After two decades of developing and editing content on a variety of platforms, I’ve discovered one of the easiest ways to improve your articles is by spending time creating compelling titles. As attention spans continue to get shorter, it’s even more imperative for writers to draw in readers from the start.
If we fail at the title level, then we often fail the rest of the way. If we can’t compel readers to get past the title and into the crux of our writing, then we have lost the battle.
Here are three quick tips I’ve learned to help writers develop titles that will inspire readers to want more.
1. Invite the reader into the article.
Admittedly, this is often easier said than done. However, readers will more likely read past your title if they perceive an invitation or opportunity to join you in the story.
Instead of a “me-focus” on the title, consider a “reader-focus.” Avoid words such as “my” or “I” and focus more on an “our perspective” approach. Readers will more likely read an article if they perceive that it someone relates to them as opposed to the article just being about your personal struggle or journey.
2. Demonstrate some emotion
Take a glance at an academic journal and read the title page. Most of the articles are very specific indications of an approach to a topic without any emotion or feeling. And in that genre, it works.
However, if you’re writing popular works and hoping for a broad-based readership, you’ll want to provide some level of emotive roadmap of what’s to come. Now, we’re talking about titles, so we can’t include tons of words that describe what the reader can expect.
Yet if we don’t at least provide a snapshot of what to expect, we are putting up our own roadblocks to potential readerships. If your article is a serious, emotional approach to fighting MS, allude to that in the title. If your article is a humorous look at parenting, make sure the reader knows that by the title.
3. Consider asking a question or including numbers
One way to attract attention is by asking a question in the title. If the topic is of interest to the reader—and oftentimes even if it’s not—people will want to read on to discover the answer.
Try to make the question simple, broad and compelling … so simple that a reader will remember the question long after he or she reads the article.
Another option is adding numbers (much like the title to this article). Adding numbers sticks out to the human eye and tells a reader that there are simple and doable suggestions to a certain topic.
Titling an article “5 Simple Tips to Better Health” is easy, broad and compelling. And it conveys the idea that the suggestions are attainable and can be incorporated into my life.
These are just a few suggestions to consider as you title your next article. Most of us–when we write–spend copious amounts of time refining, editing and proofing our articles. And we should.
But how many of us spend a decent amount of time developing compelling titles—titles that will draw in more readers and expose them not only to the topic at hand but to our broader writing and publishing?
For more ideas and help on writing, editing and content development, visit noblecreative.com. And if you’re looking for a writing coach who can walk with you along the way to publication, email firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Writing Coach” in the Subject line.