I briefly taught copywriting at the University of Toronto. (It was fun for a couple of terms… Until it wasn’t.)
When I did, I would walk people through classic headlines they could use to inspire their creativity.
But it’s hard to look at 80- or 100-year old examples and think of something that gets us fired up today.
Then I discovered a Russian podcast host living in China who works as a portrait photographer.
Her name is Marina Barayeva, and she has quietly come up with the best approach to headline formulas that I’ve ever seen.
Marina’s approach centers on some fundamental building blocks:
- Specific numbers
- Exciting adjectives
- Nouns that imply a promise
- Negative phrases
- “Call to action” words
And using those building blocks, she has created six formulas that I think are very powerful.
Marina Barayeva’s six headline formulas
Barayeva has created six different formulas you can use to crank out headline variation after headline variation until you find the perfect one.
You can change the order of the words if doing so helps you write a better headline.
You can also get creative and add words and phrases as you see fit. These formulas are not “Thou shalt,” but more like “Try this.”
Formula 1: Number + Adjective + Noun + Keyword + Promise
11 Examples of Memorable Headlines You Can Clone in Seconds
Formula 2: [How to] + Action and/or Keyword + Promise
How to Craft Memorable Headlines The Easy Way
Formula 3: Adjective + [Guide to] + Action + Keyword + Promise
Grab This Valuable Guide to Producing Memorable Headlines—It’s Free!
Formula 4: Superlative + Number and/or Noun + Keyword + Promise/Detail
The Top 11 Techniques You Can Use to Write Memorable Headlines Like the Pros
Formula 5: Negative Word + Action + Keyword + Promise
Want to Write Memorable Headlines—Fast? Don’t Make This Mistake
Formula 6: Call-to-Action (+ Number) + Noun + Keyword + Promise
Try These 6 Strategies to Write Memorable Headlines On Autopilot
Each of those headlines has a slightly different flavor—and it was super easy to come up with them.
And to prove how simple this technique is, I’m going to show you another batch of headlines for the keyword “learn poker.”
Number + Adjective + Noun + Keyword + Promise
4 Easy Ways To Learn Poker Away From the Table
11 Tricky Techniques You Need to Master If You’re Trying to Learn Poker
[How to] + Action and/or Keyword + Promise
How to Quickly Learn Poker Before Your Next Home Game
How to Choose Poker Books That Can Help You Learn Poker on the Couch
Adjective + [Guide to] + Action + Keyword + Promise
This Easy Guide Will Help You Learn Poker in Just 2 Hours
Grab This Valuable Preflop Guide Today and Learn Poker Techniques To Grow Your Game
Superlative + Number and/or Noun + Keyword + Promise/Detail
The Fastest Way to Learn Poker? Download this Free PDF
The Top 11 Resources That Can Help You Learn Poker in 2019
Negative Word + Action + Keyword + Promise
Stop Worrying About How to Learn Poker And Just Do This Instead
Trying to Learn Poker? Don’t Fall Down This Rabbit-Hole
Call-to-Action (+ Number) + Noun + Keyword + Promise
Learn Poker Like The Pros! Here Are the 7 Advanced Strategies You Need
Overcome The #1 Confidence Killer You’ll Need to Block to Learn Poker
I understand this stuff might come more easily to me, but I wrote these headlines in about 10 minutes. And it won’t take you much longer—especially if you keep practicing.
In other words, Barayeva’s formulas can help you can get creative and crank out some great headlines.