If you write like I do, you find that the headlines you give your blog posts always begin as working headlines. That’s not a bad thing.
When I start writing posts, all of my headlines are what I call working headlines. That means they often change over the course of writing the post.
A couple of years ago, at the real job, we switched website content management platforms. The new one actually specifies “Working headline” when you start the process of writing a web story. Even in the news business, someone figured out that when you write, sometimes the headline changes before you type the last word.
It happens often, in fact.
I might be writing a story about a shooting, for instance. I write based on the facts that come to us from police. Those facts usually take the form of a police incident report. Sometimes, you reach almost the end of the report before learning police actually made an arrest.
The story might begin with a headline, “Police investigate shooting in Homewood.” But as you write, and as you find more information, the headline changes. In this example, the finished headline might read, “Police arrest 2 in Homewood shooting.”
I made up the name Homewood. I believe it was a town mentioned in an episode of The Twilight Zone, but it evokes a nice, quiet town. Crime happens everywhere, you know.
Working headlines change in blogging, too.
You can find plenty of formulas for writing the “perfect” blog headline…if you believe there is such a thing.
But as you write a post, very often, you may find that you can make a better point that the one you began with. Sometimes, over the course of just fleshing out an argument, a clearer message comes to light.
I always find that to be an exciting part of creating content. You start off going down one road, but you find a better path to the destination.
Your working headline, then, changes to reflect that better path.
If all goes well, the better argument makes its case more clearly. And with that, your new headline better prepares your audience for the journey they’ll take on your site.
I always tell people — whether they write a blog or news story — not to lock themselves down with a headline set in stone. It, like every other aspect of the post, can evolve.
And if you’re following the flow of your writing and your thoughts, it should.