How to write clickbait blog posts your readers will devour

By Brittany Taylor

I’ll admit it: I love a great clickbait post. I will bow down at the altar of the clickbait gods.

Does it have a shitty reputation? Uh-yup. Does the name sound gross and grimy and potentially infectious? Mhmm. But it’s also the delicious sort of guilty pleasure brain food that you sneak when no one else is looking.

Clickbait is the Double Stuf Oreo of the blogging world. And just like that chocolate sandwich cookie with all that creamy filling, it has the potential to make your followers go wild.

Well, maybe.

What’s the difference between good clickbait and bad clickbait?

This is it: Good clickbait makes you feel something. Bad clickbait is just…meh. Mediocre. Whatever.

Human beings are motivated almost entirely by feelings. Emotions are our drivers. Shiny, delectable, addictive clickbait tugs on those emotions. It makes us bookmark and Pin and comment and share.

Want legions of fans to gobble up your content the same way you sneak Nabisco boxes into your grocery cart? No problem-o. You just have to create the good kind.

Here’s how to write clickbait that makes your audience think, “This is hysterical and fun and ____. I need to share this with every single person I know, right now.”

action plan

How to fit clickbait into your content strategy

So “10 signs you’re basically Hermione Granger, but with a laptop and an online business” doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of your blog content, eh?

I know. It doesn’t fit into mine, either. The Ravenclaw within me is upset about that.

What you don’t want to do is go off on a fluffy tangent every other month. If you’re not “10 Deatheaters” this and “5 spells you could pull off” that, don’t go in that direction. Seriously, don’t.

Remember: For clickbait to fit into your content strategy, it needs to maintain the quality of the rest of your content. It needs to be just as good.

Do use clickbait to further your message, not as a side note

Just because its primary goal is to entertain readers doesn’t mean that's its only goal.

You can use it to bring your point of view to more people. Use the theme, the content itself, the personal stories, and the pop culture references to help you do that. Show a soft side, but a side that is still business-oriented.

Do put the content first

Clickbait’s biggest problem is headlines that don’t deliver. Every good headline should honestly represent and summarize the content it’s attached to, and that’s particularly true with clickbait headlines.

To avoid crafting headlines that are stereotypically clickbait-y, write the content first.

Write the blog post without thinking about the headline. After you’re finished, take a stab at an appropriate headline. And before you hit “publish,” take a moment to be brutally honest about the headline you choose. Ask yourself if it’s accurate, and if the content that follows it will disappoint the people who click on it or thrill them.

One major "don't": Don’t look at clickbait as a throwaway post

That’s how you get a “go straight to jail” card from the content gods. Look at these types of posts as another tool in your blogging arsenal that can help you connect with your audience in a more personal way than you usually do.

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How to brainstorm clickbait content

You don’t have to consider yourself a creative to bring originality and personality to your work. Regardless of how straight-laced or analytical your work may be, you can still write blog posts that are packed with who you are and what you love outside of the office.

My go-to is a Harry Potter reference, but patronus puns aren't clickbait must-haves. Don’t force yourself to go main-stream or on-trend; be unapologetically you (though, you should be mindful of how conservative your industry is before you publish a post your peers might consider a little too extra or racy or weird).

Here are a few different tactics to try:

Back into it

Use examples in your regular posts that are a bit fluffier than usual. Try drawing from pop culture references or personal experiences.

Add a fluffy spin to a normal-for-you post

Think along the lines of “The pros and cons of WordPress, Squarespace, Blogger, and Wix (with a little help from Hogwarts’ houses)” and “5 tactics for writing an Instagram bio (like your favorite Friends friend).”

Go full-on fluff

…but make it a “whoa, this is epic!” post, just like all your other posts. Shoot for big numbers that’ll make people wonder how the heck you came up with so many things to say about X, oodles of graphics and illustrations, thematic GIFs, explanatory videos or SlideShares—you know, big, good, shareworthy stuff that stands out purely because it’s so big and good.

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- Brittany Taylor