Headlines are, by far, the most important part of anything you write.
Because they’re the reason anything gets read. You’ve never picked up a newspaper, clicked a link or watched a video based purely on the content.
How could you? Without the headline you have no idea what it is. Or, if you even want to read it.
And that’s exactly what people are doing too. So, without a good one, whatever you’ve written after it doesn’t count for anything.
Yeah, let me just say that again, in a more tweetable way:
Without a good headline, everything else you’ve written goes to waste. [click here to tweet this]
All that hard work and effort you put into creating your article. Crafting that e-mail. And recording that video. All wasted. Because of your crummy headline writing skills.
But you’re probably thinking, “My headline can’t be as important as he’s making out”. After all, it’s just one little line of text.
So let me break it down for you:
- If people don’t like your headline, they wont read your content
- If they don’t read your content, they don’t know who you are
- If they don’t know who you are, they can’t join your mailing list
- If they can’t join your mailing list, they can’t spend their money with you
- If they can’t spent their money with you, you remain flat bloke
See how important it is now? It might only seem like a headline, but it’s the front door to your back pocket.
But don’t fret, there is a solution to all of your problems. And it’s in the words of this article.
By the time you’re done you’re going to be a high flying, kiss stealing, wheeling dealing, headline writing, son of a gun.
What You’ll Learn…
- 41 copy and paste headline formulas guaranteed to grab your readers attention
- Which headlines work best for your niche
- Understand when to use each headline
- What makes the perfect headline
let’s get started...
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The Complete Guide Of Copy And Paste Headline Formula’s
In order to write a good headline, it should do two things to the reader:
- Make them feel something
- Make them curious about what you’re saying
Don’t Be A Robot…
These headline formulas are incredible. And, if you’re just starting your blog, you’re going to see a huge boost in your traffic.
But that doesn’t mean you need to be a robot about how you write them.
Sure, they’re copy and paste headlines. But you can change a word here or there to make the formula fit what you want to say.
You already knew that though, didn’t you?
"One of the worst ways you can torture yourself as a writer is to believe everything you do has to be original." - Jon Morrow
Curiosity makes you cash.
The best way to make someone curious? Ask them a question they need to know the answer to.
There are hundreds of questions in each of your niches that need answering. If there weren’t, it wouldn’t be a niche, would it? So let’s look at some of the most effective questions you can ask to get those much sought after clicks:
#1: Did You Know [Blank]
Short, sweet and to the point. You know what the question is, and you can ask it directly.
- Did you know about the Yankee’s secret pitcher?
- Did you know one of your friends probably suffers from depression?
#2: Did You Know [Blank] is [Blank]?
In my own experience I’ve found this headline works best on a negative slant. Where you can really push the readers button, and hit them with a little surprise.
- Did you know your accountant is stealing your money?
- Did you know that your haircut is stopping you from getting a job?
- Did you know how many men actually suffer from loneliness?
#3: Do You Make These [X] [Blank] Mistakes?
Mistakes make readers question themselves. And, by throwing in a couple of numbers, you’ll make them wonder just how many they’re making.
- Are you making this 50 common parenting mistakes every single day?
#4: Did/Does/Is Your [Important Person] Do [Something Bad]?
This is another of those shocking questions that makes the reader really feel something about what’s being said. Identify an authority type of person in your niche, and you could really be onto something viral.
- Is your bartender actually serving you an out of date beer?
- Does your kids teacher let bullying happen in the classroom?
- Did your car salesmen charge you $4000 dollars in extra fees?
#5: Who Else Wants [Blank]?
Social proof is powerful. It’s a key weapon in the Growth Hacker’s arsenal. And it should be in yours too. Nobody likes to think they’re missing out, do they?
- Who else wants $10,000 worth of traffic for free?
- Who else wants to learn what really makes a good style?
- Who else wants to know the secret behind the perfect BBQ?
"On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar." - David Ogilvy
How To Headlines
How-To articles are the bread and butter of the world’s best bloggers. In fact, NicheHacks itself has been built on a foundation of simple, actionable advice. With articles just like this one.
But content means nothing without the superb headline to get them to read it, does it?
Let’s look at the best ways to write your How To’s, and get people to see the true value in your content.
(Note: A big round of applause for Peter Sandeen for setting the standard for these types of headlines).
#6: How To [Blank]
The most basic form of the headline. If you’ve already got an idea of what you want to say, run with this one:
- How to run a 4-minute mile in 6 weeks
- How to win at table tennis
- How to take better photographs instantly
#7: How To [Blank] and [Blank]
This is a headline as old as writing itself. Or, at least the early 20th century. Does the book How To Win Friends And Influence People ring any bells?
- How to pass your SAT’s and still party like a freshman
- How to cook dinner and impress your boyfriend's parents
You can also do this with a surprise twist too. Where you put together two topics that just don’t quite seem to go.
- How to drive your car without spilling your beer
- How buy a house and not spend a single cent
- How to improve your traffic without an internet connection
#8: How To [Blank] Like [Blank]
Everybody has a hero. That could be in your niche, or just a celebrity they really idolise. Either way, there is always someone they want to be like. So show them how.
- How to throw a party like Kanye West
- How to play poker like Dan Bilzerian
#9: How To [Blank] The [Blank]
This is one of my favorite positive headline spins. This can set the tone for an article that’s really going to do some good in their lives.
- How to throw the perfect party
- How to hack the system and make $1000 today
- How to create the worlds best Facebook profile
#10: How To [Blank] With/Without [Blank]
Headlines like this feel like the reader has unlocked a cheat-code for life. Like you’re going to show them that they didn’t even know was possible within the system.
- How to eat spaghetti without ruining your white shirt
- How to learn French without leaving your kitchen
- How to fix your television without calling a repairman
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#11: The Ultimate Guide To [Blank]: How To [Blank] [Promise]
Ultimate Guides attract a lot of attention. People want to create order in the chaos in their lives. And the ultimate guide means this is their one-stop-shop for all they need to know.
- The ultimate guide to Blackjack: How to read cards and never lose your money again
- The ultimate guide to Fantasy Football: How to create a team that your friends will never beat
- The ultimate guide to hair loss products: How to never waste money on growth products again
"The best question headlines ask something that the reader can empathize with or relate to or would like to see answered." - Courtney Seiter
Shhhh! Can you keep a secret? We can’t. And we’re going to tell you everything.
The cats have been out of the bag on this headline formula for a while now. Because it’s damn effective.
Whilst there may not actually be any secrets to success, people will always believe that there are. And they want to know about them. So, give it to them.
#12: The One Secret To [Blank]
This is a nice little re-name for a How-To article. Especially if you’re getting bored of writing how-to headlines. Try something like this:
- The one secret to six-pack abs
- The one secret to paying off your mortgage
- The one secret to getting traffic you’re missing
#13: ‘X’ Secrets These [Blank] Experts Don’t Want You To Know
People aren’t telling me the truth about my niche? Damn, I knew it! What’s really going on then?
- 10 secrets these health and fitness experts aren’t telling you about losing weight
- 44 secrets Stuart Walker never told you about what Nichehacks is really doing
#14: These Little Known Facts About [Blank] Will [Power Word] You
This is a fun one to play around with. There are lots of possibilities for it. And you can apply it to any niche you can think of.
- These little known facts about used cars will shock you
- These 20 little known facts about headlines boost your traffic forever
- This one little known fact about mortgages with blow your mind
#15: ‘X’ Obscure Facts About [Blank]
The word obscure creates a lot curiosity. And, don’t worry if the facts you’re giving aren’t obscure. Nobody will complain. But they will be reading your article.
- 17 obscure facts about the Pokémon TV Series
- 20 obscure facts about Jay Leno that will rock your world
- 100 obscure facts about Timothy Ferriss’ 4 Hour Work Week
#16: ‘X’ Things Your [Close Person] Never Told You
Nobody likes to think someone close to them is withholding information. That’s when it starts getting personal. So, pander to their ego (or fear) a little here.
- 22 lessons your Mum never taught you (but should have done)
- 7 things your personal trainer isn’t telling you about your sessions
- 10 secrets your girlfriend is hiding right now
Simplicity, Zen And Easy Headlines
What does everyone in your niche want? An easy life, that’s what.
They want the complex topics broken down into easy to manage chunks that will make everything simple again. Which means headlines like this have a really good return on investment.
I’d only really use these headlines for those tricky, intricate niches. Like:
- Fashion and Style
If your niche – or article – ties into one of those, you’re onto a winner.
#17: The Zen Of [Blank]
You might be looking at this one like “Yeah, that’s not going to work, is it?”. But if you’ve ever bought Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, you’d be mistaken.
Basically, you’re saying – this is the simplest version of my niche you’re going to find. Read it now.
- The Zen of baking cakes with your kids
- The Zen of buying a suit
#18: The Simple Guide To [Blank]
Take something complex and break it down. This is one of those really effective headlines that likely to get shared. Great for beginners and hobby sites.
- The simple guide to building your home computer
- The simple guide to dressing for a job interview
- The simple guide to hiring a new team member
#19: How To Be Zen In A World Of [Blank]
This is a Jon Morrow style headline that can really stick the hairs up on the readers’ neck, or can cut through the bullshit and get their attention. Because, the world is full of [Blank]’s, after all.
- How to be Zen in a world of dumb niche marketers
- How to be Zen in a world of stupid drivers and rush hour traffic
- How to be Zen in a world where your customers ask too many questions
#20: The Minimalist Guide To [Blank]
A little like the simple guide, only with a little less, well, stuff. This is about stripping back complicated parts of life. Still a how to, but think more about reducing stress than make it simple.
- The minimalist guide to starting your own business
- The minimalist guide to building a home office
- The minimalist guide to fashion
#22: How To Get Rid Of [Blank] Once And For All
Features tell, benefits sell. And this article is a big, practical benefit rolled into one lovely viral headline. You can also find this headline on most infomercials at 3am on a Tuesday morning.
- How to get rid of those pesky love-handles once and for all
- How to get rid of blog spam commenters once and for all
- How to get rid of your kids nail biting habit once and for all
#23: The ‘X’ Minute Guide To [Blank]
These guides are traffic go-getters. Psychologically, if you know how long something is going to take, you’re more likely to engage in it. There’s a reason the 4-Hour Books were such a good seller.
- The 3 minute guide to getting instant traffic
- The 10 minute workout that will change your life
- The 5 minute guide to improving your golf swing
"People love quick and easy when it comes to solving a nagging problem." - Brian Clark
Fear, Anger And Anxiety Headlines
In his book, Contagious: How To Build Word Of Mouth In The Digital Age, Jonah Berger highlights that emotion plays a big part in why articles get shared.
Most importantly, his research put it down to two specific types of emotion:
- Positive Emotions: Awe, Excitement and Amusement
- Negative Emotions: Anger and Anxiety
These are the highest forms of arousal, and they are the most likely to get shared to other people.
In this section we’re going to look at how you can use those negative emotions to prompt people to click through and share your posts.
#24: Is Your [Blank] Making You [Blank]?
This is a real button pusher. Especially in some of the more close to home niches, like those tied to medicine and parenting.
- Is your breast milk making your child stupid?
- Is your doctor making you take medicine you don’t need?
- Is your internet provider stopping you from making money?
And, like in the Dale Carnegie style headlines, you can do this with a twist too.
- Is your morning coffee making you impotent?
- Is your magazine subscription stopping you from getting a mortgage?
- Is your kids morning routine affecting how they sleep at night?
#25: Are You Safe From [Blank]?
There’s a threat coming your way. Are you safe from it? Find out here…
- Are you safe from people stealing your content?
- Are your kids safe from this dangerous playground virus?
- Are you safe from these 20 dangerous online scams?
#26: How Many Times Will You Let [Blank] Happen Before You [Blank]?
This headline basically says, “Stop being pathetic. Get a grip on the situation. Do something different, right now”. And, they will.
- How many times will you let your mother-in-law insult you before you stand up to her?
- How many times will you let the hot girl leave the bar before you do something about your confidence?
- How many times will you let your local council agree to this before you speak up about your rights?
#27: Your [Blank] Is [Blank] And It’s [Blank]
Yeah, that was a lot of blanks. But this is a headline with a lot of wiggle room, but also a lot of power. This can be borderline insulting if done wrong. But get it right and you’ll have a solid stream of traffic coming your way:
- Your writing is boring and it’s costing you money
- Your home made beer is sour and your friends hate it
- Your mortgage advisor is a crook and it’s costing you $1000’s
#28: ‘X’ Signs You’re [Blank] And You Don’t Even Know It
Numbers and emotions? Damn. That’s the headline equivalent of a Tequila Sunrise…
- 10 Signs you’re wasting Over $1000 a month and you don’t even know it
- 17 Signs you’re an alcoholic and don’t even know it
- 22 Signs you’re in an abusive relationship and don’t even know it
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#29: The Shocking Truth About [Blank]
This is a little bit of a secret, mixed with some fear too. Their favourite person/company/ingredient could actually be causing them a real problem. But what is it?
These can also lure you in negatively, but then the article could still be a positive one.
- The shocking truth about Kim and Kanye’s marriage
- The shocking truth about your morning coffee (and what it’s doing to your brain)
- The shocking truth about life in the New Orleans suburb
#30: Warning: [Blank]
The last in the fear headlines is quite a versatile one. It can used pretty much anywhere, for pretty much any niche. Warning is a strong word, especially in a headline, so use it wisely.
- Warning: Got a waist over 36 inches? This could be a problem for you
- Warning: If you eat this type of bread you could be at a high risk of obesity
"Some words trigger strong emotional reactions while others do not [...] Words like proven, save, safety, discovery, guaranteed, warning, crisis, and failure produce strong emotional reactions." - CopyPress
List Post Headlines
You’ve already seen a lot of list posts that can have a strong impact on your click-through rates. Just having a number there is really beneficial to the title.
In fact there are certain sites – like Cracked.com – who only create list posts. Because, well, their ability to drive traffic is insane.
But, what makes a good list post headline, that people are going to want to click on it’s own merits?
Well, let’s take a look…
#31:Numbers + Adjective + Target Keyword + Rationale + Promise
This formula isn’t your normal run of the mill type formula. It’s the brainchild of painstaking research from Lenka Istvanova from Koozai. She studied what makes the ultimate headline.
And it’s brilliant. You should try it. Like, soon…
- 27 beautiful digital camera lenses that will change how you view photography
- 30 tasty Indian recipes for authentic curries
- 10 rocking guitar riffs to make your next jam session unforgettable
#32: Top ‘X’ [Blanks]
Everybody loves a countdown, don’t they. It could be a top list for today, tomorrow or the previous year. Anything you want that fits with your niche.
- Top 20 star wars look-a-likes
- Top 10 webinars you need to join today
- Top 100 places to get your nails done in San Francisco
#33: ‘X’ Reasons Why [Blank]
Make sure the reasons – or at least the topic – is interesting. People won’t read about reasons they don’t need to know about. Try to be quite specific with this one:
- 22 reasons why you’re losing your hair
- 7 reasons all Freelancers are losing money this month
- 15 reasons you need to invest your money in this stock
#34: ‘X’ Habits Of [Blank]
Habits are big business right now. And they don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon either. These work well when your readers aspire to be something.
- 7 habits of highly effective niche marketers
- 33 habits of introverted leaders that you need to adopt
- 18 habits of online millionaires
You can also make this work that little bit extra by adding an adjective before the word habits.
- 27 destructive habits you need to cut from your life
- 19 powerful habits you didn’t even realise you had
- 6 beautiful habits only extroverted people have
#35: ‘X’ Things Only [Blank] Will/Would Understand
Got a particular type of person you want to pander to? Well here you can grab their interest and tell them what they already know about themselves. And they’ll love it.
- 17 daily thoughts only over-thinkers will understand
- 10 problems only internet marketing will understand
- 30 first world thoughts only 90’s babies would understand
#36: ‘X’ [Adjective] Ways [Blank]
Quirky adjectives – especially those you don’t normally see in headlines can stand out as your reader is skimming through their feeds. They more out of place they seem, the better.
- 27 bitchin’ ways to draw your favourite comic book characters
- 19 hilarious ways copywriters try to get your attention
- 5 contagious headlines that will make you a viral sensation
#37: ‘X’ Mistakes [Blank]
Nobody likes to make a mistake. Especially if they don’t even know they’re doing it. Why not be a Good Samaritan and bring it to their attention?
- 13 mistakes you make every time you clean your dishwasher
- 21 SEO mistakes that are costing you millions of views
- 7 most common mistakes of new brides
"There’s a reason why so many copywriters use numbers in their headlines. It works."Jeff Goins
Other Types Of Headlines
These are some types of headlines that don’t quite have a category. But, that doesn’t make them any less powerful. Use these as your go-to headlines for when you’re looking to mix it up a little.
#38: The Two-Part Headline: Double The Fun, Twice The Impact
This is a headline type which has really been pioneered by the guys over at Buffer. It looks a little something like this:
[Grab Attention]: ‘X’ [Show Them The Benefit]
The lure, and the hook, to put it in fishing terms.
- Boost your traffic: 22 stupid-simple methods you’ve forgotten about
- Brew better beer: 14 fermenting tips that will make your beer better than Heineken
- Throw better parties: 10 free resources to make your next part unforgettable
#39: The Lazy People’s Headline
Have you joined our Facebook mastermind group? You should. Because, you’ll see that Stuart is open about one of his failings – he gets lazy and unmotivated at times.
Chances are, so do you. Don’t you? Which means your reader does too.
Try playing to their lazy side with headlines like this:
- The Lazy Man’s Guide To [Blank]
- The Zero Effort Approach To [Blank]
- How To [Blank] From [Desirable Location]
The possibilities here are limitless. Just remember what it is you want to do when you’re feeling lazy.
- The lazy man’s guide to cooking Thanksgiving dinner
- The zero effort approach to networking
- How to do your taxes from your bed
#40: The Four-Word Power Line
Power words are great for headlines. They’re those short, sharp, one-syllable words that get peoples attention. You can read more about them here.
If you can put them in a short, four-word headline, you’ve got a winning formula too.
- Boost Blog Traffic Now
- Drink More Beer Today
- How To Be Epic
- Fast Cash Tips Here
These will work much more powerfully in tweets and for e-mail subject lines.
#41: Weird Headlines
The weird headline is probably my favourite headline. And one of your most powerful as a niche marketer.
And, just between me and you, they’re a great way to disguise a post that’s a little off topic. But I didn’t tell you that, did I?
These can be from the completely unrelated, to ones that will just downright confuse your audience. As long as they click, who cares!
- Why [Boring Day-to-Day Activity] Is The Best Way To [Something Awesome].
- Get [Blank] By Doing [This Totally Unrelated Thing]
- ‘X’ [Niche] Lessons You Can Learn From [Something Weird]
Which can turn out something epic, like these:
- Why ironing is the best way to become a six-figure online marketer
- Get more personal training clients by watching Star Wars
- 22 hairdressing lessons you can learn from Joe Pesci’s singing career
"If there’re two headlines we like a lot (and they’re different enough from each other), we’ll use both. In the same headline." - Kevan Lee
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The Ultimate Conclusion: 5 Lessons You Should Have Learned From This Article (Or Your Money Back)
You’ve just read a lot about headlines.
And hopefully some of the information has sunk in, and you’re already on the road to seeing a massive increase in traffic to your niche site.
But, I know you don’t want to read this article all over again, do you? You’re going to copy and paste these formulas, and head here for ideas every now and then.
So for your future reference, here’s the 5 lessons you should have learned from this article:
- 41 Copy And Paste Headline Formulas: That you can just copy and paste.
- What Makes A Good Headline: Emotion, Power Words and relevance to your article.
- The Psychology Behind A Good Headline: Make them curious, emotional and ready to click.
- It’s Not Breaking Any Artists Code: Headlines are there to get your art seen. Accept that and move on.
- You’re Not A Robot: You can adjust any of these formulas to fit your needs.
Now, what headlines did you come up with? Let me know in the comments…