Bloggers use headlines to entice readers. We conjure up the most awesome, scandalous or linkilicious headings, but don’t always give the same thought to the ensuing content. Our words shouldn’t be fluff and filler, only there to match a big, bright headline. What we say needs to be original and it has to be good. Otherwise we’re just wasting our adorable headlines. I’ll even wager that the content needs to be better than the words above.
I was thinking of how to approach this post after having dinner with some blogging friends at BlogWorld. Our discussion evolved around blog posts with terrific headlines but flat content, or when the same stale topics are talked about, but the headline is changed to make it seem different. We had great fun making up headlines throughout our dinner. “The Guacamole Approach to Blogging” (we were eating Mexican, so sue us) or “The Top 10 Reasons Bloggers are Like Salsa.”
I mean if I’m going to read a post about why content is like underwear, I want to see some analogies happening. Sometimes we get anything but.
Should the Headline Come First, or The Content?
In all fairness, I actually wrote and deleted this headline several times because I wasn’t sure if folks would find it offensive. Normally, I write the blog post first and then work out the headers. However, I wanted to prove a point about writing content that delivers a headline’s promise.
Admittedly, I suck at writing headlines. For me, the problem begins when I think up a clever heading. When that happens, I don’t find myself getting as clever with the content. I find my posts always work best when I write the content first and then come up with a headline. Granted, it’s not always as satisfying as the headers I come up with before writing, but hopefully they give an idea of what’s to come.
So how do we ensure the carpet matches the drapes?
- Don’t make promises in the headline unless you’re sure you can deliver in your blog post.
- If “awesome” is in the header, the content needs to be awesome. Don’t use words without giving true thought to their meaning.
- Try not to be so cute. Use your talent to come up with original content rather than stale content that fits under a fun header.
- Read over blog posts to be sure they match the headline. If not, change it up and save the cute headline for another occasion.
- Don’t go for shock and awe every time. Safe headlines bring in readers too.
- Remember that linkbait only brings in a short term spike in traffic. Write with your community in mind, not other bloggers, tweeters or social voters.
- Don’t try and recreate a past success – yours or someone else’s. It’s fun when a post goes viral, but if you continue to write the same things to repeat that success you’re going to sound like a one trick pony. Folks get a little tired of the same thing all the time, and they roll their eyes when another BIG headline happens and the same old content is posted underneath.
Who doesn’t like a clever headline? For sure, they grab our attention but there’s no quicker way to get us to exit than having content that has nothing to do with the matter at hand. Don’t make promises you can’t deliver. If you’re going for the style, make sure there’s substance included as well.
P.S. I wrote this headline first, and guess what? It took me longer to write this post than others because I worked hard at making sure I stayed true to my promise. I think I like it better when I go off on tangents and thinking up the headline when I’m done.
How do you make sure your content stays true to your headlines?