Writing headlines is a lot like mint chocolate-chip ice cream.
Either you love it… or you think it’s the worst thing ever. (“You know what this ice cream needs? toothpaste!”)
If you’re in the latter group, I’ll show you how to make the process easy — and yes — maybe even fun.
If writing headlines gets you pumped, then these steps may give you an even better way to come up with your best ones.
First, why me?
Well, one of my copywriting superpowers is my ability to distill down ideas and uncover the most important takeaway, a.k.a. “value proposition.”
Your value proposition defines the way you differentiate yourself from your competitors. What do you bring to the table like no one else?
This enabled me to win two headline contests judged by a jury of my copywriter peers.
I’ve included the specifics below, so you can see exactly how I used these five steps.
The first four steps refer to the Rule of One, which I talked about in detail HERE.
Before you write to your audience, you gotta nail this down.
It enables you to hone in — not only on your ideal customer’s wants and needs — but helps you perfect your offer.
You’ll be clear on both fronts.
1. Identify your One Reader
Visualize your ideal reader… what’s their lifestyle? Habits? Likes / dislikes? Etc. Dig deep into what it feels like to walk in their shoes.
2. Know your One Offer
This is your overarching offer — what will they get if they buy from you?
3. Nail your Big Idea
This is the hardest concept to nail because it goes beyond the initial offer. What’s the overall “theme” of your offer? How will it impact their life?
4. Key in on your One Promise
What do you promise to deliver and stand behind — e.g. do you have a guarantee, etc.?
Okay, now for the fun part.
Once you’re nailed the above, start writing down headline ideas.
You’ll need at least 50. Yes — five-zero.
If you think that’s hard, imagine writing 10,211 headlines in 100 days. Justin Blackman did just that. Admittedly, it’s not something most sane people would ever venture to do IRL.
Including me. But here are two examples from the contest, along with my brainstorming on my way to the winning headlines:
NOTE: Client scenarios are all fictitious and were part of the contest. And yes, I realize I don’t have 50 headlines. I included the most relevant as examples.
#1: Example: A documentary filmmaker who works with individuals to tell their story and document their personal and/or business accomplishments
This person wants to document their life or accomplishments in some way. They’ve thought about writing a book, but they are intimidated by the process and they aren’t a writer.
A documentary film designed to tell your career or family history and accomplishments.
One Big Idea
You don’t have to be famous to have a story to tell and pass down for future generations. We help you tell your story in your words with a variety of packages that appeal to almost any budget.
We will work with you to deliver a professional documentary film that tells your story the way you want it told. If you aren’t pleased, you may end work at any milestone and cancel all future payments.
Start by pulling out key words and phrases…
- Personal or business accomplishments
- Wants their story told
- Not famous to have a story to pass down for future generations
- We’ll tell it the way you want it to be told
Then write down anything that comes to mind. I came up with…
You’re famous in your own way. Here’s how to tell your story.
The world needs to hear your story. Tell it, even if you can’t write a word.
You did it! Now tell the world in your own words. No fame required.
Tell the world how you did that thing.
Your story needs telling. No fame or gobs of money necessary. Just a desire to share the wealth with others.
You made your mark on the world. Be sure others remember you as you want them to. Fame optional.
You’ve changed the planet in ways only you could’ve done. Create a personal documentary that shows others how your actions mattered.
You’ve created a life unlike anyone else’s. Tell it like you want it told.
Your life changed the planet and the lives of those around you. Tell your story as you want to be remembered.
Your life impacted the world in ways you can’t imagine. Let others hear about it.
You don’t have to be famous to have a life worth remembering.
You don’t have to be famous to have a lifetime of accomplishments worth saving.
WINNER! Once upon a time… you were born. We’ll let you take it from there.
#2 Example: Headline for fundraising page for a non-profit that works to fund research and promote the health benefits of crickets
Health enthusiasts interested in finding alternative food sources to meet demands of society as climate change threatens traditional food supply chains
Fundraiser that offers a quarterly subscription box with cricket-based food products and recipes for use with money going to further research the health benefits and production of cricket-based food products
One Big Idea
We can ensure the availability of nutrient-rich food sources even as climate change threatens traditional food supply and your quarterly contributions allow you to sample the delicious foods that are made with cricket-based products through our subscription box service
We will make good use of your contribution dollars and provide transparency in our finances & management or you can cancel your quarterly subscription box service at any time
Start by pulling out key words and phrases…
- Forget gluten free
- Climate change proof
- Alternative to gluten
- The hardest part is getting over the idea
- Protein source
- Put the chirp back in your diet
Never worry about running out of protein
The world may not need to worry again
A protein source that doesn’t include dairy, meat, eggs, or beans
Would you eat a cricket? I just did and it wasn’t half bad
Help us save the world from hunger with a chirp
Help us save the world from hunger and treat yourself to a monthly food box
What’s better than solving world hunger?
Helping to fund the research to do it… and receiving boxes of high-protein, delicious cricket-based foods in the process
Crickets. It’s what’s for dinner. And snacks. And to help solve world hunger.
Is your diet low in vitamin chirp-chirp?
WINNER! Help solve world hunger one chirp at a time
As with any craft, practice is key for writing great headlines. Know your audience, hone in on the main points you want to bring out, and write down anything that comes to mind to see what floats to the top.