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last updated:
August 28, 2020


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Hey! Ashlyn here, OG copywriter for creatives—reporting for duty. 

Let's get you a message so tight you can bounce a quarter off of it. Around here, we serve up science-based storytelling strategies the creative set.  Even while raking in more than 1.26M in agency work since I've been at it, I firmly believe working from a place of rest (not hustle) IS possible—and I want the same for you. Words matter. Best be sure they work (and oui, with math) ... and know how to party while they're at it. 

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Reading time: 6 min.

Copywriting swipe filing—you’ve heard of it, right?! Know the rules like a pro, so you can break ‘em like an artist. 😉

Well, there are two things *most* copywriters leave out when they’re talking through swipe files. I’ve learned these things are VERY important as I’ve built my business and agency, andddd that’s what I’m bringing you today.

By the end of this post, you’ll see a new way to get organized in your digital files and get writing even faster.

No pretense, no wind-up, let’s dig straight into these three hacks that you can use, as you build out your copywriting swipe file.

Looking to find your brand voice?! Click here or down below to kick-start your copy bank & find your brand voice vibe!



No. 1| The Classic.

Art students studying the work of the greats is nothing new, right? This is ~kind of~ the copywriting equivalent of it.

Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent Van Gogh re-imagined more than 30 copies of works by some of his favorite artists—like this one by Delacroix—he was looking to re-invigorate his work artistically. Rather than replicate, Van Gogh sought to translate the subjects and composition through his perspective, color, and technique.

I bring this up because this, friend, is how you swipe and steal like an artist.

Classic swipe filing is building up and curating a body of work and writing samples that you then can turn around and use.

Done well, it can both inspire your writing and boost your skills.

Think about all the different things that you could swipe 👇👇

  • Upsell pages
  • Ads
  • Email subject lines
  • Thank you pages
  • Registration pages & landing pages
  • Sales pages (duh)
  • Headlines
  • Bullets
  • Don’t discount physical mailers either—before you chuck it in recycling, start a folder!



A couple of weeks ago, I showed you in Facebook, how to look at all the different ads that a page is running. Look at those ads. Can you study them enough to figure out what they’re running as the control?

Remember: with all of this, make sure that you are organizing it. Not organized, it’s not useful.

I use both physical and digital swipe filing. I have reference books and notebooks in my office that I come back to alllll the time. However, the majority of my copywriting swipe files I keep in Evernote. (I walk you through exactly how I set this up in this week’s episode on my YouTube channel—check it out here!)

To wrap this up, in a classic copywriting swipe file, you’re looking to study the framework and the structure of it—less so than the words themselves.

➡️ Takeaway Tip: I know, I know—you get a lot of emails. BUT go ahead and sign up for people that you think have killer copy. Start to study it, put it in a swipe file, and figure out what you can learn from it. My students inside The Art of Efficiency, my systems program, know that I have two folders that I talk about a lot. I have a “Read At Leisure” email folder, and I also have a “newsletter” folder. From these, I build my swipe file, if I like something.

Related: The One Proven Copywriting Formula You Need

🚨🚨Before I get into hack number two, MAJOR caveat here, please, please, oh please, use these powers for GOOD. We all know there’s nothing new under the sun, but the point of gathering these is to discover winning formulas, to get out of your writer’s block. To see principles and actions, to see sentence structure. It is not, I repeat not, to dupe, to plagiarize, or to steal anybody’s work. I feel like I shouldn’t have to say this, but I’ve seen my work and my clients’ work crop up more times than I can count. It totally sucks. If you’re gonna call yourself a creative entrepreneur, come on, be creative. I know you can do this.

No 2.|The Story Bank

My husband and I were sitting on the couch one afternoon after I had a DAY—you know what I mean?!? #2020

My football-loving husband reminded me—Hey, Ashlyn, the Patriots don’t win every single Superbowl, BUT they’re still respected as an outstanding football team….you’re not always gonna win.

The analogy worked, so I then turned around, put it in my story bank, and later it popped out as an Instagram post, and an email newsletter.

Ah, the beauty of story banking.;)

Someone recently DM’d and asked: “I’d love to know how you organize and compile the daily stories you write down and use for content. Do you exclusively use Evernote? Are they full stories or words to jog your memory?”

I mentioned a bit of this process in the video I did the other week where I talk about my work to rest, wind-down routine, but I make it the goal of every single day, to think of at least one story that happened to me, and record it. I sort all of these in an Asana file that I have.

Flatlay desk from Ashlyn Writes creative copywriter and Atlanta calligrapher Ashlyn Carter

I’m going to sort it into an area that I could potentially use it, whether it is a cautionary tale, it’s something that made me laugh, it’s a good icebreaker, and that’s about it. I’m not gonna worry about the segue or anything, I’m just trying to compile these and put them in one place, so later on, I can come back to it, and I don’t have to do all the thinking.

When I’m trying to figure out how to illustrate a point, and I need an analogy, an anecdote, a story, just some kind of hook that I can use to explain that point—I look at this Asana board. I snag one of the stories and hook it together with a segue.

➡️Takeaway Tip: What if at the end of every workday, you wrote down ONE thing you learned about growing a small business that day—one big takeaway?? You would pretty much have a whole year of learning lessons and content, banked up in your copywriting swipe file. In a tool like Asana, you can pop it on a card with one line—that’s all I do, it’s mostly to jog my memory.

Related: 6 Copywriting Myths You need to STOP Believing Right Now

No. 3| The Copy Bank

Besides the story bank and the classic swipe file, I have my own little method I started teaching in 2016—The Copy Bank.

It started as I left corporate and went full time into the mostly wedding/creative industry, and got so sick of phrases I was hearing … lookin’ at you, swoon-worthy. 😬

How could I organize and reference fun words, phrases, descriptors, nouns, “Ashlynisms”, that I wanted to use later inside those copy frameworks and with the stories I was telling?? Queue: The Copy Bank. 🖋

I started sorting copy in my notes app, anddddd the rest is history.

My students inside The Art of Efficiency and Copywriting for Creatives know I’m HUGE on organizing your words in a way you’ll ACTUALLY use them.

Again, for this, I use Evernote but students use spreadsheets, Google Docs, Notes app…whatever works for you, do THAT.

➡️Takeaway Tip: The Copy Bank is a way to be funny EVEN if you don’t think you’re funny 😉 … start listening and paying attention to what you read—from audiobooks, sermons, and podcasts—to the meme account that makes you laugh on Instagram. You like it? It goes in that copy bank.

I like to include:

  • Adjectives
  • Quotes
  • Funny phrases
  • Nouns
  • I tell my students to ALWAYS have your “isms” listed somewhere
  • You could even house GIFs somewhere …

This is what makes studying frameworks from your copywriting swipe file and revving them up with story so powerful.

Related: 96 Copywriting Power Words to Increase Conversions on Your Sales Page

Now you know how to get organized with your words, but what about other parts of your business? So you can scale them and continue to grow? Check out this video on my YouTube channel where I talk about how I got into outsourcing and handing things off, so I could focus on the things that only I can do.

👉  Don’t know your “isms”, need a stock of phrases, and even a framework or two?? Take my quiz here or down below and get a curated copy bank starter pack! AW_onlinevoicevibequiz



Reading Time: 6 Minutes Reading time: 6 min. Copywriting swipe filing—you’ve heard of it, right?! Know the rules like a pro, so you can break ‘em like an artist. 😉 Well, there are two things *most* copywriters leave out when they’re talking through swipe files. I’ve learned these things are VERY important as I’ve built my business and agency, […]


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  1. […] THIS is why I talk about story banking because I want you to see that story can be a quick, 2-line t… […]

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