Creating Swipe Files

The Beginner’s Guide To Creating Swipe Files For Copywriting

Who said writing high-converting copy has to be hard? 

Probably someone without a swipe file! 

If you’re stuck in a creative block trying to write compelling and high-converting copy for your business, it’s time to learn about the shortcut you’ve been missing. Stop trying to reinvent the wheel and stand on the shoulders of giants instead. 

Here’s the secret… The most successful copywriters get on-demand inspiration from the best that’s already out there by creating swipe files for their business.

What is a Swipe File? 

A swipe file is a folder full of examples of copy that:

  • You love
  • Made you buy
  • You want to emulate in your business’s copy

The purpose of having a swipe file is to have examples to refer to when your creativity well is dry. For instance, many visual artists use an inspiration or mood board to help guide their creative process. It’s a collage of visual ideas to help guide them along as they work. Referring to a mood board can help creatives:

  • Plan more clearly
  • Save time and energy
  • Keep inspiration high
  • Remind them of the end-goal

Swipe files are the mood boards of copywriting, and they come with similar benefits.

The Most Important Rule of Swipe Files

The first and most important thing to know about using swipe files is that they are a collection of examples to work from – NOT copied. You should never plagiarize what someone else has created. Not only is plagiarism unethical, but your website could potentially be flagged for its unoriginal content.

Swipe files are a resource to learn from and to improve your skills. Many of the best artists, athletes, and business leaders learned from previous ‘greats’ to improve themselves and their chance to surpass them. Simply trying to pass others’ work off as their own wouldn’t have helped them at all. The concept is the same when it comes to swipe files.

Why Businesses Need Swipe Files

If your business isn’t using swipe files, you may be at a disadvantage. Not only will it take you more time to write, but your writing probably won’t reach its full potential for conversion and engagement.

Keeping regularly updated swipe files helps businesses:

  • Stay in the loop about the latest copywriting strategies
  • Bypass testing by using copywriting that is already proven to work
  • Produce copy that is attention-catching rather than stale and dated

The Beginner’s Guide To Creating Swipe Files For Copywriting

If you’re ready to start refilling your creative well and get to writing better copy more quickly, here is what you need to know about establishing and maintaining creative swipe files.

Understand What Types of Copy You Need

If you’re trying to build a car, looking up cake recipes won’t do you any good. In writing, if you’re trying to create copy for your website homepage, looking up examples of email newsletters can only get you so far — no matter how amazing the copy might be. In this case, if you are unsure where to start, it may help to understand that there are two kinds of copy, each trying to accomplish a different goal.

Homepage copy will be short and sweet above the fold (i.e., it speaks to either new or existing clients and will probably direct visitors to your primary services). In contrast, newsletter copy can be longer and is often used to speak to existing clients. It typically encourages your audience to engage with your latest content. Now that you know how to pinpoint your business’s goals and decipher what types of copy you need, it’s easier to get going.

Here are a few types of swipe files you might need:

To get the most out of your swipe files, include examples that: 

  • Are within a similar industry. You’ll learn about what pain points are identified for your particular audience to use in your writing.
  • Have a similar goal. Are you trying to get email newsletter sign-ups? Find some copy that made you eager to enroll in a newsletter recently!

Identify and Read Copy That You Love

Once you determine what type of copy you need and find some examples you love, the next step is to dig in and read! 

While you’re reading, keep an eye out for things like:

  • Catchy or attention-grabbing copy
  • Callouts to a problem and solution
  • How the audience is addressed
  • Placement and value of call-to-action buttons
  • Ways the copy focuses on the client
  • How it describes benefits and features
  • Word count, sentence structure, and reading ease
  • Style, format, and fonts

And these are just a few!

Pinpoint Why You Love That Copy

After you’ve given it a critical read, pinpoint what it is about the copy that you love. Ask yourself, what stood out? 

Create some notes below a screenshot of the copy in your swipe file so that you can refer back to it later or share it with your copywriting team. You can also make notes about what you would change or improve. Many businesses even use swipe files when developing their brand voice. This way, they have tangible examples and inspiration to guide them.

Organize It and Tag It

Creating swipe files works best for your business when you can quickly pull up examples when you need them. The purpose is to save you time, not waste it frustratingly searching through files trying to find that one example you love. 

The key here is to make sure your files are organized. Put all of your swipe files in one storage location. Then, use tags on each file to indicate what that file contains. You can tag each file with the type of copy and the industry. By following this method, you can easily pull up the swipe file examples you need according to your current goal.

Here are some organization platforms that have tagging features:

Experiment With Your Swipe File

Creating swipe files will help you get creative with your copy, and we all know that getting creative means being open to experimenting! 

You might not be used to writing in a specific style or using a particular copywriting technique. But there’s no better time than the present to try it out and see where it takes you and your writing.

After all, your audience is bombarded with so much content each day. You’ll have to do something new and creative to capture their attention. Don’t be afraid to get outside of your comfort zone and discover a new approach to your writing.

If you’re ready to start thinking outside of the box, subscribe to our weekly email newsletter where you’ll find plenty of refreshing, catchy, and creative copy to keep you inspired!