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Copywriter's Techniques - Building A Swipe File

Apr 25, 2008
A swipe file is a collection of ads, headlines, sales letters, and other marketing materials. Every successful copywriter has a swipe file that they use for inspiration when they're hit with a case of writer's block. If you're an aspiring copywriter yourself, you should start building your own swipe file too.

You can then use it as a study guide to learn more about the craft and as inspiration when you're stuck. You can use the swipe file to assist you when you need help with certain aspects of your sales letter - i.e. headline, body, call to action. You will start to notice patterns in successful ads. The way they craft their headline, common elements in the body, the pitch or call to action at the end. But let me make it clear that you should NEVER just copy someone else's work. You can borrow ideas and learn from the structure and voices used by other copywriters. But copying an ad word for word is just stealing.

What should I include in my swipe file?

Start with your mail. Look at the sales letters, flyers, and postcards you receive every day. When something catches your interest and makes you reach for your wallet or your checkbook, put it aside. The same goes for advertisements from newspapers and magazines.

But how do you know if an ad is good at selling? A good rule of thumb is that if you see an ad repeated again and again, it's probably a good seller. All ads are tested to determine which ones sell and which do not. They're constantly tweaked and adjusted, and unprofitable ads are eliminated. So if you find an ad that has been running for some time,
it's a good bet that it has already been tested and proven to be a winner.

How you store your swipe file is up to you. I like to laminate the ads and place them in a binder where they are safe and easy to pull out when needed.

Don't forget about ads and sales letters you read online. There are many excellent examples of copywriting available only online.

You can keep these organized and easy to find by saving them to a social bookmarking site such as del.icio.us.

Simply go to del.icio.us and create a free account. You can then save web pages to your favorites, and access them from anywhere.

It's a good idea to print these out and add them to your binder as well - for reference.
About the Author
Jonathan Hook helps people market their websites and services through article marketing by delivering articles to them daily at articlesinyourinbox.com
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