Swipe Files

Getting The Most From Swipe Files & Quick-Start Guide

In this post I’m going to explain exactly what swipe files are, how to use them to create unique and creative content titles, which tools I personally use, along with some helpful tips and guidance. But First – Before you get the wrong idea, I want to assure you that swipe files ARE NOT deceitful, immoral or theft of any kind; at least not the method most of us use.

What are swipe files?

I believe the concept of creating a “swipe file” originally came from the marketing industry. Email marketers have been “swiping” subject lines for years; just as internet marketers have been collecting swipe files of successful headline copy and call to actions since the first email offer hit an inbox. Simply put, swipe files are a collection of copy and design ideas you think would resonate with your target audience. These “ideas” could come from emails you receive, websites and blogs you visit, or any copy you might notice in the real world outside of the digital screens.

What can we use swipe files for?

I hate to sound trite but the uses for swipe files is really limited only by our imaginations. Seriously, most of us probably limit content we “swipe” to copy such as headlines, subject lines, titles, and perhaps call to actions. Others may take design ideas from websites or landing pages to add to their collection. I recently found myself admiring some simple social share buttons so I swiped the file in the form of a screenshot. Later, I discovered that it’s actually a WordPress plugin available from Mashshare. Now you can see those same buttons on every post of this blog. I had a similar experience when I noticed a Table of Contents on an article and have since incorporated that as well. I’m sure there are people far more creative than I that have come up with hundreds, if not thousands, of uses for swipe files. Are you one of those people? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Swipe file etiquette

There’s no official swipe file etiquette that I’m aware of but it really boils down to common sense and better judgment when it comes to how we use those creative and ingenious files we borrow. And that word, borrow, pretty much sums it up. We don’t want to steal someones actual copy, not word for word. First, it’s dishonest and we’ll never have a great reputation, followed by influence, if we go around stealing other people’s work Second, if you take a blog post title, for example, word for word, aren’t you a little late to the party when it comes to ranking in the SERPs? Sure you are, we have to be a little more creative that just blatantly stealing copy. I like to pay attention to things that grab my attention and see how it can be incorporated into what I do.

How to properly use swipe files

Like I mentioned above, there are many different ways to use swipe files and probably just as many different methods and processes to collect them. For this post, I’ve put together a very easy-to-follow quick-start guide that shows you exactly how I collect swipe files for creating great blog/content titles; all with one simple free tool (Two free tools if you count Evernote).

Top swipe file tools

Tools are always fun but they often become more of a roadblock than a streamlined route to productivity. We all have our own way of doing things and what works well for me might frustrate you to no end. With that said, I’ll share the tools and resources I use and if you have something that works better for you – use that. In fact, it would be great if you could share the tools you use in the comments. Gimme Bar: Gimme Bar is a cool, and free, browser toolbar app that seriously simplifies the swiping (capture) process. To get an idea of how I use it, jump over to my public collections there and click on one of the titles. Then notice the “inspired” title I included into the comment section of that capture. Those inspired titles are what I put into Evernote and ultimately into blog post drafts. Evernote: Okay, no big surprise here, right? Evernote is probably the tool I use most of all , every single day. But, not for swipe files; at least not for most initial captures. The reason I mention Evernote here is for those that are already using it, it can be the ideal tool for swipe files, even for capturing when you use the Evernote Web Clipper.

Some great sites to get started with your swipe files:

Finishing Up

  1. I’ve included the “How” in the quick-start guide so I can keep this post relatively brief. I do want to quickly go over the technique I use so there’s no confusion. Here are the basic steps:
  2. I find a powerful title that triggers inspiration for a unique for my own content.
  3. I “swipe” that original title using Gimme Bar.
  4. I then add my inspired title in the comment of that capture.
  5. I use that inspired title for future posts, eventually creating a post draft from it; ultimately wrapping inspiration around the unique and creative title.

That’s it, soon you’ll have a bank of potential blog posts (as well as other content titles) so big you’ll have readers and Google chasing you around 24/7 just to consume your amazing content. 🙂

What works best for you?

I’ve told you how I use swipe files, how do you use them? What tools do you use? I do find that things can be streamlined a bit by going straight to Evernote but Gimme Bar somehow inspires more creativity from me; I have no idea why? I’d love your comments, questions, and suggestions.

About Brian Hawkins

Blogging superhero by day and internet super villain by night. Blogger, future online millionaire and an all around great guy.


  1. When I first was learning about writing copy, I was a total nerd about it and I rabidly horded bookmarks and used a plug in that would screen cap the entire web page for those salesletters I wanted to refer back to.

    And of course, when I upgraded computers and start my browser from scratch on the new PC I had to import all that stuff from the other PC. Not rocket science but not fun. More work than I wanted to do and so I’ve lost a ton of awesome online swipe content.

    The fact that Gimmie Bar stores screen caps of an entire web page to the cloud and then backs up to Dropbox is all I needed to hear to be sold on it. I’m glad I stopped by today. Thank you Brian for turning this nerd onto this resource. 🙂

    • Hi Lewis, I can totally relate to losing copy files from a computer upgrade. I lost almost a month of content when my hard drive crashed a few years ago because I was only backing up monthly. I use Backblaze now so everything is continuously backed up to the cloud. It’s a nice piece of mind for just $5/month or $50/year.

      I hope Gimmie Bar works well for you, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂

  2. Hey Brian,

    Great topic here.

    I initially wanted to be a CopyWriter and have spent the better part of 3 – 4 years learning the craft. So I know a little bit about swipe files. But I only recently started collecting my own personal swipe file of blog posts headlines recently.

    And I’ll tell you, it’s a real helpful thing to have because it can be so difficult to come up with “perfect” headlines at times.

    I even saw an old video recently of Jon Morrow where he talks about swiping headlines. Even Brian Clark did it as well. So I have no problems with doing the same thing.

    What I’m looking into more now is swiping post structure of popular posts that went viral. Meaning copying their structure. Having bullet points the same place … etc.

    Great post once again here, Brian.

    – Andrew

    • Thanks Andrew. File swipes for titles is my favorite use for them but times have changed a little since the early days online. Google made us get a little creative but with a little imagination and the assistance of a tool like Long Tail Pro (Even though I couldn’t get mine to work yesterday), we can often d a lot better than the original article that gave us the idea.

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