Create Opportunities by “Swiping” Ideas
It’s Linda Wilkinson here sharing resourceful ideas to help you build your freelance business. Yesterday, I compared your contact list to MacGyver’s multifunctional Swiss Army knife. Today I’ll discuss another simple tool that MacGyver used to creatively solve numerous problems – duct tape.
Whether it was to create a periscope out of bus mirrors … a torpedo out of a beer keg … or an ultralight airplane using bamboo poles, a tent and a lawnmower … MacGyver used duct tape to ingeniously come up with solutions to all sort of challenges.
As a copywriter, you should have a similar type of tool in your arsenal. One that will allow you to come up with brilliant ideas without having to spend hours, or even days, brainstorming and researching.
Here’s what I mean …
It’s possible to “duct tape” ideas for your copywriting projects by using a swipe file. A swipe file is simply a collection of sample promotions you’ve received in the mail and by email, such as sales letters, brochures and e-newsletters.
It’s called a swipe file because you can actually “swipe” ideas from good copy and good design. While you won’t use the actual words in your copy, you’ll gain inspiration. And you’ll start to see what works and what doesn’t, the bigger your collection becomes.
When I started my swipe file, I collected mainly sales letters and brochures that arrived in the mail after I requested information on a variety of products. Then, when I decided to switch to web copywriting, I set up a new email account and started subscribing to e-newsletters for my niche.
Here are some tips for building your own swipe file:
- For an electronic swipe file, create a separate email account for each e-newsletter you subscribe to in your niche.
- For a direct-mail swipe file, order merchandise from companies in your niche, so you get on a variety of mailing lists. (You can always return items you don’t want to keep.)
- As your mailbox and your inbox start to fill up with promotional material, organize your swipe file in a way that makes the most sense to you – according to the format, the type of product, the type of offer, the type of prospect, etc.
Tomorrow I’ll talk about how MacGyver’s scientific knowledge relates directly to a freelance writer’s knowledge.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear about your swipe file. Do you use a physical file, electronic (such as Evernote) or both? How has your swipe file helped you improve your copywriting skills and create business opportunities? Let me know in the comments.
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