The three headline templates that got me millions of readers.
How do you keep the greatest blog post in the history of the world a secret?
Give it a crappy headline.
Headlines make or break blog posts and are every bit as important as the content of the post itself.
Because people live in their social media feeds, your work can often only be discovered if it features a headline that stops people from scrolling and makes them want to click, like, or share your work.
In the course of writing hundreds of blog posts that have attracted millions of readers and crafting my weekly For The Interested newsletter, I’ve found three core headline formats that consistently perform well — Personal Experience headlines, Value Promise headlines, and Self-Expression headlines.
Here’s a breakdown of what they are, how to use them, and what to expect from them.
How To Write A Personal Experience Headline
We’re all wired to enjoy stories — and the more personal, the better.
A Personal Experience headline triggers our curiosity to learn about each other’s life, work, and experiences. It promises a voyeuristic glimpse into the life of somebody like us — or somebody we want to be.
Personal Experience headlines are typically written in the first person and tease a personal story about something you did, something you learned, or something that happened to you.
It teases a specific story, but frames it in a way to make others curious.
A few examples I’ve used in successful blog posts:
Personal Experience headlines are particularly good at driving clicks because when a reader consumes the beginning of a story in the headline, they naturally want to know how it ends so they click and read the post.
How To Write A Value Promise Headline
The most successful blog posts are the ones that deliver the most value.
A Value Promise headline keeps this in mind and highlights the value the post will deliver within the headline itself.
The greater the value promised, the more successful the headline will be —as long as the post lives up to that promise.
Value Promise headlines are typically written in the second person and promise value directly to “you” the reader.
A few examples I’ve used in popular blog posts:
These headlines are great at driving Likes of your content on social platforms because readers appreciate the value delivered.
The more a reader gets out of a post, the greater the chances they will Like it.
How To Write A Self-Expression Headline
Not everybody knows how best to communicate their thoughts and they often use other people’s writing to help them do so.
A Self-Expression headline communicates a belief or opinion that a reader strongly agrees with — the reader is the “self” in this scenario as opposed to the writer.
If you state an idea in a headline that resonates with readers — if you say something they want to say— then they will be drawn to your post.
A few examples I’ve used in popular blog posts:
These headlines generate a lot of social media shares because people view sharing them as an opportunity to express themselves (thus, the “Self-Expression” name).
People rarely share blog posts on social media simply because they’re good — they share them to express something about who they are and what they believe.
A good Self-Expression headline plays directly into that desire.
How To Mix And Match Headlines
I’ve got one more advanced tip for you when it comes to writing headlines.
Once you get the hang of these headline formats, look for ways to combine them to create more powerful headlines and check multiple boxes.
A simple way to do this is to use one headline format for the headline of your blog post and a different one for the subheadline or description that gets pulled in to social media feeds when your post is shared.
For example, that’s what I’ve tried to do on this post.
You’ll notice the headline (“How To Write Headlines People Will Click, Like, And Share”) uses the Value Promise format while the subheadline (“The three headline templates that got me millions of readers”) employs the Personal Experience format.
My hope is mixing these formats will appeal to multiple audiences and drive as many clicks and likes as possible.
Will I be proven right?
Well, those headlines got you here to read this, so I’m at least partially right — now it just depends on whether you like or share this post after reading it.
BONUS: One more way to get more attention for your writing…
One of the best ways to get attention for your work is to learn from how others do it.
And I’ve got a secret weapon for you when it comes to that — my For The Interested newsletter.
Every Sunday I share 10 ideas (similar to the one you just read in this post) about how to get better at your life, work, and art.
It’s a cheat sheet to help you get what you want out of life.
Sign up below to check it out:
Image via Art Lasovsky