Do The Wrong Thing: The Benefits Of Writing Unconventional Headlines

I’ve been blogging for about two and a half years now and I know that eventually, after writing so many posts, you can start to get sick and tired of writing the same ol’ conventional blog post headlines.

You know what headlines I’m talking about. Headlines like: “5 Tips For Doing This, or 6 Ways To Do That, or 9 Techniques to Accomplish Such and Such, etc.”

Even the most die-hard blogging fans can get really tired of reading conventional blog post headlines all the time.

Even though conventional blog post headlines can always be relied on for generating heavy traffic, overuse of them can make your blog appear bland, predictable, and lacking in innovation.

So, every once in a while, I think it’s good to mix things up.

The Benefits Of Writing Unconventional Blog Post Headlines

Here are some of the benefits of writing unconventional headlines:

1. Surprisingly, unconventional headlines can generate just as much traffic and engagement as blog posts with “conventional” headlines (if done right).

2.    Starting with an unconventional blog post headline can really get you excited and motivated to flesh out that full blog post.

3. Unconventional headlines make your blog not only sound smart, but they also make your blog sound refreshing to your readers.

4. Unconventional headlines add a sense of variety and diversity to your blog.

5. Unconventional blog post headlines add a sense of playfulness and creativity to your blog.

6. Unconventional blog post headlines offer an element of surprise and suspense.

7. Finally: unconventional blog post headlines are fun.

How To Write Unconventional Blog Post Headlines

Now that you know the benefits of writing unconventional blog post headlines, here are a few ways to help you write unconventional headlines that will still generate popular blog posts.

  •  Spin a popular song title to fit your blog’s niche

Example:

Song Title: “Something’s Coming” from West Side Story

Blog Post Headline: “Something’s Coming To Your E-mail Inbox, Something Good (If You Can Wait)”

Possible Blog Topic: A post on encouraging writers to be patient while they wait for agents to respond to their query letters.

  • Spin a popular movie title to fit your blog’s niche

Besides the headline of this post which, of course, is a spin on Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, here’s another example:

Movie Title: “He’s Just Not That Into You”

Headline: “He’s Just Not That Into Your Book: How Querying Is Just Like Dating”

Potential Blog Post Topic: Tips on how writers can query agents successfully AND how writers can be successful at dating.

(I actually used the above headline when I tweaked one of my guest bloggers’ guest posts. Their guest post ended up becoming very popular.)

  • Spin a popular television show’s title to fit your blog’s niche.

Example:

TV Show Title: “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”

Blog Post Headline: “It’s Always Sunny In Self-Publishing-ville”

Possible Topic: In this post, the author of the blog can lead a discussion about whether authors who are self-published are happier than authors who opt for traditional publishing.

  • Spin a popular quote from a book, poem, or public figure to fit your blog’s niche.

Quote: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Gandhi

Blog Post Headline: “Be The Writer You Want To See In The World”

Possible Topic: This post can discuss how writers can influence the types of stories offered in the mainstream by creating their own innovative work that will change that mainstream.

  • Write a really long blog post headline

Example:

Blog Post Headline: “The Story of How An Unfit Man, Allergic To Any Kind of Physical Activity, Fell In Love With Running And Became A Better Writer In The Process.”

Possible Topic: How running a 5K taught you how to be a better writer.

(Again, the above title is one of my own. Among tons of titles of average length, a very long title can really catch the reader’s attention.)

  • Write a one-word headline

Example:

Blog Post Headline: “Breathe.”

Possible Topic: How the simple of act of breathing awareness can relax you, focus you, and improve your health.

(The above headline is an unconventional blog post headline written by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. Again, among titles of average length, a one-word title can grab a lot of attention.)

  • Write a headline with a counter-intuitive premise

Example:

Blog Post Headline: “3 Anti-Tips For Killing Procrastination.”

Possible Topic: How to overcome procrastination in new and unconventional ways.

(The above headline came from a popular guest post I wrote for The Renegade Writer. By using the counterintuitive term “Anti-Tips” in my headline, I drew readers in because it left them to wonder: “What is an ‘anti-tip’ and why would the writer be sharing them with me if, by definition, it would seem that an ‘anti-tip’ wouldn’t work?”)

  • Write a headline that’s a spin of a common phrase you’ve heard your readers say (or you’ve hear people in your niche say)

Example:

Blog Post Headline: “Don’t Try To Make It ‘Easy.’ Just Try To Get It Done.”

Possible Topic: A post about how writers need to focus on getting the writing done, and forget about trying to make the writing easy (because writing will never be “easy.”)

(This was another headline of mine that became very popular. It was a spin on a common phrase I heard my readers say often: that it wasn’t “easy” for them to find the time to write.)

  • Spin your blog’s title and use it to teach or share something new that relates to the theme of your blog.

Example:

Blog Post Headline: “The Zen of The Barbell”

Possible Topic: How lifting waits is a form of meditation that helps you focus and become aware of your surroundings.

(Again, the above is a headline from Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits. This title brings an unconventional idea to the reader: that lifting weights, something often associated with lots of noise—the clank of the barbells, the music from your iPod, grunting—can be re-associated with stillness and peace, both of which are central to the overall theme of Zen Habits.)

  • Finally: write a headline that is a spin of a common phrase of yours that you have used on your blog (and that has really resonated with readers).

Example:

Blog Post Headline: “Don’t Think. Just Do.”

Possible Topic: A blog post about how,  sometimes, writers should avoid overthinking writing and just do it.

(This another blog post headline of mine that caught fire a few months ago. I think that what helped it was that it was a common phrase that I used in older blog posts before but never used in a headline until then.)
Good luck, Bloggers!
Hopefully, these ideas have got your creative juices flowing around the topic of blog post headlines.

Good luck, bloggers!

Do you agree with me that sometimes using unconventional headlines are beneficial? Or do you think that bloggers should always play it safe and just stick to conventional headlines? Do you have any ideas for writing unconventional blog post headlines that still generate popular posts?  Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

A guest post by Ollin Morales. He is a fiction writer,  freelance writer, blogger, and ghostwriter. His blog, Courage 2 Create, chronicles his journey as he writes his first fiction novel. His blog offers writing advice as well as strategies to deal with life’s tough challenges. His blog was named one of The Top Ten Blogs for Writers by WriteToDone two years in a row (2011, 2012).

 

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Ollin Morales

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