Marty Weintraub needs to blog more. If only to jump start my brain in the morning. He has an excellent post at the moment called, Drive 28,402 Extra Visitors by Blogging for 48 Minutes. When I see a headline like that I think “yeah yeah yeah, nice linkbait.” And then I read it.
Lets deconstruct that last sentence, because something very interesting is going on. I see it a lot lately in blog posts about linkbait where they simply label linkbait as a trick. It is not a trick, it’s a promise.
When I read Marty’s title, it promised me something. I don’t think I was consciously aware of what the promise is. I know I registered “Extra visitors by blogging” and that is what caught my attention. But a deeper force drove me to read the article, probably my sub-conscious giving me a kick and yelling, “this can help you with your goals“.
This is why headline writing is tricky, the correct usage of an effective title creates a response in the brain that is incredibly complex and is impossible to backward engineer. What I mean is you cannot set up a mathematical model that would replicate the positive response rate, which is why headline writing software is a joke.
What can seem like a simple headline, may be something that has taken hours to create. Some of the time has to be spent to get you into a state of mind. I’m not talking about sitting cross legged on your kitchen floor with incense burning and the sound of crashing waves on the stereo. I mean you have to be in the right frame of mind, the right mood, to reach down into the parts of your mind and pull out a bunch of words that can illicit the correct response.
You may say I am thinking about this too much, that you never have problems coming up with great headlines. Well that may be because you are in the correct state of mind more than you think.
When writing a headline I feel I have to prepare, I have to make sure I have a chunk of time to devote to the dark art of headline creation.
A great headline is one that makes you click, you may even hate it, but if you click, it works. And this is what some people don’t understand, they think that the headline is rubbish because they don’t like it. And yet they read the article.
Headlines are not the story, they are the promise of the story.