Did you ever come across a blog post with a catchy headline but the actual content says nothing? Sure, there are a bunch of words there, but they never seem to back up the title. It’s kind of a pet peeve of mine. I’m a sucker for a good headline, so you can imagine my disappointment when I’m sucked in via blog’s title and end up receiving little or no return on my investment of time.
It’s easy to ramble on when blogging. However, if you’re going to write a title that promises something, you need to be sure you’re going to deliver. If you’re writing a how to, give a how to. If you’re going to discuss whether or not something works, explore what you promised. It’s kind of annoying to expect to learn something and instead walk away wishing you had those five minutes back.
Here are a few tips for writing blog posts that say something.
Write Your Headline Last
I know, I know….you’re supposed to think up a really catchy headline in order to bring in traffic, but what happens if you write a great headline and the rest of your post sucks?
Most of my ideas for blog posts come to me headline first. I title pops into my mind and I log it for later use before I can forget. When it’s time for me to blog, I choose from about 800 titles that are in my WordPress drafts. The problem with this is that I end up writing around the headline and often times the carpet doesn’t match the curtains. Now those headlines are merely ideas.
Here’s one of my best blog post writing tips: If you have an idea for a blog post, write the blog post first. Get an outline going and then write it out. When you’re done you can think of an appropriate headline. When you write with a headline in mind you might miss the mark. Write with an idea in mind instead. Play off the idea rather than the title and you’ll find it works out a lot better.
- Outline your blog post to make sure your ideas flow.
- If the purpose of your blog post is to teach, ask yourself if people actually learned something from your post.
- If the purpose of your blog post is to answer a question, make sure that question is being answered.
- Don’t write topics you have no business writing. If you know nothing about your subject matter, it will show.
- Don’t be afraid to let your passion show through. If you have a true passion for a subject your readers are sure to walk away with a good experience.
- Always, always deliver what you promise.
Put yourself in the reader’s place
In case you haven’t realized it yet, you’re a very small part of your blog and you’re not writing for you. Blog with your community in mind. Don’t assume they know about a topic because you do as not everyone has the same level of expertise. Write as if it’s the readers first time to learn about a topic. That’s not to say every single blog post needs to be on a beginner level, but it does mean that not everyone knows what your talking about. Don’t be afraid to add definitions and background or give a brief overview. If you don’t have time to give a brief primer, liberally link to definitions and explanations so your readers aren’t lost. Before hitting “publish” read your post as a reader, not as the author…you’ll see it makes a big difference.
I have to be honest. The inspiration for this post hit a few days ago after reading a title that asked a questions, but said nothing in the post. I was disappointed. It was clear the blogger was just getting his 300 words in. When was the last time you read something that said nothing? How do you make sure your readers are satisfied?
Kathleen O'Connor says
I love this post. I think sometimes, we get so worried about writing a catchy headline that we forget to write a post that delivers on the promise in the headline! Writing a catchy headline is essential if you want to get people to click on your links, but you have to be sure that the content has substance, too. Otherwise, you’re just deceiving your readers.
.-= Kathleen O’Connor´s last blog ..2 Guests Posts in 1 Day! =-.
I’m so used to writing microposts with headlines first
that I forget to use your first rule when I write long ones! 🙂
Ryan Sales says
Great post. I just started my blog at the beginning of March. Has been great fun. As I’ve gone along, I’ve started thinking along the lines of your post. I have done well with reading before publishing, but I’ve struggled with the debate of defining more, or as you say writing as if the reader is a beginner. I admit I hesitate sometimes because of length. Figuring they’ll lose interest. However, reading your post reminds me of the value of explanation, because that is one way to build a readers trust and keep them coming back. Great suggestion also on working out an idea before titling it.
.-= Ryan Sales´s last blog ..Sigi vs Sigi =-.
Great advice. I sometimes start writing a post with a headline in mind but start going in a different only to stop myself because the new material doesn’t match my chosen headline. I think writing the post first and adding the headline sounds like a way to fix that from happening.
.-= Mokibobolink´s last blog ..How Writing Fanfiction Prepared me to be a Freelance Writer =-.
Eight Women Dream says
Although, the National Enquirer became famous from their headlines which often (and still do) have articles that are different than what the headline implies. And the National Enquirer pays it’s writers the most money in the industry – more than USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and others.
Why? Because good copy sells. It sucks readers in like a 50 percent off shoe sale at Nordstroms. And we’ve all stood in line somewhere and tried to resist those headlines of the National Enquirer.
I think it’s smart when a blog does the same.
.-= Eight Women Dream´s last blog ..tree%20bed =-.
Tammi Kibler says
This may be my biggest pet peeve. I have unsubscribed from two blogs this month for this fail. “Post didn’t deliver on headline promise.”
I struggle with headlines for my completed blog posts, but I agree that I am better off writing the headline based on the final post.
.-= Tammi Kibler´s last blog ..Free Mind Mapping Software Online =-.
Master Dayton says
I whole heartedly agree with this sentiment. Few things are more aggravating to me than a really good looking or intriguing title only to find the same 10 times over rehashed information from an Ezinearticle somewhere. Keep up the good work, and I enjoy your writing blog.
.-= Master Dayton´s last blog ..Residual Income Freelance Writing: Made A New AdSense Mark! =-.
Deb thanks for this post. When I was in the newspaper business we always wrote the headline last, or had a headline writer for that matter. Yet I have found myself “stuck” lately and have been writing headlines and attempting a post to match versus the idea.
Bill Ray says
This is absolutely correct; Good headlines without related and/or relevant content seems to me like a movie with too much CGI and no plot.
Like Deb writes, “Always deliver what you promise.” I’m still relatively new to blogging(and writing in general, as a matter of fact), but even I know misleading readers with headlines is the fastest way to guarantee people losing patience with your writing.