Staring at a blank screen is pure torture.
Is it too much to ask for a brain that writes flawless copy on-demand?
Why is it so damn hard to open your word processor and start writing from the get go?
Even advertising legend David Ogilvy wasn’t that good. More on that later.
Many writers, when faced with writer’s block — or when starting any writing project — overcome the hurdle of a blank page using a collection of swipe files and writing templates.
Swipe what now?
A ‘swipe’ can be anything from a direct-mail package, web page, brochure, or headline taken from already published materials. Basically, it’s a collection of writing masterpieces that’s been proven useful, or at least has some catchy phrases that inspire you.
Whereas swipe files can trigger inspiration, a template provides a fill-in-the-blank solution for your writing woes.
Save this Page and You’ll Never Get Stuck Writing Again:
- Swiped.co by Mark Schauer: A collection of annotated swipe files for different copywriting projects. Search this website for inspiration on thank-you pages, opt-in forms, ads, pop-ups and more. What’s great about this website is Schauer really takes time to curate swipe files based on different themes, like free offers, hooks and email campaigns. Plus, each swipe is aptly described and annotated to give readers a sense of the swipe’s purpose.
- Email Players (opt-in) by Ben Settle: Personally, I’m a little intimidated by Settle’s writing style. It’s the kind of in-your-face writing that’s the right combination of intriguing and useful, without annoying the reader. Fine line to thread that is. The ebook has 24 email subject lines and opening lines, including favorites like “My Big Stupid Failure” and “Who Wins in a Fight?”
- Copywriting Headlines That Sell by Neville Medhora: Warning, this page looks like a long sales letter, but it’s actually a great tutorial on writing amazing headlines with quirky but insanely fitting pictures to spice things up.
- Direct Copywriting Swipe Files by Ninja Hobo: Includes swipes from copywriting geniuses like Scott Haines, Eugene Barker and Claude Hopkins.
- How to Email Influential People by Derek Halpern of Social Triggers (opt in): Want to know Halpern’s counterintuitive email outreach strategy? Get this free e-book. The email formula here is unlike any I’ve seen online, and I’ve read tons of articles on this subject. Its short and uber effective in getting over the ‘just another link request’ mindset of influencers.
- 7 Tried and Tested Headline Formulas for Converting Readers into Customers by Russ Henneberry at Crazy Egg: Looking for a headline for your product launch? Look no further. Henneberry provides three examples for each headline formula, plus a brief explanation of how it works.
- 30+ Formulas for Headlines, Tweets, Emails and More by Kevan Lee at Buffer: This is a mega post with a bonus opt-in download. Lee also explains why some popular headlines could backfire, and shares under-appreciated headline formulas like SHINE.
- My First 40 Years in Junk Mail (opt-in): Is an impressive collection of direct response letters from Richard Armstrong, a copywriter with an extensive rolodex of clients. Look for the “Wash your hands before opening” swipe file.
- 102 Headline Writing Formulas by Chris Garrett of Authority Blogger: This free e-book download (no opt-in) is organized into six categories: get what you want, fear-mongering, how-to’s, history, truths and lies, and best and worst.
- 52 Headline Hacks (opt-in) by Jon Morrow of Boost Blog Traffic: I love this e-book! I use this all the time for writing blog post headlines. Aside from explaining how to use each formula, Morrow also explains how you get the most out of the ebook.
- Dean Rieck’s 9 Sales Headline Formulas at Copyblogger: You won’t find any fill-in-the-blank headlines here, but Riek explains how to use each formula and gives at least three examples to get you started.
- Steve Fabian’s Collection of Copywriting Swipes and Formulas: Fabian’s ebook is complete with show-stopping phrases (“Stop” phrases), opening lines, segues for introducing testimonials and post-scripts.
- 10 Oldie but Goodie Blog Post Headline Formulasby Brian Clark at Copyblogger: Okay, I know. The formulas here are used by just about every writer on the web. But these formulas provide a good starting point, just spruce them up with descriptive power words.
- Puerto Rico ad by Ogilvy and Mather: Let’s go back to swipe files a bit. Ogilvy wrote this printed ad for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to lure manufacturers into investing in their country. It’s said Ogilvy spent 10 days perfecting this ad. See full PDF here.
- 21 Swipes for Call to Action (CTAs) and 3 Rules for Writing Effective CTAs by Kathryn Aragon at Crazy Egg: In this post, Aragon explains how CTAs work, and the elements effective CTAs have in common using 21 examples she collected from different websites.
- 5 Templates for Emailing VIPs You’ve Never Met Before by John Corcoran (opt-in): The writing process isn’t just what you see on the web (or in print). Whether you want to guest post in a popular blog, connect with a VIP, or get a quote for your blog from a hot shot blogger, John Corcoran’s template can help make this nail-biting process as painless as possible.
- 14 Landing Page Call to Action Swipes by Pamela Vaughan at Hubspot: Here’s another collection of CTAs, but this time for landing pages. If you’ve got a low-converting home page, I’m sure you’ll get tons of ideas from this list.
- Not Your Ordinary Guarantee, A Collection of Risk-Reversal Guarantees by Ryan Healy: 30 Day guarantees are so cliché nowadays that most buyers don’t pay attention to them. It looks like there’s no swipe or template on this post, but read it carefully because Healy hid at least 3 examples of compelling guarantees in that post
- Formula for Writing Emails that Get a “Yes” (or how to barter and compliment people without coming off as a spammer) by Derek Halpern at Appsumo: The key to effective emails is to make it stupendously easy for the recipient to agree to whatever you’re proposing.In this post, Halpern provides 2 email scripts and line by line analysis to help you adapt the scripts for yourself.
- 3 Formulas for Real-World (ie *not* Cheesy) Headlines for Home Pages by Peep Laja at ConversionXL: It’s annoying how some home pages read like those tacky long sales letters with big red fonts and yellow boxes. You know what I’m talking about, right? Laja provides 3 simple formulas for writing home page headlines, plus live examples from brands that use them. The main takeaway here is, DON’T treat your home page like a sales letter. You’re scaring off readers!
- John Grimshaw’s 101 Top Email Subject Lines for 2014 at (opt-in): You’ll have to scroll down a bit to see the subject lines. This is a collection of Digital Marketer’s best performing email subject lines, based on the 125 million emails they sent last year. The massive list includes detailed report on the subject line’s performance plus a short analysis on what made it work.
- Buffer’s Ultimate List of Fill-in-the-blank Headline Formulas: A printable one-page cheat sheet for writing headlines that go viral.
- Yesware’s The Ultimate Guide to Sales Email e-book (opt-in): This free e-book is one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen on email marketing. Aside from 9 sales email templates, you’ll also get data-backed tips for increasing open rates.
- The Copywriting Checklist by Dane Maxwell, originally published on Mixergy: Another oldie but goodie on copywriting sales letters. This is the very same checklist I used to write the first-ever sales letter commissioned to me. It’s a long read, but that’s only because it’s a one-stop-shop for everything you need to write a decent sales letter. It’s perfect for newbie copywriters and solopreneurs alike. You’ll find formulas here for writing headlines, FAQs, social proof and more.
- Jay Abraham’s legendary collection of 37 Million Dollar Headlines: Don’t let the poor formatting fool you, this page is chock-full of battle tested headlines perfect for direct-mail and online campaigns.
- Webpage Content Template from Content Marketing Institute: A basic template for beginners clueless on webpage copywriting. I suggest you use it in conjunction with other formulas from this list, such as #14 and #19.
- 101 Headline Formulas (opt-in) by Peter Sandeen – In case the other headline resources here weren’t enough, here’s one more for you. Love his amazing list of “I’m-weird, deal with it” style headline formulas.
- More Headline Formulas from Copyblogger: Now that I think about it, it seems Clark divided what would’ve been a massive post into several listicles. Check out the “You’ll Hate Yourself Later” formula.
- Webinar Event Invite Email Swipes by Tim Watson at Zettasphere: Did your last webinar flop? Maybe you didn’t promote it enough. Or maybe, you promoted it like crazy but no one was interested. It hurts, I know. You can avoid that painfully awkward moment next time by writing persuasive email invites.Watson’s 8 email swipes is annotated, so you know how every part of the email is interconnected and what makes each of them click, making it easier for you to write one of your own.
- Buffer’s Collection of Social Media Status Post Templates from their new collection of social media templates: An Excel-sheet with 32 formulas for writing status updates for sharing content on social media. Just put the title of the post you want to promote at the top of the page then write new status updates using the formulas on the left.
- Complete Copywriting Tutorial and Templates from Sherus: You nailed the headline. You’ve got an amazing hook… and now you’re stuck. What next? Sherus to the rescue! This website literally saved me when I was scrambling to write a witty post script for a sales letter. Sherus has a tutorial for everything — post scripts, fake close, guarantees, order forms and more.
- From Basic Lures to Contextualized Offers , 50 Call to Action Templates by Anum Hussain at Hubspot: Tired of the simple “Buy Now” call to action? Me too. Here Hussain explains the difference between basic and contextualized CTAs, the benefits of social sentiment CTA and more. Instead of an e-book, this download is in Powerpoint so you can easily copy or modify the CTA buttons included.
Pace yourself. Don’t go opening all the links here. I’m saying that because that’s my usual reaction when I see a list-post.
To get the most out of this list, I suggest reading it from top to bottom and opening three to five new tabs for resources you haven’t heard of yet. Yes, I’m assuming that you’ve come across at least a few items on this list. Just skip them and click on the ones that interest you.
Bookmark the new tabs or save them as well. Then go back to this page and save it for easy referencing later on. Share it to your writing friends, too.
If you know of a resource I didn’t include here, let me know in the comments. I’m always on the lookout for amazing writing templates and formulas.