Visit a Newsagent to Learn How to be a Great Copywriter

Headlines are the hook that will attract or drive away visitors to your website.

It does not matter what your specialist subject is, you can learn a lot from the consumer magazine industry. They are masters at using headlines to entice people to pick up their magazines from a crowded shelf.
Here are five lessons you can learn from generations of publishing experience:

LESSON #1    Leave the Salesperson at the Back of the Showroom

If you are walking past a shop and you see a salesperson hovering by the door, does it encourage you to go in or put you off?
It certainly puts me off.
Have you ever seen a consumer magazine with “Subscribe to this Magazine now” splashed across the front page?
Nor have I.
Take a look at lots of magazine front covers.
Understand what publishers do to make you want to pick up their publication and take a look inside.
The goal of your landing page is to immediately inform visitors what your site is about and then tempt them to spend time looking around.
The magazine editors are masters at this by using eye-catching, well-targeted headlines:
  •  “20 Ways to Improve Your Sex Life ... Tonight!”
  •  “Christmas sorted and stress-free!”
  •  “Exclusive! Interview with David Beckham”
  • “Will Outsourcing Destroy Your Company”
Use these types of attention grabbing headlines on every article you write.
The internet equivalent of the pushy salesperson at the door of the shop are pop-up ads, a heavy-handed sales letters on the home page and generally too much emphasis on getting people to hand over their money.
Let the quality of your content sell for you.

LESSON #2 – Don’t Hide Your Light under a Bushel

Get the good stuff up front.
Magazine editors don’t think “I’ll surprise my readers with an exclusive interview with Tom Cruise once they start reading the magazine”.
They put it right up front on the cover.
“Exclusive! Tom Cruise Talks about his Love Life, Films and Enemies!”
Likewise, shop owners fill their windows with the stuff that sells best.
Find out what your existing members read most on your website and tell your prospects about these articles or content right upfront.

LESSON #3 – Give Prospects a Glimpse of the Community

When you’ve been looking for a restaurant, how many times have you peered through several restaurant windows and gone into the one with the most people?
You have no idea how good the food is, but you make the assumption that if there are a lot of people inside, they must be there for a good reason.
On your site, you can give your prospects a peek through the ‘restaurant window’ by displaying headlines from your discussion forum on the Home Page. This lets visitors know that there are other active people on the site asking the types of questions that they would want to ask.
A community is one of the most powerful ways of building loyalty to a website.
You want prospects to feel that they are really missing out on something by not being involved.
Take a look at Bullet Proof Retirement ( for a website that does this well.
Incidentally, having the forum headings on the home page has the added benefit of providing more content for the search engines to find and index. This will help push your website up the search engine results page.

LESSON #4    - Give Prospects a Taster

How often have you been in a food store where they give you a free taste of their food?
Retailers have known for a long time that samples increase the number of people who buy a product.
Magazine publishers also often give away free copies at well-targeted events to persuade people to sign up.
On a website it is easy to do the same ... and it costs you nothing!
Important Tip! Give away your best stuff.
Many website publishers I have spoken with say, “I’m not giving away my best content. People have to pay for that”.
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Can you imagine going into a food store and being given broken bits of biscuit from a damaged box? Would that make you want to buy the product?
If you find that 99% of your readers love one particular article, that should be the article you give away as your sample.
Successful internet marketers have learnt that they have to give away something of real value to stand out on the internet.

LESSON #5 – Give a Free Gift (That Costs You Nothing)

There is not a newsagent’s shelf that doesn’t have a magazine with a free gift stuck on its front. The variety is endless – software, books, toys, cosmetic samples, invitations to events, etc.
This is a great way to make your product different from your competitors.
For website owners, the opportunity is even better than for magazine publishers. Why?
Because they can distribute digital gifts for free.
Offer a gift that can be sent attached to an email or downloaded from your site.
Examples include:
  • eBooks – Compile a book from your existing content, e.g., “101 Things to be Aware of when Buying a House in Florida”.
  • Events Calendar – If your site covers a subject where a list of events is valuable to clients, this could be a great gift, e.g., “The 2007 Guide to Model Train Shows and Events”.
  • Software Applications – Give away a free software application that relates to your business, e.g., a dieting site could provide an application for creating diet plans based on calories.
  • Money-off Coupons – Talk to suppliers in your industry and ask them if they want to reach your audience by giving away money-off coupons for their products and services.
  • Free Samples – If you give members access to downloadable images, music, patterns, etc., giveaway some free samples.
People love to be given something for free.
Just a brief word of warning. Make sure that the free gift has a real value to your target audience. If it doesn’t, it can lower the perceived value of your website.
These five lessons from the print publishing world should have a significant impact on your conversion rate.