Author’s note: I published this post a year ago, on my other blog, just as I was seeing the wonderfulness that was #MondayBlogs. I still believe in this meme and still think a little shine and polish on our tweets could make the difference. Agree?
I participate in a meme on Twitter called #MondayBlogs. The idea is brilliant. On Mondays, anybody who wants to can post a link to their blog and those who follow that hashtag can find new blogs to read and new writers to enjoy. In theory, those who participate read each others’ blogs, RT and favorite the heck out of them so that the whole world can discover this new talent. I have found dozens of new readers this way and I love doing this. (Unfortunately, I’m not very good at RT-ing back. Monday is LAUNDRY day for this family of 7, I’ve got a LOT to do!!)
I would LOVE to RT and favorite everyone who participates in #MondayBlogs, but honestly, often the headlines or tweets that contain the link are so lifeless and dull that I’m not the least bit interested in them. I wonder if with a few changes in the tweets, all of us could see good results. I’ve listed a few things I’ve noticed (and things I try to implement) —and I’ve written some over-the-top silly blog title headlines to get the point across.
It’s all in the headline. Consider your #MondayBlogs Tweet as a headline of the original post. The more concise and clear, the better. “My Thoughts on Dyeing” is terrible. Be specific. “Why I Dread Coloring My Hair This Summer” is much clearer and much more interesting. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Who” “What” “Why” or “How” and fill in the rest!
Follow headline rules, like Capitalize Each Important First Letter. This makes your tweet look more grown-up and polished. Tweets like “five ways to get your cat to sing” are wimpy and indifferent and I certainly wouldn’t be interested. But “Five Ways To Get Your Cat To Sing” at least looks like you’re trying.
As tempted as you might be, don’t say “New Blog Post”. Duh. We know. Just leave us a link. We can figure it out.
Put as much thought into the headline as you did into the post itself. Use vibrant verbs. Keep it Short. Pretend for a minute that it isn’t a blog post, but a magazine article and these first few words are on the cover of Cosmo. (It would be best, though to keep it rated G, unlike Cosmo). “Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy” is a little long, but it’s clear. I could have also gone with “Your Blog Title Sucks. So Fix It!” But I’m trying to be helpful. And nice.
Use numbers. I asked someone a few weeks ago what their biggest pet peeve on Twitter was and they answered that seeing this: “Eight Ways To Use Your Crock Pot for Cleaning” and “Top Ten Toothbrushes for Dogs” – the numbers in the title seemed to be too much. A pet peeve? Really? Folks, this is good headline writing. If you can quantify the contents of your blog post into a list and then use that list in the title, you’ve got something interesting.
Exaggerate a little. “Folding Chair Options That Will Change Your Life Forever” Well of course, it won’t exactly change my life, but the exaggeration might compel me to at least click the link and see what the fuss is about. I love the fact that Twitter is so casual, you can get away with a little exaggeration and hyperbole and it may make you all the more charming.
Be Funny. Now not everyone can do this well. But if you can use humor in your headlines or tweets do it! Humor is powerful. If you can get a smirk or a chuckle or a LOL out of someone, you’ve won half the battle. If you can be funny consistently, then you are building a reputation for wit and comedy that can bring readers to you.
Sell You, Not Your Book. As tempting as it is to say, “My Romantic Comedy for Ninjas is $.99 today” for #MondayBlogs. Please don’t do it. I personally find this off-putting. We all have books to sell. Instead, tell me something about you, something you’re struggling with, something that demonstrates how much we have common. Then, after I get to know you, and discover how awesome you are, I’ll be happy to buy your book and maybe even interview you here about it!
Study other headlines. Spend twenty minutes and read all the headlines in your magazines and newspapers. See if you can make your blog titles just as pithy and pointed as those writers did. There is a REASON why headlines are designed the way that they are and professional writers are trained to capture readers’ attention. Learn from them. If you call yourself a pro, then act like it!
Consider the blog post itself. If your having trouble writing a headline for your 1500 words on your writing angst, then there may be a reason. Keep your blog posts simple and to the point, then you’ll see that the titles are much easier to write.
And do a little research on your own! Here is a fascinating article on Forbes about headline writing. And another list of very practical suggestions from author Jeff Goins.
And a whole honkin’ bunch of articles from Copyblogger. Really, after all this information, there’s no reason why your headlines need to suck.
So what do you think? Am I off the mark here? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Do you have any suggestions to add?
There has never been a better time in history to be a writer. But the downside to that is that we are competing against each other for readers. We must be willing to be our very best with every tweet, every status update, every blog post. Don’t get lazy with things like this. Put your best foot, uh, I mean tweet forward and see what happens.