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The Value Of A Good Blog Title

12 Sep

This is a slightly edited repost from 2013, but I’m out of ideas so I thought I’d share it again.  It contains some good advice for new bloggers.

Let’s start with a poem I wrote some years ago:

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The Thing About Poetry IsEnglish: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

Titles
are
vital

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The same is true of blog posts.  Titles are vital to lure unsuspecting readers to your blog, where you will dazzle them with your wit and wisdom and encourage them to waste time they could have used for eating, watching TV, and sitting on the couch.

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How Not To Write A Post Title

From my blog:

  • Joke 648

Unless you are looking for 648 jokes, it’s rather dull.  However, it does tell you exactly what you will find: a joke; the 648th joke in a long line of jokes.

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Be Specific

  • The Value Of A Good Blog Title 

is not particularly interesting but it will attract people looking to improve their blogging.  I know this because

  • Seven Tips For New Bloggers 

still attracts readers, years after being posted.  List titles like this are also popular, for reasons I’m sure psychologists could tell you, though I can’t.  

A word of caution, however: don’t be tempted to make it 147 Tips For New Bloggers, because nobody’s attention span is that long.  I know this from experience.

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Be Topical

  • It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Posted in December, it’s seasonal and likely to attract Christmas fanatics like me. In November, it makes me the blogger who’s ahead of the game; in June, it makes me quirky and will, hopefully, make the reader curious.  But beware: posted in January, it’s the blogging equivalent of the guest who won’t leave when the party’s over.

Sometimes, being topical leads to dumb luck:

  • Some Snow Facts

A fun factual post a year earlier led to my best-ever day – 4,720 hits – when Google Doodle celebrated the 125th anniversary of the discovery of the World’s Largest Snowflake.  I’d have been happier if just one of those people looking for the Google Doodle had left a comment but, hey, I’m not one to look a gift spike in the mouth.

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Reference Popular Culture

Here are some posts of mine which still receive hits:

  • Twilight: I Hope Bella Remembered To Shave
  • Seven Of Nine, And Not In A Good Way
  • Robert Pattinson With Small Hairs

Being up to date with the news helps:

  • What Really Happened To Gaddafi

brought in hundreds of people who thought a housewife in Stockport could tell them what 24-hour news channels and thousands of dedicated reporters could not.

Adding the word ‘Review’ to a title is another good way to attract readers. However:

  1. It irritates them if you use the word ‘Review’ and then don’t review whatever it is you claim to be reviewing.  I know this from experience.
  2. Reviewing books and movies four years after they’ve been released is unlikely to make your post a bestseller (I was surprised to discover).

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Use Keywords And Phrases

Here are some posts that still receive hits.  One was written six years ago:

  • You’re Only As Old As The Woman You Feel – old jokes and clichéd phrases are popular searches as ageing people begin to lose their memories (I know this from experience).
  • Smile And The World Smiles With You – the word ‘smile’ is the top search that finds this blog, with over 10,000 visits.
  • A Is For ‘Arguments’ – the key word here is ‘A’.  Bizarrely, the letter ‘a’ comes in at Number 7 on my search list, with 1,044 hits.

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Sweaty Armpits

Sweaty Armpits (Photo credit: mricon)

Have Fun!

After all, if you’re not trying to change the world, it doesn’t matter who reads your blog so long as you are enjoying yourself.  

Here are some of my favourite titles from posts that I have written:

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  • Famous With Sweaty Armpits  
  • Okay, Tesco: I Forgive You
  • So Many Jokes, So Little Class   I like this one for its searing honesty.
  • If I Break Wind, I’ll Write About It  The previous title refers.
  • I Have To Kill My Kindle
  • Love Many, Trust Few And A Canoe
  • I’m Three Mugs Of Tea Away From Becoming A Feminist
  • It’s Time To Give Up Food   I like this one for its absurd premise.
  • Ten Don’ts For When I’m Dead  Another list post.
  • Bring In Arms Fat Mummy
  • Hula Hoops. Very Proud Of The Queen.   I can’t claim credit for this one as it was from a comment by another blogger.
  • Vasectomy Dog And A Frog Disease Called Awesome
  • Camping: The Art Of Staying Wet Indoors
  • Flying To Spain In A Manky Cardi
  • A Labled Easy To Follow Leg
  • Sandra Bullock Has A Sex Change And Retires To Norfolk

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A Final Tip

Related to blogging but not to titles in particular: ask an open-ended question. A question as title will pull in the curious and the opinionated (I know this from experience).  You don’t have to use it as a title, however; you can use it as a closing sentence.  It never fails (I know this from experience).

What are your blogging tips?

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Train Pain

24 Jul

It’s hard to believe that Viv has been gone just over a year.  I went to her funeral and I wanted to tell you about it at the time, but I couldn’t bring myself to write that post.  A year on, however, I have some emotional distance, so here goes. I am writing from memory because, when I checked back to my notebook, there is nothing at all.  Not one word; just the funeral programme, taped in.  I couldn’t even write about it for myself.  That’s grief for you.

Viv’s daughter Sally invited me to read Viv’s self-penned epitaph poem at the funeral.  I was honoured.  I wouldn’t have missed her funeral for anything, but it was lovely to be invited to be a part of it.

My travel anxieties have been well-documented on this blog so you won’t be surprised to learn that as the funeral was held in Newcastle and I live in Stockport, I made sure to leave with time to spare when I arrived.  To be fair, I’d have done the same if I was going one town up: that’s how I roll.  Or clickety-clack.  I don’t trust public transport; or myself on public transport (remind me to tell you why I once missed the first twenty minutes of The Lion King at The Palace Theatre, Manchester, seven minutes away by train).  

To be more fair, the Hub booked my ticket and made sure to leave me with some time to spare when I arrived – but not for my change at Sheffield.  I was miffed to have only 25 minutes because I had to find the platform for the next train and Sheffield is a big station and I am a big panicker.  The Hub assured me I’d be fine.  What could possibly go wrong?

He reserved seats on all four trains for me, over my objections: I always run onto a train and grab the first free seat I can, because that’s how I clickety-clack.  The train from Stockport to Sheffield was packed, however, and I was glad the Hub is bossy because I was able to turf someone out of my reserved seat.

The seat-with-my-name-on-it went a long way towards earning the Hub forgiveness, because it was standing room only all the way from Stockport to Sheffield.  There was no refreshment cart, ergo, no tea, ergo, anxious, panicky, uncaffeinated me.  There was a delay, a slow train, only ten minutes – NOT twenty-five as I had been assured by my perfidious man – to find the platform with my next train.  I fairly erupted onto Platform 1, hitting the ground running, eyes peeled for information screens, clichés exploding from every orifice.

DSCN0956 Sheffield was obviously still feeling the effect of Austerity because there wasn’t one uniformed human in sight.  I ran up the steps to the concourse – no screens!  I ran left – no screens!  I ran right – a screen!  Heaving, bent over my shaky legs, I slowed down enough to glare at the screen which informed me my train left from…Platform 1.  That’s right: the platform I had just run away from.  I had four minutes to get there and had to use the lift because Sheffield Station is just stupid in its weird layout with no stairs down to Platform 1 and absentee staff who probably don’t carry wheelbarrows on their person for exhausted travellers anyway.

I hit the lift button and…waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Finally – finally! – the doors opened and I ran forward; and then backed up as a thousand people who obviously had at least an hour to find their platform were disgorged.  At last they got out of my way and I jumped onto the lift, slammed the button, and was transported on the slowest elevator known to man to the platform below. Sucking in such oxygen as I could muster the energy for, I ran along the platform just as my train to Newcastle pulled in.

I collapsed into my thankfully reserved space and waited for the sweat to puddle on the seat, the breath to return to my aged lungs, and the spots to disappear from before my eyes.  Then I heard the bad news: no refreshment cart again.  I muttered to myself long and hard.  No one would have heard me if I’d muttered aloud, anyway, because I had no spit to help me articulate my uncaffeinated state.

I settled in, anxious and fidgety – you know, the normal addict state, except that my fix is Earl Grey, black, hot – for the longish journey, and became more anxious and more fidgety as the journey became ever-longer.  I discovered later that there had been a lightning strike on a signal box the day before, causing extended delays.  I watched the time and stressed.  I watched the time and fidgeted.  I watched the time and became tearful. I watched and watched and watched my watch and guess what?  I arrived in Newcastle about the time the funeral started.

I made sure to be first off the train – get out of my way, mother with a baby and elderly wheelchair user!  I’ve got a deceased friend to honour – and ran and ran and ran some more, finally finding the taxi rank when I wiped the sweat from my eyes and could read signs again.  I ran to the first taxi, but I was hailed by a uniformed human – better late than never, eh? – and we had the following conversation:

UH: Oi!  There’s a queue!

TB: OhpleaseI’mlateformyfriend’sfuneralandI’mreadingthepoemandit’salreadystart
edandthetrainwaslateIdon’tknowwhybutI’vegottogetthereassoonaspossibleplease
pleasecanIhavethistaxiplease?Sob

UH: Uh, sure, go ahead.

The taxi driver was wonderful and sympathetic and got me to the cemetery as soon as possible – perhaps wanting to get the hysterical woman out of his cab, but I prefer to think he had the milk of human kindness in abundance – where I encountered a problem: two chapels.

Seriously, folks, how I didn’t have a complete meltdown at this point, I don’t know.

Like a Wimbledon viewer trapped between two players serving high-speed aces, I gazed back and forth, back and forth between the chapels, paralysed by uncertainty.  What if I burst into the wrong funeral?  The odds were good that it would happen, because I never met a blunder I didn’t make. My favourite photo of Viv

Just then, a limousine rolled up and I was inspired to ask the sad-faced woman emerging, ‘Excuse me, I’m looking for a funeral and I know it’s not yours because you’ve just arrived; can you please tell me which chapel you’re going to because I’m so late and my funeral must be in the other.’ Bless her, she did.

I burst into Viv’s funeral as quietly as possible and only eighty percent of the people looked at me, including the eulogising vicar.  Small mercies, eh?  I was ushered to a seat, given a programme, offered a glass of water – because I clearly looked like Mr Rochester’s first wife at this point – and sat my trembling bum on the seat so I could frantically scan the programme to see if I’d missed my spot.

I hadn’t missed my spot!

If I had never believed in God up to that point, I believed in Him that day.  The vicar finished talking and it was my turn to get up and read Viv’s poem.  I’m proud to say I read it as if I’d travelled to Newcastle the week before and spent three days in a spa, being massaged from head to foot and back again.  I would never have let Viv down.

Several people came up to me afterwards and greeted me as if they knew me. Turns out they did: Viv’s friends I’d met and fellow bloggers amongst them.  I was still in Yellow Wallpaper mode, however, and couldn’t register anyone until at least two teas later.  I apologise if you felt slighted, but I assure you it was not on purpose.  Travel in general and lateness in particular send me a little crazy; throw in grief for a beloved friend and it’s a wonder I didn’t end up in Newcastle-Under-Lyme instead of Newcastle Upon Tyne.  Viv’s family were wonderful and understanding, and I was so grateful to them.

My only consolation is that Viv would have loved this post.  As far as I’m concerned, that makes any craziness on my part entirely worth it.  Just as well, eh?

 

Eyes, Look Your Last…

7 Oct

Spud’s old room:

Photo by Best DSC!

I’m going to be AWOB (Absent Without Blogging) for a week or two, as I’ll be decorating my new room in proper girlie colours – honeysuckle, pastel yellow, pink accents.

See you on the other side!

One Prompt

12 May

What is the one word or phrase that immediately cheers you up when you hear it?

No shit, Sherlock.

It always makes me laugh; I don’t know why.

Sadly, I never use it, because I don’t swear.  Life is so unfair sometimes.

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In other news…I haven’t been around much lately.  No mystery, just life.

No sugar, Sherlock, as my mother might say.  She didn’t swear either.

#Global Selfie Earth Day Today!

22 Apr

Here’s mine:

DSCN2841

 

While We’re On The Subject

19 Apr

Keats House Poets Forum's photo.

 

At the moment, I have no words.  It made me smile, then, as one of life’s little ironies, when I received an email announcing the launch of a new poetry ezine containing one of my poems – a poem about censorship, in which most of the words have been removed.

I may not be writing much but I do know how to make a short story long, so here goes.

My poem In The Tradition of ‘The Star’ appeared in the anthology In Protest: 150 Poems for Human Rights last year.

Earlier this year, one of the anthology’s editors contacted me, asking for permission to use it in a new ezine she and another editor were starting; and inviting me to read at the magazine’s launch in London at the end of March.

I gladly gave permission but had to refuse the invitation, commenting that I wouldn’t know how to read it aloud anyway.

She replied that she quite understood: her employer (a charity fighting female genital mutilation) had held a memorial meeting for Nelson Mandela and my poem had been read out at the meeting – with difficulty.

I sent a garbled reply about poems being like children and taking on a life of their own without you, once you’ve sent them out into the world.

I didn’t hear from her again, but that’s hardly surprising.  If you’ve read this far you’ll be in the same dazed state.

Anyway, to get to the point, here is a link to the new magazine, Writing in the Blackout.

Here’s a bit of the blurb, for the political amongst you:

‘Writing in the Blackout’ is an anthology of poetry and art work that explores the theme of arts censorship and freedom of speech:http://www.ideastap.com/Partners/keatshousepoets

It features newly commissioned poetry and art work from Keats House Poets and IdeasTap members, an interview with English PEN and much more! We hope you enjoy reading our anthology, and would be delighted to hear hear your thoughts on it and do forward it to any of your networks who would be interested in reading it. This project is a snapshot of some of the complex issues connected to censorship, and we are interested in continuing investigating this theme- do let us know if you know organisations who might support a ‘Writing in the Blackout’ workshop or performance. 
We will be hosting a poetry performance and discussion of ‘Writing in the Blackout’ on June 14th, 4:30-6pm at the Keats House Festival in Hampstead. Do follow @KHPoetsor check our blog for more event details http://khpoets.wordpress.com/  
You will find me on page 39 but the whole thing is well worth a read.

 

A Dry Write Season

17 Apr

I haven’t written a post in thirteen days; and if you haven’t noticed, then I haven’t written a decent recent post.

I don’t believe in Writer’s Block, preferring to call the occasional arid periods in which my fingers take on all the attributes of blank paper with none of its promise – rather like a British tabloid newspaper – ‘dry spells’.  I know I could write something if I neck a bottle of wine in one sitting; but you might not like what I’ve written.  Or understand it, come to that.  Rather like a British tabloid newspaper.

Fortunately, WordPress has been watching me (I knew it!) and sent me a prompt post entitled Five Posts to Write Right Now:

Mired in bloggers’ block? Pshaw — we’ll give you a push! Here are five posts you can publish right now, no matter what topics you usually blog about.

Thank you, WordPress; that’s really thoughtful of you.

1. The last thing that made you mad.

I can’t believe WordPress is spying on me!  What business is it of theirs if I don’t write for two weeks or two years?  Pshaw!

2. Your typical childhood lunch.

Large.

3. An ode to an object.

An Ode To WordPress, The Object Of My Affliction

When I don’t write
You prompt me to
Bloggers not blogging
don’t reflect well on you

When I do write
You spy on me
I must object
Tremendously

But let’s be fair
This ode is crap
Are you really sure
You want me back?

4. Self-psychoanalysis via your bookshelf or Spotify playlists.

Spotify?

I’ve seen it on Facebook as in Suchabody Withnolifetospeakof is listening to Songs For Those Too Lazy To Share The Dull Minutiae Of Their Lives Via Blogs Like I Do on Spotify.

Take the five books on your nightstand, the last five songs you listened to, the last five movies you watched or the last five blog posts you liked — what do they say about you? 

Three Brenda Jagger novels, Siegfried Sassoon’s War Poems and the Bible:

  • Lives in the past; hopes for the future.

Prepare Ye, Beautiful City, Day By Day, All For The Best, By My Side:

  • Lives in the recent past; hopes for the son’s future.

The Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation, Dumb & Dumber.

  • Loves a good romance.

Posts I Like – I have to be discreet here so as not to offend anyone by not including them, so I’ll go for generic subjects instead of specific posts:

  • Hairless cats (funny)
  • Doctor Who (essential)
  • The return of old bloggers (old as in been around a long time, not old as in been around a long time)
  • Boobs with belly buttons (we’re back to the future again)
  • Jolly good news (even more essential than fictional doctors)

5. A mad lib.

I know mad libs are (is?) some weird American traditional game played at Thanksgiving and when the internet is down, but that’s all I know, so we’re back to dry spotify again.

Thanks for nothing, WordPress.

 

 

 

 

 

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