avatarMichael Lim

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These 42 Article Headlines Made Me Over $16,048 on Medium. Here’s What They Have In Common

Talk about the eternal markets = wealth, health & relationships

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I started writing on Medium 4.5 years ago.

I tried everything to grow. Bought courses. Read books. Listened to podcasts. Copied others. Tried every ‘growth hack’ under the sun. You name it, I’ve tried it.

But nothing seemed to work for me.

It was only in the last 9 months that I was able to grow my Medium audience from 6,600 to 30,000+. I’m now growing more in one month than I did in 3 years combined.

So, what did I do differently?

Improve my headlines.

Yep. The humble headline got me way more views and reads in my articles.

My writing quality and quantity stayed roughly the same. But when I focused on creating killer headlines, everything changed for me.

Here’s why…

Most people will only ever read the headline and thumbnail of your article.

You’ve got 2–5 seconds to get their attention, create curiosity, and get them to click.

As David Ogilvy once said,

“On average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Here’s are 7 things I did to improve them:

#1: Offer painkillers, not vitamins.

People read ONLY to solve their problems and nothing else.

Whenever I write anything, I fill out this formula:

“I’m helping X person achieve Y outcome through Z solution.”

This one sentence helps to frame my entire article.

Understand people’s self-interest, and then write to satisfy that interest.

Don’t treat your writing like a personal diary.

Offer transformations, not just improvements.

#2: Master the dark arts of storytelling

Humans are wired for storytelling.

My best-performing articles are about my business failures, rather than successes.

  • How I got myself into a bad cash flow position.
  • How I almost crashed my one-person business.
  • How I underpriced myself and took on toxic clients.

It resonated because it was a real and relatable experience.

You have unique experiences and stories to tell from your life.

So tell them.

#3: Be clear, not clever.

Use simple words.

Short sentences.

Dotpoints.

KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid.

#4: Use emotions:

Lean into how you feel.

Use anger, frustration, sadness, and desperation in your writing.

Emotion is the only thing that AI can’t automate.

#5: Be vulnerable:

Talk from your scars, not your wounds.

Give yourself time to heal.

But use your vulnerability to connect with your audience.

People relate to mistakes, not perfection.

#6: Talk about the eternal markets

Eternal markets = health, wealth, or relationships.

These are problems that humans will grapple with their whole life.

How can I make more money? (wealth) How can I live longer with a higher quality of life? (health) How can I have more meaningful connections with people? (relationships)

Link everything you write about back to one of these markets.

Don’t know how? Read the first sentence of this post.

#7: I stopped writing alone.

Writing is lonely, but it doesn’t have to be.

The fastest way I improved my writing was by joining a creator community.

  • Surround yourself with people on the same journey as you.
  • Create a shared channel to give feedback and share wins.
  • Jump on a weekly call to troubleshoot problems and create new ideas.

Your writing ability will never exceed your level of investment.

Your headlines can be reused for everything:

  • Email subject lines
  • Hooks for short-form Reels & TikToks
  • YouTube titles

An investment in your headlines pays the best dividends.

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