Tag Archives: Writer

Are you a sucker?

8 secrets writers use to trick the smartest readers into reading their shittiest writing, backed by psychology and scienti-logical awesomeness.

Hello, dear reader.

Are you being made for a sucker on the interwebs? Do you find yourself clicking on random links only to be let down by crappy content?

If you find yourself nodding, it is OK. Many of the smartest readers have been tricked, time and time again, into reading junk.

Here is why. People think that on the web, content is king. This is B.S.

The headline used for the content is king.

The headline is an ad for any particular piece of content. This ad is placed all over front pages, within content aggregators, and within your various social feeds.

A cleverly created headline creates an irresistible urge to click.

They want your clicks. And by they, I mean the writers on the internet.

Your clicks drive page views, which drive ad impressions or sales, which means money!

To get your clicks, writers have devised many crafty techniques to sucker you into clicking on their stuff.

Want to know how they do it?

Here are 8 secrets that the best writers use to trick the smartest readers into clicking.. and clicking.. and clicking… and clicking…

1. Explain something.

The best headlines tap into an emotion.

Articles that begin with ‘why’ or ‘how to’ tap into a pretty good one:curiosity.

Don’t you want to know why or how something works?

OK, you might know.

But even if you do, is there something in the article that you don’t know?

Click and read the article!

2. Ask a question.

A good question creates an sense of curiosity.

A great question taps into your fears; usually the fear of loss, or the fear of missing out.

The widespread use of questions has lead to a well-known principle known as Betteridge’s law of headlines, Davis’ Law, or just the Journalistic Principle: “Any headline which ends in a question mark can be answered with the word no”.*

So next time, go ahead and ask yourself the question.

Is the answer no?

Maybe you don’t need to read the article.

3. Add a number.

You love lists. Writers love lists. Everyone loves lists!

Lists are easy to read, they are bounded, and they provide a sense of organization.

It gets better for writers. Lists let you write without requiring a cohesive point. Just collect several random points, and write them down with numbers next to them!

Sound easy to write? Yes, sir. We’ve got a good one going right here.

4. Overreach.

Have you noticed that many articles don’t just guarantee interesting information?

No, they guarantee success. They guarantee all of their dreams… and then some.

Writers know that if you are going to sell something, you might as well make it a strong sell. People won’t realize what’s up until after the sell anyways.

Next time, don’t be a sucker. Recognize.

5. Be negative.

Another good way to tap into emotions is to be negative. There are many ways to be excessively negative. The easiest way is to just add a swear word into a headline.

Want proof that negativity works? Just check out the trolls on any internet forum.

Writers use the same troll tricks. Don’t feed them.

6. Add unnecessary adjectives and qualifiers.

There are all kinds of ways that writers use unnecessary adjectives and qualifiers.

They add adjectives like ‘smart’ or ‘stupid’. The word ‘smart’ will get you reading to figure out why you are so smart. The word ‘stupid’ will get you reading to figure out why you aren’t stupid.

Do you see that trick? It works either way!

And there is more.

They may also use extra qualifiers tell you what to think or do. Have you seen headlines with “things you need to know” or “you must read” randomly in the title? It is because once they tell you to, you magically will want to.

Beyond that, any word that increases curiosity is good. For example, ‘secret’ is good. Once you read it, you have to know the secret.

7. Invoke authority.

People trust authority. Even if the writer isn’t an authority, someone is.

Now, this authority could be a person. It is easy to name drop a famous CEO, actor, rock star, celebrity, or any other big figure. This can work pretty well.

But there is better. We have a higher authority: SCIENCE.

Have you seen all those articles these days which are “backed by science”? Or “backed by psychology”? Writers do this because it works really well.

The infamous Milgram experiments have shown how susceptible people are to authority figures. That includes the authority invoked within headlines. Once you see the authority, it is trusted, and the content in the article must be legit.

Tread carefully when you see this.

Sometimes this is something interesting there. Other times, you will just see a crappy quote, graph, or citation. Or even worse, you may only get a link to a Wikipedia article about science.

8. Combine these tricks together.

All of the tricks work. And they work even better together.

That’s it folks.

Now you know.

Next time you read a headline, make sure nothing fishy is going on.

You can stop being this guy:

And start being this guy:

Your turn.

Do you know any other dirty secrets used to write catchy headlines?

Make the world a better place and share them in the comments!



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Five Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Freelance Writer

When you need a quality writer that will do exactly what you’re asking for, you may think it’s a simple task. But in reality, there are millions of writers around the world, and choosing the right one for your project could be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

The job can certainly be made easier if you’re using a freelance site to find writers, as these types of sites offer much in the way of tools you can use to communicate with prospective writers. But there are still several important questions to ask your would-be freelancer that can help make which writer to choose a much less stressful experience.

Ask Yourself First

The most important question to ask is what you need your writer to do for you. Does the project require design in addition to writing, or technical skills that not all writers possess? If so, these are important items to list in your project description. If not listed, much confusion on both sides could result if expectations aren’t clearly outlined prior to project start.


Working virtually means that more communication may be needed than if you were working with your writer in person. So ask your writer how they plan to communicate with you, and how often. If the writer’s plan is to only communicate once or twice per week and you don’t feel this is enough, ask them if they would be able to communicate with you more often. If they refuse to do so, this writer may not be the right one for your project.

In addition to the frequency of communication, enquire about how many modes of communication are available to the writer. For example, in addition to email, a writer may have access to voice or web cam chat. Knowing all of the types of communication they have available can allow for more productive conversation in the event you find one type isn’t getting your message across in the manner you desire.

Who Is The Real Writer?

While this question may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to be aware that there are teams of freelance writers who may work on one project together, and then split the payment between them. This could mean that your project contains different writing styles, something that may not be desirable to you. If you prefer the style of one writer, then knowing beforehand who will be doing the work can help you avoid mistakenly hiring a team of writers.


Find out how your prospective writer expects to be paid. Freelance writers often have their own payment terms. If you find a writer whose style you like, but whose payment terms could be better, ask them if they would be willing to alter their terms slightly for your project. And don’t be surprised if you get asked by your prospective writer to slightly alter your terms. Being able to come to an agreement in a logical and civil way is crucial if you plan to hire a writer long-term.

Track Record

If your writer is an experienced one, they will have a portfolio of their previous writing projects. Looking at these will not only allow you to assess the industries they have written for in the past, but you may also be able to get information about what their other clients thought of their work. Some freelance sites offer statistics about each writer, including comments from their other clients and ratings for their work. All of this information can give you a good overall picture of what your writer may be able to accomplish for you.


Guest author Ruth Suelemente is a seasoned freelancer, and has hired several for her company.  They generally focus on technology topics such as who the best internet providers are available in Houston.


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How to Remain in High Demmand as a Ghost-Writer

Many more books than you might realize are written using ghost writers. While sacrificing cover credits may be a blow to some writer’s egos, many find ghost writing to be a lucrative and rewarding career. Ghost writers can often make tens of thousands of dollars per project. It is not the same as any book writing, though, and there are some things to keep in mind if you want to become an effective ghost writer.

–        Work Well With Others

  • As a ghost writer, it is essential that you collaborate with the author in a positive and successful way. Ghost writing requires a lot of teamwork, because it is your job to satisfy the author’s vision. Take as much time as you need to understand the project, and be sure to include the author in the process of writing. You may want to have your work reviewed chapter by chapter to make sure you are on track, rather than write an entire book that later needs major revision. Do your best to communicate with the author throughout the project.

–        Find Their Voice

  • Since you are writing for someone else, you will want to do your best to capture his or her voice. Pay close attention to the way they speak or the style in which they have written parts of the book. You will want to emulate their voice and remain consistent throughout. This is especially important for memoirs.

–         Agree on Conditions

  • Before you begin the project, you want to make sure both parties agree on conditions. You want to divide up the labor of the book and ascertain exactly what you are responsible for completing as the ghost writer from the very start. Who will do the research? When will the author review the material you complete? Who will pay for expenses? When is the deadline? Is a confidentiality agreement required? You will want to sign a contract.

–        Market Yourself

  • Use Web sites to locate potential ghost writing jobs, and advertise your services on them, too. Web sites like and advertise ghost writing gigs. If you have an expertise, you may find ghostwriting opportunities in your field.  Network with other writers, editors and agents to find potential clients. Make sure everyone knows you are willing to ghostwrite.

–        Have a Diverse Portfolio

  • Make sure you have a portfolio to offer to potential clients, and make sure it will appeal to authors that are looking for a ghostwriter. Have a variety of different writing samples that show your range and versatility as a writer. Authors want to find a ghostwriter that will be able to adapt well to their needs, not someone with a very distinct, original style.

–        Be Polished

  • As a ghostwriter, you should do a lot of your own editing and proofreading before offering a finished product to your author. Whether you submit work chapter-by-chapter or as a whole, make sure you use a spell and grammar checker to go over your work. It isn’t appealing when your book contains simple spelling or grammar mistakes. You want to make sure to present the best product possible if you hope to get referrals or be hired again.

Provided by the grammar professionals at Grammarly. Join us in learning English Grammar Rules


Posted by on November 5, 2011 in All, Business


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