It’s practically a blogging commandment.
Thou shalt write great headlines.
And even if those words have never been etched into stone, it’s still rock-solid advice.
After all, if your headline fails to grab attention, the rest of your post is frankly irrelevant.
Knowing this, you take your headlines seriously.
You study proven headline formulas.
You tweak every word until it’s perfect.
But sometimes your results fall short. You can’t help feeling some magical ingredient is missing, but you don’t know what it is.
Fortunately, one ingredient will almost guarantee your headlines get clicked like crazy every time.
So, do you want to know what it is?
The Headline Writer’s “Secret Sauce” You Can Find in Any Grocery Store
Ever visited your local grocery store and been stopped dead in your tracks – by a headline?
Here’s the scene. You’re in line to check out, and the person ahead of you decides to pay for their groceries with nothing but small change.
As you wait patiently, your eyes wander across to the tabloids and magazines in the rack by the counter and suddenly – bam!
A headline leaps out at you.
You know the type. One that makes you think – WTF?
Admit it. The urge to pick up the magazine and turn the page is almost impossible to resist.
Even though you never normally read those magazines. Even though you know you’re being manipulated.
You can’t stop yourself taking a quick peek inside.
Wouldn’t you love people to feel the same way about your blog headlines?
The secret to headlines that demand attention from the most disengaged reader is that they are truly outrageous. They whisk you from indifferent to incredulous in a split second.
The following blog headlines all have this O-Factor.
Study them and learn how to bring the shocking power of outrageousness to your own blog.
Real-World Headlines That’ll Suck Your Eyeballs Out of Your Skull
If you’ve followed Jon for some time, you’ll already be familiar with this headline, taken from his breakthrough post on Problogger.
And when you really break it down, it’s one hell of an outrageous claim – that you can “quit your job, move to paradise and get paid to change the world.”
You mean someone will actually pay me to do that?
For anyone unhappy – or even just a little restless – in their current job, this headline dangles an irresistible carrot.
You must click on this headline because you must know how such a thing can be true.
2) How Spending $162,301.42 on Clothes Made Me $692,500 – Neil Patel
This headline draws you in right away, doesn’t it?
First, the idea that anyone can spend so much money on clothes is outrageous, even obscene. What sort of person could justify spending so much (and not be too ashamed to admit it?)
Secondly, you can’t help but wonder: how is it even possible to make money by spending money on clothes? Let alone over 300% in profit.
It seems too incredible to believe. And that’s exactly why you must click to find out more.
3) Caution: Stop Masturbating With Your Money – Ashley Ambirge
Wow – that word really hits you between the eyes, doesn’t it?
After all, when was the last time you read a headline with the wordmasturbation?
But it’s not just a cheap shock tactic. The author used it to create intrigue for her post.
What does it actually mean to masturbate with your money? Does she mean it literally?
And that’s why this headline is so outrageous. It combines potentially shocking language with an intriguing concept, and the result is almost impossible to ignore.
4) How I’m Going To Lose All My Customers And Wreck My Business – Tim Brownson
If you spend any time at all reading blogs, you’ll have seen more than your fair share of “How to” headlines.
But this one is a little different. Rather than helping the reader do something, Tim seems hellbent on sabotaging his own business.
And you simply have to know why.
5) 16 Unethical Life Hacks You Won’t Learn In School – Daily Pastime
It’s the word unethical that makes this headline so outrageous.
Most of us are interested in hacks that make our lives easier – but unethical ones?
I mean, we should just turn away, right? But the idea of getting an unfair advantage, even if it means being unethical, is too damn appealing.
This type of headline works because the shady edges of human experience will always be fascinating to us. (Think about how much we love crime stories.)
6) How A Single Guest Post May Have Gotten An Entire Site Penalized By Google – Danny Sullivan
Early last year, Google’s Matt Cutts caused a storm by declaring guest blogging dead.
Well, the dust has settled, and high-quality guest posts are still a great way to promote your blog.
Nevertheless, Matt’s declaration highlighted how guest blogging done the wrong way can cause you problems with Google. (In fact, if you are writing or accepting guest posts on your blog, this headline might trigger sweat-dripping, heart-pounding panic.)
But what’s eye-catchingly outrageous about this headline is the idea that just one guest post can affect an entire site.
It seems so unfair, right? That a single misstep could land your site in serious trouble.
So, what the hell did Danny do that got his whole site penalized?
You have to click to find out so you can avoid the same horrible fate.
7) Why James Chartrand Wears Women’s Underpants – James Chartrand
A person’s underwear preferences are surely a private matter.
So why is this writer revealing his surprising fetish in a headline? And why on earth is he doing it on a popular marketing blog?
This is of course the famous post revealing that James Chartrand, the “man” behind Men With Pens, is in fact a woman.
It’s a shocking unmasking. And what a joyfully outrageous way to do it.
8) Twentysomething: Why I Regret Getting Straight A’s In College – Jon Morrow
Who on earth would have the gall to say they regret getting straight A’s in college?
Not only is it a slap in the face to those who work their backsides off, struggle, and can only manage a B average, but you’re also left thinking, “What the hell happened to Jon for him to feel that getting straight A’s was a mistake?”
What does that headline make you think the rest of the post will say?
That you should try to get low grades in school? Or stop taking school so seriously and start slacking off?
Either is pretty outrageous, right? That’s why you have to click.
9) 5 Ways Stores Use Science to Trick You Into Buying Crap – Paul K. Pickett
We’ve all been into a store and bought more than we intended, right?
Happens all the time. Nobody to blame but ourselves.
But what’s shocking about this headline is its suggestion that the real reason for this behavior is not our own lack of self-discipline, but stores’ sneaky use of scientific tricks to manipulate us.
Worse still, they’re using these tricks to make us buy crap – not only stuff we don’t need, but stuff that’s also practically worthless.
It’s an outrageous practice – and you’re the victim.
So how can you deny yourself from knowing the truth? You have to click.
10) Why Successful People Are Douchebags – Neil Patel
Calling anyone a douchebag is a bold and risky move.
Calling out an entire group of people on a public blog is borderline offensive. (Imagine how you’d feel if that group was people of a particular race, gender, or religion.)
But Neil Patel’s target group is successful people.
And sure, some successful people are douchebags. But all successful people? That’s quite an outrageous claim, no?
Many successful people will have worked hard to get where they are. And even if you’re not successful by conventional measures, you’d like to be someday, wouldn’t you?
Neil’s playing a dangerous game here, and we want to watch it play out.
11) How Formal Education Killed The Passionate Career (+ A Practical Guide for Students, Parents & Lifelong Learners) – Scott Dinsmore
What’s this – a formal attack on the educational system?
Pretty outrageous, right?
Certainly it’s likely to ruffle a few feathers among people inside – and outside – the system.
But the specific claim is even more outrageous – that formal education is not just incompatible with having a passionate career, but it also has killed off the entire concept.
You’ve just got to find out if Scott’s argument stands up, so you click.
12) Choose to be Outstanding (Or Choose to Continue to Suck) – Johnny B. Truant
This essentially says: unless you choose to be outstanding, you’re choosing to suck.
That’s a provocative statement.
After all, who would actually choose to suck at something? Well, you, according to Johnny.
Because with this headline, there is no middle ground. Johnny is forcing you, right here and right now, to make a decision.
That’s rather outrageous of him, don’t you think?
13) Why Clever Posts Titles Are Killing Your Blog – Greg Narayan
The key to this headline is the word clever.
Cleverness is usually considered a good thing, so the suggestion that it’s killing your blog is somewhat outrageous.
In fact, the real implication is that you might be trying to be a little too clever. And perhaps even a little too pleased with yourself. And that’s difficult to hear.
So, are you guilty of trying to be too clever for your own good?
To find out the answer, you’re forced to click and get the whole story.
14) Marriage Isn’t For You – Seth Adam Smith
This headline is a click-magnet for almost everybody. Single people. Married couples. It doesn’t matter – it has the potential to outrage almost anyone.
For starters, it seems to be an attack on the whole institution of marriage. That’s sure to upset a few people, right?
It also presumes to know a lot about the reader. It’s a verbal slap in the face that could cause them to get very defensive.
“How dare you? You don’t know anything about me! How can you possibly say marriage isn’t for me?”
15) What’s Scarier Than The Sex Talk? Talking About Food & Weight! – Perfectly Unperfected
What parent wouldn’t be sweaty-palmed about having the sex talk with their child? In fact, it’s a little outrageous to even mention it in a headline, isn’t it?
But the real shock comes with the idea that a conversation about your child’s weight is even scarier. What does that say about our attitudes toward food and obesity?
Sounds like irresponsible parenting, doesn’t it? Sticking your head in the sand and ignoring what your teenager is really doing.
As a parent, shouldn’t you want to know what your teenager is up to? Who their friends are? Where they’re going?
But this headline is so outrageous because it taps into a dirty little thought that many parents have – maybe it’s better to not know.
And if they don’t know, their squeaky-clean image of their teenager won’t be tarnished.
17) SEO Is Dead. Link Building Is Dead. Your Pony Is Dead – Ana Hoffman
This headline is loaded with outrageousness.
For starters, it has the audacity to declare the entire field of SEO dead. That’s outrageous, even arrogant.
And it bangs a nail in the coffin of link building, perhaps the most treasured tactic in SEO. That’s outrageous too.
But the dead pony reference is the clincher. It adds insult to outrage. (Who wants the image of a dead pony in their head?)
It’s just a crass trick to get your attention, surely. (But it worked, didn’t it?)
If you care about SEO, this headline will probably make you angry, and you’ll want to click it so you can wade into the argument.
18) Failure Is An Option – Chase Reeves
This headline plays on the motivational mantra of “failure is NOT an option.” So by saying the opposite, it almost sounds like Chase is anti-success.
And that’s outrageous, isn’t it? How can success be bad?
I’m sure you’ll admit that it creates curiosity. Maybe the post will even suggest that failure is better than success. What a scandalous idea!
But the only way to find that out is by clicking the headline.
19) How Grabbing Drinks After Work is Killing Your Budget – Gail Gardner
Calling all business professionals who bust their backsides every day in a job they hate for a boss that doesn’t appreciate them.
Grabbing a cold drink at the end of a rough day to soothe your stress and calm your nerves could be a dumb move.
This headline is a kick in the gut for anyone who feels a post-work beer is a well-earned treat.
You’ll want to click to find out if the claim is truly justified.
20) What Weird Al Yankovic can teach us about blogging – Kevin Duncan
Ever heard of Weird Al?
What makes this headline outrageous is the thought that a wacky performer like Weird Al, who once did a classic parody called “White & Nerdy,” can teach you something about blogging.
It’s almost laughable. But because you can’t help but wonder what the connection is, you know what you have to do to find out.
21) Facebook Doesn’t Care About Your Reach — And Neither Do Users – Jon Loomer
If you’re trying to build a following on Facebook, how can you ignore this?
You treasure each new “like” of your Facebook page because it means your reach is expanding.
So to hear that Facebook doesn’t give a damn about your following is a kick in the teeth.
Don’t they want you to be successful on their platform? How can they not care?
22) 10 Reasons Men Shouldn’t Be Helping Their Wives With The Housework – Aimee Ogden
This headline will certainly be outrageous to some.
If the post is true to the headline, other women may see the author as a traitor to her gender.
If it’s a sarcastic post, it might be seen as baiting men.
So which is it? You’re forced to read the post to find out if she’s being serious or tongue-in-cheek.
23) 5 Ways Women Are Better Bosses Than Men – Barry Moltz
Nothing like a good debate, right?
But these days the idea that one gender is better at anything than the other is an outrageous statement.
But you’ll click this headline because you want to know why this (male) author feels this way? Will it be a snarky, sarcastic post? Or a feminist view from a male perspective?
And as an exercise in outrageousness, think how you’d feel if a woman wrote this post, not a man. Would it cross the line, or not?
24) How Facebook Ruined Christmas – Jay Baer
Say it ain’t so! First the Grinch stole Christmas; now Facebook wants to ruin it.
It’s true that Facebook has had some trust issues in recent times. But it’s extreme to suggest they actually ruined Christmas. And kinda funny too.
Even if you’re a Facebook hater, you want to know how the author will back this up.
After all, if Facebook really ruined Christmas, wouldn’t you know about it already?
25) Why Breakfast Is Not the Most Important Meal of the Day – Richard Talens
You know what this headline is saying?
It’s saying that you’ve been lied to your entire childhood – and adulthood too. Lied to by your parents. By your family doctor. By whoever had the nerve to utter the phrase, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
Nothing but lies. And because this headline is questioning something that you’ve known, or have been told, your whole life, you can’t help but find out whether you were really misled for all this time.
26) 10 Reasons Why Prom Night Is Overrated For Students – Ashley Reese
If you ever went to prom, you know how big of a deal it is, right?
You’ve spent months, even years, looking forward to that crowning moment of your high school career. The perfect outfit. The stretch limo. The treasured memories.
So isn’t it outrageous (and a little mean) that someone is trying to undermine those memories in a single blog post?
Or how about if you haven’t attended your prom yet? Being told it’s overrated would suck.
So what’s the deal here? You’ll have to click to find out.
27) Your Penis Won’t Fall Off And Other Things Boys Should Know – Rita Templeton
That got your attention, right?
Seeing the word “penis” in a headline is surprising and maybe shocking – even if it is a mommy blog.
But if you’re a first-time parent of a boy, you’ll wonder, “Is that really an issue? Do they really think that? Plus, what other crazy things do young boys think?”
28) Why Blogging is a Waste of Your Time – Ramsay Taplin
How many hours a week do you spend on your blog?
Ten? Twenty? More?
A headline like this could leave your heart in your throat because it says what some bloggers might secretly fear – that blogging is a waste of their time.
And since the author is a popular blogger, your curiosity is heightened. If this blogger (who is likely more successful than his average reader) is saying this, what has he discovered that you need to know?
29) How To See Straighter By Crossing Your Eyes – David Cain
Doesn’t this headline seem completely outrageous?
How can doing something that many people think could damage your eyesight possibly help you see straighter?
It’s impossible to comprehend – but filled with intrigue. You’re left wondering whether this headline is supposed to be taken literally – or if’s it’s a metaphor – or something else altogether.
But whatever it is, you’re lured into clicking to find out.
30) My son is getting an American Girl Doll for Christmas – Lori Duron
This headline plays with gender stereotypes.
Traditional thinking says that dolls are for girls, not boys. So why is this author’s son getting one for Christmas?
Is it because he actually wants one for Christmas? Or is his mother enforcing her own progressive agenda to her child?
Both alternatives provoke curiosity, or even outrage.
But whatever your views, one question remains.
Just why is this boy getting a doll for Christmas?
31) Why The Blogging Experts Are Wrong About Headlines – Stan Smith
You know that in the blogging world, it’s universally accepted that headlines are one of the most important elements to master.
In fact, most of your blogging heroes will have something to say about headlines.
So suggesting that these heavyweights are totally wrong about such a crucial blogging ingredient is outrageous.
We might think, “Who the hell are you Stan Smith to be saying my heroes are wrong? And, more importantly, what does it mean for me if you’re right?”
32) It’s Always Your Fault, So Stop Making Excuses – Evan Luzi
Though this headline is aimed at camera assistants, anyone can tell how effective it is.
You can easily imagine that assistants might be the first to get blamed for almost any problem on a shoot, and you may even transpose this to your own line of work.
The outrageousness comes from being told that it’s ALWAYS your fault, whatever the context.
Can it truly always be your fault? It almost sounds like bullying from the author, doesn’t it?
You’ll have to click to find out.
33) On The Inside, We Are All Afraid Of Having An Ugly Baby – Bethany Ramos
This one is dangerously powerful, isn’t it?
After all, what parent-to-be doesn’t hope their baby will be cute as a button?
But suggesting that parents are secretly afraid of having an ugly baby is outrageous.
After all, it paints them as shallow and appearance-conscious – even with their own flesh and blood. Shouldn’t parental love be unconditional?
But if it didn’t contain a seed of truth, would it be as enticing as it is?
34) 10 Types Of Sex You’ll Have Once You’re A Parent – Megan Zander
Most expectant parents are told that sex disappears from the menu once a new baby arrives.
So it’s outrageous (and maybe a little exciting) to hear that not only will you be having sex after you become a parent – but ten types of it!
Be honest, you’re curious about the types on the list.
35) Why I’ll Always Put My Husband Before My Kids – Amber Doty
Mothers should put their kids above all else, right? Even their partners. At least, that’s a common belief.
But this author thinks otherwise – how outrageous! Surely her husband can look after himself?
This headline challenges society’s notions of the family pecking order, and we desperately want to find out why she thinks this way.
36) 21 Reasons To Hate Kids – Yvette Caster
Doesn’t this one just grab you by the eyeballs? You have to click.
(Assuming you can get past your sense of outrage that is.)
Kids are supposed to be innocent, right? They hardly seem like a fair target for any type of hatred.
But let’s consider just how outrageous this title truly is.
A post that revealed the author hated kids would be somewhat shocking.
A post that tried to reassure us that it’s okay to hate kids would be more shocking.
But this post, which tries to persuade people to hate kids – people who maybe didn’t hate kids before – is downright outrageous.
And secretly you want to know why.
Want to Get Read? Get Outrageous!
Outrageous headlines grab readers by the collar and practically drag them into your post.
But like your favorite hot sauce, outrageousness must be used sparingly.
If you add it to everything you write, it’ll drown out the subtler flavors of your writing.
But used occasionally, in the right places, a dose of outrageousness can be just what you need to get your headline clicked and your post read.
So give your reasonable, respectable side the rest of the day off.
It’s time to be a little outrageous.