Take Off Your Pants (but don’t show me your briefs)


The most important task of a headline is getting the reader’s attention. You may have a brilliant article or blog post, amazing sales copy, and a powerful offer, but none of that matters if nobody reads it.

An example of a good headline is the one on a new Kindle book, Take Off Your Pants: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing.

It’s for novelists who ordinarily don’t outline their books but write them “by the seat of their pants.” They are considered “pantsers” in the parlance, in contrast to “plotters”–writers who outline and plot before they write.

I saw the book when it launched and even though I’m not a novelist I was intrigued by the title. It stopped me in my tracks and made me look at the book description. It made me chuckle.

It did it’s job and did it well.

Of course you need to read the sub-title to understand that the book is for writers and not a 50 Shades knockoff. And that’s okay. The title gets your attention. The sub-title clarifies the title and promises a benefit.

Nicely done.

If you’re looking for ideas for headlines for your posts or articles, or titles for your books, don’t hesitate to borrow from what’s already out there. You can use an existing title or headline “as is” (there is no copyright protection afforded titles), or you can play off titles, especially iconic ones. My book (on network marketing), Recruit and Grow Rich is an obvious but effective play on the classic “Think and Grow Rich.”

Another example.

In the 1970’s, Dr. David Reuben became a mega best selling author with his book, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask)”. Woody Allen made it into a movie with that title.

The original title is trademarked, so you can’t use it as is, but I’ve seen more than a few ads for products and services that play off it. You can do the same thing. “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bankruptcy (But Were Afraid to Ask)” works.

You could use this template for many practice areas, and it doesn’t matter whether readers know the original book or movie. There are a lot of things prospective clients want to know but are afraid to ask.

For more on writing effective titles and headlines, get this and this