The Cosmo Headline Technique for Content Inspiration

The Cosmo Headline Technique for Content Inspiration

Reader Comments (243)

  1. Work, work, and more work – that’s where I’ve been. Some of it on my next Maven Makeover (look for it this week!)

    And why do I get the gyno thing … is it because I’m the only girl on the list?

    Anyway, you’re on! (Hanukkah starts tomorrow eve and I’m on latke duty,) but the challenge is my first priority for Wednesday.

    Now if if I can just extricate myself from these stirrups ….

  2. Your series of articles on striking headlines have opened my mind towards a different way of thinking while writing.

    I used to write 3 word headlines which now look not only confusing to me but also dull. Now I have started to write headlines like how to… and 7 ways …. They re not perfect yet but they look more attractive for sure.

    Thnks for this one. cosmo headlines definitely succeed in forcing me to open the magazine. But I never thought of getting blog inspiration from that…
    way to go..

  3. Hey, no holding back. What exactly do 68% of women do in bed? My subscription to Cosmo expired unfortunately.

    Every time I’m in the checkout line at the Supermarket I read the headlines on the magazines for inspiration. Oprah’s magazine usually has good titles.

  4. Well, I’ve been using this technique for ages … it works regularly for me … It works for posts as well, but it takes some more care …

    ———————————————————– – web entrepreneur’s blog..

  5. I was awake in the middle of the night, new and better headlines crowding the pillow. I was forced out of the cozy zone and to the computer.
    Thanks for the inspiration on headlines though I hope it doesn’t keep me from sleeping!

  6. And here I thought Cosmo never offered anything worth reading! 😉

    I really like the headline formulas you’ve picked out here – I once read somewhere that it should take you half the time you wrote the post (or more) to develop a killer headline. I’ve always had trouble with “grabbing” headlines, unfortunately.

    So I’ve decided to take your challenge… It’s not *exactly* the formula of the Cosmo headlines you’ve supplied, but very close:

    5 traits of successful people and how to apply them in your life


  7. Let’s face it, “22 Best Tips” for anything but relationships is not the same as “A shocking thing 68% of chicks do in bed.” Some fields are better suited to this approach than others. Hmmm… I’d need something like “Sex, Drugs, and Lost Dogs: Character Education in Middle School Unveiled.” Or maybe “12 Shocking Ways to Get Teens Really Excited about Math.” “Eureka: Things Philosophers Have Thought Up While Naked.” Okay. I think I’m getting the hang of it.
    My blog would definitely be banned in schools if I did that, though.

  8. Rebecca, the idea is to take the structure and then make it tone-appropriate for your subject matter. For example:

    12 Easy Ways to Get Teens Excited About Math

    Eureka: A Real Life Guide to Practical Application of Major Philosophical Principles

    And so on… Anyone can use this technique, as long as they have an open mind about it.

  9. Hey Brian, that’s a really useful piece of advice.

    I don’t know if this has already been mentioned or not… but you can access just about any magazine cover you want without leaving your chair.

    Just go to:

    And click on the covers.

    You’ll get the current month cover of any magazine they sell — including Cosmo.

  10. Hey Brian,

    It’s definitely a great headline “cheat sheet”.

    Another one is to go to, click on “images” and then type in “Cosmo”. That’ll also give you a bunch of good headlines to look at.

    Both those resources make finding great headline ideas super fast and easy.

  11. Ben, that is a fantastic tip, thanks so much for posting it!

    And thanks to Brian for this inspiration, as that ad agency post has been getting a lot of nice attention.

  12. Okay, Brian … here’s my headline:

    “Your Copy Career : Mega Performance Secrets Your Creative Director Forgot to Mention … But These Porn Stars Will!”

    I didn’t call my post this because I didn’t want salacious Google Adsense ads appearing :=)

    In Praise of Older Women: Reframe the Perception, Refresh the Persona »

  13. Anything with CIA in it is a Cosmo headline I suspect…

    Here is one attempt, heading up the recent waterboarding interview techniques reported by the Washington Post recently.

    “We are Better Behaved These Days” – CIA

  14. Thanks for the tips. This technique made the posts almost write themselves! Here’s one from my blog
    Debt Collectors Revealed — Five Lies We Tell Consumers (And How To Stop Them)

  15. Your (Employee) Engagement Guaranteed! Ask and Answer These 4 Questions.

    That’s the title. It’s a takeoff on Cosmopolitan’s online “Your Orgasm — Guaranteed!
    We have seven positions that have been tweaked and tailored by sex experts to help you reach the peak every single time — plus, a few extra tricks so the road to bliss is even more of a sure thing.”


  16. Great article and so inspiring! Love the approach, next to finding it seriously entertaining. Especially good to overcome the seriousness one can drop into when feeling all creativity is dried up. Thanks!

  17. I’m a new reader who just completed the Cosmo remix so I thought I’d go back into your archives and complete the original challenge. I changed the number to 25 because I couldn’t restrain myself.

    The 25 Best Pedicure Tips Ever

    I’m usually reject the urge to make unsubstantiated claims like “best” in my content out of hand, but I have to admit: “The 25 Pretty Darn Good Pedicure Tips At Least Some of Which You Probably Haven’t Heard of Before” just isn’t as catchy.

  18. Assuming you find at least one appropriate survey or study –or can create one — that “shocking” headline would work great in our industry! Try these on for size:

    “A Shocking Thing xx% of Telecommuters Do on the Clock” …for an ethics article.

    “A Shocking Thing xx% of Writers Do When They’re Behind Schedule” …for an article on improving your efficiency.

    “A Shocking Thing xx% of Reviewers Do With Your Documents” …for an article about working with engineers & product managers.

    I can’t wait to try writing email subject headers this way…

  19. I try to keep away from magazines like Cosmo as much as possible, but their headlines are really good. Thanks for putting those headlines together – they’ve given me some ideas without having to dig through that glossy.

  20. Is it a coincidence that Perry Marshall also uses Cosmo for great headlines? Luckily for me my girlfriend has a bunch of these mags laying around so I don’t have to buy them myself. haha.

  21. Wow! Those are excellent. I’ve got a few blog posts scheduled to go up. I’m going to tweak the titles using these examples and work on the content a little more to suit the titles. This is a great challenge.

  22. i think its really good thing to make a good headline
    but if have a web site or blog with more competitive topic then how can i optimize my me i have no traffic to blog..

  23. What a great idea–find an article title that makes you want to read it, then reuse it, but apply it to my niche. Brilliant. I’m learning that the idea of copying other people is not as bad as I was taught it was as a child–the key to doing it in an “okay” way, or rather, to making it work for me rather than against me, is to hone the skill of making somebody else’s idea my own, of putting my own spin on it. That’s really hard to explain; I wonder how hard it’s going to be to put it into practice. Sounds like a blog post waiting to happen!

  24. This is a great idea! Cosmo here I come to look for some mind boggling headlines to incorporate into my article writing. I’m going to challenge myself to use each of the headlines above in an article that applies to my niche.

  25. I like this on: Cosmo Headline – “Guys Spill: White Lies They Tell Women All the Time”
    I will definitely use it.
    BTW I’ve never realized that reading this junkcan be very beneficial for me and that I can learn how t owrite better headlines this way. Thanks a lot for that.

    Vaclav Gregor

  26. Hey Brian and Sonia,

    I just started the IMSP series, and it rocks. I’ve taken some of the things I’ve learned from the first few lessons, as well as several of your other articles here on Copyblogger, and I’ve already noticed a huge difference. I wrote a list of 10 Best Ways to Read on a Budget, and literally overnight gained 21 subscribers to my blog. This is amazing, because previously I had ZERO subscribers. 😀

    You guys have me on the road to my dream: making money by reading and sharing books and comics. Thank you so much for everything!

    PS: I’m really thinking about buying that Premise theme. I’m a web designer but coding a WP theme from scratch takes entirely too long, especially now that I’m no longer freelance and work all day.

  27. I haven’t written a blog yet but I am working on my writing skills. Although there isn’t any educational requirements to blog I kind of feel that writing is only half the battle. I want to design my own page and learn how to do some online marketing. Lately I’ve been taking online classes at which offers a variety of course needed to enhance any blog.

    Hey if your going to do it…do it right the first time.

  28. HI Brian,
    Great article. I love your creativity

    A great book where I get a lot of ideas from is
    “As One Mad with Wine and other Similes”

    The more one stands out, the more one gets noticed 🙂

    Thank you for your contribution,
    Jeff Faldalen

  29. This is has been quite helpful. I started blogging without much experience and have just been using simple headlines which did not attract much traffic. So I believe what you’re stating in your blog will go a long way in helping some of us improve on our blog posts.
    Keep up the good work. You’ve been a source of inspiration and motivation to bloogers.

  30. I loved your article and took it seriously. I changed the title of yesterday’s post on my blog from “Morning Outing on Lake Baringo” to “Huge Croc Surprised on Lake Baringo”–it happened, so that’s the way I wrote about it, with all the exciting stuff right at the top. I almost wrote it as “Croc Attack on Lake Baringo” but that would have been overboard, not true as it implies that someone was injured or killed by a croc here. That has happened in the past, so it’s not prudent to tempt fate.

    Anyway, thanks a bunch for giving such super advice. I’m going to be writing HOT titles from now on!!

  31. Oh yes, I changed one of the Cosmo headlines above to “Weight Loss Help: Crucial New Facts Your Doc Won’t Tell You”. So much better than my boring headlines!

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