How to Write Scroll-Stopping Titles
Without falling into the clickbait trap
Why are titles important? We all know the answer. They are the attention grabber. They are the hook that connects your story to your reader. In fact, they are everything. No one cares how astonishing your content is if your title sucks. Because no one ever reads it.
Blog posts, videos, books, emails, copies — they are the same. Every time the title appears in front of somebody’s eyes, it is an opportunity. It’s a matter of life and death, you only have one chance and one second to impress your audience, and stop them from scrolling. If you missed it, it’s gone. Your work will be buried six feet under.
Titles and headlines are so crucial that some people suggest spending 90% of your time writing one. While it doesn’t have to be so extreme, some suggested spending half your time writing titles too. Whatever the percentage is, all you have to know is that you should spend more time crafting your titles.
Now, you know how significant titles are. You want to grab this chance and lead readers into your story. But, how?
Some of the most practical advice out there includes the following:
- Keep your title short.
- Use active voice, not passive voice.
- Pose a question.
- Use numbers.
- Be specific.
They can be really helpful and effective.
But, something is missing. The heart and soul of a title are not found. Without it, it is just an empty body.
Emotion is what links humans together. Every engaging title should be able to evoke the emotion of an audience. But how do you include it in your titles?
Unfortunately, emotion is not something that can be taught. It’s something that is felt by your heart.
However, there’s one way which you could learn how to write an emotion-evoking title that sparks curiosity:
Scroll and read.
There’s no better way to learn how to write a scroll-stopping title than scrolling stories yourself and see which title stop you.
List out 30 titles that stopped you from scrolling. Find their similarities and you’ll learn what emotion is.
To differentiate between performing and less performing titles, you can try playing a game on Medium. Look at the profile of a few different writers that publish frequently, it doesn’t matter how many followers they have. Then, quickly scroll through the writers’ profile to check the average claps of their articles.
- If 1K applause = average (normal)
- then >2K = performing (high)
- < 500 = less performing (low)
Now, use one of your hands to cover the claps area, read the titles one-by-one, and guess whether they fall into the “normal”, “low” or “high” categories.
For sure, it’s not 100% accurate, the content still matters a lot. But you should be able to observe the trend and get a feel of how great titles look.
Below are some of my observations of well-performing titles and my emotions when reading them:
- The Biggest Lie/Truth… (oh my God! Am I one of the victims of this scam?)
- Only 1% of People Will … (let’s hope I’m one of the 1%.)
- The Art of…(it must be some kind of beauty I’ve been missing out on all this time.)
- An Honest/Authentic Guide… (it must be really useful and no fluff.)
- The Myth That… (what’s that? I want to know now!)
- … is Not Worth It (God, what’ve I been doing? Maybe what I did was wrong and I should stop now.)
- Don’t Listen To… (why? I thought they were supposed to be right.)
- … In x hours/x day/ x month (I love quick results, show me now!)
- Why *insert big names — company or individual*… ( let’s reveal their dark secret!)
Also, I’ve noticed some powerful words that tend to increase the impact of a title:
- First time.
- Should/ should not.
Of course, what stops you from scrolling doesn’t necessarily stop others. The key here is to find out your own style. Learn from what you think is good, and improve that. Copy from those who are successful and add your point of uniqueness. Eventually, trial and error is the most important step to know what works best for you.
Remember, you must be able to convince yourself before convincing others.