Okay, they probably can’t. Sorry, kittens. Writing a great headline is an underrated skill, in business particularly. Headlines aren’t just for journalists any more, kids.
A great headline means your emails will be read immediately. A great headline means your paper on the reproductive habits of the Peruvian fighting snail will be picked up over all the others out there on the market. A great headline means people will stop and look at your work instead of that grad upstart with the washboard abs who thinks he knows everything.
It’s the first – and perhaps only – impression you get to make on your reader so take it seriously. Here’s an alarming statistic for you: 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will read your copy. Write a great headline, and more people will be treated to that beautiful copy you’ve been agonising over for weeks.
Check out blogger Jeff Goins’ five tricks to help you write catchy headlines. His headline for that story? 5 easy tricks to help you write catchy headlines. See? Easy.
Here’s your homework for the day: have a look at something you’re writing now, or something you have written recently, and spend 15 minutes brainstorming headlines. I guarantee you can come up with something better that what you have now.
Remember, the purpose of every sentence you write is to get your reader to read the next sentence. But your headlines are the most important words you will write, so give them the respect they deserve.
Of course, if you want to get down to the fun stuff – and who doesn’t? – tabloid newspapers have been the font of the greatest/most awful headlines ever seen. As your reward for reading this far, I offer this great collection from The Vine. “Headless body in topless bar” has to go down as one of the greatest of all time, surely.
And I would like extra recognition this week for going that extra mile just for you. I don’t know what it is about headlines but they really tickle my funny bone. I have been audibly sniggering in the Queensland State Library for 20 minutes so I could bring you the images in this post. If you feel like audibly sniggering for any length of time, I highly recommend googling ‘funny headline images’. You’re welcome.
Have we missed any? What’s your favourite headline of all time?
Special mention goes to Michael Douglas this week for contributing the great headline: “Cunnilingus gave me cancer”. You just know there are now men everywhere saying, “You know, I’d love to, but I hear it’ll kill ya.” (Please also note, Michael Douglas also believes cunnilingus can cure his cancer, so let’s have that on record as well.)