A Creativity Exercise to Come Up with Counterintuitive Blog Post Titles that Get Clicked

In yesterday’s post, I shared a winning formula for blog post titles that get clicked. However, you don’t need to rely on the same formula over and over, day after day.

First, you might run out of ideas that fulfill that formula. Second, you don’t want to use the same template every day and drive away your followers. Luckily, there are other ways of composing blog post titles that attract readers.

The formula I’m going to discuss today involves combining two seemingly opposite concepts to come up with a counterintuitive argument. Remember, creativity isn’t about creating something out of nothing. Creativity is finding new relationships in already existing concepts.

When you come up with a counterintuitive argument, you trigger the curiosity of a reader. Curiosity is a strong motivator.

Let’s go over a few examples to explain the formula.

A Buddhist Monk’s Take on Business. The term “Buddhist monk” reminds us of financial scarcity. Business, on the other hand, reminds us of financial abundance. How do these two concepts mix with each other? The reader is instantly compelled to read the post to find out the answer to that question.

Personal Development Can Be Detrimental to Your Self-Esteem. How can that be? We get involved in personal development to improve our wellbeing. Our self-esteem is a part of our wellbeing. How can personal development be detrimental to our self-esteem?

Doing Nothing is Not Wasting Time. We need to work, study, exercise, or do something useful to make the best use of our time. How can doing nothing not be a waste of time?

A Billion Dollar Disaster of a Business Model. If a business has reached a billion dollar valuation, it must be an outstanding business, right? Not always. It’s not common, but once in a while, a business reaches an extreme valuation without a solid business model. It is that rareness that makes this case interesting.

Abundance is Harming Us. Humanity had to deal with scarcity for millions of years. Finally, we have reached the age of abundance. Abundance is praised as something positive everywhere. Now, there’s a blog post arguing that abundance is harming us?

A Counterintuitive Argument Is Not a Guaranteed Homerun

In some cases, a post title based on a counterintuitive argument performs poorly. However, my Medium stats show me that this type of title has a higher probability of being a hit.

The probability of being a flop always exists, but I’d rather take that chance. Otherwise, I risk repeating myself or writing mediocre posts that perform neither exceptionally well nor exceptionally poorly.

For the completeness of discussion, here are a few titles that didn’t perform well.

What We Can Learn from Trouble Kids. I thought this was a cute topic to write about and I seriously believe that we can learn a lot from trouble kids. Nevertheless, my prospective readers weren’t convinced of this title.

How to Deal with the Challenge of Infinite Possibilities when Starting a Business. Having many possibilities is usually considered to be something positive. However, having that many possibilities when starting a business can overwhelm the founders and result in a mental state called decision fatigue.

I tried to explain how to deal with that challenge in this post. However, I made a mistake. I used the “how to” construction in the title. As I have explained in yesterday’s post, the “how to” titles don’t perform well, except a few specific cases.

A Creativity Exercise: Coming Up with Counterintuitive Arguments

Honestly, I don’t use any specific method to come up with counterintuitive arguments. I just write down around ten ideas every day as they come up. That’s one of the eight ways I use to create content on a daily basis. Some of those ten daily ideas are counterintuitive arguments that are worth a blog post.

Alternatively, you can use the following exercise to come up with counterintuitive arguments on purpose.

  1. Come up with ten concepts.
  2. For each concept, write ten words or sentences.
  3. Write down the opposite of each word or sentence.
  4. Try to find a relation between the initial concept and the opposite word or sentence.
  5. If you can, you have your blog topic.
  6. If you can’t, try to come up with ten new words or sentences that are related to each word or sentence you have found on step 3. Keep doing this until you find your counterintuitive argument.

An Example

Let’s say the initial concept I came up with is “startup.” Now, I come up with some example words or sentences related to the word “startup.”

  • Opportunity
  • Hard work
  • Trial and Error
  • Learning
  • Only for young and single people
  • Only for rich people

I stopped after the sixth bullet point, because I already have my counterintuitive argument: “startups are not only for rich people.” Now, let’s come up with a few blog post titles related to that argument.

  • X Startup Founders Who Succeeded on a Lean Budget

Actually, I have stopped after the first title, because I’m already satisfied with it. It’s counterintuitive enough, and I’m sure that it will attract a lot of curious readers.

Now, all I have to do is to Google the keywords “startup founders who succeeded on lean budgets.” Then, read those stories and compose a blog post around them.


One way of composing blog post titles that get clicked is to come up with counterintuitive arguments. When you come up with a counterintuitive title, there are two possible outcomes. Either you attract a lot of readers or your post becomes mostly ignored.

If you come up with an interesting counterintuitive title, the chances are higher that your blog post will receive a lot of clicks. So, this is a risk you might want to take.

If you want to come up with counterintuitive arguments, write down your ideas as they come up throughout the day. Some of them will be counterintuitive arguments. Alternatively, you can use the exercise above.

As it is with all the other winning title formulas, you better deliver in your post what you promise in your title. Otherwise, all the traffic in the world won’t help you achieve your goals.

Burak Bilgin
Software developer with a Ph.D. and 15 years of experience. I write daily on personal development and life lessons. Sign up to my email newsletter to receive a weekly overview of my latest content on personal development and life lessons.