how to write headlines

The first and the most important part of any content is the headline.

8 out of 10 people read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 read the rest, on average.

This shows you the power of a headline.

If a person likes the headline, chances are that he is going to read the rest of your article.

No wonder certain people get paid piles of money just to write great headlines and copy.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend years learning the art of copywriting to get started.

There are much simpler ways to write exceptional headlines.

And I’m going to show them to you.

The secret to cheating

I don’t consider myself a good copywriter, but I do know how to cheat very well. Meaning, I don’t know how to write great copy (yet), but I know how to find people who are awesome at it and do exactly what they are doing.

There are different schools of thought on how to learn:

First being the classical – begin with the basics. Learn the history behind everything before even thinking about attempting anything. It’s the Mr. Miyagi wax on, wax off approach before learning kung-fu moves.

Well, that’s not my style. I want to do the fancy kung-fu moves right now and I learn best from falling flat on my face. No pain, no gain.

What I like to do is dive head first into something, find out the things that work the best, and later discover the reason why.

This gives you a much higher payoff right off the bat as well as keeps you interested a lot longer. If you succeed at something you will be much more motivated to pursue it longer.

Learning how to mop the floor before doing a roundhouse kick in the bad guys face just isn’t very motivating for me.

This is why I like to cheat (and throw roundhouse kicks like Chuck Norris. Huaaa!).

Write Headlines Like Chuck Norris Kicks

Headline Swipe File

A swipe file is an essential tool in your toolbox. Especially when you are starting out.

I have already covered what types of posts to write and how long your blog posts should be.

Now it’s time to learn how to write amazing headlines and the swipe file is the key to your success.

What is a swipe file?

Basically a swipe file is just a collection of great headlines (or copy). For me it’s just a Google docs spreadsheet with all the great headlines I have come across.

Each time I see a post that has done exceptionally well (tons of comments, shares, tweets) or has grabbed my attention in one way or another I just add the title to the spreadsheet.

It’s no secret that even all the pro copywriters have and use swipe files regularly. Heck, you can even buy them (I haven’t bought any so I can’t recommend you one, but I think that making your own swipe file is the best approach).

Your swipe file doesn’t only have to be about article headlines. It could be about anything: email subject lines, sales copy, advertisements, landing pages etc.

Having a swipe file will improve your copywriting by tenfold. It’s like having all the fancy kung-fu moves in your arsenal whenever you might need them. And when you are doing marketing you will need them all the time.

So watch out Chuck Norris! (Just kidding, I want to live)

PS: Another good reason to have a swipe file is that you will never again have problems with finding new blog post ideas. Just scan your swipe file and in minutes you’ll have several new ideas.

Action time.

Go to your Google Docs and create a new spreadsheet and name it “swipe file”. Taking immediate action is crucial to your success.

Done?

Great. Now add this post title as your first entry. (Because why not? :D)

If you are in need of an awesome title right now then keep reading…

Tried and tested headline templates

To get you started, here are 7 templates that are guaranteed to work.

When you are writing you next headline just pick one of the seven below and you are almost guaranteed success.

1. The [Someone’s/Famous person] Guide To [Blank]

When you mention someone famous it automatically gives people the feeling of recognition and the headline catches their eye.

You are leveraging the persons fame to obtain curiosity.

Examples:

2. [Number] Things To Do Before/After [Blank]

This is a curiosity headline with a sense of urgency.

Maybe you haven’t done these things right after or before these actions? You have to find out. Immediately.

Examples:

3. [Blank] Ways To [Blank]

You have probably seen this headline, in one form or another, everywhere. There’s a simple reason for it – it works.

When you see 56 ways to do anything you probably know that there are no way all of them are useful to you. But you just might find 1 or 2 gems in there that work like magic.

Examples:

You can also use an adjective instead of the number.

Examples:

4. [Blank] That No One Talks About

Uuu… exclusivity and secrecy. Must know these secret tactics that no one talks about.

This headline makes the reader feel special like they are about to discover something hidden that they shouldn’t know about. How can you not click on that title?

Examples:

  • Traffic Secrets That No One Talks About
  • The 5 Fat Loss Shortcuts That No One Talks About
  • Most Used WordPress Plugin That No One Talks About

5. [Number] Lies [Blank] Like To Tell [Blank]

With so much information floating around it’s hard to tell if all of it is true.

That’s the exact reason why this headline works so well. Everyone wants to expose the truth and know about the people that are lying to them.

Examples:

  • 9 Lies Internet Marketers Like To Tell You
  • 5 Lies SEO Experts Like To Tell To Stay Ahead Of The Game
  • 7 Lies Insurance Companies Like To Tell To Make You Pay More

6. [# Blank] Mistakes That Make You Look [Blank]

This headline plays on the fear or making mistakes. Specially making mistakes that you don’t know about. The worst kind.

You can’t afford not to know what these mistakes are. 7 possible mistakes you could be making is too much not to know about. Click. Read.

Examples:

7. How To [Blank] Your Way To [Blank]

How to titles are probably the most popular, because they are informative and beneficial.

This template works like a roundhouse kick does to stop a bad guy. Specially because it shows a simpler way to do something complex.

You can actually learn something, not just read for fun.

Examples:

  • How To Fast-Track Your Way Up The Corporate Ladder
  • How to Smooth Talk Your Way out of Trouble
  • How To Cheat Your Way To Writing Irresistible Headlines (You are reading it right now. So it worked! :D)

Bonus: Headline Formula

Headline formulas aren’t like templates where you just fill in the blanks, but are more like patterns where you have to understand the concept and  apply proper variables.

Instant Clarity Headline

Instant clarity headline is a formula described by Dane Maxwell. With this simple formula you can churn out amazing headlines in minutes.

Formula:

End Result Costumer Wants + Specific Period Of Time + Address the Objections.

You don’t need to use all three, all the time. Using the first item or the first and second item is ok as well. (But not as great).

Example:

  • Lose 30 Pounds Of Fat In 30 Days Without Starving Yourself.
  • Starting a Newsletter From Scratch In 30 Minutes Without Any Previous Experience

Domino’s Pizza used this formula to turn a small franchise into a billion dollar business:

  • “Fresh Hot Pizza Delivered To Your Door In 30 Minutes Or It’s Free” 

Powerful stuff.

 

These templates will improve your headline writing immediately.  Instead of trying to figure out if your headline is good or not, use one of the proven templates.

Get started with these templates to get more traffic and readers and once you see what kind of an effect a great headline has you can dig deeper into why they work.

What’s your favorite headline template or formula?

 

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