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Copywriting Tips – What’s the Deal With Swipe Files?

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Copywriting Tips – What’s the Deal With Swipe Files?

A lot of copywriters just starting out ask about swipe files. They ask what they are, how to use them and even if it’s okay to use them. Well, depending on who you ask, you’re going to get a lot of different answers. So instead of trying to confuse you with a lot of answers, I’m going to give you the ones most commonly responded with and then add a little bit of my own common sense advice. Take this advice for what it’s worth to you.

First of all, what’s a swipe file? Simply put, a swipe file is a file that contains bits and pieces of a copywriter’s work. It could contain a number of headlines, maybe some subheads, bullet points, price pitches, guarantees and so on. Many copywriters use these. I do not, but I’ll get into the why of that later. These swipe files are used to get ideas for your own sales letter. At least that’s what they’re SUPPOSED to be for.

Okay, so now that you know what a swipe file is and what it is used for, the next question is, where do you get them from and are they okay to use?

Swipe files can be gotten from a number of places. The copywriters themselves may actually have files on their site that you can download. Other swipe files are created from actual sales letters by the copywriter doing the swiping.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Is that legal?” Again, it depends on who you ask. Many copywriters will actually encourage you to borrow their work to get inspiration from. Notice I said “inspiration” and not outright copying. A copywriter worth his salt will NOT flat out copy the material but use it to come up with similar ideas that will actually fit HIS sales letter. And many copywriters have no problem with this.

However, there are some copywriters who will sue your backside off if you even take a word of their work. They make it very clear that their work is copyrighted and that you have NO claim to it under any circumstances.

So what do YOU do? This is where I am going to give you some common sense advice. Take it for what it’s worth to you. If you see a copywriter’s work and it doesn’t specifically say that you can or can’t use it, contact the copywriter and ask. It’s that simple. He will either say yes or no. If yes, feel free to use the work. If no, I strongly advise against using it anyway unless you have a good lawyer.

There you have it. That’s the deal with swipe files. If you can get your hands on some legally, they can be very valuable to your copywriting. But do NOT use them word for word. Apply them to your OWN sales letter. You will get much better results anyway as each piece of copy SHOULD be tailored to the sales letter it is being written for.

And no two sales letters are ever exactly the same.

To YOUR Success,

Steven Wagenheim