If your headline is not good, you run the risk of your article never being read. If it’s not read, that means there is less traffic. Less traffic means fewer (or no) sales. No sales means you’re not making any money. No money means you’ll probably be homeless and hungry, panhandling on the street … well, you get the gist.
So headlines are not just headlines. Arguably, they are the keys to the kingdom of making money – especially online.
Trump’s Not-So-Secret Secret to Dominating Headlines
Even if you have no TV and have been lost in the jungles of Africa with no contact to the outside world, you probably know who Donald Trump is. I’m from Florida, but moved to New York to go to college in the late 80s, which is when I became aware of Trump. It’s hard to live in New York City (Manhattan) and not encounter the Trump brand.
I left New York in 2004 and it faded from my consciousness. Trump’s bid for the presidency has turned him this political season into a one-man news cycle. You can’t turn on the TV or click on a web article about politics without him being front and center – and it’s because Trump knows how to grab a headline. His secret is earned media; he lives on it.
What is earned media? In a phrase, "free media." It refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising, which is paid media. And boy has he raked up in this area. Proof?
According to The New York Times, Trump has received $1.9 billion worth of earned media, which includes coverage of the candidate on television and social media, and in newspapers and magazines. That is more than twice the amount of earned media Democratic Party front-runner Hillary Clinton has received …
How to Write Better Headlines: 3 Tips
With the right headline, you too can get some earned media for your online content. Following are three tips to help increase your chance of doing just this.
1. Use the News
If there’s a hot topic in the news (like the Trump presidential bid), work it into a headline. Many will click on your post out of sheer curiosity. It goes without saying that you should deliver on the headline promise. If you can’t find a legitimate way to use a news item in your headline, then don’t do it. You don’t want to damage your reputation with readers by not delivering.
I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve clicked on that were obviously meant as click-bait. When I remember, I never go back to those sites again. So don’t waste your reader’s time. Use the news – but use it honestly and effectively.
2. Be Controversial
Arguably no other presidential candidate has made as many incendiary, controversial remarks as Donald Trump. Now, depending on where you fall politically, this is either a good or a bad thing.
Don’t be controversial just to be controversial, but don’t shy away from controversy either. As Muhammad Ali said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” (RIP Champ)
Too many posts on a topic cover it from the same angle, never digging deeper to find out, “Hey, is there another way to look at this. What if _____?” So look for another angle. And if your “what if” turns into a controversial stance, don’t be afraid to tackle it. You might lose some readers, but then you’ll most likely gain some too. Life … it’s about tradeoffs.
3. Feed Your Audience
One thing Donald Trump knows is his audience. He knows what to say to get them going. One line out of his mouth can turn thousands into a fanatically cheering crowd who eat up everything he says.
Do you know who your audience is? Do you know what gets them going? If not, figure it out. Then, you can write headlines that appeal to them on a visceral level, and go on to deliver the type of content they eat up – just like a roaring crowd at a political rally.
Content marketing is a huge part of online marketing these days. If your headline is weak, no matter what you have to offer, your product/service may never get a chance to shine if no one knows about it. And this is why learning how to write effective headlines is so important.
Donald Trump outlasted 16 other Republican candidates – many of them seasoned, political veterans. But he learned the first rule of marketing – you have to get them to hear you to give you a shot. Love’im or hate’im, one thing can’t be disputed … he knows how to grab a headline.