I was listening to a podcast the other day, and the term “swipe file” came up. Until then, I had never heard of a swipe file and had to listen further to understand what it was. Once I did, I knew it was something I needed to write about.
What is a Swipe File?
Simply put, a swipe file is a collection of inspirational ideas.
This is where you store all of the amazing copywriting and marketing content that you come across that sparks some form of creativity within you.
It will be a collection of things you have seen and experienced that inspire you.
Did you see a fantastic quote that sprouted marketing ideas? Jot it down.
Did you see a commercial that made you think of all the creative videos you can make? Then find the video on YouTube and save the link.
Within your swipe file, you will find individual pieces of inspiration that will help you create content and marketing for years to come.
What Does It Look Like?
There is no right way or wrong way to create one.
Every marketer’s file is different because every marketer finds inspiration in different places and different ideas.
Some swipe files will be filled with memes and images. Others will be a mix of blog posts and inspirational quotes.
It will look like whatever you want it to look like.
How to Build One
When creating yours, the site Swipe Files says there are three criteria you want to adhere to. It must be easy to access, it must be easy to search, and it must be easy to filter.
Create it where you’ll have access to it, whether you’re on your desktop computer, tablet, or smartphone. Consider a folder in your Dropbox or on your Google Drive so you can access the file from anywhere.
You need to have access because you never know when inspiration will strike. If you don’t have access, you may lose or forget that inspirational image or quote before you get to a place where you do have access.
As it grows more extensive, the ability to filter and search through all of the ideas will become essential. The last thing you want to do when trying to create is sifting through dozens of ideas until you find the one you’re looking for.
How Does a Swipe File Work?
Building your file will be slow going at first because you won’t have a lot in it. However, over time, you will build it into an unending source of ideas and inspiration.
When you’re trying to compose a new blog post, and you need ideas, or you’re thinking about a marketing campaign for which you simply can’t find inspiration, you can browse through your swipe file to help you see how other people have done it.
Think about Pinterest. It’s like a digital swipe file for crafters and creators. When I have a new project that I want to work on, and I’m not sure what I want it to look like, I go to Pinterest to see examples of what other people have done. That gives me a better idea of what I want my end project to look like.
A marketing swipe file works in a similar fashion.
How to Use a Swipe File
You’re allowed to use your swipe file any way you want. There is only one rule. It is for inspiration only.
You should never copy images, wording, or video from it and pass it off as your own.
At the very least, it’s unethical. At the most, it’s plagiarism.
The swipe file is there to get your creative juices flowing; it is not there for you to copy.
If you have not started your swipe file yet, now is the time to start. Don’t put it off any longer.
While the process of beginning a swipe file and maintaining it may seem like work, in the long run, it’s going to pay off for you and your marketing plans.
Written by Erika Towne