I recently finished watching a slew of YouTube videos about copywriting from people who are considered leaders in this world.
One YouTube channel that I’ve found inspiration in is a copywriting website from a business called Kopywriting Kourse.
They have a blog as well, but I’d like to focus on the YouTube channel today and specifically the idea introduced in one video, swipe files.
You might already be familiar with swipe files. You might even have one of your own. Regardless, I think that this information can be useful for anyone, no matter where you stand on your spectrum of expertise.
For credibility’s sake, the Founder of Kopywriting Kourse, Neville Medhora, has been featured in many publications including Entrepreneur, Business Insider, HubSpot and Forbes.
Also, just to note, I will be making an effort to find qualified voices from every side of the “kingdom” from various backgrounds for my submissions, a quick caveat.
A Basic Explanation
Save things that make you click, sign up, laugh or go “whoa!” — Neville Medhora
According Medhora in the YouTube video “A free swipe file for Physical, Desktop and Mobile ,” swipe files started as a result of old school marketers and copywriters that wanted to see what their competition was doing, and find inspiration from their work.
So they would keep folders — or swipe files — of ads and other copywriting examples as inspiration.
As writers we can do the same. Keeping a swipe file is a more deliberate way of finding inspiration in work you admire.
For example, while we know that J.K. Rowling probably didn’t keep a literal “swipe file” of her favorite chapters of J.R.R. Tolkien (and who knows — maybe she did), we kind of know that the world of Middle Earth likely inspired the world of Hogwart’s and Harry, Hermione and Ron.
I gather that J.K. Rowling kept figurative swipe files of her literary inspirations through her life, one of those being the work of J.R.R. Tolkien.
So it’s actually the practice of a skilled craftsperson to find inspiration in the work of others to create their own.
Instead of always coming up with a new idea, we can refer to a swipe file for inspiration, looking at an example of what has already worked, using that to lay a foundation for whatever we do. -Neville Medhora
An Example of When We Can Use a Swipe File
Say you want to redo your About Page and don’t know where to turn. Well, you can start by looking for people or businesses in your industry and take a look at which of those pages you like.
Then you can use these pages as inspiration for your own page.
What do you like about these pages:
- The conversational tone?
- Or personality infused with professionalism?
- The use of “you”?
- Maybe the way the site works in call-to-action buttons?
Review what you like and use some of this in the About Page you recreate for yourself.
Rather than starting from scratch, you can use the examples from your swipe file as a starting point.
How Can You Start Your Own Swipe File?
I’m glad you asked. While swipe files were originally kept in physical folders, with the advent of computers and other tech, we can now keep digital folders, too.
A physical folder is fine and Classic 2.0, but a swipe file folder on a desktop or smartphone is readily accessible as well, especially since so much content exists digitally in these 21st century (non) streets.
Here are the ground rules for starting a swipe file.
Physical Swipe File
For the Traditional 2.0 version, get a manila folder (or otherwise) and start collecting items with content you like — mailers, clip outs from magazines, witty birthday cards, et cetera.
Digital Swipe File
Step 1: Create a folder on your desktop, tablet or smartphone to keep inspiring copy in. Label it “Swipe File” (or another fitting name).
Step 2: When you see an inspiring piece of content, take a screenshot or clip the section.
Step 3: Save it to your “Swipe File” folder.
So this was me officially starting my own swipe file. I will continue to add to it. And hopefully, you will cut your work in half by finding inspiration from others with your own swipe file. (Maybe not half. But you get the picture.)