Copywriters: Do you make this common “swiping” mistake?

Andrew Trachtman
4 min readJan 18, 2023


This image has nothing to do with this article. Probably.

Do you find yourself “swiping” (read: copying) more often than not?

Don’t worry, I’ve been there before and it feels bad.

If I had to guess, you’ve *probably* got a mini folder of “swipes” (more like screenshots) and maybe you visit

So you try to stitch together different ads that worked years ago and mix in some more “current” ads that you hope are converting…

And then you end up with a mess.

OR maybe you just swipe, change a few words and deploy (read: steal).

The problem is, stealing and “franken-swiping” will almost never outperform the original if it performs at all…

So, what do you do?

Rather than swiping first and then trying to fit that swipe into your project afterwards, try this.

I call it: ReFSS — “Research First, Swipe Second.”

(and it’s based heavily on something I learned from Todd Brown)

It’s where you focus on getting a good base of knowledge about your product/market BEFORE you go looking for swipes. That way, when you’re swiping, you’re more likely to still be in a “market first” mindset.

First, you want to immerse yourself in the market.

Know what it’s like, who’s in it, and the language they use when they’re talking to each other.

If you know the lay of the land, you’ll be better equipped to find the right words and phrases that “sound natural” to those in the market.

At the same time, you’ll want to look into any existing copy that’s been used in that speecific market, as well as what kind of topics or products people are talking about.

This will give you insight into what’s working and what isn’t, as well as what might work in the future (because things tend to go in cycles and base human desires tend to stay static — they just get “new coats of paint” over time).

Then once you have a good understanding of the market, it’s time to start swiping.

That way you can find swipes that your market fits into VS looking for ways to fit your market into a swipe.

It’s like buying clothes for a friend.

If you know their measurements, you can find them something they like that also fits them.

If you just go in looking for something you think is popular (and know nothing about your friend or their clothing size), then you’ll *PROBABLY* end up buying something that doesn’t fit them physically or aesthetically.

(think of a parent trying to stuff their kid into a “super cute” outfit that clearly doesn’t fit — no one wants that except the parent who fell in love with that pink bunny ear onesie too soon and couldn’t wait for them to get the RIGHT FREAKING SIZE IN STOCK.)

It’s the same when you try to swipe before you research.

You’re more likely to fall in love with a swipe that doesn’t really “fit” the market. Usually this ends up looking like a thin woman in a XXXL T-shirt.

Something doesn’t fit.

It’s like if you tried to swipe “the one legged golfer” and do a “one legged accountant.”

Having one leg isn’t really a disadvantage for the accountant and adds nothing to the story/angle. Yet… I know people have tired to make things like that work before.

By researching first, you’ll be in the best position to pick swipes that will work for your project.

That’s because you’ll be thinking like the market instead of trying to make the market think like you.

One great way to get an edge over your competition is to look at different markets or niches… and then bring those “swipes” home. That way, you’ll be able to bring in new ideas and concepts that the market might not have seen before.

It’s like going overseas and finding a cool outfit in some Korean boutique store, or maybe an unusual design from a local shop in Africa.

If you bring it back to the US, it’s unlikely people will have seen it before and it’s suddenly new and interesting.

So if you’re looking to make your ads at least 37% spicier, then try researching first and swiping second.

Good luck out there, and don’t forget to have fun!

(or at least try to)

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Andrew Trachtman

I currently write copy for multiple 7 and 8-figure business and freelance on the side when I have free time (which is... not that often).