You could spend months researching, weeks brainstorming and draft your writing 10 times before publishing.
You could have a lot of juicy information that will help your readers. You could educate them and entertain them.
But if you close with a crappy ending, your efforts will be wasted.
If you leave your reader feeling deflated, disappointed, and dismal, those are the last feelings they’ll take away.
So how do we create an ending that will blow our reader’s minds?
Let’s explore five ways, shall we?
1. Begin with the end in mind
Write the ending first. It will give clarity to your writing and keep you from going off on a tangent.
And most importantly, it will reinforce your message. Your reader will read at most 28% (but more likely 20%) of your page.
How often do you skip to the end of an article to quickly get the gist of it?
Example of a post with a clear ending: The difference between good and great – Bernadette Jiwa (The Story of Telling)
Why it works: Bernadette compares two restaurants she’s eaten at. They are both efficient, but the difference in the food is that in one restaurant, the chef tastes everything before plating up. Her closing line summed up the purpose of this comparison: Good becomes great when we put the customer at the centre of everything we do.
2. Make them curious
‘In the next episode…the knives are out and Gordon Ramsay is sharpening his. Whose dish does Gordon Ramsay throw against the wall? Who will be the first contestant to ever be kicked out of the MasterChef kitchen?’
Reality TV does this very well. They tease, flirt, and caress our minds in all the right places – so we’re practically yelling at the TV in frustration. We can’t wait for the next episode.
You know what I mean don’t you?
Do the same with your writing. Create anticipation for what’s next and when.
Your ending is an opportunity to keep your reader hooked. You don’t necessarily need to sensationalise. Just know what challenges and interests your reader so they’ll be curious about your next post.
Example of a curiosity post: An introduction to the 4 essential types of content every marketing strategy needs – Demian Farnworth
Why it works: It’s obvious that Demian knows his reader and their big goals. He reinforces how the four content types can help the reader charge more, guest post, and build trust to not only gain customers – but loyal fans. Then he ends: ‘Stay tuned for my article about Attraction content tomorrow.’ He lures, reassures, explains, and instils curiosity. As a reader, I can’t wait to read the next article.
3. Remind them what was most important
Research has found we best remember the most recently presented items or experiences (the recency effect).
So summarise your article at the end because the bulk of your article won’t be remembered. Yes, that’s right, you probably won’t remember reading this by the end of the post!
Example of a post with a good summary: Business rituals: The real battle is managing ourselves – Andrew Griffiths (Flying Solo)
Why it works: Andrew reminds us that rituals are important, but it’s just as important to find ones that resonate. He summarises this brilliantly in 2 different ways at the end. He gives the reader closure, gives them a strong take-away message, and reassures us we can make it happen.
4. Make them feel
‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ – Maya Angelou
An ending that appeals to a reader’s emotions can be a powerful way to end. This is true not just in writing, but also in other areas. Think of the last movie you watched. How much did the ending impact the way you felt when you left the cinema?
Emotions are powerful and predictable drivers of decision making according to a Harvard University research paper, Emotion and Decision Making.
Example of a post that makes us feel: How to write compelling testimonials – Henneke Duistermaat (Enchanting Marketing)
Why it works: Henneke empathises with how tough it is to ask for testimonials. She has been in the same situation so understands how we feel. She also encourages and inspires the reader, giving us the confidence to give it a go.
5. Give them a bite size call-to-action
Do you read a lot?
How often do you feel like you’re improving your work habits, parenting and attitude by simply reading a great list of tips?
It’s tempting to think we’re making progress by reading. But if we don’t take one step to act, it’s all in our minds.
Your reader is busy but has taken a chance on your post. Make their time spent worthwhile. Inspire your reader to take that first step with an easy call-to-action. Give them the feeling their life will be better in some way from reading your post.
Example of a call-to-action: 3 Strategies to get readers to open every email you send – Ramit Sethi (Growth Lab)
Why it works: Ramit talks about how to create remarkable content. At the end, he assures the reader we can do it too. To help, he offers a free guide to remarkable content filled with all the best tips and strategies. The call-to-action is a name and email address.
You could have the most provocative headline.
You could have the best introduction.
You could mesmerise the reader through your whole article.
But like a delicious three course meal at a high-end restaurant, if they feel let down by dessert, that’s the memory they’ll walk away with.
So take extra time with your ending:
- Begin with the end in mind
- Make them curious
- Remind them what was important
- Make them feel
- Give them a bite-sized call-to-action
Explore a combination of ways (or use all these ways) to make your ending memorable.
A strong ending is like having a scrumptious dessert. Because last impressions count.
What are your favourite ways to end? Leave a comment, I’d love to know.