Imagine writing a blog post so brilliant that it gets retweeted thousands of times. Shared over and over again on Facebook. Wouldn’t that make your heart skip a beat or two? Wouldn’t that make you feel like a boss?
Well, by the time you finish reading this post, you’ll be on your way to making that vision a reality.
It’s no secret that “how to” articles and blog posts are some of the most sought after, linked to, and bookmarked content online. People want useful information, and they’ll reward you by promoting it to others when you provide it.
As anyone who has blogged for at least a month can tell you, the real battle is getting people to read your post. And, believe it or not, 90% of the outcome of that battle depends on the headline.
Writing a killer “how to” headline will help you write even better “how to” content when you fulfill the promise you made to get people to read in the first place.
Ain’t Nobody Got Time…
Most of us live crazy busy lives, so we seek out tips, tricks, and methods to make things better, easier, and ultimately happier for ourselves. Focusing on the “better, easier, and happier” is the key to great “how to” headlines and content.
It’s not that people aren’t smart enough to understand the implied benefits of learning how to do something. It’s quite the opposite, actually. It’s just that implied benefits don’t prompt action like express benefits do.
People smartly employ aggressive attention filters when scanning headlines, and you’ll get through the filters of a lot more people if you spell out the benefits rather than relying on implication. Plus, if you focus on benefits as well as procedures, your post will be more emotionally engaging.
It’s been said that it’s almost impossible to write a bad “how to” headline. That may be true, but what comes after those two magical words can make all the difference in the amount of attention and readership your writing gets.
Let’s take a look at the structure of a few famous “how to” headlines, and see if we can’t figure out why they work and adapt them to new situations and content.
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Before Dale Carnegie’s classic book was conventionally published, he sold it by mail order with that same title as the headline of the sales letter. Certainly Carnegie’s content was compelling, but that headline is brilliant all by itself.
The headline structure is powerful. You’ve got benefit number one right after “How to,” with another benefit following the word “and.” Simple, right?
It’s much smarter from a credibility standpoint to use this structure when benefit one and benefit two are actually related.
- How to Save Time and Get Things Done
- How to Get a Better Job and Make More Money
- How to Save Money and Retire Rich
The dual benefit “how to” structure will always work if you link the two together and deliver relevant and substantive tips with your content. Give it a try.
How to [Mundane Task] That [Rewarding Benefit]
It’s not easy to derive the actual benefits of learning how to do something. Often, just by adding “that” and offering the top benefit of your post, will ensure that people understand what your article is all about.
Getting Rid of the “To”
Start with “How” but leave out the “to.” You’ll still be making a beneficial promise to your reader that will be fulfilled in the content, but the intrigue factor will be higher and your results perhaps even better.
Let’s look at these famous headlines:
- How I Changed My Life in One Week
- How I Became Rich By Being A Dreamer
Those are pretty intriguing headlines, right?
The more you focus on the benefits to the reader in your headline, the more readers you’ll have. And by touching on the beneficial aspects while laying out the procedural content, you’ll have more happy readers at the end of the piece.
And then they just might share your article with everyone they know.