Monday, February 06, 2006

How to write sizzling post titles

Writing post titles that sizzle is the way to get them to your blogsteak.

Readers are in a hurry.

They have *no* time for guessing games, mind puzzlers, or boring reads.

Readers are hungry and hunting. How do you get their attention?

It's the ancient advertising wisdom, straight from Madison Avenue, where I have worked, at Grey Advertising:

"Sell the sizzle, not the steak."

You just finished 8 hours of back-breaking work. You take a quick shower, spruce up a bit. You exit your brownstone, and within the space of a few minutes, are strolling hungrily past various bistros, grills, and steakhouses.

What is it that intoxicates and drives you inside to take a seat and place a famished order?

The menu? No.

The decor? No.

The music? No.

The recipes? No.

The wait staff? No.

All those things may be very important, differentiating, value-added aspects of restaurant selection.

But what really hooks you, deep down in your primitive gut, is the aroma, the sizzle, the excitement of doors swinging and chefs barking commands. The total eating environment works in unison with your pre-condition of starving for something solid and delicious to devour.

Show a starving man photos of uncooked steak. No saliva forthcoming.

Assault a starving man with the sounds and smells of charbroiling, he's drooling all over himself.

Do that with your post titles.

Now here's how to put some sizzle and aroma in your post titles. Once you know a few tips, it's really easy.

E-BASE is all you need to remember.

Euphoria.

(which is caused by)

Benefit.
Astonish.
Specify.
Excite.

Euphoria: promise to make them feel good about themselves (for being smarter or laughing at funny article)...or feel joyfully inspired to try harder and longer than anybody else.

Benefit: Why are you even writing this post? You should say: "To inspire, educate, or entertain my readers." Well, how does your post title convey this? Make that post title work overtime seducing, drawing, enticing, tempting your readers to Click and Read.

Astonish: Dramatize truthfully, but aggressively, your otherwise boring message. Everything is dull, until someone figures out a way to express it more theatrically. NOT hype, but savvy. NOT sales, but insight. State your idea or opinion in a brazen, clever, memorable manner. Try it on your spouse or best friend. See if they yawn or look confused.

Specify: be exact, use precision, be blunt, not vague or teasing. Say "4 guaranteed ways to keep comment spam off your blog" rather than "Some suggestions for keeping a clean blog". Or "how to read RSS on your iPod" instead of "great new way to use an iPod".

Excite: Use shock effect where necessary. NOT nut-job exaggeration, NOT rash angry outbursts, but genuine, justified anger, fear, heart-brokeness. "Why the UN wants to control your blog" instead of "UN seeks power over blogosphere". By saying "control YOUR blog", you excite the reader, make them wonder "why MY blog?"

"Leading Edge Lessons from the Top 5 CEO blogs" is more exciting than "23 Biggest mistakes CEO blogs make" which is more compelling than "12 Tips for CEO blogs" which is way better than "Composing a highly professional and effective CEO blog".

Put the reader into the title, with "you" and "your" whenever possible. "Be a hyper-speed surfer, with Avant browser" is more exciting than "new browser looks promising".

[signed] steven edward streight aka vaspers the grate



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