Something Counter-Intuitive That Resonates Deeply

In case you all missed the 4,000 times I posted the link yesterday, I can now add “Writer for The Good Men Project” to my resume.  Well, more like “Guy who had one of his pieces reprinted by The Good Men Project one time,” but it was still very exciting to me.  And you know, I think my little article did pretty well.  It has been up for less than a day at the moment, and already has over 150 shares from the site.  That is way more than any of my posts from here!  But still, as I obsessively checked the stats all day long casually reviewed the page from time to time throughout the day, I noticed that my link never made it to the top of the popular list.  It was like middle school all over again.  But what did the cool posts have that I didn’t?

Ah ha!  I figured it out!  My title was not optimized for maximum clickage.  Sure, it was a good title, but it wasn’t great!  Because as I looked at the trending articles consistently at the top of the list, I noticed something they all had in common.  Each title was, at first glance, a culturally counter-intuitive statement, but one that actually resonated on a deeper level with a piece of our dark human souls.  And if this isn’t the reason why we have the internet, then I don’t know what is!

Take this post by a fellow dad blogger Tom Burns from Building a Library.  He knows what he is doing.  His piece is called “Hell Yeah, Christmas Is About Toys and That’s Not a Bad Thing.”  So he takes on the whole “Keep Christ in Christmas” crew, tosses out Peace on Earth, etc. etc., and instead gives us the opposite, culturally “wrong” point of view.  And yet, it is so culturally right!  As much as we say we want Christmas to be about something else, how much of it is actually spent in the toy store?  As a kid, we lit the advent wreath every week, at church and at home, and we read the Christmas story throughout the month, but man did I love the toys on the morning of the 25th.  And as a parent, part of the love and joy of the season for me is to give my children that same experience.  So this is the perfect headline for an article.

The top post of the day yesterday, and today as well so far, has the double whammy of a perfect title coupled with a featured image of a woman (not the author) making a sexy face.  The post is called “If My Boyfriend Cheats, Please Don’t Tell Me,” which again is so true and so false at the same time.  If you are being cheated on, of course, you want to know!  Right?!  Knowledge is power!  And it will hurt now, but the longer you wait to find out, the more it will hurt later and the more of your life you will have wasted on that piece of garbage.  On the other hand, we don’t want to know, do we?  Not really.  What a great, clickable headline.

So clearly I need to work on what I am calling my posts.  As I go about the business of creating “Tenor Dad,” in my mind I am writing some sort of novel with thousands of chapters, all of which are very clever and enticing to someone who has been reading since the beginning.  But of course I am not really doing that.  If I want more people to read what I am writing, I need to catch their attention.  Maybe I should have called my post “It’s Okay That You Don’t Like Your Kids Sometimes.”  That seems so vulgar and on-the-nose to me, and I really liked “The Insincerity of Modern Parenting,” but maybe I cost myself some clicks.  So I will brainstorm some good post titles:

“Everyone Sucks Except For Me”

“Eating a Can of Frosting is Good For You, Says Local Blogger”

“I Let My Kid Hit Your Kid, And You Should Thank Me”

“Why It’s Okay To Tell Off That One Annoying Co-Worker”

“Peeing In the Sink Is Not Only More Convenient, It Makes Your Kitchen Smell Better”

What do you think?  Do I have any viral hits with these topics?  Are my titles okay the way they are?  Have you ever thought, “Wow, I would love to share this Tenor Dad post with my virtual friends, but the title is just too lame for anyone to click on.”?  Also, I know that punctuation comes before the end quotation marks, but what about when you would have two marks, like in the previous sentence?  I put the period in, and the question mark out.  Is that right?  Is that okay?  *sigh*  I have a lot to learn about blogging.  I will just put a sexy picture up at the top of this post and see if that works.

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Posted in Blogging, Grammar, Internet, Tenor Dad, Writing.

2 Comments

  1. I think you are right in that headlines are hugely important. Also, the alternate headline you had for your article probably would draw more clicks.
    However, even if the headline is clever and enticing, people will not go much past clicking if you don’t deliver on the content. So, it’s a package. However, it will only be opened with a good headline.

    • I totally agree. The worst are the bait-and-switch headlines. I don’t mind the clickbait so much if I get what I am looking for. It’s when I click on something and the content is BS that I get upset.

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