As you all know, I have a thing for templates and swipe files and the like.
The more I think about it, the more I realise you can extend this. The rationale being that the more you have to hand as a personal set of tools, the quicker, more efficient and more effective you are.
My ultimate goal is to have things available to me so that I can get projects completed in a day or two. Whether that’s a novel, a non-fiction book or a website. I’ve attempted this before with niche websites and with books, but the results have always been unimpressive.
So, we keep working on it. We keep tweaking the method and adding to the personal library.
The Personal Library
Over the years, there have been certain universal things that apply to many projects. When I started writing and doing business stuff, I reinvented the wheel every time. To an extent this is inevitable: you don’t know at the beginning what you’re going to need to do again.
But you’ll quickly find that repeated actions need to be optimised. The first thing most guys will discover is that they should have a folder on their computer with plugins and themes, for instance, if they’re building multiple websites. Then they can upload them to their CPanel file manager in bulk as opposed to uploading them one by one. That took me too long to figure out.
Then there might be certain things you write – be they short stories, blog posts or long-form sales letters that simply outperform everything else you’ve done. Rarely do you have a website where all the topics you write about are equally popular.
(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.
Now Back To The Regular Programming Schedule…)
So you make a note and move on.
You also start a swipe file, because you’ll come across things that make you go “wow” because they’re good. Better than you could do. Until you take them, put them in your swipe file and recreate them and tweak them.
This is where I’ve written about until now. Let’s take it to the next level.
There are universals to the human condition. Everyone wants and needs to be healthier. Everyone needs to be wealthier. So on and so forth.
I’ve written before on this – I’ve said that when you pick your niche site categories or the subjects you’re going to write about for a website, in a lot of cases you can do categories like:
– Business for (x)
– Health for (x)
– Social skills for (x)
And these categories give you an exhaustive list of unlimited topics to choose from. Say you had a website about authors: business for authors, health for authors and social skills for authors all fit. As those categories would for snowboarders, people with arthritis and sex tourists in Japan.
But let’s take this further…. and this is the revelation that came to me at 6:39 AM on one of the few days I’d actually decided to take off entirely.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel on any of these.
And so I shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel on any of those…. which I have been doing.
Take for instance fitness. If I write a “fitness for authors” article or book (that’d be stretching it) I’d probably have to read, research and write that project.
I don’t know. I’ve written about the fundamental mechanics of health before. Writer-focused health would be mostly a case of standard health advice (cardio, weightlifting, etc.) mixed with specific posture stuff (more volume on the back and shoulder days) and advice for not spending time at the computer desk with inclusions for eye health and avoiding headaches etc.
I know all of this, and so I should have prepared better. All the information is in my head but that still means I have to write it and find it and all of that.
This is inefficient when I could have been creating a swipe vault of articles, chapters and books that talk about all of those subjects.
Then it would be a case of simple rewrites and structuring.
Health is one of those subjects you can always take the time to build a comprehensive map of the world for, because whatever your interests and agenda, health will be relevant.
Another one is finance and personal finance.
Building Your Swipe Vault
This little blog is insignificant on the grand scale of things, thank god, but one thing I do stand by is that I constantly push the boat out into new waters. When most people think of a swipe file – well, most people don’t think of a swipe file outside of a few direct response marketing folks – but when those people think of a swipe file, they mean a folder of good things to copy.
You can push this further as I have. Push it into templates that you can use. Keep a swipe file of facts and then push it further.
For something like health, create a mindmap of everything you know. Then start filling in the blanks with short articles of a couple of hundred words. They don’t have to be polished or anything and you can do them for five minutes in your spare time. This is the sort of thing you do to improve your memory anyway. It’s essentially note taking.
But every day spend five minutes writing what you know about any given facet or a subject in bullet point form. You’ll surprise yourself. Over time you can keep doing this and you’ll amass an amazing amount of info.
Get some old books and read them and then put it all in bullet point form.
The end goal is to be able to say, “I want to write a book on personal finance for English language teachers in Japan, what goes in it?”
And then be able to say, “Right, it starts with career planning, then analysing wage versus living costs, then looking at the amount you have and what the best investment advice is for that money, and then moving into a long term arrangement.”
Then you want to be able to go into your personal finance and travel folders, bring up the investment advice and the Japan advice and put it all together. The quicker you can do this, the better because you’re riding on the enthusiasm of the project.
At this point, you’re less of a writer (although you are that) and more of a composer of passages and paragraphs which help people.
You’ll also have valuable products, information or services to sell people. For instance, I’m thinking of putting these swipe vaults into the upcoming private members project I have going on. Or maybe I’ll simply sell them as special reports… or something. The more knowledge you amass, the more valuable your little vault becomes. Nobody else is doing this or talking about this.