This Title Sucks!

Let’s face it, folks, readers crave surprise. 

They like titles they don’t expect or know how to interpret. 

They like titles about food, fat, failure, or frustration with any of the above.

I noticed this with my own blog.  For example, the other day I posted a piece called “It’s Official.  I’m Fat” and had a massive increase in traffic, received a total of 369 page hits, when generally I average 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.

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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.

I’ve decided though the 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 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.

I think I broke my logic bone” was Freshly Pressed last week, I suspect, because its fun and quirky title attracted editorial attention and audience approval.  You can decide for yourself whether or not you think the post itself was as successful as the title, but the title was, I’m convinced, brilliant.

Whether we like it or not 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, pull them in clicking and screaming with a title they can’t refuse—some wicked words that drive them wild with curiosity and a major amount of mouse madness.

What to-die-for titles have you read recently?