Maybe this is your first experience with blogging, or you’re a seasoned pro, but if you’ve been putting your headlines on the back burner, you’ve committed a journalistic sin. It’s easy to think that content drives readership, and while content does bring back loyal readers time after time if nobody clicks it won’t matter what the content of your article is. In today’s mass media there is always an article down the page that can offer the information the readers want, so it’s crucial that your article stands out in any way possible. In the examples below, we imagine a new blogger named Amy who wants to share her gift of knitting.
Amy is a new blogger and excited to get started. After a few hours of writing she has her first post ready, so she uploads it with the headline: Learn to knit.
The article is about knitting a scarf, and it gets two clicks in three weeks. The problem? Her headline doesn’t let anybody know the information she is trying to convey. Search engines are configured to bring back the most specific results based upon what the users type into it. Odds are if someone is looking to learn to knit they have a project in mind. By being generic and general with her headline, Amy has already filtered herself out of most searches. If you want to teach people how to knit a scarf, then you need to inform them that scarfs are what your teaching. You know what you’re writing, but that doesn’t mean your potential readers do.
Amy resubmits her article with the headline : Learn to knit a scarf.
The article does mildly better, and she gets fifteen clicks in two weeks which brings us to lesson number two.
Amy has learned from her first article and has a small reader base now. But just writing specific headlines is still going to get them buried under all the other articles out there. If you don’t have anything to grab a readers attention and get them to your blog, then you’ve already lost their readership. Amy writes her second article and posts it as: Learn to knit a sweater.
After two weeks she checks, and it’s only gotten ten clicks. It’s done worse than the first article! It turns out that readers will stop reading your blog for reasons you can’t predict, so you need to bring in additional readers whenever possible.
Make your headlines exciting, amazing, and sexy. Promise your readers the world, and then it’s up to your content to deliver on your promise. If you think of your headlines as marketing for your content, your articles will be much better of.
With this new advice in hand Amy resubmits her blog again with the title: DIY knitted sweaters: How you can be the cutest girl in school.
This headline promises her readers a goal. Become the cutest girl in school, which is a desirable goal to a large percentage of readers. By making including the phrase Do It Yourself Amy promises a degree of personalization in all the sweaters. These aren’t store bought garments; they are an extension of their wearer! This new headline spikes traffic to Amy’s blog, and after another two weeks, she finds a hundred people have read her blog.
The idea behind this advice is to allow page views to influence the content you write. Most blogging sites give you tools to look at the statistics of your posts. If you have one article that does tenfold better than any other post you should take that as a learning opportunity and analyze why that may be.
After going through a bad break up, Amy posted a blog titled: Knitting away a broken heart. How yarn healed my soul.
In the article, Amy talked about how her projects helped her get past missing her boyfriend and helped her focus on the future. Because Amy had taken the time to gain new readers whenever possible, and because she regularly updated this glimpse into the blogger’s personal life sent traffic spiking. Humans are social animals, and they crave a degree of personalization in their interactions, even with a blogger they don’t know. When Amy looked through the comments on the post, she saw a number of posts that called it her best article ever. The numbers are clear; her reader base wants a glimpse into Amy’s life.
By looking at what works, Amy can then tailor some of her articles to the wants of the readers. From that week on headlines like: 10 Reasons I use double pointed needles any chance I get
This headline is personal, but still, offers the content Amy wants to share. By listening to her fan base and using feedback, she is able to retain much more traffic on her blog. Mixing in headlines to gain new readers, and then using headlines to retain those readers long after the first article is an important part of growing and sustaining a fan base.
The last lesson is all about variety in your headlines. In lesson three we explain why it’s good to understand trends in your articles, but don’t let that bog you down. Very few things kill a well-written blog faster than stagnation. If all your headlines read like the headlines out of a Buzzfeed or Cracked article, then your reader base is going to drop faster than a balloon filled with stones. If your headlines constantly read: 10 Tips or 32 Tricks, then it leaves your reader base feeling like they’ve read all the articles even before they open them.
Having same headlines is a lot like watching three or four car commercials in a row. After a while, you just stop caring and when the audience stops caring it spells doom for your blog. So be spontaneous, be creative, be crazy. Throw away buzz words and instead string together things that you never knew could be exciting. Use your headline as a place to market the real you, and then use your content to hammer home what makes you unique really.
Thanks for reading.