’t read through to the end…which is usually you need to happen if you want readers to leave a comment.

You’ve got to write something at the top of your post that makes readers want to read more.

I don’t know about you, but every time I read a post that starts with something along the lines of, “I went to the mall with my sister the other day…” and proceeds to launch into a long anecdote about something that only tangentially relates to the headline of the post, I move on immediately.

You’ve lost me. And likely many other readers, too.

In journalism, we call this a “wind-up” or anecdotal lead (or lede). You’re backing into your topic or working up to it, rather than jumping straight to the heart of it.

We also call it a throat-clearing lede.

In other words, your initial sentences that aren’t directly related to your topic are like phlegm in your throat. You have to clear them out of the way before you can get started telling us useful stuff about your topic.

The problem? Your reader may not want to wait while you write your way slowly over to the point you were trying to make, which you’re planning to get to by paragraph three or four. Or eight.

We may not like phlegm. Really, it’s sort of eeewww.

We don’t want to get that on us while we’re waiting for the useful info your headline promised.

Throat-clearing doesn’t work well in blogging

Your audience has a short attention span, and you need to grab them from the very first sentence and compel them to read more — not make them wade through the literary equivalent of sticky goo to get to something interesting.

You might do it with a simple question that you know troubles your readers — like I’ve done with this post.

Or with an arresting sentence that you just have to know more about. For instance, I once wrote a short newsweekly article that began:

Briefly, it was Bambi in bondage.

Don’t you just want to know what that was about?

Recently, I’ve been massively enjoying the works of comedic novelist Christopher Moore. Consider this opening from Island of the Sequined Love Nun:

Tucker Case awoke to find himself hanging from a breadfruit tree by a coconut fiber rope.

I defy you not to read on.

In blogging, there’s one more point to consider:

That first sentence is an SEO opportunity

Ever notice how your first sentence (or the one you write in your SEO plugin under “description”) shows up in search results along with your headline?

Yeah. So if you put key words in there, you’re helping browsers immediately see that this post will be about something of interest.

For instance, in the case of this post, I have the words, “write” and “blog posts,” so that writers and bloggers can easily spot this is a relevant topic for them. I’ve also got the always attention-getting word “fail.”

You want to get key words in your first sentence. It will help you get more readers to your site.

When they get there, they will probably read your post all the way through. They might even leave a comment.

Eliminate the phlegm

How can you kick the habit of writing throat-clearing ledes?

Here’s the secret: If you’re in the habit of writing rambling ledes, simply trim them off later, once you’ve spotted the point where the post should really start.

Eventually, you’ll train yourself out of starting posts with a little phlegm and start writing your strong first sentence right off.

What’s your favorite first line of a blog post you’ve written? Leave a comment and share your phlegm-free opening lines.


What is Copywriting? A Modern Definition and How-To Guide

What is Copywriting? A Modern Definition and How-To Guide

What Is Copywriting? The How-To Guide for Freelancers. Makealivingwriting.com

It’s a question so simple, you might think everyone already knows the answer: What is copywriting?

But in my decade-plus helping newbie writers launch their freelance careers, I’ve learned not to assume. People come from all walks of life into freelance writing, and aren’t born knowing the lingo.

When I researched this question, it got even more interesting. Because I disagreed with many of the most popular posts on the topic.

What I have for you isn’t your grandpa’s copywriting definition and description. It’s a rebel’s 21st Century copywriting definition — and a how-to guide on how to break in and do it.

How copywriting evolved

Old copy hacks will tell you copywriting is the art and science of crafting writing that sells.

They’ll tell you writing that overtly sells a product or service is copywriting — and everything else is ‘not copywriting.’

That was once true — but it isn’t any more. Because the Internet changed much of what we once knew about marketing.

I’ve got a new definition of copywriting for you, one I think is more accurate for the 21st Century marketing era we live in now.

Read on to learn what copywriting is today, how to do it — and how you can capitalize on the changes to earn well as a freelance writer.

List Of Free Blogging Platforms (2023 Options)

Starting a blog doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg. If you're interested in checking out a list of free blogging platforms, you have come to the right place. As of the time of writing the article, there are still a few great options! Free blogging sties won't suit...

9 Ways to Monetize a Blog + 3 Methods to AVOID

Some would say that blogging is dead. But with all the ways to monetize a blog in this day and age, that's just not true. Blogging is still just as relevant as it was before, and this idea that it's "over" only comes from the fact that other mediums of making money...