Writing great blog subject lines is both an art and a science. On one hand, there are tons of writing principles you can employ to catch attention, to get people to read, to build connection and to stand out. On the other hand, the subject lines you write ultimately have to come from you. They have to stand out because they’re an expression of you and your brand.
The best way to learn how to write great blog titles isn’t to copy other people’s titles. Instead, use other people’s titles to learn what works. Then use those same principles to help guide you in writing your own titles.
With that in mind, here are ten blog subject line tips, along with examples to illustrate them.
Tip #1: Have a Clear Benefit
People should instantly understand why they should read your article just from the title. Vague and mysterious titles that don’t tell people why they should read are generally a bad idea.
Direct response marketers and newspapers have tested this principle time and again. Shocking titles, newsy titles, curiosity titles and other types of titles that don’t have a benefit in them almost always get lower readership than titles that imply a benefit to the reader.
For example, users who see this About.com article will clearly know that they’ll learn how to improve their credit score, just by reading the title:
Tip #2: Add a Power Word
A power word is a word that adds emotional punch to your title. Sometimes all you need to turn an otherwise dull title into an eye catching title is a power word.
Take this article from Problogger for example. Without the power word, the title would just be “The Secret to Happy Blogging.” A nice benefit, sure, but nothing to write home about.
But with the power word added in, the title now has some real juice. Most bloggers would have a hard time seeing a title like the one below without clicking on it, even if just out of curiosity.
Tip #3: Use Numbers – And Use Big Ones!
People love numbers. Posts with numbers tend to get more clicks. Why? Because numbers are specific and tells people how much information they’re about to get. It suggests that they’re about to learn several things, rather than just one.
Large numbers in particular suggest that people are about to learn a lot of ways to solve a problem in their life.
Take James Altucher’s post on being an entrepreneur for example. If the title were just “Rules for Being an Entrepreneur,” it’d sound pretty dull. But the title “100 Rules for Being an Entrepreneur” sounds infinitely more interesting.
Tip #4: Boldly Add Your Personality
There are enough “me too” blogs on the web. Why not really let your personality shine on your blog for a change?
People who really let themselves out on their blogs tend to stand out. They tend to draw a crowd. People will often come to read your posts not because they need to learn what you’re teaching, but simply because they want to get a dose of your personality.
Take “The Middle Finger Project” for example. Just one glance at the website’s header image and you know you’re in for an interesting read. Every post title on the blog is similarly interesting and attention catching.
Tip #5: Be Controversial
Say something that shocks your audience a little. Say something that gets people a little riled up, or a little defensive. Say something that risks alienating a small part of your audience. Do so while taking a stance for something you believe in.
Be controversial. When you go against the curve, people listen.
Take the post below from The Life Design Project. The title proudly proclaims: “If You’re Not Embarrassed By Your Product, You’re Late.” The premise of the post is to get people to just launch a product, instead of getting it perfect.
There were a ton of different ways he could have worded his title. He deliberately chose a title that could make people a little defensive. And it works. It catches attention.
Tip #6: Put Relevant Information First
This tip is especially important for longer titles. Put the most important parts of your title first.
Eye tracking studies have shown that people don’t read websites. Instead, they scan along the left hand side of the page, occasionally flicking their eyes to the right.
In other words, people scan sites, look for things that are interesting, then read quickly to see if they’re actually interested. If so, they click to learn more. If you aren’t catching their attention in the first few words, there’s a good chance you’ve lost them for good.
Take the title below for example. Instead of starting the post with “How to launch a successful e-commerce site,” he chose to lead with the “$10K/mo” benefit statement. Why? Because it’s more attention catching and people care about it more.
It’s a long title. Leading with the $10K/mo will get him a lot more clicks. It’s the most relevant piece of information. Do the same with your posts – Lead with the most important bits of information.
Tip #7: Pose a Question
Asking your audience a question is one of the best ways to get a ton of comments. It helps you build more of a relationship with your audience by making your blog a two-way communication channel.
You can use this as a one-time title for a specific post, or you can make a habit of asking your audience questions every month or so.
For example, in the post below, AskMen asked their male audience for questions that they’ve always wanted to ask women. It generated a lot of great discussion, as well as great content.
Tip #8: Try Going Negative
You don’t always have to promise a positive benefit. Another avenue you could take it to help people avoid something they don’t want in their lives instead.
Talk about common mistakes. Talk about pitfalls. Look into how you can catch attention by addressing the don’ts instead of the do’s.
For example, from the “I Want Six Packs” blog:
Tip #9: Use the Right Amount of Jargon
What’s the right amount of jargon?
If you use too much jargon, people might have a hard time understanding you. Newbies who’re new to your industry but still fall into your target market could get turned off.
On the other hand, using jargon allows you to speak in the same language as your market. People feel like you’re on the same side. Jargon also often allows you to get more specific than if you had to use generic words.
Though not a blog post, this classic John Carlton ad illustrates it perfectly. To a non-golfer, this headline makes no sense. To even an amateur golfer, this ad has an incredibly appealing promise. It doesn’t use so much jargon as to turn people off. Instead, golfers feel like they’re speaking the same language.
Tip #10: Give Real World Data
People love getting real world data. If you’re in the health niche, share your exact meal plans and your before and after photos. If you run a blog about stock trading, share your actual trades and what the results were.
When you give real world data, people get more of a sense of what it’s like to be you. It also seems more tangible than just tips or lessons extrapolated from your experiences. It also helps build your credibility, by showing people that you’ve actually done what you’re talking about.
For example, in the post below, Nerdy Nomad shows exactly what she earned in a month and how she earned it:
These ten blog title tips will help you write titles that get people to pay attention, titles that get your audience excited and titles that help you stand out from the noise.