In the past several years, blogging has become more competitive than ever. It’s no longer a game of amateurs where you can afford to half-ass your way to success. No, you have to fight, scratch, and claw your way – not just to build an audience, but to keep them.
Obviously, it takes great content to keep people coming back, but even then, how do you get people interested enough to read it?
One of the masters of this is TMZ, a celebrity gossip publication that serves up more crap on a daily basis than you’ll find in a Porta-John, but is climbing the charts as one of the most popular websites of its time.
Another is BuzzFeed, which features nothing more than a bunch of silly picture lists. How do they do it? I’m sure the answer won’t surprise you… Their copywriters pen fantastic headlines.
In today’s post, I’m going to analyse some of the most fascinating ‘loaded’ headlines on TMZ and BuzzFeed, and share why they’re getting people to click through.
This word, on its own, does not really invoke much of a response, but when you combine it with someone’s name, it paints a different picture entirely.
‘How xyz’s misstep has killed their ______’
That’s a headline I want to read. You could fill the blank with business, image, relationship, reputation, or any other combination of words that get the point across.
Walk through the grocery checkout and you’ll find this word on at least one of the magazine/newspaper covers. This is one of those words that screams out for attention on its own, which is why sites like TMZ and BuzzFeed are enjoying its bounty.
‘XYZ scam, what you need to know to avoid getting _____’
Look familiar? It’s also the same recipe used by the local news to keep you tuned in until the end, when you’ve long given up hope that their actually is a scam.
The real deal is that no one wants to get scammed. Sadly, but letting that one lure you in, you just did.
In the Western world, there’s a new scandal every single day. Drug scandals, prison scandals, sex scandal, etc.
If there’s a scandal going round, you can bet your ass that even the preacher’s daughter is going to want to scoop, which is why this headline is so perfect.
‘What You Don’t Know About The XYZ That Will Shock You’
Are you kidding me? Of course we want to read that. Despite their statements to the contrary, people love being shocked out of their damn minds.
This word brings the eyeballs for the same reason that people watch slasher films… they love seeing bad things happen to other people.
’10 Photos Show Proof of XYZ’s Disgusting ___’
I don’t know who XYZ is, but I know this – I want to see proof that they’ve done something disgusting. Disgusting love triangle, fat rolls, employee abuse, marketing tactics, etc. Better yet, I can’t wait to talk about it to my friends on Facebook.
This is how you get stories shared.
Noticing a trend here? Each of these words, in its own way, evokes the action that this word describes. You need people to drop their jaws in amazement, excitement, or both in order to get sucked in to your blog, which is why this word is such a perfect fit.
‘5 Jaw-Dropping Quotes from XYZ’
The figure in question could be anyone from Elon Musk to President Obama, yet I’m absolutely bursting through the front page in order to read what they have to say.
The best part of this is you can use pretty much any form of media you want, be it photos, interviews, videos, quotes, stories, or tactics.
Admit it, you’re used to faking something, but you’re always pissed when someone does it to you. Fake is one of those words that elicits strong emotions. Fake boobs, fake checks, fake charities, fake videos, fake drugs… you name it, it’s happened, which is why we’re all so scared of being scammed by a fake.
‘How XYZ Faked His/Her/Its Way Into _____’
People want to know who did it, and how, so that they’re the one armed with the truth when gossiping with their friends.
Accusations are usually associated with negative connotations. Though people love to accuse others, they’ll be damned if you accuse them of something they did or didn’t do.
On the other hand, we love to jump on the accusation bandwagon, which is why public trials are so popular. It’s easy to laugh at Lindsay Lohan as long as it doesn’t come back to bite us.
‘XYZ Faces Shocking Accusations for _____’
You can fill that with any topic or subject matter, be it business, sex, money, or fame. There are accusations in every single business and industry on the planet, which is why this headline has universal appeal.
This is Just Getting Started
There’s a reason why gossip rags and entertainment magazines have been able to thrive for decades, and it’s not because they have great content. Of course, when you use headlines like these on a daily basis, you become a rag in your own right, so you have to take great care to be judicious with the sensationalism, and mix it in when you feel the time is right.
That said, you also have to be willing and able to deliver the payoff. You can’t get in the habit of using loaded headlines if the content doesn’t back it up. If you’re speaking of scandal, you damn well better be writing about a scandal.
In the end, the goal is to keep your blog free of shitty headlines, grow your audience, and build a sticky site. This isn’t the only way to do that, but it’s certainly a great (and fun) start.