What ‘s the one thing that will keep people from reading your blog post?
Lack of clarity?
Is it a bad website design?
Alright, times up.
Do you the know the answer?
If you guessed none of the above, then you’d be right.
Yea, the problems above can deter readers. But they will not keep people from reading what you write.
If you want to attract attention, then there’s one thing you must do: Write seductive headlines. Headlines that demand attention, compel people to action and drive massive amounts of clicks.
Your headline is the first thing people will read. It is the bait by which you lure in readers.
If your headline does not catch your reader’s eyes or whet their appetite for more, then they’ll move on.
What makes a headline irresistible? Ever wonder why some headlines are better than others? What makes some headlines irresistible and others fall flat?
More importantly, ever dream of actually writing headlines that clothesline people and then flings them into your article so they read every word of it?
Are 90 minutes of your time worth learning how to write proven methods in writing headlines? If so, keep reading.
1. Define your audience
Who will benefit the most from your message?
Identifying the people you want to influence with your message will you help you answer their questions, focus your efforts, and ensure your content resonates well with them.
From your ideal readers choice of words, use of slang, and preference of humor, there are things about your readers you need to know. This information will help you write headlines that will attract the attention of the people you’re writing for.
Action step: Think about 1-3 people you want to reach with your message.
2. Subscribe to 100 blogs
Okay, what blogs does your target audience read?
Now, sign up for a free account on Feedly.
Next, follow 50 blogs your target audience reads.
If you don’t know more than 10, then search for the top blogs in the categories you’re focusing on. For example, you can search “best + marketing + blogs” to get an idea of the top marketing blogs.
If Feedly, you can upgrade your account to get “Power Search” to help you find blogs, but it’s not necessary for this step.
I don’t recommend following more than 50 blogs in your industry. Here’s why: You want a mix of blogs in your Feedly account. Not just a mix of different blogs in your industry. But a mix of blogs from totally different industries.
Choose blogs that deal with politics, science, history, SEO, writing, fiction, religion, and news to name a few.
For this last group of blogs, you can really choose anything you want. For me, I have blogs in my account on marketing, Christianity, exercise, publishing, and parenting.
Why does selecting a variety of blogs matter?
Stay tuned. I’ll explain below.
Action step: Subscribe to 100 blogs
3. Scan blog post headlines
Get ready, because this is where the rubber meets the road.
Go to your Feedly account, and click on “All” in the top left-hand corner. This will provide you with a list of all the latest posts from the blogs you’re following.
If you’ve selected 100 blogs, then you should have hundreds of headlines to scans.
When you’re ready, start scanning headlines.
As you come across headlines you like, flag the post to “read later.”
Try not to evaluate the headline… go by gut instinct. And if you need to jot down a note, do so in Evernote, on paper, or whatever you use to keep track of your thoughts.
Action step: Mark 50 posts as “read later.”
4. Review your favorite headlines
Once you’ve sifted through all the headlines, click on “Read later” in the top left-hand corner.
Start looking at the posts you liked and think about why you liked them.
Was it provocative?
Did it ask a question?
Was there an element of urgency involved?
Was it ultra-specific?
Was the headline just plain weird?
As you’re reflecting upon the headlines you saved, get ready to jot down your thoughts
Action step: Record your answers.
5. Look for patterns
Once you read through 20-30 headlines, you should see obvious patterns come to the surface.
What answers did you jot down from the last step?
Did you find that the headline conveyed a sense of urgency, specificity, and usefulness like Stephanie Falxman’s post, Struggling to Finish Your Blog Post? Try this Quick Editing Tip.
Or, did the title appeal to your sense of intrigue, self-interest, and curiosity like this post from Jeff Goins: $50,000 in 5 Months: 3 Essentials to Turn a Passion Project into a Business.
There’s no wrong or right method in this step. After you read through multiple headlines, you will observe common themes that may or may not work for you, which brings us to our last step.
Action step: Jot down the patterns you observed from your favorite headlines.
6. Test your headlines
Now that you’re aware of the patterns that grabbed your attention, it’s time to test them yourself. This means you need to start writing headlines for your posts that incorporate these patterns, publish your posts, and then track your results.
What should you track?
See if you can observe an uptick in common metrics you observe. Track the number of people who read your post, comment, link to it and share it on social media. This will help you see what works and what doesn’t work for you.
I’m confident this exercise will provide you with a solid understanding of what it takes to write headlines that attract attention.
And I’m confident, too, that the more often you put the rules you learn from this experiment into practice the strong you’ll become in writing attention-grabbing headlines.
In tomorrow’s lesson, we’ll share Hollywood’s secret to holding the attention of viewers. And how you can use this lesson to hook the attention of your readers.
By the way, what rules do you think I used to write the headline for this post? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comments below.
Note: This post was originally published in 2011 by Demian, but it was updated to reflect new reading tools and tactics and it includes contributions from myself.