How to Create a Swipe File for Inspiration

5 minute read


Do ya ever get stumped with what to write, design, create, sell, post, advertise, ….?

We all do!!

One quick way to overcome those creative blocks is to keep a well-organized SWIPE FILE that you can refer to when those inevitable moments strike.

A swipe file is a collection of anything business & marketing related.

Let’s say you’re scrolling through insta and you see a post you love. That could go in your swipe file for insta inspiration.

Or maybe you’re clicking around on one of your niche’s guru’s website and you like the way they’ve laid out a page. That could go in your swipe file for web design inspiration.

Or you just opened your inbox and read an email that you think is the bees knees. Yep, you guessed it. Email copy swipe file inspiration right there.

Keeping a swipe file is a common practice used by advertising copywriters and creative directors as a ready reference for ideas for projects. – Wikipedia

It’s a common practice in the marketing industry, and it could be a lifesaver for you.

Marketing is formulaic, so even non-related industries can hold marketing gold for you if you learn how to look for the formulas.

A swipe file is NOT A PLAGIARISM file.

It’s a way to learn what is working in your niche, and in various marketing tactics and platforms.

A swipe file is best used as a way to track trends and formulas for writing, design, formatting and other elements that help with creativity, conversion tactics, split testing and copywriting.

A swipe file can be an idea generator for your marketing needs.

I often read books outside of my niche to get inspiration and swipe themes or processes to help me boost my writing or content curation.

Have you created your ideal client avatar? Would you like to get laser-focused and attract the right people who want what you offer?

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Here are a few ways to use a swipe file:

  • Emails – read and scan for patterns of copy. Are the emails following a formula that you can pinpoint and borrow when writing yours?
  • Subject Lines – what subject lines are making you open and read an email? Subject lines are tricky. If you notice a good formula for a subject line, you can adapt it to your audience.
  • Blog Post – what makes that post easy to read? Other than the topic, how is it formatted? What stands out as a reader? Are there elements that you can implement to make your blog better?
  • Facebook Ads – the world of Facebook is ever-changing, and some entrepreneurs are really good and learning what works and what doesn’t. Screen capture Facebook Ads that look appealing to you, analyze language, formatting, how much text is on the screen. Would any of those techniques work for you?
  • Instagram Ads — follow people you admire, check out what their doing and ask yourself if your brand could use the same type of post/ad or copy.
  • Landing Pages – when you see a good landing page, you know it. Screen capture it so you can study what elements make the landing page work. Where do they have images, text, and other elements? How would something like that work for you?
  • Website Design – I love saving screen captures of nicely designed websites. I use those for inspiration when my clients need new sites. I save these by industry, so it is easy to reference.

Where to save your swipe file content:

  • Google Drive — easy and quick to access from any of my devices
  • Dropbox – accessible by you and your team and in the cloud
  • Google Keep — LOVE this note board app that’s free in your Gsuite and gmail platform
  • Evernote – same, in the cloud, easy to share, easy to organize
  • Trello – same as Evernote, but a little more visually formatted
  • Teamwork – great for teams with multiple people
  • Pinterest – you can save private boards of images you like or themes you like

My favorite things to swipe for my business:

  • Facebook Ads
  • Facebook promoted post copy
  • Promotional emails
  • Follow up emails when I subscribe
  • Screen captures of lead magnet landing pages
  • Screen captures of the opt-in process or sales process for various shopping carts
  • Quotes and inspiration from others
  • Video ideas
  • Statistics for my niche

My favorite things to swipe for my customers:

  • Competitor ads
  • Competitor emails and promotions
  • Brand elements
  • Curated content
  • Quotes
  • Systems

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How to make it work:

Start organized. Whatever system you use, create the organization first, and then be diligent about filing and naming. If you do a screen capture, immediately name it.

If you drag everything into one file with the hopes of getting around to it later, you won’t, and you will waste time trying to find it.

If I see an ad on Facebook that I like, I will screen capture it and immediately name it. Something like FB Ad Webinar so I can file it in my Facebook Ads folder.

For me, I use a folder in Drive with various subfolders.

I may not drag to the subfolders immediately, but I do name the file.

Then when I’m on hold for a call or waiting for something, I’ll go in and drag the files to the right folders.

There’s always a few minutes here and there that I need something to keep me busy.

If you pull content and name it properly, you can have your assistant or a VA organize it for you, too.

Organization is key.

And finally, save your own copy, images, ads, promotions, emails, etc.

It always surprises me that my clients, almost all who utilize online marketing, don’t have reference files for things they had done before they hired me.

Don’t trust your email provider to keep track of things for you. Every email promotion, newsletter, announcement you do, should be saved as a text file somewhere.

I save all of my emails and the copy we write for our clients as individual docs in Google Drive that are saved in a folder titled by date and promotion or event.

For instance, I have a folder for each webinar that I name like this –

01.26.20 Webinar, then inside I have individual folders for Facebook Ads, Promo Emails to Prospects, Promo Emails to Customers, Newsletter/Misc. Promo Copy.

Have your team swipe for you, too. Teach them to be on the lookout for things that you want to use as inspiration and study.

As long as they follow the same naming structure and system, you can maximize the swipe information coming your way.

So, do you have a swipe file?

I’d love to hear how you use your swipe file – what do you swipe, how does it help you, how do you organize it?

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xoxo Lisa
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One Comment

  1. Jessica Danielle March 10, 2021 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    I keep a swipe file in Notion. Similar to keeping all in one folder, Notion lets me link between related swipe files in my database.

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