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Writing Catchy Headlines: 3 Winning Formulas for Your Content Marketing

Exactly what is a catchy headline? Simply put, it’s the gateway to your content. When it comes to digital marketing, the ability to write catchy headlines is a critical skill.

We’re about to embark on an exploration into crafting irresistible headlines. Whether you’re wrestling with creating engaging blog headlines or just looking to hone your headline writing chops, you’re in the right place.

This article is a snapshot of a live workshop I presented, filled with copywriting treasures. So grab a cup of your favorite drink and prepare to dive into the world of content headlines.

In my book Master Content Marketing, I compare headlines to the chalkboard signs outside shops or restaurants.

Those signs capture your attention. The best ones promise something intriguing and spark your curiosity, luring you into the business.

Writing catchy headlines works in much the same way, but in the digital realm, people need to discover your content and then dive in to consume and then take action.

When you write catchy headlines, you encourage people to click.

It’s up to the content creator to not only meet but exceed the expectations set by the headline.

Related: The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Starting Your Website Content

Have a strategy to write catchy headlines.

Attention-grabbing headlines: powerful words that champion your content

Your headlines may need a bit more “salesy” flair compared to the rest of your content. Your headline must advocate for your content, encouraging readers to consume it.

Investing the time to write catchy headlines means you’ll be effectively advocating for your content — even while you sleep.

Don’t hesitate to craft a bold headline that champions your content. If your headline doesn’t capture your reader’s attention, the rest of your content will likely suffer too!

As long as your content consistently delivers, there’s no reason to feel guilty about giving it the full sales treatment. It’s your best chance for it to be discovered.

Your goal here is to write catchy headlines that your readers can’t resist, compelling them to click and learn more.

Related: How to Make Content Marketing Fun (and Much Easier)

Your ability to write catchy headlines will improve with practice.

In my early days in online business, I didn’t consider myself a writer. But that changed over time. When I started out, I used to produce 30 to 40 headlines before finding a gem. Now, I only need to create 7 to 10.

One of the key secrets to mastering the skill to write catchy headlines is to write prolifically because your initial headlines probably won’t be perfect. In fact, they’ll likely be clichéd.

You can purge those clichés from your mind by putting pen to paper.

Write catchy headlines like a pro — your toolkit

  • Blank paper: Either traditional paper and pen or a blank digital document. Whatever works for you.
  • Thesaurus: Input a word you’re considering to spark ideas for different — and sometimes more intriguing — words. A thesaurus will help you avoid clichés.
  • Headline inspiration: I recommend having a source of headline inspiration available. Many are available in PDF format for free download.
  • Timer: Challenge yourself to see how many headlines you can create in 10 or 15 minutes. Adding a timer injects an element of gamification, making the process feel more like playtime than work.
  • Headline grader: These tools use machine learning. While they’re not perfect, they can be helpful for crafting headlines. They assign a score to your headline, adding another layer of gamification. Can you beat your high score? My go-to tools are the Sharethrough Headline Analyzer and the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer.

Content headlines vs sales page headlines

Content headlines are designed to attract attention.

They’re also designed to stand on their own. Your content headline is the link that people see on social media. That irresistible headline takes them to your content. 

As previously mentioned, content headlines champion your content. They’re out there on the web, promoting it 24/7.

The ultimate goal of a content headline is a click.

Sales page headlines are crafted to keep attention on your offer.

They must integrate smoothly with the rest of the copy on the page. The ultimate goal of a sales page headline is a purchase, not merely a click.

In this article, we’re focusing on writing catchy headlines for content (not sales pages).

In this article, we’re focusing on how to write catchy headlines for content (not sales pages)

So, let’s delve into some proven content headline formulas that I’m eager to share with you.

If you aim to write catchy headlines, use language that resonates with your ideal customer.

f you’re unsure how your ideal customer describes the problem you solve, I recommend doing some detective work on social media.

Examine the comments on your blog and your active social platforms. Understand how they talk about your topic.

That way, even if you’re using a formula, the language you use will resonate with the person you’re trying to attract to your content.

Now let’s look at three successful headline-writing strategies.

Related: Create an Eye-opening Ideal Customer Profile [Free Worksheet]

Formula 1: Write catchy headlines using numbered lists

List headlines usually start with a number. 


3 Proven Tactics to Write Catchy Headlines

They promise a specific amount of information and assure that your information is easily digestible.

Reinforce list headlines by incorporating numbers into your subheads (this article does that).

Want to see more examples in action? Check out the brief video excerpt above!

Formula 2: Write catchy headlines that start with “How to”

“How-to” headlines are empowering because they promise a result. Your reader will have knowledge after consuming your content that they lacked before.


How to Achieve [This Desirable Result] in Less Than [X ] Minutes a Day

Check out the short video clip above see more “how-to” headline examples.

Formula 3: Write catchy headlines that promise a transformation

Transformation headlines are compelling because they take the reader from where they are to where they want to be. 

They promise a desired change, an improvement in the customer’s life or work. They promise a transformation.


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When discussing a transformation, it’s almost always beneficial to incorporate a narrative. Your reader will be intrigued to learn more.

You can find some excellent examples of transformation headlines in the video excerpt above.

Bonus: Write catchy subheads that act as content signposts

Subheads are like signposts in your content.

Subheads are the signposts in your content.

They introduce what people will discover in each section of your content. They keep the reader engaged — just like a catchy headline.

If you’re a podcaster, your subheads could be podcast breaks. They could become introductory statements that you say before introducing different segments of your podcast.

In a video, the subhead might appear as an overlay on the video screen or as a title card to segment the video content.

In any type of content, subheads help break your content into smaller, more easily consumable chunks.

Write catchy headlines — key takeaways

Let’s review what we covered in this mini-masterclass:

  • A content headline can stand alone. It acts as a champion on the internet for the content you’ve created.
  • The ultimate goal of a content headline is to encourage a click.
  • Content headlines differ from sales page headlines. The goal of a sales page headline is a purchase, not just a click.
  • Practice is crucial to mastering the skill of headline creation.
  • Use language that resonates with your ideal customer.
  • Use proven content headline formulas to write catchy headlines.
  • Subheads are content signposts that keep your readers engaged.

Three go-to headline formulas are 

  1. Numbered list headline
  2. How-to headline
  3. Transformation headline

Remember, subheads help pull people through your content. They keep people engaged. 

Want more content marketing resources?

My book Master Content Marketing offers 50 headline templates that you can use to jumpstart your headline writing process. 

Master Content Marketing is a great book if you want to learn how to create content marketing, especially if you don’t consider yourself a writer by nature. 

If you have the basics of content creation down pat, my book Master Content Strategy will help you learn how you use content marketing to grow your business.

Writing catchy headlines is an art. It requires practice and a commitment to promoting your content.

By taking the time to write catchy headlines, you’re ensuring that your content doesn’t get lost in the noise of the internet.

Your attention-grabbing headlines will help your content stand out and reach your target audience.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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