How to Steal Ideas to Write Powerful Headlines [For Copywriters and Bloggers]

Swipe Headlines Everyone will Read

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How do they do it?

How do successful entrepreneurs get so many people to read their sales pages and blog posts?

It’s almost like they’ve discovered some secret to making money that no one else knows about.

via GIPHY

You’ve tried to copy them but your results are “No Bueno!”

You are extremely frustrated and you’re pulling your hair out looking for the next innovation to propel you to the top.

However, there is one secret that you may not know about – that secret is knowing how to swipe a great headline and use it to write your own.

Once you know and understand how to use this great tactic, you’ll never have to worry about making sales online again or gaining readers.

Before I show you this technique for getting eyeballs onto your site or blog, there are a few things you should know.

You Are a Sales Person First

When most people think of copywriting or writing headlines, they believe they have to be clever or creative.

Nothing could be further than the truth. Your number one priority is to make sales and attract readers – plain and simple.

Think about it.

When you go to a shoe store to buy a good running shoe, will it help you if the sales person tries to entertain you instead of telling you what you need to know?

Of course not.

So, a good thing to remember when writing headlines, subheads, or any other part of your post or copy, you don’t have to entertain your audience.

you're a copywriter not an entertainer

This is particularly evident in sales copy headlines and blog post titles written by novice writers. (As a matter of fact, I made the same mistakes when I started writing copy.) They believe they have to write super dynamic and catchy headlines to make conversions.

Not so.

Besides, people that are looking for mere entertainment are not your best prospects. You are looking for the serious individuals.  People that have problems that you can help solve with your products, advice and services. (You know, sales funnel stuff.)

Headlines that Converted Great Despite Being Plain

These are examples of headlines that converted well despite sounding boring. However, they are their target audience exactly what they want to hear.  As you read these examples, ask yourself, “Are these headlines using flashy language or trying to be clever?”

“HOW TO BECOME DEBT FREE IN 90 DAYS OR LESS”

“IS YOUR VETERINARIAN BEING HONEST WITH YOU ABOUT CANINE HEARTWORMS?”

“HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE”

“HOW I IMPROVED MY MEMORY IN ONE EVENING”

“HOW A “FOOL STUNT” MADE ME A STAR SALESMAN”

“HOW A NEW KIND OF CLAY IMPROVED MY COMPLEXION IN 30 MINUTES”

These are all examples of headlines that converted well, yet do not read dynamically or add an element of “cleverness”.

The three things they did correctly were:

  1. They were directed at a very specific audience.
  2. They addressed a particular problem/solution or desire that audience was looking for.
  3. They offered the idea that you would find the solution or main benefit if you continued to read on.

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How to Reuse Ideas that Work

OK, now we’ll get down to the brass tacks of swiping ideas.

Every copywriter I know of, living or dead, has used a thing called a swipe file. Basically, the definition of the term “swipe file” is this:

A collection of tested sales letters, headlines, ads, blog posts that have proven to be successful. It is a common practice used by writers, copywriters, and advertising professionals as reference material for writing projects and assignments.  Copywriters collect huge, categorized files they have collected (referred to as “swiping”) to glean ideas from and gain inspiration.

It is not used as a file to plagiarize.

Here’s an example of how I would use a swipe file to help me write a headline.

Step 1Determine the type of headline you need for your post or sales letter.  You’ll want to find a post or sales letter that is promoting something very similar or just like the product or service you want to promote. Most copywriters have vast collections of files that they have assembled over the years.

You can get swipe files online, or out of magazines.

Tip: If you are writing blog posts, you can get some great swipe material from magazines that are in your niche or target market.

For example, if you are writing about skateboards, then you can collect great articles in skateboarding magazines and keep them in a file. If you are looking for headlines, there are loads of them in magazines and they are written by very skilled writers.

One of the best magazines for bloggers and copywriters to read is the Reader’s Digest.  For bloggers, you can get an excellent idea of how to write a great post by reading their articles.  For copywriters, there are all sorts of ads in those books; some of them are disguised as articles.  Swipe those.

As far as headlines go, the magazine rack is one of the best places to get great ideas on how to write titles. Think about it:  You are competing with all of the other magazines on the rack for attention. In order to survive, you must have the ability to write the best headlines possible in order to attract the attention of people standing in the checkout line.

So, headlines on magazines are an excellent place to grab ideas from other writers.  Believe it or not, taking ideas from other writers is a common practice.

Yep, people that write for magazines actually swipe ideas from other writers. Here’s a good example:

swiped headlines

So, if you have not started building your own swipe file collection, you need to start.

Step 2Copy the headlines out by hand. Take the headlines you have swiped that are relevant to your project and copy them out by hand.  Write them out 4 times each so that you get a good “feel” for the essence of the headline. Also, highlight the main benefit and see if you can figure out why this headline was so successful.

Step 3Write out 50 headlines of your own.  Once you’ve written out loads of headlines by hand, you can now get out your trusty laptop and begin writing your own.  Don’t worry about if you are writing great headlines at this point, because you are brainstorming.  You are dredging up great ideas that you have placed into your brain using the first two steps. Just bash out 50 of these babies.

Step 4Pick your headlines. Now you can choose the titles that you think are the best and modify them some more. Since this is not an exact science, you will have to determine on your own which titles work the best.  One of the best ways to do this is to find someone else that you can bounce ideas off of.

Tip:  I lurk and write the Warrior Forum a lot.  For those of you that don’t know, the WF is the premier forum on the Internet.warrior forum a great place for copywriters and bloggersFor a mere $10 you can get a life time membership and have access to loads of great advice and information.  Experts that have made good money in marketing hang out on there.

What I like to do on the WF is go to the copywriter’s section, and post my top 3 headlines.  I’ll ask them what they think of my titles and which one they liked the best.

Warning: Many of the copywriters that hang out on the WF are seasoned veterans.  They will be blunt about your abilities to write sometimes.  However, they will usually bend over backwards to help someone write better.  (I know, it’s weird.)

If you go on the WF to get advice about your writing, don’t take anything personal and don’t get insulted.  The writers on there are blunt, not mean.

Many times I’ve asked for help like this on the Copywriter’s section on the WF and they have actually rewritten the titles for me!

I don’t do it all of the time, and you don’t want to use those people as a crutch, but you can get AWESOME advice on there.

Conclusion – Find Your Own Groove

After you’ve spent time writing and rewriting headlines, you’ll eventually develop your own system for writing them. Remember, writing headlines is very important because it is the first thing a reader is going to scan on your blog post, magazine cover, or newspaper.

As the famous copywriter and marketer David Ogilvy has stated many times,

On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Go forth and practice writing your headlines now; you won’t regret it and neither will your readers.

Resource Section

Places to Find Great Swipes of Headlines and Templates to Help You Out

Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline HacksJon Morrow is a Genius Hyper Blogger that has compiled this free eBook on the best headlines that he has found and used.  Incredible resource!

The Google Headline Swipe File – If you search Google like this, you’ll find tons of great swipe files: filetype:pdf headline swipe file

Eugene Schwartz Headline Swipe File – (pdf download) Eugene Schwartz was one of the top copywriters of his day and this is a collect of 127 of his finest headlines.  A great swipe file to start your collection.

I also wrote several posts about writing headlines which have even more resources that you can use:

How to Write Headlines that Drive Traffic

5 Ways to Write Killer Blog Headlines

6 Bazinga Headline Writing Habits!

I hope you got a lot out of my post!  If you can comment it would help me to write more posts that can help you get more readers eyes onto your site or sales pages!

Comment Now! (That’s a call to action, for ya!)

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