How to Write Great Headlines

Have you ever wondered How to Write Great Headlines which catch people's attention?  More importantly than catching people's attention is making sure you get clicks, right?  I am going to share with some of the “secrets” that professional bloggers, journalists, and copywriters use to not only make sure that you want to read their articles but make you need to read them.

how to write great headlines

Be Appealing to your Audience

This is pretty obvious but if you want to create killer headlines for articles you write you need to make sure that they appeal to your audience.  What is a good example of this?  How about this title I came up with for a CarNewsCafe article I wrote;

Russian Chick crashes a Nissan GT-R, which makes us Cry!

The title is not only funny but appeals to our audience of car readers which is composed of mainly guys.  (Yes, I know women read about cars too just not nearly as much.)  They not only like the beginning of the title, “Russian Chick” but the fact that a Nissan GT-R crashing would make a couple of auto writers cry is just plain ridiculous.  Of course the craziness and appeal of the title is what drew clicks to this post.  To be honest that is not the greatest article I have ever written but the title is great.

Keep Titles Short

This is not always possible but it's best to keep titles short and as much to the point as you can.  The above title example I used included everything that it needed and something funny which caught readers attention.

Titles that are too long are bad for many reasons.  It can confuse a casual reader who is scanning lots of different articles and makes the likelihood that part of the word will get cutoff if it's shared on Twitter or another social network.  (Even if you don't use or like Twitter, a lot of people do.)  Short titles make it easier to digest and make your articles more shareable.

Use Keywords

This is obvious and something a lot of seasoned writers know how to do for creating killer headlines, but something a lot of beginners don't know about or are not aware of.  Using keywords, terms that people search for in Google and other search engines, greatly increases the chances people will find your articles.  For instance let's take this article as an example;

Swedish Biker Babe breaks Motorcycle Speed Record at Bonneville

This article is about Eva Hakansson from Killacycle who broke an electric motorcycle landspeed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  Since I know a lot of other people were going to be using “Killacycle” and “Eva Hakansson” in their titles I decided to go for different terms.  It never hurts to be different, ya know!

I knew people probably type in “Biker Babe” and even “Swedish Biker Babe” if they want to be really specific.  In addition “Motorcycle Speed Record” is another good keyword phrase I put in the title.  While this article didn't kill it in the search engines it does ok.

Sometimes it's actually better to focus on making a headline keyword friendly than it is to make it appealing.  Sad but true.  Why do you think I titled this article “How to Write Great Headlines?

What most people are probably wondering is, how do you find keywords?  The tool you should use is the Google Keyword Planner.  You will need a Google Adwords account to use it but that should not be a big deal since it's free to sign-up.  You won't need to pay Google anything to use it, just login into a Google account.

Make it Informative

If you want to create killer headlines you not only need to make sure the title is appealing, short, and uses keywords but is informative too.  “Russian Chick crashes a Nissan GT-R, which makes us Cry!” is not only fun but is informative and tells you what you need to know.

A lot of websites, even major publications, like to skew headlines to garner clicks.  While you could argue some of my headlines are a ‘stretch' I never try to mislead readers about what the article is about.  You want to build trust and keeping your titles informative and on topic will do that.

Final Thoughts on How to Write Great Headlines

Writing killer headlines that catch someone's attention is never easy.  I think you should realize that it takes a lot of writers a long time to master this skill.  Honestly I am still learning more about it everyday and sometimes you can never predict when readers will like or dislike a headline.  It can sound great in your head and to your, but that might be the only person it works for.

If you find my guide on How to Write Great Killer Headlines useful, please let me know.  If you have a suggestion I'd love to hear it.

Fiverr Graphics are not Always Good

Fiver is quite a popular place to get graphics done nowadays.  Getting Fiverr Graphics I have found recently though isn't always a good idea.

 fiverr graphics

Awhile ago I had some graphic design work which I needed.  Like most smart and savy web people nowadays I decided to get graphics through Fiverr.  Hey, why not?  You can't beat getting graphic work done for $5 bucks right?

I initially got this design for $5 and was happy with it I decided to have another Fiverr artist do additional work on it.  In total I spent a nominal amount on the designs and was happy with how everything came out in the end.  I thought, “Where else could I get original graphic work like this for such a reasonable cost?”  Well I learned the hard you can't.

Just the other day someone sent me an email with a company they wanted me to checkout.  Looking at the website I was a bit surprised.  I realized that the original artist had blatantly copied the graphics from this company's website.  The only thing the “artist” changed was some of the coloring but everything else was the same.  Original Fiverr grahpics work wasn't so original after all.

I thought I could salvage this design but realized it was just a better plan to junk these Fiverr graphics.  I don't want anyone to think I copied this company's graphics on purpose.

While the money is not an issue the time I spent explaining what I wanted done was.  If I had known the artist was not going to provide original work I would have probably just looked elsewhere.

I can sort of understand the predicament of artists who sell work through Fiverr though.  The seller only gets $4 and Fiverr gets $1 for each gig.  I mean can you really provide original work for $4?  Still I feel a bit violated about the whole situation with copying the work and not saying anything.

In the past I have gotten a great custom designed vertical business cards for $10 bucks from Fiverr.  I thought the cards came out pretty well and I could not have done a better job myself.

Next time for a critical project I will probably just pay a real graphic designer though.  I found a reasonable designer that does logos and a banners for $150 and really like the work she does.  In mind that is totally worth if I don't need to spend time thinking about the headaches and issues that come Fiverr graphics.  Also I know I am getting something that is original.

What are your opinions about this?  Do you think getting graphics through Fiverr is a good or bad thing?  When should you and shouldn't you get work done through Fiverr?

Top 6 Misconceptions about Blogging

I read a lot of different articles about blogging all around the internet and it always surprises me that the same misconceptions about blogging are getting passed around.  While I think some information you read about blogging out there might kind of be accurate, it is not telling you the whole truth about the difficulties and realities of what it takes to be a successful online nowadays.  So, I am going to break the myths and misconceptions.

misconceptions about blogging

1. You can make a lot of money Blogging

While there are definitely a lot of bloggers who make a full time living from their blogs or writing, the vast majority don't.  You need to understand that the act of writing doesn't make any money.  To monetize your blog and visitor traffic you will have to display ads, use affiliate links, or possible encourage people to pay for a monthly subscription to your blog.  (This is possible to do but your content better be really good and niche specific.)  If your writing is top notch you might even be able to snag a book deal, but those sorts of deals are not likely to happen to an average blogger unless you are putting in a lot of time and effort.

2. Lots of Traffic is Always a Good Thing

Even if you have a lot of traffic it may not always be the best thing.  If your users are not clicking on ads or converting sales via your affiliate links than all that traffic is likely to be costing your money.  I know a lot of webmasters and bloggers that have high traffic sites but are spending more money keeping up a VPS (virtual private server) or dedicated server than what they are making blogging.  If you ever get to this point your blog should probably serve as sales funnels for some product or service you want to sell, such as your book or web consulting services.

3. Content is King

Having great content that people like is important if you want repeat visitors, but that doesn't mean content is everything.  I see lots of terrible writing and content still ranking well on Google while great content is not getting ranked and has ZERO traffic.  It is honestly your ability to have good SEO (search engine optimization) and how you distribute your articles and content around the web that make the difference.  Google honestly can't tell between bad and good writing.  Keep in mind it is a computer (an extremely advanced one) that does the ranking and not a human.

4. Social Media is more Important than SEO

I imagine a dumbass “social media guru” started this one.  While social media should be part of your blogging strategy, it is important to use strong keywords and write your articles and posts so they that search engine can find your content easily.  SEO is cyclical with social media actually.  If Google sees a lot of people are Tweeting your articles, it is likely you will retain higher ranks for certain keywords and therefore get more visitors via search.  You will make it easier though if you use keywords people are searching for in the first place and serving up what people want to see.

5. Blogging in a Specific Niche will make you Successful

This really depends on the niche.  For instance I love writing about cars and I like Japanese automakers.  I can start a blog about cars that focus only on Japanese automakers, their models, and news.  This way I have a niche that is specific but open enough I can find new content for the blog on a daily basis.  I see a lot of people choose niches that are too specific and they don't have enough to write about to keep the blog updated.  You need to ask yourself, “Can I blog about this topic and find lots of subjects to write about?”  If the answers is, “No.” you should consider looking at another niche unless your goal is to build mini-websites.  If you really want to be successful niche blogging you should find an area that is what I like to call “Wide Fucking Open” (WFO).

6. Everyone Should Start a Blog

No, not everyone should start a blog.  It really depends on your skills and what you want to accomplish.  Not everyone is a good writer and I don't think everyone can blog.  Do you prefer listening to the radio?  Are you more a visual person?  Maybe a weekly podcast and video show in your area of interest would be better than starting a blog.  Have you considered starting a forum?  Sometimes forums can work better since you are not solely responsible for coming up with interesting content and can engage in great conversations with people and let them share their thoughts openly.

If you have any other misconceptions about blogging that you want to add or that I missed, please leave a comment below.  I'd love to hear bloggers thoughts and anyone who is considering starting a blog to comment about what I wrote about above.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

 

Find a Niche that is Wide Fucking Open

find a nicheI was talking with someone the other day about online publishing and blogging.  This person is interested in starting a blog which could earn some side income.  Naturally the conversation touched on how to stand out online nowadays.  There are an estimated 200+ million blogs and more popping up everyday.  So if you want to standout from the crowd you have to find a niche.  What I tell people is you shouldn't find a niche with high competition and a lot of people covering that subject but one that is WFO short for “Wide Fucking Open!” 🙂

It is best to find a niche that is WFO for a lot of reasons.  The biggest reason is if you are the first person to get into a niche that nobody else has covered you have a much better chance of becoming the online authority in that topic.  This makes it more difficult, but certain not impossible, for others to come in and dominate the untapped niche that you found.  It also means you site will attract more specific visitors, ie more targeted traffic, and therefore advertisers.

I see a lot of webmasters and bloggers make the mistake of going into topics that are highly competitive.  There is nothing wrong with this if you have a good gameplan and the skills to do it.  Keep in mind a lot of companies and individuals have good SEO, link building, and  social media skills from working online for several years.  If you don't have any online experience while trying to start in a competitive field it is likely your website will not go down in flames… but die a tedious and slow death.  I know because I've experienced this myself and it is painful to watch.

The question everyone asks themselves though is, “Where do I find a niche that hasn't been covered already?”  It is pretty simple actually.  When you are searching for answers to your questions in Google and don't find what you are looking for that is when you should consider starting a site to provide that information.

About 6 months ago I started a forum in a eco-niche that was what I would say was “Wide Fucking Open.”  There were several blogs in the this niche and many companies that sell these eco-friendly products all around the world.  What I was trying to find was a community for this product so I could learn about it more in-depth than what I currently knew.  To my surprise there wasn't a community or forum for this niche even though lots of people around the world love participate in this activity.  So what did I do?  I decided to a community for it.

While the community is small, it is growing everyday.  I am always surprised by the people that are finding the forum and engaging on it.  We have several members from outside the US which includes France, Australia, and Canada.  I might not make a lot of money off the forum but that doesn't matter to me.  My main focus is on providing value to the web and the people on the community first.  Hopefully money will come later but since the niche is WFO I assume I can attract direct advertisers at some point.  (I certainly don't want to operate the forum at a loss forever.)  I doubt there are many others who have the time, inclination, or skill to build another forum like this and in this eco-friendly niche.  So essentially I have cornered the market for this topics, at least for the time being.

While the internet is getting more crowded everyday it is still possible to find a niche that you can dominate.  I know because I still find them all the time and I am sure you can too.

WordPress Auto Formatting Bug

 wordpress auto formatting bug

Even though I love WordPress, the entire community behind it, the functionality, and ease-of-use of the content management system it is not always perfect. Recently I have been having issues with an odd WordPress auto-formatting bug.

What happens is when I am writing posts I will cut and paste blocks of text to different parts of the article to make it flow better. Most of the time I don't have any issues with formatting in WordPress when I publish posts. However, once in awhile I will notice after the article is published some words are smaller than the rest of the words in the post. Most of the time these are blocks of text I moved around. I then go back and check “Text” mode where I can see the HTML code and how the article is formatted and I see there have been div and span tags generated making the wording for certain parts of the article smaller. Even though I will “Preview” articles to see what it will look like before it goes live on a site it wont' show me these odd WordPress autoformatting changes. WordPress for the most part is a pretty good What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor and you don't need to worry it making funny formatting mistakes.

This WordPress auto-formatting bug with small letters is really starting to annoy me though. At first I thought this was just happening on my own blogs but that isn't that case. I've noticed this happens on several other websites I contribute to which leaves me to conclude that it is a WordPress bug or maybe this is an issue with one of my installed plugins.

Usually for WordPress bugs and issues the best thing to do is check to see if there is a plugin issue. You can systematically disable each plugin and check if the problem continues. While this a is a bit tedious and time consuming it's a good way to narrow down the problem. The issue is since this happens once in awhile it is hard to pinpoint which plugin might be causing this issue. I can't leave all the plugins disabled all the time also since I need a lot of these to make my websites function properly. For websites I an joint developing or contribute to with others we definitely can't disable key plugins which make the sites work.

So if WordPress experts or gurus know what is causing this WordPress auto-formatting bug or issue please leave a comment and let me know. I would be very appreciative of your help. If you are having similar issue with WordPress formattting also leave a comment. I'd be curios to hear if other people are having this problem too. It is possible this might be a WordPress core issue.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

Dealing with Blogger Burnout

blogger burnout

Recently I have been having what is known as “Blogger Burnout.”  This is essentially the feeling of not being able to write or blog.  The problem is not finding subjects to write about.  I have plenty to write about and a lot of great ideas for articles and content.  The issue is the actual enjoyment and willingness to write and convey my thoughts has become increasingly difficult over the past couple weeks.

It's hard for me to pinpoint and zero in on why blogger burnout is hitting me hard now.  Part of it is that a friend of mine is also experiencing blogger burnout and is taking a break from writing altogether.  While I was not happy to hear that, since he is a good writer with good style, I really understood and respected that decision.

I was analyzing what was making me feel down about the writing and blogger field.  This made me look back at some of my articles I worked hard on in the past.  Looking at some of my articles I thought to myself, “Wow, this is a great material… but nobody read it!”  This might sound like kind of an A*&hole thing to think, but here are my 3 strongest and best written articles I did on my auto blog;

These were articles I worked long and hard on and I didn't write them to be SEO optimized or for massive traffic.  I assumed the merit of the good writing would prevail… but that wasn't the case.   While some got decent traffic and hits for a little bit most of these are not popular pillar posts.

That really gets me!  I have written a lot of articles in the past just for the sake of traffic or to insight discussion to get a lot of hits.  I mean I am not proud of it, but that is something everyone does.

The other issue is I have been writing and blogging online for quite awhile.  While I think I have made great improvements in my writing abilities, I don't feel like I am at a point that I should be in my writing career.  It's kind of depressing looking back and feeling like you wasted time trying to build sites and blogs but it just didn't workout or you went for positions or jobs which you didn't get.

I was going to write a list of ways to conquer blogger burnout.  You know, because everyone loves list and that's great for SEO.  Instead of me writing a list of ways you can avoid the ‘burn', which may or may not be helpful to you, I would love to hear other writers and bloggers experiences with being a blogger burnout victim.

How did and what did you do to overcome your blogger burnout?  Did something inspire you?  Did you take a break from blogging, writing and social media for awhile?  Did you just decide to quit?   Leave a comment and maybe you can help another writer or blogger find their passion again.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!