Lazy Bloggers Guide to Writing Magnetic Headlines (53 Headline Formulas Included)

The life of a writer is a whole lot of waiting till you are noticed. Magnetic headlines will help you get noticed quickly. Here’s a comparing portrait of a writer who doesn’t know how to write magnetic headlines versus one who knows how to write magnetic headlines:


Look at that smiling face!

Marketing fact: On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest.

Why Care So Much About Headings

Your heading is the most important thing in your article. The job of your heading is to get people to click the link of your post or to get them to read the first sentence of your blog post.

The job of a sentence in your blog post or copy is to get the reader to the next sentence. It goes so on and so forth till it reaches the end of your article at the CTA (Call-to-Action). An engaged and interested reader should be reading till the end of your copy, but none of that happens if they find your headline boring.

That’s why it’s important to write an attractive and captivating headline.

What Makes a Headline Great?

A headline is a promise. A headline promises the reader of some kind of benefit or reward in exchange for their attention. The reward or benefit can vary from simple or complex to a pressing problem.

There’s no one headline formula that will work every single time. If there’s anyone teaching you that, know that’s it whole lot of BS.

What matters in headline writing? Context.

Know when to write and what to write, and that comes through experience. Still, there are guidelines you can follow to make sure you are starting strong.

The American Writers and Artists (AWAI) has a ‘4U’ approach to great headlines:


    1. USEFUL to the reader,

    1. Provide the reader with a sense of URGENCY,

    1. Convey the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE,

    1. Do all the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.

Great headline writers understand headlines need to make an intriguing promise to the reader. It needs to be irresistible to the target audience. Understanding your target audience is mandatory for effective writing. (Not just headlines). Your headline doesn’t need to be appealing to everyone, but it needs to move your target audience.

Great artists steal. So do great headline writers. In a more nonchalant way, copywriters have something called a “swipe file”, a file consisting of all sorts of content (headlines, CTAs, email signatures, billboards, leaflets, web designs, magazine headings, newspaper headlines, etc.) that catches the eye of the writer. It can be something popular or has proven to work. A good writer will take inspiration from her swipe file.

Most importantly, great headline writers understand why a headline works and are capable of making educated decisions about the headline structure. They also know how to tweak it within a certain context.

Write The Headline First

You might have an idea of what you are going to be writing about, but the outcome, the structure, and how you phrase and organise the subject will depend on the type of heading your blog post will have.

You can write about the same subject, but two different headings can look into the topic from two different angles.

Your heading will give you something concrete for your writing to be based on. Write your headline first.

“Brain Dump” Headline Ideas

Now, when you are trying to write a heading, write the general idea or subject you are talking about.

Then, take a few minutes and let your stream-of-conscious run amok. Write 5-10 headlines without thinking about it. Do a “brain dump.”


Sit your butt down (or stand up, I don’t care) and brainstorm some headline ideas

Here’s an example from one of my previous posts about blogs everyone should bookmark if they want to become better thinkers.


    • Bookmark these 13 blogs right now if you want to be a better thinker (could be better)

    • 13 Blogs to bookmark right now if you want to be a better thinker (whoa!)

    • These 13 bloggers will help you think better. (sucky)

    • If you want to think better, bookmark these 13 blogs now (okay)

    • 13 Blogs that will change the way you think (meh)

    • Bookmark these 13 blogs if you want to change the way you think (good)

(You can use the templates at the end as an inspiration for your headline writing)

So far so good, but the thing is, these headings are still just a product of our own brain, and not socially tested. Let’s see some advanced social tested headings/copy.

Around the Web, We Go…

Time to do some stealing. There are probably hundreds or thousands of people who have searched and have written about the same thing you want to write about. Read what others have written to get an idea for your headlines.

Go visit your trusty search engine: Google. Type in the search term(s) you think people would type in to notice your content or similar content.

You can type the general area of interest first into the search bar, then add a letter (a-z) to see what the search engine suggests (based on popular searches).


Another search query is to get specific about what you are searching and see the results.

You can check out the “People also ask” section in the mid-page and the “related searches” to see topics that people find interesting.


A variation of what you were searching used by people

Amazon is the biggest e-commerce website, and it is also one of the biggest search engines. You can type a certain subject and see what the top results are and the headings they use.

Additionally, you can click on a relevant product and read the top reviews to get an idea of the language people use and what they say about those products. You can extrapolate from these reviews and quotes and use them as inspiration for a heading.


This is the kind of product we are looking at, enough ratings to get an idea.


Reviews can turn into headings

There are a lot of good reviews for this product on Amazon, just by looking at these reviews, I can make up topics for this product: “Dell’Amore Marinara Sauce—Better Than Homemade” and “Dell’Amore is the BEST Marinara Sauce Ever.” It’s as simple as that. (I need some Marinara sauce!)

The Social Sites (,,,

Here’s another idea generator for you lazy bastards, I mean bloggers. Go to Reddit, quora, digg, and Medium and type your keyword. Say you want to write about iPhone 14, you can see what people are saying already, and what kind of content is getting attraction. Most likely, you’ll find a couple of headline ideas as well.

Now, you might not find something useful everywhere, but if you can expand your headline-finding database a little, it’s a win.

Keywords and SEO

I know you didn’t sign up for the technical digital marketers guide to headline writing, but there’s this thing that we can’t avoid entirely if we are to grab the attention of the audience.

Now you might not be writing a blog for a multi-million dollar corporation, you might just want to share what’s going on with your dog, Sky and cow, John Lewis. Here’s the thing, if you have no intention of growing your blog, you don’t need to read this post. But, if you’re reading this, that’s not your intention.

The “SEO camp” will say to you keywords are one of the most important aspects of a blog post title, how else would you get the clicks? On the other hand, the “write for humans” camp might say it’s not authentic or you will sound like a robot. Also, that search traffic is not that important.

The final verdict is keywords and SEO do matter, but not necessarily for the reasons the SEO camp might think of them. You should do keyword research because your heading should speak in a language your audience will understand while in a time-tested structure that will catch attention.

Any SEO pro will tell you this, you don’t need to go after broader keywords (which will be highly competitive and expensive), but a better alternative is to target niche keywords. They are specific, less expensive and easier to rank. Specificity itself is a feature of “human headlines.”

A beautiful moment of harmony when the ‘Write for Humans’ camp and the SEO camp agreed to a compromise.

Do your keyword research and SEO optimize your blog posts so that you can rank higher on Google which will attract more engaging audiences. But, remember to write like a human. Here are some websites to get you started:,,,,

53 Headline Formulas That Will Make People Click

Now that you’ve known the importance of headlines and have understood what a great heading consists of and what makes one a great headline writer. Then there is the process of writing the headline first, doing a quick brainstorm and writing some headings, using internet searches to see what people are saying, and maybe even adding a keyword or two.

Now, to put all of these concepts to use, we are going to use tried and tested headline formulas. Why formulas? They work. It’s easy to use and remember. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time we write something. It’s much easier to have a reference list like this and then use your specific subject knowledge and think of the right formula to suit the context.


    1. Classic “How to”: How to run faster (Basic how to headline about achieving or doing something).

    1. Double benefit “How to”: How to win friends and influence people (Two benefits to the reader, subtle relationship between the benefits).

    1. How to [Mundane Task] That [Rewarding Benefit]: How to get a loan that gets your dream car while saving $2760 (Simple how-to headline, but the addition of “that” and then immediately following up with the top benefit often written in the best way possible or as specific as possible).

    1. How to but no “to”: How I made a fortune from selling protein bars online (Removing the ‘to’ increases the curiosity of your reader)

    1. “Heads Up” List: Do you recognize the 9 early warning signs of hair loss? (Can be used to demonstrate your expertise which comes from only knowing your business or niche).

    1. Classic List: 8 ways to avoid skin troubles (Basic list article format).

    1. Know their problems list: Six familiar aspects of the high cost of living (Commiserate with your readers. Set forth problems you know they might have, and they might determine you have the right solution).

    1. Help them self-identify list: Four types of moviegoers – which group are you in? (People love to focus on themselves. Categorize and let them identify themselves. Focus on “you” in the article).

    1. How to [do something]—These [Number] [Adjective] Ways: How to make spaghetti — These 3 Delicious Ways (A remix of “how to” and a list, almost unfair. For extremely specific and simple headings).

    1. Tutorial List: Free book tells you 7 secrets of copywriting (Can be used with free book and tutorials.)

    1. [Absurd number] List: 112 Website Themes You Can Try Today (A large number to make it seem absurd. The content needs to be delivered to make it valuable for the reader based on a large amount of free content).

    1. Who Else Wants [blank]?: Who Else Wants to Pay Less Tax and Invest Money? (Classic social proof heading which implies already existing consensus desire).

    1. The Secret of [blank]: The Secret of Networking in Universities (Sharing insider knowledge and translating it into a benefit for the reader)

    1. Here is a method that is helping [blank] to [blank]: Here is a method that is helping drivers avoid accidents (Identify your target audience and state the benefit you provide them).

    1. Little Known Ways to [blank]: Little Known Ways to Lose Weight Quickly (More intriguing way to do the same as ‘The Secret of’ headline’).

    1. Get Rid of [problem] Once and For All: Get Rid of That Shirt Stain Once and For All (Identifying the painful problem or the unfulfilled desire of the reader who wants a remedy).

    1. Here’s a Quick Way to [solve a problem]: Here’s a Quick Way to Get Over a Belly Ache (People love quick solutions to a lingering problem).

    1. Now You Can Have [something desirable] [great circusmstance]: Now You Can Own an Android and Still Download Apple Exclusive Apps. (The classic ‘have your cake and eat it too’ headline).

    1. [Do Something] like [world-class example]: Play Golf like Tiger Woods (Do something like someone of the highest standard. See Gatorade’s “Be Like Mike” campaign).

    1. Have a [or] Build a [blank] You Can Be Proud Of: Build a Lifestyle You Can Be Proud Of (Appealing to vanity, dissatisfaction or shame).

    1. What Everybody Ought to Know About [blank]: What Everybody Ought to Know About Writing Call-To-Actions (Curiosity draw. Almost challenges the reader to see whether they are missing something).

    1. Simple and Direct: Tailored Shirts…25% OFF (No wordplay, direct to the point. Works well for strong offers, products which readers are familiar with).

    1. State the big benefit: Get a Free Trip to Singapore by filling out this survey (Great for transforming the major benefit of your product/service into a headline).

    1. Announce exciting news: Virgin Airways Announces It’s Budget Airlines (Make your headline a news piece, rather than advertising. It doesn’t have to be something new, it only needs to be news for the reader).

    1. Appeal to the “how-to” instinct: How to profit from the 3 biggest tech companies (Starting with how to or just how and then adding the benefit or the final result, not the process).

    1. Pose a provocative question: How Do I Know Which Headline Formula to Choose? (The question must directly relate to the major benefit of the product).

    1. Bark a command: Stop Wasting Money On Copywriters. Use These Headline Formulas To Create a Heading In 5 Minutes (Tells exactly what the reader has to do directly).

    1. Other useful information: 7 steps to organise your house (Give the reader a sense of control over their lives in what they do. It can be secrets, hints, tips, tricks, laws, etc. to make people gain a sense of things and have control over their lives).

    1. Relay an honest, enthusiastic testimonial: “This is the ultimate guide to headline writing. I increased unique readers by 157% in two months” (Gives the reader a third-party endorsement of your product and will get to know what exactly people are saying).

    1. Authenticate your proposition with a little something extra: Frustrated housecleaner develops an incredible device to clean all nooks of your home (People distrust sales. Adding a little quirky detail like ‘frustrated housecleaner’ will cut through the distrust).

    1. Give Me [short time period] and I’ll Give You [blank]: Give Me Ten Minutes — and I’ll Make You a Better Writer (Strong benefit within a short time period).

    1. If You Don’t [blank] Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later: If You’re Not Buying a House Right Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later (Feeds into the fear of missing out).

    1. The Lazy [blank’s] Way to [blank]: The Lazy Blogger’s Guide to Writing Magnetic Headlines (Works for time-pressured people; majority today. Not that people are lazy, but they want to save time and effort).

    1. Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?: Do You Recognize the 5 Early Warning Signs of Internet Addiction? (Technically a list, but promises critical tips before it is too late).

    1. See How Easily You Can [desirable result]: See How Easily You Can Own a Tesla (Quick or easy when it comes to learning something new or gaining an advantage).

    1. You Don’t Have to Be [something challenging] to be [desired result]: You Don’t Have to be Rich To Travel to Europe (Useful to breaking the barrier people put themselves through as a way to stop action. Breaking people’s preconceived notions will garner reader’s curiosity).

    1. Do You Make These Mistakes?: Do You Make These Blogging Mistakes With Your Blog? (Help your target audience avoid common mistakes).

    1. Warning: [blank]: Warning: 7 out of 10 new businesses go out of business—Will You be one of them? (Warning: It catches your attention).

    1. How [blank] Made Me [blank]: How an online meme made me $1.2 million (Great for relating a personal story. Works best when the two blanks are dramatically contrasted).

    1. Are You [blank]?: Are You Ready to Learn Spanish Before You Go to Spain? (Be bold with this one. Designed to catch the attention or even to challenge the reader).

    1. [Blank] Ways to [blank]: 41 Ways to Write Killer Headlines (A “how to” type heading enhanced by specificity, either by the number or by knowing what exactly to expect).

    1. If You’re [blank], You Can [blank]: If You’re a Surfer, You Can Visit Sri Lanka For Free (Another use of specificity. Addresses to a particular person and gives a promise in the heading).

    1. The Ultimate Guide to [blank]: The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Blog (If you are covering all aspects of the topic, an all-in-one article, an ultimate guide is suitable)

    1. Let’s Stop [blank]: Let’s Stop cooking mangoes (Rally cry headline, strong position against the topic)

    1. [Number] Proven [actions/ways] to [achieve the desired outcome]: 6 Proven Ways to Become a Great Manager (Proven Methods List, a type of list headline with social proof push)

    1. Why [Outrageous/Controversial Claim]: Why Canadians Are Actually Evil (Publishing a bold or an outrageous claim to quickly capture attention).

    1. [Number] Lessons I Learned When/from [experience]: 7 Lessons I Learned From Blogging for 7 Years (A list headline, but speaks to sharing personal experiences whether as an individual or group)

    1. [No/yes], You [blank] to [desired result]: No, You don’t have to exercise to lose ten pounds (This is an objection headline, a bold statement).

    1. See What Happened: I Wrote a Blog Post Every Day for 3 Months, Here’s What Happened (Personal/group story of doing a certain thing and then sharing the results. These headings pique the audience’s curiosity of wanting to know exactly what happened).

    1. Why [thing] makes you [outcome]: Why Starting a blog will make you a better writer (Explainer headline, explaining why certain action/product/service will turn you into a better state).

    1. Quiz: [blank?]: Quiz: What type of football fan are you? (This is another self-identify headline where categories of a topic are laid out and the reader gets to identify themselves)

    1. Promise and Result: We Can Help You Increase Sales by 20% (Directly stating the promise to the reader. The promise is supplemented with concrete results afterwards to make the reader feel it’s worth his/her attention).

    1. Vague: You Probably Won’t Read This (The headline totally relies on curiosity, best to use for an existing audience who already trusts you).


If you look and think enough you will probably find more templates for headlines. Templates are there to help simplify your writing process, and these are tried and true formulas. Still, it is the writer’s duty to use the right template in the right context.

Understand that good headlines make a promise and deliver (maybe even overdeliver them). Understand who your target audience is and have an understanding of your content strategy (and how you can use keywords and SEO to your advantage).

Make sure to take your time; 10-30 minutes (even more if you need) to write the headline first. Do a look around the web to see what people and search engines are saying and showing for your chosen title. Do some brainstorming. Use the templates to create different variations and try to choose one you think will fit best. While you are at it, start a swipe file, too.

There’s only one way to get good at writing headlines, it’s through practice. With enough practice, you will gain experience. That’s the way to write magnetic headlines that people will click on every time.

Now, young grasshopper, make your master proud. Write magnetic headlines every single time.

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