Headline Tip #7: Deadly Sins Are Headline Virtues

by Wes Hanson on April 17, 2012

Vanity, envy, greed, lust, anger … all those nasty vices that trigger human behavior are virtues to the headline writer.

That’s because intriguing headlines get read over innocuous ones. It’s all so shameful.

What do spicy headlines do? They pose questions, give orders, announce news, make promises. People don’t want “information” so much as they want an edge. They want keys to unlock success, happiness, health, effectiveness, and wealth. They want secrets, tips, hints, rules. And always the benefit or reward must be stated or implied. “How to Start an Online Business” is not as appealing as “How to Your Home PC Can Fund Your Retirement.” The “how” must lead to a benefit, which means you have to understand what motivates your audience.

Headlines are different for news copy and sales copy. When writing sales copy (copywriting) you want the reader to take action. When writing news copy, you want to inform – but you still want to be read.

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