Let’s face it, folks, readers delight in daring titles.
They seemingly can’t help but click on posts that make outrageous claims, not just about delicate issues such as, say, public nose-picking, but especially on titles that highlight one’s personal nose-picking habits. Pronouncements like this, they can’t resist.
Readers like titles they don’t expect, titles that make seemingly ridiculous claims in inventive ways.
They like titles that confess sex or sin, titles that admit fat, failure, or an obsessive fondness for Pop Tarts, that picture you, mouth full, Twinkie firmly in fist.
I noticed this with my own blog. For example, last summer when I posted a piece called “It’s Official.I’m Fat,” I had a massive increase in traffic, received a total of 369 page hits, when generally last year I averaged way, way less than that.
Coincidence, you say.
Perhaps, but I think the bottom line is this: successful blogging depends in some significant way on inventive titles, titles that push the envelope.
If you give readers a title they totally hadn’t anticipated or a title that says something they have always thought but never dared say—at least not in public—and certainly not online, where every Tom, Dick, and no-name blogger like me can read it—audiences go weirdly wild.
They love daring, and they love it even more if you do daring well.
This week a post called “Geek Out” was Freshly Pressed, I suspect, because its fun and quirky title attracted editorial attention and audience approval. You can decide whether or not you think the post itself was as successful as the title, but the title was, I’m convinced what won it the recognition.
I’ve also decided though that readers aren’t attracted to outrage for the sake of outrage. They like outrage with a message. And they like a message that is so fundamentally real, so bottom-line authentic, they always knew it to be true on some intuitive level but had never quite conceptualized or articulated it as you have.
In other words, audiences like to be surprised, but surprised by a reality they recognize, by their own, very real truth, an “aha” that’s personal.
Whether we like it or want to admit it, readers love crazy. They love drama. They love posts that are the cyberspace equivalent of train-wrecks. They hate authorial hypocrisy but love posts about hypocrisy itself.
They love stories about ridiculous things happening to prissy people—the germaphobe whose toilet overflows, the preacher who’s having an affair, the politician caught stuffing the ballot box.
Let’s face it, we love it when Donald Trump makes an ass out of himself.
So, if you want readers to “like” your link, if you want audiences to take the next step and scan the first sentence, if you want to pull them in clicking and screaming, use titles they can’t refuse—some wicked words that drive them wild with curiosity and induce some major mouse madness.
What to-die-for titles have you read recently?