Seven Swiping Secrets

Meet the guest writer

Today’s post is brought to you by our esteemed friend at the Copywriter’s Rountable. So without further ado, here are the words of Copywriter, John Forde…

I guess first I should define terms…

“A swipe file is a collection of tested and proven advertising and sales letters. Keeping a swipe file (templates) is a common practice used by advertising copywriters and creative directors as a ready reference of ideas for projects.
“Copywriters are not the only ones who can benefit from having a swipe file. As book publishing coach Diane Eble points out, authors and publishers can benefit from creating a swipe file of best-selling titles to give them ideas for their own titles.

“Publicists can create a swipe file of great press release headlines. Swipe files are a great jumping-off point for anybody who needs to come up with lots of ideas. Swipe files are also commonly used by Internet Marketers who need to gather a lot of resources not only about products but also about marketing methods and strategies.”
Well, that clarifies things a little, yes? Try this, too…

“There is nothing better or more productive a copywriter can do – and this applies to experienced copywriters as well as novices – than to read (almost to the point of memorizing) the best work of their fellow writers.” The first is just from Wikipedia, and not so much swiped but copied and pasted. The second from my old friend and mentor, as well as master copywriter, Michael Masterson.

Okay, now it’s my turn to try my hand at an original thought…

A swipe file defined

A swipe file is that place where you store those dazzling promo pieces that not only worked… but that are so good they make you sick with envy. Because you wish you’d written them yourself. In other terms, it’s the stack of stuff you go through, to help jump-start your creative engine… because you know that most everything you’re looking at, in those “swiped” samples, is something that worked.

Back in my earliest days, my swipe file filled a green milk grate. And then another. And then seven or eight more, until somebody made me get a filing cabinet. And then a second filing cabinet.

These days, thank merciful God for the Internet. Because now my swipe file — and yes, I still keep one — is a folder on my desktop labeled “Promos to Study.” In it lands links to VSLs, PDFs of magalogs somebody else has generously scanned, black and white ad clips the ‘70s and ‘60s, even back to the 1920s (thanks to the excellent InfoMarketingBlog.com), covers and screen captures I’ve used in presentations, and more. 
Thanks, merciful Zeus as much or more for the iPad, which I also use every morning to markup whatever promo I’ve set aside to review.

The way it goes, most mornings, is that I load up any oft-seen sales letter that comes with a transcript. Then I “print” it to a PDF that gets stored on my iCloud account. From there, I open an app called “Goodnotes” and import the file, where it gets circled, scribbled upon, and partitioned into what seem the best bits. And yes, I do try to do that daily. More so now than before. And yes, it’s eye-opening. Every time.

But the real reason I’m writing this… or rather, updating this old CR classic… is because I recently got a question from a CR reader about where and how to swipe from other sales letters. So I thought I would go ahead and provide some answers. And away we go, starting with… 

Reach wide. No easy answers

1) Reach wide – Before you can “read” the secrets buried in a swipe file, you need to fill it. And when you do, naturally you’ll want to start with the kinds of ads you expect to write most yourself. But don’t stop there. Reach way back to the classics. You’ll be surprised what Claude Hopkins and John Caples ads, Ogilvy, Schwartz and others still have to teach.

If you’re lucky enough to have the courier typed sales letters of the ‘70s and ‘80s… or magalogs and bookalogs of the ‘90s… read them too. Almost everything we know works now, they knew then times ten. And then, yes, do keep it current with the working VSLs. Just make sure you click and get the “transcript” where it’s offered too. Print it to a PDF. Some of the copywriters today do some of the most enviably good stuff I’ve seen yet, anywhere.

2) Don’t expect easy answers – What’s the right question to ask for any piece of copy you’re about to study? Assuming you’re only studying stuff that worked, the right opener — obviously — is “Why?” Unfortunately, it’s also the most unanswerable question. You won’t know, for sure, why anything worked. Because it will always remain a guess.

3) Look past the copy – That is, remember that it’s not so much that the copywriter sold something well… as that there were lots of readers out there that wanted to receive the message he used to sell it. What’s the distinction?

The twist & style

When you look at swipes, especially the most current ones in your market, what you’re looking for first is every clue you can get about the prospect, not so much the product. If there’s a promise that you see working everywhere, it’s because it promises to fix a problem that’s keeping target readers everywhere up at night. Isolate the single biggest promise the copy makes and flip it — what problem is it solving?

4) Find the twist – More and more, we see copy make a promise or throw out a solution-demanding premise… and then up the ante with an extra “twist” to the message. That is, a kind of early “but it gets [an] even better” or “gets [an] even worse” turn in the message, just at the moment the reader was thinking “I’m kinda hooked already…”

Of course, this is classic storytelling. Our hero struggles. And just at the moment you thought it couldn’t get any worse… or better… the drama dial clicks up another notch. Just about any sales message could benefit from a twist, both in the lead and the close. Look to your swipes to see how it’s done.

5) Soak up the style – All writers in all genres pick up a style. Dense. Lean. Even. Excitable. Some copy drips with adjectives but works in spite of itself. Other copy undersells, yet manages — somehow — to hit hard. This is one of those things you can absorb best by just copying out a good piece of copy a few times until the secrets of style sneak into your subconscious.

Structure & closings

Even now, I keep a piece of the latest, greatest copy open on my screen or a second desktop (on the Mac, at least, you can move between multiple desktops). When I’m stuck, I swipe over to it and read for a little, then come back and try to trot out my message in the same mindset. Be careful here, because you’re not stealing words. At least, not mindlessly so. You’re trying to get a “feel” you can transfer back to your writing.

6) Study the structure – This is something else that writing out a full promo — by hand — can help you do. If not that, at least try to re-outline a finished copy control. You want to see how long they took to get through the lead, where they first started laying out the benefits or naming the offer, how they packaged up the testimonials and how long they spent on proof.

Build your own library of promo outlines and use them as templates, next time you’re getting started. This isn’t stealing. It’s just good sense.
Also, look for the segments that seem to show up across several different samples. Just about every sales piece, for instance, is going to have testimonials and a close and some freebies with the offer.

But do all promotions have “Imagine this outcome” sections, transcendent mission statements, a personal story, show-me-the-money examples, etc.? Probably.

7) Collect closes – Copywriters sure do love to talk about headlines and leads. And with good reason, of course. It’s where we put flame to powder. Still, if the lead is what sparks prospect interest, the close is where we pile up the dynamite. And you’ve got to pile it up just so if you want the right result.

Let the swiping begin!

It’s worth pulling closes from a lot of working promos and studying just those, one next to the other. A little tweak to your guarantee, your price rationalization, your push for urgency, can make a huge difference in your results.

Hope that helps… now get swiping!

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To Write or Not to Write Articles

One of the most important requirements for owning, running and maintaining an internet-based business or a website is the ability to write and publish articles. Plain and simple, everyone who has a website knows this. Even those who don’t have a website or blog but are frequent internet users are aware of this requirement. Articles are to information and knowledge seekers as cold, clear water is to thirsty people. Plus, the articles provide many other benefits for your website.

One of the benefits provided by articles is putting a website high in ranking on the SERPs (search engine results pages) for keywords and keyword phrases that pertain, or are relevant to, his or her website. They also provide an attraction to website visitors who appreciat them and are linked to your website from another website or newsletter. Articles have been proven to increase the confidence and trust levels of users who visit your website and online business page.

Benefits of articles

Articles have also been considered as beneficial to both the business via increased traffic. When readers like your articles, they would are usually inclined to tell more of their friends, family and peers in an effort to recommend your website to them which, in turn, provides a larger volume of traffic. You derive a bigger sales volume if traffic to your trusts and believes in you; and your product and/or service would be much easier to sell when your website viitors (traffic) know you, know what you are doing, and what is discussed on your website.

So, it is reasonable to assume that we have established the importance of articles to a website and/or business page; but it is also necessary to point out that articles play a crucial role in helping you, the website or business owner, keep ahead in the Internet marketing (IM) game. Said differently, since a website must have traffic to be considered relavent, and a well-written and compelling article is, more often than not, a traffic magnet, the article is therefore deemed imperative. That having been said, there is one dilemma: Not many people like writing articles.

Many website owners would rather spend their time on something other than writing articles, and unless you’re a big time company, you don’t have the necessary resources to use on a pool of article writers. Plagiarism or copying of other articles is frowned upon (illegal) and could easily get you into trouble, the kind of trouble that often results in a hefty fine and/or jail time. So what are your other options?

Public domain articles

Well, for starters if you hate writing articles and you can’t afford to hire people to write for you then it seems that your only other choice is to get free articles; but you might ask, from where? And the most credible answer to that question is, the public domain which is the first most website/blog owner look at for free articles. With public domain articles you won’t have problems with copyright infringement and the possible penalties and fines if you get caught committing plagiarism.

Public domain articles are articles freely given to the public for public use and once they are given you can do whatever you want with them. You can publish them to your site, claim them as yours, place them in a newsletter, or any other use you deem suitable for your own purposes. It’s you decision! Always remember, however, that you will have to choose articles that are very relevant to your site’s topic.

The downside to public domain articles is that since they are free for everybody, many of your competitors may have access to them as well; and since every site needs to feature original and unique content even though they may have the same niche, this could present a predicament to you and the other site owners utilizing public domain articles. To eliminate such a predicament it will be necessary for you to edit the articles a bit and even place more keywords and keyword phrases in them to improve the quality, uniqueness and originality of such articles.

Sites with similar topics

Another way to get free articles is to allow other sites which has the same subject or topic as yours to submit articles to your site. This would be only to augment your existing content or else all your articles would be leading to other sites since resource boxes containing redirect links would be placed at the bottom of these articles and therefore direct your readers to their sites. That’s why it is important to have your own articles which you could use to link your site to other sites in a similar fashion.

But, to truly feel the impact of what a good article can help you accomplish, it is best to get original ones. There are many article writers who do part time and freelance article writing jobs for which they charge only minimal fees. You can have good (if not great) articles written that contain all the keywords and keyword phrases you need to attract the people are looking for them.

The investment you make for these articles would be worthwhile because you could use them to promote all the benefits you have to offer. You hold copyrights to them and you will be able to use them anyway you want. As your articles help you in building your business and your website, you will have more articles to write and maybe then you won’t be forced to entertain second thoughts about articles.

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Making A Profitable Amazon Affiliate Site

If you ever wanted to create an online store that brings in handsfree, passive income the first thing you will need is some kind of presence online; and in order to establish an online presence there are a couple of different methods you can utilize to accomplish such a goal. The first method you can employ is installing your own blog.

The installation (or creation) of your own blog option can work for you if you don’t mind putting in more work and are familiar with registering domains, buying hosting and installing WordPress. WordPress is quick to install, but if you are short on time you can quickly get lost in all the options available for appearance, security, functionality, and other such tasks that are normally associated with creating, managing and maintaining a WordPress blog.

I’m not going to give you a step-by-step guide to building a blog-site with WordPress, because there are thousands of those online already which can be found with a simple search on Google or YouTube if you need a tutorial on how to build a site with WordPress. It’s a lot easier than you probably think! However, if you want to use this option you’ll need the following:

  • Domain name, purchased through NameCheap or other registrar
  • Hosting, purchased through NameCheap, HostGator, or other Web hosting company
  • WordPress, free and easy installation often included by most hosting providers
  • A WordPress theme, free or paid.

Once you have a basic website built, next up, you need to start adding content. You can create this content yourself, or hire someone to do it for you – or use the trick we’ll explain in the next chapter to have it done fro you. Just make sure the content is well-written, grammatically correct, and interesting, because Google has become a lot more strict about the quality of any content it indexes.

Get a closer look at the ShopABot model for delivering viral traffic!

The second method you can use to create your blog-site and simultaneously set yourself up to establish that needed online presence is to use a software program known as ShopABot. The creators of ShopABot wanted to make it as simple as it has ever been to blog online. They give you a website and will even host it for you if you want. All you need to do is just tell them the niche you want to use and then add your Amazon affiliate details, and in about 30 seconds it’s built for you. When you create your ShopABot account, you’ll also get the option to ‘go pro’ which gives you a blog connected to your done for you store so you can make the most of traffic from Google too.

Just so you know, I’ve been blogging for over 10 years on three different platforms. The first site-building platform I was introduced to during my early years on the Web was Blogger (Blogspot) which was a Google-owned blogging platform that permitted me to add content, but limited my control of functionality, although it is described as “…a blog-publishing service that allows multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries […], developed by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in 2003 […] and allow blogs to be served from a custom domain owned by the user (like www.example.com) by using DNS facilities to direct a domain to Google’s servers.” You can learn more about Blogger on its Wikipedia page.

Several of the first websites I used to publish content to the Web during my early years were created on Weebly, the second platform I used and learned many of the things I know today about website creation, blogging, content creation, coding and other needed skills required to do many of the self-expression, promotional or marketing tasks on the Web. Then I found the WordPress-hosted version of their blogging platform before moving on to the self-hosted version where more work was involved, but almost full control of the blog software was at my disposal. I controlled the look and feel, functionality and styling (among many other features), which was always something that was important to me.

However, all that having been said, I must be totally honest with you and poinjt out that if I had the opportunity back then to grab something as powerful and simple to use as ShopABot, I would have jumped on it without hesitation. Of course the technology was not yet available… didn’t even exist. I believe the time it took me to learn the techniques necessary to get domain names, find good Web hosting, create websites & blogs, get traffic and maintain the blogs & sites would have been cut in half had the opportunity existed for me to utilize the ShopABot system for site/store creation, blogging, viral traffic and, ultimately establishing an online pressence. Bad timing for me, but maybe not for you. Learn more about ShopABot here and you can have your own store live and ready for sales just minutes from now. Good luck!

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