Five of Your Headlines… Remixed

Late last week I asked you fine folks to submit posts that you wanted me to take a look at to see if I could improve on the headline a bit. I ended up with more than 60 submissions.

Given the horrendous week this has been (don’t ask), I could only get to 5 for now, since providing my rationale for the changes that are made is important, too.

But I think we’ll also likely do this on a regular basis if you find it useful.

So let me know, ok?

1. Wake Up Feeling Great With These 12 Tips for Better Sleep

Original headline: 12 steps to a sound sleep and lively wake up


  • It’s usually not ideal to start a headline with “12 steps…” due to the negative connotation created by Alcoholics Anonymous and similar recovery programs.
  • Even without the “how to” or “list” format up front, starting off with a strong, action-oriented lead catches attention (Wake up!).
  • Make a beneficial promise by using the words “this” or “these” in reference to the content, and people will be more inclined to actually look to see what the tips are—the hint of specificity creates heightened curiosity.

2. Why People Leave Your Web Site Without Buying (And What to Do About It)

Original headline: Why are you scaring your customers?


  • While intriguing, the original headline didn’t give enough information to the prospective reader.
  • Adding in a solution (which the bulk of the post actually provides) should definitely be in the headline. That’s the true benefit of reading.
  • Using the lead-off “why” in the form of a statement can often be more powerful than the question format.

3. How to Instantly Find Anything in Your Purse

Original headline: Neat way to organize and find anything in your purse instantly!


  • This is a perfect example of a good headline that becomes better simply by using “how to.”
  • “Organize” sounds like work, while “find” is the real benefit.
  • “Instantly” is a trigger word, so use it sooner rather than later.

4. The 20 Most Important Words on Any Web Page

Original headline: You’ve Only Got 30 Seconds or 20 Words…


  • I like the original headline—it’s constructed well and the use of the ellipsis heightens the curiosity factor.
  • My approach applies a bit more specificity, which tends to increase the drawing power.
  • It also provides more information about the general topic of the post, which helps with non-regular readers and offsite avenues such as Digg and Delicious.

5. How One Starbucks Latte Could Keep These Kids From Being Left Behind

Original headline: This Idaho School Needs Your Help! Please Read This Post!


  • Seriously, it’s ridiculous to think that if only 100 people who read Copyblogger gave up their coffee for one day and gave this school a mere five bucks, these kids could have some books they desperately need to effectively learn.
  • I’m not kidding. I’ll be happy to not only personally contribute, but to also coordinate a donation fund to buy books for this school.
  • Let’s do this. Send me email if you want to contribute, and I’ll run the donations though a trust account, and tell everyone what a generous soul you are.
  • Or, send money directly to the school at the address listed in the post.


UPDATE: Thanks to Patrick Gavin of Text Link Ads for donating $500 to Pierce Elementary School in Idaho so they can buy an updated set of World Book Encyclopedias. I’ll make up the difference, so you guys are off the hook (unless you would like to donate directly or buy books and ship to them, which I strongly encourage). Thanks!

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Reader Comments (35)

  1. says

    I can’t beleive that this is free!
    Thanks for the the tutorial Brian.

    Although, I was hoping that be included:
    The World’s Most Photorealistic Vector Art

    Thanks to your past article I was able to construct that great headline.
    But now, that my headline is everywhere, I was left with a dillema:

    How do I create a headline for a tutorial on Photorealistic vector art?
    Should I reuse the world “photorealistic,” which might be construed as my old article?
    How about if I want to create a series on photorealism, should I still use the word?

    My plan:
    1. How to create photorealistic vector art, the ultimate guide:
    note that the “ultimate” word was inspired by you.

    2. The world’s most photorealistic 3d faces
    or the Most Photorealistic 3D faces in the universe?

    Thanks Brian.

  2. says

    Great ideas. #2 was mine, and I definitely see now that element “What to do about it” as being critical. If you just have the first part, then yippee-skippee you have customers that leave like the rest of us. This hooks them in as they are being persuaded that the advice to follow will actually solve the first problem.

    Wonderful blog, thanks for helping us!

  3. says

    Nice points you made. Mine was #4 and I really appreciate you taking the time to teach all of us some new strategies. Your suggestion about the specificity is something I will keep in mind for future posts.

  4. says

    This kind of “process work” with explanations is quite helpful. I tend to tweak my headlines trying to get both the message across, and make it a “grabber” – and sometimes I may over polish them, making them less effective. Seeing how several already good headlines can be made more effective by just adding or rearranging a few words, makes the process a little less mysterious and hit or miss. Thanks.

  5. says

    I’d love to see this done on a regular basis! All the general tips you give on this site are great, but a list of real examples really hits home.

    And thanks!

  6. says

    Thank you so much for selecting me! (#3) You are a genius! The new headline is brilliant! I’ve just changed it and republished it along with how you helped me make it better! Your explanations, ideas and writing are so perfectly expressed. I aspire to be able to hire you one of these days soon. I want your touch on my whole website!!

  7. says

    Brian, this post is sofa king useful! I can’t believe how easy you make it look. I’ve read the rules, I know the words we’re supposed to use and still … it’s just not as intuitive for me. I’ll be back for more – and I’m with Ariane: need you for my whole site.

  8. says

    I’ve been reading your blog
    for many months now…

    This post,
    and many others,
    remind me why the internet
    is such a powerful place to learn
    from colleagues in the field.



  9. says

    Your reasoning is amazing, Brian! Thanks a lot for explaining your headline magic, we all can learn something from your wisdom.

    I hope you see enough interest to make this a regular event on your blog.


  10. says

    One suggestion about #1: Drop the last three words.

    “Wake Up Feeling Great With These 12 Tips”

    That reduces the head to two simple phrases: “Wake up” and “12 tips”.

    Even if the reader didn’t know it was about sleep, that promise should be tempting enough to encourage them to click on it and find out more.

  11. says

    Bill, interesting. I see your point.

    That’s one of those situations where you never know for sure unless you split test the headline.

  12. says

    Oooh. Before I came upon this article I had actively been working on my headlines and applying this idea on my own posts. Given the redundancy of so much stuff out there, having an interesting headline really makes the difference. Thanks for the samples, it is great to refer to everytime I need to come up with something.

  13. says

    Hello Brian,

    Headline Ads have always been a struggle for me until I started using question headline ads which have been somewhat successful. If you have a chance, I would greatly appreciate if you could provide me with a few suggestions on improving my headlines for my site.

    Here are a few I use:

    – Are You Succeeding Online? I Am and So Will You.
    – Do You Want To Succeed Online? I Have and So Can You.
    – I Will Pay Your Way In and Advertise For You.

    All your tips from your other submissions make so much sense and I am sure you would find a few good ones for mine.

    Much appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Paul Rose

  14. says

    I will use this techniques on my blog, on affiliate reviews, because it’s important for catching the attention.
    This post was godsend to me, as starting up to building an internet marketing busines could be hard or easy. Tips here will surely make it the latter.
    Thank You

  15. says

    Did anyone see #5!!! The world is a better place because of this guy. Thanks for being pro-active. Brian Clark you are top-notch!

    Fantastic job with the headlines by the way!

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