The most important skill in copywriting is the ability to grab attention.
You might have the best product or service in the world, and your promotional copy might be amazing, but if no one stops to read your headline, no one will stop to read your copy.
Welcome to The Copywriting Course for Beginners, Part Two of Five: Headlines and Opening Lines.
I'm your instructor, Alan Sharpe. I got started as a copywriter in 1989. In the years since then, I've worked as a freelancer and as an in-house copywriter at an ad agency.
I have written in all of the channels—offline, online, outdoor, mobile and broadcast. I have written print ads, radio commercials, email newsletters, sales letters, banner ads, product packaging, brochures, factsheets, case studies, slogans and plenty more for Apple, IBM, Bell, Re/Max, Hilton Hotels and hundreds of other clients worldwide.
I got married, bought a house, and raised two kids on my copywriting salary alone.
In case you're wondering, I've been teaching copywriting since 1995. On Udemy, I teach copywriting to over twelve thousand students from one hundred and thirty-eight countries. I am one of the top-rated instructors in the copywriting niche on Udemy.
About the Course
This course teaches you how to do the toughest thing in copywriting—grab and keep attention. I teach you the tips and tricks I've learned in over 30 years of writing headlines and opening lines. At the end of this course, you will know how to write headlines that grab attention. And you'll know how to write opening lines that keep attention.
This course is divided into two sections.
Section one is all about headlines. You'll learn the two things that every headline you write must accomplish. I'll show you an original way to brainstorm headline ideas that are creative and original. You'll learn nine ways to write headlines that stand out and grab attention. We'll cover how to write offline headlines, online headlines, email headlines, and Google text ad headlines.
Section two is all about opening lines.
You'll discover why your opening lines is the most important line in copywriting, after your headline. We'll look at the many creative ways you can start your body copy. And I'll share with you the unique challenge I face in writing opening lines.
This course is filled with practical, step-by-step advice, tools, tips and tricks that I've learned over the years as a professional copywriter. I use dozens of examples from the real world of copywriting—both offline and online—to teach you to art of writing effective headlines and opening lines.
I designed this course for copywriters who want to be original, who want to avoid the many boilerplate, lame and formulaic ways of writing headlines and opening lines. If you need to write compelling headlines and original opening lines for a living, then this course is for you.
Learn more about the course by reviewing the course description and course outline below.
Watch the free preview lessons. Read the reviews from my satisfied students. Then enroll today.
Every headline you write has to interrupt someone and get them to pay attention to you. And then it has to persuade them to keep reading. The whole point of a headline is to stop people long enough that they read the rest of your copy. It's not enough just to hook people. You have to intrigue them, tease them or compel them to keep on reading. The easiest way to do this is to write your headline in two parts. Let me show you how it's done.
Writing headlines is one of the hardest things to do as a copywriter. That's because the headline is so important. You can have a terrific product, and you can have terrific copy describing that product, but unless you have a terrific headline, no one is going to read your copy and learn about your product.
If you read the headlines of the most famous ads of all time, you'll discover that none of them followed a formula. But what they all did was find a unique feature of the product, or a unique insight into the potential buyer, and they put that into their headline in a unique, often clever way.
So how do you do that? By free associating.
I am not a believer in formulas when it comes to writing headlines. I believe being creative and original works better than following rules or formulas. But all creativity and all originality springs from somewhere, and that somewhere is usually an existing idea in your mind. So here are some ways to get you thinking creatively about your headlines.
Your headline is one of the most important parts of your copy. So here are three ideas on how to write effective headlines.
Writing headlines is tough, isn't it? I have spent hours in front of my computer, in agony, trying to write one, decent headline that my client would like. Sometimes I needed some creative inspiration to get my brain going. Here are three of them.
One of the most effective ways to boost your email marketing open rates is to improve your subject line. The more relevant your subject line is to your customers, the more likely they are to open your email.
Since you have a limited amount of real estate in a subject line (around 40 characters), the easiest way to boost the relevance of your subject line is to put your keywords or hot buttons at the front of your subject line, followed by an explanatory phrase, with a colon in the middle. This tactic works just as well with print and online headlines as well.
The most powerful headline I ever read and acted upon was a negative headline. It changed my life.
Yet most books on copywriting tell you to cast your headlines, overlines and subheads in the positive. But sometimes being negative is positively good for business. Or, to say it another way, negative headlines in your copy are not always bad. Learn why.
Your primary goal at the beginning of your copy is to demonstrate relevance. You must prove, and quickly, that what you have to say is relevant to your reader. That’s why I recommend you write your copy as though it’s appearing on page one of a Google search results page.
Writing headlines is one of the hardest jobs in copywriting. And writing headlines for Google text ads is one of the hardest. Let's look at some do's and don’ts for writing Google text ads. We'll start with the do's.
When you write a Google text ad, it appears in search results surrounded by competing ads, all targeting your potential buyer with the same product or service. If you want your ad to stand out from all the others, remember this simple rule—give your buyers what they are searching for. You do this with their keywords, and your benefit.
The first time I was shelled by enemy artillery, I learned a vital lesson that applies to the success of your copywriting.
One effective way to start your copy is to ask a provocative question. By provocative, I mean challenging. Your aim is not to enrage your readers, but to provoke them to think. Here's how.
One way to get your readers’ attention and to draw them into your letters is to start with an interesting anecdote or story. People like to read about people. Just think of the popularity of People Magazine, the supermarket tabloids and reality TV shows like Survivor and The Apprentice. People are fascinated with the rich, the famous, the notorious and the bizarre.
If you decide to start your sales letter with a story, make sure it is relevant to your target audience and to what you are promoting in your letter. In other words, make sure you can lead directly from your opening anecdote into your offer. Here's how.
One powerful way to start your copy is with a zinger.
A zinger is a one-sentence saying that says a lot. It might be a quote. Or a proverbial saying with a unique twist. Or an observation about the human condition that arouses curiosity about what is to follow in your copy.
The secret to using zingers well is to think of them as bait. That's because you are fishing for a sale. And the zinger is the lure on the end of your line. You want prospects to take your lure so that you can reel them in.
Sometimes, the most effective way to start your copy is to state a simple fact. But the secret is to state that simple fact in a compelling way. Facts on their own are rarely impressive. But a fact about your product or service, or a fact about the problem that your customer faces every day, can become impressive when you take the time to present it in a creative way.
Call me a dunce, but I can’t write a single line of copy until I write my opening paragraph.
Unlike many successful copywriters, I can’t follow the advice of the many direct mail copywriting gurus who suggest I write the call to action first, because that’s the sentence that closes the sale. I can’t start there. That’s the last thing I write.
So writing for me is agony. I can’t begin anywhere else but at the beginning. Which, for me, is the opening line of the copy.
Are you reading my bio because you want to improve your copywriting? Bonus. That makes two of us.
Are you looking for a copywriting coach who has written for Fortune 500 accounts (Apple, IBM, Hilton Hotels, Bell)? Check.
Do you want your copywriting instructor to have experience writing in multiple channels (print, online, direct mail, radio, television, outdoor, packaging, branding)? Groovy.
If you had your way, would your copy coach also be a guy who has allergic reactions to exclamation marks, who thinks honesty in advertising is not an oxymoron, and who believes the most important person in this paragraph is you?
Take my courses.
I'm Alan Sharpe. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I'm a 27-year veteran copywriter who has been teaching people how to write persuasively since 1989.
Through my conference workshops, copywriting classes, telephone seminars, webinars, trade journal articles, newsletters, blog posts and in my many books, I have helped thousands of copywriters on four continents master the craft of persuading on paper and in pixels.
I taught myself the craft of advertising copywriting, and worked as a freelance copywriter as well as a senior copywriter for two advertising agencies. I sold everything from pump parts to utility trailers to digital video transmission systems and insurance services, working in every media. I even helped a client use direct mail to sell a coffee table book about Elvis Presley. Don't ask.
After working for a decade as a copywriter, I narrowed my focus to two specialties: writing direct mail letters for businesses, and fundraising letters for non-profits.
Now I'd like to help you write copy that gets noticed, gets read, and gets results. Let's get started.