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How To Write Headlines

What makes a headline go viral?

Following are some suggestions from Optinmonster.com

People want to share, want to increase the quality of their relationships with others, and want to increase their self-esteem and standing with their peers.

There is a magic 3-word phrase “will make you ____” This states that the topic will have an impact on you and often an emotional one.

There are five basic types of headlines that go viral


1 List posts — 50 Smart Ways To Segment Your Market

2 How to posts — How to optimize your site for the holidays

3 Resource posts — the ultimate guide to a simple option vs a double option — which is better?

4, Question post — How long should it take to earn revenues?

5. Heart-to–heart posts — An open letter to writers struggling with their first book


Now, if you add an infectious agent to those headlines your chances of going viral are much greater because they trigger emotion.  For example awe, anger, anxiety, fear, joy, lust, surprise, shock.


40 belief-shaking remarks from a ruthless nonconformist”

Type: list post

Infectious agents: awe, anger, surprise, shock, anxiety

Belief-shaking — challenges you by stating its content will shake your beliefs

Ruthless — image of someone who doesn’t care

Nonconformist — someone unafraid and nonconventional


“How to hit 1,000,000 visitors in a year by blogging”

Type: How to

Infectious agents: awe, surprise, shock

“1,000,000” who wouldn’t want that. Even if you are skeptical, you will want to check

“In a year” desirable deadline

“Blogging” pinpoints its target audience and their biggest desire

Net: promise the desired result and a timescale for achieving it,


“Where to find free images”

Type: Resource post

Infectious agents: Awe, joy

Net: look for common questions or problems that people have, and write a headline that directly answers their question or solves a problem.


“On dying, mothers, and fighting for your ideas”

Type: Heart-to-heart

Infectious agents: awe, anger, surprise, shock, fear

“Dying” — strong emotive word, it congers up images in people’s minds

“Mothers” — emotive whatever your relationship with mother 

“Fighting” — emotive, congers up images in people’s minds of struggle, aggression

Net: fighting for your idea suggests motivation and inspiration 


“Are you good enough?”

Type: Question

Infectious agents: anger, anxiety, fear, surprise, shock

Net: are you good enough to challenges people. It asks a question everyone asks themselves, Ask a big question that drums up deep, human desires.


How to start writing viral headlines

1 Get to really know your audience

2 Know where your audience hangs out (media,etc.)

3 Discover your audiences’ infectious agents (follow them on social media, what are they sharing, any patterns in words and phrases? (topics, headlines, links)

4 Lay in those infectious agents.