Most creative people like to collect the works of others to cultivate inspiration. In copywriting, this is called a “swipe file.” This is not nefarious. You’re not going to plagiarize or copy someone else. But let’s be clear, most new things start as imitation or improvements on something that already exists. Borrowing ideas from others and putting your spin on it is a great way to be more creative.
What’s in Your Swipe File
Your swipe file may have many things in it, such as YouTube Ads you found exciting and compelling, headlines you thought were significant, images of sales pages that got your attention, and even CTAs that attracted your attention. The key here is to save important items and change it slightly to include your own spin or needs.
For example, if you’re a blogger, you may want to keep clips or swipes of articles or other content you have found interesting that might inspire you to create more blogs.
This may be confusing, but when we talk about swipe files, it must be said. Using a swipe file is not plagiarizing. You’re not going to cut and paste what someone else wrote word-for-word into anything. Instead, you’re going to modify and merge the snippet of what attracted your attention into your original content. For this to work, you need to know what motivates your ideal customer, what phrases compel them to take the action, and what imagery strikes a chord with them.
One way to save your swipe files is to use software like Evernote.com, Trello.com, or your favorite software to clip and save the content that you want to use for inspiration. Organize the files so that you can quickly skim them whenever you need inspiration. Store everything as you find it so you know where to go when you need to boost your creativity. Organize what you collect to help you. For example, you might use terms like headlines, value proposition, intros, and so forth so you can look up that one thing as you sit down to create.
Collect As You Go
As you are inspired, capture it. Don’t second guess yourself. Just clip and use it later. You can make notes on each clip so that you know what category it’s under so that you can look up that inspiration when you need it. You may need headlines, images, ads, videos, sales copy, quotes, design elements, facts, data, and anything that inspired you to purchase so you can try to do that with your customers.
Use the Files to Inspire
When you are ready to work, if you’re working on creating headlines for a new article, search for your swipe files for headlines before you start crafting them. When you read these headlines that you collected, they will give you a creative boost as you brainstorm and work on crafting the headline for your new article.
As you look at the ideas in your swipe files, your creativity will be activated and you will be able to think outside of the box to create excellent original work. Remember, you’re starting with the SWIPE, but you’re making it unique and original to you.
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