You’ve got a brilliant idea for your next blog post. Your audience is going to LOVE it.
You spend a few hours cranking out the content to get it just right. You cover all the bases — simple, actionable tips, helpful stories to make it stick, and a couple of subtle-yet-witty jokes to keep it light.
You slap a headline up top, click “Publish,” and wait in anxious anticipation. (You’ve even got Google Analytics pulled up in real-time to watch as the visitors roll in!)
Aaaaand crickets. Nobody’s clicking.
As it turns out, that last-minute, less-than-intriguing headline sabotaged hours of your hard work. Hey, it happens. But it doesn’t have to.
Why your headline deserves some TLC
According to Copyblogger’s Brian Clark, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.”
That means that even the most entertaining, life-changing content is doomed to digital obscurity if it’s hidden behind a boring headline. (Tweet that!)
So how do you write a great headline without losing your sanity (and your entire afternoon)?
Do what the pros do
Before you start questioning your writing skills, your approach, your purpose in life…let me tell you some seriously good news:
The best, most clickworthy headlines have all been written before.
It’s true! Copywriting heavyweights, A-list bloggers, and highly paid advertising pros will be first to admit that when it comes to great headlines, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Whether you’re scanning Facebook, Twitter, or the magazine rack at the grocery store, chances are high that the headlines grabbing your attention (and commanding your clicks) have all been recycled from copywriters past.
And that’s okay.
Because as a blogger, your job isn’t to invent a completely new way to pique human curiosity. It’s to deliver great value once you’ve got it. (Tweet that!)
How to write a great headline in under 10 minutes
Based on what I’ve told you, you’ve got literally no excuse to spend hours agonizing over the perfect headline. Here are 7 simple steps to make this “recycling” process work for you:
1. Before you need it: Find (or make) a swipe file. A quick search will bring up PLENTY of great (free!) blog posts, guides, and downloads filled with great headlines to get you started. You may also take a closer look at the magazine rack in your local grocery store or create your own swipe file by keeping a “click journal” of the headlines that catch your eye.
2. Choose your topic. Before you dive in and start headline shopping, get clear on the mission. If you’ve got a specific blog topic in mind, you’ll be able to sift and scan the options with max efficiency.
3. Keep your blinders on. Only look for options that will work with your content. Don’t be distracted by shiny objects and options that just won’t fit your current topic (or don’t feel authentic to your brand or your audience).
4. List the finalists. Open up a new document. As you read through the swipe file, make note of the headlines that jump out at you. To save time, be picky. Keep the list to only three to five favorites.
5. Fill in the blanks. Use the sample headlines as your guide, and fill in your info. (Just as I did with this post: How to [Do Something] in [Timeframe]. And hey – it worked!)
6. Choose a winner. Of the finalists you’ve got in the doc, which will be MOST appealing to the audience you want to reach? Which one makes the most intriguing promise? Don’t obsess on this step; follow your first instinct.
7. Celebrate. You did it! Now that you’ve picked a tried-and-tested headline and adapted it to your topic and audience, you can be confident that your post will get the clicks it so rightly deserves.
Check it off your list
You’re a busy entrepreneur (with plans to take on the world). Your time is incredibly valuable. There are so many ways you could spend it wisely.
Spending hours struggling to come up with a blog post headline isn’t one of them.
In the comments below, tell me:
- What’s one of the best, most clickable headlines you’ve ever seen?
- BONUS: Apply the formula to YOUR next headline, and post it here!
Wanna learn more?
If you’d like more info on great headlines (and want to get a head start on that swipe file of yours), check out these ridiculously amazing free resources: