A common issue for many content creators, including me, is that coming up with headlines can be a pain in the “you know what”. It’s discouraging when you write a really great article, only to have very little engagement on it because the headline sucks. The sad truth is, if you want to get eyeballs on your content, the engagement is in the headline, and if your headline doesn’t grab them, no one is going to waste time reading your awesome content.
So what’s a girl (or guy) to do when crafting headlines is like pulling teeth?
In a word… practice, practice, practice!
Spend time every day working on the titles and headlines for your articles, blog posts, and sales pages.
Here are a couple of tips to help you get started:
Use numbers in your titles
Numbers work well in headlines in a couple of ways. First, in a how-to article, they show the reader that the problem they are trying to solve can be beaten if one only follows the x-number of steps laid out in the article. For example, “5 Steps to a Powerful Morning Routine” tells the reader that they can get more done in the morning by following these five steps.
The second way numbers work well in headlines is in list posts. For example, 12 Ways to Beat Your Afternoon Slump gives the reader a dozen different ways to boost their energy in the afternoon.
In both examples, the reader knows exactly what she’s getting when she clicks on that title.
Be a little vague
Curiosity might have killed the proverbial cat, but it also made the reader click the headline to find out what it’s all about. A good example of this would be a “read this first” type of post. For example, “So you’re planning on running a marathon? Read this first!”
Keep a swipe file
Good copywriters don’t try to reinvent the wheel, and you shouldn’t either. That doesn’t mean you should plagiarize your competition’s headlines. What it means is that you should keep a file of headlines and other copy that gets your attention, so that you can model your own headlines on what works.
How do you do that?
You can create a swipe file in any way that works for you. Some people I know have an email folder where they send copies of headlines and articles they like to themselves. Personally, I prefer to keep mine in an Evernote notebook. When I find a headline that draws me in, I clip it to Evernote and that gives me the date, the URL where I found it, and the text. Then when I need a new title for something, if I’m stuck for ideas I’ll browse through my swipe file to see if something there inspires me to create an engaging and clickable title.
Avoid click bait.
Clickbait is everywhere these days, and for good reason… it works! But… you can really annoy your readers if you use it. It takes the vagueness of curiosity-driven headlines to a whole new level and often the headline has nothing to do with the body of the article it’s attached to.
Instead of tricking your audience into clicking on your titles, give them a good solid benefit.
After all, if they’re searching for a solution to their problem, knowing up front what they’ll find in your post is going to make them more amenable to what you have to say.
And that is the end result you want… people interested enough in your title to click through and see what you have to offer.