What Is a Swipe File?

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Do you ever feel like you’re constantly reinventing the wheel regarding copywriting and marketing? You’re not alone. Copywriting can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if you don’t have any good ideas.

That’s where swipe files come in handy. But what is a swipe file? Before answering that, did you know that using one for copywriting can help you create 220% more effective copy?

In this article, you’ll learn what a swipe file is and how to use it to improve your marketing efforts.

Why Use a Swipe File?

A swipe file is a collection of writing samples, ads, and other marketing materials that you can use to inspire your work. They might include headlines, copywriting snippets, design samples, or emails. You can also break them up into categories to make it easier to find what you need in the future.

You don’t want to copy the items in your swipe file word-for-word. Instead, they serve as a source of inspiration for what could work as you perform copywriting tasks.

Using a swipe file is crucial because it saves time and energy. Instead of starting from scratch, you can refer back to what worked for you or others in the past. Using that knowledge allows you to make adjustments quickly.

There are many uses for a swipe file, such as crafting blog posts, email marketing campaigns, website design, or other content creation.

What a Swipe File Isn’t

It’s vital to note that a swipe file is not just a collection of ideas or samples. Look at it as a tool for finding what you need when your thoughts fade away.

You also shouldn’t use your swipe file as a shortcut. Instead, use it to jumpstart your creativity and help you develop more original ideas that build upon what is already out there.

How Do You Build a Swipe File?

Building a swipe file is easier than you might think. Here are the steps to get started:

3 boxes showing how to build a swipe file.

Create a Spreadsheet

Start by creating a spreadsheet with columns for what type of material you’re collecting. It will help you organize your swipe file for future use. If you use Google Drive, you can access your swipe file whether you’re on your phone or laptop.

You might organize your columns in the following manner.

  • Blog posts | Headlines | Calls to action | Email copy ideas | Landing pages

You can also add additional columns to your spreadsheet to take additional notes. Your notes can include information about what inspired you to save the material or what project it might work well for. Referring to these notes will make sure you don’t become confused about why you added specific swipe file data.

Figure Out Your Copy Needs

The next step is to decide what type of copy you’re looking for. Think about where your next copywriting project will appear.

Will it go on a blog or social media? Are you writing content for a new homepage design? It could be anything from an email ad to a promo video script. Or, if you need inspiration for headlines or calls to action, you should add those to your file too.

Becoming clear in this area will help you narrow down what to add to your file and in which section to place it.

Start Collecting

Once you know what you need and what material to collect, start collecting what works best. You can find ideas and inspiration from various sources such as blogs, books, magazines, ads, videos, or even television commercials.

As you come across compelling or exciting ideas, add them to your file. A key aspect of using your swipe file is to create the habit of collecting ideas as they occur. Don’t wait to log the data. Otherwise, you might forget what inspired you in the first place.

How To Use Your Swipe File

Before building a swipe file, you should gain clarity about the benefits of doing so. Knowing these advantages will help you become excited to put the tactic to use.

3 parts of a chart showing uses for swipe files.

Discover Your Voice

Your swipe file can help you discover and refine your voice. Over time, you’ll see what works for you and doesn’t. The process of trial and error will help you develop a consistent writing style, which is essential for any project.

Having a file of what you’ve written in the past can help you spot what sets your work apart. When you understand what makes it unique, it becomes easier to focus on that feature.

Enhance Your Writing

Using a swipe file is also helpful when improving your writing skills. A collection of pieces from other authors can provide insight into what results in successful writing. Seeing what resonates with readers can help you brainstorm more engaging content to share.

Come Up With Ideas

Finally, a swipe file can help you get into a creative mindset. Staring at a blank page for hours trying to come up with something unique is exhausting. It rarely produces quality results. Instead, going through what other authors have written can spark ideas, motivating you to write something fresh and exciting.

Tips for Your Swipe File

Using a swipe file takes some practice. If you aren’t careful, you can end up with a cluttered file that blocks creativity instead of inspiring it. Here are three tips for making good use of swipe copy:

4 parts of a chart showing tips for using swipe files.

Know Your Audience

As you find content to put into your swipe file, note what resonates with your target audience. You don’t want to save a thousand pieces with nothing in common. Instead, focus on what will interest the people most likely to come across your work. That way, your swipe file can become a valuable source of inspiration.

One crucial aspect of knowing your audience includes understanding the specific pain points your best-fit client experiences. Enter this data into the swipe file. Gain an understanding of your target market’s frustrations. Use this information as you look around for ideas to put into the swipe file.

Focusing on your avatar’s most significant challenges will help you tie those aspects into ideas that help you paint the picture of how you can help solve problems.


Organize your swipe file to make it easy to find what you’re looking for quickly. It also needs to stay up-to-date with the latest content to keep your ideas fresh and relevant. The best way to keep the file organized is to assign each piece of content an appropriate label.

Let’s say you have a swipe file for website copywriting. You can organize the pieces by page type, such as homepage copy, about page copy, product page copy, and so on.

Break down each section into what components make up the page, such as the headline, subheadings, and bullet points. Doing this instantly lets you pull what you need from your swipe file.

Use It for Ideas Only; Don’t Copy

Your swipe file is a source of inspiration. It’s important to note that this does not mean copying what you find. Even if you change a few words here and there, it’s not original work. It can harm your reputation and get you into legal trouble.

Instead, use what you find in the swipe file to develop entirely new ideas. When reading what others have written, jot down what speaks to you and what you found compelling. Apply what you learned to your work. It allows you to create something fresh and original without worrying about plagiarism.

What Are Some Swipe File Examples?

Are you still unsure how to add relevant information to your swipe file? Below are a few examples that will allow you to visualize how others use swipe files for various content types.

Headline Swipe File Examples

Here are some compelling headlines that you could add to your swipe file.

  • “How To Get the Most Out of Your Content Creation”
  • “What No One Wants You to Know About Business Writing”
  • “10 Tips for Creating a Close-knit Family Unit”
  • “Five Ways To Lose Weight Fast”
  • “Eliminate Roaches From Your Kitchen in No Time”
  • “Find Your Partner Without a Dating App”

Email Swipe File Examples

For emails, you’ll need to focus on what will get your target audience to open and read what you wrote. Here are some subject line examples.

  • “Husband doesn’t listen? Here’s why…”
  • “Confused about parenting? Read this:”
  • “Up early?”
  • “Why ‘this’ never works…”
  • “Why do lawyers always say this?”
  • “This one tactic produced a 77% lead increase.”

You should also look for email body copy ideas for your swipe file. Here are two examples of how to start the body of an email message.

“So, the other day, I fell into a hole in the backyard. Once they found me, I couldn’t even…”

“Are you frustrated watching your teenager do the following after coming home from school?

  • Drop their books on the dining room table
  • Plop down on the couch
  • Put on headphones to play a video game
  • Never coming up for air until dinnertime

Here’s what we did to put an end to this behavior:”

Sales Letter Swipe File Examples

You’ll need to ensure your writing stands out for a sales letter. Here are some examples of what could go in your swipe file.

  • “They Laughed When I Said I’d Become a Six-Figure Earner. They Don’t Laugh Anymore!”
  • “How To Lose 27 Pounds in 56 Days Without Eliminating Your Favorite Snacks”
  • “A Small Mistake That Cost a Florist $17,564 Last Year”
  • “Do You Make These Parenting Mistakes?”
  • “Do You Do Any of These Silly Things at Work?”
  • “How Much Is Leadership Deficiency Costing Your Business Each Year?
Lisa Parmley
Lisa Parmley

Lisa Parmley is the founder of coursemethod.com. After gaining a Master's degree, she worked in research for about seven years. She started a training company in 2001, offering a course helping people pass a professional exam. That course has earned multiple 7 figures. She created SEO and authority site building training around 2007 which went on to earn well into the 6-figure mark.

She has 22+ years of experience in the trenches creating and selling online courses. Get help starting and growing your online course business here.

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