I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among bloggers which seems to have spread from traditional media (i.e. newspapers). It’s the attempt to garner readers by using carefully-crafted titles (formerly headlines). Readership isn’t a bad thing; My ego and I like it when people read my blog. Crafting titles carefully isn’t bad either.
The problem arises when hyperbole and dishonesty win out over the truth when post titles are written. It’s a disease in traditional media, it’s infected online news outlets, and bloggers are succumbing as well.
Look at the title of this post. Did you come here because you often read my blog? Because you’re looking for some tips for better writing? Because I used a number, 7 (I’ve heard this is weirdly effective)? Or, to my horror, because I said these are “must-have” elements?
Well, I lied. I don’t have 7 must-have elements for your blog post title. I do have 4 suggestions for you to consider when writing a title, and I think they’re important to me as a reader of blogs, but I won’t say they’re “must-have”. Nor is nearly anything else you read about on the Interwebs. Unless those “must-have” items include food, water, heat, or WiFi.
Be honest about your post’s topic
Don’t try to trick me into reading your post. I won’t be happy with you if you do that. I might not come back. It particularly bothers me when people use current events to draw readership for tenuously-connected topics.
Don’t be overly cryptic
Titles like “You won’t believe what Jenny told Doug about educational technology today!” might tap curiosity, but you haven’t said much about the actual contents of the post. If it’s about ed tech and assessment, you should say so. The sample title here will be hard to find or interpret later.
Saying “must-have”, “essential”, “wicked”, “original”, or “frosted” doesn’t make your content these things. If you apply a descriptor like this, you’d better deliver.
If you’re an educator you’re not blogging to sell a product; you’re blogging to share your thinking and spark conversation. Make sure your title is about your post, not about getting hits.