Maybe you’re a lot like I am. Maybe you’re not the world’s best writer, and you’re wondering if people will even want to read anything you might decide to write. What if I told you there was a great way to attract more readers to your blogs, books, status updates or other writings? What if I told you there was a way that goes beyond great SEO, or in-store book signings? What if I told you attracting more readers is as simple as coming up with a catchy title for your work?
Last month, I wrote a little book. Mostly, I intended to publish it as a short E-book, but having never published anything in actual paper print, my enthusiasm got the best of me and I decided to make it available in “real life” book form as well. The title of this little book? “A Squirrel Pee’d On Me!” I subtitled it “By The World’s Worst Writer.”
The whole “worst writer” thing isn’t much of a stretch since I don’t claim to be much of a writer. What I do understand, however, is that people are drawn to catchy titles, and so far everyone who has seen my book cover has at least asked what the book is about. While it is never fair to disappoint a reader, or mislead them, my book really does start off talking about the time a squirrel peed on me. I was on my way to work when the incident happened. To be honest, however, the rest of the book simply makes continuous reference to the title, while explaining how certain life events can have profound effects on how we view future events.
How many times have you clicked on a social media link simply because the title caught your attention, only to find the article wasn’t as great as you had hoped it would be? That always stinks! I’m not suggesting you create great and catchy titles and then disappoint your reader with less than quality content but, the truth is, if you want people to read your content, you need to grab their attention from the very start!
I remember hearing a man speak during an interview. He was talking about how he had created an entire publishing company on the philosophy of creating great titles and then writing a book based completely on the title. Don’t ask me who the man was, or where I remember hearing him, but I remember that what he said really resonated with me. Since that time, I have tried to focus on coming up with great titles for things I write (I don’t write an awful lot),and creating the content based on the title I come up with. The entire concept makes complete sense when you stop to think about the things you, yourself, have been compelled to read! Unless you are looking for a specific piece of information, such as: “How to Program Your Sony DVD Player,” you are more likely to dive in to a book or article that has a more catchy title.
Let’s look at a few comparison examples of various titles and take a minute to decide which one may be better.
“17 Ways To Unfold A Cactus” Vs. “All About The Cactus”
“My Grandpa Ran Naked In Detroit” Vs. “Grandpa and I In Detroit”
“A Squirrel Pee’d On Me” Vs. “Understanding Life Events”
Suppose you are narrating a story of the time your character spent wandering through the desert and had to survive on eating cacti. At some point in your story the character says “…I thought to myself, ‘there must be 17 ways to unfold this stupid cactus!’” Great! Now you have a catchy title.
People are curious by nature! Most people want to find out the “what” of something. In the case of “17 Ways To Unfold A Cactus,” most people will want to know what the 17 ways are. In order not to disappoint your reader, it is important your title makes sense to the writing itself. In this case, it certainly does, and your reader will not be disappointed.
What about the title “My Grandpa Ran Naked In Detroit”? What image does that conjure up? Are you curious? Do you expect to read something serious? Something funny? If you’re writing a blog about the time you and your grandfather went on a trip to Detroit, then ask yourself what will make the reader care about that trip? If we’re honest, most of us scroll past titles that make us feel as if we are going to be trapped into a never ending monologue (with slide show presentation to follow) of someone else’s life event. We care more about our own experiences than someone else’s……unless we get drawn in by curiosity. I don’t know about you, but most people would be curious as to what grandpa was doing running around naked in Detroit!
When deciding on a catchy title, there are 4 question I always suggest a writer ask themselves:
Are my readers looking for technical information?
Will my title disappoint my reader?
Is humor appropriate to this story or article? (Humor is a great equalizer.)
Would I want to read this based solely on the title?
It really is that simple. Put thought into your titles. I challenge you to come up with an outrageous title, and THEN write your story, article or post. Your imagination will be stretched and your readers will be delighted!
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Laura Wing is the author of “A Squirrel Pee’d On Me” (Available on Amazon). She is a professional life coach, and runs a YouTube talk show called “The Get Clear Show.” You can follow Laura at: www.followlaura.com
The above three title examples would NOT make me want to read the article — in fact, if I jumped into an article that was less than what the title promised, I would leave a very blistering comment about this ‘come-on’ type of writer.
Sorry, but ‘No thank you’ to this style.
P.S., The squirrel had better have pee’d on something if it is in the title.
Wonderfully entertaining and informative article! The only thing I disagree with is that the author views herself as not much of a writer. On the contrary, I think she is an excellent writer, and I would love to read more of her work.