Before I tell you how to write headlines that get people to look your way, let’s set the scene. Think of your headlines as the Beyoncé of the writing world – they DEMAND attention. Or they should if you’re doing it right.
Headlines pop up everywhere; news articles, email subject lines, blog titles, the first sentence on your website homepage or the start of a social media caption, so it’s a good idea to invest some time in getting them right.
As with anything, the more you do it the better you’ll get, but don’t be afraid to play around with your headlines and measure the response you get. Sometimes things you don’t expect will do really well and vice versa.
Your headline has the hardest job of your copy – to make people interested enough to keep reading.
We can learn something from clickbait here. Clickbait works because it plays on our need to know how a story ends. And that’s what a good headline has – something to hook the reader and feed their need for a good story (or information).
No one likes clickbait because it’s all show and no substance. You’ve seen them before:
“You’ll never believe what Lady Gaga did next”
“These before and after pictures are unbelievable”
“She wished she’d never set foot outside on that Monday morning”
You’re intrigued, so you click on the article only to find it’s a huge let down because all Lady Gaga did was open a car door, or the before and after pictures actually look the same.
But your headline isn’t leading people to such utter crap, so let’s see how to get people interested.
Address a problem you reader is having and hint at a solution.
Showing someone how you can make their problem go away is the ideal way to grab attention and keep it.
“Fed up of losing weight only to put it back on again? You need to read this.”
Tell people exactly what it is.
“The easy mindset trick that will help you lose weight and keep it off.”
Get to the point
With so much information flying around people can often feel bombarded by it. Tell your reader exactly how much of their time you’ll use up and they’ll be drawn to it because they know what they’re going to get before diving in.
“In only 10 minutes you’ll learn how to keep the scales from going back up.”
I’ve left this one until last because you need to be careful with it. Too mysterious and people will wonder what on earth you’re talking about, but just enough and it can work wonders. It’s almost like the start of a story, so it works best on social media or on your website where people at least know what you do.
“She didn’t believe me when I told her how I did it”
Each time you write a headline have a go at writing 10 – 20 different ones. I know it seems like a lot but you’ll soon get into the swing of it. Come back a few hours later, or the next day, and see which stands out to you. If possible, show them to a few other people and ask their opinion.
As you’ve probably guessed, your headlines will only get better if you get stuck in and write them as often as you can. That way, you’ll get a feel for what works and what your audience prefers.