I'm well aware that headlines are the one shot at getting your reader interested. But it wasn’t until Rose brought it to my attention that I realised my own blog headlines were lacking a lot of magic. Headlines such as ‘Research’ or ‘Dos and Dont’s ‘, not exactly stuff that makes me excited. How could I ever expect someone else to be keen to read those? Here’s some stuff I found useful whilst studying the subject of headlines a little more.
What are headlines and why should I care?
Headlines are a way to entice the audience to read your piece. What you say in your headline will either make them click or turn away. And let's face it, no one wants to find themselves ignored!
I want you to hear me! Where do I begin?
Whilst I was roaming around the internet on this subject, I found some common principles;
Know your audience
Add some emotion
Understand why they should listen to you
Understand the technical elements of writing a headline
Figure out what gets results
To start by knowing who exactly you want to talk to. Be specific. Imagine not a group, but an individual. What kind of individual? Create a persona, a detailed description of who they are. For example, I created in my head someone in a similar position. Sarah, 30 years old, lives in Melbourne, has worked as a business analyst for the last 10 years, wants a career change. She'd like to do something more creative, in marketing but she doesn't know where to begin and doesn’t quite have the confidence on her own.
Then ask yourself what does your persona care about the most? The headline will be most effective, if you understand what they care about and their pain points. Sarah cares about her career but wants a change. She feels overwhelmed by not knowing where to begin.
Understand and relay why they should listen to you via the unique selling proposition (USP). Find a way to match your offering to their specific desires. Sarah is desperate for a career change. Our career change path is different, but the principles apply and my experience can be helpful to her.
Research and learn the technical elements of writing a great headline. There are plenty of great websites/ resources out there, eager to help. At the bottom of this blog I will share my favourites.
Understanding the above will help you distinguish what does an doesn’t work. Refine and improve what you wrote constantly. Practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make you much better!
That seems very hard right now, is cheating possible?
You can never fake great writing, but you can get a good starting point with some templates and formulas. This is not something to rely on, but with time and practice it will become a more intuitive task.
Here is an example of a formula I spoke about with Rose. It takes into consideration the principles above, but in a more simple way.
The Problem – Agitation – Solution Method. Sweet mother! Formulas work!
I found this formula easy to understand and follow. It made identifying my message a lot easier. It works a lil' like this:
Problem – understanding the problem of your audience. What issues are they facing (or what issues am I facing that I would like to share with others in hope of helping).
Agitation – how does the problem relate to the reader?
Solution – the reader knows how the problem affects something they care about. Now present them with the solution!
My research for this blog has lead me to some wonderful websites full of helpful resources. Here are some links I'd like to share:
I found copyblogger.com awesome! The lovely folk there are happy to share recommendations and advice. The site contains online courses, but also a bunch of free pdf guides for every occasion! I discovered the 'How to write magnetic headlines' guide and am studying that one at the moment.
As I expand my knowledge I will share more headline magic. For now, enjoy the reading and practicing!