Posted in Of Bloggingly

Of Blog Post Titles

Source: http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Blog-Image.jpg
Source: http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Blog-Image.jpg

I’ve whined often enough about having a dreadful name for a blog. This post, as the title suggests, is not going to be about that. I’m going meta here by discussing blog post titles, as the title says. But, isn’t every blog post title a suggestion of what’s to come? I guess it’s meta-meta on this one but, the point is, it is important to think about them. Whether you’re happy or unhappy with your blog name, you can redeem yourself if you come up with titles (and hopefully, content) that are compelling enough. What is even better, you get a chance to do so with every new post. Really, it ultimately doesn’t matter how bad your blog name is. Can you count the number of artists you know who have terrible names but, songs you love? A blog post title is a chance to not only renew expectations your readers may have had of your blog (and you), it also brings new readers in. Which is why, it is so important to get it right everytime.

My blog post titles are what inspired my blog name. As some of you may know, it is the dirty-cheap-politicized part of it, ‘Opinions,’ I hate. The ‘Of’ allows me continuity, inspiration. I don’t think many bloggers do this but, my titles inspire my posts most of the time, not the other way around. In fact, I find it much harder to come from a nebulous, many ideas-words-and-phrases sort of place to narrow it down to a thematic, titular word or phrase that would sum up everything it’s about, while leaving it mysterious. I’ve never worked as a copywriter but, I suppose it’s all the advertising that is around, all the time, that compels me to think of everything within a few words. I may be many-worded, emotionally and intellectually, when it comes to Amy Winehouse’s music and life but, it’s the culture I am in that makes me think of her in a few. It’s not like the two can’t co-exist but, it’s almost always that you begin with the latter to, maybe, proceed to the former. You have to be sufficiently intrigued by what something or someone is about, before taking the time to find out more.

Thus, blog post titles are like advertising. It is a promise but, also a tease. We humble bloggers think of it as telling what the post is about but, it has to be more than that. It shouldn’t only tell you what it’s going to be about, it should make you want to find out more. Of course, rules of advertising have changed in recent years. It would have been easier to draw people with clickbait titles in the past (even if it wasn’t a bait and there was something substantial on the other side) but, people have become much more programmed through habituation on what to avoid. While sensationalist titles still draw people in (for example, any number of news headlines), something simple but intriguing can do the trick better than you expect. For example, this Ted Talk titled The Person You Really Need To Marry, which itself was inspired by a viral article, may seem like something a dating/matrimonial website would promote but, the video does the opposite by promoting self-love and independence. It might seem like another boring how-to on finding the right guy (really, how many such articles are about finding the right girl?) but, it leads to something different and yet more meaningful than what you expected. Misleading perhaps but, also provocative and powerful.

I am fully reconciled to the fact that I’m unlikely to ever write a post that will go viral, or even draw in more readers than I am used to. My blog post titles have a lot to do with that. Usually, if I have the words “writing” or “blogging” in them, because they are about writing and blogging, I can expect to find both new and regular readers reading it. Everything else is more niche and because I abide by my preference for shorter titles prefaced with an ‘Of’ (c’mon, my most read post is called Of Of’s), it doesn’t have that viral quality to it. My two most recent posts that have also gone on to become my most successful, show different aspects of blog post titling. Of Getting Personal, understandably, must have attracted readers on the basis of it being a promisingly confessional title, even though that is exactly what the rest of the post dismissed. It is almost like the above mentioned Ted Talk, nullifying what it promises in the title. My poem Intimacy, on the other hand, was the other successful post that summarised what is to follow. It took me a long time to come up with that title and I had thought of simply using the first line of the poem as the name. But, the title added extra layers I hadn’t anticipated as I had written it. It became part of that text, that dialogue, which is what all good (or great) titles should do. Not just promise, tease or suggest but, imbibe and become one and whole, inseparable from what’s to come, and even adding to it.

How do you come up with blog post titles?

Author:

Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

7 thoughts on “Of Blog Post Titles

  1. I tend to use song titles and lyrics as titles for my blog posts, even when they only go together in my mind;) I’ve badly named a lot of posts. Only a handful are probably named appropriately for marketing.

    But I’m not a good marketer.

    “Of” is totally your shtick!

    1. Ha ha! Thanks! In my previous blogs which no one read, I would often title my posts with song titles or movie titles. I thought it was very clever but, it never brought people in. I do understand the need to slip in a song reference, even if it is only you who sees it. Now I prefer to use them as quotes at the beginning or in between. As I said, an ‘Of’ simplifies it more for me, than for my readers.
      Thanks for reading!

    1. I guess it doesn’t worry you that much then, or you’re a genius when coming up with titles! Either way, it must be great to have it come to you easily.

  2. It’s definitely important to get a good title; also a great first line to bring people in. Ideally a very short first paragraph, because that is what people will see in their reader as they skim down posts. Of course, the last line must have oomph too. I vary my titles, depending on the content. Haiku are too short to have a title, though occasionally I will reference an aspect of the content. I try to keep most titles short; either summing up the content, or evocative – which I do with photographic pieces. Then there are my rambling titles, which are a not so subtle nod to Raymond Carver! I posted twice today – after a long gap! I’m really happy with the first title, “They’re not my legs” – it ticks many boxes. The second post was a challenge – there will be two more linked posts coming. My vaguely witty original title didn’t work because of the tight space in my post format, which is very narrow. A title shouldn’t spread across two lines. Like your new streamlined theme, by the way!

    1. Thank you very much, Ally! A great title is a great title, doesn’t matter if it’s long or short. I’ve recently become a fan of the Pet Shop Boys, and I love how their albums have one-word names while a number of their song names stretch out into fully formed sentences, like ” I don’t know what you want but I can’t give it any more” Without listening to it, who would think a title like “What have I done to deserve this?”, which is not even sung but rapped, would make such a great, no.1 hit?
      Thanks for letting me know about the theme. I had initially changed it to a picture of a wooden wall painted a deep blue (wonder where the inspiration for that came from?) but then decided to go for the classic WordPress/Facebook reader-friendly colour palette of white and blue.

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