Applying headline writing advice to weaker, old headlines on my site, I realised others might find it useful to see how it works.
So here is my headline improvement clinic. I’ve taken a weak headline and beefed it up:
Are reader donations a publishing business model?
At seven words and 50 characters this headline is short enough. It fits inside Google’s 64 character limit. Yet it could be tighter.
Like all version of ‘to be’, the verb ‘are’ is weak. It’s strengthened because it forms a question, but the headline needs backbone. ‘Can’ isn’t much better than ‘are’, but it’s a step forward. Adding the verb ‘save’ kicks things up a gear.
Articles, like ‘a’ rarely add anything to headlines – they act like padding. It’s best to lose them.
‘Publishing business model’ is jargon and off-putting for most readers. It has to go.
The story isn’t about general publishing, it’s about a print magazine. I could use ‘print magazine’ as the headline’s object, but I prefer brevity, so I’ve opted for ‘print’.
Put these parts together gives me:
Can reader donations save print?
We’re down to a snappy five words and 32 characters. It’s more active than before thanks to the verb ‘save’. It’s also more direct and less off-putting.
Can you think of a better way to rewrite this headline?