Writing Headlines: The One Thing You Should Know

January 14, 2016
 / 38 comments

writing headlines

If you want to learn how to write good headlines, there is one basic strategy you should know: spend significantly more time writing them.

You may be thinking, “Why spend a lot of time on headlines that are barely one complete sentence?”

The answer is this: Headlines are crucial. They are the first impression to your blog post, and on average, only 20 percent of those who read your headline will move along to your first paragraph.

That’s why your headline is so important.

The headline makes or breaks the entire page. It makes or breaks your book, email and video as well. So no matter what type of writing you do, keep reading.

Writing headlines is something to take seriously.

Now that you know the most important thing about writing headlines, let’s check out some practical ways to make your headlines better now that you’re going to put more time into them.

Writing Headlines Like A Pro

Okay, so you now know the majority of people read the headline first to determine whether to read the rest of the article or not.

Since the headline gets read more than any other part of your writing, you want to invest in getting better at creating them.

A headline is like an open door inviting people to come and read. It should be enticing; it should also inform the reader what goodies lie in wait for them.

Crafting a clickable headline is time well spent, however, please remember that the article itself should also be of excellent quality.

Otherwise, people feel let down and don’t come back.

The Basics of Writing Headlines

What are the important components to writing headlines?

Whether you are a copy writer for a magazine from the 1920s, or you are a digital start-up in the 21st Century, the basic approach to headline writing does not change.

Headlines should not be too long (5 to 10 words perhaps), tap into an emotion or create urgency, and tell good story about the article without giving away the ending.

If you really want to know what a winning headline should look like, look no further than your local bookstore, library or grocery store. When you visit the magazine section, you will witness magazines competing furiously for your attention. Every magazine publisher knows that they only have a few seconds in order to capture your attention, or they risk losing you to competition.

They pay top dollar to craft the best headlines that they can. The survivability of their publication depends on it.

The same is true for blogs. Top bloggers put a lot of effort into writing headlines because they know they also are competing furiously for your attention.

So before you start practicing, here are more three quick tips to take away…

3 Additional Tips to Writing Headlines that Grab Readers

The first thing you should do when writing a great headline just to think about what the article will do for your audience.

Will it help them solve a problem? Give them insight? Teach them something they need?

Second, be sure to write the headline first. Writing the headline first will give you solid direction on where your article needs to go. It will strengthen your article.

Thirdly, use one of these headline writing formulas to help you craft a killer headline:

1. Write about benefits, not features.

Here are two examples:

How to Get a Loan At a Low Interest Rate focuses on features, which doesn’t emotionally resonate with most people.

How to Get a Loan That Saves You Money focuses on a benefit, one that gets people excited. Everyone likes to save money.

2. Write a title that tells your audience the purpose of the article.

A “How To” title is instructional. List posts break down the post into X number of benefits for the reader.

How To Teach Pool Like A Pro is obviously a “how to” headline. There’s a reason why this style is used frequently. It works.

7 Ways To Become A Pro At Teaching Pool is a list post. People love list posts because they can scan through quickly with their eyes to pick up the main points if time is short.

A well written post gets people to read the whole thing, but that’s for another post (or another page like this one.)

3. Be bold with your intention.

Ask a question: Why Plant Palm Trees On Your Property?

Offer something: In 10 Minutes, I’ll Give You The Truth About Storm Windows that Will Save Your Life

Reveal a secret: The Secret To Throwing An Office Party Everyone Will Talk About

Can you see how spending a lot of time on a headline can be beneficial to your blog?

If you learn how to write a headline that can attract readers like a magnet, you’ve won half the battle in the war for attention.

What are you doing to make your headlines magnetic?

Author Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+ and Twitter

38 comments

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  1. Kaushal Mathpal says:    •   4 years

    Hi…this article was really helpful..i have been recently writing short stories for some contests and I faced great difficulty in writing the headlines/title for my stories…well this article have solved the problem to some extent…will definitely try out the pointer given above..thanks once.again..#mba

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Kaushal,

      I’m happy to hear this is helpful for you. 🙂

      Matthew

  2. Danielle says:    •   4 years

    This well help me in the rest of years in High school & For long into college. So these steps will help alot

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Danielle,

      I’m glad this was helpful for you. 🙂

      Matthew

  3. Anika says:    •   4 years

    Hello Matt,

    Thank you for the tips. They are very helpful.

    I can use this when I am trying to write log lines for my scripts and titles for magazine articles I write.

    Thank you.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Right on, Anika!

      Log lines are another good example. They’re a little longer than a typical headline, yet need all the factors listed in the article, probably more!

      Good luck and have a great weekend,

      Matthew

  4. Temitope says:    •   4 years

    Thank you so much for the tips. They are going to be helpful in my academic writings and in other areas. #thumbsup#

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Temitope,

      You’re welcome! Happy you found this helpful. 🙂

      I wish you lots of success in your academic writings.

      Matthew

  5. Akhila Babu says:    •   4 years

    I always find writing headlines the most difficult task in the world. Now that I’ve got these tips in hand I’m surely gonna use them.
    Thank you for this wonderful post.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Akhila,

      Headline writing is a skill–which means you can learn it! Keep at it, and have fun. 🙂

      I’m glad you liked this post.

      Cheers,

      Matthew

  6. Tiffany says:    •   4 years

    Hey Matt,
    Apologies for the belated tap on the shoulder. I was otherwise engaged for the entire day. I sometimes find myself struggling to come up with a good title for my blog posts, be it short story or free-verse poetry, that fits the piece as a whole and can attract visitors and potential blog followers. After reading this, I think that it can help me immensely with regards to this. #MuchThanks 🙂

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Tiffany,

      How are you? Always good to hear from you. 🙂

      That’s great to hear how helpful this is for you. You have lots of different reasons to write good headlines, which is awesome. Test some of these tips out and see what happens! I’d love to hear how it goes. Write me back on the progress!

      Happy writing,

      Matthew

      1. Tiffany says:    •   4 years

        Hey, Matt,
        I’m doing great. Still writing away haha. I will definitely test some of these tips out and keep you posted on my progress. By the way, did you find the time to drop by my Facebook page? I know it’s a bit too much to ask, but I figured that it was worth a shot.

        1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

          Hey Tiffany,

          I’m not finding your Facebook page. Can you send me a link?

          1. Tiffany says:    •   4 years

            Just sent it!

  7. SgtMac says:    •   4 years

    Good advice. Currently re-writing material for a book. Although it was almost complete, been using the Hemingway software, mentioned by your pal and a lot of reading, on how to formulate a blog, and keep them coming back. This includes your wonderful advice, as well as your knowledgeable friends.

    Another tip is on how to use a sub-title, in addition to a headline. Suspect this is an opening, for you to explain a sub-title as well 😉

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Sgt. Mac,

      Great! Let us know when your book is complete.

      I have added the topic of subtitles to my editorial calendar. :). Stay tuned!

      Matthew

  8. Lisa says:    •   4 years

    Really helpful, Thanks!!

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      No problem Lisa! I’m real happy to know you find this helpful. 🙂

      Matthew

  9. Hansoftech says:    •   4 years

    Thank you for sharing! Informative post

  10. Alex says:    •   4 years

    Hey Matt,
    Good post. As crazy as it sounds, sometimes the titles just come to me real easy, but most of the time they are the hardest thing to write for me. So I go around and around for a while. If I can’t get going smooth enough I go to Buzzsumo.com and type my title idea and when different titles come up I grab some ideas from there and customize my own.

    My main concern (other than an attention grabber title) is that my title is honest and coincides good with my content. I hate misleading or bogus titles that sound good.

    thanks again for a good and helpful post.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Alex,

      That Buzzsumo technique of yours is actually a good idea. They do know how to craft headlines that get clicked.

      I’m the same way when it comes to headlines that don’t deliver. I think most readers expect the article to fulfill the promise given in the headline.

      Keep up the good blogging, my friend.

      Best,

      Matthew

    2. Rebekah Mays says:    •   4 years

      Buzzsumo is a great idea, thanks for that! I found another site called Coscheduler which “grades” the headline you have. Not sure how accurate it is, but it helped me craft my last headline into a post that more people than usual have shared. It’s also nice because it’s up to you to take the advice and do the work. Coscheduler does seem to be limited in terms of vocabulary, but maybe that just means my headlines are too complicated and I need to simplify. 😉

      1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

        Hi Rebekah,

        Glad you liked this post. I’ve been meaning to try out that Coscheduler headline tool. You may be right on the word usage in headlines, the tool probably wants to keep them simple.
        I liked your post about Brussels for Easter. 🙂

        Matthew

  11. Deb Palmer says:    •   4 years

    Mathew
    Thanks for some great tips. I struggle dearly with headlines.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Deb,

      Well, see how some of these tips work for you. Keep at it. Better headlines are on the other side of the struggle. 🙂

      Keep me posted.

      Matthew

  12. Leanda Valerie Miller says:    •   4 years

    Thanks for the advice. I’ve been an online Uni student for 7 years and I draw a blank when it comes to giving an essay, short story or whatever, a name/title/headline. I actually think that it would help with writing if the title grabbed me at the very beginning too.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Leanda,

      Test out some of these techniques next time you need them!

      Let me know how it goes.

      Matthew

  13. abdul says:    •   4 years

    This must explain why there are so many sensational headlines in the news these days. They grab your attention from the get-go and force you to click. And then you read and you’re left jaw-dropping.
    thanks

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hey Abdul,

      That’s what we all want! Make their jaws drop–then wow them with a fantastic post. 🙂

      Glad you liked this.

      Matthew

  14. Melanie Bounds says:    •   4 years

    Headlines are what I struggle with the most with my blog. I am currently working on my first book, and though the direction of the book is clear, I am still struggling with a good title. So, I hope these tips will help me come up with title that will capture the attention of both the reader and a good publisher.

    I always enjoy your posts and your tips, Matt. Thanks for the all help.

    Melanie
    #mba

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Melanie,

      I love struggling at something and then setting my mind to getting better at it, then practicing it until it is much improved. I’m still shooting for total mastery on this myself.
      Let me know how things go with your book title.

      Matthew

  15. Sue Chehrenegar says:    •   4 years

    When you write your headline first, you must be sure to match your text with your headline. Do not suggest that you will provide your readers with certain facts, and then fill your article with other information. Even if that other information relates in some way to the promised fact, it will not satisfy your reader’s desire for what the headline has promised.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Sue,

      Yes, you definitely don’t want to mislead people with your headline. Deliver what your headline promises. Deliver more than it promises. When the headline delivers less than promised, that hurts your blog’s ability to retain readers.
      Headlines that overpromise and underdeliver are known as “click bait.” Some blogs value clicks over everything else, including their relationship with the readers, and that doesn’t work over time.
      Thanks for dropping by and sharing!

      Matthew

  16. Lynne says:    •   4 years

    Great advice for my main blog.
    It will be a challenge to apply over at my book reviews blog, which so far has post headlines consisting of [Book Title] by [Author Name].
    I’ll have to get off my comfort-couch here!
    Thanks – good food for thought…nah, action!

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Lynne,

      Let me know how your new approach to your book reviews helps your traffic.
      Time to get off the couch!

      Matthew

  17. Aphsie says:    •   4 years

    Such a helpful article, I am definitely implementing!

    I have a design and lifestyle blog and the past 2 years I was under the impression that my substantial content was enough, ooooh I have learned that it is NOT so!

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Aphsie,

      Nice website! All that content deserves awesome headlines. 🙂

      Let me know how things go.

      Matthew