And now, for the winner of last Friday's THE TRICKY PART contest: Congratulations to Evelyn Berry, the winner of Laurie Schnebly Campbell's writing class. Evelyn, you can contact Laurie directly about your class.
Today we welcome guest blogger Marcy Kennedy, author of Strong Female Characters, with advice for all of you who blog--or are thinking of blogging--as part of your platform.
Half a dozen words shouldn’t be so hard to write, but when it comes to titles of any type--and especially blog titles--they can be the most frustrating handful of words imaginable. Once you learn the secret behind them, though, they become much easier.
So do you want to know my secret? Here it is.
Make a specific promise about what’s in it for the reader.
This breaks down into two parts—specific promise and value for the reader.
Blog post titles are the wrong place to channel your creativity.
Creativity and word plays in blog titles don’t work. If people need to read the blog post to understand your title, it’s a bad title. It’s a bad title because if people don’t understand your title, they’ll never reach the blog post you’re sharing. See the catch-22?
For example, a fiction writer I know did a fun post on bacon and she titled it…Bacon!
This post didn’t get nearly the traffic it deserved because people didn’t know whether this was a post about how much the author loved bacon, the best way to cook bacon, or a million other bacon-related topics.
WITS own Jenny Hansen, however, recently did a very similar post and did an amazing job on her title. She called her post 5 Bacon-Themed Gifts to Add More Pork to Your Life.
Do you see the difference? In one you don’t know what the post will be about. In the other, you know exactly what you’ll find.
If your tweet is too vague, you can use all the formulas you want and it will still fall flat.
Too Vague = The Shocking Truth About Doctors
We don’t care because we don’t know what shocking truth you might be revealing. About whether doctors practice what they preach? About whether doctors are stealing from their patients while under anesthetic?
Specific = The Shocking Truth About What Your Doctor Might Be Doing to Harm Your Health
Give the Reader the Obvious Benefit They’ll Receive from Reading the Post
What’s the takeaway from your post?
Your post should offer to meet a need your ideal reader feels (even if they don’t realize they feel it).
This could be a need for entertainment. It could be a need for a solution to a problem they have. It could be encouragement, either spiritual or psychological. It could be a combination.
Every Successful Writer Must Learn to Say “No”
You’re hinting in this title that the benefit in your post is success. Learning to say “no” to some things will make you a more successful writer. That’s okay, but why should I click through to read the whole post? What will I get in the post that the title hasn’t already given me?
Why You Need to Learn to Say “No” to Succeed as a Writer
This title makes the content of the post more clear. It’s going to give you reasons to say “no” to some things in order to succeed at others. Better, but if I already know I need to say “no” there’s no motivation for me to click through. Where’s the practical takeaway for me?
Six Ways to Say “No” With Less Guilt
Everyone can tell us that we need to say “no” to be successful, but not everyone can tell us how to do it in a way that’s easier and less stressful for us. That’s an amazing benefit. If you wanted to be sure that people understood the post was tips for writers, you could write “Six Ways for Writers to Say No With Less Guilt.”
When All Else Fails, Ask a Question
We all feel compelled to answer a question or to want to know the answer. It immediately gets us thinking. It’s also a great trick for fiction writers who might be writing about a topic in a post that doesn’t lend itself easily to an obvious takeaway.
I’m a fantasy writer and part of my brand is showing that fantasy isn’t about escaping this world. I write fantasy that helps us see life in this world in a new way and gives us a safe place to explore problems that might otherwise be too difficult to face. So part of my signature is posts where I take a life lesson from fantasy or science fiction. That’s difficult to translate into a title, so I pose a question about the topic we’ll be discussing.
Do You Ever Feel Like You Don’t Fit In? (based on How to Train Your Dragon)
How Do We Know If Someone Has Truly Changed? (based on Once Upon a Time and Rumplestiltskin)
Do You Believe In Second Chances? (based on Lord of the Rings and Gollum)
Have you written or seen great blog titles? Can you write a blog title based on your WIP? Are you willing to share them?
Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy) is a speculative fiction writer who believes fantasy is more real than you think. Alongside her own writing, Marcy works as a freelance editor and teaches classes on craft and social media through WANA International.
You can find her blogging about writing and about the place where real life meets science fiction, fantasy, and myth at www.marcykennedy.com. She offers a free PDF called Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Hiring a Freelance Editor to anyone who signs up for her newsletter. Click here to sign up for your copy.