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The Secret to Making People Read Your Post

April 28, 2011 | By Adrienne Smith

The Secret to Making People Read Your PostSo what do you think of this headline?  Good huh?  Did this one make you stand up and take notice?  Or maybe just got your curiosity going.  Either way, if you are reading this post then I’ve done a pretty good job of grabbing your attention.

Yea me because up until now, headlines have been my weakness.  Did you catch that?  Past tense!!!

Without a headline that will make your readers want to know more, you can start kissing them goodbye.  Your friends will only support you up to a point and then they will get bored.

Headline Horror

I admit it, my headlines have not been the attention grabbing, awe inspiring works of art you see other places.  Nope, kind of boring if I say so myself.  Everyday as I browse through cyberspace I come across blog posts or articles that catch my eye and I’m eager to read more.  Then you have those that I just keep passing by.  You know, kind of like mine.  :-(

Some of the lessons I’ve learned about how to write good headlines is by checking out the magazines when you’re standing in line at the grocery store or to stop into a bookstore and flip through some of the trashy ones.  Those will really have some attention grabbers.

Maybe it’s that particular day or I just kept picking up the wrong ones but I’ll be honest with you.  I have yet to see a headline in a magazine that really made me want to read the article.  Okay, only if it was mentioning a particular person I wanted to know about but you sure can’t use those for your blog posts can ya.

So we know that headlines are what will make people want to read your post.  So here is the tip for writing good ones.  A tip I should have been following through with but just dropped the ball.

Good Old Swipe Files

Good old swipe files guys…  I first learned about swipe files from none other than Frank Kern.  Why the heck I didn’t continue implementing this is beyond me.  But, I live and learn so from this day forward I will start using this tip big time.

Swipe files are better known for keeping examples of things such as headlines that catch your attention, e-mails that stand out from the rest, introduction paragraphs that pull, catchy phrases or slogans, graphics, photos or complete website designs that enhance the content.  These are great for giving you inspiration.

Since this post is about “The Secret to Making People Read Your Post”, headlines are the first thing that will really grab their attention.  So the next time you are on someone’s blog, article or site and their headlines really caught your eye and made you want to read more, put that in your swipe file so it can help you come up with some great ideas later on.

You’ve Got More!

Since I’m not even going to try to make you think I’m a pro in this area, I wanted to share a few sites that you might find beneficial if you happen to be rather weak in this area as well.

A couple years ago I was shown Jay Abraham’s site and an article he had written titled, “The 100 Greatest Headlines Ever Written“.  Awe inspiring for sure and be sure to check out the very first headline.  Look familiar?  See what I mean!!!  These can really help get your juices flowing.

Another post I found last year is one written by Alex Mangini titled, “18 Resources to Help you Write Better Blog Titles“.   He shares other posts written by people who are at the top of their game when it comes to writing headlines so be sure to go over those when you have the time.

Summing It All Up

I hope you don’t have near the problems I did with writing eye catching headlines but if you do, I sure hope this post helped.  Remember, swipe files are awesome for helping get those creative juices flowing.  Also be sure to check out these posts and articles I mentioned as well because I’m sure you’ll get a lot of other great ideas.

If you have any other tips for me or my readers, you know I welcome your comments.  I want to hear from you and how you come up with great headlines.  Who inspires you the most or who has helped you learn how to write some great one!  I want to know your secret…

Look forward to hearing form all of you soon.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Peggy Baron
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Hi Adrienne,

I certainly wouldn’t say your past titles were bad by any means! But I agree that tweaks can make our headlines better. It’s an excellent idea to keep a swipe file of headlines, I do that for salescopy headlines that I like.

Tristan had a good post on making headlines better, you can check his archives. I’m pretty sure it was in 2011.

My problem is making them catchy AND including my keywords.

Thanks for the resources!

Peggy

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2 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 9:07 AM

You are too kind Peggy, too kind… I don’t believe mine are eye catching by any means and could be a LOT more creative. Something I have a hard time coming up with.

I think I’ve read Tristan’s post but that’s my problem, coming up with catchy ones that also include the keywords. I’m going to get this though if it’s the last thing I do. :-)

I knew that you would be way ahead of the game already using swipe files. I don’t know where my mind is sometimes forgetting all the stuff I learned some time back. But, full steam ahead now.

Thanks Peggy for your words of encouragement. You’re the best!

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3 Peggy Baron
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 10:02 AM

I know what you mean about forgetting stuff! But really, there’s sooo much to remember, how can we know it all? Plus, I think sometimes the information we’re given goes right past us because we’re not ready for it yet.

I bet if you stop to consider what you DO know now, you will be truly amazed at how far you’ve come!

Peggy

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4 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Boy is that ever true Peggy. I wasn’t writing posts in the beginning like I am now so even though I took notes on this subject, I tried doing it a little and just couldn’t quite grasp it all so I let it go. Although I’ve read other posts on this same topic, I guess I still wasn’t quite able to grasp it totally. I now know that when it was time for me to understand it better, it would come. Obviously that time is now.

You are SO right… I’m amazed at what I know now. It’s been quite a journey for me and I’m loving every minute of it!

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5 Bill Dorman
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 1:48 PM

I concur, I can’t say I didn’t read any of Adrienne’s post because of the headlines…..but she is paying me everytime I comment so you might see a few on the post alone……….

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6 Marianne Worley
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 10:48 AM

Hi Adrienne,

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with headlines. Whenever I start with what I think is a great headline, I end up having a tough time writing the post. But if I wait until after a post is written, I might spend too much time scribbling down different ideas before I make a decision.

Your post has reminded me that I need to put my swipe files on my bulletin board. (Right now, they’re just Google Bookmarks.) In addition to the sources you mentioned (which I’m bookmarking now), Copyblogger also has lots of tips and samples, both recent and in the archives.

Thanks,
Marianne

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7 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 11:26 AM

I can relate to what you are saying Marianne. People say you need to start with the headline and then write. Sometimes I fight for hours coming up with a good one. Even then, I don’t think it’s all that hot!

I’ve also learned to keep a hard copy of things you put in your swipe file. You know, so they can be in plain view instead of trying to remember where you bookmarked them to revert back to. Because a lot of times, I forget about that and just continue on.

Copyblogger does have a lot of tips on this subject as well, you are right. Alex mentioned him in some of those posts. Good references for sure. Lot’s of really great tips…

Looks like we have our work cut out for us!

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8 Riley Harrison April 29, 2011 at 8:22 AM

Adrienne,
On bookmarking files. I feel like a squirrel who has buried nuts for the winter and then can’t remember where he has buried them and has to dig up the whole damn yard.
Riley

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9 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 9:19 AM

LOL!!! I’ve done that too Riley! I bookmark until I’m blue in the face and then I have to go back through them all to find the ones I need. Will definitely be coming up with a better system. Am going to take Benny’s suggestion and use Evernote. You can do screenshots for the paragraphs and keep those handy.

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10 Bill Dorman
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 1:46 PM

So, that’s why I’m not getting any traffic. I just try to go to the posts that have over a 100 comments and use the same title; even if it’s a different topic…….genius……………..maybe not………..:)

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11 Jeffrey Morgan
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 11:17 AM

Hi Adrienne,
I write on this very subject this weekend. Titled: “The Map Of The Past The Way Of The Future”, it’s focus is on the fact that if you don’t have your long tailed keyword “My Mission Is To Help You Achieve Success Online” in every post title and embedded within the text in the top of your post as well as the body and the end, you’re done! Period.

I thought I would do an extensive review of my Post titles and Keywords as I continue to struggle to find a readership. I felt that if I focused on the keywords of Blogging, that over the period of a year, I would rank pretty well for anything Blogging. Wrong! Very Wrong!!! Writing Posts on Thesis, Joomla, WordPress, Alex Jeffreys, Frank Kern, Twitter, Facebook, Google, nothing. It was hard for me to even find “Bloggers Market” with my link in the SERP’s.

When I started to place “Bloggers Market” and “Learn How To Make Money Blogging” in my titles as well as the copy of my post, off I went. Too little to late though. I learned this little jewel way too late in my development. I’m established now and don’t really care to look like a rookie with my writings.

Of course, I had read it before from the SEO guys, but certainly Google is not that stupid, that you have to place your long tailed keyword in your copy or you will have trouble indexing. WRONG!

I’m not really interested in titling all of my posts with my long-tailed keyword. I’m not really interested in placing it in my copy every week either. However it is Google’s Sandbox and you have to play well with others.

Oh Adrienne, I meant to mention that I am doing next weeks post on your Blog, titled: Adrienne Smith reads “Bloggers Market” every day so that she can learn “Learn How To Make Money Blogging”. While my readers may struggle for an understanding of what’s going on, Google is sure to love it!

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12 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 11:32 AM

I know Jeffrey, it’s just so hard to place the right keywords not only in your title but the body of each post. When I write, I just write. It’s difficult for me to place “keywords” correctly throughout my posts and titles. I’m horrible at that so getting indexed in Google on the first page for my posts is more than likely just not going to happen. But as long as my readers, fans and future fans see my titles, it catches their eye and they want to come find out what’s up hey, I’m good!!!

I really really really need to study SEO more and dive into it but that’s just hard for me. I admit it!! But, I LOVE your idea of next weeks post… LOL!!! Don’t you know that Google and I are tight! :-) OK, stop laughing seriously!

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13 Jens P. Berget
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Hi Adrienne,

I have never thought about using a swipe file, that’s just brilliant. I suck at writing headlines, I don’t think it’s because it’s difficult, because I believe we all understand what a good headline looks like. To me, it’s more that I suffer from the “ticking clock” syndrome. I usually start writing the blog post without having a headline in mind. Then, when I’m finished writing, I just want to click the publish button. I don’t want to spend another minute adjusting the headline. I just want it out there so people can read it.

I know that I shouldn’t act like this, but I can’t help it :-)

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14 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 12:57 PM

I can sympathize with you Jens. I will beat myself up over the darn headline so much so that I’ll waste too much time with that so I’ll do something for that moment and move on to the post. After spending time writing that, I’m beat. I’m done, I quit, let’s just schedule this baby to go out first thing in the morning and I’m tired of looking at it. Kind of like you editing your novel to death, I just have to walk away. Maybe we can get some of these geniuses to sprinkled some magic headline dust on us. Hey, that’s an idea!!! :-)

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15 Chris Adams April 28, 2011 at 11:57 AM

That’s why the magazine editors get paid the big bucks – coming up with the headlines that get people to make that impulse buy. I think 2 keys to a great headline are raising the level of expectation to the potential reader, and giving the reader an incentive to click. I think the incentive part is why lists seem to do so well in getting views/backlinks/responses/etc.

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16 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Darn them Chris, they are SO talented. I’ve read some of John Carlton’s copy as well and I can’t for the life of me figure out how they can write so well to really pull their readers in. If I had only 1 ounce of what they have, I’d be in heaven. :-)

You are right though, raising that level of expectation to get them to click is the key. Back to the drawing board I guess.

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17 Thomas
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Hi Adrienne
This is for sure something I will have to improve on my blog posts as well. I just love the way many of the great bloggers I visit on the Internet are playing with words to get my attention. You for sure were able to get my attention with this headline as well. Thank you for the tips Adrienne.

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18 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 3:22 PM

That’s good to know Thomas… Maybe this is working! I love that!

Some of these blogs I visit have killer headlines and I get so jealous. Why can’t I come up with that. But, I’ll get it sooner or later, I just have to keep working at it!

Thanks for the visit…

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19 Benny
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 3:01 PM

Timely post for me cause I’m trying to think of a headline for my latest post. It’s not my strong suit either. I love all your tips, especially the first one! I wish I knew that before.

I don’t know how you keep track of your swipe files but I’m thinking a tool like Evernote would be great for that. If you’re not familiar with it, check it out!

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20 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Ah, you knew I was thinking of you didn’t you Benny! Sheila just did a post for a headline contest so I just have enough time to get in on that one. Not that mine will be earth shattering but I’m going to give it a go with the best of them. Might as well jump off head first right!

Never heard of Evernote. I do use a service called Read Me Later. That has helped me tremendously but just like bookmarking, it can get cluttered if you don’t clean it up. Will have to check that one out Benny. Thanks for that!

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21 Benny
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 3:39 PM

Do you visit Viper Chill? If not read this post for headline help.

http://www.viperchill.com/blog-post-headlines/

Amazing content over there.

Try Evernote. You can save screenshots and organize them with tags. So if saved a good intro paragraph, just save a screenshot of just that. Tag it and refer to them in the future!

You can use it for so many things while you’re online. Use it for post inspirtations. Save recipies. Anything you want. :)

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22 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 28, 2011 at 8:56 PM

I did last month because one of my blogging buddies, Sarah Russell, had her headline chosen (I Can Haz Traffic? 7 Reasons Why Thousands of Visitors Read LOLCats Each Day, Instead of Your Website). Sheila mentioned this post as well today so will have to bookmark that one to use for future reference. Will need to go back through that one again. It’s the creative juices I’m lacking. How the heck do they come up with such cool headlines…

Evernote sounds like Jing’s screenshots. Good idea, see, didn’t think of that one. Dah! May have to make a post of that! :-) Thanks Benny!

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23 Riley Harrison April 29, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Hi Adrienne,
Well I would say that was a compelling headline that drew me in and yet didn’t turn me off with over-the-top-sensationalism that would turn me off. It would be interesting if there was some practical way to test headlines as to which ones pulled the best.Like everything headline writing is a learned skill.I learned a long time ago that if want to successfully market books you better have a good cover. Same concept.
Riley

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24 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 9:13 AM

Why thanks Riley, that’s good to know it drew you in. I don’t like those headlines that really catch my attention and then the first paragraph says that the headline is what got your attention but the content has nothing to do with it. Those make me just mad…

That’s not what I want to do but this learning how to really make them take hold is difficult. I keep reading all this information that people are providing but how to come up with this myself is the hard part. But, I’m going to keep going at it until I get this down. Keep your fingers crossed for me! :-)

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25 Sheila Atwood April 29, 2011 at 8:02 AM

Adrienne,

My headlines fit into the boring category too. I started having someone else write my headlines. My traffic improved. So that made me dive in and work on them.

I do use my swipe files to come up with a headline idea. I usually write a headline, good or not then I write my post and go back to my headline and fix it. Usually by the time I have finished writing my post and use my swipe file I have better ideas for my headline.

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26 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 9:16 AM

That’s a good idea Sheila. I usually start with my headline to and then write my content. I guess I just need to take more time trying to rewrite it so it’s more eye catching.

So you had someone else write your headlines. Isn’t that the smart thing to do. Wish I could get someone to write mine but I’m going to keep working at this diligently until something starts happening. My swipe files are going to get huge now! :-)

Have a wonderful day young lady and thanks for your comment. Good idea!

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27 Linda April 29, 2011 at 10:50 AM

I never really thought about it, honestly. I just write..lol. But, sometimes, when I remember I try to use relevant keywords as part of my title because that is how I feel my post will be found. Now whether it is actually read is another story ;-)

Thanks for sharing those sites, never saw them before.

Hope you have a wonderful day!
Linda

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28 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Well it’s all about that SEO and getting your content picked up. That’s how your info is found in the search engines that is. But like you, I would just write. Whatever hit my fancy for that particular post. I am starting to work more on those headlines and content though so this is a lesson I’m going to be paying much more attention to now.

Hope these sites I referenced will help you as well. I’ll definitely have a great day and you do as well.

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29 Bill Dorman
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Swipe files; if you have a really good headline can you use it twice? My parents got me this really cool shirt back in elementary school. All the kids (especially the girls) were ooohing and aaaahing over it. I was on cloud nine. I was thinking “wow, if I got this much attention maybe I’ll just wear it the next day too”…………my parents tried to talk me out of it but I wasn’t hearing it. So they sent me off to school the next day to learn one of those ‘life lessons’ that aren’t too painful but if nothing else, lets you know your parents do know what they are talking about sometimes.

Lesson one………….DON’T use same title back to back no matter how clever or how much traffic it drove to your site.

I don’t know if my model is sustainable, but I just drag my tired ol’ link around with me when commenting. I get a reasonable amount of replies. I probably should start thinking about stepping up my game and actually have people come to my site on their own. I’m working on getting a self-hosted site and then I work on the ‘headlines’.

My next idea is to send out a dollar to the commenter for every response I get; I’ll let you know how that goes………

Thanks for sharing.

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30 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Never tried that trick Bill, headlines or clothes.. My Mom would never allow me to wear something twice and trust me, you didn’t dare so no to her. ;-)

I’m with you on visiting all the other sites and that’s the reason for the majority of traffic. Can we stand on our own? Can we get traffic the good old fashioned way? That’s where this tip comes in handy so I’m giving it a shot. Will report later on whether it helped or not. But paying your commenters to come ain’t such a bad idea either. Thanks for that tip but I know I can’t afford everyone yet! LOL!!! Nice try… You sneaky devil you!!!

Thanks for stopping by Bill. Have a great afternoon and a fun weekend.

Adrienne

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31 Edwin April 29, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Yea Adrienne the title is awesome. It really makes you keep reading. Thanks for the tips

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32 Adrienne
Twitter:
April 29, 2011 at 9:02 PM

Guess I did a good job with that one Edwin. Hope I can keep up the great work on that end. Stay tuned my friend. Always appreciate seeing you.

I need to come and check out your latest post. You always share such awesome, helpful and informative information. So, guess I’ll see you soon.

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33 Gil Pizano April 30, 2011 at 8:20 PM

You’re so right and I agree that headlines make the post much more attractive to any person scanning the internet. Great examples! Thank you for taking the time to share these Adrienne!

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34 Adrienne
Twitter:
May 1, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Thank you Gil, glad I did a good job with this one. I’m really working on those headlines and hopefully these tips can help others.

Appreciate you stopping by and for your comment. :-)

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35 Peppy April 30, 2011 at 11:25 PM

Greetings Adrienne,

I was perusing down the blog list over at BlogInteract when your title caught my attention and I skedaddled right over!

While your headline pulled me in, it was your content- the well-written quality information that has undertones of (your?) personality – that kept me reading to the very end.

I struggle with titles all the time so I am very appreciative of the sites you suggested and will be checking them out. It has been through helpful articles such as this one that has helped me continue working to move my blog forward – Thanks for the insightful post.

Peppy

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36 Adrienne
Twitter:
May 1, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Well hello there Peggy,

Thank you for that and I’m so happy to see you here. Wow, that title thing is working then. Oh, I’m so pleased. I think we all write in our own unique way. I don’t claim to be some expert and there are so many areas I’m still working on. But when I learn about things, I can’t help but share. I get so excited and know that there are others who probably have the same difficulty that I do.

I’m thrilled that my post helped you in some small way. Be sure to check out those other sites and start using those swipe files. My next post will show you how you can easily keep them all in one place and easy to access. Until then, have a wonderful day! Thanks again for stopping by!

Adrienne

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37 Greg Ingerson May 1, 2011 at 3:41 AM

Except a couple, I don’t remember most of the headlines you wrote Adrienne:) but so far I have enjoyed reading all your articles. I just read the heading once and that’s it, I’m engrossed in your posts. I also agree that, whether its selling products and services or running a blog a catchy title is very important to pull the attention of the readers but what we offer the readers/customers or how good the content of the article is, what matters most to the readers.

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38 Adrienne
Twitter:
May 1, 2011 at 10:31 AM

LOL, I definitely know why Greg! They weren’t eye catching and award winners. :-)

I know that I have some readers who really come to my blog to learn from me and enjoy the way I write. I know you are one of them and I appreciate you. I’m telling you, you need to get that blog up so I can comment on what you have to share as well. I want to be able to support you the way you support me.

I know that the titles used correctly can really help where SEO is concerned. For all those people who haven’t found me yet. But I’m not complaining about the people who have. Just always happy to see you again.

Thanks for that Greg…

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39 johnnile May 5, 2011 at 6:20 PM

Hi Adrienne,
another cool thing is that you can run articles competition on your blog with a cash prize. Your visitors would be publishing only unique articles, you would have the food for google (unique content), your readers would be reading and voting (you can set up a cash prize for the most active commentator). Everyone would be happy at the end.
How about that? Think about it, money talks.
Regards. John

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40 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
May 5, 2011 at 6:57 PM

That is a great tip but at the end of that I would have to give out the cash! Huh!!! Maybe when I have extra to spare I’ll consider that option. But it definitely makes a lot of sense and is a great idea. Thanks for your input. I’m loving your comments my friend.

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41 johnnile May 5, 2011 at 7:39 PM

Hi Adrienne,
thank you for the warm words. I am in the gambling business and there is nothing for free as in any other business. With regards to the articles competitions idea, the unique content cost money and google ranking, people specialising in the content writing are charging a lot for the articles. But you can have them for penny. Besides, you can run the competition for a few month, spreading it in time, to let the participating people spread the news making youg blog even more popular.
Many Thanks
John

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42 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
May 5, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Hey John, my pleasure. I saw your website address so I realized you were in the gambling niche.

I agree with you that not everything is free, but you can do a lot of really wonderful things through free methods. I also believe that you can entice them more when the end result/prize is worthy of their time. How true, how true…

Again, I really appreciate your tips. This is how I learn and grow. Thanks for that tip…

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43 Michael
Twitter:
May 10, 2011 at 2:34 AM

Hi Adrienne –

This is a great post! I have trouble getting people to read my posts as well.

I like your idea about a swipe file. Never really heard of those until now. I’ll start with that and reading your links you provided with great headings.

Thanks for the input!!

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44 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
May 10, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Hey Michael, thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the post. You know headlines have always been difficult for me. Everyone elses always seem to be so eye catching so I was bound and determined to find a way to figure this all out. So I did some researching and low and behold, it was right in front of my face this entire time! I hate that when that happens. But, at least I can now share with you all how to improve yours as well, if that is a weakness for you too, and maybe we can all start pulling in those visitors a lot more often.

Hope this one helped so go out there and slay them my friend. Appreciate your input.

Adrienne

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45 Tony May 12, 2011 at 12:02 PM

Writing about some topics that people now looking for. It’s an easy way to gain readers.

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46 Adrienne Smith
Twitter:
May 12, 2011 at 1:22 PM

It’s the headline that will grab their attention and hopefully you’ll post something that they are interested in reading. Some headlines are deceiving and only want to grab your attention so you’ll click through only to find that it has nothing to do with the title. But that would definitely be the point of your content for sure.

Thanks Tony!!!

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