We wanted to get to know Dana Sitar (NAIWE’s Headline Expert) better, so last month we sat down with her. Here is what she shared with us.
What has been your most effective headline, and what platform was it for?
I don’t have data to say for sure, but this example comes to mind right away: In 2014, I wrote an article for HuffPost titled “Your Toddler Might Be Gay,” which got a ton of a attention. The biggest factor, likely, was that both LGBTQ issues and children are subjects on their own that elicit a ton of emotion in people. The headline includes hooks that are valuable regardless of the topic, though: “Your” speaks directly to the reader and suggests something “might be” something which creates curiosity that makes them want to learn more. The article is about the danger of treating straight identities as the default, but I don’t give that away in the headline.
How often are headlines changed?
This depends on the publication, the content, and the publication’s goals. When I’ve written for sites that rely heavily on advertising to attract traffic, we frequently tested and changed out headlines to give an article new life without rewriting. On sites that rely on search traffic, headlines were often more stagnant.
How do you add personality to a headline?
Writing the headline as a statement (“Do These 6 Things Every Morning If You Want to Make More Money”) is a good place to start, because it mimics how we speak. Think about who your audience is—what are they like, where do they come from, and what do they know?—and who you are in relation to them—an expert, a teacher, a peer, an entertainer, for example. Write headlines as if you’re speaking to the audience from that position.
A single headline is not sufficient for most content in digital publishing. Readers access your content in a variety of contexts, and the headline that’s effective in one context is often less effective in another. This training shows you how to craft headlines that catch readers’ attention across platforms, including websites, social media, email and search.
You can join in this conversation on August 27, at 4 pm eastern, when NAIWE will host a discussion on writing headlines for a variety of platforms. The cost for NAIWE members is only $10! Non-members can join for $30. Register today!