In the world of the Internet, writers are eventually faced with the reality that we must get eyes on the page. We have to interrupt our leisurely troll through seas of our own wondrous and witty prose, hoping to land the perfect fish who adores our work and will remain a fan for life to get down to the grind of attracting anybody we can to the site to read whatever we post, and hopefully click the links, share, repost, or comment. And guess what? It doesn't really matter if the "fish" we attract are adorable pods of dolphins who will follow our boat, or jagged-toothed sharks looking to rip our work to shreds. We must continually chum the water. The easy way to do that is with stories that contain multiple hooks, little substance, and lots of names-- otherwise known as clickbait.

In her book, Everybody Writes, writing guru Ann Handley says the key to getting more readers is often to fill the page with "names, names, names." My 50 States series for Yahoo Travel was that "names" theory times fifty. With Buzzfeed or Thrillist style headlines, the stories were designed to attract readers from across the country to read what Yahoo Travel claimed to be the "best of" almost anything in their home state. It doesn't matter if they agree or disagree; the goal was just to get them to click on the links or share the story for us. The "names" in the story were never paid advertisers. Instead, they are business owners or organizations who are always more than happy to help us promote the story we just mentioned them in.


Get used to the idea that not all of your desired readers are adorable dolphins.

The "winners" in each state were chosen using a combination of my own tastes and travel experiences, the experiences of people I know, and crowdsourced using a blend of rating sites like TripAdvisor, Yelp, and specialty ratings apps like Untappd.

Here's a handful of the most successful "clickbait" 50 States stories I wrote for Yahoo Travel, many of which got 1 million+ views, tens of thousands of clicks and shares, plus the first one was featured on NBC's Today!