Do I write the page’s headline first or last?

(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.)

Great question from Lynn who is taking my course, How to Write Better Headlines.

The answer to whether I write the headline first or last is… yes.

I do both.

Let me explain. And this is the case whether I’m writing a page of content or a sales page. Same process.

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Michele asks me for a clearer definition of clickbait when writing headlines.

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

My recent videos have all been related to my course, Conversational Copywriting.

This one comes from a question asked by Michele Reder, who took an earlier course of mine, How to Write Better Headlines.

That said… as you’ll see… her question and my answer do bring us back to the topic of conversational copywriting.

So…

In one of the exercises in my headline course I ask students to rewrite a headline for a page of web content.

Here’s what I give them.

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Master the headline, and you master the page.

 

Course on how to write better headlines for content marketers

Any sales copywriter will tell you the headline is the most important element on the page.

If you don’t get the headline right, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the page is, because nobody will read it.

Copywriters know this. And online content writers need to understand it too.

David Ogilvy, one of the greatest copywriters of the last century, used to say that once you have written the headline you have spent about 80 cents of every dollar your client will spend on that ad.

Put another way… 80% of your visitors read the headline, but only 20% will read the body of the page.

He made his observation about writing ads.

But you can say the same – and do the same math – when you look at the creation of content online.

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Online, you’re often writing headlines even when you’re not.

Online headlines on mobile device

I know, today’s headline is a bit of a brain-twister.

Here’s what I mean…

There are places online where we write headlines, and are fully aware that we’re writing headlines.

Examples include the headline you might write for a website’s homepage. Or at the top of a blog post. Or on a review page. Or on a sales page or landing page.

These are the places we expect to find headlines.

But how about an email subject line? Is that a headline?

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And the secret to writing an open-ended headline is…

A closed door is like a closed-ended headline.

If you’re not totally into writing great headlines, you should be.

When you’re writing online, headlines are everywhere.

Actually, anything you write that’s 15 words or less should be treated like a headline.

Headlines for blog posts, articles, reviews, buyers’ guides and even homepages.

For email subject lines. Same for e-newsletters. Headings within those emails and e-newsletters.

Tweets. Titles for Facebook updates. Bios for Instagram.

Whenever you’re short-form writing online, you’ll do well to think “headline”.

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Please help me with my new course on writing headlines.

Young boy in bow tie writing.

 

Way back in July I was trying to figure out the topic for my next short course.

So far I’ve published two short-form courses this year – on content optimization and on selling with stories.

I wasn’t sure what to tackle next.

So I asked everyone who reads my newsletter to take part in a short survey.

I made two suggestions for my next course:

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