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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What's a Title Going to Do For You?

Think of headlines as promises; they're meant to draw in prospective readers so that they can access information that is of some benefit to them, whether it's entertaining, instructional, helpful, or insightful. Catchy headlines allow you to deliver on a promise and impress your readers. If your content delivers on a promise in your headline, you'll create loyal readers out of casual browsers. - (Bloglovin Blog 10/7/15)

I read that this morning on one of my social media conglomeration sites with helpful tips on “growing your blog” and “writing catchy headlines.” 

Headlines and titles. I really suck at writing them. I must. Otherwise, wouldn’t my blog have thousands of subscribers by now? I mean, hello? My content is entertaining and one could derive some instruction from it. Sometimes. If one tried and was able to read between the lines. Giving away stuff via blogs is very big. You've got to give to get is one of those mantras you see repeated on social media expert’s blogs. Headlines and titles are supposed to, apparently, suggest just what it is you the writer might be giving the reader. Well, headlines and titles are bugbears for me. 

1. Write Great HeadlinesOne of the best (and first) things you can do to increase clicks to your post is to create engaging headlines that draw in readers. Your headline is the forefront to your post, and therefore the first thing readers will see when scrolling by. You could create the absolute best blog post in the world, but not get any views if your headline doesn't fit the part. Your headline should answer two big questions for readers: "what is the post about?" and more importantly, "how does this benefit me?" Here are some headline strategies that work: Starting with "how to" / How to Grow Your Followers Faster Starting with a number / 4 Recipes You Need to Try Caps for emphasis / DON'T Read This Post Talking to your reader directly / You Need to See This Asking a question / Are You Doing This?  Positive and negative superlatives Positives: best, greatest, do / The Best Meal You'll Ever Eat Negatives: worst, least, don't / Don't Travel Without These 5 Essentials   Here are some examples of effective headlines: The Key to Living a Happier Life 4 Ways To Wake Up With Perfect Hair The Minimal Wardrobe: Developing Personal Style One Simple Thing Anyone Can Do to Have a Better Day 50 Books Everyone Should Read (Also from Bloglovin Blog 10/7/15)
In short, a good headline or title should suggest that your content will be at least one of the following: 
  • entertaining
  • insightful
  • instructional
  • helpful
And, a good title or headline will do the following:
  • answer: what is this post about AND how will it benefit reader?

My most popular posts, according to Google Analytics, are “My Mayan Apocalypse Blog Post,”  “Featuring My Voice on the Huffington Post,” and running a distant third, “Einstein’s Definition of Success.”  

Let's look at my most popular post. "My Mayan Apocalypse Blog Post" must fit some of these criteria. Or at least one. Look closely. Does this title suggest the post will be:

Helpful? Perhaps readers might think it will be. (It will not be, of course.) 
Insightful? Absolutely, yes, sure, uh-huh. (Actually, I can’t remember.) 
Instructional? That title definitely contains no suggestion that it might be. Although, who knows? Maybe people desperately afraid of the Mayan Apocalypse are desperate enough to look anywhere for help. (Again, not intentionally instructional, just as it’s not intentionally helpful). 
Which leaves Entertaining. Perhaps it is suggestive of being entertaining. (I hope it is.) 

You know, I can’t understand the continued popularity of this post, considering that the Mayan Apocalypse was scheduled for December 2012. That was nearly three years ago. Go figure. 

Anyway, there was some kind of magic in that headline, Readers, and I would love to snag it for all my headlines. 

For example, this recent post has a terrible headline: “Willpower and Success: Yom Kippur Fast.” 
That is really bad. I mean, it’s clear, which is good. And it relates to the content of the piece, which is also good. I guess. But it is boring, isn't it? Furthermore, this title tells the reader nothing about what reading this post will do for him or her.  

After some consideration, I think a better title would be

Try Fasting to Increase Willpower: Yom Kippur as a Key to Success.


How is Yom Kippur Your Key to Success? 

Or how about 

What Can Judaism Do For You?

This says nothing about success, though. Let’s toss that one out. After all, what CAN Judaism do for you? I don’t know.

How about

1 Simple Way Yom Kippur Can Help You Succeed

After another read-through of my post, I think another option would be:

Harnessing Sibling Rivalry, Redemption, and Competition to Strengthen Willpower 

Or, how about this one: 

What a Little Harmless Competition with Your Teenaged Daughters Can do for YOU 

What do you guys think? 

I also read that every post should have a great photo. So here is one: 
Image by PRPA 2015

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