You’re probably familiar with the notion that there are no new ideas. I’m often told that I’m a great resource for brainstorming, as I can come up with many new ideas very quickly. However, I’m not really coming up with new ideas. I’m simply applying what I already know to new situations. How do I manage to keep so much info organized? Granted, much of what I know stays in my head, as I have a great skill in being able to remember almost everything I’ve read. However, I must attribute much of my success to the creation of my own personal swipe file.
A swipe file is a collection of ideas that you’ve collected from other sources. These could be marketing ideas, brochure samples, articles from magazines, teleclass ideas, sales letter examples, website copy, etc. that attracted you enough for you to save for future reference and inspiration. From this file you can “borrow” an idea and put your own spin on it to make it uniquely yours. Please note: a swipe file is NOT permission to copy someone else’s work verbatim — it should only be used as a model or guide for you to create your unique spin on your project. And, what works in one industry may not work successfully in another, so you need to apply the knowledge of your target market to craft a message that would be appealing to that audience.
When I’m stuck, I often refer to my swipe file for inspiration to create my next product, write that new one-page website sales letter, or submit my next press release. So, this swipe file makes me seem like a genius, when in reality I’m only putting a new spin on old ideas.
When I started in business, my swipe file was kept in a hanging folder in my file cabinet. I was primarily interested in marketing ideas, so I created different folders within that hanging file to categorize the samples I collected.
However, in my quest to create a paperless office, my entire swipe file is electronic. I find electronic files much easier to find and maintain, as I’m either online or on the computer all day, and having an electronic version of something makes it much easier to share with others.
I use 3 tools to help me maintain my swipe files: EverNote, TurboNote, and AcqURL.
EverNote: With EverNote you can easily store and quickly access typed and handwritten memos, webpage excerpts, emails, phone messages, addresses, passwords, brainstorms, sketches, documents and more! A free version or a 30-day trial of the paid version is available for download at http://www.evernote.com/en/downloads/. I use the free version, as maintaining sketches and hand-written documents isn’t a priority for me. I can easily cut and paste from emails or websites here, and when I do, the note in EverNote gives me a hyperlink back to the source from which something was taken, and everything that you copy or type is saved automatically. Pretty cool!
TurboNote: TurboNote: provides you with an electronic version of a sticky note. I use this just to quickly jot down something to remind myself to check out more fully when I have time. You can try this free for 30 days, and then purchase it for $29.97 US. http://turbonote.com/TBNPlusIntro::.@TJO
AcqURL: AcqURL makes managing a moderate to massive amount of bookmarks very easy. You create any number of categories in which to file your favorites, and adding a favorite website is as easy as clicking a button. I love the ability to alphabetize my bookmarks, to search them, to makes notes on them, and to share them with others via email. You can download and try free for 30 days, and then purchase of $35 US. http://www.acqurl.com.
Lastly, for copies of marketing materials that are in PDF files, I have a folder in My Documents where I maintain copies of great examples that I find. I have subfolders set up for each type of material: brochure, postcard, sales letter, business card, etc. If it’s something that I’ve actually picked up in person, I scan the printed material and then convert the document to a PDF file. For PDF conversion, I use Adobe PDF, but a free PDF creator, Pdf995, is available for download at http://www.pdf995.com/ .
Creating a swipe file of great ideas is something every business owner should be doing. Not only will you keep up with what’s new in your industry, you can see what’s happening in other industries that might give you a great application for your own business.
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
Online Business Resource Queen (TM) and Business Coach Donna Gunter helps self-employed service professionals learn how to get more clients online at http://www.OnlineBizCoachingCompany.com To sign up for more FREE tips like these and claim your FREE gift, TurboCharge Your Online Marketing Toolkit, visit her site at http://www.GetMoreClientsOnline.com Read about running an online biz at our blog,