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.

First, I “break” the blank page by writing a first draft of the headline.

This is just a first stab at “what” I want to say with the headline.

I now have a starting point, and I begin writing the body of the page.

I know the first draft of my headline will probably be rubbish… and I don’t think I have ever been through this process without changing it several times.

It’s just there to help me get started.

Like a lot of writers, I think by writing.

Usually, within the first few lines, I get a clearer idea of what I should be saying it that headline, so I scroll back up and change it.

Still not done. Just my second kick at the cat.

And so it goes… I keep writing the body of the page, and I keep scrolling back up to improve the headline.

Sometimes the improvement to the headline will mean making some big changes to the first few paragraphs of body text.

So I do that too.

On occasion, a new and better headline means scrapping all the body text and starting over.

So that’s what I do.

I go through this process of scrolling, revolving improvements.

Even at the very end when I’m inches from the finish line, I might circle back and make one final improvement to the headline.

How many revisions? I don’t count. Maybe 5. Maybe 20. It depends.

The headline is the most important group of words on the page.

It will determine whether or not people even bother to read the body text at all.

So I never skimp on the headline.

NOTE: I have a whole course on mastering the craft of writing great headlines, called How to Write Better Headlines – For Content, Email and Social Media

 

Course on headline writing

 

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1 thought on “Do I write the page’s headline first or last?

  1. I guess it’s all about the process and what works best for each of us.

    For me, the advantage of brainstorming a bunch of headlines first, is that it stimulates me to think of different directions the story could go. It helps me to think of possibilities for the so-called ‘big idea’. But whichever headline I pick is all about direction of what I’m writing, and not about the final version of the headline. That comes later.

    Now I’m wondering if I’m a slow learner (can’t decide which direction to take) or just lazy (don’t want to completely rethink and rewrite until I have to). Shoot!!

    Maybe it’s partly a matter of experience with writing certain types of copy, (or lack of in my case).

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