Is Your Content Good Enough To Be Read?
Does It Pass This Test?
Imagine you’re in the middle of a busy subway section. The train is lurching in and people are rushing around you. They’re late for work. They’re worried about their spouse. They’re worried they don’t have what it takes to live their life on their time and of their choosing.
In between the rushing throngs of people and the station only stand one person: you. And you’re holding up a sign in the middle of the station that represents the headline of your content.
What does it say? What title have you chosen that accurately represents the rest of your article? And if they stopped to talk to you and learn more, what would you talk about to reel them in?
Here’s the catch: if your headline is drab and boring, it won’t get people’s attention. But if it’s offensive, you’ll be completely ignored or even yelled at.
You don’t want either of that, right?
So how do you create a headline that compels people to stop and want to learn more and respects their time and attention too?
How do you create content that compels people to keep on reading, even though they’re already late for work?
How do you tap into the obsessions that keep them up at night when they’re trying to turn their minds off and go to sleep?
To do this, you have to discover how to create content that compels people to keep reading no matter what just like the writing of your favourite best-selling book.
Having a Compelling Headline Sets The Foundation For Your Post’s Success (Or Failure)
What you want to accomplish with any headline is to have it be ‘snappy’ enough to draw people in and want them to learn more about it. You do this by writing a headline that’s enticing enough to pique people’s curiosity to get them to want to learn more.
Yes, the headline is important: it forms the foundation for the rest of your post.
Without a clear headline, you lose the map you’ll need to go forward when you’re writing your article. You lose the clear focus you need to write content that actually delivers on the results it’s promising.
And if you can’t deliver on that, you’ll lose the reader’s trust almost immediately after they read through your content.
The headline is your biggest weapon to drawing new eyes to your content. Don’t be boring. Be enticing instead.
That being said, don’t be different for the sake of being different. Always have a point and the expertise or reasoning to back it up. Don’t just write a controversial post that makes people mad and then leave them hanging as to why they bothered to read your content in the first place (you want to make people glad to have found you and want to learn more about you — never the other way around).
The good thing about writing compelling headlines is that you never have to reinvent the wheel here. Study what works here on Medium and model those tactics to use with your own content. Don’t try to be clever or disparaging or sarcastic (it rarely works — mostly, it just makes people confused).
Instead, be simple, concrete, and to the point. Study and use what works while still being authentically yourself. Avoid click bait: your goal is to pique other’s curiosity, not manipulate them.
If you’re clear and honest and interesting, your readers will thank you for it and you’ll both be better off for it in the end.
If You’re Not Interesting, You’re Boring
The hard truth is, if your audience doesn’t find you exciting to listen to, then they won’t take the time out of their day to listen to you.
And that, in turn, makes you another boring writer online (and you don’t want that, do you?).
The question is, how do you become interesting to others?
You can start by sharing stories. People like to hear stories that are interesting as long as they’re relatable back to them in some way.
But again, don’t just share experiences that happened to you. Always relate them back to your readers and the results you can generate in their lives.
If you focus on your readers, they will notice and share your message with others. That’s how you build a tribe. That’s how you generate content worth sharing in the first place.
Focus on this usage principle and be yourself because people want to read content made by other people.
You are interesting, funny, great, and unique. Don’t hold that back because you don’t think you’re good enough to be the person others see you as.
Always Deliver On Your Promises. Your Word Is Bond.
Always follow up on your promises. Don’t over promise and then under deliver (it’s safer to consistently under promise and then over deliver).
Because if you can’t deliver on the promises in your headlines, you’re screwed (and you readers won’t forget how you skewed their perception of you when they see the next post by you — and not in a good way).
As a writer, your word is your bond. Don’t lead people on. Give them exactly what they want and more. That’s how you get people to love your content and follow you to ends of the earth.
If you can answer the question of usage for your readers early on, you’ll be in a much better place to deliver the results you need to deliver from them on a consistent basis.
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Blake is a writing coach who lives in Vancouver, Canada with his cat. He helps writers put aside their excuses and create exceptional work. If you’re struggling to get your words onto the blank page, you can grab a FREE copy of “The Bulletproof Writer’s Handbook” to accelerate your writing today.