008 Where Headlines Have Gone Horribly Wrong

Here are 10 reasons your humdinger of a headline won’t save the catastrophe that is your blog post 😉

When I was young, I sported pink hair, suede sneakers, raver jeans, and punk t-shirts. Sure, I was cool, but strike up a conversation and you’d wonder if something was wrong with me.

I had nothing interesting to say. I was all show. And that, unfortunately, is the direction online content has been going.

In this roughly 10-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • Where content marketing has gone wrong with headlines
  • How to add life to your content with warm-blooded verbs
  • A simple way to keep your readers from getting upset over big blocks of text
  • A few tips on opening your article with a bang
  • How to engage readers with fascinating figures of speech
  • Why you aren’t superstar enough to write “the other kind of posts”

[episode no=”8″]

Where Headlines Have Gone Horribly Wrong

Demian Farnworth Hi, welcome to Rough Draft, your daily dose of essential web writing advice. I’m your host, Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media. And thank you for sharing the next four minutes of your life with me.

But before we go any further, let me address the elephant in the room. For the last few episodes I’ve thanked you for spending four minutes listening to me … when in fact what I have done to you is, I’ve made you listen to me for 12, 14 and even in one case 16 minutes. That’s too much time with me.

So in order to help you redeem that time, I’m going to end the episode right now. So, goodbye. No, I’m just kidding. Come back. I do apologize though. I’m trying to keep these short and brief but sometimes there is just a lot of content to get through. I think it’s better to keep it within one episode rather than stretch it over a series. So if I occasionally go over 4 minutes, I’m sorry.

So why don’t I get onto the episode. This is episode 8 and I’m calling it “The 10 Reasons Your Humdinger of a Headline Won’t Save the Catastrophe That Is Your Blog Post.”

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Where Content Marketing Has Gone Wrong with Headlines

Let me tell you a quick story. When I was a boy I had pink hair. I wore these really sweet jeans and I had suede sneakers. I was absolutely it. Until you sat me down and tried to talk to me. The moment I opened my mouth it was all over because I was a fraud. I was this empty shell. Shell and water thin on meaningful content. I never had anything interesting to say. I was the worst date because I had nothing interesting to say.

And this is kind of the way that content marketing in the world has been moving. This is what we are getting right. People are getting it. If you want to attract attention then you need to write one hell of a seductive headline. You need a whopper headline that drives massive amounts of click-throughs. But that’s not enough.

What you need to do is think beyond just the sort of Gawker of BuzzFeed headline, right? What happens is, if you want me to click on your link, you have to deliver on what you promise, otherwise you’re going to lose my trust.

10 Things That Need to be in an Article

So here are ten things that need to be in an article.

  1. Write that great headline. Sort of jewel worthy, seductive, hell of a headline. However, please, please, please include these sorts of things into the content of that actual post.
  2. Now your opening should grab me by the throat and drag me down the page. You tell me a story thick with conflict and make a challenging statement and then you just state how you are going to prove your position. You need to pull me.
  3. Then your sub-headlines. These are your landmarks and they help a reader orientate themselves on the page. But your sub-heads should tell the story of your post in three or four sentences or it could communicate the five Ws of your article. The who, the what, the why, the where and the when. Verbs need life. They should vibrate, tremble, carve a vivid picture in the head of your reader.
  4. Add bullets. Online bullets help you break up the flow of text into bite-size portions. Keep your reading moving on.
  5. You need good transitions. It should be seamless. Work on that. Rewrite as much as you can until it’s seamless.
  6. You’ve got to add that white space. People get annoyed when they scan a post and see block after block of text.
  7. Use short words. Short sentences. Short paragraphs. A short paragraph might be only one sentence long or it might be four words wrong. Or it might just be two words. Don’t worry. This approach allows readers to scroll down your posts like gravity pulling it down.
  8. Use images. Good images to keep the eyes right there.
  9. Use figures of speech. A figure of speech will breathe life into your text.
  10. Deliver a killer close.

Why a Killer Close is Satisfying

A killer close is satisfying. The reader feels it’s natural. All of his questions have been answered. Unless you are doing some type of cliffhanger series. But all his questions within that context have been answered and a killer close ties in the opening, so it feels like the lid of a box has been shut when they read that last sentence.

For the reader ultimately it’s what you promised. That’s what you need to deliver from that headline.

Why You Aren’t Superstar Enough to Write the Other Kind of Posts

I always tell people that some people can ignore this list. Seth Godin for example. He can get away with pithy posts. He can get away with minimum effort because the decades of work and thought and every reputation goes behind each post.

You and I have not reached that level yet. We have to earn our right. We have to deliver a thoughtful, thick, teachable content.

So we can’t just depend upon that humdinger of a headline. If people go to your content, it has to be good. It has to deliver on that particular promise otherwise people are going to bail. They aren’t going to give you time of day again or they are going to be very suspicious.

In the next episode we are going to dive deeper into each one of these elements, actually starting with the headlines.

How do you actually write a headline that gets attention, that stops your reader cold in her tracks?

So that’s for the next episode. Until then, thank you so much for listening and do me a huge favour, jump over to iTunes. Drop me a rating, drop me a comment, a review. Let me know how I am doing. Let me know what you think of this show. I would really appreciate that.

Thank you so much again. We will talk soon.