What is a Catchy Headline? How to Write Catchy Headlines Like a Pro

Exactly what is a catchy headline — and how can you write catchy headlines that make your content irresistible?

A catchy headline catches attention.

And catching attention in a busy environment like the internet is a mammoth task.

That’s why we’re about to take a deep dive into headline writing strategies. 

If you’re not sure how to write headlines for blogs, or want to improve your headline writing skills, you’re in the right place.

This video is a peek into a workshop I delivered live. It’s chock full of copywriting tips, so grab your favorite beverage and get ready to learn all about content headlines. 

In my book, Master Content Marketing, I show you how your headline is like the chalkboard signs that you see on sidewalks in front of stores or restaurants. 

Those signs grab your attention. The best ones make a promise and create curiosity. They make you want to step inside the business. 

Headline writing is similar, but when you’re online, people have to find your content and then step inside it so they can consume it and take action. 

When you write catchy headlines, they make people click. 

It’s up to the content creator to meet — and exceed — the expectations set up by the headline.

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

Have a strategy to write catchy headlines.

Great headlines advocate for your content

You might need to adopt a slightly more salesy tone when it comes to your headlines compared to the rest of your content. Your headline needs to sell your content so your readers consume it. 

Devoting time to writing catchy headlines means you will advocate for your content even while you’re asleep.

Don’t be afraid to write a bold headline that sells your content. If your headline fails, so will the rest of your content! 

As long as your content is consistently excellent, you should feel no shame giving it the best possible chance to be discovered.

Your goal here is to write catchy headlines that your readers find irresistible. They’ll click to learn more. 

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

Your headline writing skills will improve the more you practice them. 

You may know that in my early days I didn’t really consider myself a writer. That’s changed over time. I used to have to write 30 to 40 headlines before I found a good one. Now I only have to write 7 to 10.

This is one of the big tricks to learn how to write catchy headlines — write a lot, because your first headlines won’t be good. They’ll tend to use a lot of clichés. 

Get those out of your brain and out of your system just by writing them out.

Tools to help you write catchy headlines

  • Blank paper — either some paper and a pencil or pen, or a blank text document. Whatever works for you.
  • Thesaurus — plug in the word you’re thinking about using to spark ideas for different — and sometimes more interesting — words. A thesaurus will help you avoid cliches.
  • Headline inspiration — I recommend that you have some kind of headline inspiration. There are a lot of those floating around in PDF format that you can download for free.
  • Timer — challenge yourself and see how many headlines you can write in 10 or 15 minutes. A timer adds an element of gamification, which can make the process feel kind of fun.
  • Headline grader — these tools use machine learning. They aren’t perfect, but they can help with headline writing. They give you a score on your headline, which adds an element of gamification. How high can you score? My favorites are the Sharethrough Headline Analyzer and the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer.

The difference between content headlines and sales page headlines

Content headlines are designed to draw attention.

They’re also designed to stand alone, because your content headline is the link that people see on social media. That headline takes them to your content. 

As I mentioned earlier, content headlines advocate for your content. They’re out there on the web, selling it. 

The ultimate goal of a content headline is a click.

Sales page headlines keep attention on the offer.

They need to be cohesive with the rest of the copy on the page. The ultimate goal of a sales page headline is a purchase, not a click. 

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

So let’s dive into go-to content headline formulas that I want to share with you today. 

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

If you’re not sure how your ideal customer is talking about the problem you solve, I recommend searching them out on social media.

Look for them in the comments on your blog and on your active social platforms. Get to know how they talk about your topic. 

That way, even if you’re using a formula, the words you use will make sense to the person you’re trying to attract to your content. 

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

1. Write catchy headlines using numbered lists

List headlines usually start with a number. 

Example:

3 Simple Ways to Write Catchy Headlines

They promise a specific amount of information, and they also make a promise that your information is easy to consume. 

Reinforce list headlines by using numbers and adding those numbers to your subheads. 

Want to see examples in action? Watch the short video excerpt above!

2. Write catchy headlines that start with “How to”

How-to headlines are great because they’re empowering. They promise a result. Your reader will know something once they finish your content that they didn’t know before. 

Example:

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.

3. Write catchy headlines that promise a transformation

Transformation headlines are compelling because they take the reader from point A to point B. 

They promise a change, and they promise some kind of improvement — a transformation. 

Example:

From Zero to Book: What It’s Really Like to Become a Published Author

When you’re talking about a transformation, you almost always add some kind of story. Your reader will be interested to find out more. 

You can see some great examples of transformation headlines in the video excerpt above.

Bonus: Write catchy subheads that become content signposts

Subheads are like signposts in your content.

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

If you’re a podcaster, your subheads may be podcast breaks. They might sound like introductory sentences that you say before different parts of your podcast. 

In a video, the subhead could appear as an overlay on the video screen, or a title card to help break up the video content. 

In any kind of content, subheads help to break your content into smaller, more digestible chunks. 

Write catchy headlines — things to remember

Let’s review what we went over in this masterclass:

A content headline can stand alone. It serves as an advocate out on the internet for the content you’ve written. 

The ultimate goal of a content headline is to get a click.

A sales page headline is part of an overall sales message. It advocates for the offer, not for the page itself. 

The ultimate goal of a sales headline is a purchase.

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.

Do you struggle with writing content headlines? Do you have a go-to method to make the process easier? Let me know!

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson coaches people in mid-career to build profitable online businesses. Apply to work with Pamela in her Offer Accelerator, learn more about her books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site and business. Have you taken the free Focus Finder quiz yet?
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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