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Blogs & Blogging Titles, A Quick Guide

Blog titles are important. If a user visit your blog directly, the blog titles should be the first elements they notice. If they read your blog, it is typically the first element they read (or you've designed your site badly). In RSS feeds or in trackbacks from other websites, blog titles are especially important. I read a guide on how to make great titles this morning, a series on five blogs filled with lists and how to ___ and secrets and methods and marketing strategies and a bunch of crap, and suddenly all the titles I think up sound like they would fit better on CNN or some commercial blog out in the Internetal ether. I don't want to write titles that follow the common flow, I'm not here to provide titles that sell, and I know that so far this blog post doesn't have the overall informational design that my regular normal blog posts do. I suppose I've been unavoidably infected by the commercial line of thought. My titles are usually bold, creative, often grabbing of attention. Sometimes dull and realistic, a reflection over the common day, sometimes positive, a recognition of current balance and way, sometimes overly enthusiastic, sometimes they confuse you until you've read the blog and noticed the point.

I don't spend much time on my titles, but I'm happy knowing that I need no swipe files to make good titles, that I'm not here to sell products, to lure in readers with headers that promise value of informational output than I can bestow upon them. I'm just here to write when I feel like writing, thoughts without smiting, and I'm fully confident I'm better at writing titles than the one who wrote the tutorial I just read, whomever that was. Be confident, not overconfident? Where does the border go? I don't think I've crossed it, let me tell you how, IMHO, good titles are composed, with more logical psychological reasoning out all that marketing mumbojumbo. Everyone loves lists in blogs, that's a fact, so here's a list of the top six attraction tips to good blogging titles, not in order. And after that, a list of six hints at good content to follow with the title.

A good title is one that...

  1. Summarizes
    A good title should be able to summarize the content of your entire post in one line. How does this blog title do? OK? If you write a blog on a specific subject, this isn't hard at all. If you write about multiple things in your blog, summing it up within your title is harder, at times impossible (unless you use generally collective terms such as "Blog with a Bunch of Stuff").
  2. Shortens
    Just because it's a summary doesn't mean it has to be long. Don't make your titles too long, a good rule of thumb is to keep them at a maximum of 15 words, anything longer becomes readably abundant. Also, it can cut an otherwise smooth layout.
  3. Intrigues
    A good titles doesn't explain. You don't write: 'Type about:robots in your address bar to find a FireFox Easter Egg', you write something like 'FireFox easteregg' or using verbal marketing strategies 'Secret FireFox Easter Egg, How to Find it'. A good title should make you want to read more.
  4. Changes
    Don't use the same post titles for everything. If you post daily, and start using titles like "This Friday" or "Thursday Events" or gathering specific content in collective titles such as "Bit more on computer usage" you will bore your visitor to death. Stay creative, and vary the titles as often as you can.
  5. Shocks or Surprises
    Anything new, abstract or controversial is good in a title. Things that surprise or shock the user will most likely gain attention. This is easier when blogging on specific subjects, and especially useful if working on a general news blog.
  6. Personalizes or Categorizes
    A title on your blog should be relevant to your blog. If the blog is about you, so should your titles. If the blog is about computers, so should your titles. Don't be general, be personal or be categorized. Stick to the subject.

A good blog is one that...

  1. A reader can relate to
    You shouldn't care about who can relate to what you are trying to convey when writing a blog, you should just write what you have in mind, that's what blogs where originally intended for, little miniature diaries. It is however no secret that content you can relate to is of more interest to you. It's the same way for everyone. If someone writes about how they found God outside their front door, or about how they hate mowing their lawn, you won't give a crap unless you're religious/interested in religion or hate mowing your lawn too.
  2. Is understandable
    Speaking in hacker terms to a common computer user isn't a good approach. If you're audience does consist of hackers, that's how you speak, if not, it's not. Speaking in a foreign language on a blog that traditionally only contains one language, or trying to reach out to Internet users while writing in Latin, would generally not be a good idea. If a reader can't understand what you're saying, they won't bother staying to read more.
  3. A reader can profit from
    It's not all about money, it's about knowledge too. Anything that is of value to the user, the user will be interested in. A user will not be interesting in hearing you speak about you all day, unless they gain something from it. Whether it be news, advice, wisdom or inspiration - as long as it is profitable for them in some way, it may be of interest to them.
  4. Can be read through in twenty minutes
    Generally, blog posts that span past an average users twenty minutes time of reading, is just too long. Most users will skip the blog completely. If you have something you wish to write a lot about, try splitting the content into multiple blogs or creating an essay or article instead.
  5. Is grammatically correct
    You have no idea how much good grammatical use can affect the general impression of your blog. Try to filter out any eventual typos before you post, and learn how to write properly before you start writing publicly. If you are not fluent in the language you write in, practice. Obviously people of different culture or origin will react differently to ill grammatical use depending on their knowledge on the current language, but in general it is, just like it is with all other writing, an important aspect of good blogging.
  6. Contains new information
    Posting about the same thing over and over again won't get you anywhere. It might be something that sticks to your brain eventually... if your readers stay that long, that is. If a new game is out, and you read about it on a blog that fetched it from another blog, don't post about it unless you have something new to contribute. Such as: your opinion, your experience with the game or previously unreleased media of the game.

Use this guide for purpose of perfection, of course a blog can still be good without following the guidelines here, but not this good. ;)

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