How do you think the best writers write their headlines?
Do you imagine they put on their writing hat and tuck themselves away in a quiet room and bleed away their souls?
Experience has shown me that great copy is actually just that – copy.
Good writers have no time to waste since they are often paid per word.
They also know that attempting to reinvent the wheel is risky.
So what do they do?
They make use of headline swipe files.
What are headline swipe files?
These are files with sample headlines that have proved to be effective in the past.
How do they get a hold on these files?
Magazine Covers, Newspaper Headlines, and high traffic blogs are all good sources of killer headlines to swipe.
Copying their headline strategy is one of the best things you can do for your blog, since it will reduce the normally time consuming headline crafting into “fill in the blank spaces” simple.
Why will this work?
The main goal of a headline is to get someone to read the first sentence of your blog post.
So a headline has few words but a weighty responsibility of converting browsers into readers.
Your headline should stimulate the curiosity of your readers and make them want to hear more.
This post contains headlines that have proven themselves before, and therefore have a high, if not absolute chance of converting again.
Don’t believe me?
Men’s Health has been recycling headlines for decades.
The images by the side are cover shots of real Men’s Health magazines, not mockups.
You can read Gawker’s update on this here.
I am sure you never noticed that before.
That is to show you that when you start using headline swipe files on your blog, your readers will not notice.
At least, they will not notice it in a negative way.
All they will know is that your headlines are now so catchy, making them go click-click inside.
Let me get out of the way so you can see the headline hacks for yourself:
10 [Blank] Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for [Blank]
We are all on the lookout for easier ways of getting things done, or ways to beat life’s censors.
This headline hack appeals to that part of us that likes to cheat by doing less for more.
10 SEO Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Getting High PR Backlinks
37 Dating Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Making Her Fall in Love Again
17 Blogging Hacks: A Cheat Sheet for Becoming an Authority in Three Months
What [Model Example] Can Teach Us about [Blank]
This headline template associates a well-known figure or institution with the content a blog post.
Another name for this is piggy-backing. You are riding on the popularity or interest people have in this individual to generate interest for your post.
Of course, the post can just briefly associate the [model example] with the topic, and spend most of its length focused on the very lessons you want your audience to take home.
What Walt Disney Can Teach Us about Pinterest
What Oprah Can Teach Us about Social Media
What Colonel Sanders Can Teach Us about Content Marketing
As you see in the third example, sometimes the model example may have nothing to do with the post topic.
In that situation, it may just be used a hook to get the audience reading.
The [Popular Person] Guide to [Blank]
Like the example above, this headline hack piggy backs on the goodwill (or notoriety) of popular persons.
In using this technique, please be careful to use it with people your audience is definitely familiar with.
If you use this headline hack with the name of your favourite uncle, the effect may be completely lost.
Since the character is known, interest is stimulated at the headline level as most persons would want to know what the popular person can possibly have to teach them in a subject that would not normally be associated with them
The 7 [negative trait] of [Blank]
From our reading of Greek literature we are all familiar with how people who are otherwise good are marred by just one fatal flaw.
For the most part, we are on the lookout for ways to improve our personality and become better and more likeable persons.
That is why this headline hack is so effective.
It promises to show you fatal flaws of a subset of a group of persons so you can look inwards and root them out if you have them.
The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People
The 7 Insane Blunders of Affiliate Marketing “Gurus”
The 7 Deadly Sins of Social Media Marketing
This post is just an introduction into using headline swipe files.
The next post in the series will focus on how to use “How To…” headlines to increase your blog’s readership.
This is the third post in the series: How to Write Headlines that Converts.
3. How to Use Headline Swipe Files to Grow Your Blog
What is your take on this? If you use headline swipes, tell us about your results.