Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My wife is pregnant

Just kidding! She's not. Just wanted to see if you'd click on the link.

Which I know is terrible. I'm truly sorry about that. And by "truly sorry" I of course mean "not sorry at all."

That's because I'm one of those people on the Internet who's trying to get your attention. There are millions of us out there, and we're all annoying in our own special way.

Many of us are bloggers. We jot down our thoughts a few times a week, build up a little following, and then hope you'll continue stopping by regularly to read our little missives. Whether or not you agree with what we have to say is almost irrelevant. All we want is for you to keep on coming.

Most bloggers won't admit it, but virtually all of us live and die by our page view and unique visitor counts. We measure ourselves by the size of our audience, and we're devastated when it shrinks for any reason.

Which is why I used that medically impossible headline today. I promote my three-times-a-week blogging habit through Facebook and Twitter links, and I notice that the readership on any given post is almost directly tied to the quality of the headline/title.

And that makes sense, of course. The only thing my readers and potential readers have to go on is the headline. I've set up short headlines and links to be automatically posted at 6 a.m. sharp every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

If the headline is compelling, you'll click on it. If it's not, you won't.

Now, what constitutes "compelling" is a bit more art than it is science. There are at least two types of headlines that tend to draw in readers:

(1) Ones that promise something that may be useful to you in your personal or professional life

(2) Ones that seem reasonably certain of making you laugh

If a blogger can combine the two, that's the holy grail right there, my friend. I've never quite achieved that ideal blend, but I continue trying.

I'm also an Internet consumer myself, of course, and I know what types of blog post headlines draw me in. Usually they have a number in the title that represents some sort of list. Like "5 Ways to Make Your Blog Bigger than Amazon" or "7 Things You're Not Doing to Advance Your Career Because You're a Lazy Slob."

Whatever the title, I'm likely to click on it if it seems like something that might benefit me without a great investment of my time.

Sometimes I look back at old posts from this particular blog and I wonder how/why it is that anybody at all read them. Like, for example, I had one called "The Never-Ending Horror of Laundry," or some such. That headline doesn't promise to make you any smarter, richer or happier. And I don't know that it was particularly funny. But more than 200 people read it.

Maybe they all came away from it disappointed. I don't know. But the fact is, they clicked on it. And any one of my posts that attracts 200 or more people is a success in my book.

Which, now that I think about it, indicates an acute, unhealthy need on my part for attention and validation, often from total strangers. That's kind of sad.

I think my next post will be headlined "17 Reasons Why My Self-Esteem Will Collapse If You Don't Read This."

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