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May 11, 2016

8 Clever GQ Headline Formulas You Should Be Using to Get More Blog Reads

If your audience isn’t actually enjoying what you’re trying to pitch to them, they probably aren’t going to read—or share.

One brand that is nailing the “enjoying it” part with its content creation is GQ. It is a master at creating a balance of truly shareable content for its specific audience.

Check out a couple content topics I found when browsing their home page:


The first one is totally related to its audience and would probably get shared and hold interest for various people, especially those geo-tied to the location. The second one will probably get a little more shares than the first: it’s “shocking.”

What’s that? Sean Penn wants to borrow my day-old-baby? What the heck?

Utterly flabber-gasting thought. GQ, you got me. I’m clicking. And I have no interest in GQ on a normal basis.

This is the type of traction you want as a blogger. To capture everyone who is on your page viewing your topics. To learn how to do it like GQ does it, keep reading.

Nearly all headlines at GQ can fit into one of these eight example formulas.

1. How to Do X Basic But Secretly Hard Task: {How to Dress for the Gym} {How to Combat Thinning Hair}

2. How to Do X Amazing Thing: {How to Get Ripped, in Prison} {How to Have Sex in a Two Person Sleeping Bag}

3. What’s That One Thing You Need to Know: {No-Show Socks to Save Your Feet (and Shoes}, {The Wise Alternatives to Rental Tuxes}, {The Secret to Living 100 Years}

4. Things To Learn from X: {6 Style Moves to Steal from Justin Timberlake} {Nick Offerman’s Guide to the Holiday}

5. Who Did What: {This Guy Dropped 77 F-Bombs in One Epic Rant} {President Obama Reveals All in His Final Four Bracket}

6. That One Crazy Question: {Can Women be Douchebags?} {Is There a Right Way to Get Naked?}

7. Listen Dude, This Is How It Is: {Your Socks Need an Update. Here It Is}, {You’ve Been Shaving Wrong This Whole Time (So Were We)}

8. Wildcard Headline You Didn’t See Coming: {Sean Penn Would Like to Borrow Your 1-Day-Old Baby in Exchange for $119}, {BuzzFeed Is Trying To Kill Me}

I think these formulas, or GQ topic categories, can be used for almost any brand.

For instance, I’m going to see just how these formulas would work for me. I own a copywriting agency, and my topics are often on content marketing and all things copywriting.

Here’s what I came up with following the style of the first 3 GQ points.

  1. How to Write Correctly (It’s Harder Than it Sounds)
  2. How to Be an Amazing Blogger in No Time at All
  3. The One Secret You Need to Know to Be Awesome at Spelling

You better believe those are going on my editorial calendar.


Take headline inspiration from the fashion icon, GQ, and you might just boost your blog readership with your next GQ-inspired topic.


Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.