Category Archives: Swipe file

Swipe file extravaganza

Lately, the copywriter has been gathering a massive amount of material to sort through and eventually add to the company swipe file.

For those of you new to the copywriting loop, a “swipe file” is one of the copywriter’s most prized possessions, second only to his laptop and client list. The swipe file is a collection of successful copy from which to borrow ideas, see what’s worked in the past, what might just work again, and so on.

Much of this swipe file extravaganza has come from one of the infamous masters, Eugene Schwartz. Schwartz is known for his amiable personality and highly successful copy, and most notably, for his book Breakthrough Advertising–which, at one point, was selling for $900 on eBay.

No big deal. (Pun intended.)

And why was this 236 page masterpiece so desired that it was being sold for nearly a grand? First, the book was out of print for several years before Bottomline Press returned Breakthrough Advertising to the market in 2004–thank the Lord.  The other reason was probably because this is one of the most fantastic books the copywriter has ever read on the craft. Granted, it’s not an easy read, because as David Garfinkel asserts in his review, “Mastery is not easy. On the other hand, information that will lead you to Mastery in marketing – especially, mastery in copywriting – is rare to the point of being almost non-existent. But this book contains exactly that information.”

While you’re waiting for your copy of Breakthrough Advertising to come in the mail (if you look hard enough, you can get a new copy for under $30) check out the main site for the “Eugene Schwartz Copywriting Mastery” course. For a $7 download fee (plus $0.20 for taxes), you get quite the extensive collection of resources, including what the copywriter considers the most valuable part of the package:  a copy of 500 of the most successful ads ever. Frankly, the copywriter would have paid the $7 for just this part of the package. This includes the infamous Wall Street Journal “Tale of Two Men,” the American Express “Frankly, the AmEx card is not for everyone” ad, and many others that you’ll see quoted and studied by the best of the best. Plus, you get all sorts of amazing bonuses, like reports from John Kennedy and an interview with P.T. Barnum–yes the circus man!

Another great source is from Richard Armstrong at  While his ads are not replicated in their full form, he offers the beginnings of some of his most successful advertisements and some great tips, lessons, and “don’t learn this the hard way” advice for copywriters of all calibers.

And finally, one of the copywriter’s most favorite resources, check out Brian and the crew at The site is always ripe and fresh with updates, tips, reports, and additions to their already extensive blog archive. Copyblogger was the first place we heard about copywriting and we can proudly give them the credit for getting KC started.

There. That should give you something to do for the next couple of days! Just reading the 500 ads file will take a good week… if you’re just scanning.