I thought I understood clickable headlines, and then I realized that I missed the most important thing

Last year I wrote a blog post on the 8 secrets that writers use to trick readers into clicking on their headlines. I shared the blog post on Medium a little later where the post went viral and got more than 20K views in the next few days.

Afterward, I felt proud of myself. Having a post go viral feels great. But beyond that, I thought I understood headlines .I thought I understood most of the important tricks writers used for clickbait headlines, and I felt informed enough not to be duped by bad headlines.

Recently, then I looked back at the post, thought of Upworthy (the master of clickbait headlines), and realized that I missed the most important thing about great clickable headlines.

For those that don’t know, Upworthy has built a business of finding shareable content, and making it go viral by creating great headlines. They have mastered the art and science of it. For each piece of content, they come up with 25 possible headlines, and then put them through a system that tests each of them to figure out which headline is the best.

And if you look at their headlines, one thing pops up over and over: they create a curiosity gap.

That means that after you read the post, you immediate ask a question, “what? how? what happened? who?”.

The curiosity gap, is all over Upworthy. Just check out the image below of today’s headlines.


See, it is all over.

Totally missed the curiosity gap *facepalm*.



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