What Everybody Ought To Know – About Making A Swipe File

swipe file

Determine the DNA of success, then inject it into your own work.

-Michael Masterson

How would you like to rapidly increase your skills in your chosen field?

There’s a fantastic and easy way to do so.

It’s called keeping a “swipe file”.

Before I started using one, making progress felt like bashing my head with a hammer over and over again. I was running at full speed with no real idea where I was headed. For every step forward, I took two steps back.

Luckily for you, I’ve gone through the pain so you don’t have to.

By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll know how to put together a swipe file – giving you a tremendous boost to produce higher-quality work.

What’s A Swipe File?

A swipe file is a collection of source material/resources that have been proven to work.

(Successful articles, strategies, headlines, etc)

It’s an archive of references that you build upon to produce a more valuable product/service.

By giving yourself a proper foundation, you gain a stronger sense of direction.

The Purpose Of A Swipe File Is To Understand The
Foundation Behind Success

Creation is about reverse-engineering.

When starting out, it’s best to pattern yourself with what’s working. With time, you’ll learn how to harmonize with the marketplace.

Tracing a successful work makes you aware of its core structure/template. By taking note of what works, you can tweak one of its edges to deliver greater value.

However, the goal isn’t just to expand on things. The goal is to *re-imagine* them.

Keeping a swipe file isn’t about copying a style – it’s about understanding the thinking behind a style.

The Production Of Great Ideas Depends On Great Research

Pre-work is as important as the work itself. What you feed your mind is what you mold your product/service into.

In order to find great ideas, it’s best to read insightful books and expose yourself to new experiences.

A swipe file saves time and effort by helping you find valuable information quickly and efficiently.

While you do your research, it’s essential to write your most significant insights in a journal. That’s what allows you to link ideas and narratives into quality mental models.

You never know when a new connection will be made. You can sit on samples for years at a time before their use becomes apparent.

That’s where patience comes into play.

A Swipe File Benefits Any Career

  • Artists: Save art clippings and pictures that inspire you.
  • Copywriters: Refer to sites such as “Swiped” and “Info Marketing“.
  • Entrepreneurs: Study successful business models from other fields.

The possibilities are endless.

No matter what your goals are, it’s essential you start building an archive TODAY.

As long as you internalize the habit of storing interesting references, you’ll do just fine. After all, your *habits* make you who you are.

Closing Thoughts

If you aren’t keeping a swipe file, you’re committing a major crime against your potential. A lack of successful references will have you waste a lot of time and energy running in circles (I know I did).

However, the goal isn’t to mindlessly copy other people.

Context is king.

Trace other works to grasp the thinking behind a style. This refines your mindset and helps you apply the lessons learned when needed.

Consume quality material and push your comfort zone in creative ways.

Want to get a head start on creating your own swipe file?

Interested in making more sales?

Check out “Swipe File Ammo“.

It’s full of 1400+ headlines, calls to action, power words, and transitions guaranteed to increase conversions, improve communication, command attention, and make more money.

Where else can you turn your keyboard into a money printing machine for $5.99?

swipe file mockup

Relevant Reading:Steal like an Artist” by Austin Kleon.


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  1. Void Lotfi says

    Hey, thanks for the article. How do you keep track of your own swipe file? Do you write your discoveries down on paper or do you use software etc ? The industry that I’m in is business. I feel like I’ve already been doing this to a certain extent. For example, on Reddit i will save the most interesting posts, on Quora i will add the most interesting answers to my reading list and on youtube simply press watch later on certain videos. However i cant remember the last time i actually went through those lists. How do you go about finding time to go through your swipe file? Thanks.

    • mister_infinite says

      The best way is to break your file into sub-folders.

      When I come across an idea, I record it in the most accessible way possible (notepad on phone, quick picture, saved jpg, etc). Afterwards, they’re compiled into a commonplace or folder.

      There’s nothing worse than finding something cool and forgetting about its details. Sorting through your swipe file matters less than actually SAVING the ideas.

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