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How to write eyeball grabbing headlines.

It takes a little practice to get good at writing eyeball grabbing headlines . . and there are some tricks to it but first you need to know what goes into creating them.

So, would it be okay if I shared some insights so you can begin the journey of becoming great at writing eyeball grabbers? Okay, let’s get started.

The "Money is Oxygen" headline is a classic in how to write eyeball grabbing headlines

Do you like the one above? I just wrote it today using the #1 trick of writing eyeball grabbing headlines. I swiped it (well, part of it)!

Now, the headline I swiped this from was not exactly the same and it was the title for a major media outlet post. I only swiped part of it and that is key.

Now let me tell you how to “swipe” without infringing on copyrights.

That post title started with “Money is oxygen” but had a lame 2nd line (sub header) that was clearly created to suit the topic, which I believe was investing (no, I did not read the post).

Bending greatest to suit an agenda is never creates great eyeball grabbers!

What did you think of my sub header? Sharp right? And the terrific vacation spot is as important to the ad as the words, is it not?

So . . before I start rambling on about the composition of ad ad lets get back to finding inspiration for headlines, including swiping.

Looking at the ads in social media and on Google or whatever you browse online will bring you some solid stuff that you can alter or swipe. And that brings us to two tips: (1) pay attention, and; (2) keep a swipe file (more on this later).

The title of this Globe and Mail post was the motivation for writing a post on headlines and is the source for swiping; "Money is Oxygen"

Oxygen and “breath” or “breathing” go better together than “your supply” . . I am thinking. Anyway, you can see my process (the screenshot image above was captured by my phone).

I loved the 3 word phrase but — let’s just say —thought the rest was a can short of six-pack when it comes to word pictures. And I knew I could create a better one, so I did.

That wasn’t all that happened yesterday — on Boxing Day. Because I had time to do nothing I read some old emails and picked up another headline!

Again, I changed it slightly, which made it more like a headline than an educational point in a marketing email, which brings me to another tip: (3) make sure you change the headlines you swipe, so you do not run into trademark infringements.

By the way, the other reason why we change the headlines — as you’ve seen — that we got lucky enough to swipe is critical. We can make them better, Right?

Sometimes much better! 

My favorite of the headlines I came up with from scratch in the last couple of years was;

The Rabbi who got Rich on Sunday™

When talking about great headlines this one must be included. It contains an image showing the outline of a Jewish man with a beard and a skull cap or yarmulke - plus the slogan; The Rabbi Who Got Rich on Sunday

There are a number of reasons why I like it so much but, first, another headline writing tip:

(4) Use no superfluous or extra words!

If you read that headline there is no way to make it better unless you completely rewrite it with some other premise.

If you make the point that he is doing a side hustle — working the approximately equivalent of one day a week, which could be but doesn’t have to be Sunday — and that he got rich doing it, how to do take any words out of it?

Now, for sure we could not change the headline to say he got rich on the Sabbath (Saturday), because in that faith you cannot work that day. So how could it be changed without loosing the premise?

No extra words please!

I got that headline while I was sitting at a campsite with my feet in the sand drinking coffee. And, if you ever get the chance I can recommend that campground for the beauty of the spot; 

Sandbanks Provincial Park

This is a picture of the beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park where I wrote one of my best headlines!

As you can see from the picture above, that was an idyllic place to relax and do some creative thinking. So I did.

The Rabbi who got rich on Sunday™ was not perfected for nearly a week after I got the premise . . that morning at Sandbanks, as I drank coffee by a fire and stared at the view above.

Some headlines are like this. They require tinkering, which I did. And, after I got it to have a ring to it, then I eliminated all the extra words, which brings me to another tip;

(5) Write down your ideas then play with them. Only then should you worry about getting rid of words you don’t need.

So . . it takes a little bit of time to think these up. And, I find the easiest time to do it is when you are not worried or stressed. This is when you can be really creative.

I should also share that the client that I created that ad for never really got it. If he had trusted me entirely I would have developed either a podcast or a HOW TO book, that could be used as a giveaway (free cheese) to generate boatloads of leads.

If a digital HOW TO product was created, the title would be altered, like this;

“How the Rabbi got Rich on Sunday!”

That could have been a financial series that led people to understanding the value of side hustles. If only the client would get it … oh, well!

This image contains the dragons of The Dragon's Den and the book one of them wrote; The Wealthy Barber, which is a great title and one of the most awesome headlines

Copyrights, Trademarks & I.P. Registration

Time for another tip;

(6) When you write an original headline that is not partially swiped from something you saw (in other words; that was not partially created by someone else), make sure you use a Trademark (TM). 

Trademark symbols are a way of asserting ownership over your intellectual property. Of course, if it was going to be the name of your company, you would want to register that Trademark too — ® —but for a headline that may not be necessary.

The key to if a ™ is enough, is understanding how long that eyeball grabber will live. What lasting power it has.

Keep in mind that Copyright and Trademark laws are a “First to File” thing. So, if you have something really good, make sure you file for it right away.

If you publish a newsletter you would normally wait and copywrite a whole year at once, because there is only one fee for that. But copyrights — © — don’t work for some intellectual property.

Take “The Rabbi that got Rich on Sunday”  . . if it were my brand, I would have created a ® for it, like this (example only – not registered);

The Rich Rabbi® — it is a brand that would compare with The Wealthy Barber, which was created by a fellow who was not a barber!

Now for the example of Smiling Steve™. I own the Domain Name, have been using the Trademark for years . . so it is unlikely that anyone else would try to register it.

A better example of the same thing is Kellogg. It was never registered (it is not a ®). The name has been used so long that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) would never grant that mark to anyone else. So, though I am not a PTO attorney, this will give you some ideas about that.

Something closer to The Rich Rabbi is The Wealthy Barber – which formerly deserved an ® designation but no longer does (an abandoned trademark).

Most people known this as the title of a book but it was also a seminar series. And, for that series of financial seminars – to capitalize on the success of the book – David Chilton, who was never a barber, registered a trademark. 

I must assume that the decision to abandon the mark was because the life of the commercial aspect of The Wealthy Barber was over. But while it was actively used, it was a registered trademark.

By the way, you can look that up on the USPTO website using their TESS search. It is simple to use. In fact, I had never looked it up until now, when I thought it might be a perfect example of what The Rich Rabbi should do.

My hunch was right!

Another example of my own stuff, can be seen below. 

The use of FREE  in Headlines

As you can see, I have a Trademark symbol on the materials above. However, I do not believe that I need to register this because the shelf life of the offer, which is live now, is likely only about a year or two. 

It takes longer than a year just to complete the process of registering a Patent or Trademark. However, since Low Tech High Check™ is a booklet and a training, I will likely do a copyright registration of it (less expensive but, more importantly, faster). 

Copyrights are easier and faster to register than either Patents or Trademarks. And I could use it as a free giveaway for years — a premium giveaway with other current products!

By the way, you can click the image above if you want to download a free copy of Low Tech High Check™, as it is hyperlinked to the offer.

Trademark Legal Advice is Free

Anyway, the next tip is;

(7)  Consult a PTO Attorney (patent and trademark) to get a free consultation on whether you need to register important works to further protect your Intellectual Property.

Never pay for an initial legal consultation. That might not be a headline writing tip but it is a business tip.

What the attorney will need to know is how the brand or title will be used. What is the possible TIME TO LIVE of your offer?

Could The Wealthy Barber have turned into a licensed training system? Could it have been the front for investment sales? Could the life of that MARK have been way longer than it was – something like U-Haul?

I think it could have been. And, though David Chilton is not doing badly, having joined the ranks of The Dragon’s Den, I believe he missed the boat in terms of what it (The Wealthy Barber) was truly worth.

Length of Headlines

I should also mention that Low Tech High Check™ gets the message across very quickly. Whereas sometime super short headlines and titles are not able to get a message across, this is not one of those, is it?

Notice how the word FREE works with this offer? In the next ad, there is another piece added, like this one, that ups responses dramatically.

The next ad contains an image and an offer. It is not a standard headline and thus I thought it might be good to include it, just so you can see how ads work at times.

“Get the first 12 pages of this marketing book for free . .

. . and discover how the big bucks can be made by small business owners!”

If you owned a small business, it is an understatement to say the offer is compelling, right?

Really it is an offer and a benefit statement together. And it is an eyeball grabber – in fact I should change the color of the word FREE so it stands out more, right?

Yah, as you can see, as I edited this post I liked the idea so much (of FREE being another color so it stood out) that I changed the graphic. Likely I will play with the colors so they match the website colors but you get the point.

This ad example is a rule breaker as headlines go but it works. So, TIPS and RULES for writing eyeball grabbers are not ironclad, sometimes they need to be thrown out the window.

The little add-on here is; no credit card required. Like the word FREE in the last ad (with Low Tech High Check™), this little addition draws lots of extra responses.

By the way, this offer is current too so click the image if you want to download the first 12 pages of that marketing book. And, in the book there is another technique in headline writing that is well explained, called; sleazy tabloid headlines.

Since it is in the book, I wont take up space on that portion of what I call “eyeball grabbing” in this post too.

Neil Patel, Headlines & Online Marketing

I found the next image in a Neil Patel post. Neil and his team are well know for doing excellent research and you can see clearly that he explains why you should spend more time writing headlines.

It is stunning to know that 8 out of 10 read the headline and only a quarter of them click through. That is nuts but then we always new that we need to create eyeball grabbing headers and sub headers for our ads. 

The image above — these are known as infographics — is linked back to the post by Neil Patel. And, that post is something I would recommend reading after this one (open it now – it will pop into a new window). Why? Because great eyeball grabbers are that important to your business success, so put more sweat into their creation!

In that post by Neil, right after the above graphic is a tip that was the next thing I was going to include in my post, only my advice is even more specific.

Use data and numbers if you want to grab people’s attention with your eyeball grabber. That is basically what Neil suggested. 

My more specific advice? Don’t just use any number, if you can use an odd number.

Take a look at two of my last four my blog post headlines here;

Now, those two titles are about what people don’t know, but this was a coincidence. The point is that both the numbers are ODD numbers, not even numbers.

When this advice backfires is; say there were 2 things most employees didn’t know. Then I would not be able to apply the same eyeball grabbing technique but that does not mean I could not come up with a good headline.

By the way, both those headlines are linked to the blog posts if you want to read them.

I want to conclude that numbers work really well when you include them to tell people how much they will save. For instance, this works very well to draw people in when a radio station has someone at a big sale event;

30% off today only.

They are hoping that people in the car, driving around town, listening to Classic Rock, will change their direction  and drive right over to get this whopping discount.

The reason why people like Neil do not share that last technique is they mostly think about things that are done online and most never had old world advertising experience like I did. People who work online don’t realize that things like mailed samples and radio ads and other advertising works beautifully.

Today's swipe file containing headlines or headline ideas I got from other ads

Headline Swipe Files

You can see an image above – it is actually what motivated me to write this post today.

You see, I saw an ad, that started with; “Money is Oxygen” . . three words that are totally brilliant. The rest of that headline was bad but I figured it out in seconds, as soon as I realized how good a head start I was given.

Then I saw an email later that said Jobs and Security don’t belong in the same sentence any more (true). And I pictured two people — Job and Security — getting a divorce and boom, I had it.

I even have the image to go with it.

Of course, if you read the Notepad screenshot you will see that I did not worry about getting them right. I just saved them as memory joggers and did the heavy lifting og getting them right later.

The key is I used a free program on my phone to record these eyeball grabbers — to swipe them. And that is what a swipe file is. 

In the old days we would keep tear out files, grabbing whole pages out of the best magazines (that had good creative departments). Today it is screenshots and a headline in a Notepad App.

Once a month I compile all the notes I made into one and store them in a file on the cloud. Occasionally I look through them for motivation — to get ideas.

This is something I recommend though I rarely read anything about Swipe Files in articles like the Neil Patel ones I linked above. They work. Just do it! 

The Free Cheese Secret™ book with the slogan at the bottom which is one of my great headlines; How you make the big money is not the way you think!

I have included a lifetime of case studies with the purchase of my new book, The Free Cheese Secret . . all for only $37.

Through that offer you will end up getting a swipe file delivered to you every month in your email inbox – for life!

Grab your first 12 pages for free here;

No credit card required

Yes, that is a live link. And, yes, the offer is real. But do you notice how compelling the link anchor text is? And that topic deserves its own section in this post, for sure.

No Credit Card Required

In case you are not an old HTML website designer and do not know what anchor text is; in a hyperlink, the words that are imbedded or displayed in that link, are the anchor text.

As headlines go, "No credit card required" is a very good sub headers - this image is part of a hyperlink showing anchor text

In the hyperlink above, my website home page is not where visitors download 12 pages of my book for free. But you get an idea of what anchor text is.

Headlines and other eyeball grabbers can be hyperlinks too, which is why online marketing is so fast. After all, an ad in a magazine will take weeks to get hits, while one online might only takes minutes!

Precisely because online marketing can be fast is why many marketers have forgotten that real world stuff can still be given away to grab eyeballs. And we have to give them a break for not knowing everything, as many of them grew up with the wed, right?

Not to worry, because in my book I spend considerable time providing real world versus online world examples of free stuff that can be given away to attract attention. Of course, that is why I do not use the term LEAD MAGNET but prefer FREE CHEESE as a nickname that covers the online lead magnet (digital product or information) and real world samples.

I am going to write a post on LEAD MAGNETS and that includes headlines that include the most powerful word in marketing, which is FREE.

I believe that LEAD MAGNETS and real world FREE CHEESE are topics that require dedicated posts to do them justice but . . in case you have not figured it out yet, part of your headline includes what you plan to offer.

You cannot proceed with grabbing eyeballs until after you have a plan. Only then should we think about headers and sub headers for ads and offers, which most people think of as headlines.

I strongly suggest that you download the free portion of the book because the key idea that most small business promoters and owners don’t know is in that first 12 pages. You can get it here:

No credit card required!

Expect two follows ups to this post. One on LEAD MAGNETS and one on FREE CHEESE . . so that you can see how headlines are done when you have something to give away for free.

Below you can leave a comment about this post if you want to. If you do it helps rank my posts so I would appreciate it. And, be assured, we never share or sell your private information, which is explained in our privacy policy.

2 Responses

  1. Thanks for the great ideas and the heads up on copywriting your best headlines. Also cool that you include other resources!

  2. Another great tip is to journal, we lose a lot of great keyword phrases because of not writing them down as they come. I also think the whole exercise can be a chore, it can dig into your time if you let it. It’s an interesting topic this, and could be controversial I think? I am not going to go down that route because of time.

    Now, thanks for the explanation on copyright, patent and trademark, I think it’s something important to put into practice, wish I had trade marked some items. Okay! Keep them coming.

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