How to Write a Headline That People Will Want to Click

How to Write a Headline That People Will Want to Click

How to Write a Headline That People Will Want to Click

Do you get stuck writing your headlines? Here are some things I do to make my blogging life easier! Thanks to Bridget Willard (read her posts if you never have!) for the idea of making this into a blog post!

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You Want People to Read

As bloggers, we all want extra eyes on our posts, whether we’re writing for a brand to gain SEO, or personally, when sharing our stories. Some people, like Ogilvie, believe that a headline is worth 90% of the cost of advertising. So spend some time.

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Pick Your Topic (and Use Your Brand Voice)

What topics would entertain, entrance, or help your audience? Try to stick with those topics. Clement Lim has created the definitive post about branding: Creating a Kick-Ass Brand Identity, which I highly recommend for finding your brand voice.

Plug Your Topic Into a Good Headline Analyzer

My Secret Headline Analyzer

Plug Your Topic Into a Good Headline Analyzer

My first secret is the CoSchedule headline analyzer. Start with anything you want to write about. Go ahead: I’ll wait here. Keep trying different headlines until you get a number you’re happy with. For the blog you’re reading, I tried 15 different headlines. When I first began this method, I had to try 20-25 headlines, by the way. The process gets easier.

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Get a Good Mix of Words

I like to have some common, uncommon, emotional, and power words in each headline. And I like either a B+ or an A+. The CoSchedule analyzer helps with the word balance and gives you the score, too. Since most people will retweet/share your post without reading it, according to The Verge, the headline has to be extra delicious to make people click on it.

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Put the Headline Into Your Blog

I like to write right on my blog. There are always a bunch of drafts, in various stages of writing. So before you forget your wonderful headline, throw it into your blog. You can come back to it later. Spend some time on your headline, though. Having a robust headline can help you whether you plan to post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

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Write for 15 Minutes

I like to write for a minimum of 15 minutes. Do you have 15 minutes? Sure you do! Write as fast as you can for 15 minutes. You have permission to stop after 15 minutes. But maybe there’s something else you want to say. I like to use an old-school egg timer. For some reason, the ticking sound helps. Sure, you know that writing a headline is a pain in the asterisk, but go ahead.

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And Another 15 Minutes

The writing process is not about correcting yourself. You can do that later! Or you could hire an editor to help you with it. Either way, just get started. Keep writing. And don’t edit yourself.

Read Your Headline (and Article) to a Friend

I am blessed to have an editor friend for when I get stuck. Remember, you can’t call your friend all the darn time to have them help you. Pay them or take them out to lunch, for the love of Strunk and White.

Tweak the Headline

If what you’ve written no longer reflects the headline, go back and tweak it. You might want to run it back through the headline analyzer tool.

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Need Help Writing?

Yep, I do help others with their blogging and social media.

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Comments

  1. Great ideas. I need to start writing in my WordPress dashboard, too. Seeing them every time I log in may help me be more regular. I love CoSchedule Analyzer. It really does help.

    • Thanks, Bridget! I always think things are obvious (to me!) When I see an older draft in my dashboard, I write a little bit just to see it “bump up” in the dashboard. Some of them have been slow-cooking for months! Thank you for suggesting I write this one.

      You’re the best!

      Carol

  2. I have to go back and look at headlines every time I finish the post — I’ve often drifted into other areas while writing, and my original idea doesn’t fit the the original headline. It’s almost like it makes more sense to write the headline last, just like you’d write a meta description last or an introduction last 😛

    • Hi Adam,

      That happens to me, too! It even happened while I was writing this last post. I had to rope myself in because I really did want to keep it on headlines. Other times, though, I’ll rewrite the headline after the posts is done. At times, it’s almost like someone else is doing the writing–that’s one of the things I love about writing. You don’t always know where you’re going to end up when you start!

      Carol

      • Exactly! It can often be a journey. I read something by George R. R. Martin the other day where he described two types of writers — architects and gardeners (I’m roughly paraphrasing here).

        He said that an architect is someone who plans the entire structure beforehand, who knows every nook and cranny before they’re built — then builds them. But a gardener is someone who plants a few seeds (which are, of course, well developed) and then waters them to see what will grow.

        I love the analogy.

        • Adam,
          Halfway through writing many posts, I have a little argument with myself. Will this post be something else, or should I stay on the topic? Sometimes veering off the main highway is a lot more fun. Other times, staying on the freeway is the way to go.

          I like that architect versus gardener analogy, too. Good one.

          Thanks for commenting!

          Carol

  3. VERY good advice! This also applies very well to writing headlines for email campaigns.

    • Hi Robert,

      Yes! In fact, Coschedule shows you how your headline will look in an email campaign as well (I didn’t cover that in this post, but it’s available as well).

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Carol

  4. Wow

    I’ve finally achieved the recognition I’ve been striving for. All those arduous years of lonely struggle in front of my keyboard, with nothing but a green smoothie for sustenance. It’s all been been worth it. Thanks for mentioning my post. I’m touched and humbled.

    I’ve used headline analysing tools in the past, both the coschedule one and the aminstitute one. But the best approach for me is simply to try different title variations out on twitter and see which ones get the most clicks. Sometimes the winner is not the one predicted by the tool!

    By the way, great headline for this post. The classic [How to] [do something] that [achieves benefit] formula never fails.

    • Hi Clement,

      Of course I would mention your post, it’s such a great one!

      I like your approach: “But the best approach for me is simply to try different title variations out on twitter and see which ones get the most clicks. Sometimes the winner is not the one predicted by the tool!” Yes, that’s so true. No headline analyzer tool can replace experimentation. Finding the right headline is both an art and a science.

      And thank you for the compliment!

      See you on Twitter!

      Carol

  5. Good advice that I plan on trying out! Thanks Carol!

    Justine

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