I thought a lot before deciding to write this post. Most of what I write about are thoughts that come from personal experiences, so I wanted to be as raw and open as possible.
In the 9 years of running my business I've had my fair share of lesson learned (mostly good!) and unfortunately some disappointments, especially in regards to stolen work, copied for profit and credit not given when needed. I've always been one to extend my knowledge and experience to those starting out online. To this day I stand for inspiring and empowering women in business.
Having my work copied for profit has happened more than once and although I understand how easy it actually is for someone to get "inspired" by another person's work, it still surprises me people can think they can get away with it. Unlike some big company, when someone copies my work, it is personal, it hits me right in the gut. I am my business, the story behind it, the one running it, creating everything from the ground up, I am the face of it...and eventually the one who would be affected the most.
So what's someone to do to stay ahead of the competition and how do you answer to someone copying your work? Here are 5 ways to deal with copycats and make sure you're ahead of the game.
1. They may copy the "looks" of your business, but they will never copy the heart of it! This is the most important thing to keep in mind. Instead of focusing and spending precious hours worrying about it, put your unique creative mind to work and come up with your next awesome thing. One can't copy your unique one-of-a-kind story, your voice - no matter how hard they tried. They can't be you!
2. Reach out to the offender privately. Last month I found that another business had copied my pictures, product descriptions word for word, our about us page, colors, graphics, everything but my business name. It was the worst case to date and I was angry! I wanted to immediately comment on her pictures online and call her out publicly. Instead I tried hard to refrain, step away and take a moment to process. My dear husband always advises me to take the "nicer" route and contact the offender first. Long story short I had my lawyer email her with a firm but straightforward cease and desist letter. She took the images down and stopped copying my work.
3. Educate them while you're at it. It may seem strange but some people aren't aware of the harm they are causing by copying your work - to both businesses actually. Take a moment to offer your expertise on this subject. In my case, the woman copying me had been in business for a few years but had recently switched to this line of work.
4. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. As the idiom explains, some might think of imitation and copying as flattering but I refuse to accept it or agree with it. Sure someone can draw inspiration from your work, but I think it's rude to blatantly copy one's work for profit.
5. Stay ahead of the game. I am well aware of the fact that someone can copy my work, the looks of it but what they can't come near is my strategies, my resources and capabilities to continue to grow. In analyzing the ways you can stay ahead of your competition, make a point in focusing on developing your skills, assets and bettering your resources - doing so will leave your competition months if not years behind.
Has this happened to you? I'd love to hear how you've dealt with it. Leave a comment on this instagram post.