Millions of people are busy writing blogs and millions more are happily reading them. However, as the number of blogs grows exponentially, the numbers of readers is only rising relatively slowly. This means that you are faced with a potentially diminishing readership.
However, there are several key ways you can gain readers and make sure you retain them. The most important feature, though, is the way you attract them to read on. Take a look at the headline for this post – “a sexy feel” – did that get you at least partially hooked? And did you think I was playing the old, bad, marketing “trick” of “sex – now I have your attention….etc”? Well, only partially. You see in the world of journalism making a story “sexy” is actually jargon for making it more appealing to the readers. In order to attract people to read your story you need a “sexy” headline – something that stimulates and interests the audience.
In the world of blogging few headlines ever pass the “sexy” test. Here’s a couple of headlines I picked out from blog entries that appeared on Digg – “Guinness Coaster” or “OpenOffice Org 2.3.0 released”. These are hardly phrases that make you want to read on. But what about “11 USB toys your boss is sure to hate” or “A bra that lifts, separates and detects tumors” – now these headlines do make it more likely that someone will read on.
Getting the heading right is essential in gaining readers. The Sun newspaper, for instance, invests considerable time, money and effort in getting it’s headlines right. For example, I recall a story from a few years ago that was in The Guardian and The Sun. The Guardian had the headline “Alcohol can affect your sex life”, whereas the Sun’s version of the story read “Drink’ll Shrink’ll Your Winkle”. Creative and enticing to read.
Last week I was with a client and we were analysing the headlines of the emails being sent within their business. Almost none of the subject headings were enticing or made anyone want to read on. This lowers efficient and training people to write effective subject headings in emails has been shown to increase productivity by 20%.
So, spend time on your headings; these are the main tool you have to attract people to read and you should not skimp on them. If you want to analyse your headlines visit the Headline Analyzer.