How Bloggers Can Collect and Make Use of Swipe File to Increase Readership

How Bloggers Collect and Use Swipe FileIn all aspects of marketing and advertising, people copy ideas from each other. That means great sales copy, email messages, articles and even blog titles are not truly created from scratch. They are swiped.

“Don’t reinvent the wheel.”

You’ve heard of that advice before. It works exceptionally well for business model and innovation, but it is even better in copywriting.

What the Heck is Swipe File?

A swipe file is a file folder or box where you collect examples of good copy. That may include, but not limited to, successful email promos, headlines, intros, body copy, offers, guarantee statements, and even visual elements.

You can collect swipe files in a myriad of forms. Some copywriters swear by physical binders and boxes as an ideal place for your swipe file. That’s because you can include magazine clippings, newspaper ads, postcards and snail mails easily. For emails and web pages, you have the option to print them out. The benefit is, highlighting important parts with a neon marker and scribbling notes become easy.

Digital swipe file has its own benefits though. You can collect it easily with note-taking software or online services such as social bookmarking. Because it is in digital format, you can perform a search instantly. That can be very helpful if you remember a phrase and want to dig it out from the virtual piles.

Your swipe file has to be complete to be powerful. The more often you use it, the more valuable it becomes.

How to Start Your Swipe File Collection

There is no a tried and true method to collect swipe file. Just start it. Your collection doesn’t have to consist of controls from the same niche.

For instance, I learn a lot and swipe from the health industry. That niche is very competitive and from that comes some of the best controls from postcard mailings to magalogs.

Here are a few suggested ways to start your collection:

  • Purchase other people’s collection. If they sell it, that means their collection has to be good, doesn’t it? Well, perhaps not, but if you find a worthwhile swipe file for sale, you should consider investing in it. You can find digital or physical collection by searching in Google or eBay.
  • Browse online collection. One obvious example is Michael Senoff’s Hard to Find Ads. You can view the images and download PDF files if available. Don’t miss the top 100 section!
  • Add stuff as it catches your eyes. This is also an acceptable method because if something catches your attention, chances are it will work for other people too. You can’t be sure if it is a proven ads though.

Where to Find Headline (Title) Ideas

Bloggers may be interested specifically in headlines because they are comparable to blog titles. I think every blogger should write their blog title first and then revise it if necessary, because it is that important.

Four sources of my headlines and titles swipe file:

  1. Commercial collection. I gathered thousands of headlines from just one e-book (cost: less than $20). You can also search online for Million Dollar Emails and Autoresponder Magic. Some sites provide them for free or very low prices. Note that these are email specific copy, but you can pick some gems there.
  2. Your own email inbox (and junk mail box too!). I signed up for a free Gmail account and use them to collect promotional emails from marketers. You may not believe that I still subscribe to a few safelists just to scan them every so often for subject line ideas. Subject lines are just like headlines and titles. They grab attention and make the readers continue reading.
  3. Magazines. Cosmopolitan is an example may marketers and copywriters use when illustrating the power of headlines. Click on the link above and then the cover image to get a larger version. Tip: Save the image to your hard drive because no archive is available. Since May 2008, the resolution of the cover is now smaller, but you can use the zoom in function of your favorite image viewer to make it more readable.
  4. News sites and of course, blogs. Journalists are great writers. They know what the readers want. You may monitor certain blogs too for title ideas.

How to Use Your Swipe File

Is it possible to just copy a headline or blog title, substitute a few words, and call it your own?

The answer is Yes!

John Caples Famous HeadlineFor blog title (and also headlines), this is sometimes possible. For example, how many times have you seen sales copy that starts with “They Laugh When I…?”

The headline was from John Caples’s famous headline “They Laugh When I Sat Down At the Piano But When I Started to Play!–”

You still have to understand why the headline works and apply it appropriately for your business.

However, it is always better if you only take the idea. A swipe file is not something you can blatantly copy word by word but you can change a few words in a headline and claim it as yours.

For example, “What You Can Learn from Albert Einstein about Blogging” becomes “5 Things You Can Learn from Richard Feynman about Blogging.”

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