There is a huge difference between being inspired by another artist and copying their every move. Huuuuge!!
To know that you’ve inspired another individual in your trade is a huge honour and something that, personally, I would always strive to do. I’d love to think that somebody might be following their dream because they’ve been inspired by what I do. And I’d also always be happy to help someone do so.
And, on the flip side, I regularly seek inspiration in other photographers’ work. I follow their pages, their Pinterest accounts, read their blogs, feed off of their enthusiasm, etc. If I’m in a creative funk, my favourite artists unknowingly help me through it, give me ideas and get my creative juices flowing again. They may use a pose I want to try, or provide an idea for a backdrop I hadn’t thought of. They may use a marketing idea that could work for me in the future. Or they may write a blog about their business that makes me feel all fired up. Seeking inspiration from others in your industry is not only natural, it’s smart.
However, something I would never, ever do, is just plain copy someone!!
I can tell you, having had it done to me, that it is the most frustrating, exasperating thing. All the hard work, imagination and personal touches you are putting into your business, and somebody just rips it off. Over and over! I’ve even had people lift the text and pricing structure from my website, alter a few numbers and paste it straight to theirs. *Bangs head against brick wall*
And you may say, ‘If you’re putting yourself out there, you’re going to be copied. You’re not the first to do it, you won’t be the last. Get over it.’ And I understand the thinking behind that reaction, but I’m afraid I don’t accept it. I work hard on my business and quite frankly, when someone just flat-out copies everything I do, word for word, post for post, I will admit I want to hunt them down and give them a piece of my mind.
Alternatively, I could get all legal on them and threaten them with legal action. But, really? I don’t have time for that nonsense and honestly, what would I actually gain?
So, how do you deal with copy cats?
You take a deep breath, pull up your big girl (or boy!) pants and realise this…. If this copy-cat truly don’t even have the initiative to come up with their own ideas, their own brand and a way to put their own stamp on things, are they really going to succeed? It’s unlikely.
There is so much that goes on behind the scenes, so many little details and so many long hours, that they’re never going to be able to imitate everything you do. They can copy what you’ve already done, but they’ll never be able to see where you’re going next, so they’ll always be a few steps behind. And if they can’t even come up with their own website text, for example, how equipped to build a successful business are they? Probably not very.
So, yes, rant and rave to your poor loved ones about how unsporting it is. Get annoyed and feel precious about your work. And then, eat some chocolate, have a cup of tea and let it go. It’s the only way!
Quite frankly, if someone is copying you, although it’s intensely irritating and there is no excuse for it, it means that you must doing something right. It’s when they stop copying you that you should be worried.
As business owners, we go to great to lengths to inject individuality into our brands. It’s what makes them stand out and it’s a huge part of what will make you successful. So, if Lazy McCopycat can’t do the same, then you really needn’t worry about them. They may be irritating, but they are no threat to you.
So, go out and be inspired by other artists. Spend time scouring all of the amazing work that is out there, try out new ideas in your unique style, read the fabulous resources they provide and let it light a fire inside you to make your own business bigger and better… But, please, don’t be a copycat!!
Have you had experience with copycats? How did you deal with it? Share your thoughts below.