How To Write A Great Headline (that makes them want to read more) 

If you want to get the attention of your reader on your website, landing page, email, video, or anywhere you want to promote your product or service, then write a great headline.

Think about it. When you are browsing the magazine rack, reading a magazine on your tablet, or standing in line at the checkout counter, some of those headlines are catching your attention and possibly making you interested enough to pick up the magazine and find the article.

The same applies to your email. When you are looking through the hundreds of emails in your inbox, it probably takes an interesting subject line to get you to stop and read the email.

All of these are headlines. The purpose of the headline is simply to peak your interest and make you want to read more. And you don’t have to create something from scratch. Headlines are everywhere.

Study the classics

Here is an example of a classic headline that has been used hundreds if not thousands of time for many different businesses. This ad was written in 1926, but it is still as powerful today as the day it was written.

“They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano, But When I Started To Play!”

Here is the same “They Laughed When I Sat Down At The Piano…” headline used for a travel company.

“They Laughed When The Waiter Spoke To Me In French, But Their Laughter Changed To Amazement At My Reply!”

This is the same headline rewritten for a different business. That is how you can come up with a great headline. Just take an already great headline and rewrite it for your specific business.

One of the best I’ve ever heard is when Steve Jobs introduced the iPod with “1000 songs in your pocket.” Is that interesting? Does this make you want to learn more? See how powerful a great headline can be.

Here is a headline written by David Ogilvy for Rolls Royce car company – “At 60 miles per hour, the loudest noise comes from the clock”. WOW! That gets your attention if you are looking for the ultimate luxury car to impress your friends and neighbors. (And have $300K – $500K to drop on a car.)

David Ogilvy also wrote a classic copywriting book – “Ogilvy On Advertising” – that I highly recommend. One of the things I read in the book that has really stuck with me is, “On average five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy.”

So when it comes to the headline, most copywriters will invest a lot more time writing the headline than they will when writing the article (or body of their copy). If you don’t get their readers attention with the headline, chances are you won’t get them to read the rest of the copy.

Where do you find great headlines?

Next time you are in line at your local grocery store, browse the magazine rack close to the checkout counter while you are waiting in line. This could make you a lot of money. You will find some great headlines just waiting to be used in your business.

When you find something interesting, either take a picture of the magazine or write it in your notes app on your smartphone. I keep a swipe file on my phone with dozens of headlines I’ve found. I reference this any time I am starting a new copywriting project.

Look at magazine covers online. You can go to Google images and type in a magazine title to see the cover. I found a cover of Cosmopolitan magazine on Google Images. Who would think this type magazine would have anything of use to a marketing guy? Not a fan of the magazine, but I do like their headlines.

This is what I saw on the cover – “How to Become A Super Brand (by those who’ve done it)”. This could be used in so many ways for so many businesses. I changed this to use in my business to read “How To Become A Top Copywriter (see what top copywriters have to say)”.

See how easy it is to steal (I mean borrow) headlines from other places. Headlines are everywhere. It will be come easier for you to spot great headlines as you become aware and find more of them you can use in your writing.

A couple of online resources you can use are magazines.com and Google Trends.

Magazines.com has a large selection of magazine titles you can browse. And as I mentioned previously, you are just looking for headlines on the front cover of the magazine. You are probably not interested in the actual article. So this is a great tool for generating ideas.

Google Trends analyzes the popularity of recent search queries in Google Search. Go to trends.google.com and type in a search term or phrase to find related topics and related queries. This can be a hit or miss proposition sometimes depending on the topic, but it is another free tool you can use to get ideas for headlines.

What I have found is by spending more time on the headline, it helps generate more ideas for the content I’m working on. Especially if I’m writing SEO optimized content for a website or blog post where I am doing keyword research, Google searches, and finding what’s trending online.

Here are a few fill-in-the-blank headlines to help you get started.

How ________ Made Me ____________
How to __________________________
5 Ways to _______________________
Secrets of _______________________
Warning: ________________________

Here are a few more things to consider when writing your headline.

When you are writing your headline think about who you are targeting and how your article/blog post/video will help them. And after you finish your headline, ask yourself if your headline will arouse curiosity for the reader. Will it make them want to stop whatever they are doing and read your article? If it doesn’t, it’s time to rewrite. To get a great headline, you may go through several different versions before deciding on the right one for what you are trying to accomplish. You will rarely come up with a great headline right out of the gate.

Keep a swipe file either in a notebook, on a legal pad, or in your smartphone. This will keep you from running out of ideas and make it easier to write your next killer headline.

Don’t cheat yourself by settling for a not so great headline. It’s worth spending the time and doing the work to create a great headline. 80% of people will never read your blog post, article, web page, or watch your video if you don’t have a good headline. You have to pique your reader’s interest enough for them to want to learn more.

Now it’s time to get started writing your net moneymaking headline.

All the best,

Mike Coleman