Do you stare at that empty “Enter title here” box on your blog post, struggling to come up with a good headline that will compel people to click through and read your latest post?
Are you wondering just what makes a good headline, anyway?
Never fear! Your answer is here in the form of fill-in-the-blank easy templates below. But first…
The biggest thing you’ve got to understand is that your headlines are promises and you need to promise something that your readers want if you want to get their attention.
Your readers need to know exactly what they’ll get when they click through to read your content. What are you promising and why should it matter to them? What do they get out of giving you their attention and time?
That’s why it’s so important to start everything you do from the perspective of WHO are you writing for… what are their goals… dreams… fears… challenges… secret fantasies?
Which of these is more interesting to you?
- Five Good Types of Headlines
- How to Write Better Titles for Your Blog Posts
- Read This Now: The Secret Triggers Behind 43 Powerfully Simple Fill-in-the-Blank Blog Post Headline Templates You Can Use to Get Slightly More Rich and Famous Starting Today
Both describe the same post (the one you’re reading right now). The second has action (read now!), intrigue (secret triggers?), specificity (hey bloggers, this is for you), implied “ease” of results (it’s got fill-in-the-blank templates included), and a believable result promised (get slightly rich and famous).
The Secrets Desires You Must Stay Aware of to Write Great Headlines
We all want enough money to live our dreams, to create loving lasting relationships, and to be healthy and experience life fully. Health, wealth, relationships and wisdom/spirituality are triggers that grab our attention.
I can’t promise writing good blog posts will get you the relationship you want (well I could but I’m not sure that’s realistic, unless you pen a poetic ode to your spouse or partner about how wonderful they are and share it with the world, that could work to win you brownie points) but I can tell you it will help you make money (get slightly rich) and build a platform (get slightly famous).
Know which of these desires you’re playing to when you write your headlines and work it in where it fits.
How to Really Get Good at This “Headline Thing”
How do you get good at writing headlines (your blog post titles are headlines) that grab your readers attention and get them to click through and read?
1. Write lots of headlines.
Some will bomb. Others will rock. Do it enough and you start to get a better feel for what’ll work.
Test your headlines. Try split testing and experiment with different headlines when you share your content on social networks to see what gets attention.
Run headlines by your team, colleagues or mastermind group for their feedback and specifically ask them “what can I change to make you more likely to read this blog post based on the title?”
Like writing blog posts or anything else in life, experience makes a difference so practice lots (and then move to step 2 and learn from experienced writers).
2. Read and dissect lots of headlines.
Don’t just read headlines, but take time to ask, “Why did this grab me?” Notice what gets your attention and dissect why.
Browse the magazine aisle at your supermarket or meander through your local bookstore. Look at the bestsellers on Amazon. Why did you stop and look at the magazines or books you did?
If you want to really learn what works in headlines, study direct response copywriting and books like The 100 Greatest Advertisements, Influence, Scientific Advertising, and anything Dan Kennedy’s written.
3. Model what works.
Use templates. Watch the most popular blogs in your niche and see what they’re doing that’s working well.
Bookmark blog posts like this one (yes, I’m shameless!) that give you both fill-in-the-blank templates AND tell you why they work so you understand what it is you’re doing.
So How DO You Write Great Blog Post Titles Without Spending All Day Brainstorming?
I’ve blogged a few times about how to kill boring blog post headlines and the process I go through to write and test headlines to find the real firecrackers.
But sometimes I’m a slacker. (Shhhh…. you’ll keep that just between us right?)
I don’t want to sit here and think… think… think… That’s where headline templates com in SUPER handy. Just fill in the blanks with your topic and what you’re sharing, and ka-pow! instantly excellent blog post headline!
So, to the best part of this guide — if you can fill in a blank or two, you can write snappy, attention-grabbing headlines with the templates below.
Note: Some of the examples cross between categories and combine more than one of these styles.
1. “How To…”
“How to” headlines are attached to some of the most popular posts on many blogs.
Why? Because you know right from the headline exactly what you’re going to find out how to do. Boom–simple, obvious promise of results!
Check out the most popular posts here and you’ll see that (at the time I wrote this post) the headlines of 4 of my top 10 most popular posts begin with “how to.”
- How to _____________________ (Straightforward, just exactly what you’re sharing how to do)
- How to _________ and ____________ (If you can do the first, you’ll get the second)
- How to _________ Even If _______________ (End with what’s stopping people so they know why that isn’t an excuse anymore)
- How to _________ in ________ (Add a time qualifier to how long it will take to achieve)
- How to _________ so that you can __________ (What happens when your readers can do what you’re showing them how to do?)
- How to _________ Like __________ (Who do your readers idolize?)
- How to _________ Without ___________ (What do your readers want, and what do they NOT want to do or give up to get that result?)
- How to be ______________ (What do your readers want to become?)
Quick Imaginary Examples:
- How to Decorate Your Bedroom Like a Pro Even if You Can’t Tell Red from Purple or Silk from Chiffon
- How to Write Better Blog Post Headlines in 10 Minutes Without Becoming a Sleazy Used Car Salesman
- How to Learn Enough French in Less Than 10 Days to Survive Paris with Style
- How to Write Blog Post Headlines that Go Viral
- How to Re-Enter the Limelight and Create Your Own Comeback Like the Clintons
- How Dozens of Smart Men Screwed Up a Country by Ignoring the Sage Words of Thomas Jefferson
- How Focus Groups Deliver the Worst Possible Guidance and What to Do Instead When Testing Your Advertising
- How a Stay at Home Mom Lost 50 Pounds and Got into Shape–Without Cutting Calories or Fat From Her Diet
Real Life Examples:
- How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (You’ve heard of this super best seller, right?)
- How to Get Your Alexa Ranking Under 100,000 – here
- How to Create Pinnable Image Quotes – here
- The Science of Instagram: How to Get More Followers and Likes – QuickSprout
- How a “no name” mom in Portland catapulted to a six-figure business – email subject line from Kristin Thompson
Two Cool Twists:
- Turn the “How to” into a personal story and increase curiosity with a “How I…” or “How (person) (achieved results)”
- Twist this into “How NOT to… like…” and go with someone they really don’t love or aren’t impressed with
2. “I’ve Got the Answer to Your Question”
Your readers have questions. Do you have answers? Tell them right in the headline by ASKING the questions in their heads or showing them the answer.
You want to ask a question that triggers one of these responses in your readers mind: “Yes!!”, “No!”, or “I’ve Gotta Know!”
What do your readers struggle with and really want to fix or understand?
- Are You Making this Mistake When ________________?
- Is This Why You Aren’t Succeeding With ___________________?
- Do You Struggle to ___________? Read This Now. (Or, “Don’t Miss This” or some other action phrase at the end)
- Stop ___________ with ______________ (First blank, the problem or challenge; Second blank, the solution)
- End Your Struggle to ________________
- Little Known Secrets to ________________
- Do You Wonder How ______ Almost Always _________? (First blank, group of successful people; second blank, their results)
- One Quick Way to _____________
- If You’re Frustrated By _______ Try ______________ (First blank, problem; Second blank, hint at your solution but don’t give it away yet!)
- You Can ________ even if _________ with _________ (First blank, big problem; Second blank, why it’s been a problem; Third blank, strategy/secret/formula/tip/etc.)
- What You’ve Got to Know About _________________
- Do You Know These ___________ to Avoid ___________? (First blank, something like “three keys” or “five secrets”; Second blank, big scary problem)
Quick Imaginary Examples:
- Are Your Blog Posts Boring Your Readers to Sleep?
- Do You Struggle with Confidence? Don’t Miss this Guide to Finding Your Hidden Inner Rockstar
- Do You Wonder How Some Bloggers Get All the Attention (When Your Content is Just as Good)?
- One Quick Way to Write a Rockin’ Blog Post in Half the Time
- If You’re Frustrated by Your Frizzy Hair in the Summer, This Quick Fix Worked for Me
- You Can Get Clients With a Blog, Even if You Hate to Write
- Revealed: Little Known Secrets of Accountants that Make Tax Time Painless for Entrepreneurs
Real Life Examples:
- Can Honest Copywriting Succeed? – Shel Horowitz
- How Far Should You Go to Make a Sale in Your Copy? – Mind Valley Insights
- 5 Ways You Might Be Driving Your Readers Crazy (Without Realizing It!) – here
- Can you REALLY Make Money Blogging? [7 Things I Know About Making Money from Blogging] – ProBlogger
3. “You Can Be Successful, Too!”
If You Can Fill in a Blank, You Can Write Great Blog Post Headlines that Get Readers to Your Blog — that’s the promise of this post, right? Did it grab YOUR attention?
- If ________ Then _________ (First blank, simple action or skill; Second blank, result your readers want)
- __________ Like ______________ (First blank, big goal or dream; Second blank, someone famous who’s done it)
- Create ___________ You _________ (First blank, something people want; Second blank, why they want it)
- Why ____________ Always ___________ (First blank, group of people; Second blank, results they get)
- The ______ Guide to ________ (First blank, adjective that describes how your readers see themselves or what they wish for – “A-List Blogger’s” or “Lazy Blogger’s”; Second blank, result)
- Become ____________ Without _____________ (First blank, what your readers want; Second blank, the obstacle or challenge that stops them)
Quick Imaginary Examples:
- Create the Dream Business You Want So You Can Travel the World and Work From Anywhere
- The One Secret Workout Twist that Will Help You Sculpt a Body You’ll Love
- The Stay at Home Mom’s Guide to Making Money from a Laptop
- If You Can Write an Email, You Can Build a Profitable Blog
- How to Brand Yourself Big Like (Insert Currently Cool Celebrity Here)
- Why Smart Bloggers Always Test Their Headlines (And How to Test Yours in 3 Simple Steps)
- The 5 Steps to Build a 6 Figure Consulting Business Without Working 7 Days a Week
Real Life Examples:
- ________ for Dummies (the Wiley brand that covers everything from Computers to Dating and Beyond)
- The Complete Idiot’s Guide to…
- A Cheatsheet for Optimizing Your WordPress Blog for Search Engines Without Cheating – QuickSprout
Risk Reversal: My Favorite Jay Abraham Technique for Kick-Starting Your Online Sales – Mind Valley Insights
4. “Watch Out! Protect Yourself! Warning!”
Grab your readers’ attention and jar them out of complacency with a big ol’ warning headline.
Tabloids and sensationalist news publications use this technique frequently, as in: “Deadly Poison Shooting Insect Creature From Venus Invades Small Town–This Common Household Item is Your Only Effective Defense!”
You can do it without the alien references (or with, if your readers are sci-fi fans).
Make it “us” against “them” — what others in your industry or profession won’t tell your readers that you will.
- Are You Making These _____ Mistakes When You ________? (Fill in with a number or action word, then your topic)
- The ____ Biggest Problems with ________ (First a number, then your topic)
- _____ Massive ____________ Mistakes You’re Probably Making Now (Start with a number then add your topic)
- _____ Ways to Avoid ____________ (Number, then a big fear)
- The Secret _______ to _____________ (Share a Secret Formula, Strategy, etc.)
- Avoid _______ When You ________ (First blank, “looking stupid” or an equally undesirable result; Second blank, process/action)
- The ______________ Hoax (or Hoodwink or another “hey they fooled you!” phrase)
- What ______ Won’t Tell You About ___________ (First blank, authority figure; Second blank, your topic)
- The Real Truth Behind _____________
- Lies _________ Tell About _____________
- ____ Warning Signs of ___________ (What “ailment” might your audience be suffering from?)
Quick Imaginary Examples:
- 5 Massive Mistakes You’re Probably Making that Scare Readers Away from Your Blog
- What You Absolutely Must Know to Use Pinterest Safely
- What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About the Real Risks of Hormone Replacement Therapy
- 7 Ways to Avoid Buying Gifts that Get “Re-Gifted”
- The Client Attraction Hoax: What Most Marketing Consultants Aren’t Telling You
- Avoid Looking Stupid at the Club: Simple Dance Moves Anyone Can Pull Off
Real Life Examples:
- It’s 10 o’Clock: Do You Know Where Your Credit History Is? a press release title by Shel Horowitz (notice this one is also a question)
- ObamaCare Survival Guide by Nick Tate (haven’t read this but it’s on Amazon’s bestseller list for 2013)
- Don’t Believe What Politicians Say About Your Uterus – Cosmopolitan (which is worth browsing just for the headlines)
- 15 WordPress User Errors that Make You Look Silly – Copyblogger
- The Myth of Focus & Why Many Great Entrepreneurs Pursued Multiple Projects at Once – Mind Valley Insights
- How Clutter Affects Your Brain & What You Can Do About It – LifeHacker
5. “Easy Button: List Post, Checklist, Template, or Step by Step Guide”
Ah yes, the mythical easy button… but is it always mythical? If you’ve been struggling to write your blog post headlines, doesn’t having simple templates like the ones in this post make it easier?
We don’t want yet more information but we do want simple solutions and easy buttons that make us feel like a result is achievable.
Promise your readers a helpful list, checklist, template, or step by step (often in a post starting with a number) and they’ll be breathing a sigh of relief before they’ve even read your post!
- _____ Ways to _______
- _____ Tips to Help You _______
- Avoid ______ in ___ Easy Steps
- The _____ Guide to _______ (Fill in the first blank with popular words like Ultimate, Zen, Minimalist, Lazy Person’s, Smart Person’s, etc.)
- Learn ________ Step by Step and __________
- ______ Shortcuts to __________ Success
Quick Imaginary Examples:
- Avoid that Speeding Ticket with these 5 Magic Words
- The Ultimate Guide to Looking Stylish on a Shoestring Budget
- 5 Shortcuts to Monetizing Your Blog Quickly
- 10 Tips to Help You Attract the Right Clients to Your Next Paint Your Toenails Tiger Striped Purple Workshop
- Three Simple Ways to Get Noticed by the Media Using Unique Holidays
Real Life Examples:
- 31 Days to Build a Better Blog – ProBlogger (You own this, right? Go buy it today if not.)
- The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts – Gary Chapman
- The Hotel Room Workout: 5 Exercises When You Can’t Get to the Gym – Entrepreneur.com
- 109 Ways to Make Your Business Irresistible to the Media – Copyblogger
- 56 Ways to Market Your Business on Pinterest – Copyblogger
- 6 Ways to Spice Up Your Copywriting and Sell Without Even a Dash of Hype – Marcia Yudkin at The Word Chef
Boost Your Results with These 7 Bonus Tips
1. Weave in controversy or curiosity.
Spend a few minutes browsing a news website or two and watch how they use controversy and curiosity to keep you clicking through to read one article after another.
Strong opinions get attention. Are you willing to go out on a limb and be controversial?
And while curiosity might kill the cat, it breathes life into a blog! Write headlines that make the reader say, “Ooooooh I need to know what that’s about!” Try headlines with mystique that leave a little bit to the imagination and attract clicks.
2. Use trigger words to boost the power of your headlines.
Certain words trigger our minds and grab our attention.
Learn to use those words in your headlines. Action words. Descriptives. Interjections!
3. Ask yourself “why does this matter”…
Keep asking that question, and then rework your headline to include that why/result/goal.
What do your readers really want? Using this article as an example: you don’t want to write great headlines… you want to attract attention and get readers to your blog… and why do you want that?
4. Call out your tribe/peeps/ideal readers.
Don’t make your headline so general it could apply to anyone, but say specifically who your post is for.
Instead of “The Guide to Beautiful Landscaping” try “The Cheapskate Home Seller’s Guide to Creating Million Dollar Curb Appeal” or “Three Smart Steps to Creating a Beautiful Outdoor Space on a Tiny Budget.” See how those call out specific audiences? The first, those on budget who are selling their homes and need to create a great first impression for potential buyers and the second, those looking for budget friendly landscaping ideas.
5. Add specificity and numbers.
Instead of “5 Ways to Write Better Headlines” try something like “5 Super Fast Ways to Write Blog Post Titles that Get 500% More Traffic in 5 Minutes or Less” (but keep it honest and achievable…).
This is why headlines like “Give Me 10 Minutes and I’ll Give You…” work so well.
6. Make it believable.
Almost nothing works ALL the time or EVERY time.
Consider words like “some” or “almost” in your headlines to keep them credible. Make your headlines stand out from the craziness and unbelievable promises (especially on social media) by being realistic.
7. Make it easier–or harder!
Instead of “How to Build Your Own Freelance Business” try “Three Easy Steps to Making Money From Home with Your Computer & Internet Connection.”
Or… just be honest about the hard work that’s going to go into what you’re teaching. I bought into Insanity (and then Combat, and the Beachbody obsession continues) in large part because they were honest about the fact that their workouts are killer tough and I’d better be dedicated to getting results and changing my body. Their honesty and lack of hype created trust for me.
What headlines have worked well for you? Would you share your best headline (or the headline from your most popular post) in the comments?
Are these templates helpful for you? Let me know if this is the type of post you’d like to see more of from me, help me help you!
Oh, and if you found this blog post helpful, you’d love my home study workshop Make Your Blog Famous… just sayin’. You should check it out if you want to find out how to get readers and get noticed.