The Best Of Sure-Fire Headline Writing Formulas With Examples
So, you’re seeing too many of those “how to” and list headlines, and want to try a few different angles?
Let’s move beyond those common headline formulas you see over and over, and add some new blood to your attention-grabbing arsenal.
1. Who Else Wants [blank]?
Starting a headline with “Who Else Wants…” is a classic social proof strategy that implies an already existing consensus desire. While overused in the Internet marketing arena, it still works like gangbusters for other subject matter. * Who Else Wants a Great Blog Template Design? * Who Else Wants a Higher Paying Job? * Who Else Wants More Fun and Less Stress When on Vacation?
2. The Secret of [blank]
This one is used quite a bit, but that’s because it works. Share insider knowledge and translate it into a benefit for the reader. * The Secret of Successful Podcasting * The Secret of Protecting Your Assets in Litigation * The Secret of Getting Your Home Loan Approved
3. Here is a Method That is Helping [blank] to [blank]
Simply identify your target audience and the benefit you can provide them, and fill in the blanks. * Here is a Method That is Helping Homeowners Save Hundreds on Insurance * Here is a Method That is Helping Children Learn to Read Sooner * Here is a Method That is Helping Bloggers Write Better Post Titles
4. 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
5. Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All
A classic formula that identifies either a painful problem or an unfulfilled desire that the reader wants to remedy. * Get Rid of Your Unproductive Work Habits Once and For All * Get Rid of That Carpet Stain Once and For All * Get Rid of That Lame Mullet Hairdo Once and For All
6. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]
People love quick and easy when it comes to solving a nagging problem. * Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Cold * Here’s a Quick Way to Potty Train Junior * Here’s a Quick Way to Backup Your Hard Drive
7. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circumstance]
The is the classic “have your cake and eat it too” headline — and who doesn’t like that? * Now You Can Quit Your Job and Make Even More Money * Now You Can Meet Sexy Singles Online Without Spending a Dime * Now You Can Own a Cool Mac and Still Run Windows
8. [Do something] like [world-class example]
Gatorade milked this one fully with the “Be Like Mike” campaign featuring Michael Jordan in the early 1990s. * Speak Spanish Like a Diplomat * Party Like Paris Hilton * Blog Like an A-Lister
9. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of
Appeal to vanity, dissatisfaction, or shame. Enough said. * Build a Body You Can Be Proud Of * Have a Smile You Can Be Proud Of * Build a Blog Network You Can Be Proud Of
10. 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
11. Warning: [blank].
If you’ve read this far, I guess it still works. Starting a headline with the word warning will almost always catch attention, but it’s what you say next that will determine how well it works for your particular content. * Warning: If You Depend on Google for Both Traffic and Advertising, You Pretty Much Work for Google * Warning: Two Out of Every Three People in Your Industry Will be Out of Work in 5 Years—Will You Be One of Them? * Warning: Do You Recognize These 7 Early Warning Signs of Blogger Burnout?
12. How [blank] Made Me [blank].
Use this structure when relating a personal story. The key to the most effective use of this template is for the two blanks to dramatically contrast, so that the curiosity factor goes way up and people feel compelled to read more. * How a “Fool Stunt” Made Me a Star Salesman * How an Obvious Idea Made Me $3.5 Million * How Moving to Iowa Improved My Sex Life
13. Are You [blank]?
A nice use of the question headline, designed to catch attention with curiosity or a challenge to the reader. Don’t be afraid to be bold with this one. * Are You Ashamed of Smells in Your House? * Are You Ready to Learn Chinese for Your Next Job? * Are You a Courageous Blogger?
14. [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
15. If You’re [blank], You Can [blank].
Another great use of specificity, this headline addresses a particular type of person with the first blank, and the beneficial promise to that person in the content or body copy with the second. * If You’re a Non-Smoker, You Can Save 33% on Life Insurance. * If You’re an Accountant, Our Frequent Flyer Program Really Adds Up * If You Love Scuba, You Can Dive Belize This Week Only for a Song!
16. Give Me [short time period] and I’ll Give You [blank].
This headline promises a strong benefit to the reader, like all good headlines do. But this one is especially effective because it promises to deliver in a very short time period. * Give Me Five Days – And I’ll Give You the Secret of Learning any Subject! * Give Me Three Minutes a Day – and I’ll Give You a Better Complexion. * Give Me 3 Minutes and I’ll Make You a Better Blogger.
17. If You Don’t [blank] Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.
We love to belong, but feeling excluded is a real bummer. Whether it be a financial opportunity or the social event of the year, we simply hate it when we get left out. * If You’re Out of the Market Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later. * If You’re Not at SXSW 2007, You’ll Hate Yourself Later. * If You Don’t Edit Your .htaccess Now, Google Will Hate You Later.
18. 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.
19. Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?
OK, technically this is still a list, but it’s wrapped up in a much more compelling structure than your typical “Top 10” article. People want to avoid problems, and this headline promises the critical tips before it’s too late. * Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure? * Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of an Employee Meltdown? * Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of Digg Addiction?
20. See How Easily You Can [desirable result].
We love quick and easy when it comes to learning something new or gaining some advantage. * See How Easily You Can Learn to Dance This New Way. * See How Easily You Can Own a Lamborghini Miura. * See How Easily You Can Increase Traffic With Social Media.
21. You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result].
People almost always have preconceived notions about things, and this can be a barrier to taking action. Remove the barrier that stands between them and the desired result with your headline, and people will flock to read what you have to say. * You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Retire on a Guaranteed Income for Life. * You Don’t Have to Be a Geek to Make Money Online. * You Don’t Have to Be an A-Lister to Be a Kick-Ass Blogger.
22. Do You Make These Mistakes?
This is always a powerful attention grabber, since no one likes to make mistakes. If you’ve targeted your content well for your intended audience, helping people avoid common mistakes is a sure-fire winner with this type of headline. * Do You Make These Mistakes in English? * Do You Make These Ajax Coding Mistakes? * Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Blog?