Viking Saga #4: Looting 101

Are you ready for Day 4 of the VIKING SAGA ADVENTURE?  If you remember, this is an 8-part series where I’m proving to you that through the use of story-telling you can turn any business into something brand new. 

Yes, any business.  Yes, any theme.  

Today’s lesson is: LOOTING 101.

I don’t know about you, but when I think “Viking” I think big, hairy men who show up and raid villages.  Well, that and they had some pretty massive and impressive ships. 

They had high standards when it came to this kind of stuff and they took their raids pretty damn seriously.  Raids weren’t theft.  It wasn’t showing up and taking whatever the hell they wanted.  

But they still had a warped way of justifying the difference.  

The story goes that a Viking named Egill and his men were captured by a farmer who had bound all of his men. During the night, they were able to slip out of the ropes that bound them, stole a bunch of stuff from the farmer, and slipped back to the ship under the cover of darkness.

He realized that they were acting more like thieves and not Vikings .. and it wasn’t the actions of an honourable warrior.  So they returned to the farmhouse, set it ablaze, and killed the farmer and his family when they tried to escape the fire.  

In Egill’s mind, there was a battle, he won and therefore could justly reward himself with the treasures and booty that he had earlier taken.  

Seriously screwed up thinking but it’s not that far off from how people look at borrowing inspiration nowadays either.


Sometimes coming up with an original idea is difficult.  I know I talk myself out of more things than I allow myself to create because it doesn’t feel good enough – it’s too much like everything else out there.

That’s partly why I created this SAGA ADVENTURE series.  

But what’s the difference between being inspired by someone and outright stealing their shit.  And can we loot … ethically?

No, not this kind of looting.

I’m talking about taking inspiration and turning into something else.  

I’m talking about swipe files, stealing strategies, and tactics.  But with a shitload of honour.  Lori did that after reading about my INCITE sessions.  But was what she did wrong?


There’s nothing proprietary in offering a 1-on-1 session.  She didn’t take every word of my copy and change one or two things out to “make it her own”.  She took the strategy and idea behind what I was doing and created her own version of it.

And it totally worked!  She shared with me that after sending the email out to her list, among other things, she booked 2 Ambition sessions.  


1.  Gather Them Up And Keep Them Organized

I take screenshots of everything that inspires me and drop them into Evernote.  I sort them into various notebooks – opt-in forms, copywriting, imagery, strategy.  I use a Chrome Extension that allows me to take a screenshot of an entire page (great for sales pages!).

Sometimes, I like a particular phrase or word that someone used.  In one of the Facebook groups I belong to, someone was talking about continuity between a lead magnet and the emails that they receive after opting in.  They called it “Frankensequence”.  I snapped a picture and used the pen feature on my phone to circle that phrase.

You can do the same thing with emails that you receive (I have entire folders that house every email some copywriters have sent me) or pages that you love.  

2. Use Them In The Right Way

  • Sometimes I’ll rework email subject lines of emails that I receive
  • I’ll copy the basic layouts of pages.  I’m looking for high-level stuff when I do this – for instance, on an about page, someone might have who they serve at the top, their start-up story, an opt-in box, the “how I help you” copy and another opt-in box.  
  • I’ll use the “feel” of a page for inspiration.  Sometimes I’m looking for super minimalistic in my design – so I’ll pull out my swipe files and search for something that gives me the right feeling when I look at it.  Sometimes it’s just the way they use backgrounds behind sections or the way the images break up the text.
  • I stockpile ideas.  Oooh, Company X bundled up all of their products for Black Friday.  Oh wow – Company Y is putting all of its offers behind a membership site.
  • I study them.  After taking a couple of courses on copywriting and content marketing along with my own 12-years experience, I spend a lot of time breaking down WHY someone has written something in particular.

3.  But I don’t have a swipe file started!  🙁

Now that you know what you’re looking for and how to use them, start doing it now.  As you build those up, there’s a few places you should bookmark. and


If you have any sort of swipe files of your own started, make sure they’re organized.  This is a long-term project so what works today with a handful of files isn’t going to work next year when you have 500 of them.

If you haven’t started anything yet, consider what your next project is going to be.  (ahem, like what we talked about in the Shield Making Class).  Then start looting around for inspiration to start your first swipe file.  

For the win – show me what you’ve got.  How are they stored, what’s your favourite thing to swipe, how have you used them in the past? As always, post your mission in my Facebook Group.