Kick up your writing!

My 6-step guide to writing a powerful headline

This title took me 1 hour and 3 minutes.

To get from,
“Ways to come up with creative headlines” to
“Ingenious ways to come up with creative headlines” to
“How to write creative headlines people will read” to
“How I write powerful headlines (and how you can too)” to
“My 6 step-guide to writing a powerful headline.”

Sure, it might sound like an excess waste of time because there’re more important things to worry about (e.g. bills to pay, our own mouths to feed). But the reason why I take so long to craft a good headline for each one of my posts is because,

“Titles are half the battle to getting people to read your content.”

You see, if you can’t attract people to click your post, you wasted your whole time writing a piece nobody wants to read. It’s the same as if you never wrote anything at all.

And that’s a problem you don’t want to keep running into, especially if you want to grow your voice or business.

So if you want people to read every word you say, you have to write a good headline. No excuses. No shortcuts. That’s why I created a 6-step guide that can help you craft a powerful headline, every time. It’s one I’ve refined for over 1 1/2 years and is now bumping my post views to the thousands and my read ratio to over 25%.

Let me show you how it’s done.

Behind the Scenes of Writing a Powerful Headline

1. Think about what your readers might like or find useful

Before I thought about writing this topic, I already knew what my readers wanted.

A survey my team made at Rabbut.

28% wanted more views for their blog.
54% wanted to know what topics to write about.

Okay, what should I talk about that’d solve all of their problems?

Oh! How to write a super catchy, (but) useful headline people would want to read. That’d instantly boost their views and, at the same time, help them brainstorm more useful topics. Perfect!

When you know what problems your readers are facing or what they want, it’s easy to come up with useful topics. Create a survey. Find your highest viewed/recommended post. Email them (that’s if you have a Medium email list).

It’s better to know what topics are high in demand than to blindly write something people may not like or care about.

2. Write your first headline.

Just do it.

Don’t worry if it sounds crappy, because it probably WILL sound crappy. And that’s okay.

I mean I didn’t like the ring of my first headline: “Ways to come up with creative headlines.” It felt too cliché. Too vague. Too boring. But at least it wraps around my main purpose — which was to help people write clever headlines.

That’s all you need to do.

3. Copy-paste your headline into Google (via incognito)

The reason why I use incognito is because it gives me fresh, unbiased results for a specific keyword or phrase. In other words, I’d get a more accurate view on the highest ranking headlines on Google.

For instance, this is what I got:

Don’t search on your normal browser — Google might rank certain sites (and headlines) higher based on your previous search results.

To use incognito,
-Windows, Linux, or Chrome OS: Press Ctrl + Shift + n
-Mac: Press ⌘ + Shift + n

4. Jot down powerful words and phrases

What you want to do here is to jot down the most exhilarating, hair-raising, emotional words/phrases from high ranking headlines. Then combine them together to create great headlines (which I’ll demonstrate in the next step).

5. Rearrange. Cut. Swap.

The hardest part about writing great headlines is choosing which words stay and which words go. And it’s entirely up to you to figure out the best combination that reveals your main intention AND triggers people’s fingers to click.

Not to mention, you need to check if your headline is too long or too short. According to HubSpot, the ideal headline length for blog posts is between 8–12 words and under 80 characters.

Let me demonstrate how I spice up my headlines based on my chosen words and phrases from Step 4.

My chosen words and phrases:

  • powerful
  • ingenious
  • creative
  • attention grabbing
  • step-by-step guide
  • foolproof formula
  • sure-shot ways
  • in x minute(s) and x seconds
  • can’t help but read
  • that people will actually read
  • that hook your readers

Transforming my original headline: Ways to come up with creative headlines.

  • Ingenious ways to come up with creative headlines
  • How to write creative headlines people will actually read
  • Sure-shot ways to write a powerful headline
  • A foolproof formula to writing powerful headlines
  • How to write an attention-grabbing headline in 5 minutes
  • How to write a catchy headline that will hook your readers
  • How to write a powerful headline people can’t help but read
  • How I write powerful headlines (and how you can too)
  • The foolproof guide to writing catchy headlines

See how many headlines I can pump out with just a few “chosen words”? And it gets better if you have more “chosen words” on your list.

Pro-tip: To get more headline possibilities, copy-paste your new headlines into Google incognito and jot down more powerful words. Then repeat Step 5: Rearrange the structure. Cut the unnecessities. Swap to stronger words.

6. Pick the headline that sounds best to your ears

Or better yet, ask people you trust to see which headline they’d rather click.

Remember, the point of a great headline is to stop people from their usual online habits. From browsing on their Facebook feed. From watching Youtube videos. From going to their favorite blogger. You get the picture.

It’s a noisy world out there, and you want to make sure your headline is the loudest AND promises to give them something they expect.

So that’s why I sometimes present 2–3 headlines to my colleagues or sisters and ask them to pick the best-sounding one. Of course, they aren’t always around so I’d ask myself, would I read this? Would I learn something valuable?

If the answer is yes, I’d publish it as my final headline which out of these 3 choices:

How to Write a Headline That’d Hook Any Reader
My Foolproof Formula to Writing a Powerful Headline
My 6-Step Guide to Writing a Powerful Headline

…I chose: My 6-Step Guide to Writing a Powerful Headline.

Photo Credit: Skitterphoto

Wrapping up

Ready to put these steps into practice?

  1. Think about what your readers might like or find useful, then pinpoint the right topic.
  2. Write your first headline.
  3. Copy-paste your headline into Google (via incognito).
  4. Jot down powerful words and phrases from the top ranking headlines.
  5. Spice up your original headline using the words/phrases you jotted down from Step 4.
  6. Pick the headline that sounds best to your ears.

Good luck!

Published by Tiffany

I’m fighting to rebuild my life by doing the things I never dreamed of doing. Now in Southeast Asia, writing my journey.


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