Published on Nov 29, 2012
For the past three years, I have been an avid personal finance blogger discussing everything from managing your wealth to mitigating your tax liability. No matter how substantive the topics I wrote about in the personal finance sector, the big question was whether someone would actually read my content. As bloggers, we often believe that our most recent post will change the lives of millions, but in reality only a handful of people may click through your e-mailed link to read your weekly blog post. The art of creating effective titles is incredibly important because if your title and opening paragraph are catchy and interesting, your readers are more inclined to check out the rest of the article.
Take the title I opened up with in this article. Did it make you at least a little bit curious about what happened when Peter Lynch went grocery shopping with me at Whole Foods the other day? Or did you think that it couldn’t possibly be true that he actually went grocery shopping with me? Perhaps I won some sort of investment contest to get the great Peter Lynch to go grocery shopping with me. In all seriousness, what I would have written about in an article like this where I threw a catchy title like that at you is how picking stocks in companies you know is better than choosing ones that you don’t know. The article would have gone on to discuss the importance of believing in the brands you buy, and said that perhaps some of your next best stock buys are the very items that you put in your grocery cart when you go to the market. It worked 30 years ago for Peter Lynch in his prime and that philosophy probably wouldn’t be a bad one to apply in today’s rocky stock market environment.
So here are three tips from one blogger to another about my thoughts on how to write catchy titles: THINK THE ENQUIRER- As the saying goes, “Enquiring minds want to know.” But it’s more like people want the dirty laundry gossip about what is going on in the lives of others. What the National Enquirer does in a most brilliant fashion is to deliver hard-hitting titles that make you want to pick up a copy at the store while checking out your groceries. Top stories during the week that I wrote this post included LATIFAH WILL DROP LESBIAN CONFESSION ON LIVE-TV, MILEY CRUSHING FOR PORN STAR!, and IS IT TRUE WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT DIANE SAWYER, BOOZY or BEAT? If you saw Diane Sawyer after the election, you surely might read the Boozy or Beat article. I know I would pay a $1.00 just to check that one out. The first point of writing good lead-ins to your blog posts is to make sure you hit your audience hard with something that may get them engaged in the first paragraph. LATE NIGHT GOOGLING- The second idea behind writing smart headlines for your blogs is to think about how people may go about searching for your content. One of the interesting things about human beings when they begin to Google is often they aren’t 100% certain what they are really looking for when they begin searching on Google. So, using intros in your headlines with phrases like “How To,” “Top 10,” and “Big Mistakes” are all beginnings to how a person may search for content. Remember that Google likes to index popular searches so try typing in a few different phrases around the content of the article you are writing to grab some ideas. This may also allow your article to rise to page one more quickly within a Google search. SEX SELLS- Whether or not you like to admit it, everyone quickly perks up when they see something hot and steamy. This is why public sex scandals and extracurricular activities become so viral in the news we read every day. How many of you quickly homed in on the recent story of David Petraeus, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, getting busted for having an extramarital affair? Would you open an article with the headline that read, “CIA Director Wants More Than Just A Google Hangout?” I recently incorporated a great “sex sells” headline in an article I wrote about pensions: “How A Threesome Can Improve Your Retirement.” The title raised some eyebrows but got my emails more than a 50% open rate.
If you are a frequent blogger, writing ongoing content can be a challenging process especially when you’ve written more than 500 to 1,000 posts. Sometimes, if you can create yourself a juicy headline it can actually spur on the creative writing process to produce a really high quality piece of content your readers will enjoy. You don’t have to draw people in by telling them you were abducted by space aliens, but it doesn’t hurt to drop a little Kim Kardashian or Britney Spears . . . As long as you aren’t exposing any body parts :)