Catch Blog Readers With a Title and Hook

Monday, March 25, 2013
You know how you can make one of those ridiculous professional mistakes, and you’re all set to kick yourself in the pants, but then you figure out something terribly important from the mistake? Yeah, that happened to me the other day.

It all started a year ago, when I’d accidentally disabled the publicizing feature on my personal blog.

But then last week, I realized the mistake and got to work, getting all my promotional tools up and running again. That’s when the terribly-important figuring out began. (I mean, besides the terribly important thing I figured out about checking the status of your publicizing tools on various social media.)

First, I noticed my blog post titles. When I double-checked my blog feed on the afore-mentioned various social media, and saw my blog title pop up, I had this moment where I thought, “Would I stop to read this blog post based on that boring title?”

Well. It was a humbling moment, friends. I’m a creative writer, for crying out loud. I should be coming up with extra-oomph-y titles, right? But I’d been taking the lazy route, falling back on same-old, same-old title patterns.

To be honest, I suspect my faithful blog readers would probably read my posts no matter what I titled them. And yours probably will, too. But do you really want to get in the bad habit of penning ho-hum titles? That’s a writing skill you need to hone whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry or blog posts.

And for bloggers like me, there’s another reason strong titles are important. I’m in the business of bringing new readers to my blog. Maybe you’d like to build your subscribers, too. But how can we expect to pull in new readers with ordinary titles? After all, we’re competing with a ton of information (not to mention a ton of cute cats) out there amongst the social media. We’re going to need a title that will grab a reader’s attention—and fast!

Then there’s the first line of the post, the line that also comes up in the blog post feed. I was not too impressed with my first sentence hook. If I were actually fishing with that hook, I’d starve to death.

In the end, I realized that if one is going to go to all the trouble to publicize one's blog posts, it’s terribly important to put one's best foot forward. A strong title can get the casual reader to stop scrolling. A first line with a hook can get that reader to a blog. And if the rest of the post offers something of value to that reader, one is very likely to land a subscriber.

Which is way better than getting a kick in the pants.

~Cathy C. Hall


Sioux Roslawski said...

"If I were actually fishing with that hook, I'd starve to death."

That's a great line, Cathy. And you're right. I had not considered the first line that pops up on people's sidebar.

As is usually the case, it's better to give than receive. You gave US a kick in the pants. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Titles are difficult. Sometimes I succeed and other times, more often, they just fall flat. I hadn't thought of the first line either-- but you're spot-on. I also consider the picture I use that might pop up in readers. Good points-- thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Why thank you, Sioux. Feel free to borrow that line whenever you like! :-)

And Julie, pics! Yes! I'm a sucker for an intriguing pic with a title. They're little things, but they can have a BIG impact.

Val said...

Fished in! Excellent! I love making up titles. It's the first lines I neglect. I'm a hem-hawer. Thanks for the pointer.

Mel Kinnel (@TizMellyMel) said...

I try to create catchy post titles with the hopes of snagging some readers who may have passed my blog by otherwise.

Great advice!

LuAnn Schindler said...

The first lines are easy. It's the title that gets me...and forces me to sit in front of my computer screen until something creative comes to mind.

My webmaster added All in One SEO Pack. Since she added it, I've been forced - I mean, able to - think about how a title and the first lines affect SEO rank, which is another part of reeling in readers.

thanks for the reminder, Cathy!

Angela Mackintosh said...

Great advice, Cathy! I think this is something most writers struggle with. We usually have to revise at least one or two titles per issue for the articles submitted to the WOW e-zine. And it's always from fantastic writers with creative ideas, but for some reason have trouble coming up with titles! I find coming up with titles a breeze, but maybe it's because most of the time I'm titling them for someone else. If I'm stuck, I'll think of a title I can tie a graphic design element to. If I read a title and a picture immediately pops into my head, I know it's a good one.

Margo Dill said...

I need a kick in the pants. :) Tal about boring titles. . .I use the titles of the books I'm talking about. Okay, changing today! Thanks, Cathy!

Anonymous said...

Coming up with good titles is a true art form! But I'm MUCH better with titles than I am with the first line--talk about your rewrites. Ugh.

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