In a previous post, I have written about the winning formula for composing blog post titles that get clicked. In that post, I discussed why such titles perform well. One day after publishing that post, I realized that I didn’t include an exercise in that post. So, here it is.
The winning formula for composing blog post titles is to provide a single solution to a complex problem.
I’m not going into the theory, because I have already discussed it in the first post. This post will be about the practice. Here’s a writing/creativity exercise to come up with such titles / blog post topics.
Step #1. Come up with ten challenges
You might be facing these challenges now. You might have faced them in the past. Or you might see other people facing these challenges.
Step #2. For each challenge come up with ten solution ideas
These solutions can be the solutions that you might have tried in the past and that might have worked for you. You might have read them somewhere, but haven’t tried them yet. Or you might just come up with them at that moment.
In either case, be transparent about your solution. If this solution is based on your decade long professional experience, don’t shy away from mentioning that. If this solution is just an idea that you plan to test, tell your audience that you haven’t tried it yet and how you’re going to test it.
If the solution is something that you have read somewhere, give the credits to the resource. All of these extra steps will increase your credibility with your audience.
Step #3. Find the dominating solution
Now take a look at those ideas and ask yourself the following questions.
- Does any one of them stand out?
- Does any one of them cover most of the rest?
- Can you come up with an idea that covers the most of them?
Our goal with this exercise is to come up with a single solution to a complex problem to satisfy the formula.
Comparison of Two Well-Performing Blog Post Titles
In the past, I have written several posts about blogging. For the sake of this post, let’s analyze two examples: 8 Blogging Lessons I Learned from My Medium Stats and The Only Tip You Need to Grow Your Audience as a Blogger.
Both blog posts performed well in comparison to the rest of my blog posts. However, “the only tip” post performed significantly better than the “8 blogging lessons” post. I’m not going into the details of why in this post, because I have already discussed this in the winning formula post.
In this post, I’m going to show you how to select the solution that “dominates” the rest. Here are the 8 lessons that I learned from my Medium stats:
- Get Published in a Medium Publication with a Big Following
- Publish Every Day, At Least on Working Days
- The Title is the 90% of a Post
- Offer Silver Bullet Solutions
- Offer Counterintuitive and Original Content
- Lists of X Lessons, Secrets, Principles
- Use Strong Language
- Combine These Lessons
When I look at these lessons, one of them stand out and cover almost all of them. It is the first one, getting published in a major Medium publication. In order to get published in a major Medium publication, you need to apply these lessons and many more. That is what “the only tip” post is all about.
Converting Multiple Solutions into a Single Solution
Here’s another example. Four Secrets of Leadership is one of my top ten posts among the 140+ I have published since November 2017. That’s understandable, because leadership is a complex problem. If I had to write that post now, I’d use a different title and a different structure.
Here are the four secrets:
- People do as you do, not what you tell them to do.
- People will follow your lead, if they know you have their best interests at heart.
- People will follow the person who takes the most risk, who has the greatest responsibility.
- People will follow the person who adds the most value.
When I look at the list, the last secret stands out to me: the person that adds the most value. The other secrets could be different ways of adding value.
Coming Up with the Winning Title
Let’s come up with a few titles.
- The Secret of Leadership
- This Is What Separates the Leaders from the Rest
- This Is What Separates the Leaders from the Followers
Actually, I have stopped after the third title, because I’m satisfied with it. Maybe, I should create more and I could come up with better ones. In either case, the third title demonstrates my point here.
There is a complex problem: leadership. And there is a single solution implied with the word “this.” Then I would elaborate on my solution.
“The leader is the team member that adds the most value to the team. They add the most value by taking the most risk, by taking the greatest responsibility, and by having the best interests of their team members at heart. By doing that, they set an outstanding example to their team members. They show, don’t tell.”
When you’re coming up with titles, avoid the “how to” titles. It’s the easiest way to come up with a title: “how to become a great leader.” As a result, they are overused and not effective anymore, except a few specific cases. Even the titles with multiple tips and tricks perform better than the “how to” titles.
A simple solution to a complex problem is a winning blog post title. You might think that it would be a challenge to come up with such a title. It doesn’t have to be, if you are willing to do the work.
Just do the exercise above every time you have to write a blog post and you’ll have more than enough winning titles to write posts about.
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.