EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! Remember that little ditty people used to holler as they peddled the newspapers, fresh from the printers? It was followed by a suitably shocking headline. “Meet Louise, the world’s first test-tube arrival SUPERBABE”. “First Look at Mars”. And my favourite: “Best Man left bleeding after being hit in head by flying dildo”. That last one is totally genuine. In case you don’t believe me:
My point is, headlines are super important pieces of text. They’re meant to grab attention, share a rough idea of what the heck the article is about and do it in the least amount of words possible. There’s an art to writing a good headline and I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to know!
Don’t Get Hung Up On It
When you’re first writing a blog post, the best advice I can give you is not to worry about your headline. Scribble down a working headline to get you started. At the end of the day, no one will see it and you can always change it. I kid you not, you’ll re-write that headline a good half a dozen times over before you publish your post!
Compelling vs Clickbaity
Guys, no one likes a clickbait headline. Being promised the answer to your weight-loss woes only to have to click through 4689 pictures and links to get to a post about diet pills is not on. So, don’t do it to your readers!
Be honest in your headlines. Tell people what they can expect to read or learn from your post and then deliver the goods. If you don’t, I’ll tickle your toes with a rusty spork!
Buzzwords Can Buzz Off
Empower! Unleash! Supercharge! Answer me this. When have you honestly ever used those words in your everyday speech? Drop the buzzwords folks. Unless you want to sound like an infomercial for dishwasher powder and your branding is closer to the POW and WHAM comic bubbles from an episode of Batman (Adam West style, natch). Empower? Go for ‘allow’. Unleash? Errr… ‘release’ sounds good. Supercharge? Let’s go with ‘improve’.
I almost thought I was writing a photography blog post then! But no, leading lines, in this case, refers to how your headline should not be a stop sign for your post. By that what I mean is it should lead into your post somehow so people don’t stop dead at reading the headline and click away from the post.
So, how can you do that? Asking a question in your headline is a great tactic. If it’s a question the reader has a connection with or wants to know the answer to, they’ll read on. You could make a statement about what the post is going to talk about. Or how the post is going to help solve a problem.
Think about a way to lead into your post that the reader will engage with and carry on down the page.
Use Creative Tools And Make It Sexy!
Language is a beautiful thing. You may have heard me say that once or twice before. And there’s a reason for that. It’s pliable, it’s bendy, it can be played with like plasticine and moulded into anything you want. It can be factual or whimsical figments of your imagination. It can be monotone or sing from those alive hills. So, use the creative tools of language to make your headlines sexy!
Use alliteration which uses similar-sounding consonants at the start of each word. For example Krispy Kreme, Coca-Cola and Best Buy. Alliteration is great because it’s memorable! Rhetorical devices like the power of three is also a great one. I.e. “I came, I saw, I conquered…”. Or repetition can work well too, such as in Barack Obama’s inaugural speech with the repetition of ‘Yes we can.’
Keep it short! If you read my recent post about the ingredients of the perfect blog post, I mentioned this one in that post as well. It’s the biggest point you’ll remember but it’s sometimes the most difficult to stick to.
In an ideal world, a blog post headline should be around 6 words and under 70 characters. Statistically, people will more likely click on a short headline and read. But there’s evidence to suggest longer headlines do quite well too. So, take from that what you will and do what feels right. Honestly, it’s hard to come up with short punchy headlines all the time. And if the “best man hit by flying dildo” headline proves anything, it’s that long headlines can be engaging, hilarious and attention-grabbing too.
Test Out Your Headlines
If all else fails, run your possible headlines through CoSchedule for further advice and suggestions!
Have fun writing your headlines. Don’t get hung up on them. You can always change them later on down the line!
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