Updated: Sep 7
There are many mixed views on this one.
Should you write your headline first or last when producing blog content?
I write mine first.
Because it keeps my writing on track, making sure I don't start padding things out with unnecessary waffle.
You'll likely have an idea of the topic you want to focus on. But if you don't narrow this down and commit yourself to deliver against a headline, you can quite quickly derail your writing.
Your headline is there to tell readers how they’ll benefit from reading your post - a promise of what’s to come if they keep reading. And trying to deliver on a promise you haven’t made yet is a struggle.
But that promise can’t just be born out of thin air.
So where do you start?
Who is your audience?
Defining your specific audience first is a must if your headline is to stand any chance of making people want to keep reading.
And I don’t mean a half-hearted “I’m writing for women” generalisation.
What are their interests? What are their pain points? What language, tone and format are they receptive to?
If you get this wrong at the headline stage, you’ll mess up your chances of getting them to read any further than that.
What do you want your audience to do?
This isn’t to say that your blog post must sell something.
You might want readers to download your eBook, share your post on social media or enter the debate in your comments section.
You might even just want them to feel something? Perhaps inspired, more knowledgeable, better equipped to do their job?
Whatever it is, set your goal from the get-go and make sure your headline sets your reader up for action.
What value do you intend to give your audience?
Before writing your headline, you need to be sure you can deliver on the promise you’re about to make.
It must be clear in your mind what you’re going to be writing about, and the headline should let your reader know how they will benefit from reading your post.
One of the things content marketing can build for your brand is trust. But that can easily be dented if what you deliver doesn’t live up to expectations.
You might get them to click, but they won’t thank you for wasting their time.
Once you’ve covered off those three things, you’re ready to write your headline.
For me, the headline defines the content, not the other way round.
Yes, you’ll find many copywriters, marketers, and journalists that swear by writing their headlines last.
But hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it - each to their own and all that.
If you find yourself floundering with little to no idea what you’re writing about, try writing your headline first and see if it gives you the direction you need.