How to start a copywriting swipe file

First, the follow up to last week’s warm up:

Our first copywriting workout warm-up was great.

I’ve gotten a lot of emails from you and I fully appreciate your feedback and input!

copywriting swipe file
copywriting swipe file

I’m thinking next time I’ll post the results at the end of the same post. But for now let’s try this:

Results from last week’s Warm-up 1

It was very challenging for me NOT to backspace. As it happens, I apparently don’t type cleanly the first time out, and my habit of constantly backspacing was created to balance out all the mistakes I make when I type.

For example, here’s an excerpt of my exercise in all it’s glory:

“I like typing this out wbecause I wnont backspace so I can salve 2.2.3 gigawats of time.”

And ‘salve’ time I did. Well, at least it felt like I did.

What did we learn:I need to shape up my fast typing skills for one. But I also came up with some interesting lines. I found myself thinking more ‘freely’ and letting my thoughts fall onto the page while I typed. As a result, I noticed mundane topics as well as business topics constantly cross my mind.

Time Required: Let’s say around an hour.

Items needed: Computer, ‘junk’ mail, current magazines, newspapers

Description: Since we’re starting on our workout, we need equipment. But gathering copy swipes is an exercise in itself! I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t been the greatest at keeping copy swipes. I do save snips and snipettes, but for the most part my swipe files are scattered around my desk and laptop. So this will be a true exercise for me as well.

How this will improve your copywriting skills: Part of the brainstorming process comes from visiting ‘past greats.’ Stimulating the mind using swipe files is a tried and true strategy used by newbies and top copywriters alike.

How to do this exercise:

Step 1) Make sure you have two folders. One on your computer, and one in ‘real life’. For now, we’ll focus on your computer swipe file folder.

Step 2) Open up a new window in your web browser, or make a new tab.

Step 3) Now we’re going to go “Swipe Hunting” I have a fairly organic approach. Generally, you just save files/images/ads that catch your eye as you go along. But we’re going to find at least 5 save-worthy ads.

I’m going to share with you the ones I find so you can add those to your swipe file as well

the BIG Step 4) Here’s my quick swipe-process. I start by thinking up companies or sites that had ads that have grabbed my attention before. I’ll share several with you here over the next few days.

Dani’s organic ‘I need swipe files NOW’ online finding method.

I start by targeting some markets. Say plastic surgeons. Marketers/branders. Cupcake designers. They can be from anywhere, but try to make them specific. The reason is because the more ‘niche’ a market is, the more likely that company will have found a ‘Unique selling proposition’ – and if their copy is any good, you’ll find some gems from them.

So for this case, I think of something like “marketing” – okay I want to look up marketing companies and read the kind of things they’ve written up on their site. However, if you just type “marketing” into google, you get results like this:

Hmm…these listings don’t look helpful

I clicked on result #5 and got this:

Yea… that’s not helpful.

I’m not going to spend the rest of the post picking apart the copy (or lack there of).

So I try to make it more specific. I could do “email marketing” or “woman entrepreneur marketing” but instead, I like to search by location.

This time, I looked locally and got results that had more websites I could look at.

Got some actual websites that may have copy in them!

Unfortunately… most of them weren’t very useful. This one was the closest, but still somewhat of a fizzle.

This would have been better. “We make your company look good. It’s that simple”

However, there’s elements I liked about their headline – like the style, tone and the pointed follow up sentence. However, using that ‘swipe,’ I made up a new headline for them – and one that I rather like! So as copy it’s ‘eh’ but as a swipe, it worked. I screen cap it and add it to my swipe folder.

Keep trying with different markets in different locations and look at a lot of sites. A LOT of them will not be fantastic. But after doing a little searching, you’ll find a few gems. (another great place to look are website galleries – I know they focus on design, but often when a person designs a good site, they get good content inside of it.)

NOTE: the tricky part of all this is you’re going to have to target why these ads work – or why they don’t. However DON’T worry too much about that for now. For now, just save ads that strike something in you (we’ll be covering the ‘swipe culling’ process soon)

Step 5) Keep searching for swipes. If you’re really stuck, head over to a site riddled with ads, and refresh it several times to look at the banners. Once in a while, you’ll come across a good one.

Step 6) This is your ‘real life’ swipe finding. This will be a little easier because you’ll have ads in front of you. And unlike the mostly unregulated internet, you’ll find some more swipe-worthy ads. Remember though, there’s a lot of garbage out there. If you’re not sure, save it and we’ll go over it later.

Extra help: This workout is a little tricky. I’m basically telling you to be organic and go out there and find swipes. Until I post up a more detailed method on HOW to find swipes online ‘on demand’, I’ll say this: don’t worry about the quality of the swipes beyond that you think SOMETHING about them is working. We’ll target what that is soon.

If you’d like to ask me any questions about the process, just post a comment or shoot me over an email at dani (a)!

And don’t forget to register for the copywriting workout (if you haven’t already!)


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