13 Copywriting Swipe Files you should be Using for Headlines

copywriting swipe files

In this article, I will show you some of the best headline swipe files you can use to beat writer’s block. 

These are from successful writers and copywriters like Ryan Deiss, Neville Medhora, Brian Dean… Using these copywriting swipe files, you can generate click-worthy headlines for social media, emails, blog headlines, sales copies, and more within minutes.

What is a swipe file in marketing?

Coming up with ideas for engaging content isn’t always easy. You’d be surprised that some of the most successful marketers have a huge list of curated swipe files. Swipe files are essentially physical or digital collections of marketing ideas and content. 

You can have a headline swipe file, email swipe file, Facebook ads, social media swipe file, for example a list of successful Twitter posts, relevant to what you do. 

You can have swipe files for almost anything you do as a marketer. Instead of dealing with creative blocks, and having to spend time trying to get your creative juices flowing, swipe files help you hit the ground running. You can even build your own templates out of free swipe files. I do this and it makes my content writing process faster and better. 

A copywriting swipe file is most useful when writing headlines. You know that headlines can make or break your results as a writer. Based on multiple studies, 80% of people never read past the headline. So here are some of the best headline swipe files you’ll find online today. 

Marketing and Copywriting Headline swipe files

1. KopywritingKourse swipe file

This is one of the most impressive headlines swipe files on the internet because it analyzes myriads of headlines from eleven of the most successful blogs on the internet. However, to see the full picture, you’ll have to download the entire dataset – and it’s well worth it. You’ll be able to access the Google Drive file. Inside the spreadsheet, you can see the link to each post. 

While this swipe file doesn’t show engagement metrics like shares, it shows you how adding numbers to a post might impact the success of your post. It also illustrates the impact of character length on your headlines. Clicking through some of the links, you’ll find some valuable gems of content.

When you want to use this swipe file, the idea isn’t to copy the headlines (although you can, adding in your keywords where they make sense), but focus on the thought patterns behind the headlines. So here’s what this means, picking one of the headlines from KopywritingKourse:

“How Sam Writes Thousands of Blog Posts That Get Read by Millions of People”

This is a case study that followed this format: 

How someone/some company does (something spectacular) that (gets an amazing result)

E.g. How Tesla became the fastest growing automotive company with a market cap of 1.25 trillion dollars.

The article I referenced was an interview-style article. So my own article should also feature quotes from Elon Musk or key Tesla employees. This adds good credibility. 

2. Swipeworthy headlines

Swipworthy analyzes a selection of marketing copy from some of the world’s top marketers. You can sort the swipes by types or by niches, for example real estate. It’s a useful resource for marketers and copywriters in any industry. 

Although the headlines section is a bit lacking, there are some gems. For example, the “Secret” headline analysis by Swipeworthy founder, Mike Schauer, offers some tips on using the headline and then offers some of the ways to use the headline. On closer look, you’ll see that The Motley Fool uses the “secret” headline to offer free value through an opt-in page. You might want to consider using it in the same context. For example, 

FREE! The Motley Fool’s 2 Top Picks, plus Wall Street’s Darkest Secrets.

If I wanted to create a template from this, I’d have: 

FREE! (number) top (keyword), plus “industry authority’s” (strong qualifier) Secrets

FREE! Top 5 Facebook Ad Checklists, plus Facebook’s sneaky secrets

3. Howard Tiano’s swipe file

Click bait headlines were once the most popular types of headlines. However, they’ve been bastardized by shady copywriters and snake oil salesmen. Yet when they are used right and to promote the right stuff, they work. This is because they are designed to appeal to the emotions of fear, greed, envy, lust, survival, comparison etc. 

The 342 headline swipe files by Howard Tiano feature a list of some of these click-bait headlines. They’ve been presented in a format where you only need to plug in your keyword. These types of headlines are especially useful when writing sales pages, landing pages, opt-ins and VSL copy. 

For example:

Your Lawyer Doesn’t Want You To Read This Ad

Could become:

Your real estate agent doesn’t want you to watch this video

This type of headline plays on your curiosity. And of course, the video or ad must be packed with hard to find information or else it becomes another wrong use of click-bait.  

4. DigitalMarketer’s headline swipe file

The key to a successful headline is to grab a visitor’s attention. There are formulas for grabbing attention through your headlines. DigitalMarketer.com compiled a list of 73 of these formulas for creating successful headlines in their headline swipe file. DigitalMarketer, owned by Ryan Deiss, is a community of marketers and entrepreneurs, offering ideas and research on boosting engagement and conversions on marketing campaigns. 

The headlines in this swipe file are divided into 3 sections:

  • Social proof headlines (that offer proof via influencer mentions, numbers etc.)
  • Threat headlines (that leverage “fear”)
  • Gain headlines (that proposes a concrete “benefit”)

You’ll find these helpful for running many aspects of marketing campaigns.

Example: A Simple Way to [Desired Result] That Works for [Desired Group/Person]

The fastest way to learn a new skill according to Tim Ferris

5. Swipefile.com’s headlines

This is one of the biggest collections of marketing copy and content on the internet. You want to check some of these out periodically, even when you’re not actively trying to create anything. This will give you an idea of what’s possible with your marketing copies. Swipefile.com features a longer list of successful headlines, plus what made each headline successful. 

Copywriting headline example from swipefile.com

In the above example, the headline isn’t successful just because it promises to tell a story but because it also features a funny cartoon image, relevant to the story. The headline and image perfectly grab the reader’s attention.

Swipefile.com doesn’t just offer swipe file examples of successful headlines for online publications, but also for print marketing. You’ll find marketing swipe files to model for different types of marketing campaigns and use cases – landing pages, emails, social media ads…

6. KopywritingKourse’s email subject line generator

Writing email subject lines is a bit more nuanced than writing blog headlines. When you’re building an email list as a solopreneur or small business, your email subject lines need to be more personal than professional. This email subject line generator by Neville Medhora comes in handy here. 47% of email recipients decide to open emails based on reading the subject line alone. 

However, keep in mind that your goal here is conversion. Your email subject line is only going to get them through the door. Your email copy has to be good enough to bring about click-throughs and conversions. However when you need subject lines that pique people’s interest and would get them to open your emails, just slot in your keyword in the KopywritingKourse email subject line generator. 

7. CrazyEgg’s 41 headline formulas

From polarizing headlines to social proof headlines to benefit headlines, this CrazyEgg article covers it all. I know because I use some of these formulas for my own writing. 

While there are a lot of articles that give headline formulas. This article explains each formula in detail, explaining why it works and how to use it. 

Also, these headline formulas can be used for advertising generally, whether print ads, VSL copies, Facebook ads or blog posts. Here’s a simple example of how to use the Problem agitate solve formula in a potential Twitter tweet. Let’s use the formula:

You’re Running Out of _______! Here’s How to Fix It

My tweet could read:

Your real estate business is running out of listings! Here’s how to fix it

8. KopywritingKourse blog post ideas and subject line generator

Neville Medhora has some of the best free tools for writers – like this tool that generates 100s of headlines from any keyword. While not all of these headlines make sense. Depending on what you want to use them for, you can find something that fits your context and voice perfectly in the list generated.

In the article that follows, he also offered two ways to create effective headlines: 

  • The first one is a brainstorming technique, he labeled “heard it off the street” method. This is a good technique for grabbing attention based on gossip or tittle-tattle that would ideally stop you off your tracks anytime.
  • The second method involves checking out the highest upvoted posts on either digg or reddit, based on your keyword or product, and then reverse-engineering them.

9. Buffer’s headline formulas 

This list of 30 headlines would come in handy when you want to put a creative twist on existing content. When writing headlines, you want to pay attention to the first three and the last three words. These are the parts people pay attention to the most. These 30 headlines adhere to this rule. 

Aside from the list of 30 headline formulas, this article also utilizes human psychology to create emotive headline examples. These 8 psychology-based headline samples may be all you need to create the right twist on an existing piece. You can use this for brainstorming content ideas around a specific theme. 

Surprise – “This Is Not a Perfect Blog Post (But It Could’ve Been)”

Questions – “Do You Know How to Create the Perfect Blog Post?”

Curiosity gap – “10 Ingredients in a Perfect Blog Post. Number 9 Is Impossible!”

Negatives – “Never Write a Boring Blog Post Again”

How to – “How to Create a Perfect Blog Post”

Numbers – “10 Tips to Creating a Perfect Blog Post”

Audience referencing – “For People on the Verge of Writing the Perfect Blog Post”

Specificity – “The 6-Part Process to Getting Twice the Traffic to Your Blog Post”

10. Chris Garrett’s headline formulas

This is another fill-in-the-blank list of headlines. It compiles 102 successful headlines from a variety of industries. All you’ll need to do is put in your keyword or idea to create a catchy headline.

These headlines would work nicely for blog posts because they are

1. Succinct

2. Specific

3. Bear one major keyword in the headline

The headlines are divided into 6 sections: 

1. Get What You Want (Health, Wealth, Relationships, Time and Lifestyle)

2. Crystal Ball and History

3. Problems and Fears

4. Fact, Fiction, Secrets, Truth and Lies

5. How-To Tricks of the Trade

6. Best and Worst

So, if my keyword was “Airbnb beach house”, I could go with the 3rd headline example in the first section and create something like:

How to find the cheapest AirBnB beach house deals on the web.

You can combine this with trending keywords from exploding topics (as discussed in this article) to create share-worthy content

11. Jay Abraham’s 100 greatest headlines

This is an analysis of the 100 most successful headlines in history by Jay Abraham, one of the most successful marketing strategists in the world. This list doesn’t just feature compelling headlines, but explains what made these headlines work. 

While many of these may not be as useful for content writers as much as for direct marketing copywriting, the analysis of these headlines offers unique marketing insights.

A common theme with these successful headlines is that they target a specific pain or a specific customer, and they make use of emotional appeal. Emotional appeal advertising is all about assessing what motivates and concerns your audience, and then ensuring that your copy or content tells a story that your audience can relate to.

12. Backlinko’s 7 proven blog post templates

Brian Dean, owner of Backlinko explores some of his most successful posts in this article. As at the time of writing the post, he had used these templates extensively to grow his blog to over 522,981 unique monthly visitors. This shows how effective these are.

Luckily, this isn’t just any type of content formula or slot in your keyword headline swipe file. It contains full content templates. In fact, I used about five of these to build my own content creation templates. 

In the post, Brian Dean goes into detail about each template, showing how to use it and explaining why it works. Here are the headline formulas he focuses on: 

  • List Based: Number of items + Benefit + short time frame

Example: 17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies That Will Generate More Subscribers Today

  • Case study: Specific Benefit + Number + Time Frame

Example: How a busy mom lost 9 pounds of fat in 30 days

  • The Product Showdown: Two (or three products) + Category (or Function)

Example: Aweber vs. Mailchimp: Two Email Marketing Platforms Compared

  • Things to do after X: What they just did + Number of new to-dos

Example: 12 Things You Need to Do After You Publish a Blog Post

  • The Beginner’s Guide: Title (or keyword) + Beginner’s Guide

Example: Link Building: The Beginner’s Guide

  • How they did it: The successful people or organizations you’re going to focus on/The number of people or organizations you’ll cover + What the reader will learn from your post.

Example: 15 of the World’s Most Successful Bodybuilders Reveal Their Post-Workout Regimen

  • The Myth Debunker: 13 ____ Myths That Every ____ Should Know

Example: 13 SEO Myths That Every Online Business Owner Needs to Know

13. OptinMonster’s list of email subject lines

For promotional use cases, this is the email subject lines swipe file to use. These email subject lines have been extracted from emails sent by some of the biggest brands in a variety of industries. 

The subject lines have been divided into these sections, based on psychological principles and marketing tactics that can lead people to take action:

  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
  • Curiosity
  • Funny
  • Vanity
  • Greed
  • Sloth
  • Pain Point
  • Retargeting
  • Personal and 
  • Straightforward subject lines

For example, the FOMO subject lines, used a lot in ecommerce abandoned cart emails, feature words like URGENT, tonight only, ONE DAY, at midnight. You can copy these funnel swipe files, adding a quick product description to create the same “scarcity” effect. 

What is the quickest way to improve writing?

As a writer, you need to learn story structure, copywriting techniques and editing techniques, as well as SEO and business writing principles. This is depending on what niche of writing you’re in. 

But one of the most effective ways to improve your writing skills is to have your own curated collection of copywriting swipe files. These should be based on the different types of writing tasks you take on. You can add any article or copy that you find exceptional to your personal swipe file. You can store your swipe file in Evernote, a Google drive folder or in a folder on your computer.

Once you come across a piece of content you want to read, analyze, take a screenshot of it. Don’t just copy it word for word, analyze and see what makes it tick. You might consider building your own template from it also. This is something I still do as a writer. And it’s one of the fastest ways to improve your writing. 

Conclusion

There’s always more to learn as a writer. But knowing how to craft engaging headlines is one of the most critical skills you’ll need. 

You’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for a writer who has an above average understanding of both content strategy and SEO. Contact me now to discuss your project and how I can help.


Agnes is a B2B content marketer and SEO specialist helping SAAS and B2B marketing agencies in real estate get more traffic and exposure since 2015

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