You have a perfect topic for your next blog post. You go out and take a million beautiful photos, all photoshopped and sized just right for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest cross-posting. Then you suddenly realize: you don’t have a headline! Has this ever happened to you? Here’s why headline writing is so tough!
Everybody Says to Spend More Time on Headlines
Your headline is the first thing people see. In fact, some people will retweet or report that snazzy article of yours without even reading it. Not convinced by me? Read these articles, then (Copyblogger says to spend 50% of your time writing the headline):
- Headlines: Why You Should Spend All of Your Time on Them
- Writing Headlines That Get Results
- Spend More Time on Headlines and Less on Everything Else
So there’s a lot of pressure to come up with something grand.
A Good Headline Can Create a Viral Post
If you haven’t read my When Posts Go Viral: Four Lessons, you might want to take a look. A controversial headline (for instance, Is it Time to Quit Facebook?) can spark people’s emotions and cause a small or large furor. Again, no pressure (just kidding!).
Your Words Need to Be Perfect
Like a good tweet, a good headline needs to have all the right elements. It can’t be too short or too long. The important words need to be near the beginning of the headline. And you need to include “power words,” like “secret” and “magic.” And so on. Is that not a pain in the asterisk?
Because Traffic Blah Blah Blah
Every blogger wants traffic, right? When that post you wrote explodes all over the Interwebs, your blog gets a boost, you get more followers, and that 15 minutes of fame will follow you from platform to platform. So that’s another reason you have to get it right.
You Can’t Outsource It
Everybody has outsourced everything. I’m surprised we don’t remove our own hair and ship it to the Philippines (no disrespect to anyone in the Philippines–it’s just something I’d prefer to do myself). But if you want your post to be in your own words, then you have to do the work yourself.
Your audience experiences pain, just as you experience pain when you try to write a headline. So you want that headline to draw your reader in. The headline has to be magnetic enough so people will want to read it. It might be fun to write, but if it’s not fun to read? Fuhgetaboutit!
You Thought You Were Done
You outlined that article, got your topic sentences down, have all kinds of good images, and now you have to come up with a headline? Are you kidding?
The World is A Noisy Place
The world is getting noisier, and more crowded. The Internet has more people competing for the same space. So your headline has to be the juicy, juicy hamburger, and not the bun! It has to stand out.
When You Try to Think, Nothing Happens
You can only come up with one-word headlines, or headlines that don’t make sense. If you think they’re boring, what will your readers think?
You Come Up with a Perfect Headline and Someone Steals it
It’s not a very good feeling, is it? But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then is stealing even more flattering? I don’t think so.
*And you know what that asterisk really stands for, right?