Anatomy Of A Blog Post Series
Lesson One: Craft Attention-Grabbing Headlines Readers Can’t Resist
Why Your Writing Fails Without Attention-Grabbing Headlines
Face it, you may never judge a book by its cover—but every reader, every social media surfer, every internet user (including you) decides whether or not to click on an article because of its headline.
If yours aren’t reaching out and grabbing peoples’ attention, your writing will be scrolled past. Even with keyword and market research to determine what your audience is craving more of (which you should also be doing) a flat headline affects your writing’s clickability.
It’s that simple.
In the Anatomy of a Blog Post series, we’ll be dissecting, studying, and analyzing the different elements of a successful post to better understand how to replicate that formula—and we’re starting at the beginning—with the almighty headline.
Leave A Little Mystery
If you’ve written or read any fiction, consider how fiction transitions from one chapter to the next. The end of each chapter leaves something hanging to keep the reader hooked, right? Well the same strategy can work for your headline. And I’m not talking about misleading click bait—I’m talking about enticing readers to visit your post and read out of intrigue and curiosity. Where a news headline summarizes the scope of its content, the mystery headline strategy does the opposite.
- This Woman Quit Her Job For An Unbelievable Reason
- As The Dust Settled, Only One Child Was Left Standing
- How Winning The Lottery Ruined This Man’s Life
Ask A Question
You can also draw readers in by asking them a question. Think about it: people love being asked questions. They also love asking questions. If your headline is a question readers already want to know the answer to, they’ll thank you for offering up an answer.
- Are you searching for happiness, or do you really crave purpose?
- Do you want 1,000 new website visitors this month?
- How is a raven like a writing desk?
Ah, the evergreen how-to. These are incredibly popular—and for good reason because the internet has become a wonderful source of information on how to get things done. Want to build a tiny house? Google it. Want to train your dog? There are YouTube videos. Want to become a millionaire with little to no effort? There are a million training and webinar programs claiming they’ll show you how. A how-to headline taps into this human thirst for applicable knowledge.
- How to get over your fear of demo day
- How to write blog posts designed to attract readers
- How to build raised garden beds from old pallets
This is another evergreen headline and article style, one used by print magazines as well as digital publishers. Round-ups are great for writers (like me) who are partial to outlining or list-making because a round-up is essentially that, a list, and the headline (which usually starts with a number) summarizes what readers can expect to take away from the article
- 15 ways to earn more money without asking for a raise
- 10 time-saving apps that will get (and keep) you organized
- 101 websites for professional writers
Address Your Audience
You can also address your audience directly in your headline. Audio commercials use this strategy to get attention: Hey you! Yes, you! Do you want to make more money/come home to a clean house/or live the life of your dreams? Their purpose is to break up the drone of the radio station or the monotony of scrolling through your newsfeed—and it works! Refer to your audience as ‘you’ in your headline and grab some attention for yourself.
- 5 programs you should be using to create viral videos
- Yes, you can build a work-from-home writing business!
- You too can use this template to create share-worthy blog posts
Reveal A Secret
Your headline can also make your readers feel like you’re letting them in a secret and it’s simple to do. Maybe your blog post gives tips on how to take a family vacation, without wanting to kill each other. Well, here’s your headline: The Secret To Not Killing Each Other On A Family Vacation. It doesn’t even have to be your secret. Maybe you’re a marketing writer giving away trade secrets like The Secret To Keeping Your Posts Visible On Facebook.
- The secret to raising compassionate kids
- The secret to eating vegan without going broke
- The secret to keeping a tidy house on Summer vacation
Share A Successful Method
Every self-proclaimed guru of digital marketing seems to use this headline when promoting their personal products. They’re all willing to share their methods—methods for making a large sum of money in a short time or racking up subscribers or creating a viral post—for a price. But you can use this headline style to share your own methods, whatever they may be.
- One man’s method to winning the lottery 100 times
- Use this simple 2-step method to clean your microwave in a snap
- I earned $10k from one blog post with this marketing method and you can, too
Give It Some Shock Value
You don’t have to go full Howard Stern, but adding an element of surprise or shock can intrigue readers enough to click on your post, even if it’s not the most shocking subject matter. Granted, you don’t want to overdo it or you’ll be seen as a sensationalist, but a little shock can go a long way.
- 10 charities that are ripping people off
- It’s hard NOT to make a profit when you get your product for free: Why professional writers are furious with HuffPo
- Child deaths: the 10 most dangerous ‘challenges’ trending on social media
Where To Find Templates
There are a number of headline template posts online and most of them are worth checking out, if only to immerse yourself in the possibilities, but one (in my mind) stands out. It’s from Jon Morrow and it’s 69 pages of mad-lib headline templates, appendixes, and strong words useful in crafting attention-grabbing headlines. Granted, access will cost you your email, but I highly recommend it for further reading.
Share Your Headlines
I want to read YOUR headlines! But instead of popping them in the comments, I’ve got a better idea. You can join your fellow writers (and me) in our Facebook Writer’s Group and share your latest post there—along with its headline—for us all to read, enjoy, and share! I hope to see you there!
p.s. It’s also a good place to hit me up with writing questions. I’m very active in the group (I’m a compulsive facebooker) and enjoy reading everyone’s contributions. If you have any questions about writing professionally, I’d be delighted to help.