Should you add an emotional punch to every headline?

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

This question came in from Sheila, who has taken my course on How to Write better Headlines.

Her full question was a little longer. She has taken other copywriting courses that emphasize the power of using emotions to drive sales.

So… should every headline tap into our emotions?

I’ll give that a qualified yes. But mostly without the “punch” part.

Some headlines are going to be primarily just informational and useful.

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Dear Matt, it’s not so hard to create a simple story.

(What follows is the outline I wrote in advance of recording the video. They’re my talking points. Not a regular post or article. Just an outline.)

Matt is a student of my course, Selling with Stories.

He wrote to me and asked…

“Nick, your course taught me a lot about the power of stories, and how they can be used to engage with an audience and ultimately help make a sale. But… even after completing the course, I feel intimidated and don’t feel confident about being able to create strong stories myself.”

Ouch. That sounds like a fail. On my part. Not his.

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3 Steps to making more money as a freelance content writer.

Integrated content marketing

Go to and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of freelancers competing for millions of projects.

It’s a free-for-all marketplace, and there is a lot of downward pressure on pricing.

Companies know there will be a lot of people wanting to work on the projects they post, so they can sit back and wait for the right writer at the right price.

In many categories this becomes a race to the bottom, because freelancers know the only way they can compete is to keep their prices low.

One of the categories hit hardest by this downward pressure is content writing. And this pressure to write for peanuts isn’t confined just to sites like It’s industry-wide.

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Monday Spark: It’s good to feel self-doubt.

freelancer feeling self-doubtMany freelancers struggle to grow their business because they doubt themselves and their abilities. They feel they aren’t good enough in some way.

I have come across this numerous times when talking with or working with freelancers. Some are just starting out, while others have been freelancing for some time. But they all doubt themselves and feel they are not yet ready to get started, or not ready to approach larger clients, or not ready to charge more for their services.

If that sounds a little like you, I have some good news. (Or bad news, depending on your perspective.)

If you struggle with insecurity, you’re not alone.

Accomplished people in all walks of life feel self-doubt.

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Monday Spark: Why working is like sleeping [VIDEO]

deep sleep deep workWorking is like sleeping? Absolutely.

I wish I could take credit for the insight, but I can’t. This is one of the observations shared by Jason Fried in the video below.

Incidentally, Jason is one of the people I really pay attention to when thinking about business. He is one of the founders of He is also the co-author of Rework, one of my favorite business books. And he is the co-author of a second book, Remote: Office Not Required, which I have pre-ordered and is slated for publication later this year.

In the video he makes a number of points about getting work done. But the point I want to share with you is the one he makes about comparing sleep to work.

When you nod off, you don’t instantly arrive in a state of deep, blissful, restorative sleep. You move through different stages of sleep. And to get to the really good part, you have to move through the parts that precede it. And as Jason points out, if you wake up several times during the night, for whatever reason, you can’t immediately get back to that place of deep restorative sleep. You have to go down through all the stages again.

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Monday Spark: Stop worrying about bad news.

sign of bad newsWhen you watch the news on TV or browse your favorite news websites, it’s guaranteed you’ll find some really bad news on page one.

The news media put a lot of emphasis on bad, scary and generally depressing news.

Right now you can take your pick from rising gas and food prices, the looming “fiscal cliff”, riots in Europe, nuclear weapons in Iran and so on.

And if world news doesn’t do it for you, there are plenty of depressing stories you can find closer to home – about bullying in schools, people losing their homes, and whole communities being washed away by hurricanes.

One way or another, whichever news source you look at, you can be guaranteed to be overwhelmed with bad news.

Before you go hide under the bed for the next 10 years, here are a couple of things to consider.

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