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5.11.14

How to use headline help tools without looking silly

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I nearly called this blog: Responsible for the content marketing budget? 12 top-notch ways to spend your money.

It was a headline I had generated from cool tool made by HubSpot, called a blog topic generator.

Then I Googled my headline and, of course, I found a whole lot of other headlines just like mine. Not exactly the same, but close enough to make me look like a not-very-original blogger.

Thinking of a good headline is really hard, and it’s really really important. Even if yours is brilliant, only two in every 10 people will click on it, the stats tell us.

Honestly, this was the very first time I had been tempted to cheat. Actually no! I cheated a bit recently with this headline (thanks HubSpot).

But I’ve realised there are good ways to use headline help tools that will help you think of ideas and angles, but not leave you red-faced.

First of all, here’s six ace headline cheating tools.

  1. Headline Wizard. This is the hardest one to use. You have to do the most work. And if you are slipshod, you get really weird results. However, probably has the best potential for original headings. This is one I generated for this blog post. “How to generate great headlines, and make your readers click.”
  2. Portent. It’s cool, and funny and the best thing about it is that it teaches you more about how to generate headlines as you go. But there is not much control. You just put in your topic. Here’s what I got: “Why do people think headline help tools are a good idea?”
  3. Upworthy is actually a parody of a headline generator. Use it as a cautionary tale. You Will Do A Double Take When You See What An Autistic Teenager Found.
  4. HubSpot topic generator. This really is a good way to think of ideas – it sparked this post, for example – but my advice is not to take it too literally. Here’s one that I got: The Biggest Problem With Headline Tools, And How You Can Fix It.
  5. Copyblogger isn’t going to do the work for you. But they have some fantastic advice, like using magazines like Cosmo to inspire you. And they also have the world’s best e-book about writing headlines.
  6. Content Row’s linkbait generator has four settings – fun, controversial, shocking and list. Here’s what I got: How a headline help tool can make you filthy rich. I’d have to just change the angle of this story, but maybe you’d prefer that.

Here’s my two-bob’s worth about how to use them.

  1. Have something to say. It’s a fail if you write a great headline, but the story doesn’t deliver.
  2. Use headline tools before you start writing to stimulate ideas, and get the creative juices flowing.
  3. Don’t take them too literally. Substitute words, play around.
  4. Try to learn the principles of good headlines and blog topics from the generators.
  5. Study the headlines that make you click.
  6. Google your headline before you use it. If it’s taken, go back to the drawing board, but remember headline writing is, and always has been, a formula. No need to reinvent the wheel.

Finally, here are my favourites from the headlines shortlisted for this year’s Walkley awards.

And here is a list of “headline fails” that I found hilarious and hope you do too.

 

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