Day 5 – How to Write Killer Headlines: 4 Techniques
Writing the headline can often cause the best copy-writer a panic attack. It is the gatekeeper of your article and will make the difference between whether it’s read or not, never mind the sale. However, fear not, there are several techniques that you can use when creating your killer headline.
Remember when writing a headline, it should:
– Lull the reader into further reading
– Be emphatic
– Resonate with the reader
– Be persuasive
Don’t forget to check out How to Write Killer Headlines – The Basics before using the following techniques.
Coco Chanel once said “Fashion fades, only style remains the same“. Applying that same logic to headlines, you could say ‘Great stories are interesting, great headlines are timeless.”
Here are four ways to make your headlines timeless.
1. Ask a Question
Forget about headlines for the moment. If you ask someone – your mum, your boss, a stranger – a question, what do they do? Answer it! Human nature wants to answer a question, rather than leave it hanging.
Asking a question in a headline leads the reader to read your copy – they feel compelled to answer the question. Depending on the product or service you’re selling, be careful of closed questions. (Don’t ask questions that require a yes or no answer.) You don’t want to eliminate a substantial portion of your readership.
An emphatic question works well as does a question that impacts on a need.
There are a few headlines to swipe:
- What would an extra €5,000 a month mean to you?
- Fancy a cup-cake without the guilt?
- Who else wants a celebrity figure?
- Want 31 ways to write better copy?
- Do you make these mistakes?
2. The ‘Reason Why’ Headline
The ‘Reason Why’ is a very popular headline technique. It draws the reader in by giving them a reason to read the list.
With this type of headline, you typically write the copy first and then build the headline around it. Your copy will have a numbered list of features, tips or advice and then you incorporate it into your headline. This technique is a good one for creating credibility as the writer has taken time to write the list.
Examples in this technique include:
- 7 ways to….
- 3 reasons why….
- A – Z of Weight Loss
- A GREAT example – 31 Days to Write Better Copy.
3. ‘How to’ Headlines
The ‘How to’ Headline is a great one. If you can’t come up with another headline, then use the ‘How to’ headline. You really can’t go wrong. An adaptation of the ‘How to’ headline is ‘How I…’, ‘How he…’, ‘How you…’
Some swipe headlines for your inspiration:
- How to write headlines that work
- How to make a better mousetrap
- How I made a fortune
4. Create Curiosity
Curiosity killed the cat. It’s the name of a band and a very well known proverb. It warns against being too curious. But again, human nature is a curious one. You see it with babies, they explore everything and everywhere. Newspaper shelves are filled with gossip and celebrity magazines because we are a curious breed.
You can create curiosity by making an outrageous statement, using word play, alliteration or taking off a well-known phrase.
- Want a Wonderful Warm Way to Welcome Winter?
- Advertising pays – but to whom?
- The most expensive lesson you’ll ever learn
- What if this happened on your wedding day
- Life is like a box of chocolate covered strawberries
Day 5 Homework
INTERACTIVE HOMEWORK ALERT: I’m looking for your favourite Headline of the Day.
Go through your RSS feed, your emails, the newspaper, your favourite website, twitter, facebook, whatever you read today and pick your favourite headline of the day. Explain why you thought so.
Send on your headline – by email or comment on post. I’ll feature all headlines on the website. There will be a prize for the most inspiring explanation.