You want to wake readers up and get them out of their everyday trance so they read your content.
And to do that… you need to write the most amazingly-tastic, hair-triggering, honky-tonk, dabbly-gook stuff that your readers will gobble up.
And how do you do that?
By starting to add power words into your writing.
In this post you’ll learn:
- What Are Power Words (and why they work so well)
- The 10 Different Kinds Of Power Words
- Examples Of How To Use Power Words In Action
- A 1,039+ power words reference sheet you can bookmark and reference (over and over and over again…)
What Are Power Words?
Power words are words that create an emotional response to the reader.
Words that pack a punch into your reader’s mind.
Think of words like “humiliate” or “disgraceful.” You are already associating powerful emotions with those kinds of words. Something that jolts the reader.
For example, let’s take an ordinary word like “happy” and shake it up a bit.
And instead use words like “thrilled,” “ecstatic,” and “chipper.” All of these represent different ways you can be happy. And you probably have a different image of each one already don’t you?
Even powerful leaders like to use power words to shake and persuade their listeners.
Let’s take a look at Lincoln’s famous speech below…
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.”Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, 1863
Look at the type of action words to persuade his troops into taking action. It’s powerful. It paints a picture of what they are doing and inspires them to take action.
But… he could’ve said something like this…
“Some time ago some guys created a country for us. Now that we are in a civil war, I think we should fight for our country…”A bad summary by Anthony Nebel…
And that would be a weak-ass speech. The crickets will be singing and the soldiers would probably still be feeling demoralized.
The point is this… using the right power words will strengthen your copy and make your readers feel so emotionally involved they feel compelled to take action.
So Power Words Are “Emotionally-Packed Words…” How Do They Help Me?
Power words can help you inspire readers to take action but we need to hit them with the right emotions.
Emotions are complex with studies showing that we feel positive emotions 2.5x more than negative emotions. Either way… we have a crap ton of emotions to hit…
In Drew Eric Whitman’s book in Cashvertising, he goes over the Life Force 8 which are basic human instincts hardwired into our system.
- Enjoyment of food and drink
- Freedom from fear, pain, and danger
- Protection and care of your loved ones
- Having a comfortable Life
- Sexual companionship
- To be superior, winning,
- And social approval
So this means that if we are able to use power words that hit one or more of these innate natural instincts, then your words are going to pack a walloping punch.
The reason being is that we can’t change it. People are always going to want to live longer and people will always want to have food.
That’s how you make your readers take action. You stir up their little greedy hearts and show them the solution with emotions they can’t help resist.
Now the second reason why you want to use power words is…
…You don’t want to bore readers!
211,000,000 million content is being produced every minute and in a world where we skim headlines on social media, it’s pretty damn hard to get noticed.
If your reading is boring… well, good luck mate into getting your article noticed in our noisy world.
That’s why viral articles do so well is because they take the time to use the right power words to elicit the proper emotion.
The 10 Categories Of Power Words
- Fear Power Words
- Lust Power Words
- Greed Power Words
- Enjoyment Power Words
- Trust Power Words
- Curious Power Words
- Anger Power Words
- Vanity Power Words
- Selling Power Words
- Fun Power Words
1. Fear Power Words
I betcha got scared.
Maaaybe even made you jump out of your seat and gave you a cold sweat?
Fear is deeply-wired into our biology so that we didn’t get eaten by lions in our olden days.
Fear words are so powerful in grabbing our attention. Just turn on the news for a minute and I’ll bet at one point they are going to be mentioning stuff like murdered, jailed, killed, kidnapped, and all sorts of horrible stuff happening.
And why do they paint such a brutal picture?
Because it gets people’s attention and gets them to watch the news.
Here’s what The National Enquirer does to grab people’s attention…
They use so many vivid words that people can’t help but look at it in the grocery aisle.
But the key thing here is to strike a fine balance between putting too much fear and too little fear in your copy.
Put too many scary words into your copy… and people are going to go into “flight or fight mode” where buying is the last thing on their mind.
But add too little fearful words… and they are going to think it’s nothing to sneeze at.
Here is a list of spooky words you can use to boost your copy to the next levels.
2. Lust Power Words
It’s sexy time!
This is also another powerful desire that you probably already know about.
it is literally in our nature to seek another partner. We are a species that thrive on community and relationships.
By the way… the dating industry is valued to be around 2.5 billion dollars (just to really show you how big this market is worldwide).
You can use them like how Cosmopolitan did below…
Where this headline emphasizes super simple stuff to improve your “nighttime game…”
Or even use powerful words like the national enquirer does again below…
Where the words “raunchy” just paint a picture of something… of something pretty lewd…
So what better way to move your customers to help find “the one” than to use lovey-dovey words in your copy.
Use these words to spice up your relationships and get people excited to find a partner. Crank up their desires to the next level with the words below.
|Tingling||Turn on||Two-timing rat|
3. Greed Power Words
It’s all in the money!
Okay… money isn’t everything… but it’s true that people want more.
They want better lives, better stuff, and even more better stuff.
Money, power, life, everything… There’s never a day for people to not want more. If you have a better computer and you show me it’s worth the price, I’ll buy it.
Here’s what Gary Bencivenga did with one of his headlines…
Like this headline shows… it’s popular where people want to learn how they can earn 50x their investment in a short period of time. Even my greedy heart wants that to happen for me…
Just keep stomping and stomping into their greedy little hearts with these powerful words below…
|Chance to win||Cheap||Costly|
|Money||Money-saving||Nor or never|
|While they last||Win-now||Fail-proof|
4. Enjoyment Power Words
Words that fill your heart with joy and make them flutter.
Words that make us feel warm and happy with our lives. Or even words that are used to inspire us to greater heights…
We want to use these words to make them feel at ease with our product. Show them a future with these colorful words.
Like what List25 did with one of their articles…
Showing you a way to improve your life with “healthy,” “quality,” and “life.”
Or look at Buzzfeed with one of their articles I stumbled upon…
Boy, do I want to warm my heart and have a good ‘ol chuckle.
Get chummy with them! Learn how to make them feel good with these words and they will start to associate it with your product!
|Change your life||Charming||Cheesy|
5. Trust Power Words
“Are you trustworthy?”
That’s what you have to go through every single time someone buys from you. Money is a very serious topic and you want to make sure that people are getting what they were promised.
You have to make your customers not only convinced to buy your product… but make them feel safe doing so.
You can use trusted sites like Paypal or Visa…
OR… you use trusted words.
Here’s what John used as his headline to inspire trust into his customer…
He uses the power of testimonials with “quotes” and “him” showing others that they purchased his product before.
Understand that people have to feel safe that the product you are going to buy is going to deliver what it promised.
Make them feel safe in a warm cocoon. Show them you are someone trustworthy who will provide the best support by holding their hands. Show them you are trustworthy with these trust-giving words below.
|Money-back||No obligation||No questions asked|
|No strings attached||Official||Order now|
6. Curious Power Words
We are curious creatures.
We always want to know what’s “behind the curtain” on something. Or when your favorite shows end on those dreadful cliffhangers.
I’m sure you see it all the time on your social media feed with “Watch how this person does this” Or “I can’t believe the cop just did that…”
For example, here’s another one from Buzzfeed I found below…
Where they really focus on curiosity with this headline with things you could be missing out on (and easily satisfy that urge with just a click to their post.)
Sometimes they just want to make your readers curious enough to see what’s under that headline. What those 5 secret tips to make their life better or things never shown to the public.
Tease them. Make them so curious that they need to find out just what’s so special about your post!
|Banned||Behind the scenes||Black market|
|Fishy||Forbidding||From the vault|
|Never before seen||Off-limits||Private|
|Trade secret||True crime||Truth|
|Whispering||Withheld||You won’t believe|
7. Anger Power Words
Aren’t there just some posts that just get your blood-boiling at just the thought of something.
Now, why would we want to make people in our article angry?
Because we can use that strong, violent anger emotion and channel it to drive them to take action.
Like how National Enquirer does it with their headline…
Silence. Cheating. Slapped. Gagging.
Wowzers. I’m just getting angry at just the thought of using those words.
Oe like how Thomas tries to make them passionate below…
Except rather than driving them to take action, this headline focuses more on why being angry could be vital to your success. Start mixing some angry words below to get your reader’s blood-boiling!
|Disturbing||Dominate||Down and dirty|
|Fueling||Full of sh*t||Furious|
|Pain in the ass||Passive-aggressively||Pesky|
|Shoving||Showdown||Sick and tired|
8. Vanity Power Words
We like showing off.
Our world is based upon who has more cars, more buildings, more money, a better job…
And it feels good when people talk about how great we are (not in a sarcastic way of course.)
Whether they call you a genius or a hardworking individual, you want people to notice you.
Here’s a classic from Gary Halbert below…
He’s tapping into their desires of “looking better” making them imagine how beautiful their smile can really be. I would like to see how I would look with a “million-dollar smile” though…
Here are some words to tap into our pride below…
|At the top||Attractive||Authoritative|
9. Selling Power Words
I decided to create a separate category for all those generic sale words that you might’ve seen like “Buy One Get One Free” or “50% Off.”
…Because they work. Period.
If you truly have a product that is valuable and you give them a legitimate reason why you only have a certain in stock…
Or if your secret report really does have a secret that works wonders for your clients…
Then people are going to want to know about it.
Here’s an example I found from Target below…
Try sprinkling some of these throughout your copy.
Rather I like to think of these words as the knockout punch.
Rile up your customer’s desires and then give them the finishing blow with one of these words below…
|Expires||Finally||First to know|
|Free preview||Free shipping||Guilty|
|Limited time offer||Listen up||Money-back guarantee|
|Never again||New!||No hassle|
|Priority reservation||Pro tips||Psychological Tactics|
|Running out||Satisfaction Guaranteed||Sensational|
|Simple Fix||Special Report||Spoiler|
10. Other Fun Words To Use In Your Writing
These are words that I came across or made up because they just sounded wacky.
Things that just roll off the tongue easily and make you laugh like “Bulky beefcake” or “Baloney.” Use some of these words to take boring copy into something readers read using the words below…
|Big-ass braid||Bit me on the ass||Bitchin’|
|Bulky beefcake||Burst||Butt ugly|
|Comeback kid||Cop-clobbering||Dark corner|
|Drama queen||Eaten alive||Ex-hubby|
|Explosive power||Extremely||Fat cat|
|Hog the spotlight||Honky-tonks||Hot shot|
|Howitzer shot||Hunk to chunk||Knock|
|Knocked off||Kooky||Liquored up|
|Pitch black||Primal||Pumping iron|
|Scratch the surface||Screenshot-worthy||Shake|
|Simple as ABC||Situationships||Sledgehammer force|
|Stupid-simple||Torn down||Total flake|
Where To Use These Power Words
- Product Names
- Landing Pages
- Button Copy (Call to Action)
- Email Subject Lines
- Domain Name
- Home page
- Bullet Lists
- Author Bio
- Youtube Video
- Book Title
- Direct Mail
This is the most important place to start incorporating power words.
You want your power words to grab the attention of the reader for a split second so that they can continue to read the rest of your copy.
This is how Ben Settle does it with his headline…
Using powerful words like “repeatedly,” “obnoxious slacker,” “most respected” that really draws your attention into who Ben Settle is.
Or like how Andre Chaperon does below…
“Flawed,” “Badass,” and “Dyslexic.” He only uses 6 words and he already painted a detailed description of himself for us to imagine. Talk about quality word choice.
Here’s another example of how Vogue does it below…
“Fighting” and “Ravaged” are powerful words to describe what these activists are trying to achieve. It makes it seems that they are fighting for a cause of utmost importance.
You can use power words not just in your headlines but also in your sub-headlines. Adding words to your sub-headlines is a way to help explain your headline and give your readers more information.
Of course, you first need to get them to read the headline before they read the sub-headline.
Look how Slack does it below…
Power and alignment to do my best work. Slack’s word choice tells me that using their product has the potential for me to do my best work.
Or you can use a long sub-headline like how Problogger does it below…
He goes into detail of how you can become a problogger using keywords like “make money blogging.”
3. Product Names
You can also use power words in your product names to give it a little shaking up for your audience.
Why buy regular ‘ol cardboard when you can buy durable cardboard.
Like how Lovoda does below…
The words “Marble Moon Drop” gives these earrings gives it a mystic feeling.
Or like what Envy Jewellery did below…
The word “eternity” gives this ring a bit more “oomph” to it.
You can also add power words to popups.
People say you should add popups to your website because it can help increase conversions to your sites (which it does.)
If you don’t have any convincing words to persuade your reader to sign up… then he’s probably not going to do so. So start adding some power words to them.
Here’s how Jon Morrow does it with his pop up below.
He also crams it with “cheat sheet” “viral” and “absolutely free” to insist that you can get this sheet that could potentially make your blog post see millions of viewers all for free.
5. Landing Pages
Landing pages are one of the primary spots to put power words in. You want readers to feel excited when they read your copy.
Like what Jay Abraham below…
He stuffs it with “power words” with his most powerful being “Leverage” and “Cram School” insisting that you will get so much knowledge into this new type of marketing to make more money.
Here’s what Tai Lopez does below…
The really strong words are “part-time” where he plays with your greedy glands and says you can make so much money as a marketing consultant part-time.
6. Button copy (Call To Action)
This is probably one of the most important places to add power copy.
It’s the last stronghold of buyer resistance before they decide to sign-up and give them money to you.
And the key thing is to make it seamless and natural…
Like what Haus London does below…
Instead of “Get it now” they put “Reveal Code” to make it feel like there’s something more besides 10%. Something exclusive.
Or another one like Jon Morrow below…
Instead of “”Click here,” he gets you excited about the possibility of making money with your blog and then ends it with “Yes, Show Me How!” continuing the excitement of the possibility of making money with your blog.
Or one from Live Off Your Passion below…
“Love” is a great choice because this is probably targeted to people who find a grind to their boring lives and want to do something fulfilling that they enjoy.
Here’s an email opt-in I like from John Carlton below…
The really strong power words here are the “Really Stupid Blunders” since you might be making mistakes but he really drives it home.
Guitar Center also uses power words below…
Words like “first to know” and “exclusive” are nice additions to their copy.
Having power words in your testimonial really takes it up a notch for amazing testimonials.
But it’s a bit tacky to ask people who have tried out your product “Hey can you include power words in your testimonial.”
The best way to do it is to make that product knock their socks off with so much value.
And then ask them to describe it honestly what they thought of their product.
You will probably get some raving customers doing that.
Here’s how Renegade did it with their diet book below…
His target audience wants a diet that makes them feel energized and eating what they want which this testimonial targets with “energized” and “good foods.”
8. Email Subject Lines
Email subject lines are becoming more important as more and more people are unsubscribing from their email inbox and making it cleaner.
It’s harder to get noticed nowadays (you see the theme here?)
Here’s how Jonathon uses power words in his email below…
With words like “biggest and “blunders” makes you wonder what exactly that blunder was.
Or here’s one from PropellerAds…
Highlighting this important ad policy update.
Or here’s one from Ben Settle that I personally like…
I wonder what he means by this headline…
9. Business/Domain Name
If you are having trouble coming up with a company name then it’s probably in your best interest to include a power word.
For example, here’s The Boring Company…
It really strikes you why they would label themselves as boring where the picture is something dull and lifeless. And it really does make you curious (especially since they sold flamethrowers before.)
10. Home page
Home pages are another nice place to add power words to your arsenal.
For example, this is what I found on Macy’s home page below…
Using words like “Celebration” “Extra” and “save big” might make me reconsider shopping again at Macy’s to hit up on these nice deals.
Or here’s one by Ramit Sethi below…
“Are you leaving money on the table?” I sure hope not.
Or here’s one by Tim Ferriss below…
Using words like “Annual” “best of” and 5-star reviews really shows that this podcast may be pretty amazing.
11. Bullet Lists
Adding power words is pretty important for bullet lists too.
When you write copy for your bullet list you want them to jump up and down excited for what you have to offer.
Like what John does with his Simple Writing System Sales Page below…
Honestly, this word choice really does pack a punch for writers like me. Using words like “creepy” “desperately and “mind-reading” are power words that resonate with the reader (giving it a double whammy.)
12. Author Bio
You can use it in your author bio if you are trying to guest post.
Like what Disha did for her article on how to find copywriting clients…
Words like “fantastic” and specializing” make you feel like she knows what she’s doing.
Here’s one from Faiz for his article on Shoelace (a new tech thing from Google)…
He seems to know his stuff if he’s claiming to be a craving techie. It also gives off a vibe that he’s relatable for people with similar interests.
13. Youtube Videos
You can use power words in your youtube videos (or be aware of them when you’re watching other youtube videos.)
Like what Alpha M does with his video below…
Using the words “REAL” makes it feel that he is going to show you something ordinary videos don’t show.
Or like Chewjitsu below…
HATE is such a strong word because some people don’t like drilling and want a way to improve without doing the boring stuff.
You also want to use it for your book titles.
Books are just a place where if no one is interested by your title they won’t bother to pick it up.
So it’s pretty essential if you want to make sales.
The miracle morning makes it seem like you won’t have an ordinary morning…
15. Direct Mail
Now not everyone can do this but direct mail is still very profitable nowadays.
With online as the big thing people are neglecting direct mail.
Check out what I received from The National Enquirer in the mail below…
Their power words make it seem like it’s an urgent matter to do this right now.
And while you are talking to your friends (especially when you are telling your stories) it would be a good idea to shock them up with some fun words.
Or just talking inside your head like me below…
We talked a lot about power words.
Talking about how and why we should use copy words…
Different emotions that you can trigger with that massive list…
And even where to use them with some examples I found.
If you writing is in a rut, just take a look over these words for inspiration. Maybe a word here or two can jumble your mind and give you inspiration.
Tell me in the comments below which power words I missed. Maybe we can turn this into an ongoing list or something.
Which power words did I miss? Let me know in the comments below!