Swipe files… everyone should have them.
That is – if you’re tasked with writing content for your business – they’re a handy little tool to have in your arsenal.
And these days, I’m all about keeping my arsenal full of tools that’ll make my life easier.
What’s a swipe file, anyway?
Originally, swipe files started as collections of advertising copy or marketing materials. Copywriters, especially, would keep files of tried and tested ad letters to draw upon for ideas and inspiration.
These days, it’s more than just copywriters putting together files of great pieces of copy they come across. The guys over at Vero, an email marketing SaaS startup, talk about swipe files as one of the top things anyone interested in improving their email marketing should be doing.
Anytime you see a great subject line, a good offer, a beautiful design or great copy, just add the message to your swipe file. Pretty soon, you’ll have a repository of inspiration that you can tap into when you are working on your own campaigns.
A few reasons to swipe away
I can see the wheels turning in your head as you’re reading this… and you’re saying to yourself, “You mean I’ve gotta make one more thing for my business?”
“Is this going to involve spreadsheets? Because if I have to come up with one more spreadsheet I’m going to scream.”
No, I’m not not psychic. I’m just bootstrapping it like the rest of you and that’s what would be going through my head.
Swipe files are definitely worth the minimal amount of effort because they…
1) Help you get past a mental block
Whether you can’t seem to find the right words or you’re having trouble coming up with a structure for a sales page, looking at good examples from across the web can get the creative juices flowing.
2) Make great topic generators
For those of us who need to write blog posts, articles, or just about any other type of content, having a stash of easy to access files at our finger tips can do wonders when trying to put the pieces together.
3) Keep voice of customer data close at hand
Whenever you’re doing a bit of research on writing something for a new product or service you’re interested in launching, making the rounds of places like Amazon reviews is helpful. Take screenshots of reviews of comparable products so you can go back over them and pull out recurrent themes and phrases to inform your own copy.
Types of content to swipe
You can find inspiration from just about anything online… but the best things to keep stashed are ones that:
- Provide some sort of intrinsic value – namely they’re the best examples to follow
- Support the kind of work you’re doing
Otherwise, they’re just making your cyber footprint larger by warehousing them and more difficult for you to find the items that actually will help you when you need them.
If you’re developing online marketing for your business, think about creating swipe files for:
- Emails you’ve received with memorable subject lines or content
- Landing pages or sales pages where the design elements and the copy work especially well together
- Individual website pages that you feel do a good job and are representative of your style
- Blog posts with topics you might like to cover
- Any bit of copy with rock solid headlines
Use Evernote to organize your files
So, how do you create these swipe files?
Using a bookmarking tool for the Internet is the way to go. There’s no need for spreadsheets – unless you can’t live without them for everything.
Create Notebooks then Notes
Think of Evernote as your online filing system. You can create notebooks and then individual notes to stick in them.
Here’s just one set of notes grouped in a notebook in my Evernote account.
What makes Evernote so great for creating swipe files is the nifty little bookmarklet that you can attach to your browser. Go to whatever page on the Internet you like, click on the little elephant head icon, and get a smorgasbord of options how you’d like to save the content.
You can add tags to each note to make searching easier. Plus, you can add remarks and even highlight.
Swipe like a bandit…
The purpose of your swipe files are to inspire, give you ideas, show you how the masters of great copywriting and marketing put their content together.
I’ve spent hours pulling apart well performing sales and landing pages, blog posts and email campaigns. I’ve dissected headlines and button copy that have outperformed their control counterparts.
It’s not been to copy or lift pieces outright but to understand the why behind what’s worked and what hasn’t. And, that’s the benefit of having all these bookmarked and curated items to refer back to.
I can make the connections between what’s been done successfully before and how that might be instructive to what I’m trying to do.
How to get started with Evernote
I have paid for the Premium version of Evernote. It’s only $45 for the year and it allows you to search PDF documents and put your notes in a presentation mode (like Powerpoint.)
But, there’s so much you can do with the free version – simply start with that.
Here’s a couple of helpful articles that will give you the lay of the land.
So, how are you keeping track of all the swipe worthy pieces of content you find?