I Suck at Writing Subject Lines (But It's Ok & Here's Why)

Writing emails for content marketing purposes is, hands down, one of the most difficult things I've ever learned how to do. This is coming from someone who cried in their sophomore geometry class because proofs were so difficult and complicated. Well, sophomore-year-in-high-school me, you're in for a shocker: a writing task (writing! your favorite!) is even more difficult. 

Thanks to all the content marketing resources out there, I've gotten better (perhaps even "good") at writing email marketing. I wouldn't call myself an expert, necessarily, but I get the job done.

Most writers will tell you that subject lines (or titles or headlines) are the most difficult part of writing: how can you sum up everything in an article, a book, or an email with one succinct phrase--and still inspire people to open the email, click the article, or buy the book? 

The short answer: you shouldn't. 

Subject lines are my writer Achilles's heel: they are my ultimate weakness. They are my greatest challenge when it comes to writing. 

I've read every article in existence on writing better subject lines, how to write subject lines to get clicks, to get opens, to change the game. Trust me, I've done the legwork. I've attended webinars and signed up for email newsletters on the subject. I've done A/B testing; I've completed worksheets; I'm written and rewritten and rewritten again. 

No matter what, I come to the same conclusion: I suck at writing subject lines. And that's ok. 

I can hem and haw over a subject line, or title, for hours potentially. I debate over how to perfectly sum up what I've written. Then, I have to take into account everything else: what will interest people? What will get the most clicks? Or opens? I can debate for hours. I can download all the ebooks and read all the articles. I can do as much as I can to avoid actually hitting send or publish. 

But the truth is: a subject line is just a subject line. You can do everything right and still not get as many opens as you wanted. There is no perfect formula to the perfect subject line or title.  Sometimes, something works and you have no idea why. Sometimes, something just clearly does not jive and you won't know why. 

That's ok. 

We want to believe that marketing can be brought down to pure math, that you can determine everything by numbers. But when you combine the power of words with the rigidity of math, it's never going to be perfect; add in the subjectivity of the average human and it's never going to make 100% sense. We can only know the basics of what works and even that is iffy sometimes. 

I'm always going to suck a little bit at writing subject lines and titles, mostly because I get overwhelmed at how important they are. And that's ok. It's ok to not be perfect at everything (as tough as it is to admit). It's also ok that sometimes subject lines flop, despite killer content; it's ok that sometimes you need to A/B test, tweak a title once it's published, or experiment. 

It doesn't have to be perfect from the get-go. Take the pressure off and allow yourself to experiment and find what works for you and your audience. But don't get too set on any one method or style: it will probably change tomorrow.