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Excellent to spur creativity
Yes, I happily make use of swipe files. I find they are a delightful help when I can thumb through a physical file (not all digital) of catchy newspaper and magazine headlines. Those work samples are excellent to spur creativity and can be transferred to book manuscripts.
The really witty examples inspire great chapter headings or even the name for the entire novel. My favorite headlines have clever puns and encourage me to play on words to add some style and spark to book writing, be it fiction or otherwise. An unexpected by-product of swipe files.
Great for finding that initiation inspiration
Simply starting a thing can be the biggest challenge sometimes. Swipe files are great for finding that initiation inspiration or spark that sets you on your way.
In my early agency days the place where I worked used to have something called the Inspo Bin where everyone dropped in the cool stuff they found in print form. Everything from postcards to magazine ads, to branded folders or great packaging – it all went into the Inspo Bin. Whenever we started the design phase of a new project we would literally meet in a circle around the Inspo Bin and rummage through it as we talked the details.
Swipe files are only to be used responsibly though. The goal should never be to knock off, copy or otherwise plagiarize the work of others. Instead, you are looking for a collection of inspiration pieces from which you can synthesize something new and original by pulling bits and pieces from multiple sources.
Swipes files are a great starting point
Yes, I use swipe files as they give me general ideas for each type of copy. I organize them as such, so I have a go-to document for examples of proven headlines, subheads, etc.
But I need to balance using my swipe file with ensuring that I have all the necessary information from the client. Creating a detailed brief for each project with my client enables me to tailor what I write for them.
I believe that swipes files are a great starting point or touchpoint, but that's where their use should stay.
Most of the time, yes.
Swipe files are incredibly helpful tools for us copywriters (and writers in general), most especially those who are still starting out. Contrary to those who say a swipe file is used to plagiarize the work of others, it is a tool used for reference and inspiration. After all, whatever you place in your swipe files are those contents that captured your interest, and you think are well-written.
For us writers who are preparing [a lot of] content, swipe files help save time as they overcome writer’s block. Other than that, they help improve copywriting by helping the writer understand different writing techniques and structures that work, thus, honing a copywriter’s or any writer's own style.
Chris Von Wilpert
We are big believers
We are big believers in swipe files for copywriting and all the other core tasks that go into running a successful content website. We also swipe examples of things we see done well, whether it is infographics, sales copy, introductions to articles and even individual sentences that really sing. With tools like Pocket and Evernote, or even via a simple screen shot, it is easy to swipe things of interest that you can put in your swipe file and return to for inspiration when your creative juices are taking some time to begin to flow.
Not only do I use swipe files as a content creator for posts for my own company, but I also use the concept for my own work and I encourage those working on copywriting and content creation to compile interesting resources, ideas, and samples into a cumulative ‘swipe files' folder accessible to all for idea development, motivation and to serve as simple reminders.
Creating swipe files is an essential planning and business tool, and those people who do not use them are not making full use of their time or knowledge, in my personal opinion.
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