Some of us watched the inflated, over-the-top, “I’m good.” “No, you’re good” Oscars this spring. I did not. Since my daughter was in the biz, the glamour is gone.
I do remember, however, seeing the blow-by-blow on the front page of cnn.com. And watching the trailers on the Web, I couldn’t help but think.
Those folks in Hollywood know how to do some things well, like sell their product in one line. They know how to entice us in 25 words or less.
They know how to pitch a movie idea—to the producers and to their future fans.
How thinking like a screenwriter can get you more blog subscribers
The scribes in Hollywood have it all figured out. They know that their screenplay can be the next Titanic, full of snappy dialogue, rich characters and amazing plot twists.
But when they pitch their idea to an agent or producer, the first question they will get is, “So, what’s this script about?”
If they can’t sum up their story in one sentence, in 25 words or fewer, they will have doors slamming on them all the way up and down Hollywood Boulevard.
They need a tagline.
Whether they mail it to an agent (who passes it along to a lowly “reader,”) or they pitch it in person, they need it.
And it had better be powerful, catchy and memorable or the game’s over before it begins.
What bloggers can learn from Hollywood writers
When my daughter got a few bit parts on Seinfeld (and sadly ended up on the cutting room floor), I began to watch the show more closely. The more I paid attention to the marketing part, the more I saw that they had genius writers.
Do you remember the Seinfeld tagline?
the show about nothing
And, really it was about nothing, just like our lives are as we meander along, often focused on the silly, small stuff. We got the essence of that show from a four-word tagline.
Going back aways, do you remember the 1980s American sitcom Family Ties? Michael J. Fox got his start in acting on this show, playing the conservative, Nixon-loving Alex P. Keaton, son of ex-hippies Elyse and Steven Keaton.
The writers encapsulated the essence of this show in just four words: “hip parents, square kids.”
Movies also do an amazing job with their taglines. We see them on the theatre’s movie posters and in the trailers.
Take The King’s Speech‘s tagline: When God couldn’t save the King, the Queen turned to someone who could.
Or The Social Network: You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies.
(That one is brilliant, just brilliant.)
Does your blog have a tagline?
Your tagline is your blog’s main message. It is usually one of the first things people see because it’s normally in the header, right below the blog’s name.
It is your goal, your promise, your brand. It should tell your blog visitors instantly what your blog is all about.
Because they are click-happy and unless they can see some value in sticking around, they’re outta there.
I don’t like keyword soup, so I don’t stuff my taglines with search engine food. There are plenty of other ways to feed the SEO gods. As an example of a writing blog tagline that works, I point to my friend Larry Brooks of Storyfix.com.:
get it written. get it right. get it published.
Larry writes novels and talks about the writing process on his blog. When you land on his home page, you know right away what his blog is all about.
He gives his readers tips on how to manage the writing process and get the work done (get it written.). He teaches form and structure so your plot doesn’t fall apart (get it right.). And he helps you explore publishing options and find the right one for you (get it published.)
With those three bold statements, I get a sense of his brand: he is a no-nonsense guy and he’s not going to spoon feed us. (I gave him the sub-title: the “Dr. Phil of the Literary World.”)
How to create a brilliant tagline
When my blog was still called Cat’s Eye Writer, my tagline was helping bloggers educate, engage and entertain. Now that I’m transitioning to the Judy Lee Dunn blog, it’s a work-in-progress. For now, I’m easing into it by pulling in the better known name, Cat’s Eye. But eventually, I’ll be applying the principles of a good tagline to creating my new one.
Here are some things to think about when creating your tagline:
1. Make it short.
10-12 words is good. 6 or fewer is even better. Many times if the process is a struggle, it means you haven’t clearly defined your blog yet.
One of the best short taglines I have ever seen comes from the Zen Habits blog: Breathe. It isn’t always possible to sum it up in one word, but when it’s done well, it really works.
2. Make it sticky.
If visitors remember your tagline, they can more easily tell other people about your blog. Play around with visually appealing, image-rich words that instantly give readers a picture in their minds.
I like the tagline of Nomadic Chick, a travel blog: Cubicle Dweller to Traveling Gypsy, because I can visualize that. I know where she used to be and where she is now—and what she blogs about.
3. Be clear.
This is not the time to dance around the theme and topic of your blog. Readers need to know within seconds what your blog is about, what they can expect to find there. What is the premise of your blog? Who is it for? What is it about?
Your measure should be: Will a complete stranger to my blog understand what its purpose is by reading my tagline?
Also, if the name of your blog doesn’t really tell visitors what it’s about, it’s especially key that your tagline does. For instance, the TwiTips blog has this tagline: Twitter Tips in 140 Characters or More (a nice twist on Twitter’s 140 characters or less).
4. Project your voice and personality.
People come to your blog because you are an interesting person. If you write funny, throw some humor into your tagline. If you have an attitude, make it a little edgy. You get the idea.
For instance, the blogger at Five Kids Is a Lot of Kids warns you that she is not going to sugar coat things—and she proclaims it in her tagline: raising kids to be self-sufficient enough to pay for their own counseling. That’s funny, a little edgy and not your typical “pink ballerinas” mommy blog. We have been forewarned. So we can choose to stick around or leave.
5. Consider building your tagline on your brand’s promise.
It’s a challenge but it can be done. If you haven’t tried it, maybe you should. Because it helps you define what your blog is all about and that’s a good thing. What are you promising readers if they stick around?
My friend Joanna Penn over at the Creative Penn blog states her promise nicely in her tagline: Helping you write, market and publish your book.
So what about you?
If your blog was a movie, what would its tagline be?
If your blog already has a tagline, would you like to share it in the comments?
Come on. Be brave and put it up for us to see. Because we could all use some extra inspiration.
This post is a revised article that originally appeared on For Bloggers By Bloggers.