I consider myself to be a pretty good blogger, and over the past 4 years, my blogging has definitely improved my writing skills.  But there had always been one area of blogging where my efforts were failing, and that was holding me back.

I could create interesting posts that resonated with my readers, but I struggled to consistently write good headlines.  I didn't worry too much about it, until the last few months when I saw how EVERYONE was flocking to Twitter.  And I watched how everyone was using Twitter, and one of the ways was to share links on the social site. 

And I noticed that the links with the best headlines, got read the most, and retweeted the most. 

So one night I was working on a post about building community online.  As usually happens, I knew what I wanted to write about, but the headline was stumping me.  I finished the post, then wrote out 'Six reasons why your online community building efforts are failing' as the post's title, and started to click 'Publish'. 

I stopped and said to myself 'That has GOT to be the lamest headline ever!'

I knew this post itself was a good one, but that this particular headline was going to hold the post back.  So I decided to go check out Copyblogger, which is a fantastic blog for improving your writing.  I found Brian's series on writing Magnetic Headlines, and changed the headline to this:

Six Reasons Why No One Likes You Online

The results speak for themselves.  The day I posted that post, my blog enjoyed its highest traffic day ever, 3,821 visitors which was roughly 1000% above the average.  And it was retweeted 231 times in the first 24 hours. 

The post itself was good, but without that interesting title, many people wouldn't have clicked the link on Twitter, they wouldn't have retweeted it, and I wouldn't have seen the gush of traffic to my blog.

Another example; last week I wanted to write a post on the topic of what's more important to blogging; good content, or interactions with readers and others.  I come down on the side of interactions being more important, but I also knew that this was a 'hot-button' issue and most people have a strong opinion one way or the other.  I knew that as smart as my blog readers are, that if I took a strong stance in the post and the headline, that my readers would hopefully take my cue, and a great conversation would develop.

So I picked the provocative title of 'The idea that 'content is king' in blogging is total bull****'.  Almost immediately, readers started commenting that they disagreed with my stance.  Then others started saying they agreed.  Then readers started responding to each other, and an absolutely fabulous conversation developed.  Now, a week later, that post currently has 60 comments, and is the most commented-on post I have EVER written as a blogger.

By crafting compelling headlines for these two posts, both of them had a much better chance of getting noticed by people that are increasingly having more information fighting for their limited attention.  The great thing about social media is that now everyone has the ability to quickly and easily create content.  Some would also argue that's the bad thing about social media!  Because all that additional content makes it that much harder to find and sort what's important and relevant to you.

Writing a great headline is a good way to give your post a fighting chance of being read and shared.  Now this does not suggest that slapping a provocative title on a crappy post will work, nor that making every post title outrageous will work either (in the 4 years I've been blogging, I've cursed once in a post title, the post I linked to above).  You still have to have good content.

But adding a great headline to great content is a wonderful way to draw attention and exposure to your blogging efforts.  Please check out Copyblogger as it is a fabulous resource for improving your writing ability!  



July 8, 2009





Mack Collier is a social media consultant, trainer and speaker. He has been actively immersed in social media since 2005, and in that time, has helped advise, teach and consult with businesses of all shapes and sizes on how they can better connect with their customers via these amazing tools and sites. While being passionate about the social media space, what truly excites Mack is the human connections that can result from the proper use of these social tools. His motto is "Don't focus on the tools, focus on the connections that the tools help facilitate." His goal is to help his clients create those connections with their customers, and nuture them into relationships that help grow their bottom line.

His social media 'homebase' is The Viral Garden, which in 3 years time Mack has grown into an influential marketing/social media blog with a monthly readership of over 175,000. He is also a frequent contributor to the website Marketing Profs, as well as the marketing blog Daily Fix, and small business blog Search Engine Guide. His writings have been referenced in several mainstream publications and websites, including The Washington Post, MSNBC.com, Ad Age, CNET, and The Boston Globe.

Mack is also a requested speaker and has presented at some of the top social media conferences and events, including South By Southwest Interactive, Marketing Profs Digital Marketing Mixer, and Small Business Marketing Unleashed. He is also passionate about teaching companies how to use social media sites and tools more effectively, and offers training and seminars privately to companies, in addition to his public speaking schedule.

You can learn more information about Mack's social media training and consulting services here. If you need a social media speaker for your event, or want to know where Mack will be speaking next, click here. If you want to email Mack, click here.

Mack wrote this bio. The third-person thingie is just for fun.






Comments(10)

I think a lot of what you are talking about stems from the basic A.I.D.A. principle - and for that reason alone you deserve a thumbs up! - Marbella Property.

A.I.D.A. ?

I struggle with the whole blogging thing, and twitter I just have no clue about - can anyone recommend a good guide to understand it all?

Thx

AIDA means (assuming I haven't forgotten my marketing courses)

Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action

All about getting someone's attention and moving them toward taking the action you want.

Graham, Jennifer wrote a great intro blog series to Twitter here - http://www.searchengineguide.com/jennifer-laycock/part-one-from-twits-to-tweeple-why-i-emb.php

And I have written dozens of articles on getting started with blogging and improving your efforts here - http://mackcollier.com/social-media-library/blogging-101/

Hope those help!

Graham, Titles make a huge difference, I just been playing this last week with the words I post on twitter to link to my posts and the results very depending on the wording. Blogging has been a learning expirence for me and just now I starting to relize just how important the titles are.

Enjoyed your post!

The whole purpose of the title is to entice the reader to keep reading. I think many bloggers underestimate the importance of the title, myself included. I had completely forgotten about our old friend AIDA. I need to work on making lame titles a thing of the past.

Excellent post!

I've just read this post, it's a bit old but still I find this post a really good insight in the How to's of blogging.

Blogging is a good way to express and speak out for oneself, whether personal or business matters.

Thanks for sharing your insights and experiences in blogging. Good Job!

It's true .. people put much more effort on the content of the post and less on the headline. But this is what make us decide if we read something or not.

Isabel - Editor of Chicken recipes

You are definitely right, and as with so many things, it's first impressions that count. The same is true of headlines, if the headline doesn't stand out and spark your curiosity, you won't get as many visitors. When it comes to having a successful bog, traffic is everything, well that and subscribers / repeat visitors. Great blog, I have it bookmarked now so I can read the previous posts.

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