Writing a good introduction can be hard. But coming up with a satisfying ending—that can be a whole other kind of frustrating.
As a result, many writers seem to abandon any attempt at a conclusion, assuming that the meat of their content is “good enough” and that a proper ending is merely a "nice to have."
But that’s not the case.
How you choose to end is almost as important as how you choose to begin.
A flat ending or, worse, a non-existent one fails to seize your best opportunity to encourage further actions from your audience.
A good finale can move your audience to:
- Share your post and amplify its reach.
- Leave a comment that starts a conversation (and creates social proof).
- Subscribe to your blog and become a regular reader.
- Convert into a lead and participate in your nurture campaigns.
- Sign up for a free trial or demo and get to know your product.
- Consume more content and remain within your content experience.
But where do you start when you don’t know how to end?
Come full circle
Here’s an approach you can always default to, one you can count on when you’re pressed for time.
Look at how you started your post and simply rephrase or reframe it for your ending. By letting your introduction inspire your ending, you offer your audience a satisfying sense of closure.
You can also summarize your main points to remind your audience of the key takeaways and revisit the value of your post.
See it in action: Your Content Marketing Vehicle Is Missing a Wheel by Yoav Schwartz
The Start: “As a content marketer, you've always relied on your trusty three-wheeler to get your job done. Oh, you didn't realize you owned a tricycle? Well, analogically, you certainly do.”
The End: “Let's face it: Your one-seat tricycle is not equipped to take each visitor on a journey to Conversion City. You'll need a four-wheeler to drive them there.”
Conclude with a cliffhanger
A good cliffhanger leaves your audience wanting more. It continues the experience off the page and in their minds, engaging readers by teasing them with possibilities.
One way to use a cliffhanger effectively is to leave your audience with an idea related to your topic that could be made into another blog post entirely.
Subscribers commit to your blog because they want more of what they read. Encourage your audience to subscribe with a small taste of something more—shift their focus to the future and they’ll be glad to opt-in for an email to notify them when it gets here.
See it in action: 5 Ways to Start a Blog Post (the prequel to this post!)
The Start: "As important as it is to prove to your audience that your content is worth reading from the get-go, introductions don't always get the attention they deserve."
The End: “Now, as for how to end with a bang? Well, that's another blog post for another time.”
Pass the mic to the reader
An easy way to end a blog post is to explicitly ask your audience for their input. But I would caution against letting this tactic become a crutch. It's not always the "strongest" way to end.
It doesn’t hurt to ask for comments, but reserve this approach for situations where it makes sense: when your topic is controversial or when you know your audience can contribute ideas you didn't cover in your post.
See it in action: Beyond You're vs. Your: A Grammar Cheat Sheet Even The Pros Can Use by Hayley Mullen
The Start: "Grammar is one of those funny things that sparks a wide range of reactions from different people."
The End: "What am I missing here? Let me know in the comments and I'll add it in!"
Segue into a call-to-action
If you follow blogging conventions, your conclusion is likely followed by a call-to-action.
You can write an ending that flows into the action you want your audience to take by adding an extra helping of context and incorporating your CTA into your content.
This way you explicitly direct your audience's attention to the intended action you'd like them to take.
See it in action: Jill Rowley's Social Selling Secrets by Francois Mathieu
The Start: "What better way to understand the impact of these trends on Sales and Marketing professionals than to chat with social selling evangelist and expert Jill Rowley?"
The End: "This was just the start of our conversation with Jill, and there is plenty more that we want to chat with her about.
End on an inspirational note
Remember the last time you sat as a member of an audience listening to a speaker and, as they came to a close, their words left you completely and utterly speechless?
A few seconds probably passed before you brought your hands together for a booming round of applause, not out of some polite obligation but because you believed the speaker had truly earned it.
Speeches—especially from motivational speakers—often end with a bang to give their audience a cause for applause.
Inspire your audience at the end of your post, give them something to feel to earn the online equivalent of applause (in the form of social shares and comments). Make them excited to act and chances are they will.
See it in action: 50 Shades of Mediocrity: Does Content Have to Be Good, Or Just Good Enough? by Ann Handley
The Start: "When a franchise like 50 Shades of Grey enjoys crazy success, is it a signal that content doesn’t have to be good to be crazy-successful?"
The End: "So do the reading [about 50 Shades of Grey and its terrible writing]. Then ask your boss: We can do better than this crap, can’t we? Oh crap, she’ll murmur. Oh, my… Yes, we must. Because we can."
In the end...
The end of your post is the last thing you offer your audience before they leave—it's also your last chance to convince them to stay.
From an editing perspective, it's a good practice to dedicate a section of your post to your conclusion—complete with a clear subhead to distinguish it from the rest of your post—to signal skimmers to hit the brakes and give it a read.
Because—though it's cliche to say—the end is only the beginning if you want it to be.
You never know where your readers will go from there, but you can choose whether you say "I'm done," "goodbye" or "see you soon."