A Rabble-Rouser’s Rules for Writing Kick-Ass Closing Paragraphs

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Phew.

You’ve nearly finished your blog post.

You’ve gathered your most useful tips. You look forward to your readers’ comments. This might be your best post ever. Yay!

But you can’t hit “Publish” yet … you still need to write a final paragraph.

You stare out of the window for inspiration. You reread your post. Nothing comes to mind.

Sigh.

What more is there to say?

You don’t want your post to fizzle out with a few drab sentences. A bland paragraph at the end could wreck your whole blog post.

But how can you come up with something truly inspirational?

It’s time to channel your inner rabble-rouser

You might think that inspiring your readers has to do with talent or charisma. That you either got it or you don’t. But this is far from the truth.

Inspiring your readers simply requires you to follow a few simple rules.

Let’s start with an example.

Below, follow the last paragraphs of what’s perhaps the most inspirational post ever published on Copyblogger: On Dying, Mothers, and Fighting for Your Ideas by Jon Morrow.

If you want to succeed, you can’t wait for the world to give you attention the way a cripple waits for food stamps to arrive in the mail. You have to be a warrior. You have to attack with the madness of a mother whose child is surrounded by an army of predators.

Because, let’s face it, your ideas are your children. Their future is as tender and delicate as that of any newborn.

You can’t just write them down and expect them to succeed. Writing isn’t about putting words on the page, any more than being a parent is about the act of conception. It’s about breathing life into something and then working to make sure that life becomes something beautiful.

That means spending ten hours on a post, instead of 30 minutes.

That means writing a guest post every week, instead of one every few months.

That means asking for links without any shame or reservation, not because you lack humility, but because you know down to the depths of your soul that what you’ve done is good.

You have to realize that your blog is more than just a collection of ones and zeros floating through cyberspace. It’s more than the words on the page. Your blog is a launchpad for your ideas, and you are the rocket fuel that lifts them off the ground.

So burn it up, baby.

Your ideas are counting on you.

Wanna write a final paragraph as inspirational as Jon’s?

It’s easier than you might think. Just follow the five rules for rabble-rousing bloggers, as outlined below.

Rabble-rouser rule #1: Address your reader

Jon’s post tells us the story of how his mother fought for his life after he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. But the final paragraphs of the post aren’t about Jon.

Jon addresses you, as the reader, directly. He compares his mother’s fight for his life with your fight for your ideas.

When you next sit down to write a closing paragraph, think about your ideal reader. Picture her reading your post. What would you like her to do next?

Your conclusion isn’t about you, your life, or your experience as a blogger. To inspire your reader, you need to address him directly, personally.

Rabble-rouser rule #2: Shrink the change

To get your readers to take action, you need to offer advice that’s concrete and doable.

If Jon had just told us to fight for our ideas, his post wouldn’t have been so inspirational. But he provides us with concrete actions we can undertake next week, tomorrow, or even today: spend ten hours on a post; write a guest post every week; and ask for links without any shame or reservation.

In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath call this “to shrink the change.” To get people to act, you don’t suggest big goals or massive behavior changes. Instead, provide suggestions that don’t require much time. Focus on small wins first.

Rather than tell couch potatoes to run a marathon, get them to walk 20 minutes a day first. Rather than tell business owners to create an all-singing, all-dancing content strategy, explain the basics first.

To get your readers to take action, inspire them to take a first step or commit to a straightforward task.

Rabble-rouser rule #3: Take away the biggest obstacle

What’s the biggest obstacle your reader faces? What prevents him from taking action?

Many bloggers might feel their ideas aren’t worth fighting for — this is the point Jon touches on several times in his conclusion. He tells us our ideas are tender like a newborn baby, that our ideas are counting on us, that writing is about breathing life into something, and that you are the rocket fuel that lifts your ideas off the ground.

When you think about your ideal reader, consider what blocks her from taking action. A few options:

  • If she’s feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start, remind her of the first step she should take. This is especially true if your post is long, if the task seems big, or if you’ve shared a series of tips.
  • If she lacks confidence in her ability to take action, acknowledge that the road ahead might not be easy and give her a pep-talk. Tell her she can do it.
  • If she feels it’s too much trouble to take action, then remind her of the bliss she’ll find when she implements your advice. Why will she feel happier, more relaxed, or more productive?

The biggest mistake you can make with your conclusion is rambling on. You have to prioritize. Focus on taking away the biggest obstacle to implementing your advice.

Rabble-rouser rule #4: Touch your reader’s heart

Inspiring people isn’t just about presenting the facts.

Facts influence our mind, but not our heart. To take action we need to be touched.

We all know that smoking is bad. We all know that we need to eat fruit and veggies. We all know we need to exercise more regularly. But when we don’t feel the need, we find it hard to change ingrained habits.

You may think that change happens by analyzing a situation, thinking about a solution, and then implementing change. But Chip and Dan Heath suggest that change often starts with seeing and feeling:

You’re presented with evidence that makes you feel something. It might be a disturbing look at the problem, or a hopeful glimpse of the solution, or a sobering reflection of your current habits, but regardless, it’s something that hits you at the emotional level. ~ Chip and Dan Heath

Notice how Jon talks about your ideas being tender and delicate as a newborn and how you should attack with the madness of a mother whose child is surrounded by an army of predators. By using emotional words Jon makes you experience the need to fight for your ideas.

To invigorate your audience, don’t just share facts, provide tips, and suggest actions. Tug at your reader’s heart.

Rabble-rouser rule #5: Nail your last line

Have you ever noticed how the taste of a delicious sorbet or pistachio ice cream lingers in your mouth for hours after you’ve finished your meal?

Killer last lines linger in your audience’s mind for hours or perhaps days.

Jon attracts attention to his last sentences by changing the rhythm of his writing. After a few long sentences, he switches to shorter lines. And he frames his words with white space to attract extra attention. He even adds a dash of alliteration with burn and baby.

Killer last sentences are like sound bites. They are nuggets of wisdom that communicate the essence of your idea with power and flair. Often they use poetic techniques — like rhythm, rhyme, or repetition — to make words smooth and memorable.

Let’s look at another example. These are the last lines of my post about becoming an influential writer:

Write less. Read more.

Talk less. Listen more.

Again the sentences are framed with white space, and they attract attention with their staccato-like rhythm. These sentences also use repetition and contrast (more vs less).

Sound bites are sticky. They keep singing in your readers’ minds, reminding them to get off their butt and implement your advice.

The truth about your final paragraphs …

Your job as a blogger is not simply to write tutorials.

Your job is not to share tips and facts and advice.

A useful tip that’s not implemented is like a riveting book that’s never opened. It’s forgotten and useless.

You’re not simply a blogger. You’re a mentor for your readers, a chief of your village, a leader of your tribe.

Come on. Fire up your tribe. Jump-start their actions.

Your readers are waiting for you.

Editor’s note:

This blog post is based on a chapter of Henneke’s new book Blog to Win Business: How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers. Download your free copy exclusively from Amazon until March 3, 2014.

Flickr Creative Commons Image by torbakhopper

About the Author: About the author: Henneke Duistermaat is an irreverent marketer and copywriter on a mission to stamp out gobbledygook and to make boring business blogs charming. Her new book Blog to Win Business: How to Enchant Readers and Woo Customers is out now.

The post A Rabble-Rouser’s Rules for Writing Kick-Ass Closing Paragraphs appeared first on Copyblogger.

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