EPP 154: 5 Actionable Tips To Help You Write Powerful Headlines

Do you pay attention to your headlines when you post a new blog post, new video or a podcast episode? A headline could make or break your content and that’s what we’ll be talking about in this week’s episode of the Extra Paycheck Podcast.

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create great headlines

If you stumbled upon 2 different articles titled “About Headlines” and “5 Actionable Tips To Help You Write Catchy Headlines”. Which one would you want to read? Let me guess, the second one. You are not the only one. Most of your readers, viewers and listeners would also pick the second option. It describes what the article is actually about and it promises five actionable tips that will help you improve your headline copywriting.

I often say that the most important part of your online business is content. However, if you don’t market that content it won’t get any views. Coming up with a proper headline is a crucial part of your marketing strategy and you should definitely pay attention to it. Let’s explore 5 different tips that will help you with your headlines, content and marketing.

Start With a Headline

We often come up with a quick headline once we’re ready to publish our content. However doing the opposite works wonders. Think of a good headline before creating the actual content. A headline is like a promise to your audience and once you come up with a good promise you’ll need to come up with matching content. In other words, a good headline will actually help you create great content.

As I mentioned in the episode, “4 Overlooked Strategies That Will Help You Rank On Google’s First Page” actually promises to reveal four different strategies while “Ranking on Google” sounds too broad and not interesting. Since you know that you need to come up with 4 different strategies you’ll become more creative and it’ll be easier for you to create that very specific piece of content. It’s almost magic, try it.

Also when thinking of a headline ask yourself this question: “Would I share an article with this title on Social Media?”. If the answer is a firm yes then it’s a good headline. A lot of people share content that they haven’t even read. They see an appealing headline and they think of a friend who will be interested in such content so they share it with that friend (without having read that content). If the headline is boring then they’ll simply skip over it.

Do Not Use Clickbait Headlines

“She opened the door of her car and you wouldn’t believe what she saw!!!1!11!” or “17 Secrets Your Best Boyfriend Doesn’t Want You To Know” or “A school girl gave her lunch to a homeless man. What he did next will leave you in tears!”.

Look, I value my click. If you aren’t able to give me a hint about what that homeless man did then I will not click on your stupid link. Remember how every single corner of the internet was littered with these shocking and intriguing headlines just recently? It seems like people are finally starting to get tired of them. Sure, they are still many online publication that use Clickbait titles and there are still people that still get excited when they see such headlines (looking at you, mom) but the trend is finally dying. Through experience we learned that most of the time these shocking headlines usually bring us to mediocre (at best) content that is not as awesome as the author claims.

Here is my point. Make your headlines interesting and exciting but don’t make a promise if you can’t deliver. Tricking your audience into clicking on a headline will only result in that audience never coming back to your content. And this is quite the opposite of what we’re trying to achieve: building a loyal fan base.

You think this was a good tip? You can’t even imagine what’s coming up later! 🙂


Use “How To” and numbers

I bet half of my Google searches start with “How to”. I imagine it’s the same for you. We often turn to the internet for entertainment and/or for information. “How To Finally Lose 20 Lbs Without Going To The Gym” and “How To Completely Redesign Your House For $1,000” will certainly get a lot of clicks. I am not saying that every headline you ever write should contain these words but if you’re teaching someone HOW TO do something specific then it’s a good idea to include it in the title. Once again, it helps your headline to make a promise to your audience.

Numbers get a lot of attention. Forget the typical “10 Best Laptops” and get more creative. Odd numbers seem to do better when it comes to CTR (Click-through-rate) for whatever reason. “7 Secrets Do Simple Healthy Eating” just sounds more authentic than “10 Secrets”. You will need to play with these numbers and figure out what works best for your content. Also remember that it’s better to come up with less “secrets” but come up with some awesome ones rather than coming up with a longer list of mediocre “secrets”. Test everything.

2 years ago I wrote a very long blog post titled “30 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read“. Initially it was a list of 32 books. I tracked the CTR for a while and felt like it wasn’t all that great. I made 1 single change and change 32 to 30. The CTR increased significantly so I left it at 30. I do not know why this happened but my audience obviously preferred a list of thirty. My point is, longer list does not necessarily means better results.


Mention Benefits

Benefits are incredibly important. This is something I read in several books. When you’re trying to sell something concentrate on benefits and not the features. Your customer doesn’t care about the fact that your gadget has only 3 buttons but they do care the fact that it’s convenient to use. “Batteries Included” is a typical features but “Ready To Use Out Of The Box” is the benefit. The same applies to your headlines. Don’t just talk about your content but talk about what’s in for your audience.

“3 Easy Yoga Routines That Will Make You Feel Zen” – sure, some people will click this headlines just for the 3 routines but most will click for the benefit of feeling zen. Remember it’s the benefits that sell and not the features. Apply this rules in your headlines if possible.


Study Headlines

“They laughed when I sat down at the piano — But when I started to play!” was written in 1926 by John Caples for the U.S. School of Music. To this day it’s considered one of the most brilliant headlines in the human history. Sure, it reads a little bit like clickbait (and most clickbait websites milked this thing for years) – there is no denying, it’s brilliant.

It’s after this ad appeared in the newspaper that we started paying more attention to headlines and the concept of copywriting.

Popular online and offline magazines have teams of professional who come up with great headlines. This is why you should pay attention to such publication on order to get inspired. Look at your favorite (major) blogs and go through their headlines. Look at your competitors (especially those who are doing extremely well) and pay attention to their headlines. What kind of language are they using? How do they structure these headlines? Don’t go blatantly ripping off their titles but use them for inspiration.

Remember that these tips don’t apply ONLY to your blog posts but also to your YouTube videos, podcast episodes and all other content that you publish online.

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