Headline Help

Headlines are one of the cornerstones of effective copywriting. Without a great headline, no one’s going to pick up your magazine or click on a tweet about your article. An effective headline has to pique curiosity in a way that will stand out amidst the chaos and make someone click on your post. Lucky for us, there are great copywriting experts out there that are happy to help us work on, and perfect, our headlines. Here are just a few of my favorite resources:

Effective Headlines

  • The most important thing is piquing someone’s curiosity.
  • Use strong words. Sex, fat, thin, etc. Simple, strong words.
  • People are more motivated by fear of failure or messing up than they are of the promise to be better. For instance, my post on MsMorphosisIs Love Blind? What He Thinks When You Start Gaining Weight and Letting Yourself Go in a Relationship  was effective because it’s a terrifying concept that many people don’t want to talk about. What is he thinking? Am I really letting myself go? Does he think I’m fat? That’s fear of failure. If I said “How to Look Prettier for Your Boyfriend” it wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.
  • Be specific about some sort of gain that will come from reading your post. Titles like “Happiness” look nice and pretty, but I don’t know what I’ll get out of reading this. Is it a poem? Is it about how to be happy? WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY? When I don’t feel like I’ll get anything out of it, I’m unlikely to take the time to click on it and waste the time figuring out if it’s for me or not. Some much more effective alternatives would be – “20 Ways to Find Happiness in Unexpected Places” or “The Joy of Cooking: How Burning Meals Brought Me Happiness (Even When It Didn’t Taste Great)

Brian Clark Headlines

  • Say something unexpected. One of the greatest ways to catch someone’s attention is to pair two seemingly paradoxical components – for instance – happiness in cooking and burning meals. We naturally would associate burning meals with an unpleasant and embarrassing cooking experience. Yet, for the novice, the idea of being able to find joy even in the burnt meals sounds like a wonderful post to help get over beginner cooking anxiety.
  • Know your audience. The more you’re able to read their minds, the easier it will be to write a headline. If someone’s been struggling with gaining weight in their relationship and is worried their boyfriend has noticed, what do you think they’re going to do when they see my Is Love Blind? What He Thinks When You Start Gaining Weight and Letting Yourself Go in a Relationship  headline? 1) They’re going to think I’m a genius, 2) They’re going to click on it, 3) If it’s good, they’re going to share it. It all starts, though, with knowing your audience (and then knowing how to reach them)

templates for effective headlines


Learn from Jon Morrow and Sonia Simone Headlines

Click here to watch the Copyblogger Headline Clinic with two of the field’s leading experts: Headline Hacks Webinar

Enjoy learning from Jon Morrow?

Jon Morrow

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.


Jen, MsMorphosis herself, writes with a wisdom that belies her age (astoundingly only 25) and speaks from a place that seems like you’re listening to your big sister, or a dear friend that you’ve never met. For me, the connection was instant, and the material has always been almost so personally intertwined and touching that I feel like the singer-story-teller in the song, ‘Killing Me Softly.’ — Sheanna Caban