What Owen Wilson’s Pursed Lips Mean to Your Blog

What in the world could Hollywood heart throb Owen Wilson have to do with the effectiveness of your blogging? And how, exactly, do his lips come into play?

It all ties together (I think). Let me know if it does at the end, OK?

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Read This Before You Buy Any Copywriting Resource

As you might imagine, I’ve got a bunch of copywriting books and courses.

It’s been said that selling with words is the most financially lucrative skill one can possess. That’s true for me, even when factoring in law school.

You can always make money if you understand good copywriting, and as long as we have the Internet or a postal service, it doesn’t matter where you are, what you look like, how you dress, or where (or if) you went to college.

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The Two Most Important Words in Blogging

Imagine… by the end of this post, you will be a more effective blogger, all because you learned two very important words, and the specific reasons why those words are so crucial.

Actually, both words can be found in the preceding sentence, along with hints related to their importance.

Did you catch them?

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Off the Grid

If anyone noticed it’s been a bit quiet around here (please lie and say you did!), it’s because I took a little impromptu R&R.

And I left the laptop at home.

Now, for some people, that may not sound strange. For me, it’s like leaving home without an appendage.

But it was great, and it was much needed. I had some wonderful insights on the projects I have going, and came away with a fresh perspective on some challenges that I’ve been wrestling with.

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Link Baiting, New York Times Style

The blogosphere has been abuzz this weekend and today over this New York Times article, which covers the need to think about search engines when writing headlines. The article laments a reporter’s need to now write headlines for three groups: editors, readers, and Google.

Bloggers latched on to the story, with some seeming a bit gleeful that another old media practice is being forced to undergo some adaptation due to the Internet. The topic spent most of yesterday at the top of the Tech section of Memeorandum, and it was back up there again this morning.

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Why Emotion Matters

image of story graphic

Does the best man always win?

Or the best woman, the best product, or the most worthy cause?

Last month, one of the more popular viral videos that made the rounds was that of performer Chris Bliss. Chris juggled three balls in an elaborate routine that seemed like it might fall apart at any moment, creating a suspenseful spectacle that prompted a standing ovation when he made it all the way through without a slip.

Once the video became popular online, juggler Jason Garfield released a parody of the Bliss video, but instead juggling 5 balls and making it look effortless. Jason is so technically proficient, he could likely add another ball and close his eyes without a slip.

So, the better man wins, right?

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Go Blog Wild With Andy Wibbels

There have been a whole slew of blogging for business books released lately. But I’ve been holding out for this one.

Andy Wibbels has written the small business blogging book. Called Blog Wild! A Guide for Small Business Blogging, this book aims at the people I’m most interested in seeing succeed with blogging — the small businesses, the solo professionals, and the entrepreneurs.

I’m not convinced that big business can hugely benefit from blogging. But I know first hand that small enterprises can absolutely add directly to the bottom line with a blog. This book introduces you to smart blogging techniques for small businesses and entrepreneurs, so you can avoid the trial and error.

Today’s the release date, and Andy will throw in a $50 discount on some of his advanced products, but only if you buy today.

UPDATE: Looks like Andy extended the $50 discount.

Click here to go Blog Wild!

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The Long and Short of Copywriting

Copywriting 101

They’re some of the most often-asked questions about copywriting.

Long or short copy, which works best? What about headlines?

The correct answer usually drives people crazy, which is…

Whatever works.

Before you start throwing things at me, I’ll elaborate.

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My Web 2.0 Project

Updated Breaking News: Read all the way down!

After an extensive campaign by Publishing 2.0’s Scott Karp and Prince Campbell of Chartreuse (with me behind the scenes and in the comments) designed to eliminate MySpace as a competitor, the three of us can finally announce the stealth project we’ve been working on for months.

And I’m also proud to announce that we will be joining the 9Rules Network from Day 1!

Scott, Prince and I could not be more excited. We think that the brains behind 9Rules will provide us with valuable insight on this project, well beyond the traffic and exposure that the network provides.

We’re negotiating with Scott Baradell for PR services (after being turned down cold, due to lack of capacity, by the new powerhouse of the industry, Pepper Rubel.

Of course our project is still in Beta, and of course it’s invitation only, so if you’re interested, sign up for the launch list to score an invite.

Check it out.

P.S. April Fools (go ahead and click the orange button after the click through… it won’t hurt, I promise!)
P.P.S. :)

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Writing Headlines That Get Results

Copywriting 101

It’s no surprise to discover that one of the most popular posts I’ve written for Copyblogger was How to Write Headlines That Work. Every copywriter and every journalist knows the importance of a powerful headline, and that awareness has spilled into the business blogosphere, where everyone is a bit of a copywriter and a bit of a journalist.

Despite that, many still underestimate just how important headlines are. So here are some anecdotes, facts, and guidelines that can help you write even better headlines (and also let you know how much you should focus on them).

The 50/50 Rule of Headlines

According to some of the best copywriters of all time, you should spend half of the entire time it takes to write a piece of persuasive content on the headline. So if you have a blog post that is really important to you or your business, one that you really want people to read, you should downright obsess over your post title.

Advertising legend David Ogilvy knew the power of headlines, and how the headline literally determined whether the advertisement would get read. He rewrote this famous headline for an automobile advertisement 104 times:

“At 60 miles an hour, the only thing you hear in the new Rolls Royce is the ticking of the dashboard clock …”

Master copywriter Gene Schwartz often spent an entire week on the first 50 words of a sales piece — the headline and the opening paragraph. Those 50 words are the most important part of any persuasive writing, and writing them well takes time.

Even for the masters.

The 80/20 Rule of Headlines

Here are some interesting statistics.

On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of the headline, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.

The better the headline, the better your odds of beating the averages and getting what you’ve written read by a larger percentage of people.

Writing a great headline doesn’t guarantee the success of your writing. The benefit conveyed in the headline still needs to be properly satisfied in the body copy, either with your content or your offer.

But great body content with a bad or even marginal headline is doomed to go largely unread.

How to Write a Great Headline

Last time, we looked at the different categories of headlines that work. This time, we’ll look at analytical techniques for producing great headlines.

The copywriting trainers at American Writers & Artists teach The Four U’s approach to writing headlines:

Headlines, subheads and bullets should:

  1. Be USEFUL to the reader,
  2. Provide him with a sense of URGENCY,
  3. Convey the idea that the main benefit is somehow UNIQUE; and
  4. Do all of the above in an ULTRA-SPECIFIC way.

In a recent issue of the Early to Rise ezine, copywriter Clayton Makepeace says to ask yourself six questions before you start to write your headline:

  1. Does your headline offer the reader a reward for reading?
  2. What specifics could you add to make your headline more intriguing and believable?
  3. Does your headline trigger a strong, actionable emotion the reader already has about the subject at hand?
  4. Does your headline present a proposition that will instantly get your prospect nodding his or her head?
  5. Could your headline benefit from the inclusion of a proposed transaction?
  6. Could you add an element of intrigue to drive the prospect into your opening copy?

Makepeace’s six questions combined with the basic structure of The Four U’s provide an excellent framework for writing spectacular headlines. And you’ll note that just about any headline that satisfies the framework will fall into one of the eight categories you learned last time.

It takes work and focus, but the effort will make you a more popular blogger and a more profitable businessperson.

Go back to the Copywriting 101 series.

For more on writing great headlines, check out the Magnetic Headlines series on Copyblogger.

About the Author: Brian Clark is founder of Copyblogger, CEO of Copyblogger Media, and Editor-in-Chief of Entreproducer. Get more from Brian on Google+.