How to Write Headlines so Irresistible that Big-Money Clients are Begging You to Write for Them

Carol Tice

Do I have your attention now?

That headline was pretty grabby, huh. Sort of made you have to click on it to find out how to get good clients.

That’s the magic of a well-constructed headline. It works like a magnet to suck readers onto your blog — and not just any readers, but exactly the readers you wanted. The ones who’re interested in just what you have to offer.

If you know how to write a compelling headline, it can also make editors love your query letter.

It can make businesses read your emailed letter of introduction and give you call.

Great headlines get you good-paying writing gigs.

Then, when other businesses and publications see the headlines you wrote for your clients, they call you up. They can’t wait to have you bring your writing savvy over to their website.

You’re done marketing your writing business. Your strong headlines do the job for you.

Why doesn’t everybody write great headlines?

It’s sort of an art form unto itself.

Lots of us who came up through journalism and newspapers weren’t trained to write headlines. That’s an editor’s job, we were told.

Others have been grabbing titles off content-mill dashboards, where the headline is pre-written by the SEO department.

Bottom line: Lots of writers don’t have any experience or training in how to write headlines. And their careers are suffering as a result.

I have reviewed hundreds of writers’ blogs, and I can tell you, bad headlines are an epidemic. I scan a typical blog, and I can’t even figure out the topic. Nothing makes me want to click through and read more. I’m not surprised when I see there are no subscribers, no comments, and nothing is getting sold.

So if you learn to write good headlines, you can really stand out.

What’s wrong with most writers’ headlines?

Three quick headline-improvement tips:

  1. Use key words. Headlines like “Watch out for the red flags,” or “Another day” (both ones I’ve recently read) don’t tell me what the post is about, or who it is for. So search engines don’t find it when I search on what I want to know. And I don’t read it.
  2. Tell me your topic. What will I learn about if I read your post? Your headline needs to tell me, so I’ll want to click over and read it.
  3. Leave a little mystery. The headline of this post told you there’s a way to write headlines that will bring you great clients, but it didn’t tell you exactly how.  You needed to read the post to find out.

I have a confession to make.

I didn’t write that headline — Jon Morrow did.

Jon is one of the best headline writers around. He wrote the Headline Hacks report on how to create sure-to-go-viral headlines that Copyblogger uses as a guide for its writers.

His blog posts often get 1,000 retweets or more. Maybe you read How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World, or A 7-Step Guide to Mind Control: How to Quit Begging and Make People Want to Help You. Yeah. That guy.

What’s the best headline you’ve seen lately? Leave a comment and share.

27 Comments

  1. Jonathan

    Thanks Carol. I really enjoyed the tips of writing better headlines. The famous advertising guy, Caples said, “that the headline is 90% of your ad.” or something along those lines and I think you can easily apply that to your blog posts or articles too. If it doesn’t get grab attention and pull readers in… they aren’t going to read it. It’s as simple as that.

    Thanks also for the link to Jon Morrow’s Headline Hacks. I’ve just downloaded it and will dig it later. Between the two… who knows, I might actually produce some gripping headlines. 🙂

    Jonathan

  2. Lois Mazza

    Hi Carol:

    Thanks for another wonderful, informative blog post. I, like so many others, wish to ‘Make a Living Writing’.

    I am planning to go to Jon Morrow’s site and sense I will be adding my email yet again to another blog site as I am quite keen to ‘quit my job,move to paradise and get paid to change the world’. 🙂 Even one of those would surly make my soul sing with glee. I can’t wait to read his advice.

    I am one of the many who claims they want to write for a living but my day job interferes, eating up all my energy and leaving me bereft of energy and inspiration when I land back home late in the day. I have done a small amount of part time writing (for which I got paid) for a professional web site. I got this job when I attended a conference at which there were sponsers who had set up booths, like a trade show. I asked a couple of the booths if they ever used free lance writers and one said yes, We exchanged cards, emails were exchanged after I got back home, a topic was chosen and I was on my way. (I need to replay this story in my mind when I start thinking its too hard to find writing work.)

    Again, my intense fear of not having a ‘regular’ paycheck and the (false, I know) security of a ‘real’ job, holds me (and many other talented and skilled writers) back.

    However, I am hearing rumbles in the jungle at my workplace and the paycheck and job security may be at risk. So, the time may be near to do more then read your good advice. One thing I am pretty certain of is that writing work will not seek me out. I need to get out there and find it.

    Thanks again for all your wonderful articles. You are a wonderful inspiration to me!

    Lois Mazza

    • Carol Tice

      I know other writers who’ve gotten freelance gigs from going to a job fair, Lois!

      With the economy remaining so sluggish, I worry for everyone with a job. To me freelancing is such a better way to go, as no one client holds the power to deprive you of all your income at once.

      This event with Jon already took place…hopefully you were able to register! If not stay tuned on the blog…I’ll probably run an excerpt in the coming weeks.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cockamamie Franchise Idea That Will Keep Franchise Lawyers Fat And Happy - […] Nice headline. It got my attention. […]
  2. A Cockamamie Franchise Idea - […] Nice headline. It got my attention. […]

Related Posts

You CAN Write a Query Letter That Gets a “Yes”: 5 Resources

Freelance writer getting a gig after learning to write a query letter.

Love them or hate them, queries are one of the most important marketing tools for any freelancer who wants to write for magazines. And the skills you learn from writing a good query letter also help business writers and copywriters pitch their potential clients.

If you’ve been sending queries off into space and never getting a reply, you may think it’s impossible to break into new magazines. But it’s not true! Editors are always looking for new talent.

To help you learn to write a query letter that will get you the gig, we’ve pulled together a collection of five of our best posts on pitching:

Can’t Write? Try These 9 Ideas for Writing Motivation

It’s the bane of every freelance writer’s life: You know you need to sit yourself down and get some writing done, but nothing happens. The writing motivation just isn’t there. Sometimes, you can't even make yourself sit down with the computer -- even if you...