How To “Hook” Your Prospects In 15 Seconds Using These 5 Methods

“A series of facts do not a story make.”

The trick to is make your reader CARE enough about the headline to invest their time to read the article.

And that’s what’s difficult about effective writing.

You only have a few sentences (at best!) to capture your audience’s attention and make your story relevant to their needs.

Case in point…

The legendary copywriter Eugene Schwarz would spend 1 week writing the first 50 words of a sales letter.

One week!

That might seem obsessive, but here’s the long and short of it…

No one’s going to read past a flabby opening

effective writingSo behind your headline…

Your lead is the most important part of any piece of persuasive copy—

Whether you’re writing a blog post, sales letter, email, video script, or anything else when building your affiliate marketing business.

By now, you might be asking…

Is there a way to create effective, catchy openings that suck folks into reading every word—without having to become a master copywriter?

Is there a way to write brilliant, exciting headlines—consistently and quickly?

The answer is yes!


Folks like you and me can’t afford to spend weeks or even days writing a great opening, right?

I use a “cheat sheet” or 5 openings that helps me write effective leads every time.

I will take each of the 5 openings and create a headline or opening to my article.  After I create a series of headlines, I will choose one that is most appropriate for the article.

So read on and you’ll learn how to always hit the bullseye with irresistible hooks that persuade and impress.

Oh, and by the way…

In the copywriting world, the lead or opening is also referred to as the “hook.”

So keep in mind that the lead, opening, intro, or hook are all interchangeable terms.

In this article we’ll review 5 opening’s you should consider in your headline:

  1. Controversial Opening
  2. Question Opening
  3. Statistic Opening
  4. Story Opening
  5. Metaphor Opening

Let’s get started with the Controversial Opening!

effective writing

What’s the big advantage of blogging when building your affiliate marketing business?

And why is it our most profitable form of content marketing?

Well, it comes down to this…

People buy from folks they like and trust

effective writingIf you have been around affiliate marketing for any period of time, you have heard that statement many times..right?

Well it’s true.

With over 20 hair cutting shops in my town, I always go to the same place.  Why?  I like the people and I trust them.

With 12 auto dealers, I only go to two when looking for a new car.  Why? Because I like the dealership and trust them.

We have 6 flower shops.  Why does my wife only go to 1?  Same story…she likes the shop and trust them for her flower gifts.

What can we learn from these examples?  People buy from business they like and trust.

And blogging helps you earn that trust.

In fact…

Both Forbes and Nielsen report that we prefer to buy from people or business we know.

I completely understand that you can’t meet all your customers or potential customers personally…

But with a blog, you can build the same kind of familiarity and trust.

One of the best ways to kick-start a relationship with your readers is by expressing strong opinions and create great content.

Like it or not…

People naturally tend to divide into tribes

effective writingWhether it’s sports, TV shows, movies, politics, or if you should eat your bread butter-side up or butter-side down or even if you like jelly or peanut butter on your bread….

There are often sharp distinctions between groups.

So one great way to connect with your audience is through challenging their enemies.

And the easiest way to do this is with a controversial opening.

Now, for the record, everyone has an enemy.

It could be a person, an organization, or even an abstract idea.

Doesn’t matter as far as writing a headline hook goes.

What matters is, when you attack an enemy, whatever it happens to be, you’re creating an instant connection with your reader in two ways:

  1. By showing that you understand and share their point of view
  2. By showing leadership through standing up and challenging that enemy

Importantly, this doesn’t mean being rude or aggressive.

You don’t want to turn people off by being a “negative Nelly.”

But if you can identify a potentially controversial topic, and match it to your readers’ enemy (or enemies), you can easily use this information to “bait” your hook.

You can persuade effectively without having to stoop down to negativity

effective writingKeep that in mind—there’s no need to be mean or nasty when you’re building your affiliate marketing business.

Keep it civil, but don’t shy away from ruffling a few feathers with your point of view.

Here are some controversial topics that work readers up…

  1. Political ideologies
    (“xyz’s failed policies are the end of America”)
  2. Gender/generational relations
    (an argument for/against “traditional” values)
  3. Inequality
    (who’s *really* to blame for the economic mess—big banks or Millennials?)
  4. Old practices becoming outdated
    (SEO is dead!)
  5. Opportunities being lost
    (Content marketing is the future of advertising)
  6. Affiliate marketing is much better than Network marketing

How about an example?

Here’s a controversial opening in a piece by the Harvard Business Review

Traditional marketing — including advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications — is dead.  Many people in traditional marketing roles and organizations may not realize they’re operating within a dead paradigm. But they are. The evidence is clear.

The author claims that traditional marketing is “dead.”

While clearly false—4 years after the post, traditional marketing is alive and well—the intro is compelling and controversial enough that you can’t help but want to read the rest of the article to learn more, right?

Let’s look at the Question Opening…

effective writing

Guess what?

Asking a question is a powerful way to instantly grab your reader’s attention…

Bringing their needs and wants to the forefront of their mind, which primes your eventual call to action.

First, let’s discuss two types of questions to avoid.

They’re both “closed questions,” because the answer is either “yes” or “no”:

  1. The Condescending Question
    e.g., “Are you still making this stupid SEO mistake?” Queries like these imply the reader is foolishly doing something wrong, which is a big turn off.
  2. The Negative Question
    e.g., “Tired of striking out with hot singles in your area?” This question leaves no positive replies on the table, because it’s insulting whether the answer is affirmative or negative.

Here is the classic of them all:

3. You Can’t Answer The Question. Yes your right or wrong… or… No your right or wrong.

e.g., “Have you stopped beating your dog?” How do you answer that?  Yes I’ve stopped beating my dog…No I have not stopped beating my dog.  In either case the question has you beating a dog.

Okay, so steer clear of those types of questions.

On the other hand…

Here are the BEST kinds of questions you can use regularly…

  1. “Yes ladders”
    e.g., “Do you love fresh, warm doughnuts? Do you love flaky, buttery croissants? How would you like to try a coconut creme-filled doughnut, doughnut-croissant hybrid?” Questions in series, where the obvious answer is “yes,” quickly builds momentum and also gets folks in the habit of agreeing with you.
  2. How-to questions
    e.g., “Wanna see how I turned $10 into $11,950 in one month?” Questions like this one are clear, succinct, and give your reader a big, tantalizing promise.
  3. Insight questions
    e.g., “30% of all online traffic comes from social networks—how will this affect your business?” Questions like this make your reader think, which makes them want to learn more about your perspective. Hard data or simply curiosity can be used effectively here.

So if you’re opening with a question…

Avoid closed ones and stick to Open questions as these are 3 proven winners.

What about “How To” openings?

Here’s a “How-To” example from Neil Patel:

So you want to write an article that ranks on the first page of Google for a long-tail keyword?

Fine. So does everyone else.

Ranking on the first page of Google for well-selected long-tail keywords remains one of the fastest ways to get your content in front of thousands of people.

But how do you do this?

And here’s a curiosity-heavy “insight” example from Copyblogger:

You’ve heard the whispers, haven’t you?

“The internet has too much content already. You can’t get anyone’s attention with content marketing anymore.”

I beg to differ.

Did this peak your interest?  You want to keep reading, right?

That’s the beauty of a question open.

Here’s Number 3…the Statistic Opening.

effective writing

If you can shock a reader with a statistic that reveals completely new information, you instantly gain authority in their eyes.

Furthermore, the “shock” effect opens people up to suggestion.

Heightened emotions are the key to persuasive action.

Think about it…

No one was ever bored into buying.

That means your message resonates more effectively if it follows hard-hitting statistics.

The best part?

The statistics don’t even have to be factually correct!

effective writingYou can cite a number or study that’s false in your estimation…

Calling it out and using the post to explain how you disagree.

You can also bring recently debunked data and explore their implications for your audience.

Here’s an example in which Business Insider cites a study “debunking” the popular idea that you need 10,000 hours to master a skill:

The 10,000 Hour Rule — closely associated with pop psych writer Malcolm Gladwell — may not be much of a rule at all. 

The principle holds that 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” are needed to become world-class in any field. […]

In “Outliers,” Gladwell contends that early access to getting 10,000 hours of practice allowed the Beatles to become the greatest band in history (thanks to playing all-night shows in Hamburg) and Bill Gates to become one of the richest dudes around (thanks to using a computer since his teen years). 

But a new Princeton study tears that theory down. In a meta-analysis of 88 studies on deliberate practice, the researchers found that practice accounted for just a 12% difference in performance in various domains.

What’s really surprising is how much it depends on the domain […]

If your like me, I want to keep reading the article because 10,000 hours to master a skill is a long time.  So for me I want to keep reading?

This example works on many levels—it’s controversial, cites data, and also employs a strong element of curiosity to keep the reader engaged.

Now let’s change gears…to the Story Opening.

effective writing

The most successful sales letter in history—the so-called “Wall Street Journal letter”—is a story.

You’ll read an excerpt in a second…

But first let’s explore why stories make such great hooks.

First, we all like to be entertained.

It’s why people read books; go to the movies; watch silly reality shows.

And by spinning a clever yarn, you become the entertainer while building your affiliate marketing business…

It’s your “show.”

Which gives you the power to direct the narrative.

That’s the persuasive element—stories subtly put you in control.

Much like a magician influencing where your eyes are paying attention, a storyteller guides you down a clear path towards a pre-determined conclusion.

The example below will help illustrate this point.


Stories help you paint pictures and tug at your readers’ heartstrings

effective writingThis leads to better trust and rapport.

Like statistics, stories don’t have to be factual.

In contrast, they have to be emotive.

This doesn’t mean you should deliberately mislead anyone, but your opening can be fictional.

As an example…

Here’s The Wall Street Journal’s famous direct mail letter:

Dear Reader:

On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college. They were very much alike, these two young men. Both had been better than average students, both were personable and both – as young college graduates are – were filled with ambitious dreams for the future.

Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion.

They were very much alike. Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company, and were still there.

But there was a difference. One of the men was manager of a small department of that company. The other was its president.

What Made The Difference

Have you ever wondered, as I have, what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives? It isn’t always a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success and the other doesn’t.

The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.

And that is why I am writing to you and to people like you about The Wall Street Journal. For that is the whole purpose of the Journal: To give its readers knowledge – knowledge that they can use in business.

Okay, and here’s a little context to help you appreciate what you just read…

That’s the most successful direct mail letter in history, continuously mailed for 28 years, and likely responsible for well over a billion dollars in revenue.

Impressive what a simple story can achieve, right?

Now, for bonus points, read it again and notice that it’s never explicitly stated that the successful classmate subscribed to The Wall Street Journal, even though that notion is implied.

Finally…the Metaphor Opening.

effective writing

Metaphor openings are a lot like story openings, in the sense that you’re painting pictures and evoking emotions.

Metaphors, however, are specifically when you create a parallel comparison between two unrelated things.

You do this by presenting a common concept and then introduce a similar, but new idea or situation.

Here’s an example…

Lions are known as the “king of the jungle.” They symbolize courage, strength, and virility.

But did you know that the average lion sleeps 18+ hours a day—while the lionesses do all the hunting?

That’s “part A” of this metaphor.

It’s a curious, fact-based story that paints a picture and sets up the comparison that follows…

Like lionesses, many women today know what it’s like to do all the hard work while men get all the glory.

Now, that’s an intentionally controversial statement, which could go in many directions, depending on the story you’re trying to tell—whether it’s the wage gap, biased coverage of male vs. female athletes, etc.

You see how this works, right?

Use metaphors to give readers a fresh take on a familiar subject

effective writingThis creates less resistance when shifting perspectives and making elusive ideas obvious.

Here’s an example of a well-written metaphor opening:

Does finding the sweet spot for your blog sometimes feel like tuning an old radio?

You’re trying to get that perfect connection with your readers, but you can’t seem to cut through the noise.

It’s frustrating. You know you’re close. You know some of the signal is getting through. But it’s not loud and clear.

And no matter which direction you turn the dial, you can’t find the perfect position.

Sure, a few people share your posts. You get the occasional comment. And a handful of people have joined your email list for updates.

But it’s taken weeks, months or even years to get this far. How much longer must you wait to break through?

Luckily for you, a small adjustment is often all you need – a subtle shift in direction that allows your blog to finally resonate strongly with your readers.

Notice all the pictures this paints using radio-related words like dial, signal, adjustment, position, resonate, and noise?

That’s a powerful way to communicate a new concept using a relatable, sensory experience (provided you’re over 30, of course).

Okay, that’s a wrap!

Now you know my 5 go-to lead formulas.

Let’s recap!

effective writingHere they are again:

  1. Controversial Opening
  2. Question Opening
  3. Statistic Opening
  4. Story Opening
  5. Metaphor Opening

Additionally, for best results, remember these fundamentals of writing a good intro:

  • Short sentences
    You want your writing to be easy to read. The best way to do that is through using many short, to-the-point sentences.
  • 1-3 lines per paragraph
    Keep your writing “scannable” with short paragraphs. And note that a portion of your traffic will be coming from smart phones too (which means even shorter paragraphs)!
  • Use a conversational tone
    Try to write like you speak. And don’t get too fancy. Don’t try to impress with your vocabulary unless you’re selling flash cards for a spelling bee.

With these formulas and guidelines, you’ll consistently write hooks that make people read your content all the way to the end.

This is super important!

Because the end, of course, is where you put your “call to action”—the instructions that tell your readers what to do next.

Usually, that’s to sign up to your mailing list or purchase a product or join a company for the purpose of training or join a company as a member.

That way you can build a relationship with them and “warm them up” to the idea of buying whatever you’re selling.

This is why they say, “the money’s in the list”

And what’s the best way to compel your readers to hop on your list?

By offering additional value!

Speaking of which…

Need help finding and growing your affiliate business and audience?

Because successful selling is all about putting your story in front of the right audience, with shared struggles and interests, so they’ll actually want to stick around and hear you out.

You know, so you’re not trying to sell steak to a vegetarian, so to speak.

So if you’re ready to zero in on how to grow your business and audience that’s predisposed to be captivated by your story…

Wealthy Affiliate is the company and program to start, expand and grow your affiliate marketing company.

You’ll learn about the specific tools and techniques you can use to effortlessly connect with prospects on social media, so you’ll never experience the type of lead scarcity that compels you to act desperate or needy with your prospects.

Trust me, this type of qualifying process automatically positions you as the authority.

Not only that, but these methods allow you to build your business automatically—where people reach out to you (instead of you having to reach out to them).

And if you learn these online marketing skills…

People will be automatically attracted to you and will want to purchase what you have to offer.

Plus Wealthy Affiliate has all the training you will ever need to become really successful.

So if you’re ready to get started…there is a BANNER below for you to CLICK on.

I recommend you begin with Wealthy Affiliate’s FREE starter package.  Like what you see, go to the Premium package.

With either one, you can be a successful affiliate marketer.

Thanks Andrew for the content to this article.

Thanks for visiting,






About the Author


Bill Fletcher is a long time marketer and coach. My goal is to help anyone who is interested in building a business through a systematic approach to success. Affiliate Marketing 100 will guide you with the help of some of the best articles and coaching program available anywhere. We train you in all categories of business building and success management.

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