Blogging Insights NF # 55 — Headlines

“On the average five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” — David Ogilvy

I can’t argue with this. It’s true. If you can write a great headline, not just once in a while but most of the time, you can find a terrific job at any advertising agency you care to name. I was never a really great headline writer. I’m better than I was, but if I had been much better, I might never have left the insane world of advertising and moved into the less frenetic world of technical writing.

I became a better technical writer than I was an advertising writer. Also, I enjoyed tech writing more. I liked knowing I’d given people accurate, understandable information. When I wrote a good book, I felt good.

Heading into autumn, it’s time for ghosts in the Valley

When I worked at Doubleday, not only did we need to come up with good (if not great) headlines. We also learned that offers sent out on pink paper got a 40% high response then offers sent out on any other color paper. Why? No one knew why, but pink was the winner. Advertising is full of cryptic factoids like that.

A good headline needs to be eye-catching. It also needs to be brain-catching. It has to get your reader to pay attention and want to read the rest of the story.

Headlines have to be grabby AND intriguing. It’s the master key to every blogging knot.

If you can come up with headlines that hit both of those notes most of the time? You’re going to get read more often by more people. Like it or not, headlines are the make or break for a post.

Lacking a terrific headline, a snappy picture can do it, especially if photography is your thing. If you can have a great headline and a terrific pictures most days? You can’t lose.

Writing headlines is art. You have so much to say in so few words!

Categories: #BlackstoneRiver, #Blogging, #FallFoliage, #Photography, #Sketches, #Writing, Anecdote, Arts, documentation, Drawings, Words

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11 replies

  1. Thank you for pearls of writing wisdom Marilyn.


  2. I know a vague title is bad for business. If I give something a title that just won’t work, please change it if you see it. I think I have gotten better at it and I give it a lot more thought now.
    I know right now that anything mentioning Bad Buddy Series or Ohm and Nanon will grab an audience. The show was great and they are hot. I think the last title posted showed that to me.
    I don’t often look at the analytics but I know a good title is a winner. I also try to get at least one or two good pictures for the preview. I don’t know what the secret is to get a good preview on Twitter or Tumblr when a different picture might show up at each preview.


  3. You are so right. A great picture or catchy title/few words get me writing. Unfortunately I’m lacking either recently. . . just saying. . . Thanks for the pep talk. Claudia


    • Not everyone can do it. If everyone could, agencies wouldn’t pay people the outrageous amounts they do for that ability. Even if you manage to hit the mark sometimes, you’re doing well. It really isn’t nearly as easy as it seems.

      Liked by 1 person

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