photo credit: EvanHahn
The process for writing your headline is different than the process for writing any other part of your sales letter. Your headline is the single most important sentence of the whole page. It pulls more weight than any other sentence and and deserves to be paid a lot of special attention.
Your headline’s job is to get the reader to continue reading. It catches their attention and takes you from having just 3 seconds of attention to about 60 seconds to sell your audience.
How do you write a headline that captures the hearts and minds of your audience? Here’s the process.
“Write 100 Headlines, Then Choose One”
Most world class copywriters write 50 to 100 headlines for any given sales letter they’re tasked with writing. Only after completing all of these headlines do they choose the one they finally use.
Each and every one of these 100 headlines is the fruit of many hours of thought and creativity. Just because you’re writing a lot of them doesn’t mean that less effort is put into each one.
This process was first invented by print copywriters, where a test would easily cost you upwards of five figures. Online, it’s easy to put less care into writing headlines since testing is “free.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Whether online or offline, if you want your business to succeed you need A+ copy. An integral part of A+ copy is an A+ headline. Follow the process and your headlines will be that much more powerful.
Use a Combination of Original and Swiped Concepts
If you want to write great copy, having a great swipe file is essential. Inside your swipe file should be dozens of potential ideas for attention catching headlines.
Talented copywriters generally write headlines using both swiped concepts and their own original ideas. Craft your headlines from both and objectively choose the best one later on.
Headlines come in many formats: Newsey, benefit-driven, shocking, factual, storytelling, comparisons, etc. By using swipe file ideas, you’ll come up with headlines in formats that you may not have came up with on your own.
Space Out the Writing
Write a few headlines in the beginning, when you’re just starting the letter. Then write a few more as you’re writing the rest. Finally, write a few after you’ve completed everything else.
Throughout the whole process, your mind will be working through the copy in different ways. You’ll have different ideas at different stages of the copy writing process. Use that to your advantage by taking down your best ideas at any given time through the whole process.
Selecting the Final Headline
Once you’ve written out a wide range of headlines, let it sit for a week or two. This will help sever any emotional preferences you may have attached from the writing process.
Then start cutting the headlines out. Remember, in the end only one will be the winner. Generally if you start from 100, you’ll be able to get it down to 5-10 pretty easily. From then the choices get a lot tougher. In the end, you’ll have to cut out some really good headlines until you really have just the best of the best left.
If you’re getting a lot of traffic, you may have the luxury of being able to split test your headlines. If so, then you may be lucky enough to be able to use two instead of one headline.
This is the process that many top copywriters use to write their headlines. Use swipe files and originality to write your headlines. Write 50-100, never all at the same time. Finally, cut them down until you have one A+ headline left.