Headline Remix Madness – Part One

I received over 100 submissions for headline remixing, so in the spirit of March Madness, I’m going to try to rewrite as many as possible in a series of posts. Frankly, the quality of the submissions has been really good, so I will also try to point out those that work “as is” and why.

Let’s get started.

1. Here’s How You Improved My Blog

Original headline: How My Readers Helped Improve My Blog

Reasoning:

  • When both addressing and referring to the reader, it’s better to speak directly to them, even though it’s likely not every reader contributed a suggestion. Remember, it’s a conversation. You wouldn’t normally refer to someone you’re speaking to in the third person.
  • With so many “how” headlines out there, I like to add “Here’s” as a preface. It adds specificity to the headline promise without resorting to a numerical list approach.
  • I debated whether to use “this” instead of “my” when referring to the blog the content is hosted on, and ended up sticking with my due to the contrast with you. I also removed the word helped; if the blog was improved due to the suggestions of readers, helped is superfluous and the resulting headline is more powerful.

2. Passion or the Illusion of Job Security?

Original headline: Non-Existence of Job Security

Reasoning:

  • The original headline has a good angle, but the delivery is a bit stilted. Keeping the provocative concept of non-existant job security and dressing it up as an illusion should easily pull in readers.
  • More troublesome is the fact that the post is not really about the non-existence of job security. The content makes reference to that concept as an opener, but is really an exercise in determining whether to follow a passion or to keep a job. The new headline better reflects what the post is about.
  • This post begs for a question headline. The content engages the reader by asking questions more than by providing answers, and the headline is a perfect place to begin that engagement.

3. Why the Next Web Will Be Smarter Than You

Original headline: The Web Next Revolution

Reasoning:

  • I like the original headline, and it looks like the post received good feedback. My approach is a bit more specific, and a bit more provocative in that it challenges the reader. In my experience, that ups the pulling power of the headline by raising the curiosity factor.

4. Six Reasons Why You Might Want to Avoid the Tracks GTD Software

Original headline: Digital GTD: A Review of the ‘Tracks’ Software

Reasoning:

  • In my opinion, this post is a classic example of when to use a “list” headline. While it is, in fact, a review of the Tracks software, the content quickly focuses on 6 problems the author identifies, and the ultimate recommendation is to steer clear. In this case, the list headline transmits very specific information that will suck in readers. For those who don’t know, “GTD” stands for “getting things done,” a productivity system developed by David Allen. Since GTD is one of the primary focuses of the blog, it’s not only acceptable to use the acronym, it’s preferable.

5. How to Transform Your Boring Bedroom Into a “Boudoir”

Original headline: Transforming Your Space… Can You Say Boudoir?

Reasoning:

  • This post is great “how to” content that uses the allure of romanticism and sophistication associated with boudoir, the French word for bedroom. This is a case in which I like to see the “how to” headline format used. Some may argue that this approach lacks pizzazz, but I’m fairly confident that it will pull more readers.
  • I like the use of the root word transform in the original headline; it’s a great action verb. By adding in contrast with “boring,” you’re speaking to the general dissatisfaction that people feel about their living environment over time, and the desire for a new approach that enhances the lifestyle image. This is an example of “continuing the conversation” that is already going on inside the reader’s head.
  • The boring, bedroom, boudoir alliteration provides a nice bounce to the title, and the quotes around boudoir draw the eye across the headline and provide additional contrast.

Part two coming Thursday…

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Comments

  1. You Rule. I am tempted to change the title to measure the impact. Thanks again Brian. I definitely owe you a burrito;)

  2. Excellent reasoning behind number 1. Thanks for the pointers Brian.

  3. Thank you. You are so right about mine(#2). I appreciate the pointers.

  4. Wow. Great start to the list. I particularly like the way you changed #3.

    Also, just in case readers don’t know this, make sure you take the quotes (from #5) off of your post slug, otherwise you’ll get ugly characters in your url.

  5. Really hope That You Pick My Brain To Sample From. :)

  6. The word “You” seems to be the common strand.

    Mike

  7. I especially like what you did with #2 – because Anthony mentions a post of mine in it :)

    I’m a sucker for alteration, so I really like the flow of #5. I agree with the quotes at the end drawing the eye, and I think the alliteration helps the eye flow across the title. Sometimes I’ll change a couple of words to make the “look” of the titles pull the eye. Maybe because I’m a visual person.

  8. Great post, I’m looking forward to the second one.

  9. These are all great, simple tips that we can all use in our headlines. Thank you for doing these mini-projects!

  10. I’d like to see what headlines you can make in 25 characters or less.

  11. I look forward to implementing these tips in my headlines to come. Thanks, lots of great articles on this site.

  12. #1: I totally would have passed this one over with the original title. The re-written headline, however, not only makes me want to eavesdrop on the conversation, but makes me instantly curious about what I could do to be one of the recipients of such high praise.

    #2: Complete transformation from something that didn’t really resonate with me (“non-existent job security”) to the all-too-familiar conflict of passion vs. job security; who can’t relate to that?

    #3: For me, it was the images that made this post compelling; the new title puts the little image-journey into better context, making me more curious about the conclusion.

    #4 & #5: While these are niches I don’t regularly read about, both of the re-written titles transform my expectation from “some blogger’s opinion” to “expert advice”.

    This series rocks, you’ve got to keep this up. (:

  13. I appreciate all the side offerings you make (like “know more about RSS”) et al. Your general attitude is so generous and upbeat not to mention knowledgeable, it reminds me of what I was told about the original www: that everybody was just trying to help everyone else.
    I subscribed. My blog is poetry slams at current events…Calvin Trillan (trillin?) is my model doggerellist, so as I read, I’m applying to a brief or briefish verse.
    Hopefully snarky verse.
    What would it mean to put a link to you on my blog? How? Then I’d be generous too! And round out the oddity of rhyming. Or do I not get it?

  14. Nice post, looking forward to the next edition :)

  15. Some simple changes to text can be so effective, but i believe sometimes it takes an outsider to create such an effect.