Hurrah! This is my 100th blog post, so I thought I’d apply myself a little more with a shareable post!
Back to the title of the post: I tried what I preach with it. (Okay, aiming for a pun, I almost wrote “Headlines: your head is in the line”, which would be a tad over-reaching.) Nevertheless, the point is that if the title of your post, article or even your tweet is blah no one will turn their head your way (there I go again). I might lack experience, but I always count on my instinct and empathy skills. So, in order to turn the headline “skimmer” into an actual reader of my content, I try to think beyond of a summary of what my post contains. I try to create a title that resonates and attracts.
But if we were to put that in a title how would it read?
As the excellent article on copyblogger, entitled Writing Headlines That Get Results suggests, one of The Four U’s of writing headlines is Be Useful To The Reader. Before choosing a title, think: What will the reader gain from reading it? I tried this with my “5 Ways New Writers Chase Away Potential Readers” blog post which has proved to be my most successful so far with over 1,000 views in two days and 70+ comments (okay, there’s also spam I have yet to delete–but a spam-attracting post is a successful post!). I’m not a big name. I don’t have impressive credentials. So, if so many people made it to my actual blog, they must have clicked on the title after seeing it on some of the social media platforms I use, or (most likely) through retweets by friends with a bigger following.
I hope I’ve managed to convince you that the title was definitely catchy and click-worthy. What made it so?
- It starts with a number. 5 ways. A number always presents something concrete. That’s always appealing. But it’s also a low number. I’ve often come across headlines boasting of showing you “50 ways” to overcome an obstacle. Way too many ways for the impatient reader! Can I tell you a secret? My 5 ways article refers to a lot more than five erroneous tactics new writers tend to follow. But I rounded these up into 5 broad categories, which allowed me to use the number “5” instead of a bigger number which might have discouraged people from taking the time to read. In other words: Be succinct.
- It brands the target audience. 5 ways new writers. New writers were indeed the majority of the readers of this post, but also experienced writers were interested, as they wanted to see if they had followed these tactics themselves when they started out. In other words: Be focused.
- It hits the target audience were it hurts–excuse the poignancy, but “chasing away potential readers” is the one thing a new writer would want to avoid at all costs. The whole idea of self-publishing and promoting your book is to “attract” as many readers as possible. And here I am, telling you that you might be doing the exact opposite! Wouldn’t that intrigue you to see if I’m right? (Of course, the idea that I might be seen as overstepping my boundaries since I’m not published worried me, so I started the article by clarifying that I was writing from a seasoned reader’s perspective.) In other words: (Don’t be afraid to…) Be evocative.
- It ends with a lollipop! – “potential readers”, to writers, are the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We want them! We want them all! So anything that refers to them, we usually read. In other words: Be appealing. Use sensory words and newfangled terms. If you can’t come up with any, read more edgy romance. Those ladies are surely creative!(Where do you think “click-worthy” came from?) 🙂
So, that was the anatomy of my top title in terms of “clickability” based on WordPress statistics. Combine the above with the Four U’s of the copyblogger article, and see what you can come up with yourselves!
Also, I hope I gave you an idea of “repurposing content”! Until I come up with anything remotely as popular, I thought I’d bring my older post to the surface again! What!? Not everybody has read it! 😉
Read the other three U’s of writing headlines on Brian Clark’s site:
- How to write headlines that work
- 7 ways to repurpose blog content to get more traffic (I did No. 2!)
Any further insight on how to create magnetic headlines? Use the comment form!