When I began writing for a local newspaper almost 15 years ago—yes, I was sixteen-years-young, I had zero notions about penning punchy, eye-catching headlines. Not for a newspaper. Not for a blog. No. Idea. In fact, all through my writing career it was something I struggled with. (Sidenote: I think that's the first time I've written, "in my writing career" in a blog post, or, in fact, said aloud!
It was only through due diligence—in the non-legal sense, of course—and some seriously horrific examples that I...well, finally started writing slightly better ones; not to mention I had a pretty kick-ass Journalism lecturer, who whipped my left hemisphere into shape during my twenties. Thanks Mary! So, for you part-time bloggers, full-time writers, entrepreneurs not too sure how to write a headline for your ecommerce site, this is for you...
1. Say no to Jargon
Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business says Jargon masks real meaning:
"People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”
Leave any technical words out of headlines. What exactly is jargon? Special words used by a group of people, like the following musical words:
Coda: Ending section of music.
Piano vs. forte: Quiet vs. loud.
Allegro: Cheerful or brisk tempo.
Sure if you're writing for an industry-specific white paper, your audience will be familiar with these words—it'll leave the rest of us mere mortals scratching our heads. To quote one of my favourite phrases, "keep it simple, stupid!" Yes, despite what you may think, people love simplicity. Easy. Breezy. Beautiful. Headlines.
2. Keep Your Promises
If you're using a click-bait heavy title, don't let your readers down, guys. Please! They won't come back to your blog. You know the ones I'm talking about:
The real reason I stopped blogging.
The 7 tricks that will change your (insert action word) game.
You'll never believe what happened in (travel destination).
17 secrets (person) doesn't want you to know.
If luring your tribe into clicking on something gets you hits, you better follow through. I remember watching a certain irish vlogger, who I love; she titled the vide "why I'm leaving (location)", which was actually a Q&A video, not matching up with the title. I felt...disappointed. I still watch her channel though.
3. Pull the Trigger
No, I don't support guns, but I do support shooting trigger words at folks. Yes, that millennial term we love to throw around, blasé, with its roots in psychology, usually used when discussing PTSD, and less about "did you eat my last avocado, I feel triggered!" What's classed as a trigger word? Well, you'll be surprised how simple they are:
Now let's use those in some example headlines, shall we?
10 Secrets to fitness success
My Proven Methods of Saving Time
3 More Reasons to Start Recycling
My Free Guide to Social Media Marketing
Never Trust These 4 SEO Myths
Now check out the title of this blog post, see what I did!
If you've had success in the writing game and want to share some of your Free, Proven, Secret Tips, let us know in the comments below or contact me on The Bearded Irishman socials.