Wednesday, May 16, 2012

"You Lost Weight!"

Inspired by this article: Why You Should Think Twice before You Praise Someone for Losing Weight.

1. You don't know if the weight loss was intentional or is a positive thing for the person.  If a person didn't tell you that they wanted to lose weight, you don't know whether their weight loss is a good thing. They could have has lost weight due to illness, grief, stress, an eating disorder, or just incidentally.
But what if the person was fat and looks better or healthier now?
It doesn't matter. Although we associate eating disorders with very skinny women, people of all sizes can have them. And while some people believe that being thin is more important than anything else - that losing weight is a good part of being sick or that people should forego treatment if a side effect is weight gain - everyone doesn't think that way. How you would like it if someone kept insisting, "But you should be happy you're in the hospital! You don't have to go to work!"

2. It can make someone wonder what you thought of them before they lost weight.  It's easy to tell someone you like their new haircut or the way they rearranged their bedroom without indicating anything was wrong before. But in a culture where thinner = better, it's hard to compliment someone on losing weight without indicating that they "needed" to lose weight in the first place. The person might feel judged, like you didn't approve of them before they lost weight.

3. A person can't leave their body at home.  A person doesn't choose to show off their body the same way they might show off their latest artwork or juggling trick.  If someone doesn't want comments on their weight loss for any reason, they don't have the option of not showing you their body.

By automatically assuming that weight loss is good, we promote the idea that thin is good and fat is bad, which is untrue, prejudiced, and very hurtful. Your best bet is to save the weight-loss compliments for people who you actually say that they want to lose weight. There are plenty of other compliments to give.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

9 Tips for Blog Post Titles

After searching the internet for advice on increasing blog traffic, I discovered some tips for writing effective blog post titles. Here is a list of blog post title tips, and some examples of titles that I have changed.
  1. Keep Search Engines in Mind. Think about the topic of your blog post, and ask yourself what you would type into a search engine if you were looking for that topic. Being clear about the topic of your post generates more interest than being intriguing, because it makes it easier for interested readers to find your post.  For example: "How to Fall Madly in Love and Still Be Yourself" is a better title than "Relationships, Cloud Nine, and Being Yourself." "Cloud Nine"adds intrigue, but it actually makes the post harder to find because most people wouldn't use "cloud nine" in their search for this topic. 
  2. Grab Your Target Audience. "Introverts Can Be Actors Too" is better than "Where You Don't Have to Be Yourself" because it specifies the target audience that would be interested in the post.
  3. Be Specific. Your title should communicate the content of the post as clearly as possible. "Pressure to Join Exclusive Groups," is better than "Exclusive Groups and High Pressure." 
  4. Make It Personal to the Reader. "Why We'd Feel Better without GPAs" is better than "The Trouble with GPAs" because it makes the reader feel included, like the issue applies to them.
  5. Ask Questions. "Do You Need Symbolic Rituals?" is better than "Living Symbolically" because it engages readers and encourages them to think about their own needs and desires.
  6. Use Numbered Lists. Blog posts with numbers in the title get more hits than posts without numbers (ex: 10 tips for first dates, 5 recipes for the holidays, etc.) My most popular post to date is "The Dos and Don'ts of Party Hosting," a title which implies a list. Every post doesn't fit into this format, but it doesn't hurt to have a few.
  7. Each Title Is an Advertisement. "What You Really Need to Know about College" is a better title than "College Checklist," because it has a sense of urgency, making the reader feel like they need to click on that post.
  8. Edit Past Posts. Any one of your posts could be a reader's first impression of your blog, depending on what they search for. It is worth it to go back and edit posts, especially the popular ones.
  9. Use Tags. Tag your posts based on what you think readers may search, even if tags are repetitive. Ex: Some of my posts tagged under "college" are also labeled "school." While this may seem repetitive, there may be students in high school or younger who want to read about school issues but would not necessarily click on "college" because they are not in college. It's important that school issues not specific to college be tagged so that everyone can find them.