One of the best ways to improve your copywriting is to make smart
use of a swipe file. Every copywriter worth his salt has a swipe
file. However, most marketers don’t really know how to make full
use of their swipe files to improve their copy, increase their
conversions and hone their copywriting skills.
Are you making full use of your swipe files? Here’s how to take
your swipe file and use it to take your copy to the next level.
Writing Out Copy by Hand
This is one of the most tedious ways to learn copy, but also one of
the best. The American Writers & Artists Inc (AWAI) copywriting
training program, recommended by many world class copywriters has
this as a core practice.
The way it works is very simple. Find a piece of copy by a known
top notch copywriter. Then write the copy out by hand, word for
Do this with different copywriters, as every writer has a different
style you can learn from. John Carlton has a very “in your face”
big promises kind of feel, while Gary Bencivenga has a much more
subtle, almost hypnotic and guided feel.
Writing copy by hand allows you to absorb all the nuanced details
of what makes the copy tick. You’ll start to feel the copy in a
much deeper way than just by reading. You start to get into the
copywriter’s head. You start to absorb their thought patterns.
After writing by hand a dozen or so pieces of copy, your
copywriting will be on an entirely different level. You’ll pick up
new tricks and absorb subtle ways of guiding reader psychology.
Using Swipe Files While Writing
One of the best ways to use a swipe file is to print it out in
physical paper form. Don’t use digital swipe files. The internet is
possibly the largest way swipe files get circulated today, but
having swipe files on screen is a terrible way to actually use your
Instead, print them out. If you’re working on a piece of copy, your
desk and possibly even your floor should be littered with printouts
of other people’s copy. You should be stealing ideas, bullet
formats, subheads and psychological tactics from multiple
salesletters all at once.
Collecting and Using an Email Swipe
Are you using an email swipe file? If not, you’re missing out.
Here’s how to do it.
Create a separate Gmail account. Then, go on a registration spree.
Sign up to the mailing lists of every major marketer you can think
of. Then go into your specific industry websites and sign up for
every mailing list you can find.
By the time you’re done, you should be on a good 20 to 50 different
Next time you need a headline, an angle or a selling point, just
pop into this email address and browse through some of the emails.
Use the most attention catching headlines and steal ideas from the
world’s top marketers.
This is how to really use a swipe file to its full potential. Swipe
files shouldn’t just be reference material. They should be studied
by hand or printed out and used on a day to day basis when you’re