Creating Headlines that Draw a Hungry Audience

There are too many blogs in the world.

I mean, we’re rapidly reaching a state in human history where… the amount of digital bullshit (sorry sorry, we’re supposed to call it CONTENT) floating around the internet is VASTLY outstripping the sum of actual human knowledge. And yet…. the internet is still growing, showing no signs of stopping. You can pop onto a site like YouTube and see hundreds of videos with different people covering the same news event. If there’s a trailer, a movie, a record, there will be easily thousands of times more commentary on the piece than the piece itself.

Why is that?

People don’t just want knowledge.

They want experiences, they want fresh experiences, they want the sense of being entertained and enlightened.

This is what a headline is – it’s your fresh perspective in one sentence. A creative headline sets you apart from all the digital bull-

Sorry again. CONTENT!

– that’s out there. You can write the best articles on planet earth, but if it does not have a great headline… 

People aren’t going to imagine your unique perspective, and you’ll blend into the background, right along with the digital “stuff”. No bueno.

And most people won’t even bother reading it.

The headline is the magnet that grabs the audience and draws them in. And it’s only once they’re reading that they can get hooked on it, be hungry for more, continue to support you. 

Your goal is to create headlines that remind people over and over that you’ve got a killer perspective that’s uniquely yours.

dolphins not so intelligent on land

Headlines uh… don’t always have to have new information. 😉

Create A List Of Headlines That Work

This is good to do if you’re making a blog article, but it’s VITAL if you’re writing something for a sales letter. The core idea here is that your first GOOD idea isn’t always your best idea. So take sixty seconds, think of a few alternatives, and go with the best one. Read them a few times. Tweak them and make them better.

Here are some examples:

Creating content by drawing on your knowledge

Sounds about as exciting as watching paint dry.

 

Try this:

Awesome Content is Locked Up Inside your Mind – How To Extract it!

These are two completely different headlines, but the first one is boring because it makes you think of some geeky professor standing at a chalkboard with a pointer, telling you what you need to do to get the results you want. The second headline creates a bit of excitement about the prospect of creating content that you already have knowledge about, so no research or hard work is really required.

Now is this an award-winning headline? Eh, not really, it’s still a bit awkward. But it’s better! Anyone can write about a certain topic and convey the basic facts, but for most people it will be completely boring and non-engaging! You need to think of yourself as a fisherman, your audience is the fish. Your headline is the bait and you need to catch the attention of the fish with the right bait.

After all, you are not writing content for your own health. You are interested in the big prize which is commission or a subscription or a relationship or… any other number of things. That’s your “take” but first you have to “give” by writing something that people want to read. The headline is the most important part of your content and without a good one; people are not going to read your stuff.

Be Indirect

It’s really rare that you watch a movie and the characters just tell each other what they’re feeling directly. That’s not as suspenseful. It doesn’t draw us in. People want to know why it’s happening, and why they should care. So, direct headlines are meant for selling products through their features (All sport coats 25% off this Tuesday!), but for most of the web, creative headlines are a better way to grab the attention of the reader. Ask yourself, are you looking to entertain and enlighten your audience, or do they already know what they want and trust you to give it to them?

An indirect headline is a great tool for that first camp, to draw the reader in to wanting to find out more.

When All Else Fails

Go for the “How To” headline…

Bob Bly write somewhere that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to write a bad headline that starts with “How To”…

And I think you could, technically… but you’d have to work quite hard at it.

If you’re really ambitious, tell them how to do something FAST. People are always interested in figuring out how something works, even if they aren’t going to actually do it themselves. Isn’t that funny? When your How To headline answers a problem they have, expect to get bookmarked, subscribed to, and more.

It isn’t rocket science. Writing a great headline should not leave you stressed out. Don’t lose hair or sleep over the headline, just write a few headline ideas and then improve them as best as you can. You will start to attract a readership before you know it and then the pressure is on because you will have an audience that wants more.

Once you have created a few interesting headlines, you will have a feel for what works and what does not. Don’t over think it, stick with the methods that work for you and scrap the rest. Believe it or not, you are your own worst critic, so stop being so hard on yourself.

Comments

  1. Adrienne

    Hi Micah,

    I use to be horrible with headlines and I admit it. It wasn’t until last year that I started to really work on them more. I cheat though, I use the headline cheat sheets and I have about four of them. I use to also save posts that gave headlines away with plenty of tips and so I look at those when I’m ready to create my headlines. I do for the most part but not every single one I’m afraid.

    I agree though, if you can’t grab them with the headline then you probably aren’t going to get them to read your post.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…What Makes The Perfect Blog Post [Infographic]My Profile

    1. Author
      Micah Medina

      Absolutely, the cheat sheets aren’t just good for giving you hooks, theyŕe good for ideas when you’ve got nothing to write about.

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