June 20, 2018

How to write great headlines

Write great headlines to get more click throughs to your content

If you learn how to write great headlines, you'll have greatly improved your chances of your content actually being read.

A great headline does around 90% of the work when it comes to your content. It's job is to grab the attention of your ideal clients and make them click into your content. If they're not noticing or clicking, it doesn't matter how great the article is, it won't get read. And therefore won't be influencing any action taking,  meaning zero impact and zero $!

The 4 U's of a Great Headline

I like to use the above and the 4 U's of headlines to measure the impact of my headlines.

  • Ultra-Specific (Relevance to your ideal client and specific topic)
  • Useful (Relevance, Offers a Big Promise)
  • Unique (in some way - this can include a shock factor or a unique angle or take on a pre-existing idea)
  • Urgent (if you need to leave one out, this is the one to leave out when it comes to a headline as it's the least important out of the 4)

Be mindful of your content goal & Platform

If you're writing an email subject header, your main goal is to get them to click through and read the email. But it's also important to note that if they're on your email list, particularly if they've been on there a while they 'should' know that they are your ideal client. So some details around the relevance to the 'who' can potentially be missed out as they already know your content will be relevant to them and they just want to know if the topic is relevant to them. Or you may want to put more of a prominence on making the headline create curiosity or appeal by being useful.

If you're writing on a social media platform to a pool of people who may or may not be your ideal client, making the headline appeal the 'who' would be more  important to make sure you get the right readers who you can help further. Remember there are no hard and fast rules, and you could narrow down your content funnel in the second article once you've got as many readers as you can through the first article. You don't always have to call out their 'self identifying label' e.g. coach/single mum to get targeted readers, you  can also narrow down the type of reader by being specific on the topic.

If you're writing a headline for your blog or vlog, it may not be the same as perhaps an email subject line or indeed a social media post. You will probably want to make it SEO (search engine optimised) friendly. Which means making sure your title includes the search term that others will be plugging into Google or YouTube.

If you're writing a headline for your lead magnet it should be focused around being extremely relevant, useful and specific to your ideal client in order to maximise click-throughs.

So be mindful of the headline you use on each platform as it will make a difference to how you create it.

Can you come up with a totally unique headline?

Making your headline unique in some way could mean taking on new angle on something that has already been done before.

Trying to create a headline that is entirely new and unique is going to be pretty impossible in today's noisy content saturated world. Especially as you want people to have some kind of understanding of what the content behind it will be about. So as much as you want to make it totally unique, just do your best to make it stand out in a different way.

For example, we often hear about the 5 ways to Create a Large Following on Twitter, but what we don't usually hear about are the '5 Things Business Owners Should NEVER Do on Twitter'. The second one is a unique take on a widely used headline and it also builds curiosity.

Headlines that position you as the expert

A great focus in order position yourself as an expert in your field is to use the U's - Ultra-Specific and Useful.

In order to create a headline with these two in mind, you must be clear on WHO you are writing for. 

The prep that you need to do before you attempt writing a great headline that is useful and specific is to write down the following:-

  1. Who is your ideal client?
  2. What is their main desire/ultimate goal?
  3. What problems are standing in the way of them achieving that goal/desire?

  • Ultra-Specific (Relevance to your ideal client and focuses on a very specific topic)
  • Useful (Relevance to your ideal client / Offers a Big Promise / helps them overcome a problem/achieve a goal/desire)
The more specific you can go with this the better. 

These headlines tend to be lengthier, don't feel restricted but in the same breath, it's a headline, not a full on paragraph.

Some ideas to get you started...

  • 5 Ways to...
  • The One Thing that...
  • How to...

Help your readers make progress with something specific that they really want. Try and make it stand out somehow, even though these headlines are more useful, they still have to catch your eye. Make them as punchy as possible! 

Headlines that position you as an Authority in your Field

One type of headline that is sure to get attention AND position you as the authority/expert - is personal/opinion headlines.

Yes, you got it! It's time to jump off the fence and pick a side. It's time to stand for what you believe in and share something personal with the world.

Now you can do this in a few ways...

  • You can share a personal opinion such as a statement that some people (i.e. your non-ideal clients in the market you serve) will disagree with. eg. 'Why Working Mums Start Coaching Businesses For All the Wrong Reasons' or 'Women are Solely Responsible for the 40% Gender Pay Gap in Business'


  • You can share a personal experience that hints at your opinion or perspective that you know will get people curious. For instance 'Why I Stopped Eating Healthy Food' or 'The One Thing that Made Me...'

But whatever you decide, it must fit this description-

You are sharing something that's relevant to your industry and ideal client that your non-ideal clients in the market you serve will disagree with. 

In order to create a headline with these two in mind, you must be clear on specifically WHO you are writing for. I.e. who is your ideal client and what world views do you both share that not all people, even if they share similar problems and desires, will agree with?

Don't use the phrases like 'I believe' or 'I think' , these will lessen your authority on the topic. Stand your ground firmly and in the content back up your opinion with carefully thought out points.

How to Make Your Headline Grab Your Readers Attention

People tend to notice attention-grabbing headlines for one of four reasons.

  1. It's relevance to them personally and/or how useful it is to them
  2. Sheer absurdity/shock factor
  3. Curiosity
  4. Negative angle

Urgency; where time sensitivity is built into the headline it can also push people to look. But they'll only do that if it's hitting one of the 3 reasons above, and mostly when coupled with number 1.

Use shock factor or negative angles like salt – too much salt and it’ll ruin the meal but a little sprinkle and it works like a treat.

Prince EA's post went viral in a matter of hours with his 'Why I stopped 'Musterbating'' headline. This was a very clever way to grab attention (viral worthy in a matter of hours with over 6 million views so far) whilst staying in integrity to his content, which brings me onto...

How to make sure your great headline achieves the desired effect...

The Rules of Creating Headlines that Deliver

  • It mustn't be misleading. By this I mean the content you've created or are planning to create must be relevant to what you have as a headline. Prince EA didn't mislead, he used the shock factor to grab attention but it is us who misreads the words, and the content is exactly about the word in the headline.
  • Make sure the headline is relevant to the content that ultimately has a purpose. By this I mean, make sure the content you mean to write for this headline has a purpose bigger than just getting attention. If the content underneath has no relevance or value to the reader, it's a pointless shot at getting attention with no greater benefit for you or the reader.
  • Make sure it is connected somehow to your business/core message and is relevant to your ideal client and offer. This is how you make money from your content; it should be in congruence to the products that you sell.

Make it Mind-Bending & Myth Busting

Adding an 'even if' or a 'without' phrase after a 'How to...' style headline will help you to capture those who have an objection around your headline. 'How to Attract & Convert High-Paying Clients - even if you've been struggling to convert 'low-paying clients'' This headline helps anyone who makes the assumption that they can't sell high-ticket because they can't even sell at a low level to include themselves in the relevance of the article. Another example of this could be 'How to lose 10lbs without giving up chocolate cake'

It also helps to make it more intriguing and more interesting, as it makes those who have jumped to conclusions about what's behind your content second guess themselves and draws them in.

Work with Jen...

If you'd like to discuss how you can turn your purpose into profit through finding clarity on your coaching niche and on who you serve so you can monetise your unique skills and write copy that truly speaks to your ideal clients, then just book a complimentary Clarity Call with Jen Hall here bit.ly/ClarityCallJenHall

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About the author 

Jennifer Hall

Jen Hall is Business Clarity Coach for Coaches, Consultants & Experts who want to become Unrivalled Go-To Experts.

Jen not only gets you clear on your micro-niche, message and what makes you unique and desirable, but she helps you to define what makes you an irrefutable offer to the market so you can position yourself as a high-end 'must have' option for your prospects.

She is a Multi-Award Winning Speaker and Best Selling Author of Expert Unrivalled.

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