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Try These 7 Fun and Easy Headline Writing Exercises To Coax Out Your Creativity

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Do you dread writing headlines more than doing a pull-up in gym class?

You know the bar for good headlines is high, and everyone’s eyes watch to see if you’ll reach it. Each time you try, you try a little less — I’m just not good at this.

Not every kid hated the pull-up bar, though. The ones who exercised regularly actually seemed to enjoy the challenge.

When it comes to writing headlines, you can be that kid who exceeds the bar and has fun doing it. All it takes is a little practice.

Because just like physical exercise, headline writing doesn’t feel like such a chore when you turn it into a game.

Try these enjoyable and easy headline writing exercises to get your creative juices flowing and start driving more traffic to your blog posts.

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1) Play Around With Proven Headline Templates

When you want to start a new fitness routine, you don’t start from scratch. You follow the steps of those who’ve trained before you. In headline writing, you learn this through templates.

Headline templates are like a strategic version of Mad Libs. Just mix and match words to fit your topic, like this example:

  • Template: How To Survive Your First {Good, Bad or Desirable Thing}?
  • Example Headline: How To Survive Your First Holiday With Your In-Laws

Or this example:

  • Template: How To {Get Incredible Result} And {Do Unexpected Thing As A Result}.
  • Example Headline: How To Make Millions Of Dollars And Give It All Away

To get you started, we’ve prepared a bunch of headline templates and resources for you. Kick off your first headline writing exercise with these three downloads:

  • Catchy Blog Titles Infographic: Choose from 500+ power and emotion words to plug into 100+ headline templates.
  • Blog Title Performance Tracking Template: A/B test your blog titles & track social media shares to identify a winner
  • Content Calendar Excel Template: Keep a backlog of headline ideas and plan every blog post you write.

Plus, don’t forget to combine your new templates with CoSchedule’s Headline Studio for the best results.


2) Write 25 Versions of Your Headline

Scientifically, writing more headlines unleashes your most creative ideas.

If you slap the first headline you can think of on your content — and then blame its poor results on your writing abilities — you’re selling yourself short.

To discover the best ideas, write at least 25 drafts of your headlines before choosing one. For a challenge, grab a kitchen timer and see how many headlines you can scribble down in 15 minutes.

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Don’t get discouraged if your first, second or twentieth headline aren’t perfect. Just keep writing different variations.

But after the timer buzzes … how do you know which headline is the best?

You could look for the headlines at the bottom of your list — that’s where the best ones are most likely to live.

You could also try our free Headline Studio tool to analyze your headlines and compare their scores.

Headline Studio in action

Once you analyze a headline, you’ll see tons of detailed recommendations to boost your score even more. Try Headline Studio for free.

3) Look at Your Favorite Websites for Headline Inspiration

Need headline ideas fast? Your favorite websites are repositories of excellent headlines.

Explore the blog post archives of popular websites for real-life examples and inspiration. Then, apply what you find to your own headlines.

This headline writing exercise is useful for learning what types of headlines have been trending recently and what’s working for others.

Start with sites like…

  • The New York Times and The Washington Post for newsworthy headlines.
  • Anything from Dotdash (The Balance, TripSavvy, The Spruce, etc.) for click-worthy blog titles in competitive industries.
  • Copyblogger, Copyhackers and CoSchedule for content marketing and copywriting headline ideas.
  • Websites and blogs in your industry or niche for ultra-relevant examples.

Similar to our first activity, think of the headlines on these websites as templates.

Look for headlines that catch your attention and make you want to click. How can you model your headlines after those ones? (Without stealing word-for-word, of course.)

For example, one headline on VeryWell Health is “What’s Behind The Skyrocketing Prices of Insulin?

Headlines on VeryWell Health

You could make your own template out of that, such as “What’s Behind The {Adjective} {Attribute} of {Product or Brand}?”

4) Dig Into Data to Steal the Words Your Audience Uses

Yes, you’re going to steal. And it’s going to be fun.

For this next exercise, you’re going on a scavenger hunt for “voice-of-customer” data that you can steal for your headlines. Voice-of-reader data, if you don’t have customers.

What is voice-of-customer research?

Basically, you look for the exact words your audience uses to describe their problems, pain points, questions, values, and goals.

Using your audience’s words is powerful because it reduces barriers to understanding. When you speak your readers’ language, you’ll connect with them more easily.

Speaking to copywriters, Neil Patel says, “Our job is to use real people’s words to express what they want, what they like, what they need.”

Neil Patel quote about using people's words

Maybe you don’t call yourself a copywriter, but you can still learn from the tricks of a trade that focuses entirely on driving action.

Here are five places you could start your informal scavenger hunt:

  • Social media comments and messages
  • Emails from blog readers
  • Third-party review websites
  • Survey and interview data
  • Customer support tickets

For example, maybe you’re writing a blog post about organizing your refrigerator.

However, after looking at Facebook comments and reading refrigerator reviews on Amazon, you realize your readers commonly refer to their refrigerator as a fridge.

From your research, you know you’d want to use the word “fridge” in your headline.

Would they know what you’re talking about if you write the word “refrigerator”? Probably.

If you use “fridge,” your headline will be more likely to resonate and compel them to click.

Not to mention, it will save you valuable character space & inform your SEO research (two other important aspects of headline writing).

5) Find Your Content’s Value at the Bottom of the “Why” Rabbit Hole

Once you start digging into voice-of-customer research, you may realize that stealing words isn’t enough. You need to relate to your audience on a deeper level.

To get readers to click on your headline, identify the core benefit they’ll gain from reading your content. This is your content’s value proposition.

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Essentially, your headline needs to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” for your reader. The place to find that answer is at the bottom of the “why” rabbit hole.

For this headline writing activity, pretend you’re a two-year-old who can’t stop asking “why.”

Rabbit hole - what's in it for me?

Building off our previous example, let’s say you’re writing about organizing your fridge.

  • Ask: Why do my readers want to organize their fridge?
  • Answer: It’s easier to see what’s inside.
  • Ask: Why do they want to see what’s inside the fridge?
  • Answer: They can find the food they want quickly.
  • Ask: Why do they want to find food quickly?
  • Answer: They’re hungry.

That’s the gold at the bottom of the “why” rabbit hole.

Armed with this knowledge, you could write a headline like “5 Fridge Organization Tricks To Find Food Faster & Satisfy Your Hunger.”

6) Brainstorm Six Ways to Add Numbers to Your Headline

Adding numbers into your headline can double your social shares and increase your clickthrough rate by 36%.

You can’t ignore those stats. If you want to write stellar headlines, a few of them should include numbers.

What if your content doesn’t seem naturally number-friendly?

If you found the bottom of the “why” rabbit hole in the last headline activity, you know your content has value. Most likely, you can give that value a real number — like hours or dollars saved.

If that doesn’t work, you can try another strategy, like structuring your blog post as a list or including the current year in the headline.

For each post you write, brainstorm six different ways you might be able to use numbers. Here are some possibilities to get you started:

  • List: 15 Ways To Organize Your Fridge & Make Room For Your Favorite Snacks
  • Time: How To Organize Your Fridge In 20 Minutes Or Less
  • Money: Organize Your Fridge & Save $150 On Wasted Food You Forgot Existed
  • Sample Size: 23 Food Bloggers Tell Us How They Organize Their Fridge
  • Percents & Statistics: Organize Your Fridge To Get 52% More Space For Leftovers
  • Current Year: The Best Fridge Organization Hacks of 2020

6 ways to include numbers in your headlines

7) Search for Powerful Synonyms That Tap Into Readers’ Emotions

Numbers aren’t the only way to attract attention to your content. Headlines with high emotional value get more social shares, too.

So for your final headline writing exercise, stretch your vocabulary with powerful synonyms.

One by one, run all of the major words in your headline through or a similar site. Scan the list of synonyms for words packed with emotion, such as authentic, evil and thrilling.

Then, swap out the original words in your headline with the best synonyms you find.

At this point, you’ll want to make sure your headline still flows and reads accurately. Avoid the trap of using ten-dollar words that your readers might not understand.

If you want to find emotional and powerful synonyms quickly, use the Word Inspector in Headline Studio Pro. The tool automatically identifies words proven to boost emotional value in headlines and suggests synonyms.

Headline Studio word inspector

Unlock three premium headlines when you sign up for a free Headline Studio account.

Start With Easy Headline Writing Exercises

Writing compelling headlines is hard work, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.

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Start simple by choosing one or two of the headline writing exercises listed above. As your skills increase, you can incorporate more activities into your headline writing process.

Becoming a top-of-your class headline writer isn’t as difficult as it seems. With a little bit of fun and games, you can write irresistible headlines that drive results.

The post Try These 7 Fun and Easy Headline Writing Exercises To Coax Out Your Creativity appeared first on CoSchedule Blog.