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3 Unusual Cures for Boring Headlines

I bet you’ve read your fair share of headline posts. These posts give you a list of best practices that will attract people to your blog. Some are good. Some stink, but for the moment, it seems that the social intelligentsia agree that –

The best headlines follow a formula

Problem is the formula prescribed by most doesn’t work.


People Change

Your reader reads thousands of messages. Most of these messages start with a headline. Your emails have subject lines. Your favorite RSS reader lists headlines in chronological order. Heck, your to-do list is a series of productive headlines!

This means that you’re pretty good quickly filtering out homogenous headlines. Since everyone uses a similar headline playbook, you know exactly what to ignore.


Last night I realized that none of the 700 posts in my RSS feed caught my attention. After a closer look I saw most of the posts followed the approved headline method. Yet, they still failed because – I didn’t see anything unique.

To be successful, you need to change the game.

3 Unique Headline Tactics That Work in 2013

Let’s have a little fun and poke the headline experts in the eye. In the process, you’ll build your audience quicker, stick readers to your blog like super glue, and position your blog to make money.

Here we go:

#1: Hyper Relevancy:

Promise to solve a very specific problem.
Example: “How to Make $300 a month From Your Hobby Blog

This headline tells you exactly what I have on the agenda. It’s not clever. It isn’t going to make any English Lit teachers smile but it will attract tons of readers.

Before I wrote this headline, I picked a problem to solve. In this case, an empty wallet.

The only way to short-circuit your reader’s headline filter is to speak directly to an issue that bugs the hell out of them.
Look at the post you’re writing – what problem are you solving? Does your headline state that?

#2: Hyper Focus:

1,000 True Fans is a cult classic post among savvy content marketers. The post promises that 1,000 committed and engaged fans can support a blog, business or non-profit. Every great movement started with a small group of people who believed and worked their butts off.

The key here though is the number – just a 1,000. To be effective, you need to speak to someone not everybody. Your goal is to find a small group of people who passionately believe in what you do.

Next translate this hyper focus into effective posts:

New Mom? How to Run Your Next 5K in 30 Days after Birth.
This headline would sicken most women but a fitness-focused few would read the post immediately.

Hyper Focus takes guts. You have to be “ok” with being totally irrelevant to most of your audience. The rewards however, are worth it.

#3: Hyper Voice:

The sound of nails scratching across a chalkboard drives me into blind rage. A close second is bland, corporate speak. Jargon screams “idiot”. I hate it because jargon is meant to stifle each voice. The goal is to make everyone sound the same.

Headline templates are quickly becoming a pet-peeve too. They seem helpful, but people have adjusted their B.S. radar to squelch the “Discover 7 Ways to xxx” posts.

Instead, find and use your singular voice. Your voice is a blend of your experience, sincerity, and background. I’m an African-American man who grew up in a middle class neighborhood. My voice reflects that. If you joined my family in Akron at Christmas time you’d hear “my voice” from everyone in the room. I tried to sound like Chris Brogan and Brian Clark. My blog suffered until I decided to just by Stan.

You need to put your unique voice in your headlines –

Example: “Why Nana Hates Your Girlfriend, and What To Do About It”. Although people may not know who Nana is – they are still intrigued about the relationship advice Nana would give. Feel the “voice” coming through?

A Wake Up Call

Master the new art of headline writing and you’ll boost your readership, subscribers and income. The good news is that using Hyper Relevancy, Focus, and Voice will reflect your true authentic self.

Give it a try and tell me what you think in the comments.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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