5 Must-Do’s For Writing Head-Turning Headlines

Don’t overthink it. As a Copywriter, coming up with a title/headline is probably my most favorite part of writing. Weird? I don’t know. But, more often than not, it’s also the part that requires the most brainstorming. I mean, the entire purpose of a headline is to get the reader to actually keep reading the article you’ve poured all your time and creativity into. No pressure though.

On rare occasions, the perfect headline comes to me instantly (yay). In all other instances, my brainstorming sessions go a little something like this: I start by thinking out loud, playing with words/phrases — basically throwing it all out there and seeing what sticks. Productive. However, this is usually followed by an overwhelming sensation of Must. Come. Up. With. Best. Headline. Ever. At which point, I tell myself to get a grip, take a step back (literally) — walk away for a few minutes, work on another project, check Instagram, whatever — and then, just like that, the title comes to me. 9 times out of 10, it’s usually something I had come up with during step 1 of my brainstorming session. So really, the key is to put it all out there and let the good stuff rise to the top. Works like a charm.

Know your audience. The tone in your headline sets the mood, so be aware of who your audience is. What could be catchy to millennials, may be a turn-off to a corporate, more formal audience.

Break it down with numbers. For example, consider the title of this blog post. I’m willing to bet you were more inclined to read it because of the “5 Tips” at the beginning of the title. Had it read, “How to Write Head-Turning Headlines” you might have just glanced over and kept on with your day because if you’re not going to break it down for me, why even waste my time, AM I RIGHT? People like lists. So, break it down for them (literally).

Short & sweet. This one is pretty self-explanatory…but it also really depends on where your headline will appear. Check out this guide for tips on optimizing your title for social sharing. Also, make sure your article delivers. Nobody likes clickbait.

“Headlines consisting of 11 or 14 words in length are shared the most across social media.” (Credit: HubSpot)

Unique. Face it, you’re probably not the first person on the planet to ever write about *whatever it is you’re writing about*. And that’s OKAY. Just make sure your headline stands out. It should be unique and super specific. Experiment with alliteration, use bold language, throw in trigger words (who, what, where and why) — have some fun with it!

Now, an example…let’s say you’re writing a blog titled “Top 5 Favorite Food Bloggers”. Lame. You can do better than that. Here are some alternatives:

  • 5 Bloggers Every Foodie Needs to be Following
  • Foodies: Top 5 Bloggers That Will Leave You Hungry for More
  • 5 Must-Follow Bloggers For All Things Foodie

Happy writing!