Do you know what is the 2nd (or sometimes the 1st) most important deciding factor, about reading a post or a book?
That's right, the title.
Did you know that more than 80% of the readers don't get past the headline?
So after having studied a lot of resources and seen countless examples of good and bad headlines, I decided to write a post about it. In today's technical article I will provide you with a simple yet handy guide on how to write an amazing headline.
Whether we talk about a book, a blog post or even a movie, a good title can send your product to go viral or bury it forever in the darkness.
For example, I have seen several of my books with brilliant cover designs and descriptions sell only a handful of copies because I have chosen shitty titles for them.
The title of our book or post, can’t just be random words. It needs to have some specific characteristics in order to make it sell.
In order for your title (and subtitle) to be successful, they need to combine those three characteristics:
- It needs to include your target keyword (s): For good or for worse, your book or article needs to be discoverable, a good target keyword, will help a lot.
- It needs to grab the attention: If your title isn't intriguing, then kiss your sales goodnight.
- It needs to be informative: It needs to answer the question: "Is this book/article relevant to what I want to read?"
Let's see those points one by one.
Must include your keyword
Your title must include the keyword for which you wanna rank for. So in the case of a book that people want to find it with the keyword "drawing", you will have to include this keyword in the title. Actually, the sooner in the title the better it is. This technique works no matter if this is a book, an article or a youtube video.
The only case, you can afford not to include your keyword in your title is if only you become a very famous publisher/producer that you have an already huge fanbase built, and people will flock to your products no matter what.
Must be intriguing
By far the most important aspect of a title is to grab your reader's attention. This can be achieved by incorporating on or more of the techniques mention below.
In order to grab someone's attention, you must include:
- Surprise and humor
- A powerful or very specific benefit
As long as your title, includes on or more of these elements, you have a pretty high chance of grabbing their attention.
Your title must be intriguing and make your potential readers wonder about what’s in this book. But, you will have to give only that much. You don’t need to spit it out completely. You must make them just as curious but in the same time not make it too easy for them to know how this one ends. Let's explain them a bit more.
Surprise and humor
These two very often go together. At all times you will need to be careful with "sensitive" types of humor, but as they say in sales "be funny to make money." Some good title examples could be:
- Shut Up, Stop Whining, and Get a Life: A Kick-Butt Approach to a Better Life by Larry Winget
- Living with Your Body and Other Things You Hate: How to Let Go of Your Struggle with Body Image Using Acceptance And Commitment Therapy by Emily K. Sandoz and Troy DuFrene
- Raise Your Hand if You Have Issues by Michael Baisden
- The Best Cookbook Ever: 99 Amazing Recipes, that Will Make You Drool Over Your Whole Apartment by me :p
And I mean it in a light way. You don't want to start a hating war here. You just need to make tour title as controversial as possible, without losing a good proportion of potential customers. Here are some fine examples:
- You're Broke Because You Want to Be: How to Stop Getting By and Start Getting Ahead by Larry Winget
- Running SUCKS! - Lose Pounds & Inches Using the Effortless Exercise Method, 5-Second Flat Belly Secret & 5-Minute Miracle Exercises by Jennifer Jolan and Rich Bryda
- Book Marketing is Dead: book promotion secrets you MUST know BEFORE you publish your book by Derek Murphy
- Kill Your Blog: 12 Reasons Why You Should Stop F#$%ing Blogging! By Buck Flogging
This is a strong one. Among all elements, curiosity is possible the strongest feeling you can generate in your readers in order to buy your book. Some common curiosity themes could be:
- Secrets of information only insiders have
- "Need to Know" types of phrases
- Impressive uncommon results and methods
Let's see some examples:
- 1,001 Phrases You Need to Get a Job: The "Hire Me" Words that Set Your Cover Letter, Resume, and Job Interview by Nancy Schuman and Burton Jay Nadler
- I Shouldn't Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know by Kate White
- How to Get Your Ex Back Fast! Toy with the Male Psyche and Get Him Back with Skills only a Dating Coach Knows by Gregg Michaelsen
- WTF Are Men Thinking?: 250,000 Men Reveal What Women REALLY Want to Know by Christopher Brya and Miguel Almaraz
Powerful and specific benefit
Some titles are just informative, some other can trigger some emotions and some others can make you feel an urgency. But when you combine all of the elements together, magic things happen. Let's see how we can incorporate these principles into a single title.
Step 1: Imagine a book called "Fish Recipes" Plain information, no benefit.
Step 2: Let's make it "Great Fish Recipes" Plain information and a weak benefit.
Step 3: How about, "The Best Fish Recipes of All Time" A powerful benefit, don't you agree?
Step 4: Last step is, "The Best Fish Recipes of All Time You Can Make in Less than 30 Minutes" Hah! Powerful and specific.
Some examples of successful titles implementing the above principle are:
- The 10 Best-Ever Anxiety Management Techniques: Understanding How Your Brain Makes You Anxious and What You Can Do To Change It
- Younger Next Week: Your Ultimate Rx to Reverse the Clock, Boost Energy and Look and Feel Younger in 7 Days
- Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy That Grabs Their Attention and Compels Them to Buy by Maria Veloso
Must be descriptive
Besides intriguing, your title will have to be descriptive and informative. The potential reader will need to be absolutely sure what your book is about, only by reading the title. Keep it simple and informative.
Some extra tips
Here are some extra tips that will boost your title's quality even more.
Using lists and numbers like for example: "Top 10...", "5 Ways to...", etc. is a proven way to grab people's attention. Numbers help people quantify your title and understand it better. Numbers give people a feeling of security and completeness.
- 20 Bodybuilding Tips You Wish You Knew Before
- Top 10 Methods to Overcome Procrastination
- Stop Being Lazy: 5 Pro Tips to Get Your A$$ off the Couch and Make Things Happen
Utilize adverbs and adjectives
Words like "best", "easy", "fast", "top", etc. grab the attention because they provide a clear benefit. Here's a big list of adjectives to use for inspiration. They are all in alphabetical order. Take a look at it.
Use "You" and "Your"
These two words have the strongest emotional impact compared to any other word you can use. Notice the huge difference between those titles: "The 10 Worst Mistakes Average Guys Do on a First Date" and "The 10 Worst Mistakes You Do on a First Date". The use of "You" and "Your" are powerful in ad copy and I would strongly advise you to use them in your titles as well.
Use "certainty" words
Try to use words like:
- Best Ever
These words create a sense of confidence to your customers that your book is a really safe choice. It is a book, that will work for sure, or it will the best or simplest there is.
Prefer emotional over rational words
People buy on emotion and justify on logic. Always try to include emotional words in your titles instead of rational ones. People are moved by emotions and this is not going to change anytime soon. So instead of "Reduce Fat", you can use "Incinerate Fat", or "Demolish Fat". Instead of the word "Book", you can use "Bible", "Blueprint", "Ultimate guide", etc.
The more emotional and impactful the better. Try not simply to inform but actually stun your readers. When it comes to sales emotion > rationality.
Writing the "super title" every time isn’t easy, but as time passes and you write more and more titles, you will get the feeling of it, and it will grow naturally in you. Say something spectacular but not blatantly lie. You need to “wow” them, not make them think you are a scam.
Always remember, your title will sell your book, spend some extra minutes on this one. It’s a good time investment.
Always have in mind that besides the technical (informative) part, you title should grab people's attention. Nothing will sell your book, article or video better than a well-crafted title.
The main techniques to do this is by implementing:
- Surprise and humor
- A powerful or very specific benefit
- Adverbs and adjectives
- The words "You" and "Your"
- Certainty words
- Emotional words
As a final note, if you liked this post, I would really appreciate it if you could share it with your friends. Thanks a lot.
*As a final note, because you often ask me what is the exact methodology I use, the authors, the designers and the exact promotion techniques I utilize in Kindle Publishing, I decided to put together a thorough program, in which I explain in every detail (videos, scripts, resources), the exact same method I use to get these results.
In case you are interested, this is the program I have put together. Thanks!