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Writing better titles

Writing headlines and story titles is tough work, but if you spend ~10 minutes brainstorming a story title, you will come up with a better, more engaging title for your story that will draw in more listeners or even purchasers to your piece.


First, let’s talk about BAD titles and why they might not be helping us.

Very Long

  • Example: Joe Bob and Marty Frank – musicians – in Conversation: Talk about their favorite music – newshole version
  • Simply put, very long titles look bad and often times they are hard to read on mobile devices. Keep your titles short and catchy.

Vague

  • There may be an urge to name your title something sort of vague and artsy. Having a title that you think is cool (like for example, a cool quote from your story) doesn’t always do your story justice. It doesn’t help us understand what we’re about to listen to or why we should take the time to listen to it. Give your listeners a reason to give your story a shot.

Part of a series/no title

  • If you have a weekly series you may not feel the need to come up with individual episode titles. There are are many stories on PRX that have titles like ”Episode 202.” You want people to listen to your story, but with a title like that you have given them no reason to. 

Let’s move on to GOOD titles and what makes them work.

Short/catchy

  • You probably read this a dozen or so times a day, but just to reiterate: Facebook and Twitter have changed the way people are consuming media. You have just a few characters to get people to click on something you’ve shared. Make them count.

Shareable

  •  What makes your story compelling to lots of people?

Now get to work!

Try this exercise. Set a timer for 10 minutes. Try to write has many titles as you can- you are going to write some really terrible titles, but take it in stride. Keep writing until time is up or you reach 25 titles, then work with the best three from your list. 

 

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