89% of people won’t read your article unless you get this right

The number in that headline is fictitious, but hopefully, the headline got your attention and will motivate you to read this blog. It’s about the importance of writing a powerful headline for your article, to ensure it will be read by as many people as possible. Using a headline which was potentially shocking or controversial will mean you were more likely to read on than a bland headline that reads, Writing good headlines is important.

Lots of people spend hours writing interesting and engaging content to promote their business, hoping to get coverage in a magazine. They suddenly realise as an afterthought they need to give it a headline and add one quickly, before sending it to the editorial team.

A strong headline will serve to grab the attention of the editor when he or she is reviewing submitted articles. Getting published is only half the battle though if no one reads your article.

Imagine yourself as the reader. It’s unlikely you pick up a magazine, even your favourite one, and sit and read it from cover to cover, reading every article. More likely you grab a magazine to flick through while eating your lunch, stopping to read only a few articles. Consider what will draw you in - I can guarantee it will be one of two things; either the picture or the headline, most probably a combination of the two. A weak headline means your efforts to write a great article have been wasted.

What makes a good headline?

75% of magazine articles will not be read

Shocking or controversial headlines stand out (we made that one up for effect). As we saw right at the beginning and again here, a headline with the potential to shock is more effective than one which is bland. A good headline may entice you to read something you weren’t necessarily interested in. An ineffective headline, however, will deter you from reading a feature you may have found interesting.

Simple words or literary eloquence

In the article there may be a place for longer words, and it’s often necessary to use different words with the same meaning, e.g. use, utilise and employ. In a headline, however, it pays to use straightforward language, for example, 23% of riders use a crop instead of 23% of riders utilise a crop.

95% of readers like numbers and statistics

Research has shown that headlines with statistics or numbers are very effective. Consider how much more effective this headline is than the following, Headlines with numbers work well.

Another example would be 20 ways to cut the cost of keeping a horse. Obviously, do your research if you’re quoting numbers or statistics.

What’s the worst thing you can do when submitting an article to a magazine?

Asking question is a great way to introduce an article, as demonstrated here. It arouses the reader’s curiosity and gets them to read on to find out the answer.

Read this blog before we take it down

This headline was designed to create a sense of urgency. Another example might be Final 50 tickets go on sale for Horsemanship 2018. If the article is intended to promote an event, then a great headline will create urgency and encourage people to find out how to book etc.

Headlines should not be an afterthought!

Hopefully the above highlights the importance of having a strong headline and how to write one. Headlines should not be a quick afterthought, dashed off one minute before your deadline. Next time you’re writing an article, give it three headlines, not one. Try coming up with headlines in three different styles to inspire you, before settling on the best one. If you have a couple of people you can ask, see which they think works best.

Don’t let a weak headline hijack your chances of being read.

Theresa McCaffreyComment