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BK Magazine Write Right
Posted by Charlotte Ashlock, Executive Editor, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Charlotte Ashlock is a crazy idealist trying to make the world a better place!
It doesn’t matter how well you write, if no one clicks on your title. This is your guide to making your headline irresistible. You don’t have to write click bait to reel your readers in. Without resorting to cheap tricks, you can still make your readers more curious than cats.
The recipe is simple. First, write a list of potential headlines for your article. Don’t just stop at the first half-decent headline you think of, but keep those creative wheels spinning. Don’t censor “dumb” ideas either as they may eventually lead you to smart ideas. You should write at least five ideas, or a lot more if your article is very important.
Beneath are my Secrets for Getting Clicks. Which of your potential headlines leverages these secrets the most? Look for headlines that either execute one secret perfectly, or use multiple secrets. If necessary, revise some of your headline ideas to make better use of the Secrets’ power.
1. Give me celebrities. Does the headline include a “celebrity” name, brand, or concept? (Yes, concepts can count as “celebrities” if they’ve been in the news a lot lately.)
2. Give me drama. Does the headline suggest controversy, drama, or conflict?
3. Make it easy. Does the headline promise easy bite-sized content? (most list-form headlines do this)
4. Give me value. Does the headline offer immediate practical benefit or value? (“How to” articles can signal this)
5. End my pain. Does the headline address a common reader pain point and promise solutions?
6. Surprise me. Does the headline confound expectations, or have a surprise in it?
7. Show enthusiasm. Does the headline make superlative claims? (aka “best ever” “most shocking ever” “you will never believe”)
8. Send it straight to my address. Does the headline single out the desired audience by name? (aka “Seven Business Books every CEO Should Read” singles out the audience of people who aspire to lead companies)
9. Pamper my vanity. Does the headline promise the reader they’ll be learning more about themselves? (self-assessments and buzz feed quizzes do this well)
10. Shock me. Is the headline promising to deliver the “real dirt” on someone/somebody? ("Confessions of” can signal this)
11. Make me one of the special ones. Does the headline offer the reader inclusion in a special community, or an elite group of people “in the know”?
12. Validate my worldview. Write something that confirms the reader’s pre-existing beliefs; people feel warmth and comfort when reading things they agree with. It helps them feel they are not alone in their views.
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