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Welcome to my blog. Here you will find tips that will help you write books and articles that establish you as the expert in your market.
                   --Lee Pound

February 2020
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How to Create a Headline that Grabs Your Reader

This is the single most important bit of writing you will ever do.

In fact, John Carlton, one of the most successful copywriters of the last several decades, says that he often spends more time on the headline of a sales letter than on the rest of the letter.

Every newspaper, every magazine, every advertisement in print and television has headlines. Every speech has a title. Why is it so important?

The headline and first line of anything you write has just one purpose, to get the reader to read the next line. Every piece of writing has a headline or title. Every one. Imagine picking up a page of text with nothing to tell you what it was about or to give you a hint as to whether you might be interested in it. Would you read it? Of course not.

First key element: You are not trying to get everyone to read your article. You only want those who are interested in reading it. If you attempt to reach everybody, you will reach nobody and your material will remain unread. This is true no matter what you are writing. If you are writing a science fiction novel, why would you try to attract romance readers? The more you narrow your potential audience, the more motivated readers you will reach.

Second key element: Your headline or title promises to solve a problem. Not just any problem, an important problem to the person you want to attract. This article is about helping people attract attention with their headlines. If you want to know how to drive a car, this post is not for you. What problem does it solve? Getting your reader to read what you write. Beginning your title with “How to” is a great way to do this.

Third key element: Your headline intrigues the reader. If you plant a question in the reader’s mind that they want answered, they will read on. I titled one of my novels A Gathering of Strangers. It poses several questions: What is the gathering? Who are the strangers? What happens? One great way to do this is to put two words that don’t normally go together in the title, in this case “gathering” and “strangers”.

Fourth key element: Your headline promises to educate. Any title that starts “five ways to” is an educational piece of some sort. If you are teaching in your post or article, or book, let your reader know from the start and let them know what you are teaching. If they are interested they will read on.

Fifth key element: Your headline entertains. This works on a specialized type of writing, not just humor but anything meant to be lighter in tone. If your headline draws a laugh from people who  need a laugh, they will read on and enjoy every minute of it. Think of the vast array or YouTube titles that you chuckle over then watch.

When you add these elements together in a way that attracts your target audience, they will read what you have to say. Target a point of interest, a point of pain, a point of need. Target that ideal client, not just anyone.  The headline tells your reader what to expect next.  Give them exactly what you promise.

And remember, the first line of your text and every line thereafter has the same purpose: Keep them reading, all the way to the end.

In future posts, I will talk more about how you accomplish them. Meanwhile, write, write, write and let me know how you are doing.

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5 comments to How to Create a Headline that Grabs Your Reader

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Magiesplace and Lee Pound, sharonhorne. sharonhorne said: RT @magiesplace: Excellent! rt @LeePound How to Create a Headline that Grabs Your Reader @JeanetteCates #blog30 http://bit.ly/caTMp0 […]

  • Exemplary tips, Lee!

    It's both a challenge and a fun activity to come up with titles or headlines that grab the reader by the collar, as I like to say.

    I especially appreciate reading your First key element. It would be impossible (on a good day!) to write a headline that roped everyone in. Just can't happen!

    I enjoy using a headline analyzer tool that measures the EMV (emotional marketing value) of the words you place in headlines. It's pretty amazing and it's served me well. :-)


  • Lee, I love your articles. So well written and to the point. Learning a lot from these already!

    I think this part got to me the most: “If you attempt to reach everybody, you will reach nobody and your material will remain unread.” That makes so SO much sense after reading your article.

    Thanks again for the great work.

  • CoachJaneLee

    Hi Lee

    I really enjoy the Third Key Element which is the intriguing headline. Yesterday's blog was on the “Law of Dis-Attraction” and there were more readers stopping by to review the article. Will incorporate some of the other elements into my next blog post. Thank you this was very helpful.


  • Very good information and tips I can use right now with my own writing. Thanks for sharing.

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