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swiping without being a scumbag

In comes a recent “testimonial” from a reader:


Not with a proven offer or anything but an impressive email. Read the template recently from Ben Settle's Email Client Horde.

Of course, if it's an original even more kudos to you,

You're now in my swipe files. Thanks.


Thanks, Victor. It was an original email. (He’s referring to my “why you’re an idiot if you listen to me” email.)

Here’s the story:

In Ben Settle’s (the undisputed king of email marketing) Email Client Horde book our guest is speaking about, he included about 30 (give or take) “free swipeable emails.”

You can “copy and paste” these emails as is and use them for your own business. While it’s a creative and useful bonus, if I swipe word-from-word from Ben, I’ll sound like Ben instead of myself. While my tone has a dash of “Benrika,” I’ve developed my own style over the last few years which I’m quite fond of.

Long story short:

The “Why you’re an idiot if you listen to me” subject line came from Ben. He also included an entire email I could’ve swiped. But I decided to write my own thang instead of swiping Ben mindlessly.

Which brings me to the rub with swiping:

First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page, shall we?

In the wild wild west of copywriting, every copywriter has a “swipe file.” These are collections of emails, ads, tweets, etc. which you turn to for inspiration when pumping out a new piece of persuasion.

And there are two types of people who swipe:

1. Those who swipe the whole thing and change a word or two

Many such cases of people “swiping” (aka stealing) an entire ad, email idea, etc. and searching and replacing the original offer with theirs and changing a couple words in the headline or subject line.

This is no bueno.

If people find out you’ve stolen it, you lose all credibility. If they don’t find out, methinks a wicked sense of imposter syndrome will terrorize your psyche because you didn’t create it yourself.

Plus, it’s not as fun. Persuasive writing can be a bunch of fun, and these fools deprive themselves of it.

2. Those who swipe the underlying “theme” but create their own damn thang

This is what I did with the email.

I swiped the subject line (which is a powerful subject line for many reasons), but changed the entire content of the email. Other than the subject line, there wasn’t a single word or phrase I “swiped” (i.e. stole) from the email goat, Ben Settle.

This is the “right” way to swipe. I mentioned some reasons already.

But the most important reason?

Whenever you swipe something completely, you’re making a fatal error:

That ad worked for that specific audience in that precise period of time for that particular offer.

Just because an ad worked in the past—for another audience and offer—doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. In fact, you’re shooting yourself in the foot because the best ads (i.e. the ones that bring in the most cashola) are almost never “swiped.” The original did gangbusters, yes, but the carbon copies don’t come close to sniffing the success of the original.

And if you do “swipe,” don’t take the headline or entire ad. Instead, swipe a bullet buried on page 17 of a 24-page sales letter and recontextualize it to their market and their offer.

This is the proper way to swipe.

If we’re talking about swiping emails, then this means swiping a subject line (changing a word or two if you can), but making the entire body of the email different from where you got it.

Same with tweets:

Swiping the underlying formula, but using your brain to make it relevant to your style, tone, offer, market, etc.

Whether you wanna become a better copywriter, or just write better copy for your brand, having a “swipe file” is a cheat code of sorts.

But don’t commit the errors I laid out in this ditty. Then, you’re a scumbag.


Because the “free swipeable emails” thang Ben included in his Email Client Horde book is the exception. In 99% of other cases, “swiping” (aka stealing) is a crime. And it’s a crime that makes you look like a sucker for anyone who knows where you swiped from.

(I say this to warn other mfs who want to hire a copywriter as well. Some of these copywriters are scumbags, so make sure you do your due diligence before hiring anyone.)

Anywho, if you’re gonna swipe…

Swipe ethically.

Alright, let me step off my soapbox here.

If you have a proven offer and wanna hire a copywriter who won’t mindlessly swipe emails (and make you a buncha loot in the process), book a call here.

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