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This week's post - 6 creative ways to spice up your blog post titles - comes to you courtesy of a question from the lovely Kate.
I'd love to know your tips on writing attention grabbing I-must-read-this-now blog titles! This is something I have really struggled with, and I know that until I can nail this, people are missing out on the goodness of what I write, because I can't quite nail the title.
Boy, do I hear you Kate! A few years back, I was pretty frustrated with my blog-titling ability. It wasn't that there was anything particularly wrong with the titles I wrote, there just wasn't much right going on, either. They were limp, vanilla and not doing anything for my blog, or it's readers.
I decided to get serious about blog post titles around the time I began blog coaching. Clients would often have the same question, and I wanted to create a resource they could use to write snazzy blog post titles of their own. I researched, researched and researched for days, gathering all the information I could about creating stellar blog post titles, and the below 6 points are a synthesis of the best tips I've learned.
#1 Tap into your target audience
The most important intel to grip before you start writing is clarity on who you're writing to. It goes without saying that without your audience in mind, it's more difficult to write content that will appeal to them.
To connect with your audience, you need to know:
- What problems they're facing - so you can share solutions
- What they're interested in - so you can connect with them personally
- What language and tone of voice they're drawn to - so they'll feel like your BFF
Most blog post titles will generally fall into one of two categories:
- Positive in tone (generates excitement, happiness, inspiration)
- Negative in tone (generates shock, fear)
Pay attention to what your audience responds to best, because this will help you structure your titles with them in mind. If your audience responds to positive toned titles, write in a positive tone 90% of the time, and save 10% for shock value and variety.
When I was blogging about health, my readers were overwhelmingly responsive to positive, upbeat blog post titles - and I would assume that for you it will most likely be the same. Examine your Mailchimp email open rates and click through rates, and see if there's an obvious correlation between the title's tone, and the email's interaction (open and click through rates).
#2 Choose your brand tone of voice
How do you want to be seen online? Whether you know it or not, every digital step you take is helping readers formulate their perception of you. The words you use go a long way towards shaping this perception, so use your words wisely.
For example, my intention is for my brand to be known for quality, reliability, a great customer-experience and down-to-earth relate-ability. Obviously I have to back this up with action, but adjectives I can weave into my titles that help convey my brand tone of voice include dependable, honest, respectable, greatness, excellence and fun.
An example is my post about writing an About Me page. Instead of calling it 'How to Write Your About Me Page', I called it 'How to Write a Remarkable About Me Page'. The word 'remarkable' is a bit fancy, and appeals to the kind of emotion most people would want to associate with their About Me page.
Erica Madden from Olyvia.co is the go-to gal for rocking your online reputation. Her website tagline alone - Be Delightful Online - says it all. Her blog titles each have a delightful-yet-real flair, which, I don't know about you, but it totally grabs my attention. Jump over to her site and have a skim through the titles to see what I mean.
#3 Use power words
Certain words in the English language hold special superpowers. These words have an uncanny ability to tug at our emotions, making us feel something - moreso than mortal words. These are what we call 'power words'.
Power words can evoke happiness, admiration, greed, lust, respect and more, so when choosing your words, do so with your overall intention for your reader in mind. They can also be the make-or-break difference between a reader deciding to click through to your blog post or not. Using the knowledge you have from defining your brand tone of voice, make a list of your favourite power words, so you can refer back to them for every post you write.
I want my readers to feel inspired and empowered when they read my posts, so here's some of my favourite power words for blog post titles:
If you'd like a very comprehensive power words cheat-sheet to print off and refer back to, check this epic post by John Morrow of Smart Blogger: 317 Power Words That’ll Instantly Make You a Better Writer
#4 Write How-To's
Readers are drawn to titles that suggest they'll learn something practical. Most of the time when we're browsing the web, we're doing so because we have a specific problem we're trying to solve. This is especially true of posts on Pinterest.
So, this is when the 'How-to' post shimmies her way in and catches all eyes.
A twist on the classic 'How to' blog post title, would be to use the problem/solution formula. Start by stating the problem your audience has, then follow it up by hinting you have the solution.
How to spice up dinner time
Stuck in a dinner rut? Spice up meal time with this surprising superfood hero
Here's a handful of my 'How-to' posts:
- How to write your About Me page
- How to monetize a blog with eCourses
- How to turn your health blog readers into subscribers
#5 Create listicles
Listicles get a bad wrap on the www. - I guess because some see them as the easy way out. A listicle is simply a blog post that breaks the content down into a numbered list. If you look at popular sites like Buzzfeed and HuffPost, you'll notice a strong listicle presence. And despite polarising opinions, the reason listicle posts are still around is because they work.
Anecdotal evidence suggests you should always use an odd number for listicles, because they're more attractive. My theory is because it's less 'precise' and therefore seems more authentic/less calculated.
From your reader's perspective, which post titles would you say is more enticing?
Do a coffee enema safely
7 critical steps to perform a coffee enema safely
(Note that the bolded words are also power words)
Some examples of listicle posts I've created:
- 5 ways to sign clients with a feel-good sales (discovery) call
- The 101 most creative blog names of all time
- 92 personal blog post ideas for health entrepreneurs and coaches
- 3 sure-fire ways to get more traffic to your health blog
#6 Use direct language
Make sure your reader has a clear idea of what exactly they'll learn when they click through to your post. Vague language won't cut it, because in the 3 seconds your reader makes the decision to click through or not, you'll have already lost them while they try to figure it out.
For example, let's say you've written a blog titled 'I fell off the bandwagon. This is how I got back on.'
The first thing that strikes me about this title, is that I don't know what kind of bandwagon the writer fell off.
To help the audience understand what they'll be reading if they click through, we could word it to something like '4 ways I rebooted my self-care routine after falling off the bandwagon (again).'
For a whiff of controversy, you could write something like: '4 ways I got back on the self-care bandwagon after everything fell to sh*t.'