Offbeat

Gamifying Blogs: Hoogie’s Magic Formula to Churning Out Blog Titles

by . July 13th, 2014

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If you write a blog that’s not narrative, whether it be for entertainment, or education, or whatever, you understand that one of the biggest things blocking you from getting a regular post count is thinking up of topics. Sometimes the topic’s been done too many times. Sometimes it makes you feel like you’re selling your soul. Sometimes it’s too difficult to research. And depending on how you work, an editorial calendar doesn’t work either. You look at a topic you outlined months ago and feel that it’s gone stale. And if that’s the way you see the topic, then it will definitely show in your writing.

So how do you write posts that aren’t a result of reading other blogs you found were interesting or not spend a whole bunch of time summoning the gods of creativity? I have come up with a system that decreases the time spent on thinking of a topic, and does not include scrambling around the internet to hack off another person’s blog, promoting creativity and originality. It creates topics by suggesting you titles from a list of almost a thousand sentence structures which can all be flipped and turned around, offering you endless possibilities. All you need is some dice, some practice, a good sense of humor, and a nice amount of poetic ingenuity. And it also makes a nice game when you’re bored. Let’s begin.

Hoogie’s Blog Title Magic Formula Thing

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By studying a lot of headlines from various blogs (Don’t worry. Not the Upworthy-ish blog titles), I have come up with ten features for making titles for articles. These features should not all be followed at the same time. Instead, combining two or three of them should be optimal. Let’s go over them.

  1. What enviable people do or have
  2. Information with limited sources
  3. Simple actions with great results
  4. Life improvement
  5. Change in mindset
  6. Self actualization
  7. Free resources
  8. Solutions
  9. Fanciful descriptors or superlatives
  10. Specific sources

A few notes before we continue:

  • When noting what enviable people do or have, say “What Rich People Do” rather than “How to Be Rich”. It makes it seem tried and tested as well as friendly.
  • By limited sources, I mean you can’t just grab this information anywhere. Sort of like “Stuff They Don’t Teach You at School”
  • Never state a problem without offering a solution.
  • Specific sources means noting where the information came from, just like the title of this post. You know it’s from YTE.

With the 10 features, limiting yourself to two or three grants you 810 possible sentence structures and an infinite amount of variations. For example: if you get limited sources (2), solutions(8), and superlatives(9), you can come up with something like “Best Startup Advice They Don’t Teach at School” or “Unbeatable: Unlocking the Secret Formula to Success”

 

See? Quite simple.

 

 

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The actual process

If you have a topic in mind and are just scrambling for a blog title, study your article and find out which of the list best matches your post. Combine those and go creative.

However, if you have no idea what to write about and want some form of direction, this is where the process shows its splendor. I titled this post “Gamifying Blogs” because that is exactly what we’re going to do. We’re going to have fun, exercise our minds, and simplify our process all at the same time.

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First thing you want to do is get a few dice. Not the usual six-sided ones, but ten-sided ones. Three of them. These are available in gaming shops, hobby shops, and the internet in different styles. They range from the usual ivory with black spots, to artistic ones depicting ancient runes and mysterious symbols. They’re also made in various materials from plastic, to wood, to metal. It is usually easier to just buy a set of Dungeons and Dragons dice, but most shops sell individual ones too.

If you don’t want to spend on dice, you could always use the handy online dice roller by Wizards of the Coast, or download an app. The online dice roller is easy to use. Just type 3 on the space beside the ten-sided dice and click “Roll.” My opinion though is to get actual dice, because it adds fun and suspense to finding out what your next post could be about. It’s a childish reason, but I think its valid.

Once you’ve rolled your dice, check which feature each number corresponds to. If you’ve got three of the same number, you could either reroll or take it as is. Play around with the sentence structure, choose what words to say, and get creative. Even though this shortens the time needed to make a title, the final headline is still up to you.

Here are some results of my own dice rolls:

  • Understand Your Mind and Conquer It Through This Approach (5,6,4)
  • 6 Amazing Productivity Boosters (9,4,4)
  • Easy Morning Activities Rich People Use to Garner Better Results (9,3,1)

 

What if I still can’t think of a topic?

Now, thinking of a blog title can sometimes still be daunting with that much direction. Maybe you’re too stressed or tired to think of a post. Whatever the case, there’s a solution to that too. However, since I don’t know the theme of your blog, you’ll have to help yourself out with this part.

If you bought or are familiar with Dungeons and Dragons dice sets, you know that it comes with seven dice of different shapes which range from the pyramid-looking four-sided dice to the almost spherical twenty-sided dice. You’ll also notice that the numbers on the two ten-sided dice are different. One has numbers from 1-10, and the other has multiples of 10. This is so that, rolled together, you can get results from 1 to 000, which means 100.

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Spend a bit of time writing down three lists of keywords: Nouns, verbs, and descriptors. These vary from blog to blog. For example, YTE’s list would have words like startup or small-business, while YTD would have words like illustrate or art director. Give these lists 12 items, 20 items, or 100 items. The more, the better because it will show in the variety of your blog titles and topics. Roll the die corresponding to the number of the items on the needed list until you get a word that you feel clicks. Sometimes, you’ll think of using not of the word you got, but rather a synonym of it or a word that popped into your head last second.

Another thing that could help is using the dice to tell you how much items should be on a list you’re making, like a “7 Inspirational Quotes” post. It would be advisable to think of a number beforehand to add to your roll result just so that your list doesn’t have one or two items only. Two is usually a nice number to use.

And that’s it. Use a bit of math and luck to think of topics a whole lot faster.

When you’re bored with friends, you could also pitch this as a game. Have fun with your buddies and let them think of blog titles for you at the same time. Just a suggestion.

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If you want more ways to gamify your office experience, tell us in the comment box below. Subscribe to our Facebook and Twitter for more posts about the entrepreneurial lifestyle.

image sources: stephenpoff via photopin cc; simpleinsomnia via photopin cc; derbeth via photopin cc; alysonh via photopin cc; scelera via photopin cc; sbenoit via photopin cc; fizi via photopin cc

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

I do grown-up things to pay for my childish whimsy and rule the universe one step at a time while at it. Join me for the most fantastical, out-of-this-world adventure your trudgy 24/7 startup will never have.

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