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How to “quickly” tell what good copy looks like

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How do you tell apart good copy from bad copy?

There’s a term we use in copywriting a lot: “swipe”.

When copy is really good, it’s “swipable”.

You can keep your own “swipe” file where you save any piece of copy that you think is worth saving for reference. And you can “swipe” pieces from customer testimonials or reviews (and use them almost verbatim in your own copy).

As I was asked how you can deem copy swipe-worthy, I stumbled on a roadblock.

It’s not that easy to define.

It can be a mix of a few factors that are at the base of copywriting:

  • Specificity
  • Clarity
  • Proper voice and tone
  • Conversational nature
  • Emotional component
  • Proof rich
  • and more…

But if it was just a checklist, anybody could get it.


It’s more of a gut feeling. A hunch you get if you’ve been in the field for a while. Some copy just sounds better and more effective.

I think it’s a lot about developing an intuition for what good copy sounds like.

From “The daily laws” by Robert Greene:

“The great chess master Bobby Fischer spoke of being able to think beyond the various moves of his pieces on the chessboard; after a while he could see “fields of forces” that allowed him to anticipate the entire direction of the match.”

This is a good way of putting it. When you’ve been spending every single day either looking for or writing sales copy, you can see the “force field”.

It makes the piece kind of magnetic in a way.

How do you develop the skill specifically?

Hand copying successful sales letters is one way. I did it for the first year when I was working on copy as a side hustle. I still have my old notebooks.

Hundreds of pages filled with my shitty calligraphy (when I started I had almost forgot how to write in cursive! It was crazy), where I copied and re-copied the same direct response letters over and over.

In a way it’s almost like wearing the shoes of the copywriter who wrote them and walking in their footsteps as they sweated every single word.

Another way is reading a lot and especially a lot of sales pages, customer reviews, case studies.

To me this came pretty naturally as I’m a big fan of online courses (if you can pick the right teachers). Can’t even tell you how much I spent on courses. But I can tell you the sales pages that sold me. I still remember a lot of them.

And that’s what stays with you. The techniques, the language, the not so correct grammar (which makes copy conversational) and the use of emotions.

Obviously for all of these to work, you need time. Months or years of absorbing good copy.

The fastest way to a grasp what swipable copy sounds like, is probably to think of what you got sold on. And reverse engineer how they did it.

When I run my teardowns on website I usually point out good pieces of copy and bad ones.

Often we find super low hanging fruits you can use to improve conversions.

If you need help, you can head here.



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