Thursday, December 16, 2010

ON BLOGGING ~ When It's Okay To Be A Tease...



How much thought do you put into your post titles?  Think about the blogs that you visit.  Or all of the blogs sitting in your Feed Reader.  How do you decide which items to read, delete or skip?  You skim.  The items that stand out in skimming are the post's title and any lead image.  If neither of those are eye-catching, a post will blend in with all of the others fighting for attention.

When I am reading a blog directly and not within my Feedly reader, I always look for the list of recent posts to see what I have missed out on in the last week.  All I have to go by are the posts' titles.  That's a very minimal amount of information to make a decision with, but I do it all the time.  Not just with blog posts, but with magazine articles, book titles, TV listings, movie rentals, newsletters and pretty much any other printed collection of information vying for my attention.

You can go one of two ways with your title.  Informative or witty.  If you get lucky, sometimes you get a magic blend of both.  The informative approach seeks to tell the potential reader exactly what the focus of the post covers.  "Review of War & Peace."  There is no question what that post is about.  And if you are a lover of classics, Tolstoy or lengthy reviews then you would be drawn right to reading that post.  Otherwise, you would likely skip it and look for something else that suits your interests.

If you went the witty route you would use something like "War, What Is It Good For?"  You don't know exactly what this post is about.  It could be a political commentary, or a stroll down musical memory lane or a funny post about that Seinfeld episode.  Few would probably guess that it is a book review of War & Peace.  This unclear post title appeals to a broader audience because of its ambiguity.  More people are likely to decide to read and find out what it is.  Many of them may bounce away as soon as they understand it is a book review of Tolstoy.  But some may stick around in spite of that because of the quality of the post's writing.

Basically, a title can be a tease to trick people into reading something they might normally assume was not for them.  Or it can alienate people who get smart to your misleading titles and don't appreciate the "trickeration."  Informative, clear titles help people find a post easily on a specific topic.  Someone searching for War & Peace reviews is more likely to turn up the informative title than the witty title.

I don't ever get lucky and create the magical combo title of informative and witty.  Maybe something like "Reviewing War & Peace, What Is It Good For?"  If you are lucky enough to be able to adjust your post title's URL (I don't think you can do this on the free Blogger platform) you can write a witty visual title and then edit the URL to capture the informative words that make it more logical for search engines.

If you aren't so lucky, you need to make a choice.  Who is your audience?  Do you care if people are drawn to what you write?  Do you like to extend the creativity to the title too?  I prefer to write the post and then discover the witty title that emerges naturally.  Or I get tired and throw an informative title up there because it is time to go to bed.  Teases be damned.

12 comments:

Penny said...

Who is your audience? I have the same few folks that stop by. We all seem to have wit, love of music (in some way or shape), love of reading and/or art.

Do you care if people are drawn to what you write? Of course I do but I don't know if it necessarily happens often :)

Do you like to extend the creativity to the title too? I don't know if you noticed but I strive to make every title a song lyric from a song I know. Some days I just can't find an appropriate lyric. I have always tried to do this but now since my blog is musically decorated I try even harder.

Sandy Nawrot said...

A wave of creativity washes over me about four times a year. Beyond that, I don't get very witty. That is the accountant in me coming out. I find that yours, however, are almost always good to lure me in!

kaye said...

browsing through my titles I see that they are informative. I always write the title before the post. I tend to tease on my private blog. I guess I'm more comfortable teasing family.

Matty said...

I read something similar on a page about blogging pointers and tidbits. They said that the post title itself will get you hits if it contains the right keywords.

I'm not witty enough to make mine witty.

McGillicutty said...

I always think that everyone else's titles are way more imaginative than mine. I do know that once I used the word Blue in my title and it got WAY more hits than anything else... like hundreds and hundreds more!!! weird.

Lisa said...

I tried at the beginning of my blogging to be a bit witty with my post titles but it's just so much work!

Lin said...

Uh oh...now I have all this pressure to make witty blog titles!!! Arrrgghhh!

For my regular stops, I don't bother to really read the titles--I'm going there anyway. But now, I'm wondering if my titles are turning folks off! Yikes.

stacybuckeye said...

Mine are informative, but I'm starting to get a bit more creative with my Sundays with Gage posts.
I love the fun titles you come up with. They always tease me :)

Kathleen said...

I struggle with coming up with titles. I'm usually aware that mine are not particularly creative but go with them anyway. I'm just glad to be publishing a post!

Beth F said...

I like my review posts and spotlight post to be clear so I don't use witty titles. But I try in my lame way to come up with something clever for my other posts.

Dave and Tami said...

I use bland titles for book reviews - book title and author - but try to come up with something more creative for other posts. I'm thinking of experimenting with titles that all sound like they could be porn films - just to see if my hits go up dramatically.

cardiogirl said...

OH! The pop-up comment box, LOVE the pop-up! Thank you for my Christmas present.

I try to come up with something offbeat for every post I write. That doesn't mean it happens, it just means I'm always trying.