How to Build a Swipe File

It's a blueprint, a cheat sheet, the exact email subject lines an expert has used to achieve a result. For those lucky enough to have stumbled on this genius expertise-hack, they've shaved years of trial and error off their development. They can go from beginner to expert at once. So what is a swipe file? How do you get one? How do you leverage it to work for you?

[What's inside this post:]

  • The two definitions of SWIPE FILE

  • Examples of the types of swipe files you can build

  • Use Your Swipe File to Serve Your Audience

What is a Swipe File

1. a file that you create to house collected pieces of copy, imagery, or content that provides inspiration to you for your projects


2. the exact piece of content with proven effects, offered from the creator to their audience for them to use.

magazine master list
how to build a swipe file

Examples of Swipe Files

You're starting with a goal in mind... Go on, think of it. What is a goal of yours?

Since I can't communicate with you on this post like the Maurader's Map or Tom Riddle's Diary, let me propose an example.

Let's say your goal is to pitch lifestyle articles to magazines. So, at the top of your to-do list is to find a list of relevant magazines, dot coms, and publications you can reach out to. The next step is to hit up Google, but the bummer is that Google doesn't offer a master list of magazines and editors. Disgruntled, you slump back in your chair wondering how you're going to compile more than the handful of magazines you can recall off the top of your head.

Google didn't give you the answer. You're going to have to gather the list on your own. This is the start of your SWIPE FILE.

magazine list
how to build a swipe file

You can gather the list of magazines in a notebook or generate a digital file to store it. Anytime you come across a blogger's website listing all her social cred (aka TV shows, magazines, and dot coms her work is featured in) you scribble those down in your notebook. When you're picking up avocados and fresh tea at the grocery store, you swing by the magazine aisle and jot down some more. Over time, you have gathered a robust compilation of the media outlets you're interested in pitching.

Use Your Swipe File to Serve Your Audience

The cool thing is that you've developed something that doesn't yet exist on the world wide web. Remember, you already looked and there was nothing there. You created something totally unique. Chances are if you pulled these resources together yourself, probably others who love to enjoy your work, saving themselves the time and energy.

If you have your own company or brand, this is a great opportunity to serve and grow your audience. You can share it in a blog post, exchange it for their email on a landing page, or loop it on Pinterest. You're offering a tasty resource to others, don't sour the experience with hard to read formatting or your own illegible short-hand. Before you share it, you want to edit it a bit and make sure it is helpful and coherent.


So what are things you can put in a swipe file? I've gathered a list here to whet your appetite"

  • great marketing pages

  • an influencer's calendaring system

  • an inspiring morning routine from an industry leader

  • a workflow

  • a converting piece of copy

  • a kitchen hack

  • a shopping hack

  • someone's font kit or exact color hex codes

  • someone's weekly morning shake menu

  • someone's meditation practice or mantra

  • someone's 10 favorite books

  • the wireframe of your favorite blog website

The point of the SWIPE FILE is so you can implement at a higher level, a more experienced level than where you actually reside. With that in mind, make sure you 1. Take action (even if...especially if... its messy action) and 2. Keep your swipe file on a routine edit. You want to keep the important files and trash the ones that are no longer relevant. Leveraging the hard work of others is almost a secret weapon used by busy, successful people and now you've got the key.

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