Get the Most From Medium Articles with Clickbait ‘How-To’ Headlines
Instead of smashing your screen with a brick when you realize you’ve been fooled again
You know how it goes. The article headline promises something appealing — overnight success on Medium, an instant weight loss technique, a personal habit that will automatically make you more attractive — so you click on it. As you skim to see if it’s worth reading, you catch a few bolded statements, a few bullet points, and the conclusion.
Disappointed, you click out of the article. It’s not really a formula for a better anything. It’s either fake news, or someone else’s success story complete with selfies, or a sales pitch for a product (note: I am all about people’s stories and even most sales pitches, I just believe those articles should be honestly titled).
Once again, you’ve been scammed by an article that doesn’t keep the promise the title makes.
Mildly annoyed, you’re determined that you’re not going to fall for the same trap twice. But then you stumble across a new article that promises an easy method to make an absurd amount of money in two weeks working from home in your jammies, and you click on it. And it’s the same thing as the last 25 articles you’ve looked at. Fake news.
Somebody? Anybody? Please tell me I’m not the only one who clicks on articles that promise one thing, only to be disappointed when I realize they dramatically under deliver.
Why are we so easily fooled by clickbait titles?
Surely, it’s not because we want to waste time reading pointless articles. And I know it’s not because we all have lots of time on our hands and nothing better to do.
Because clickbait always promises what we all want: an instant way to achieve “better.”
A better financial state. A better body. A better love life, better job, better shot at overnight success . . . You name it, there’s an article out there that promises it.
But at the end of the day, 99% of the articles don’t actually do anything for you besides leave you feeling empty as you read about someone else’s wild success and think, There’s no way I’ll be able to do that.
It becomes a vicious cycle as hopelessness breeds the desire to read more articles that might change your life and bring success, but the articles continue to be a waste of time. After all, we know deep down what really triggers success — hard work, persistence, patience, dedication — but we’re all hoping for the easy shortcut that clickbait promises, so we keep reading those articles.
Up to this point, I haven’t told you anything you don’t know: Clickbait is annoying and we’ve all been fooled by it.
But what if there was a way to make clickbait articles useful?
That’s right. Maybe clickbait doesn’t have to be the bane of your internet existence. Maybe there’s a formula to use those articles as tools instead of a time wasters.
Next time you’re scrolling through your feed and you see a clickbait title that you absolutely have to read, follow these three steps so you’ll know when to bail. They can save you time, and maybe even actually help you get a little closer to what the article is promising you.
1. Is this a change I can even make?
I’m a firm believer that if a person sets their mind to something, they can accomplish almost anything. But there’s a difference between what you can achieve through hard work, like running a marathon, and what you can’t actually change, like who your parents are.
As you’re about to dive into yet another article that makes a big promise, stop for a moment. Think about if it’s something you can actually change about your life, or if it’s something you’re stuck with.
If you can’t change it, grit your teeth and scroll past the article and focus on changing your attitude instead.
If you can, great. Click that link and start reading.
2. Is this a ‘How-to’ Article or a ‘How-I’ article?
There are millions of gems around the internet in the form of “How-To” articles. Unfortunately, there are also millions of “How-To” articles that don’t actually deliver what they promise, and instead are crammed full of affiliate links for things you should buy (I have a real-life example of this from a few weeks ago when I was trying to get cat urine out of the seat of my car, and the top five “How-To” articles on Google were selling products instead of offering the home remedy that I’d searched for).
There’s also an abundance of “How-I” articles, which can be interesting accounts of someone’s success story, but they can also be a tremendous waste of time — after all, every single person is different and all of our situations are different.
How one person gets rich and famous isn’t any guarantee for how another person can get rich and famous.
So, if you click on it and three sentences in, discover it’s a “How-To” article that’s just selling something, or a “How-I” article that’s full of self-aggrandizement and not real help, click out of that article faster than a greased pig runs on the Fourth of July.
3. Find the nugget
Once you’ve determined that this clickbait article is about something you can change and isn’t just a product pitch or a story about someone winning the lottery, read on.
But as you read, keep one thing in mind.
A lot of articles that claim to have helpful information end up being a flood of ideas and tips. You won’t be able to remember any of them, much less put them into practice.
So don’t try to fill your pockets with proverbial gold dust — look for the nugget. Don’t resolve to do every single thing from the article, just find one thing, action point or general takeaway, to remember and do.
Brick layers lay bricks one at a time. You can make big life changes one tiny step at a time.
Keep Reading Clickbait Articles
I’ll be the first to say that a lot of articles with clickbait titles are a waste of time — unfortunately, I know from experience. But they aren’t all bad. A lot of them have at least one helpful idea that really can change your life if you take it seriously.
And, just to remind you of something I know you already know, at the end of the day, your attitude matters more than any article you read or main point you take away.
There’s no instant formula to any “better,” but there are three tips to live by if you’re searching for clickbait-style success:
- Work hard
- Be patient
- Don’t give up
If you combine those with the gold nugget tips you’ve learned from clickbait articles, you’ll be a giant step closer to having the right to write one of those “How-I” articles.
And when you’re rich, famous, and wildly successful — or even just making it, moderately well-known, and relatively successful — and you write that article about your story and the formula you used, and we’ll all do our best to learn from you.