Let’s pretend that you have a widget on your blog that shows five random post titles every time someone stops by. Now imagine that what your visitors see is this:
- Random Bullets
- Bad Blogger
Hmm. Can’t say that I feel terribly motivated to read any of these.
Now imagine that what your visitors see is this:
- I’m not a princess, this ain’t a fairytale
- And then she became an old cat lady
- Claire vs. Chair
- Plus-Sized Pregnancy, Plus-Sized Fears
- That Word Everyone’s Using Too Much Lately
WELL then. There goes at least another 20 minutes of my time when I really should be putting away laundry.
Your post titles help a reader decide whether or not to spend their precious time reading what you have to say. They make that decision when they first come to your blog and see that first post. They make that decision when they check their feed reader for new posts.
Your post titles also travel outside the context of your blog. If anyone with a blog on Blogger is following you and you’re in their sidebar, your most recent post title shows up there. If you comment on a blog that uses CommentLuv, it pulls in your most recent post title. If someone submits one of your posts to a social networking site such as StumbleUpon, your post title may show up there depending on how how your blog is set up (and if it’s not set up to show the post title in that blue bar up top of your browser, you need to fix that right quick).
If you participate in any other kind of program, service, or network that displays your posts on other blogs or websites, your post title is just about all that people have to go on when deciding whether to take that first step and come visit your online home.
Don’t you want people to be interested and intrigued by your posts? Do you really want me to be putting away laundry when there is even one single post on your blog which I have not read?
If your post is worth writing, do it justice with a decent title. The title doesn’t have to be funny, it doesn’t have to be poetry, but at least give me a reason to click. And please note: if it’s a post chock full of information about a specific topic I might be interested in, such as organic gardening or mutual funds or the X-Men movies – then unless the title is so wonderful that I’m going to click on it just to find out what it’s about, for the love of Pete make sure I can tell the topic by reading the title so I don’t miss it! Don’t just call it “stuff” or “things” or “well, okay.”
Turn “Thursday Thirteen” into “Thirteen Reasons Why Vegas is the Place to Party.”
Turn “Random Bullets” into “Beseiged on all fronts, losing the battle.”
Turn “Huh?” into “This stimulus package can’t be for real.”
Turn “Help” into “Need Advice on Kitchen Remodeling.”
Turn “Menu Plan Monday” into “Menu Plan Monday: Thai Fried Rice, Ravioli, and Lots of Leftovers.” (Not all on the same plate, hopefully.)
Turn “Herbert” into “Grandpa, I Miss You.”
If you know anything about making your blog more findable by search engines, you know that post titles are a good place to use keywords. Don’t run amok with that knowledge and cram every keyword you can think of into a super-long title. But if you’re going to blog about Jessica Simpson the day after there’s a big hullabaloo about her outfit, then by all means include her name in the title of your post instead of calling it “Hey girl, what are you doing?” (Although I would likely click through to read that, it’s a good title. Who is the girl, and what IS she doing?)
If you have trouble with titles, here’s my advice: write your title at the end. Write the entire post, and then pick the title. You don’t always know when you start a post where it’s going to end up. Putting a title on it up front may stick you with something that doesn’t really fit – or you may have thought you had nothing to say, but it turns out you really do. There may be a phrase in the post you can pull out and use as the title.
Above all else, have confidence in your posts. Nothing says “who would bother to read this?” like a blah title. This is your blog. It’s your writing, your photography, a reflection of you and your life. That’s worth a lot.
And if you do have any good posts about organic gardening, mututal funds, or the X-Men movies, send ’em my way.