7 More Sure-Fire Headline Templates That Work

image of magnetic headlines

Since people truly seemed to find my 10 Sure-Fire Headline Templates That Work useful for coming up with headlines and post titles that don’t follow the typical “how to” and “list” conventions, I thought I’d share a few more.

So here are 7 more sure-fire headline templates that will work when you’re aiming to score more readers:

1. Give Me [short time period] and I’ll Give You [blank].

This headline promises a strong benefit to the reader, like all good headlines do. But this one is especially effective because it promises to deliver in a very short time period.

2. If You Don’t [blank] Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.

We love to belong, but feeling excluded is a real bummer. Whether it be a financial opportunity or the social event of the year, we simply hate it when we get left out.

  • If You’re Out of the Market Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.
  • If You’re Not at SXSW 2007, You’ll Hate Yourself Later.
  • If You Don’t Edit Your .htaccess Now, Google Will Hate You Later.

3. The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [blank].

This headline has always worked well with time-pressured people, and that’s certainly true for most people today. No one likes to think of themselves as lazy, but everyone likes to save time and effort.

  • The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches.
  • The Lazy Dad’s Way to Quickly Getting Dinner on the Table.
  • The Lazy Blogger’s Way to Write Great Post Titles.

4. Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?

OK, technically this is still a list, but it’s wrapped up in a much more compelling structure than your typical “Top 10” article. People want to avoid problems, and this headline promises the critical tips before it’s too late.

  • Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of High Blood Pressure?
  • Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of an Employee Meltdown?
  • Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of Digg Addiction?

5. See How Easily You Can [desirable result].

We love quick and easy when it comes to learning something new or gaining some advantage.

  • See How Easily You Can Learn to Dance This New Way.
  • See How Easily You Can Own a Lamborghini Miura.
  • See How Easily You Can Increase Traffic With Social Media.

6. You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result].

People almost always have preconceived notions about things, and this can be a barrier to taking action. Remove the barrier that stands between them and the desired result with your headline, and people will flock to read what you have to say.

  • You Don’t Have to Be Rich to Retire on a Guaranteed Income for Life.
  • You Don’t Have to Be a Geek to Make Money Online.
  • You Don’t Have to Be an A-Lister to Be a Kick-Ass Blogger.

7. Do You Make These Mistakes?

This is always a powerful attention grabber, since no one likes to make mistakes. If you’ve targeted your content well for your intended audience, helping people avoid common mistakes is a sure-fire winner with this type of headline.

Find these headline templates useful? Bookmark this page at del.icio.us for future reference. :)

For more headline advice, check out the Magnetic Headlines series.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger, CEO of Copyblogger Media, and Editor-in-Chief of Entreproducer. Get more from Brian on Google+.

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Comments

  1. This is by far THE best post you have ever made. Writing headlines has always been a problem for me. Your “templates” just saved me some money i was going to spend on a copywriter :)

    Cheers Brian!

  2. Brian – I like your 7th one the best.

    I still like questions the most for blog headlines however.

    Mike

  3. Really useful and really good.

  4. The headline formulas are great, but the problem is if i sticked to them (and the ones in your other posts), my headlines would be “canned”.

    How about you teach us how to come up with an attractive headline instead of reusing a template? :) (if you haven’t already)

  5. Thanks. I’ll definitely be back for more.

  6. Headline templates! Any more like this and you might have to start charging, Brian. I’m nabbing the last one in particular (works very well on cerebral types like me).

  7. Another “smooth” one, Brian. I tell ya, if I had your brain, I’d get rid of mine! :-P

  8. thanks! i’m sure i’m going to be seeing alot of great examples of this soon:)

  9. So timely for you to make such a great post.

    Please tell me your book is almost finished ;-)

    Just watching you over on tubetorial now!

  10. Very useful. Thanks again Brian.

  11. Brian –

    Great post – it’s good to see some advice on “non-list” posts.

    Tubetorial? Heading over there today …

  12. Brian,

    Great post! I was looking for some quick fixes for a new headline and was absolutely stuck… I combined two of the seven and my headline sounds a lot better now!

    Thanks!

  13. Brian, this is great information for people who are pressed for coming up with a workable headline for their ads and emails.

    Great post.

  14. Netvibes can’t subscribe to your site. It says invalid feed. Bummerrr

  15. Actually I find these headlines both evil AND spurious.

    The presumption behind each and every one of them is that the author is an authority on whatever the headline is about. What this will spawn is a ton of half-baked folks declaring themselves instant authorities (add water and stir?) on whatever topics they decide to hold forth about, with the “voice” of the headline fueling a POV that is intellectually insulting to anyone who reads it.

    Please understand, I am all about empowering writers to learn to feel the force of their own voices, their own authority. What I object to is advocating anti-intellectual authoritarianism as the best way to do this.

    We need a world with MORE critical thinking and questioning. We don’t need to be conditioning audiences to be MORE sonambulistic and sheep-like followers of authorities than they already are.

    Preaching to would-be bloggers that they should adopt a preachy, authoritarian tone in their headlines tells them, 1. that authorities rule the world and people always obediently do what they are told, and 2. that if you want to have power, to be empowered, you should assume the narrow-minded, brook-no-argument stance of a voice-of-god authority, and do your best to create your own flock of mindless sheep who will do whatever you tell them.

    Argument from authority is nothing more than the parental “because I said so” argument. It is intellectually thin, vapid, and ridiculous. Laughable to any critical thinkers who actually demand substance and support behind any presumed authority claiming to tell THEM what to do.

    Truly empowered critical thinkers and writers will have no use for such rhetorical ploys, nor will they willingly follow such rhetorical constructs without serious questions, questions that I doubt can be answered without a begging-the-question referral to SEO.

    Miasma

  16. >>Truly empowered critical thinkers and writers will have no use for such rhetorical ploys…

    Wrong.

    I suppose things have changed since the days of Aristotle, a famed critical thinker and rhetorical master?

    No, they haven’t.

    Technology doesn’t change human nature, and most business-oriented bloggers *are* an authority on what they write about, or they shouldn’t be writing about it.

    I’m not unsympathetic to the postition you take, but this a *marketing* blog. I’m not sure why you read it, and you’re welcome to… but I’m not sure why you would want to given your feelings.

  17. I’ve never been called “evil and spurious” by one of my blog readers.

    You just keep besting me at everything… don’t you Brian?

    I was once called an insufferable cad. It was the first time I had to look up a three letter word to see what it meant. That just doesn’t compare to evil and spurious though.

    I’m jealous.

    -James D. Brausch

  18. Miasma,

    Basically, you’re assuming that your audience is both intelligent, ethereal, and overly skeptical — all at the same time.

    Seeing how you apply that kind of external pressure to yourself through your blog’s readers, I don’t see how you can bring yourself to face the world each day!

    You’re not suffering from agoraphobia, are ya? ;)

    Seriously, though. The bottom line here is that as long as you consistently produce genuine, thoughtful content, no one is going to look at your words as a mere “rhetorical ploy.”

    And if you ever want to sell anything, avoiding these headlines would be like pushing the big red button that says “don’t push.”

  19. I would give you this one James, if I could. :)

  20. Thanks for the great tips. I’ll use these on my blog going forward.

  21. Are you kidding me? These are all at least 30 years old, straight from direct mail.

    Walk to your mailbox and write me another set of canned headlines.

  22. I’m afraid I must be somewhat unusual. I purposefully ignore most articles with headlines following the formats you mention because more often than not they are followed by some painful advertising ploy. Using one of these types of headlines is a sure-fire way to discourage me from reading the associated article / blog post.

  23. Brilliant post as always :)

  24. Mel, yep, and the structures still work. Why not leave your website URL so we can see your work?

    Carl, you read this one. :)

  25. Miasma,

    Your comment would have carried more weight had you suggested some alternative headlines.

  26. Worked like a charm!

    Though I did not use one of your templates specifically, I worded my bait in a similar way. I saw my daily stats triple!!

  27. Daaayummm.... :

    Ummm but you’re not even following your own advice!

    Just look at the title of your article, it does not use any of the patterns you tell us to use.

    What Now?

  28. Ummm… maybe because there’s a lot more than 7 (or 17) ways to write a headline that works?

    What now?

    Stay away from sharp objects…

  29. Very awesome article here, l love it.. great work and please share more ideas and insights!!!

  30. @ Miasma

    Brian is actually applying to blogging the same techniques that have been used for years with:-

    Direct Marketing
    Email Marketing
    Headline for minisite sales letters
    Article Titles for syndication

    There are hundreds of professional copywriters that teach these techniques (because they work), and they are employed by thousands of legitimate companies.

    Bloggers still haven’t grasped that what people are looking for isn’t facts, but solutions to their problems.

    A title or headline shouldn’t provide the “features” of your article.

    What it should provide are the “benefits” of reading it.

  31. Brian, I appreciate your help and blog so much that I have written an article about it on Gather.com. And today, it is being featured in one of the groups I belong to, “Post What Doesn’t Fit Anywhere Else” @ http://www.noplacelikehere.gather.com

    Cheers!!

  32. Hey wait a min, Your current headline in not one of these but still here i am, my first visit here.
    Maybe you should add it to the list :)

  33. Brian,
    I’ve stolen your templates and uploaded 100,000 new unique articles into my draft folder of wordpress thanks man. Endless supply of ideas to last literally until the end of my life.

    Thanks Bro.

  34. Another great post. Thanks for the education!

  35. Although I don’t always use them as well as I should, I’ve learned many, many helpful things from you and Pearson.

    Many thanks Brian!

  36. Thank you! This is a wonderful post. I’m off to use them.

  37. Miasma,

    Ohh, how EVER did you even finish reading the entire post through…with all 7 of Brian’s rhetorical-ploy-landmines in your way? Surely, you would have exited after suffering the effects of the first, and surely we would expect nothing less of you than you NOT stooping to leave a comment in such a place.

    I’m no marketer, but I’d say Brian got inside your head and made you respond like a puppet on a string.

    You could video tape and sell the exorcism of Brian from your mind and call it “7 critical steps to exorcisms”.

    Regards
    Buck

  38. Brian,
    It is far too often that great articles go completely to waste due to the lack of time put into arguably the most important element of the article… the headline. The importance of writing a brilliant headline sometimes falls to the wayside because writers are so focused on ensuring great content in the heart of the article. The tendancy to overlook this vital element can cost a great article to be laid to rest before anyone has had the opportunity to take a glimpse. Ideas for effective headlines always help! So thanks!

  39. I often see your advices being applied especially by prestigious blogs like lifehacker.com or businesshackers.com Good luck!

  40. This is a nice post.

    Getting yourself a nice big swipe file of proven headlines can improve your copy immeasurably.

    Here’s a funny one…

    “Do You Recognize the 7 Early Warning Signs of a Ripped Off Headline?

    Sorry…couldn’t resist.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  41. Is it me, or does all this emphasis on how to get traffic by using catching headings just seem short-sighted? At first I was interested in learning how to write better headlines, but after reading numerous articles on the subject it seems all the emphasis is on snagging clicks instead of on writing useful and compelling content.

    If every blog story has a headline like those headline will become ineffective anyway as people who click the links and find nothing useful and then ask “Where’s the beef?” and starting mentally filtering out those kinds of articles.

    It seems like these suggestions for writing headlines are offered like how people offer “exercise-free diet pills” and people who want results without any effort just lap them us. Isn’t it better to pick a niche and focus on becoming the authority in that niche then to focus on writing click-catching headlines for
    vacuous content?

  42. Who said anything about vacuous content? As I’ve said at least 50 times, the headline is a promise your content fulfills.

    I’m guessing you’re not a regular reader. ;)

  43. Sorry, I should have made clear my rant was in general because there are lots of blog posts like this on other sites, not specifically about your post. And it was also more from the impressions I get from many commenters (which may be wrong impressions) that they are looking for the pain-free quick-fix solution. I guess my comments were more to make the point then to criticize.

    One point of note, though, since many people come to a blog from links on other people’s site or in their emails or even Digg, it’s important to understand that posts should be made to standalone. I guess it would have been better if you had included the following (in bold) to close your post:

    “REMEMBER, great headlines with poor content are worse than getting no links at all because you’ll brand yourself as being opportunistic and vacuous. So if you don’t have great content first be sure to create great content before using any of these headlines. You’ll thank yourself for it in the morning. :)”

  44. BTW, your comment system ate my begin and end “rant” tags from my first comment. :)

  45. You’re holding out on us! Give us “5 tips for using numbers in a headine!”

  46. Or you could write a whole post series about how effective numbers can be when used in a title…

  47. I have added Copyblogger to my Blog. Great post with all sorts of ideas to making headlines that sell.

    Stephen

  48. One of the key points to remember when constructing headlines is are you using the “hot words” and “hot phrases” that will trigger a response in your target market. The headline is really nothing more than a place holder for inserting these “hot words and phrases”.

  49. Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?

    might be more powerful as

    Do You Recognize THESE 7 Early Warning Signs of etc.

    The word “these” instead of “the” suggests you’re about to reveal the signs in your copy which builds the desire to read on.

    In much the same way as
    “Do You Make THESE Mistakes in English” is far more powerful than many of the earlier versions of this copy which all failed with headlines like

    “Do You Make The 7 Biggest English Mistakes”.

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh

  50. I was wondering if these headlines can be used more than once?

    Thanks, I found your site through “the Jenn” and Small Business Briefs Forum.

    Yolanda Crisostomo
    Maui, HI

  51. I agree!

  52. I think if you could craft headlines that grab the attention of prospective customers AND also help a site to rank well with search engines, you’d be a rich person. If someone wants to write headlines for Google AdWords, it’s easier because you pay per click so it doesn’t matter how “relevant” they are to a search engine; however, it’s challenging because we’re trying to market http://www.lumensflashlights.com without using Adwords, but it seems that the headlines Google favor may not necessarily grab our target audience. If anyone has any valuable resources, please let us know! Thanks, Justin

  53. This may be one of the most important skill sets (writing effective headlines) in any form of advertising/marketing. I appreciate your advice.

    In a book about advertising entitled “Wizard of Ads”, the author explains that too many people (even marketers) assume that people want to read their ad (or article in this case). However, the author gave an excellent rule-of-thumb:

    First, earn their attention…

    Second, earn their money.

    People are constantly being inundated with marketing messages. An effective headline can convince a busy American (-: that they need to read your article or ad.

    One of the great minds of advertising (David Ogilvy?) spent much time and emphasis on headlines…for good reason: he know effective headlines = nice bottom line.

    Thanks for all you do, Brian.

  54. it was a great discovery this copyblogger site !
    really faboulous specially this 7 tips post…
    best regards and continue teachig us this way…
    bye , all the best
    francisco—

  55. Now tryng to put head tricks on the road… many thanks for super-interesting post
    best regards all bloggers.

  56. I really loved this post so much i am building a whole series of articles around it. Please have a look when you have the time.
    Regards.
    Alfred Opare Saforo

  57. thanks for your point form easy to understand articles, I learn lots from your post,
    thank you
    Tracy Ho
    wisdomgettingloaded.com

  58. Your most understandable post.Great work

  59. Headlines are the major source to attract the readers.I pay attention to them.By the way this is the first post on Headlines i have read.
    Great job dear…..

  60. Cheers for the tips on eye-catching headlines.

    We’ll be sure to point our readers in your direction, when looking for idea on inspirational marketing!

  61. Hi,

    Fantastic! I was researching sites and information for an upcoming blog post and found your site. I will be sure to mention your site and this post in particular. This information will be very handy for my readers and visitors.

    Regards,

    Mohamed

  62. Just trawling through some old posts and I saw this one. I don’t know how I missed it. Anyway, Brian you’ve given me some ideas for my next AdSense campaign !

    Thanks !

  63. Writing eye-catching headlines has been a problem for me. I understand that the power of emotion works on people, many thanks for this impressive blog.

  64. Exellent headlines, thanks!

  65. Nice series, and hope I can remember more than one or two of these.

    I also think this is one of the best looking blogs around.

    I have to say, Brian, however, that I don’t agree with your approach to comments. Why so sensitive to Miasma? And then you shot him or her down, and that encouraged a slew of other comments in the same vein, so we have a ganging up that is annoying.

    I think it adds verity and punch when other commenters disagree with a commenter, rather than the blog owner.

  66. Today is July 6th and I’m just getting starting relaunching my wordpress powered blog at http://www.jasonciment.com and i want it on record that at least 17 blog posts will be using Brian’s surefire headlines over the next 21 days.

  67. Amazing and invaluable. I can’t read enough of your blog! Thanks for the headline ideas.

  68. Great! Simple and to the point.

  69. keeping it simple and remember what you would want to see

  70. Really enlightening post for a novice like me .. but I like something that doesn’t look like a template and regular headline – like this one –
    India Goes Lean at my blog TuuBol.com

  71. I recommend reading “Ogilvy on Advertising”, a book written by the lade David Ogilvy of Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. He talks of the most important rules to follow when writing advertising headlines… They are tried and true. Of course, I am VERY impressed with the content of this blog as well. Thanks!

  72. Thanks for keeping it simple and to the point.

  73. You are surely the right authority to listen to. I really enjoyed the tips shared above. Headlines are indeed the sword of a blogger

  74. Thanks! Good info!

  75. Hi,
    As always love how your blog continually produces great content inspires me to do so as well. Your content doesn’t seem to age but really stands out. I’ve been following your blog for quite some time and included your blog on headline writing in my latest post titled: Why Bad Headlines Can Kill Good Content. Given my journalism background and TV writing, I’ve learned this valuable trick of the trade, which is to write interesting and engaging headlines followed by what I hope to be good, supportive content. I believe that headline is the key to capturing your readers to click through to read the rest of the content. I’ve quoted you in the blog (hope that is okay) but you gave me some great materials to work with. Thanks again.

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/cindykimpr
    The Marketing Journalist Blog: http://cindykimblog.wordpress.com
    LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/myprofile?trk=hb_side_pro
    Co-founder of Linked Group: http://bit.ly/womenofweb

  76. After reading this article series I feel like I’ve taken a Master’s Course in catchy headlines.

  77. Thank you so much for this blog post. I am using the help I found here for my blog.

  78. I’m really trying to understand this stuff. Working hard and I think I’m a creative and entertaining copy writer so I’m loving these tips. Thank you. I have 16 other websites up so as you can see this great information on headlines is going to keep me busy for the next couple of days. I use wordpress and I’m new at it but you’re helping me a lot. Mainly because I’m not getting the results I expected to be honest. But I’m going to stay at it. I have to! I need $!

  79. Between me and my husband we’ve owned more MP3 players over the years than I can count, including Sansas, iRivers, iPods (classic & touch), the Ibiza Rhapsody, etc. But, the last few years I’ve settled down to one line of players. Why? Because I was happy to discover how well-designed and fun to use the underappreciated (and widely mocked) Zunes are.

  80. There are some good titles here. The one I hate though is
    “who else…. ,” you know, “who else wants to learn to make thousands while on the toilet”. For some reason that one bothers me. But I guess it works.

  81. Another excellent list, Brian! I’m impressed.

    Now I just have to choose which format I want to use to include in my sales copy. I’m overloaded with potential headlines that would work. Gah, the choice is going to be a hard one. =/

    Again, thanks a bunch!

    Christina

  82. Totally bookmarked this article.

    It’s just THAT great!

    Thank you for the great information.

  83. I’m just now learning the art of headlines for my business. What a great post…and great site. Thanks for the tips. They’re awesome.

  84. One thing that will help newbie blogger to be successful is visiting this blog and read all it post to get a lot of new knowledge. First I only know Problogger and Yaro Starak and Now I now this blog. So you are lucky I will come often :)

  85. A few weeks back I decided to learn more about writing headlines and I fell upon copyblogger’s excellent Magnetic Headlines series – http://www.copyblogger.com/magnetic-headlines/

    I am delighted with the valuable information you provide. For my own subscribers, I decided to create a 2 minute video, summarizing some of the key points you make and encouraging my readers to go and see for themselves. (Creating backlinks to your various articles)

    Again, in the name of my several hundred subscribers and myself, thank you very much, indeed, for this great information you offer for free. Information and knowledge which I would otherwise need to pay for, in the form of expensive consultancy fees.

    If anyone wishes to view the video and embed it into their own website, you are most welcome :-)

    The link is here above.

  86. Brian Clark thank you for this amazing tips for headlines.