Let's say you have your brand new course, book, or infoproduct, whether it’s from Content Sparks or something you’ve written from scratch. Aside from editing and customizing the content itself to fit your market, you now have one very important job to do. Write a title for your product that will catch people's attention!
Writing a catchy title also happens to be one of the most challenging tasks for every content creator and marketer. Your title can mean the difference between someone not giving a second glance to your content and someone eagerly diving in to see what you have to say.
The following are some guidelines, tips, and formulas that will help you brainstorm a variety of titles for your new product or course. You’ll then need to pick the one that speaks directly to your target reader or customer and gets them to keep on reading or listening.
Once you've had a look at the post, make sure you download a copy of How To Craft Catchy Titles for Your Courses and Products for a pdf version of this post, along with more ideas and examples for creating titles.
Things to consider when picking your title
Keywords & phrases
If you use a keyword, you're more likely to be found in a search result online or in a place like amazon.com or other places people search. It also tells people immediately what your product or course is about. Try to include your keyword near the beginning of your title, if possible.
If you go too broad, nobody will know your content is for them. So if you can specify your audience in the title, do it. Just be careful not to go so narrow that you’ll only have 10 people who want to read or purchase your content.
Don’t just say what your product/course/book does or is about. Focus on the key benefit and include it in the title. Seeing the results they’ll get can be the biggest factor in someone deciding whether to explore further or move on to other content.
Short and memorable
If people can't remember your title, they can't tell others about it or come back to it later. And the longer the title, the harder it will be to remember.
Rolls off the tongue
Write a title that’s easy to say out loud. Test it. And that doesn’t mean using all of the available alliterations. Say your title more than once and see if you slip up or start to stumble. (Think about ‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers’ and you’ll know what I mean.)
That said, alliterations can be a great way to make a title easy to say and remember. For example, Success Secrets, Marketing Mayhem, Intrigue and Innovation, Email Essentials, etc.
Be specific without being wordy
A one-word title that captures people's interest may work if you're already known or you do intense marketing, but most titles need at list an inkling of what people will get inside. Let people know what you’re promising in as few words as possible. For example, The 4 Hour Work Week, How to Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days, The Top Secrets of Bestselling Authors, etc.
Looks good on the page (or eCover)
This is especially true if you have a standard, branded template that has a limited amount of room for a title. Again, long, wordy titles end up filling up a lot of space. And they defeat the purpose of being eye-catching. If you don’t have room for a graphic on an ecover or if your title takes up 3 lines of text on a page, then the title is too long.
A Few Tips for Generating Title Ideas
- First consider the main promise of your content. What’s the end state people will achieve? What big result can they expect? How will they feel when they finish it?
- Brainstorm as many titles as you can, no matter how ridiculous they sound
Get others to pitch in and add their own ideas or play off yours. Tell them who the target audience is and what the product or course is about so they don't go off on too much of a tangent
- Look in amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com to see what other titles come up when you search your topic. Which ones come out at the top of the search results? Which get the best ratings? Which stand out to you?
- Browse through your local bookstore or newstand, if you still have such a thing near you. Don’t just look at titles in your topic area, but also get ideas for title formulas from other bestsellers.
- Try out a title generator tool to get the creative juices going, such as the Blog Topic Generator from Hubspot or The Headline Wizard from Tim Gross.
NOTE: We've put the entire contents of this blog post into a downloadable pdf and added more examples, title formulas, and word ideas. Just click on the link below to get a copy of…
Formulas & Examples for Writing Titles
The Power of 3
People are naturally drawn to things that come in 3's. Somehow the rhythm helps people remember. Think ‘3 key points', just like the maximum recommended for slides. If you can break down your title into 3, it will flow naturally, cover the essentials succinctly, and be remembered more easily.
- X, Y, and Z
- X and Y and Z
- X, Y, Z
- Lions and Tigers and Bears
- Eat, Pray, Love
- Smarter, Faster, Better
- Friends, Romans, Countrymen
- Blood, Sweat, and Tears
- The Good, the Bad & the Ugly
- Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels
Tip: Just pick 3 key elements of your course or product and see how you can combine them. You can start by writing down one big list.
This and That
You can also use just 2 words, if it makes more sense for your content.
- X and Y
- Pomp and Circumstance
- Pride and Prejudice
- Sense and Sensibility
- Bait and Switch
Tip: Write down a big list of key words from your course, like you did for the Power of 3. Test out different combinations.
The Essence of It
A time-proven title formula, you'll see this everywhere. The idea is to boil down your course into the essence you're offering on a specific topic. For example, if your topic is ‘business mindset' and your core path to that is breaking mindset into 5 key behaviors that lead to change, then your title might be ‘The 5 Characteristics of a Winning Business Mindset.’
- The X of Y
- The Pursuit of Happiness
- The Power of Positive Thinking
- The Psychology of Success
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Tip: This is a great one to get some interesting adjectives in there. Try to have fun with them!
Do This to Get That
Boil down your whole content piece into the one main thing you're teaching and the one big benefit.
- [Verb] + [Main Benefit]
- Think and Grow Rich
- Laugh and Be Happy
- Drink and Be Merry
- Stop and Smell the Roses
Tip: Focus on the verb and think about how it will be received by your audience since that’s what is going to draw people in first. Then think of the benefit in terms of the one big thing that people yearn for in relation to your topic.
If your course or book is a how-to or comprehensive guide, you can use the word ‘guide' or even ‘bible' in the title.
- The/Your [Adjective] Guide/Bible to [Doing Something or Getting a Result]
- The Dummies Guide to [Just about everything]
- The Retailer's Guide to Email Marketing
- The Entrepreneur's Guide to Start-up Funding
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Tips: Include your target audience to make it more specific than just a guide for the whole world. Use adjectives to spice it up and make the title stand out from all the other guides out there.
From Here to There
Similar to the ‘do this to get that' formula, you can also write a title that describes the transformation people will make or the journey they go on.
- [Starting point] to [Benefit or Better State]
- From Here to Eternity
- From Pauper to Prince
- From Failure to Success
Tips: This is a great formula for making use of customer survey data. Find out what people struggle with most and where they’d like to be. Those are your starting points vs. end result or better state.
Anything that's made easy or simple for people is an attraction all on its own.
- [Topic] Made Easy
[Result] in [number] Simple Steps
[Topic]: The Basics
- Email Marketing Made Easy
- Boost Productivity in 5 Simple Steps
- Website Content Creation 101
- Guided Meditation: The Basics
Tips: Be specific about your topic. Don't just be about ‘blogging made easy', but identify who it's for. Such as ‘Mommy Blogging Made Easy'.
Reveal it All
People love to think they are finding out something that no one else knows. So try using words like ‘secret', ‘revealed', ‘exposed', ‘truth’, ‘myths’, etc.
- The Secrets of [Topic]
- [Topic] Revealed
- The Myths about [Topic] Exposed
- The Truth about [Topic]
- The Secrets of Successful Real Estate Investors
- Easy Productivity Accelerators Revealed
- The Top 5 Myths about Buying a New Car Exposed
- The Unedited Truth about SEO
Tips: Be careful not to over-hype your title when it comes to secrets, hacks, tricks or other potentially misleading promises. If your tips are nothing particularly unique, don't promise to tell people something that no one has heard before. However, it's ok to talk about things that a large portion of your own target audience is unlikely to know about.
All of the formulas above are your starting point only. Once you’ve brainstormed your big list of title ideas and picked a few you like, take it a step further.
Use your trusty thesaurus to find where you could swap out one word for another, more interesting or powerful one. See if you can attach a timeframe for a specific result (only if you can back up that promise). Or try adding a little curiosity factor to your title by making the main title very short and intriguing, then adding a more specific promised result in a subtitle.