My blog post or article titles suck. Do you have any ideas to share with me? ~ Recent Webifier
What a good problem to be having. It means you are writing more. And passing through those voices of perfection that, in the past, have kept all your good ideas locked up in your head. It means you’ve opened Word on your computer and put some words down. Or, if you’re old-fashioned-like, you opened your notebook and scribbled some goodness out.
It doesn’t really matter the way you did it, only that you did.
And now, one more time, perfectionism is showing itself, this time asking you if you know enough about titling your blog posts. The right way.
And here’s what I’m saying, “It’s right enough for right now.” Please, try it on. See how it fits for you. And then, read what’s working for me, and then chuck the rest and remember to just keep writing.
The Importance Of Killer Post Titles
2 Seconds & Counting
When I was in corporate, I had the privilege of working with some hired-in copywriters. It was so fun to give the consultant the “creative brief” (an outline of what the project was about) and see what came back.
I was always surprised at the headlines. And I learned early on, it’s really the secret to getting your readers past the two-second threshold (we’ve only got about that long to pique a reader’s interest and convey to them that what we got is what they’re looking for!)
Also, killer headlines will help you with search engine ranking, if you can build into your titles the keywords that fit for your industry.
So headlines obviously become a very important thing for growing & expanding your web presence.
When I’m writing a post/article, I may already have an idea about what the title is going to be. But that’s only sometimes. I go ahead and title my draft the title I think I’m going to be using.
Mostly, it serves as an anchor point. I can go back to the title, while I’m writing the article, and it helps me stay focused. Because when I write, I usually do not know each and every word that will be written before hand. There is a lot of trust in the process. At least for me.
I like to open Word, write the title, maybe a few bullet points of things I want to highlight (if I know the post might be a long one or a “how-to”) and then let my fingers do the talking, literally.
Sometimes, after editing the post, the title actually sticks. Though this isn’t usually the case.
What I find is that after the article is written, I can scan it and pull directly from my own writing a title that suits the article much better than the one I originally chose.
And then I go through the process of applying some basic rules that I’ve learned from other expertish people. People I met in corporate. And people I’ve met out here, on the web.
3 Basic “Getting-Started” Places
This is not meant to be a comprehensive this-is-how-you-do-it kinda guide. This is meant to be a beginning point for getting better at writing killer post titles or headlines.
- Numbers. As in, “3 Must-Haves For Your Blog” How many times have you seen that one? A gazillion, right? So again, this might be great for when you know ahead of time exactly what you’ll be writing about. And that’s exactly how I wrote my last installment; with a topic in mind and I narrowed down to super simple. Three things. Kinda like what I’m doing here with this post.
- Problems. Because that’s one of the top reasons anyone is online looking at anything to begin with. They want help with a problem they have. When we say the problem in the headline, we are actually speaking directly to our perfect person’s need. When a person feels seen or heard (a common thread in humanity) we’re on our way to making the deeper connections that happen after the 2-second part. The part about where you and they intersect. Also, speaking to solutions as much as problems can be very effective too so try switching it up.
- Short. Short, sweet, to the point. Remember, two seconds. Most people are scanning online. Sorting through boatloads of information. Likely in information overwhelm. Two seconds. That’s it. Short & sweet. And if you are getting your social networking on, you’ll want to make it re-tweetable by keeping the tweet length down; aiming at using around 100-120 characters of the available 140.
In case you are wondering about the all-inclusive comprehensive guide for writing killer post titles or headlines, I recommend CopyBlogger’s Magnetic Headlines blog post series. It’s got plenty for your perfectionist to chew on.
And personally, I’m not so sure there is a right or wrong as much as there is a getting better at it. I find this approach helps me have more fun with myself and my writing as I go.