How to use AI and ChatGPT to write impactful headlines

With this self-help guide, I boosted my traffic by +10% in a week

Headlines matter. They are the first thing people read after checking out the visual. A great headline provokes curiosity, sets the tone, and manages expectations. And it’s one of the hardest things to write. Just like headlines, writing an engaging social caption can also be challenging. That's why you can use this step-by-step for both. 

AI and ChatGPT can be a great help; I’ll explain to you how I got +10% traffic in just one week.


Why headlines matter

A headline, just as a caption on social, is the second most important element of content. First is the visual, and second is the headline. Below, in very short, are the three most important reasons why headlines matter.

  1. Grabs attention and is the first impression after the visual. The headline is the deciding point if they are going to read it or not.
  2. It sets the expectation and the tone of the content piece. It’s like a short summary of the content in a very concise, brief, and clear message.
  3. SEO: Google loves headlines. Make sure you include your main keywords in your headline.

‘Think First. Write Second. Great headlines aren’t great sentences—they’re great ideas expressed in words.’  Dan Nelken in ‘A Self-Help Guide for Copywriters’.

How do you get to your great headline, and how can AI and ChatGPT help? 

The eight steps of your self-help guide

  1. Checklist, read this first. Always.
  2. Keywords, key takeaway, and my objective
  3. Write 10 headlines: even if you think you already got it
  4. Write 15 or more even if you think you’re there
  5. Cross out 15
  6. Bold your favorite 5
  7. AI and ChatGPT
  8. Test, play, and choose


Think first, write second, and worry about the headline last

As Dan Nelken said above, ‘Think first, write second’. My advice is to worry about your headline after the writing. The headline comes last, not first.

Before you dive into the eight steps to get your headline, start with your content and copy. 

First, you think, and you create the structure and storyline of your content piece. Then, you write your first ugly draft with a working title headline. Upload, edit, and format the copy in your CMS, with the working title as a placeholder. Publishing on staging.

Go to ChatGPT-4, I use the paid version as it’s more accurate and to the point than the free version. Since I started paying, I’m getting far better results with prompts, wording, and especially proofreading.

Upload your almost final copy and prompt ChatGPT to proofread without rewriting. You’ll get some great suggestions to improve clarity and structure. Cherrypick and implement what works for you. Upload your updated copy.

Then, prompt ChatGPT to come up with a new headline or to rewrite the headline. Note those next to your working title as your first headlines on the list of ten.

Now, the real headline work starts. 


Trust the process; the 8 step-by-step guide

This is the grinding and creative work. Keep in mind you can’t skip steps, even though you think you’re already there. I guarantee you the harder it gets, the better your headline. The whole end-to-end headline creative and AI process usually takes me about 2 hours.

The eight-step process below is a collection of different sources; please check the last paragraph for all credits. My advice is to copy-paste the steps below and put them on a new page in Notion as a template. And copy that template for every blog post you write to start the headline work.

Yes, it’s crazy work. Yet, it pays off. I’ve rewritten a few pages with this new method and significantly changed my headlines and subtitles. And after only one week, I see a +10% in traffic and higher engagement on social.


What if my creativity doesn’t flow?

If your creative juices just don’t flow, don’t push it. Creativity can’t be forced.

You have two options. The first is that you can opt for one, two, or all three of the following: you get a good night's sleep, you go for a long, relaxed walk, or you take a hot and steamy shower. And try again.

And the second option is to get a bottle of wine, sit back, relax, and call it a day. There’s always tomorrow.


What about the subheadline?

From experience, the subheadline emerges during the process as a deviation of the second or third-best headline. Don't worry about that; it will surface once you start playing with your final list of favorite headlines in the last step. 


Step 1. Checklist, read this first. Always.

I know it’s a shameless copy-paste of my sources. The list below is not fluently written; for now, I don’t bother; it does the job of refreshing your mind.

  • List posts are huge; interestingly, these list-like terms are also highly emotional terms, ‘5 Things You Can Do To Write Better Headlines’, ‘4 Reasons You Should Wash Your Hair Every Day’, ‘8 Things Every Mom Says To Her Kids’
  • Use ‘You’ & ‘Your’ A Lot
  • Help Your Readers Imagine A Better Life. People really like content that helps them do something awesome, like win something for free or learn something new.
  • Clarity Avoiding jargon and being clear in your messaging ensures that the widest possible audience understands the content.
  • Research proves that positive headlines that convey stronger emotions tend to perform better than negative sentiments.
  • Headlines with 6–7 words typically get the best results, about 55 characters. Focus on the words that matter: the first three and the last three.


Step 2. Keywords, key takeaway, and my objective

My notes or answers are very short, almost in steno bullet lists. No need to make an effort to write something beautiful. It’s about the thought process; the rougher and more spontaneous, the better.

Below, you will find my input for this blog



List the three most important keywords for SEO. 
‘Headline, writing, AI’


Key takeaway

What is the one thing that they need to know, and why should they read it? What are they going to learn or know? 
‘Headlines are the most important and require a lot of work, AI can help’


My objective

What do I want my audience to do? 
'Put more time into their headlines to improve their traffic and engagement’


Step 3. Write 10 headlines: even if you think you already got it

Just do it. These are the ten most obvious and easy headlines you’ll write. Here, you can use your working title and the ChatGPT suggestions.

Don’t worry about the words, grammar, and punctuation. It’s about the idea, not the execution (yet). Create a simple list from one to ten.

  1. Writing a headline is easy
  2. AI can help you write a headline
  3. Improve your headline, get more traffic
  4. Get more engagement with a better headline
  5. Writing a headline is the hardest part
  6. Think first, write second, worry about your headline last
  7. How to use AI to write better headlines (working title)
  8. How to use AI to write a great headline or social caption (score 81)
  9. Your headline is the second most important part; the visual is the first
  10. Better headline equals more traffic


Step 4. Write 15 or more even if you think you’re there

This is where it gets hard and interesting. The first five will be relatively easy.

Take a look at your keywords, the key takeaways, and your objective. Can you use those for a headline? Can you create a listicle? Are there any lines in the body copy you can use?

Reverse your thinking, reason from the opposite, and take another look at the key takeaways and your objective. Can you turn those into a headline?

The first 1/3 of your headline set will be easy; the second touches common grounds. In the third part, you have to dig deep, and you’ll touch the uncommon

  1. How I got +10% traffic with better headlines (score 66)
  2. Why headlines matter
  3. You improve your headlines SEO does the rest
  4. 8 easy steps for better headlines
  5. Step-by-step to write a great headline with AI (score 75)
  6. You and AI write your headline in 8 steps
  7. The hard work behind a great headline: 8 steps
  8. Why you need 25 headlines to get to one great headline
  9. A great headline is the hardest thing to write, AI can help
  10. More engagement if AI helps you write your headline
  11. Improve your headline in 8 steps with AI
  12. AI can help you create a better headline
  13. How to nail the headline with AI, 8 steps
  14. How to craft impactful headlines with AI
  15. Mastering the art of headlines with AI and ChatGPT: a step-by-step guide (score 67)
  16. Mastering headlines: how AI and ChatGPT boosted my traffic by 10% (score 75)

It looks like a lot. It is. I always take a short break between the first ten and the second fifteen. If needed, and when I am in a headline block, I take another break or turn to ChatGPT again for some fooling around and inspiration and hit the ‘regenerate’ button a few times.

Don’t stop till you have fifteen. And don’t bullshit to write headlines you know you will delete in the next step. This sh*t is hard and drives the unexpected, most surprising and best results. 


Step 5. Cross out the 15 worst

Now, the fun begins. Cross out the fifteen headlines you like the least and narrow your list to ten. Often, deciding what headline to not use will be easier than deciding which one to use.

I simply combine both lists into one big list and delete what I don’t like. Be strict; the ‘what if’ or ‘maybe’ don’t count, are a waste of energy, and need to be deleted immediately.


Step 6. Bold your favorite 5

Choose your top five and make them bold. These will be good ones and one or two great headlines.


Step 7. AI and ChatGPT

Now, you go to Headline Studio and play with your top 5. What’s the ranking and score? How can you improve, merge, eliminate, tune, and tweak to rank up your scoring?

You can even ask ChatGPT to rewrite your favorite and recheck this in Headline Studio.

Very often, the subheader derives from this process and is one of the not-chosen headlines or a combination.


Step 8. Test, play, and choose

Finally, you choose your favorite headline and subheader. Please put it in the CMS. And review your entire content piece on staging. Do the headline and subheader make sense? Is it sexy and engaging in combination with your visual? Does it provoke curiosity?

If not, choose another one of your step seven process. Or you can return to your bold top five list and re-do step seven.

If so, hit publish, be happy and proud, and see what happens.


My headline for this page

For the detailed nerds, you can see I started with ‘How to use AI to write a headline’ as the working title and ended with ‘How to use AI and ChatGPT to write impactful headlines’ and ‘The self-help guide how I boosted my traffic by +10% in a week’ as a subheader. 

When I state that the magic happens in the third part of the writing when you dig deep in uncommon grounds, that's true. This helps me to wrap my head around what I want to say and sharpen my thinking to improve what I already have, maybe that's even one of the very first headlines I wrote. Then I turn to AI and ChatGPT to further sharpen and detail the wordings to optimize for engagement and SEO. 

Last but not least, I pick the headline that feels like me and suits the visuals and my brand identity. And one that makes me happy and proud. I don't like it, why the h*ll would you? 


Wrapping up

Here you go, an 8-step-by-step guide to writing a great headline. The better your headline, the more readers and SEO traffic. I promise it's worth the effort. 

  1. Checklist, read this first. Always.
  2. Keywords, key takeaway, and my objective
  3. Write 10 headlines: even if you think you already got it
  4. Write 15 or more even if you think you’re there
  5. Cross out 15
  6. Bold your favorite 5
  7. AI and ChatGPT
  8. Test, play, and choose

And don't forget to enjoy the process and have fun doing it. Love what you do, do what you love. Your audience will notice. 



Books appear in alphabetic order