Was George right to shoot Lennie?

I realised when the reptilian Gove removed “Of Mice and Men” from the curriculum that my days were numbered in a classroom. I’d taught it for over 20 years and seen the old and newer versions of the dvd repeatedly.

I realised too, when I set up this business, that the days of coaching students on zoom, micro-macro on descriptive writing, or presenting a balanced argument on the perennial essay on school uniform, were over.

Writing was to remain with me in this business – it was its primary purpose when I set it up four years ago now, but I had to learn how to write to sell, to persuade people to buy goods and services and not train some hormonal teenager in how to sell an argument about vegetarianism or such like.

I’ve learned loads in four years – if that doesn’t sound too technical – and one lesson is this: the title is king.

If I don’t go in my MSN junk email box for a few days, it’s spam city and I have over 200 emails waiting to be binned. I do scroll through though and check which ones to move to my inbox and not mass destroy, and invariably these have some importance or have an arresting subject line.

It’s the same with blogs.

The title matters.

This one hits upon a successful formula in that it asks a question. Its length of six words is good too for SEO. Too long and Google truncates it. Too short and it looks lame.

There’s a power word in there – shoot. And an uncommon word: right. It scores 69% which is decent but you need to aim for 80.

A blog title needs a balance of all four, apparently.

I could do better though with this replacement headline.

Much better.

What happens when murder becomes a matter of survival?

That scores 82 and I could actually get it higher with some uncommon words.

Now I don’t at all claim to have invented this tool. I found it online and used it frequently in early writing days and irregularly now. But if you’re writing blog posts, email campaigns, marketing copy and want better click throughs, start with this tool.

If you want the crib sheet too, without the hassle of finding it online, it’s below.

Happy headline writing.

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