7 Headline approaches that will hook your readers and keep them reading.

Writing powerful headlines for web content is a forgotten craft.

I don’t mean the craft itself is forgotten. I mean we simply forget to use it.

Somewhere in our minds we know the headline is important. We know it’s what hooks the reader, or not. And we know it has a big impact on whether or not our content is shared through social media.

So how come we keep grinding out boring and unenticing headlines for our content pages?

I don’t know what your excuse it, but for myself I sometimes publish content with boring headlines simply because I have forgotten to rework the placeholder headline I started out with.

This is a side-effect of the way I write any page or post. I throw down a placeholder headline as an anchor to get myself started. It’s often simply a short description of what I plan to write about.

The trouble is…

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My favorite way to make money as a writer [VIDEO]

money-making website videoFor most of the last 30 years I have earned my living by writing for clients, as a freelancer. And I have no complaints about that. I wrote promotional materials to help companies sell more of their products and services and, in return, they paid me for my time.

But over the last decade I have branched out a little, using my writing skills, and my love of writing, to make some money in a few different ways. I have written books, ebooks, courses and programs.

But my favorite way to make money as a writer is to generate passive income from the websites I create for myself.

The most successful of these sites, so far, is my site about coffee – CoffeeDetective.com.

As you`ll see from this video…

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My interview on writing killer headlines for web content [VIDEO]

Wordtracker interview with Nick Usborne about web content headlinesRecently Ken McGaffin of Wordtracker interviewed me about the craft and art of writing great headlines for web content.

As always, I spoke for too long, so we had to divide the interview into two separate videos. In addition, these aren’t the most finely produced of our videos. I think I sat way too close to the camera!

That aside, we covered some interesting ground.

Too many web content writers pay scant attention to writing a great headline. This is a problem, because headlines have a huge impact both on how many people actually read your content pages, and on how widely shared those pages are through social media.

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Is your content created simply to market your site, or to actually inform your readers?

books in libraryAll too often we create content simply for the purpose of marketing our website or blog.

We are driven by the knowledge that the creation of content is a powerful means to attract new visitors.

In other words, we use content as bait.

But when we do this, are we really giving our readers what they really want?

Another way to look at it would be to view your website or blog as a library.

For a moment, imagine your site as a physical library, built with bricks and mortar, and stocked with hardbound volumes.

Now think about what kinds of books you would buy for your library.

In the real world of bricks and mortar you would buy and display books according to what the public wanted to find there. You would cater to their tastes, and have yards of reference books on the shelves that might be rather mundane in their subject matter, but are nevertheless what your readers want to find.

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On your web content pages, reveal your core message slowly.

mystery in the box revealedOften when I arrive at a content page online, I read the first few lines and find the answer or information I was looking for. Or I at least get the gist of it. I then stop reading and hit the back button.

In other words, the writer has revealed the good stuff at the top of the page, and has given me little or no reason to keep reading.

In fact, I have made the same error with this post. You have already finished reading the short version of what I plan to say and – if you were in a hurry – you could pretty much move on at this point.

(That said, the good stuff is yet to come…I just didn’t flag it in the intro.)

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4 Examples of Effective Headline Design.

headline design for web contentHeadline design? What does that mean?

It means writing and formatting your headline in a way that makes it jump out from the page, or email, or a smartphone.

It used to be that headlines had to do a single job, on the web page where the balance of the content followed. Read the headline, and then keep reading the body text immediately below.

Today, headlines still have to work well, immediately above the body content, but they also have to grab attention and hook readers when they stand alone.

Here are a few situations where your headline has to stand alone, or almost alone: When used as a tweet on Twitter. In an RRS feed. On a smartphone. In Reddit or Digg.

In these circumstances, your headline has to jump out from dozens of others, and get the reader to click through to the full page or post.

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