Learn how to write powerful headlines (and 21 samples to inspire)

You just spent 2.7 hours writing your latest blog post.

Now it’s time to come up with a catchy title.

Uh, I’ll just call it whatever so I can be done with it. I’ve already been at it for hours, and besides, there’s a frosty glass of rose waiting for me.

Ack! Give your blog headline the love it deserves! If you give your blog title a MEH headline, you could be doing it a disservice because who’s going to read it?

The job of a killer headline is to tempt readers to click and read the rest.

It’s like putting a 40-year bottle of tawny port (if you were wondering what I’d like for my birthday) inside a generic sparkling grape juice bottle. Bleh. No one is going to know what grapey goodness is sitting inside!

Good news (20-year tawny will do). Also, like copywriting, learning how to write click-worthy headlines is a skill you can learn.
 

1. Write the headline after you write the article
Between the ghostwriting and editing I do for clients, I’ve probably written thousands of blog posts. Start out with a topic in mind, then write the headline last. This is because once you dive in and start exploring a topic, you might do a U-turn and write in an entirely different direction. Write the article first, then go back and write headlines. List them out as they come to you, you’ll refine later.

2. You’re going to go through a bunch of iterations
And that’s cool! Write as many that come to mind. If I can’t decide which one to use, try this free headline checker. It’ll score your headline and give you pointers on length, ordinary, and power words.

3. WIIFM
That is, “what’s in it for me?” As your reader, how will their life be better after reading your article? Tell them in the headline.

4. Keep it stupid simple
Never sacrifice clarity to attempt to be clever. A confused reader is one who clicks on someone else’s blog post. As long as you’re addressing a specific benefit, you have permission to keep it simple and readable.

5. Find your image first
If a picture is worth a thousand words, you can get away with using 8 or so words in your headline when standing next to a telling photo.

6. Add some power to grab your reader
Once you have some drafts, play with versions using different emotional or sensory words.
Power words add a dose of persuasion and get your reader to engage because they spark feelings and help them see, hear, and even smell your copy. To come up with power words, thinking about how you want your reader to feel when they read your blog post. Do you want them to feel happy, excited, inspired? Once you have these feeling words, you can explore some words that pop. My favorite tools are Power Thesaurus and Thesaurus.com.

7. Create a swipe file of titles and headlines that grab your attention
Stand in line at the supermarket and see which tabloid headlines stand out. When you’re scrolling Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, make a habit of noting any headlines that tugged on your eyeballs or your heartstrings. Keep this list in a Google Docs file, Word Doc or a notebook.

The more you start paying attention to great headlines, you’ll be able to pull the fantastic ones out of thin air!

Going back to the port, here’s some headline-making inspiration to wet your lips:

  1. 11 Brands of Dark Chocolate to Pair with Port

  2. 11 Warning Signs Your Port Is too Young

  3. 11 Surprising Ways to Dazzle Your Guests with Port

  4. 11 Unexpected Port and Dinner Pairings

  5. 11 Completely Acceptable Reasons to Drink Port on Monday’s

  6. 11 Easy Ways to Ruin an Expensive Bottle of Port

  7. 11 Easy Ways to Make Bland Port Deliciously Sippable

  8. 11 Ways to Delight Your Dinner Guests with a Port Tasting

  9. 11 Reasons Port is Better Than Wine

  10. The Smart Way to Build Your Port Collection
    (note: the only port collection I have is in the recycling bin)

  11. 11 Important Lessons After 11 Bottles of Port

  12. 11 Sure-Fire Ways to Pick a Winning Bottle of Port

  13. 11 Little-Known Facts About Port

  14. 11 Mistakes That Make You Look Like a Port Amateur

  15. 11 Inspiring Quotes About Enjoying Port

  16. 11 Ways to Seduce Your Guests with Port-friendly Desserts

  17. 11 Ways to Impress Your Guests with Your Port Know-How

  18. 11 Ways to Get Your Followers Fall Head-over-Heels in Love with Port

  19. 11 Happy Endings: How to End a Meal with the Perfect Port

  20. 11 Reasons to Stop Saving the Good Port for a Special Occasion

  21. How to Drink Wine When You’d Rather be Drinking Port


The secret to writing great headlines is that there is no secret. You just need to play! A little port never hurt either. The more you practice coming up with compelling headlines, the better you’ll get. Promise!

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