Clickbait is ruining the art of headline writing.
As a budding young web editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, one of my colleagues and I would compete to see who could get his clever headline printed in the paper version. All that SEO stuff was boring to us. The real challenge was whether we could best the paper’s ace headline writer, which we rarely did. When it happened, it was a triumph. For headline nerds like us, there was no better feeling than hitting that pinnacle of pith.
But some point, we as content providers and journalists evolved from “Men walk on moon” to “Man Tries to Hug a Wild Lion, You Won’t Believe What Happens Next” (Don’t bother clicking—the lion hugs him back. Actually, go ahead and click. If you haven’t seen it, it’s breathtaking.)
Where was I? Oh yes, headlines.
Of course headline writing has had to evolve as the days of readers staining their hands with ink is a thing of the past. We need quick, snackable content and with a deluge of content being thrust in our faces every day, a good headline can make or break a piece of content.
But where do you start? We came across the following infographic from QuickSprout recently, and it’s an excellent primer for headline writing in our social/mobile world.