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40. The Secret to Writing Great Headlines

40. The Secret to Writing Great Headlines

This is one of those times when I use the segment to illustrate the point I’m trying to make in the segment. It’s very post-modern. Notice the title is compelling because I started with “The Secret Of” that leads you as a reader to wonder, “Oh boy, what secret might that be?” and click through. As sad as it is to think that you might fall for such a seemingly shallow psychological trope, you probably have at one time or another. I know I have.

A title should accomplish two goals.

1.Provide a clear description of the subject matter that you will be discussing.

2.Create a “mystery box” (I know, I still have told you exactly what that is) for your readers, giving them a reason to dive deeper.

Compelling titles can be the difference between a piece of work that sparks the imagination and one that wallows in obscurity.

Copyblogger’s Brian Clark did an entire post series on structures you should consider when developing titles, I’ll toss this segment over to him and leave you with a few of my favorites.

From “10 Sure-Fire Headline Formula’s That Work

Little Known Ways to [blank]

A more intriguing (and less common) way of accomplishing the same thing as “The Secret of…” headline.

  • Little Known Ways to Save on Your Heating Bill
  • Little Known Ways to Hack Google’s Gmail
  • Little Known Ways to Lose Weight Quickly and Safely

What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]

Big curiosity draw with this type of headline, and it acts almost as a challenge to the reader to go ahead and see if they are missing something.

  • What Everybody Ought to Know About ASP
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About Adjustable Rate Mortgages
  • What Everybody Ought to Know About Writing Great Headlines

From “7 More Sure-Fire Headline Templates That Work

The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [blank].

This headline has always worked well with time-pressured people, and that’s certainly true for most people today. No one likes to think of themselves as lazy, but everyone likes to save time and effort.

    The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.
    The Lazy Dad’s Way to Quickly Getting Dinner on the Table.
    The Lazy Blogger’s Way to Write Great Post Titles.

From “Warning: Use These 5 Surefire Headline Formulas at Your Own Risk”,

4. [Blank] Ways to [blank].

One of the best list structures, because it’s really a “how to” headline enhanced by specificity that either impresses the prospective reader with how many tips you’ve got, or at minimum let’s them know exactly what to expect.

  • 101 Ways to Cope With Stress
  • 21 Ways to Live a Better Life With Less
  • 5 Ways to Write Killer Headlines

Think back to the articles that you click on and read. Ask yourself how their headlines are structured. You might be surprised at how many of them follow one of these.

By the way, I completely understand that the video I’ve attached is more than a little painful to watch, it does make a few excellent points about developing strong headlines. Consider it homework after the last two segments.

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  • http://twitter.com/Roof_Cleaning Apple Roof Cleaning

    Great article on headlines! Many people use their company name as their headline. This is a big mistake. I like to ask a question in my headlines.
    Checking out your powerful article, is going to inspire me!

  • http://twitter.com/Roof_Cleaning Apple Roof Cleaning

    Great article on headlines! Many people use their company name as their headline. This is a big mistake. I like to ask a question in my headlines.
    Checking out your powerful article, is going to inspire me!

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