Another Clickbait Title to Coax You Into Reading Something Useful

Sometimes I'm accused of writing a clickbait title or headline to attract new readers to my website. I prefer the term catchy, and believe it's not clickbait when the article behind the link is useful. I once clicked on an ad that said something like “You won’t believe what OJ Simpson’s daughter looks like today!”.

The link took me to an article called 31 Celebrity Then and Now Photos that will BLOW YOUR MIND! (paraphrasing).

Each celebrity then and now photo was on a separate page, requiring that I click through 30 additional pages to see each revealing image. Every page was splattered with ads and more clickbait titles and images tempting the willpower of my mouse cursor.

By the 5th click, I didn’t care what OJ Simpson’s daughter looked like, I was more curious if they’d actually deliver the promise of the original ad. So I clicked and clicked, wasting untold time and bandwidth.

Sure enough, she was number 31.

The Rise of Clickbait

The earliest reference I’ve found to the term clickbait was in a blog post by a guy named Jay Geiger back in 2006. Clickbait wasn’t officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary until 2014. Merriam-Webster added it in 2015 alongside WTF and photobomb.

Merriam-Webster defines clickbait like this:

Something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.

Oxford leaves off the dubious value or interest part.

We’ve all seen the ads that suck you into a vortex of useless photos, ads, and information. Maybe you’ve clicked too.

A clickbait title is a sensationalized headline with accompanying images that are shocking or mysterious. Nowadays, I’ve trained myself to avoid the stuff.

But as a creator on the internet, I’m sometimes accused of writing clickbait titles. It’s become a lazy and uncreative insult by someone who clicks a link and their expectations aren’t met or they don’t like the article.

Many people who read my articles find value in them. I know that because you tell me, you subscribe to my weekly articles, and you keep coming back. So if I can get a new reader to click and read an article, there’s a decent chance you’ll become a longer-term reader.

I use Facebook ads to attract new readers. My blog needs readers to succeed as a business. The titles must be click-worthy or else the ad money goes to waste. But man, the comments can be ruthless.

A lot of you have found my website through Facebook ads. I appreciate that you’ve stuck around.

Good Title vs. Clickbait Title

The objective shared by all bloggers, regardless of their end goal, is to attract eyeballs to their website. Bloggers live and die by titles.

Articles with good titles will more readers from email and social media followers. Average or so-so titles mean only the most loyal readers will bother. Really good titles will reach your follower’s followers, and sometimes go viral.

Those eyeballs turn into loyal readers and blog traffic grows. That means more income too.

There’s a whole science behind getting people to click on ads and links. In fact, some of the smartest computer scientists on the planet are at Facebook and Google trying to get you to click on ads right now.

Here’s a comparison of two blog posts I wrote. One had a good title. The other was lousy.

Sometimes I'm accused of writing a clickbait title or headline to attract new readers to my website. I prefer the term catchy, and believe it's not clickbait when the article behind the link is useful.

Only 30% of my subscribers bothered to open the first email. Even worse, just 6.5% of my subscribers actually went on to read the article.

The second title, 45.5% opened the email and 21.5% of all my subscribers went to my website to read it. With a few thousand email subscribers, this difference translates into hundreds of more eyeballs reaching my website.

The better title also leads to more readers coming from social media and other traffic sources.

For sites with bigger email lists and social media followers, a better title can be worth thousands of dollars.

But the difference between a good title and a clickbait title is the quality of what lies behind the link.

Perhaps, by now, you’re pondering if the content behind your last click is a bit dubious?

Now for Something Useful

Now that you’re here and you’ve read this far, this article does need to become useful as promised. So here are some catchy-titled articles from the archive that many readers have probably never checked out yet.

One of my favorite titles was an article I wrote back in February of 2015 called This Blog Post Is Not Safe For Work (NSFW).

It was so clickbaity that the first comment called it out as such.

The article was about my career frustrations at the time and how I worked purely for selfish reasons. After a few career moves (#1 and #2), I’ve found more job satisfaction in my day job and I’m no longer so cynical.

For a long time, that article was the most popular on my site. People related to it. Still do. Best of all, I was able to connect with many readers who were also frustrated with their jobs but still saw them as the path of least resistance to financial independence.

Another favorite title which went viral on Facebook was called That Clutter In Your Home Used To Be Money. I thought about the exact phrasing of this title for days to get it right. All that time paid off. Tens of thousands of readers visited RBD within a few days to read that article, many of whom are still readers today.

Who can resist clicking on The Nude Selfie of Personal Finance? Check out the (terrible) photo-shopping! It started as a completely different article about Playboy Magazine eliminating nude photos (they’ve since reversed that decision) but ended up being about nude men flexing at the gym and tracking net worth.

The title that has brought the most people to this site is 20 Passive Income Ideas To Consider in 2018 and its predecessor.

Internet readers love lists and listicles always get more clicks. On top of that, passive income is kind of a clickbait term which many consider it to be too good to be true.

Can I really earn money without working?

You can, and it’s how wealthy people get more wealthy. But most passive income streams are not 100% passive. Some people hate the term and shout clickbait! on Facebook.

In truth, I never liked the term passive income until I used it for the title of a post.

Here are a few other articles from the archive that have some catchy titles but are hopefully still useful or entertaining to you:


OK, so it seems that I used clickbait a catchy title to convince you to click on other clickbait titles read other great articles here.

Instead of serving you the equivalent of 31 celebrity then and now photo-pages, I’m hoping you click just one or two more links above to browse some evergreen articles, or at least leave without dropping an angry emoji on my Facebook post.

And if you haven’t already, please subscribe to my email list below so we can continue to build income streams and explore the unusual together every week.


Photo by mirandableijenberg via Pixabay

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10 Responses to Another Clickbait Title to Coax You Into Reading Something Useful

  1. Marc September 13, 2018 at 7:10 am #

    I hate those ads and sites with 30 photos all on separate pages. I’m hoping the trend changes soon and they all go away.

    • Retire Before Dad September 13, 2018 at 8:10 am #

      I’ve heard that Google is punishing those kids of sites these days, at least for search traffic, possibly for ads too. Bad user experience.

  2. Fritz @ TheRetirementManifesto September 13, 2018 at 8:04 am #

    “Catchy” post, RBD. I, like you, put a lot of thought into my post titles. I like your comparison of “Good” vs. “Clickbait”. I think more important than the title, however, is finding content to write about that folks want to read. THEN, top it off with a “Great” title and you’re off to the races.

    Then again, your (very clearly) clickbait title on this post led me here, didn’t it! (BTW, how does OJ’s daughter look these days? Haha).

    • Retire Before Dad September 13, 2018 at 8:14 am #

      Hi Fritz… Great title and great content is ideal, but not all that common. I’ve been sucked in by a few x-country train articles these days. Also a bucket item for me, though I want to take the Canadian route west. Sorry we’ll miss you at FinCon this year.

  3. Emma September 14, 2018 at 2:33 am #

    One thing missing here, although I’m sure it does not apply to everyone. I am a reader of many blogs, but I wouldnt describe myself as loyal. I only read the articles I’m interested in. It doesn’t matter how catchy the title if the subject matter doesn’t interest me I won’t read it. Similarly if I open something and it’s not delivering I stop reading and so something more useful.

    • Retire Before Dad September 14, 2018 at 8:21 am #

      Good point. Can’t say that I’m a loyal blog reader either, and I’m sure most of the readers here only come if the article is interesting.

  4. Tim September 14, 2018 at 9:17 am #

    Your title magic worked on me. I found your site through the NSFW article that you mentioned and am still a loyal reader. One of the most useful items for me on your site is your blog feed. Your site is now my first stop in the morning. I head straight to that feed to see what everyone is writing about. The only bad part, is that I am quite lazy. If a blog does not appear in your blog feed, I never bother to go search to find them – I just assume that all important and/or interesting blogs are (easily) available in your feed. That is correct, isn’t it? 🙂
    Keep up the great writing.

    • Retire Before Dad September 14, 2018 at 12:15 pm #

      Hey Tim… glad you find the bloggers useful. The tool isn’t working perfectly these days so I’m hoping to find a better solution. But it’s still good enough to find some good stuff

  5. Tawcan September 14, 2018 at 12:12 pm #

    Catchy titles help but if the articles are crap then ppl won’t come back again. It’s tough finding catchy titles though… then if you really want to incorporate SEO into the equation that’s another level of work.

    I think my most catchy title this year was the FIRE. RIP. 2014-2018 post ( :p

    • Retire Before Dad September 14, 2018 at 12:14 pm #

      Agreed! SEO is a whole other animal, and definitely makes things more challenging.

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