Building A Copywriting Swipe File 6

Many copywriters advise that you keep a swipe file. Meaning that you keep a collection of high quality advertisements to study and get ideas from when writing your own copy.

There are ways to collect an awesome set of offline advertisments… and one way is to BUY products from successful offline mailers. But frankly I’ve never gone this route.

I primarily write copy online and I look for online copy to put in my swipe file.

In the past when I found copy I liked I’d bookmark it or add it to my favorites. This worked OK… until the site disappeared, the offer was taken down or the copy changed.

Then I tried saving the webpage with the copy to my computer. This works OK still. But it can be messy with all the extra files attached to the webpage. Especially if all I want to keep is a headline.

So now I’ve discovered my favorite method for keeping a collection of swiped ads.

Windows Vista, Windows 7 and some versions of Windows XP have a “Snipping Tool” that allows you to highlight a portion of your screen and save it as an image.

Now it’s easy and painless to save a simple headline. Take for example this quick swipe of the headline from my Copywriting Services page. (Which of course was based on a swiped headline 🙂

I’ve set up a folder on my PC’s “Desktop” called appropriately, “Swipe File.” And another folder inside there is named “Headlines.” I save all swiped headlines in here.

Then when it’s time to look at successful headlines, I can open up any image inside this folder. Windows opens the image inside of it’s photo viewer and allows me to hit “Next” over and over again browsing my swiped headlines.

Fantastic! So much cleaner than paper or saved web pages.

Of course, most of the images you are creating involve copyrighted material. So you shouldn’t be sharing or selling your swipe file with anyone.

But creating a swipe file this way for your personal use is no problem. (At least that’s what I believe. I’m no lawyer, so do your own research.)

In any case, you have permission to swipe any of my sales copy for your personal use in this way.

And if you’re looking for more copy to swipe, you might start here:

Productivity Engineering

Good luck hunting and swiping!

6 thoughts on “Building A Copywriting Swipe File

  1. Reply Kristi Daniels Feb 6, 2010 2:39 pm

    Thank you for another great post.

    Bookmarking is a great idea. And if the page disappears or the ad copy changes, then they probably weren’t that profitable for the original seller.

    Maybe your original method of bookmarking the pages would produce the highest quality swipe file.

  2. Reply Stephen Dean Feb 6, 2010 6:50 pm

    Yes, you’re right 🙂

    For people who don’t know, and correct me if I’m wrong, the Copy Oracle software looks for paid ad copy that stays unchanged for long periods of time… in the assumption that it’s profitable.

    The theory being if that copy doesn’t change over a long period of time and the someone keeps paying to promote the advertisement, it’s more likely to be profitable.

    I like collecting screenshots because it’s easier to breeze through dozens of headlines quickly to get ideas. And I count on the Copy Oracle software to help verify the quality of the headlines I write based on my swipe file.

    Hopefully that’s a good system.

  3. Reply Fox Feb 8, 2010 6:11 am

    There is also a plugin for Firefox called grab it (if I remember correctly, I’m reading this on my phone) that turns an entire web page into a jpg image. You can save the entire page instead of just snips, if you want.

  4. Reply Stephen Dean Feb 8, 2010 5:01 pm

    Awesome Fox, thanks for the heads up.

  5. Reply Ryan Healy Feb 8, 2010 5:53 pm

    I like to use SnagIt. I can capture any region of a web page… or capture an entire sales letter. It’s one of my favorite tools.

    I also learned of a new site called This is a free tool that lets you PDF any web page. Works like a charm — except it will leave blank spaces in the PDF where any videos are in the sales letter. But that’s not a big deal.


  6. Reply Stephen Dean Feb 8, 2010 6:02 pm – Awesome! Thanks for the resource, Ryan. I’ve been pondering how to do this lately, as I like to send my clients updates in PDF form instead of HTML so they don’t have the temptation to start making changes before I’m finished.


Leave a Reply