While every writing task is important, copywriting headlines is crucial. A headline is your introduction, first impression, opening line, and sales pitch all rolled into one.
That’s plenty intimidating … enough to bring on a serious case of writer’s block. But never fear! Here you’ll find plenty of practical information to help you learn to write compelling headlines including …
Copywriting headlines – and doing it well – simply takes a bit of common sense and a decent amount of practice. But first things first.
Q. What is a headline?
A headline is text that introduces the subject matter of the piece. It can take different forms. A headline is known as a title (above an article), a subject line (for an e-mail), a banner (on a newsletter), teaser (on an outer envelope), a Johnson box (on a direct mail letter), or even a caption (below a photo).
Q. Why are headlines so important?
Eight out of 10 people read headlines. Just 2 out of 10 read the rest of the piece. Those who actually read your headline will decide within an estimated 5 – 10 seconds whether or not to continue. The headline is the first entry point to your article, web page, or email campaign. If the reader stops at the headline, your piece will not get read. That’s why the headline plays an especially crucial role in any piece.
Q. What does a headline do?
Every element of a compelling piece has just one purpose – to get the next sentence read, culminating in the call to action. (Obviously, the call to action’s job is to get the reader to take a specific action.)
It follows then that headline’s singular most important function is to draw the reader into the piece and keep reading.
Q. What are some ways a headline can convince my reader to keep reading?
These methods are the most commonly used by writers use to create engaging headlines.
Q. Should I capitalize the headline?
The first word in a headline is always capitalized. Beyond that, follow the writer’s guidelines for the specific publication or client.
Q. How long should a headline be?
Bottom line: headline length is closely associated with the type of piece for which it’s written. A headline should be as long as it needs to be to get the specific job done.
Q. Should I write the headline before or after the rest of the piece?
Some writers swear that writing the headline first keeps the main idea of the piece front and center and allows them to stay on task. Others write their piece first and later summarize it with the headline. Still others write out the piece’s main idea, write the piece, and then decide if the main idea serves as the headline. Try each approach to copywriting headlines and go with what works for you.
Check out How to Write Better Headlines, a quick, low-cost writing course by Nick Usborne. It's a super-fast (and super-affordable) way to build your headline-writing skills.
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