You know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you’re reading a reputable news source online, and as you scroll down further, you see its need to pay the bills: “10 Ways to Start Meditating (and You Won’t Believe How Easy #3 Is!)”
Your curiosity is piqued as you wonder how “easy” the third way is. So you click on it with the anticipation that you’ll finally find some enlightening piece of work. Then you find a thin piece of writing that you could have banged out in an hour. You also see about three or four ads for something you shopped for five minutes ago on eBay.
I know many marketers and bloggers tell us to “write a catchy title.” I wonder if some of these same people would rename our great works of literature following this advice. Romeo and Juliet would be How I Found a Love Worth Dying For (And You Could, Too). Walden would be retitled as I Lived in the Woods Without Paying Taxes. Here’s What Happened. Pride and Prejudice would be printed under the title, Six Ways to Attract the Man of Your Dreams.
It’s tempting to succumb to writing headlines like these. We want eyeballs on our writing.
However, we have to ask ourselves what is more important—our writing or our popularity. Just because something is popular doesn’t mean it’s good writing. Reality television is proof of that.
Not only that, but when we write titles like that, we're lowering our writing to the level of the clickbait articles. These articles are not intended to inform. They are intended to draw your attention to ads on their site. That's it. You don't want your work to be put into that box.
Finally, when we write “catchy” headlines, we might sell our audience something we can’t promise. It’s similar to using an old or altered image of yourself on your dating profile. Eventually you have to show the real you.