HEADLINES! We see them every day. Whether they are in newspapers or in the form of clever captions to advertisements; they are all over the place.
No doubt, headlines are the first things we see when we are hit with content. They are the content creator’s chance to make a good first impression. It’s like those opening lines before the beginning of a Star Wars Movie. It gives you a taste of what’s to come but, don’t be fooled, headlines are one of the toughest things to put together. Sometimes it’s easier to write up a 500-word content on yam than giving it a title. We’ve all hit that bump on the road, especially those who make a living out of the written word.
Creating headlines for online content is like creating headlines for news but not really, exactly like it. We all have methods of our own that work but allow me to give you the fundamentals that, I hope, many of you seasoned content creators out there would agree to:
- KEEP IT SIMPLE – it’s as simple as that. As much as possible you would want to avoid being too “catchy” or too clever. There is a reason why simplicity works really well when it comes to the written word. The more concise and simple you are, the better your headlines become. You have to remember that, before anything else, you are sending a message – and a message that is all drowned in puns and witty one-liners tend to get lost in translation. You can always inject a little light-hearted humour in but remember to keep it short and sweet. When in doubt, remember the 3 C’s: Clear, Crisp, Concise. Check out this video and see how a headline can turn sour when it’s haphazardly put together.
- WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA? – back when I was working for a marketing agency, whenever we would put together a presentation to pitch, the first question that is always asked of us is what the Big Idea is after we have gone over the contents of a brief. Basically, in marketing and advertising terms, the Big Idea is that spark of thought that springboards into a theme and concept for a campaign. Essentially it is the foundation for a major undertaking in advertising and marketing. Some of the good ones are “Think Differently” from Apple, “Have it Your Way”, from Burger King, and “Just Do It” from Nike. These are ideas that have given these brands a solid and unshakable footing in their industries and have shaped their identities. The same could be done when you are creating headlines. Remember, a headline sets up your audience’s expectations. It is, quite simply, the foundation to your content. When crafting a solid headline, ask yourself what the Big Idea is behind what you want to communicate and get across to your audience.
- LAST BUT CERTAINLY NOT THE LEAST – I find it really helpful to write the headlines or titles last. That way, it gives me time to go over the content and figure out what I would like to get across. Take inspiration from authors and writers. Most, if not all, of them write their stories first and worry about their bestseller’s title once everything else is done. Besides, how can you tell your audience what it’s (your content, your product, etc.) all about when you haven’t even written anything about it yet? Invest more time on your content. It helps a lot when you start coming up with a good headline or title caption.
Those are the three things I can share about crafting good headlines. While there certainly is a lot more out there, I think these are three of the ones that anyone starting out in content creation should keep in mind. Like everything in this world, of course, the key to mastering it is practice.
If you have more tips on creating headlines or articles that you want to share on the topic, share it in the comments section below!