In Carrie’s previous post, What Finally Worked For Me With Twitter, she talks about two great WordPress plugins for keeping your old blog posts alive on Twitter: Tweetily and Revive Old Post. Here at Indie Plot Twist and at our personal blogs, these plugins account for a lot of the traffic we receive every day.
The catch is, both of these plugins basically just post your blog post title. (Unless you upgrade.) So if you’re gonna use them … you’d better have a really good blog post title. Even if tweeting your blog posts isn’t your chief concern, your title should be. It’s the first part of the post you readers encounter, and will either draw them in or turn them away.
Two Kinds of Blog Posts, Two Kinds of Titles
- If you write anecdotes from your personal life or post scenes from your work-in-progress, those are stories.
- If you tell your readers how to overcome their fear of speaking in public or share ideas with fellow writers on how to create believable characters, that’s information.
The approach you take on your blog post titles can vary, depending which type of post you’re writing.
Blog Post Titles for Stories
Titles for story posts are by far the harder. One good technique is to ask yourself, “What’s really unique about this story? What’s so unusual or intriguing that a reader would just have to know more?”
However you title your post, you want it to leave your reader asking a question that begs to be answered.
For instance, I recently posted on my personal blog about my dog’s birthday party. A puppy party in itself is fairly unusual. (Although my personal friends have come to expect this annual canine gala.) You could go with something as simple as, “A Birthday Party for a Dog.” Not bad at all. It emphasizes something unique. But you want to inspire your reader to ask a question.
After a few tries, I decided on, “A Birthday Gone to the Dogs.” This title can drum up all kinds of questions: “How did it go to the dogs? Did something go wrong? Are we literally talking about dogs?”
Here’s an example from a post that’s been around a while longer (over 4 months) and is sitting at 133 views as I write this: It’s an excerpt from my book Journaling to Become a Better Writer, and contains a “conversation” I had with one of my story characters. I ended up titling the post, “A Walk Through the Hills with One of My Characters.” I’m thinking this one did so well because it begs the questions, “How do you go for a walk with someone who doesn’t exist? What do you talk about? Or are you just crazy?”
(P.S., every reader knows that writers are crazy, and they enjoy getting a peek inside our crazy minds. That may be another reason this post did so well.)
My next most popular post, at only three months old and 120 views, is titled “My First Book Was a Guide to Writing Books.” I don’t think I need to outline the question in that one!
Blog Post Titles for Information
When titling informative blog posts (such as the ones you find here at Indie Plot Twist), you can use the exact same method above – creating an un-asked question. For instance, One of Carrie’s top posts: “What is a Single Sentence Summary?” If you’re an author, your curiosity is no doubt piqued. It’s hard enough to write your back cover copy. Is it even possible to summarize an entire novel in a single sentence?! (Yes, and Carrie’s running a course on it this month.)
But in addition to piquing your reader’s interest with an unasked question, you can also use this method:
Identify a problem the reader is facing.
This technique depends on you knowing your audience and what they want. Our audience here is authors, specifically indie authors.
The problem addressed by the post you’re reading right now is how to write a title that’s so compelling on its own – with no summaries, no pictures, no nuthin’ to assist it – that people will want to click through and read it, anyway.
Some examples of titles that identify a problem:
Our top post here at Indie Plot Twist is six months old and sitting at 487 views, as I write this. The title? “Self Publishing or Traditional Publishing?” The implied problem in this title is the difficult decision all authors are facing today: “Do I self-publish or do I traditionally publish? What are the pros and cons?”
Another of our top posts (four months old and 169 views) is titled, “Should I Enroll My Book in KDP Select?” This is a hot topic because of the problem many indie authors are facing: Do they give up the right to publish everywhere in order to take advantage of the perks of the biggest ebookstore in the world?
In this article, I’ve broadly divided blog posts between stories and information. But obviously, many stories pass along information in disguise, and many informative posts contain a story. But in summary, to create a blog post title that’s compelling, just as is stands, imply a question that begs to be answered, or identify a problem the reader is most likely facing. Give it a try!