Writing great headlines can be challenging. But today, creating catchy titles is the cornerstone of any blog’s success. The worst mistake you can make is to wanker-out when writing your headlines. Let me explain.
Recently I published a post entitled Forgiving Your Child’s Killer. It got a lot of great comments and discussion…what every blogger hopes for…and it even compelled a few people to email me directly.
One person wanted to let me know that she enjoyed the post and had recommended it to some friends. However these friends were unwilling to click on the link because they assumed the content would be too upsetting.
She suggested I “tone down” the title so the post’s message would reach more people.
This woman emailed me because my words moved her and she cared about their message. Truly a huge accolade for any writer. That said, I disagree with her. Here’s why:
The Truth About Headlines
1. Getting Their Attention
Years ago, all a blogger had to do was create a headline around her target keyword. Headlines were written to get the attention of search engines. We treated our titles like the SEO fodder they were, rarely worrying about the human reader.
Today, thanks to the dawn of social media, we have a much bigger challenge: To get the attention of real, live people who are exposed to a never-ending stream of information.
We’ve become used to the fact that we only have the blink of an eye to capture the attention of new visitors to our sites. The same is true for promoting your posts on social media…except subtract a few milliseconds.
2. Keeping Their Attention
The real job of any headline is to get the reader to read the next line. That’s it. It’s not meant to explain what the next line is about or to summarize the content of the article…it is simply to get them to read the first line of your article.
This is critical to understand.
One of the people who commented on the post in question said they had seen the post’s title on Facebook and had come over to my site fully prepared to disagree with me. After reading the post, they could not.
My headline was a success. It made it impossible for this person not to click on the link and read the first line. After that, it becomes the content’s job to keep their attention.
3. Perfect People Filtration
A killer headline can also serve as a perfect people filter. That is to say, it excludes those who may not be a good fit for your blog’s personality.
One of the things I know for certain about my perfect people is that they are not easily upset or offended.
So if I “toned down” this particular post’s title to avoid offending certain people, it wouldn’t take long before I upset them about something else. And then something else. And then everyone ends up disappointed.
What’s your approach to creating kick ass titles? What’s worked? What hasn’t? Please share your thoughts below.
About the Author: I’m Jenny B, proud owner, operator and resident witch of Up Your Impact Factor where we explore the spells, rituals and potions of building a business online. Tweet up with me on Twitter, subscribe to the Spice Up Your Shite newsletter or just stop by to say hi!