Shortly following the presidential election, I wrote a blog, which stemmed from the violence that ensued the announcement about who had won. I won’t get into the main topic of said blog. If you’d like, you can read it for yourself. The title of the posting was, “Fifty More Shades of Gray.”
After some of the dust had settled, one of my readers voiced her dismay over the title I had chosen. She felt that it was a not-so-veiled reference to a less than appropriate movie. She was, of course, correct…well sort of.
It was actually a not-so-veiled reference to the book. Frankly, I had forgotten all about the movie that had been made from the book, Fifty Shades of Gray. Who could forget the uproar and splash made by that publication a few years ago? People still talk about it.
“I never saw anyone study so intently.”
During the height of its popularity, I was sitting on a plane next to a young lady who was reading what was obviously the very definition of a page-turner. I never saw anyone study so intently. I couldn’t see what she was scanning, so when we landed, I took the liberty of asking her what it was.
She apologetically told me it was Fifty Shades of Gray. She then proceeded to tell me she just wanted to find out what the big stink was all about. All her friends were reading it, and she just had to investigate. Investigate she did. She must have devoured half the book on the flight from Chicago to DC.
Anyway, back to the reader of my blog post. I responded to her and told her I certainly understood her concern over my choice of titles. I further explained, however, that to get people to read a blog floating along in cyberspace, the title had to grab people’s attention. Otherwise, it tends to get lost in the shuffle—regardless of how good (or bad) the content might be. I have been accused over the years of being a prude, so I guess the choice of that title may have been a big leap for me.
“My readership tripled in size…”
To drive home the point, I checked my readership totals for that blog after it had gone public. Sure enough, more people read that particular one than usual. In fact, my readership tripled in size with its posting. Let that be a lesson to all you bloggers out there.
I’ve been blogging for fifteen and a half months and have noticed a pattern. Readership dramatically increases when my titles hint at two things—death and sex. As a preacher, I try to stay away from sexual topics—that’s not where my expertise lies. But a veiled reference to it in the title definitely attracts attention. My blogs with titles like “Going Topless” and “Spiritual Nudity (or X-Rated Marks the Spot)” were reader magnets.
So, with apologies to my fellow prudes, I can’t write about death every day. Creating titles is a dirty job, but somebody’s got to do it.
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and is currently pastor of Smith Chapel in Great Falls, VA.]