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Words that sell, brands that succeed.

Three methods to make Headlines:

Subject lines are used to get your prospects attention.
It doesn’t matter if you have great copy if they never OPEN the email or READ the first sentence. Grab them in with a catchy subject line…

….but CAUTION: Don’t use a totally random line that doesn’t relate to your story at all. If you say in an email subject line, “YOUR MOM JUST DIED”

….they will click it, but get very angry and turned off when you start saying, “Do you need new email marketing software??”

Here’s three different ways to write good subject lines (pay particular attention to the last one):

You can write however you want, but here’s some practices I personally use with success:

  • The more like an editorial piece, the better (like a newspaper column)
  • Keep the text width really small. 550 pixels-wide maximum.
  • Use bolds or underlines if you would SPEAK something with emphasis.
  • Use centering to exaggerate something.
  • Use quotes from famous people that relate. Center and italicize them.
  • Use bullets to show lists of interesting things.
  • Max 2-3 sentences per paragraph to keep it reading fast.
  • For page flips….say stuff like, “Ok, but that’s not the best part…..”
  • Use P.S. and P.P.S. to summarize or make sure they take an action.

“Heard it off the street” Method

Step 1) Make a chart like this on a piece of paper:

Step 2) Under the “Something you heard” section, brainstorm some things that if you heard them passing someone on the sidewalk, you’d stop and go “Errrgghh!!??”


  • I dropped $700 like 10 feet from here….
  • My dog shat out a $100 bill today….
  • I couldn’t believe my daughter made $300 from her phone today….
  • My brother was bald but then his hair grew back…..

Step 3) Under the “What you’re selling” section, write what you’re selling.

Example we’ll use: Selling an HTML5 programming course

Step 4) Take the best lines, and pair them together:

Step 5) Combine them together to make mini-stories (watch the video for examples).

Step 6) Use your new-found “catchy-mini-stories” as either subject lines or opener lines to get people’s attention.

Headline Formulas for you to use:

Sometimes you need a little “assistance” to get your brain juice going.  These formulas will jog your brain in the right direction:

[End result they want] + [Time period] + [Address the objections]


[How to make amazing tacos] + [In 10 minutes] + [For under 5 bucks]

[Make a landing page] + [By tonight] + [With zero experience]

[Increase walk-in traffic to your restaurant] + [This month] + [Without paying for advertising]



But formulas can be BROKEN or SHIFTED!!  Let’s be bad little monkeys and change the formula to something like this:

[Take this action] + [Specific Time Period] + [End Result]


[Consult with me] + [For 1 hour] + [And I’ll improve your eCommerce site sales]  

[Talk to just 3 of your customers] + [For 5 minutes] + [To laser-target your sales pitch]

[Put this liquid in your fish tank] + [Wait 1 hour] + [And you’ll never have to clean it again]

Want to make a title that’s good for SEO?

If you’re doing a how-to kind of article, often a good ole’ descriptive title can be the simplest. These can also be the best for SEO purposes.  

Allow me to demonstrate……by seeing how we can headline an article about cooking eggs:


Step 1.) Go to Google Trends.

Look for keywords that are getting more popular with time.  So we’ll check the popularity of “How to cook an egg.” 

You can see a nice little chart that’s increasing, so this is a pretty popular term:


Step 2.) Let’s enter some other words to compare.  
Let’s just add in some other close keywords.  I’ll add in “How to cook scrambled eggs”.  

As you can see, our competitor word wasn’t AS popular (probably because it was more specific), but still a good up-trending term:


Step 3.) Find the hottest words:
We then added the term “How to make eggs” which is only slightly different, but look at the MASSIVE amount of searches that term gets versus the others! You can’t even see the other search volume compared to how much this one gets!

This would tell me that a great how-to article or video titled “How to make eggs” could potentially hit a huge audience based on search volume.

Try it yourself on Google Trends.

Examples of headlines grabbing attention in different ways:

Found in a magazine.  There’s basically 3 main words that grab your attention.  Paired with the image of a ripped dude, you INSTANTLY get the ad is about fitness and losing flab:


This is a silly example.  But if you were perusing car listings on Craigslist, you’d sure as hell notice this one!!  The craziness and entertainment value alone makes you want to read it:

Anatomy of a headline.  
A lesson to always remember:

The whole point of your headlines is to grab someone into the article or video.  

They then start sliding down a “slippery slope” as Joseph Sugarman puts it.  

I even made you a handy graphic to demonstrate what going down a “Slippery Slope” should look like.  

Remember this:

“8 out of 10 people will read the headline.
 2 out of 10 people will read the copy.”  

The job of the headline is to suck people in, but ALSO to eliminate people who are the wrong readers! Think of your headline as the bouncer of your club. You don’t want to let EVERYONE in, only the people who match your style.

So you don’t want to spread your message too thin by trying to catch everyone, like this:

“How to cook eggs and scrambled them and also how to make a good yolk but also keep the egg whites intact and then how to make the egg taste good and also bread.”

Instead you want to make it to the point and relevant, like this:

“How to cook a classic breakfast egg.”

But then we can sex-up that headline to whatever your topic is.  Maybe you have a nutrition blog that’s talking about how to make a healthy egg:

“How to cook a high-protein egg breakfast like Michael Phelps.”

The top 100 blog post headlines from QuickSprout.com ranked on number of Facebook shares and comments:

Headline Shares
How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500 1953
22 Gmail Plugins That All Content Marketers Need to Know About 1831
How a Ferrari Made Me a Million Bucks 1491
How to Improve Your Facebook’s Organic Reach 1483
What Are The Best Times to Post on Social Media 1235
The Ultimate Content Marketing Checklist: 40 Questions to Ask Yourself before Publishing Your Next Blog Post 974
37 Point Checklist: How to Create Content That Will Increase Your Traffic by Tomorrow Morning 942
The Content Marketer’s Toolkit: 35 Tools You Can’t Blog Without 781
The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags 769
10 Ways to Improve Your Content Marketing 684
7 Obsolete Social Media Tactics You’re Wasting Your Time On 678
7 Marketing Tactics That Increased My Growth by 679% 645
Why We Like, Comment, and Share on Facebook 630
What SEO Used to Be Versus What SEO Is Now 615
The 10 Key Elements of a High Quality Website 562
7 Obsolete SEO Tactics You’re Wasting Your Time On 511
Is It Worth Responding to Blog Comments? 494
Stop Guessing: Here’s a Social Media Strategy That Works 493
How to Structure a Perfect SEO Optimized Page 465
The Scientifically Proven Best Time to Think and Write Creatively 458
10 Marketing Predictions You Should Prepare for in 2015 423
Why You Need a Social Media Calendar and How to Create One 421
How to Create The Perfect Social Media Post 403
7 Tips for Increasing Your Click-Through Rates on Facebook 401
How to Make Custom Images for Your Blog Posts Without Hiring a Designer 392
8 Ways to Get More Social Shares Without Annoying Readers 371
Why Link Building Is NOT the Future of SEO 366
Who Is More Active on Social Media? Men or Women? 361
The Ultimate SEO Checklist: 25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Your Next Post 359
The Day After: 11 Things to Do After You Publish a Post 356
How Does Content Marketing Actually Get You More Sales? 355
10 Fun Exercises That Will Help You Become a Better Entrepreneur 354
7 Things Every (Great) Landing Page Needs 354
11 Tactics to Get More Click-Throughs from Social Media 348
7 Lies About SEO You Probably Believe 333
The Complete Guide to Building Your Personal Brand 330
How Google Crawls and Indexes Web Pages 321
How to Double Your Writing Speed Without Lowering Its Quality 312
Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Marketing Consultant 312
How to Be More Productive on Social Media 310
100 Lessons Learned from 10 Years of Blogging 303
11 Business Philosophies to Live and Die By 297
Don’t Blog Unless You Use These 11 Tools 289
How to Structure a Perfect LinkedIn Profile 286
Which Social Media Platforms Are Best Suited for Your Business? 285
Why Do Sites Rank High on Google When They Aren’t Optimized? 281
How to Avoid a Google Penalty 281
How to Increase Your Instagram Engagement by 182% 279
11 Essential Elements of a Perfect Blog Design (a Data Driven Answer) 276
How to Write a Great Value Proposition 276
How to Get Customers Without Spending Any Money 273
How to Get Your First 1000 Facebook Fans 270
How to Increase Your Website’s Traffic Without Any Marketing 268
The Anatomy of a High Converting Landing Page 267
The Science of Instagram: How to Get More Followers and Likes 253
13 Important Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Before Blogging 244
The Anatomy of a Perfect Facebook Post 241
Should You Repost Your Blog Content on Other Websites? A Data-Driven Answer 237
How to Write Emails Your Subscribers Can’t Wait to Open 235
7 Proactive Ways to Get Backlinks That’ll Actually Boost Your Traffic 232
The Ultimate Guide to Creating Visually Appealing Content 231
A/B Testing For Beginners: 70 Resources to Get You Started 230
How to Turn Pinterest into a Revenue Generating Channel 230
How Content Length Affects Rankings and Conversions 230
How to Get Your First 1,000 Blog Readers 229
How to Improve Your Marketing with Google Analytics Data 228
7 Conversion Lessons Learned From Eye Tracking 227
How to Get 247% More People to Read Your Content 226
7 Popular Content Marketing Myths You Need to Stop Following 222
How Blogging Affects Your Bottom Line 222
7 Lies About Social Media Marketing You Probably Believe 221
8 Ways to Improve the Usability of Your Website 221
Running out of Topics to Blog about? Follow These 5 Simple Steps 215
What Spending $57,000 on Instagram Taught Me 213
How to Grow Your Blog Traffic by 20,000 Visitors a Month 212
How Many Links Should You Build to Your Website? 210
How to Create Content That Drives Lots of Organic Traffic 210
15 Things I Wish I’d Known Before Starting My First Company 209
7 Simple Copywriting Tweaks That’ll Shoot Your Conversion Rate Up 206
The 5 Stages of Blog Growth: How Your Traffic Tactics Should Change as You Grow 206
Can You Grow Your Organic Traffic Without Generating Content? 206
The Blueprint of an Optimal Blog Design 206
How to Receive Great Testimonials 206
How Much Copy Should You Write on Your Homepage? 204
How to Generate $1,000,000 from Your Blog 203
The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking 202
Does URL Structure Even Matter? A Data Driven Answer 201
How to Build a Loyal Audience on the Web 200
7 Strategies That’ll Actually Drive You More Social Media Traffic 200
How to Engage and Persuade People Through Storytelling 200
How to Keep Your Readers on Your Blog Longer 199
Why Transparency Is The New Marketing 198
What I Learned About Content Marketing by Analyzing 614 Posts 196
Why All Marketers Should Be Thinking Mobile 196
How I Reached 100,000 Visitors with These 7 Rules 195
How to Build Brand Awareness for Your Business 194
How to Build a Million Dollar Business From Your Personal Brand 193
7 Lessons and 3 New Strategies I Learned From Launching My 5th Blog 192
10 Most Costly Marketing Blunders I’ve Ever Made 191
7 Landing Page Flaws That Kill Your Conversions (and How to Fix Them) 190

Top 100 blog post headlines from OkDork.com ranked by adding all shared values:

Headline Total
Why I got Fired from Facebook (a $100 Million dollar lesson) 11612
Why Content Goes Viral: What Analyzing 100 Million Articles Taught Us. 8098
Are things happening to you or are you making things happen? 4249
We Analyzed Nearly 1 Million Headlines. Here’s What We Learned 3777
How to attract the best talent in the world 2989
We Analyzed the 3,000 Most Successful LinkedIn Publishing Posts 2791
A (Proven) Freelancer’s Guide to Growing Your Business 2565
How to Create Great Content That Drives Traffic 2072
The 6 Step Guide to Getting Free Press for Your Startup 1342
How to get your first 100 email subscribers 837
SEO for Beginners – Everything You Need to Know 704
The 18 Books that Changed my Life 600
A Guide to Grow Your Blog (or Any Blog) 10X 546
6 Steps to Writing Great Cold Emails 534
What I learned spending $2 Million on Facebook Ads 485
How to get an eBook to #1 on Amazon 479
The Secret to Effective Marketing – Quant Based Marketing 446
How Not to Feel Guilty about Charging For Your Time 429
What You Can Learn from KISSmetrics’ SEO Strategy 411
Create Your First Marketing Plan 397
What’s Your Normal Email Open Rate? 384
How to Hit #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller List 365
Funny Out of Office Messages: Top 13 Ideas for Your Out of Office Replies 344
The Formula for Creating a 1,000,000 Download Podcast 310
Why I Quit Mint.com (and lost out on $1.7 million) 304
How to Make Better Decisions with a Priority Framework 289
How to Earn More Money: By Asking 283
36 ways to Deal with Depression 264
The Samuel L. Jackson Marketing Hack 234
Mint Sales and Marketing: How Mint Beat Wesabe 216
How to Hire a Great Marketing Person 214
What Babysitting Taught Me About Business 198
How to Grow a Blog to 100,000 Visitors in Less than a Year 197
Make it Easy to Say Yes 185
What OkDork’s Marketing Funnel Can Teach You 178
How to Create Your First Profitable YouTube Campaign 177
What I learned about email marketing after losing $135,000 a day 169
How to Look Busy: Top 10 Ways to Look Busy at Work 167
What It’s Like to Hang with Millionaires 165
How to Create a Happiness Advantage 164
How to Simplify Your Decision Making 164
How to Improve Customer Satisfaction (or how to make your customers orgasm) 164
the expert curse 163
How to Connect with VIPs: 5 Tips for Cold Emails 160
Showing vs. Telling: How to Convince Anyone 154
How to Get More Email Subscribers 151
How to Organize a Conference: How We Made Over $100,000 142
Think and Grow Rich: Quotes & Book Review 136
The Difference: Successful People and Losers 133
How to Make a Great Day 132
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Book Review 129
My 2014 Processes (No More Resolutions) 129
Startup Tips: How I grew a waiting list of 20,000+ at Mint.com Part I 114
How I Made $50,000 in College (and What You Can Learn Too) 108
How One Survey Created Insane Results 107
Startup Advertising Spend Calculator 107
Permission Based Email Marketing: 6 Tips for Reducing Unsubscriptions 95
Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products – Book Review 81
How to Write a Convincing Craigslist Ad (or You get out what you put in) 79
If it’s uncomfortable, you’re growing. 77
How to Spend Your First $100 on Retargeting Ads 76
The Power of Habit Book Review 75
Learning from a Shitty Experience 73
The WordPress Plugin that DOUBLED My Conversions 71
How to Be a Professional 71
Unlabel by Mark Ecko – Book Review 68
What Waffles Can Teach Us About Business 67
Improving Conversion Rates: How We Doubled AppSumo’s Conversion Rate in 2 Days 66
Smartcuts – Book Review 65
What I learned not eating for 60 hours 64
Make an Impact 62
Daily Accountability Marketing Metrics 61
Sales 101 for Startups – 3 Rules to Success 61
Kick ass using Positive Triggers 58
The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz 56
Things I Learned in Cuba 56
If You Don’t Like Your Life, Change It! – Book Review 54
My 2013 Goals 51
The Demise of Craigslist 51
Free, 12 Week Marketing Course – Summer of Marketing 50
Walk a mile in my shoes (literally) 47
30 Days of YouTube Videos 45
How to Build Customer Relationships 40
Social Media & Business: Don’t believe the hype 39
Connecting with Others: What Have You Done for Me Lately? 38
The End of Overeating — Book Review 35
Original Mint.com Landing Pages 34
15 Ways to Optimize your Subscription Model 33
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It – Book Review 32
How to Guarantee Success like the show House of Cards 31
My Travel Hacks & Free Luggage for Your Next Adventure (Part 2) 30
7 steps to a legit Mexican Restaurant 30
“GEBY”: The 4 Ways To Engineer A Great Morning 29
Small Giants by Bo Burlingham — Book Review 28
Noah’s Ultimate Speech at UC Berkeley 28
How to Give More: Give and Take — Book Review 27
How to Choose a Lawyer: Questions for Startups to Ask 25
10 Best Ways to Quit Your Job 25
The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene – Book Review 24

Top 30 blog post headlines from Backlinko.com ranked by adding all shared values:

Headline Total
Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List 10233
Viral Marketing Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors In One Day 4447
Conversion Rate Optimization Techniques: The Complete List 4155
16 Actionable SEO Copywriting Secrets That Will Drive More Traffic To Your Site 3690
17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies That Will Generate More Subscribers Today 3627
21 Actionable SEO Techniques You Can Use Right Now 3034
17 Untapped Backlink Sources (Updated) 2,633
How We Rank #1 in Google And Grew Organic Traffic by 963% (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies) 2254
On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page 2128
Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days 1341
Want More Traffic That Actually Converts? Follow These 4 Steps… 1243
How to Get High Quality Backlinks (Without Guest Posting) 1232
Content Strategy Case Study: 36,282 Readers + 1,000 Email Subscribers 1206
How to Create a Squeeze Page That Converts at 21.7% (Case Study) 1149
Ecommerce SEO Case Study: White Hat Link Building Without Any Content 1052
How To Increase Conversions by 785% in One Day (Without A/B Testing) 942
YouTube SEO: The Ultimate Guide 930
White Hat SEO Case Study: 348% More Organic Traffic in 7 Days 830
The Definitive Guide to Keyword Research 726
How To Boost Conversions by 529% in 45-Minutes (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies) 648
How to Get Backlinks With Guestographics 489
I’m KILLING It With This Completely New Kind of Backlink 470
Why Google Hates Your Site (Hint: It Has Something to Do With TrustRank) 412
CPA Marketing: The Ultimate Guide 381
The Definitive Guide to Guest Blogging 292
The Definitive Guide to Link Building 151
5 Lessons Learned From 1 Million Search Engine Visitors 102
7 Ways to Protect Your Site Against Google Penalties 91
5 Dumb SEO Mistakes That Smart People Make 23

After all that headline info.....here's why you shouldn't pay TOOOOO much attention to headlines:

Believe it or not, for certain things (like your email list) I think you should NOT spend too much time on creating grandiose headlines. I even jump into my own system to show you at the end:
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