28 Easy Steps to Writing the Best Titles – Every Time (usually)

In today’s world of high speed content, fast flowing ideas and short attention span, the numbered list article has become king. We have all been sucked into the warm embrace of articles that show us “5 Easy Steps to A Flat Stomach” or “10 Simple Ways to Make Your Twitter Page Shine.” We’ve all read them—heck, we’ve even written them. But some of them are not exactly the pinnacle of accuracy. If you really could get a flat stomach in 5 easy steps, the diet soda business would be, well, belly-up. So, we decided as a team to put together a list article of our own detailing how to write that most elusive of marketing content: the perfect, attention-grabbing title. In honor of full disclosure, this list documents the actual process we go through in creating a title.

(Warning: it’s more than 5 steps, but completely accurate.)

1 – The Blank Screen Stare
2 – Write a run-on sentence
3 – Over react to the run-on sentence and truncate it to just three meaningless words
4 – Delete and return to the Blank Screen Stare
5 –Succumb to Facebook™ distraction
6 – Mutter curse words about being distracted by Facebook™ and rededicate energy back into the Blank Screen Stare
7 – Have eureka moment followed by internal self high-fives
8 – Write first meaningful title pass
9 – Do a quick search at Thesaurus.com for a “more energetic word” for “effective”
10 – Replace “effective” with “compelling”
11 – Send co-worker masterpiece title for validation of a job well done
12 – Swear at co-worker after he says something is “off” and maybe “compelling” sounds too “political”
13 – Delete “compelling” and stare at sentence with a blank space instead of a word, waiting for another eureka moment
14 – Eureka doesn’t come so return to Thesaurus.com to find a new filler word
15 – Become frustrated and head to the vending machine
16 – Stand at vending machine drinking generic grape soda wondering where your life got off track
17 – Blame the title
18 – Determine no title is going to rule your life and return to conquer said title
19 – Change direction with title to eliminate the need for “compelling”
20 – Tweak wording for 5-10 minutes
21 – Send new title to same co-worker for approval, due to newly found self doubts
22 – Wait on co-worker’s response by looking at pictures of kittens on the internet
23 – Get tired of waiting for a response from co-worker, get up from desk and walk over to his desk
24 – Ask co-worker what he thought of the new title
25 – Roll eyes as co-worker says he had not yet seen the email and will look at it now
26 – Co-worker loves the new title direction you’ve chosen and says you should send it to the boss
27 – For some crazy reason you send the new co-worker-approved title and the original “compelling” co-worker-disapproved titles to the boss so she has two to choose between
28 – Boss responds immediately that she like the “compelling” title more– except she’s decided to replace “compelling” with “effective”— and thanks for a job well done.