See the headline right above this text? I wrote it before I ever wrote this blog post.
As a designer who comes from an advertising agency background, the headline has always been an important, if not the most important, part of any creative platform.
The visual image will come out of a headline, the logo will come out of the brand proposition, every brochure has a title and so on. The headline, strapline or title defines and clarifies the creative brief.
Now more than ever, if content is king, then the headline is emperor!
Do you know how many people out there are thinking to themselves: “I write world-changing stuff on my blog or LinkedIn account every week. And every week, I see next to zero reach. Maybe my writing’s not good enough.”
Why headlines are the life-blood of content?
If you’ve only been paying half attention to your headlines up to this point, you’ve been making a huge mistake.
Because headlines are literally the least common denominator for traffic generation on the internet.
Think of when you read my headline for this article. Did you get a description, an elevator pitch for my content?
You got a headline.
Twitter is mostly the same too. It’s not built to make the image the hero, it’s built to make text scannable and easy to digest.
Facebook is no different. Sure you get the added bonus of images (on twitter too if you want), but I’m willing to bet you lunch that, even when an image draws you in, you verify your level of interest by skimming the headline.
Pinterest & Instagram are obviously more image-based, but who hasn’t seen people bringing their headlines to these platforms in the form of images too? I know you have.
And Email? Don’t even get me started. The subject line is arguably the most important part of your email. Without a headline that convinces people to open and read more, you’re sunk.
So why does a headline come first?
“Okay. Headlines are important,” you’re saying. “I already knew that.”
But why should you write your headlines before you ever write the first sentence of your content?
Here are two solid reasons:
1. Writing a headline first commits you to deliver. What if you wrote a post about “how to do 100 pushups” and, instead of writing the headline first, you just jumped into the content?
You’d probably end up with some ramblings about why pushups are important, how many you can do, blah blah blah.
But if you first wrote this headline: “How to get to 100 pushups when you’ve never done more than 10” then you’re forced to create a piece of content that delivers on that promise.
2. Writing a headline first gives you direction & clarity. Back to the pushups headline. What if I didn’t write the headline first and was therefore unsure of who I was writing for.
By writing the headline from the “when you’ve never done more than 10” angle, you’re forcing yourself to start from point a (“I can’t do any pushups”) to point z (“I can rock 100 pushups, no problem.)
Remember, creating content isn’t about you, it’s about delivering value to your audience. Do that, and you’re golden. And when you write the headline first, you’re more likely to make that a reality.
Inspired and adapted from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/why-i-always-write-headline-first-you-should-too-preston-d-lee