The-Truth-About Business Blog Titles

The Science of Exeercse


The table of contents in Time’s special edition “The Science of Exercise” lists seventeen different articles, all of which sounded interesting enough to induce me to take the magazine off the display and add it to my shopping cart. And the articles did turn out to be interesting, every page worth a read by anyone interested in physical wellbeing. But, as a blog content writer, I was interested in not only the articles, but in the table of contents. Why had I found some of the titles more intriguing than others, tempting me to read certain articles first?

There were titles with an “agenda”, where you knew the writer’s point of view before reading the article, such as:

  • “The Incredible Medicine of Movement”
  • “How Exercise Keeps You Young”

There were emotional “grabber” titles, such as:

  • “When Athletes Beat the Odds”
  • “Confessions of a Couch Potato”

There were how-to titles, including:

  • “How to Beat Muscle Pain”
  • “How to Exercise When You Have No Time”

And then there were “the Truth About” titles. You may have chosen otherwise, but for me, these Truth-Abouts were the most compelling.  In “The Truth About Weight Loss”, titles, there was a hint of mystery, a promise an expose, perhaps – I was going to be given the “real scoop”… I suppose there’s something enticing about a title promising to “bare the truth”, especially when it concerns a topic on which we didn’t expect there to be any secrets to speak of.

In a business blog (or practitioner’s blog) “Truth-About” blog posts can be used in three basic ways:

  1. To de- mystify, offering information that makes your blog a “go-to” source for readers.
  2. To myth-bust, addressing misunderstandings about a product or service
  3. To offer actionable steps readers can take

In, Thomas Umstattd advises authors to use the title to describe not the content of the article, but the value readers can expect to find in the content, making a case for why readers ought to even bother reading on.

Those three words – “The Truth About” constitute a promise of value when used in the title of a blog post. What will you tell your readers the truth about?


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Opening Gambits in Blogging for Business


When you’re serving up seventeen articles about the very same topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines, I discovered, looking through TIME’s special edition, The Science of Exercise.

Of course, that’s hardly “new news” – I’ve always stressed to new content writers that opening lines have a big job to do. “Cute-sy” writing may not cut it, either, because, as blog content writers, we can hardly afford to be enigmatic in our attempt to arouse curiosity. We have to assure readers they’ve come to the right place to find the information that satisfies their need for answers. On the other hand, a “pow” opening line may be just what’s needed to keep a reader progressing through the page.

  •  “Ever since high school, Mark Tarnopolsky has blurred the line between jock and nerd.”
  • “Is your DNA your destiny? Not if you exercise, suggests new research.”
  • “If you’ve ever opened a birthday card to a message that reads ‘It’s all downhill from here’, you’re likely at an age when, according to popular opinion, your best days are behind you.”

Openers come in different flavors and sizes.  To help my business owner and professional practitioner clients and their freelance blog content writers focus on their blog post openers, I’ve selected several personal favorites out of The Science of Exercise:

Bold assertion
“Exercise is a miracle drug,” is the opening statement of “The Incredible Medicine of Movement”, in which New York sports medicine physician Jordan Metzl reviews scientific research providing “irrefutable evidence of the medicinal value of exercise.”

In-your-face statement
“There’s such a thing as good pain.” Robert Davis is referring to DOMS, the  delayed-onset muscle soreness that comes after exercise, but that opener is counter-intuitive enough to grab attention.

Thought provoker
“There’s no denying that running is one of the most democratic ways to work out.” Author Alexander Sifferlin explains that running can be done anytime, anywhere, with the only requirement being a good pair of running shoes and stamina. That opening line leaves readers wondering just why Sifferlin selected the unlikely descriptor “democratic” for exercise, and encourages them to keep reading to learn the answer.

Personal anecdote
“As I huffed and puffed up the subway stairs, trying to catch the elevated train to work one recent morning….” Blog readers respond to first and second person nouns. It can be highly effective to relate how you personally went through the same failure stages.

When you’re a blog content writing serving up many posts over time, all revolving around the very same general topic, how do you keep things different and engaging? It’s all in the opening lines!


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In Business Blogs, Keep the Downbeat Upbeat

Orchestra conductor
In blogging for business, the last thing you’d want to be is “downbeat”. (One dictionary definition of “downbeat” is pessimistic, gloomy, negative, and fatalistic.). On the other hand, “downbeat” might be the very effect I want to achieve in order set the mood for my blog post. (The word “downbeat” is a musical term referring to the opening bars of the music, in which the composer sets the mood for the concerto to come.)

The equivalent in blog writing of an orchestra’s downbeat (the conductor’s baton is raised while a hush falls over the audience, then comes down to start the music) is the opening sentence of each post.

From a search engine optimization standpoint, of course, I want to use keyword phrases in the title and in the first sentence, because that helps search engines match my content with the search terms online readers use. Even more important, though, it’s imperative to make the first ten words of any post count.

“Great opening sentences are critical when you’re writing for the internet, where readers have the attention span of fruit flies,” John Hargrave of says, citing a survey done by Microsoft of more than 2 billion page views, and found that users spend ten seconds on an average Web page On the other hand, the longer you retain them, researchers learned, the more likely they are to stay. At Media Shower, Hargrave says, “we train our writers to spend more time on the opening sentence than any other part of the article.”

Wayne Schmidt agrees. “Whether a story’s fifty words long or a hundred thousand, the most important passage is the opening paragraph. In the few seconds it takes to read it, most readers decide if finishing the tale is worth their time.” Start with a sentence that makes the reader ask a question, Schmidt suggests. (People hate unanswered questions.) It doesn’t have to be a literal question, just something that piques the reader’s curiosity.

Another approach for the “downbeat” is a “tease”, Michael Pollack suggests, withholding a key piece of information till later in the piece so the reader is compelled to keep reading. “What if I said that every TV network, movie, blog, book, and other forms of media use this same tactic?” Writing something that goes against the status quo or conflicts with conventional wisdom is another way to get attention, Pollack points out.

In business blogs, it’s downright important to keep the downbeat upbeat!


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Still More About Words to use in Blogging for Business

Words have power text on notepad
It’s the one lesson blog content writers can never afford to forget – the right words are our business blogging power tools. Sure, images (pictures, video clips, infographics) have power of their own.  But never forget that, in blogging, words matter, as Jennifer Olney of points out. Words are art, Olney emphasizes, and, as bloggers, we must “convey our message in words so that we can be understood without distraction”.

“Blogging has become the best possible way to leverage your online presence and gain traction with Internet searches performed by your potential clients.”(No surprise there, but what I did find surprising is the source of the remark – none other than the National Association of Realtors!)

 “Using powerful phrases – the right words – when you communicate gives you the confidence that you’re communicating your best…What you say can make all the difference in how your customers view you and your company,” says Renee Evenson in “Powerful Phrases for Effective Customer Service.”  As blog content writers, we need to be conscious of the difference the right words can make in marketing our clients’ businesses or professional practices.

Customers and clients talk to each other. “Research generally supports the claim that WOM (word of mouth marketing) can be more influential than print sources,”  An essential part of business blog marketing, I’m convinced, is “putting words in blog readers’ mouths”, helping them feel knowledgeable and in control in discussing the buying choices they’ve made with friends, neighbors and family.

“Building a successful word of mouth marketing machine is a dream for nearly every small business,” explains Chelsea Segal of Targetwise. “Word of mouth is about making your product and customer service so incredible that people can’t help but talk about it.”  Segal advises combing through what’s being said about you on various social media channels.  As blog content writers, we should look for congruence between the words customers use and the words we use to describe the product or service.

The words we use in our blog content, the words our clients use in talking to us and to others about us – it’s all about words.  The right ones are our business blog marketing power tools!


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Mythbusting Blog Content is More Than OK



“There may be more stories about the origin of ‘OK’ than there are uses for it,” a Mental Floss magazine article points out. Writers have attributed it to:

  • the Haitian port Aux Cayes
  • a Puerto Rican rum labeled “Aux Quais”
  • the German alles korrekt
  • shipbuilders marking wood for “outer keel”
  • Civil War soldiers carrying signs for “zero killed”

The truth, as Allan Metcalf explains in OK: The Improbable Story of America’s Greatest Word, is that the expression “OK” was born as a lame joke by the editor of the Boston Morning Post in 1839, meant to poke fun at poor spelling habits.

Today, Mental Floss points out, “OK” has become an all-purpose expression in dozens of languages, used as:

  1. an enthusiastic cheer
  2. an unenthusiastic rating of a movie or a meal
  3. a way to draw attention to a topic shift in conversation

What Metcalf has achieved is a myth debunk, and myth-debunking is one great use for business blogs. Many misunderstandings about a product or service present themselves in the natural order of business, in the form of questions and comments from readers and customers. Shining the light of day on that misinformation shines light on your own expertise.  If your blog post is well written, perhaps with a bit of tongue in cheek, it can offer enlightenment in a way that engages searchers and keeps them coming back.

In the process of debunking a myth, I tell business blog content writers, you can:

  • Offer little-known, interesting information related to your industry
  • Season that information with your own unique slant
  • Demonstrate the business owner’s or the practitioners’ knowledge and expertise

An important caution is in order when it comes to myth busting in blogs, however. As a blog writer, you want to use myth busting in your corporate blog to actually showcase (as opposed to showing off, or “showing up” your readers’ lack of knowledge).

So long as you keep that important caveat in mind, mythbusting blog content is more than OK!


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Case Study Business Blogging

Case study
“To explore uncertainty reduction theory, I ask students to analyze a case study in groups of four to six people for about 15 to 20 minutes,” says Elizabeth Natalle in Teaching Interpersonal Communication. The case study, she adds, is a good teaching technique because students can participate actively and demonstrates choice making.

Stories of all kinds – customer testimonials, famous incidents from the news, Hollywood doings, folklore – you name it - help personalize a business blog. Even if a professional  writer is composing the content, true-story material increases engagement by readers with the business or practice. Case studies are particularly effective in creating interest, because they are relatable and “real”.

I think that’s why, back in Journalism 101 class, we were taught to “put a face on the issue” by beginning the article with a human example  A story about rising food prices, for example, might begin with “Susie Hellenbecker’s putting things back on the shelf. With the price of cereal and fruit so high, she’s decided there’s no longer room in the budget for those, or for her favorite salad dressing.”

A case study takes that personalization even further, chronicling a customer or client who had a problem or need, and taking readers through the various stages of using the product or service to solve that problem. What were some of the issues that arose along the way? What new insights were gained through that experience, on the part of both the business and the customer?

“Case studies are a great way to tell the world how valuable your products or services are. They go beyond simple testimonials by showing real-life examples of how you were able to satisfy your customer’s needs and help them accomplish their goals,” teaches. “With great case studies, you will be able to highlight your successes in a way that will make your ideal potential customer become your customer.”



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The First Blog Post is Like the First Day of Class

Young teacher near chalkboard in school classroom

“What impression would you like to make on the first day?” asks Elizabeth Natalle, author of Teaching Interpersonal Communication. In fact, the first day of class gets a lot of attention from pedagogues, Natalle explains to teachers, because “what happens that first day demonstrates to students what to expect from your instruction.” Some teachers even forget to introduce themselves before launching into the lecture, she notes.

Like Natalle, Harsh Agrawal of Shout ME Loud stresses the importance of demonstrating to your audience what to expect, except that Agrawal’s referring to bloggers, not classroom teachers. “Get it wrong,” he warns, “and you’re doomed to fail.  But, if you get it right, you’ll lay the proper foundation for success,” he tells those just beginning to post blogs. “People want to connect with you on a deep level, Agrawal says, advising new bloggers to tell readers what their experiences have been in life, revealing who they are as a person, as a professional, and as a blogger. Include pictures of yourself to show authenticity and to help readers connect with you, he advises, cautioning them to “make it clear why you’ve decided to offer a blog”.I couldn’t agree more with Agrawal’s advice.  In fact, the first post for every new Say It For You client is a why-blog-about———– (pet care/ bankruptcy/ tutoring, etc., etc.).

The art of writing a good blog post has dramatically evolved in recent years, as points out in “How to Write Your First Company Blog Post”. “Readers expect far more in return for their time than an ill-conceived or badly-written blog post, Twago warns. “If you aren’t able to talk authoritatively and in-depth on a subject in your chosen field then you can wave conversions goodbye.”

Just as instructors make clear to students what the syllabus is for the semester and what tasks they are expected to complete before the next session, it’s crucial for us blog content writers to tell the readers what actions we would like them to take when they have reached the end of the blog post.  “Readers actively seek this out; they want to know what comes next,” explains Twago.

Remember – the first blog post is like the first day of class!




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Basically, We Bought Their Car For Them

Buying a new car


At a recent study session for financial planners, Waypoint Residential’s Todd Patterson made it really easy for us in the audience to understand exactly how excellent a return Waypoint had managed to generate for its investors over the last two years. After comparing dollars invested and dollars realized, Patterson summed up the situation in these simple terms:  “Basically, we bought their car for them.”

Let’s face it – most business blog posts make claims, either outright or implied.  The claims may be understated, exaggerated, or exactly on the money, but still – a claim is a claim is a claim. And when you make a claim, the problem is, blog visitors probably don’t know how to “digest” those claims you’ve “served up”.  They simply don’t have any basis for comparison, not being as expert as you are in your field. What I’m getting at is that every claim needs to be put into context, so that it not only is true, but so that it feels true to your online visitors. That’s precisely what Todd Patterson did so well in talking to us financial planners.

One core function of blogs for business is explaining yourself, your business philosophy, your products, and your processes.  An effective blog clarifies what sales trainers like to call your “unique value proposition” in terms readers can understand. And one excellent way to do just that is by making comparisons with things with which readers are already comfortable and familiar! Even those financial planner “numbers people” assiduously taking notes on their laptops, intending to share those stats with investors, needed something more.  That “more” was the “sound bite” about investors making enough money in two years to fund a car.

There are tens of millions of blog posts out there making claims of one sort or another, even as you’re reading this Say It For You post. Based on my own experience as an online reader, I’d venture to say fewer than 10% of them attempt to put their claims in context; and only the very top few manage to convey to their blog visitors what those claims can mean for them!

Basically, blog content writers, ask yourself what benefit your product or service “buys” for your customers and clients!




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The 8 Worst Mistakes in Blogging for Business

Multiethnic businesspeople sleeping during a seminar in conference room

Reading Paul Sloane’s list of “The Eight Worst Mistakes Made By Keynote Speakers”, I couldn’t help thinking these are probably the same mistakes made all too often by business blog content writers. Just as Sloane warns speakers “Be sure not to make these mistakes”, I’d like to use this Say It For You blog post to issue the same caution to blog writers.

A weak start.
“The first impression that you make on the stage is very important.  It should be positive and animated.”
Once the online visitor has actually landed on your blog, it takes a “pow opening line” to fan that flicker of interest into a flame. That line might consist of a bold assertion or an anomaly (a statement that, at first glance, doesn’t appear to fit).

Over-use of PowerPoint.
“Many speakers load up their presentation with too many slides containing too many words.”
Web surfers have a painfully short attention span, so it’s important to exercise portion control in the length of paragraphs, titles, and entire blog posts. Single visuals can add interest and evoke emotion.

No clear message.
Often speakers try to cover too much ground…There are many different messages but there is no clear theme.”
Business blogging is ideal for using the Power of One. Focus readers’ attention on one theme in each blog post, with one clear Call to Action.

No human interest.
“Many talks are crammed full of facts, data, charts, and statistics…People relate to stories about people.”
The stories content writers in Indianapolis tell in their SEO marketing blog have the power to forge that emotional connection between company and potential customer.

Lack of enthusiasm.
“Your job is to inform and entertain….Try to include some humour or something interesting and unusual, but keep it relevant to the topic.”
Two of the four P’s of business blogging are Passion and Personality.  Blog posts are ideal for communicating the unique personality and core beliefs of the business owner. No doubt about it – enthusiasm sells. And, when it comes to blogging for business, enthusiasm spreads – to searchers, search engines, and right back home to YOU!

Too much Me and not enough You.
“A big mistake is to make the talk about you, your company, your issues, and your achievements….You have to make the talk about them.”
That same concept applies to blogging for business, I’m convinced.  Each claim a content writer puts into a corporate blog needs to be put into context for the reader, so that the claim not only is true, but feels true to online visitors.

No rehearsal.
“Check all the equipment on stage and be familiar with all the logistics.”
Above all, I teach bloggers – don’t confuse the online readers. Don’t overwhelm them with technical jargon. Then, don’t make navigating your blog site a mystery.  Have clear Calls to Action and links that lead directly to where they should.

Overrunning on time.
“Event organizers and audiences do not appreciate a speaker who overruns his allotted time.”
Longer content, if focused and well-organized and engaging, is still appropriate.  Instead of shortening, tighten your writing and make each sentence and phrase count.

Blog content writers – Be sure to steer clear of the 8 mistakes!



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What-Good-Does-That-Do-Me Blog marketing

multi coloured gems

I think I could write an entire chapter in a content marketing textbook based on the ShaneCo radio commercial about diamond jewelry. I’d name it “What-Good-Does-That-Do-Me Blog Marketing”.

You see, in his “You’ve got a friend in the diamond business” commercials, Tom Shane often mentions the fact that he goes directly to Bangkok to seek out the most beautiful colored diamonds. (So far, nothing new or revolutionary about that – most companies’ commercials mention special value propositions, things that set the sponsoring company apart from its competitors.) Only problem is, potential customers are left wondering “So what?”, mentally tuning in to Radio WIIFM -  you know, What’s In It For Me?

Shane’s right on top of that one, answering the question even before it’s asked: Bangkok, Thailand is the world center for colored gemstones he explains.  And so he, as an authority on sapphires and other colored gemstones, personally travels there throughout the year to personally hand-select every stone. As if that weren’t enough, Shane goes on to explain, he then has many of the stones recut to maximize their value and beauty. That’s what’s in it for the customer about Shane’s trips to Bangkok, he makes clear.

For blogs to be effective, they must serve as positioning statements. The visit has to conclude with readers understanding not only what your value proposition is, but exactly why that should make any difference to them. Blog content writers need to remember this reality: Prospects are always mentally posing the “What’s In It For Me?” question. What’s the benefit in this for ME? How will MY interests be protected and served if I choose to do business with you or become your client or patient? What will you do to keep ME “safe” from risk?

But, even in a face-to-face selling situation, buyers rarely completely and accurately articulate all their concerns. True, our blog readers went online searching for answers to questions and solutions for dilemmas they’re facing. Still, I believe, blog writing for business will succeed only if two things are apparent to readers, and in the order presented here:

  • It’s clear you (the business owner or professional practitioner) understand online searchers’ concerns and needs
  • You and your staff have the experience, the information, the products, and the services to solve exactly those problems and meet precisely those needs.

The third ingredient, though –whether we’re dealing with a radio commercial or a blog post, has to be answering -  EVEN BEFORE IT’S ASKED -  this question:

If YOU go to Bangkok, what good does that do ME?




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