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Everything You Need to Know About Writing Killer Headlines You Learned in Kindergarten

I'm 5!

I'm 5!This morning I was wondering if we often write less than stellar headlines because it goes counter intuitive to adult speaking. For instance, one of my good-god-he’s-five twin boys, wanted some milk this morning. He said, “Get me some milk.” I responded quickly, and a little peevishly, “May I please have some milk,” which he dutifully repeated.

The thing is, “Get Me Some Milk,” makes a far better headline than, “May I please have some milk?” don’t you think? Ironically, the reason I corrected my son, was that it evoked emotion in me (anger). And emotion is what you want when you’re writing headlines.

Headlines matter. A lot.

According to Copyblogger, 8 out of 10 people read a headline but only 2 out of ten will read what comes after.

So, no slacking off on that headline, even if you’re only 5 at heart. Here are some 5 quick headline tips; all of which you learned in Kindergarten.

1. Forget patience

Write the headline first and then let the copy complete what you promised in the headline.

2. Be a copycat

Find a headline that’s awesome, swap out some of the key words to fit your topic and you’re good to go.

3. Me, me me

If the reader can’t tell from the headline what’s in it for them, rewrite.

4. But why?

Asking a question can make for a great headline

5. Fill in the blank

Just like those first worksheets in school, here are some fill in the blank headline templates from copyblogger:

  • Who Else Wants [blank]? (example: Who Else Wants a Kid that Says Please?)
  • The Secret of [blank] (The Secret of Raising Polite Kids)
  • Little Known Ways to [blank] (Little Known Ways to Raise Polite Kids)
  • Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All (Get Rid of Rudeness Once and For All)

The truth is, sometimes when my kids ask me nicely for something, I don’t always respond right away if I’m tied up with something. But if they give a slightly rude command, “Get me milk” I always seem to find the time to respond immediately.

So it seems even in real life, just like in writing, good headlines get results.

About the author: Karen, zencopy creator, is a top 10 bestselling amazon author, creativity coach, and an online content specialist with a masters in psychology and passion for learning and teaching new topics.

5 comments… add one

  • Karen, You’re absolutely right. Writing the headline first is a big help and focuses the writing which comes after it. If reading the headline is the last thing you do on the post, it may be rushed and routine. Suggestion 5 is also very useful.

  • What a little corker this post is Karen. Short, sweet and simple. So true what you say about typical phrases that make a great headline and I didn’t know that copyblogger stat so thanks for adding that. So let me go back to my childhood, ah, yes I remember now, oh they will make great posts; Chocolate Makes Me Smile More and Is Kissing Girls Good For You. But best to leave my favourite from back then for now though; My Bottom is Making Bubbles Again. You can’t win ’em all!!

  • This should be titled “Killer Headlines by Kids”. Great post…great picture.

    P.S. Still want me kids to mind their Ps and Qs…can’t help myself!

    • Great title suggestion. I hear ya on the kid thing…but what’s a writer to do? Lol. Maybe we can just take their headline ideas and then correct them anyway…

  • Karen,
    This was a great post! Headlines are so neglected. I know I sometimes just throw things out there when I shouldn’t.
    Thank you for reminding me to pay more attention to my titles.