We’re bloggers. We’re not award winning authors (okay, I guess some of us are… not me though) so it’s only natural for us to struggle with our headlines from time to time.
I’ll admit, despite my degree in writing I still write mediocre headlines from time to time. No blogger is immune, for sure. But if you don’t know this already, you really should be aware of the fact that your headline is in most cases what will stand between you and your potential readers. The success of each post (and by extension your blog) in large part will depend on your ability to create quality headlines.
Headlines are a doorway to your post
I like to think of the headline as the doorway to your post. It doesn’t matter if what’s inside is the equivalent to a million dollar mansion– if the doorway is covered in cobwebs and mud, potential guests will hesitate to knock… or retreat altogether.
Your headline needs to entice your reader to click through or “open the door and come inside” to read your post.
Most bloggers know this. What they don’t always know is how to take their “good enough” headline and turn it into an irresistible headline. I want to help.
How can you make your headlines irresistible?
I’m in a group on Facebook where we help each other brainstorm better headlines for our posts. This was the brain child of IBA board member Katelyn Fagan, and I think it was a fantastic idea. It’s great to be able to bounce ideas off of each other, but in many cases we bloggers (admittedly, myself included) give out advice we’re not entirely qualified to give.
So how do you know if your headline has what it takes or still needs work? Here are a few questions you can ask if you want to kick things up a notch:
Does your headline tell the reader what the article is about?
I rarely click through to read an article if I can’t discern from the title what I’ll read if I do. There are some exceptions to this, though. If your headline is really intriguing, you might be able to get away with being a bit vague. Which brings me to…
Does your headline give away too much?
Have you ever seen a movie preview and afterwards felt like you had already seen the abridged version of the whole thing? Did you feel a little less inclined to buy a ticket? Me too. That’s what happens when your post titles are too telling. Headlines that create a little suspense can be quite powerful, so it’s wise to try to use that when we can.
Does your headline create urgency?
Okay, so I realize this won’t work for every article, but if it makes sense for your topic you might want to consider something that makes the reader feel a sense of urgency to get the information you are offering in your post.
You’ve seen posts like this before and they might be annoying, but that doesn’t mean they don’t work! You know the ones: things like, “12 Things That You’re Probably Doing That Are Killing Your Relationships and Your Happiness As We Speak”. You get the idea.
Can you include a number in your headline?
List posts might be everywhere, but they’re there because they get results. People like lists because there’s a sense of finality to them. They think: “Okay, I’ll click, I have time to read 7 little tips. I can’t swing a huge long essay, but I can thumb through 7 tips.” See what I mean?
List posts are also great because they give people a frame of reference to talk about your post after they’ve read it. “I can totally relate to #2!” they’ll say.
Not only that, but we’re a society of skimmers now. We don’t read as intently as we used to, so anything we do to organize our thoughts in a clear fashion will help our readers get something out of our work. And isn’t that what it’s really all about?
If I saw this headline, would I want to click it?
I can’t tell you how often I see the same article written over and over with just subtle differences. I’ve written it myself too. “You’re a good mom, just do your best!” or “You can make money blogging, just network and be awesome, etc” and that’s okay. But if your headline sounds like an ad for the same article I’ve already read three times today, I’m sorry, but life’s too short to click it.
So promise me something exciting with your headline. Promise me you’ll solve a problem I have or teach me something I didn’t know before. And if you don’t think your content can deliver on that promise, I’ll let you in on a little secret: if your headline is good enough, my opinion of your post will most often rise to meet those expectations. We see what we expect to see, so set your reader up to expect something amazing.
[bctt tweet=”If I saw this headline, would I want to click it? Are your #headlines irresistible? #writing #titles”]
You work hard to create posts that will entertain, inspire and educate your readers. Don’t let them miss out on your genius by settling on a boring title. Okay? Okay.
Over to You… What’s the best advice you’ve gotten about writing headlines?