Copy Me. Go Ahead. Seriously.
I have been waiting for 3 days to write this post.
This week, I was semi-accused (twice) of copying someone else in my business, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. And I knew I had to write about it. I knew this was part of a bigger conversation.
I usually post on Tuesdays, but I just couldn’t sit down and write it. I stalled. Days passed. I procrastinated. I spent 3 days fucking around on Facebook doing NOTHING.
And then, last night, something happened. SOMEONE COPIED ME.
Word for word. Copied my sales page. Right there. My words on her page. In fact, the links on her page linked to MY CONTACT PAGE (because she copied so hard that she forgot to change the links).
So in a matter of days, it came full circle. I copied someone. Someone else copied me. And I knew there was a bigger message in all of this.
But I couldn’t write the post. I’m exhausted from all of it, to be totally honest. I’m over it. I’ve learned many lessons from many angles, and I’m making a vow to put my head down and DO MY WORK, without worrying if I’m copying anyone, or if they are copying me. Time to get out of the Biz Porn vortex.
But it’s still an important conversation that needs to be had.
So god bless my friend Illana for writing this today. What’s posted below is blatantly copied from her site. You should check her out. She’s awesome.
The follow post was written by Illana Burk of Makenessmedia.com
When I started out several years ago… I tried really, really hard to not accidentally copy people. But I was consuming information every day. I was reading the shit out of bloggers I loved and respected. And despite my best efforts, their flavor came out of my fingers.
If you looked at my early stuff from four+ years ago, it probably looks like I was copying the crap out of people like Naomi Dunford (pre-public meltdown), Ashley Ambirge, and a few other well-knowns. I was even accused once of stealing from Danielle LaPorte because I called my first service ‘The Burning Question’ [I didn’t even charge for the service]. At the time I had no idea who Danielle LaPorte was. But it looked like I was borrowing nonetheless.
I wasn’t. At least not on-purpose. With most of the people I probably mimicked, I read their stuff. I liked their stuff. They got away with swearing. I wanted to get away with swearing. I bought their stuff. I told them how much I appreciated their work. I even sent Naomi a fancy pen [for which she never even said thank you… still bitter. I mean WHO DOES THAT? It was a REALLY nice pen.].
I was a copycat fan-girl once too. I didn’t mean to be. I didn’t want to be. I just was. By accident.
Fast-forward a few years. A few hundred clients. A few thousand written words…
And now I have been copied. A few times. Once was no biggie. She “borrowed” heavily from posts I had written. She got zero traffic and a new enemy. The next one copy and pasted my services. All of them. That was two years ago. I sent a cease and desist letter that she ignored. Her url now goes to godaddy. Then there have been the more subtle few. A catch phrase here. Word-use there. But they all have one thing in common… they are almost all gone now. The more recent ones will be gone soon.
See, I know this because successful entrepreneurship takes a fuck-lot more than the occasional success [which is all someone gets from copying others 99% of the time].
And copying is UNAVOIDABLE.
Madonna copied Marilyn. Miley copied Madonna. Artists and creatives look at the world as a toolbox to play in. They borrow pieces from all over to make it their own. The cycle continues….
So someone copied your shit.
Who. The. Fuck. Cares.
Are they doing it as well as you? Are they finding success passing off your work as theirs?
Did they REALLY even copy you in the first place? Because using the same couple of words as you is not copying anyway. That’s just English. I don’t whine when someone else says fuck too much, now do I?! Laying out their website or sales page kinda like yours is also NOT copying. I mean how many places can a person put a header?
All great work is mimicry in some way. All great thoughts borrow from others.
If you hire me and I teach you things, and then you go teach other people those things, I am pretty happy about that. Because the GOAL was for my ideas to proliferate in ways that help you. If you’re teaching it to others, that means I DID MY JOB. That means you learned it so well that you feel comfortable teaching it to other people. I look at that as a win. Would it be nice to get credit? Sure. Do I give two shits if I don’t get credit? Nope.
I have an MBA. Am I ‘copying’ the work of others by conveying what I learned in that program? No. I paid for it. The whole point was for me to USE what I learn there. Teach others. Repeat.
And the creative well doesn’t run dry if you are truly a creative thinker. If you are always angry that people are copying you, YOU might be the one who needs to look at their own work.
I listened to an interview recently with current crown prince of comedy, Louie CK. He was talking about the fact that he only uses the same material for a year or so, then tosses it and never looks back. He does what he does in such a way that he challenges other comedians to be better at what they do. And sure, he might get ripped off, but who cares? HIS version made an indelible dent in the world first. And the people that copied him [be it intentionally or unintentionally] will eventually fizzle, because they can’t keep stealing. So while he is in a constant state of reinvention… they have run out of gas and faded into the ether. [Unless they are Dane Cook. That fucker is like a bad penny.]
The point is, do you want to spend your energy whining about how someone stole a word or a design or a vibe from you? Or do you want to reinvent yourself into something brighter, bigger, more interesting?
The simple truth is that when we make our living writing words online and it’s a simple gesture of ctrl+c to be unoriginal, it is BOUND to happen.
You can either spend your creative energy worrying about it, or you can spend it coming up with something new to offer to the world.
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You can either passive-aggressively whine about it on Facebook [using up valuable public equity] or you can work on reinventing whatever they copied. Usually, it’s about time to do that anyway.
Never forget that if your highest priority is TRULY to help others and see your work get out to the world, then having someone copy it is actually helping that cause not hurting it.
I want to wrap up with this clear disclaimer: Serious copyright infringement BLOWS. Copy and pasting word-for-word is a giant fucking no-no without permission. And you SHOULD protect yourself and defend your work. But I mean WORK, not syntax. The point of this article is not to encourage you, or anyone else to copy others. The point is that people need to chill the fuck out and worry about their own work more than they worry about other people stealing it.
And finally, I am inviting you and giving you my permission to copy this post. If you need some content for your blog this week, copy this and use it. Link back, don’t link back… I really don’t care. Seriously. Copy and paste every single word and post it on your site, if you want. Pass it off as your own. Take chunks of it. Use it all. Whatever. Credit would be nice, and would make you a good person, but I won’t be mad at you if you don’t give it.
Illana Burk of Makenessmedia.com
Designer. Thinker. Artist. Helper. Writer. Teacher. Lover. Learner.
MBA. Marketer. Business-Brainiac. Web-Nerd. Greenie. Foodie. Friend.
Finder. Seeker. Searcher. Grower. Creator. Maker. Mover. Giver. Liker. Tweeter. Pinner. Leader.
I would looove to hear your thoughts on this. We have already had a great discussion on the Facebook, but I’d love to hear how the fear of copycatting and/or the fear of BEING copycatted holds YOU back in your business. Do you hold back your ideas because “they’ve already been done”? Have you had someone copy you and felt cheated and used? LEt’s get this party started in the comments.
I love both of you. That’s all I’ve got right now. lol
LOVE all of this AND I believe IF you are going copying something the key questions are you in a place of ABUNDANCE and are you attributing WHERE you are copying from? Do you believe that there is a place in the world for you AND others? Do you believe you can show up as your authentic self with all of YOUR gifts and skills and talents and insights and creativity and brillance? If you believe all that, then yes, you will from time to time-advertently or inadvertently copy someone but you will do it in a way that makes it your own AND you will joyful point your readers in the direction of the person you admire enough to copy from!
As a former university writing teacher, I have dealt with plagiarism — a lot. People really think they can succeed by stealing. Because that’s what it boils down to, when it’s blatant copying (not accidental, as Illana talks about). But they ultimately won’t succeed. And you will because you’re, well, you.
great post Rebeccai know we all have our own talents and abilities and often times when we devour anything conscious wether it be business in marketing or health or life coaching, it seems like we are all saying the same thing. Kinda reminds of me of the 100 monkey principle and that we are all on the right track in oneness after all consicousness includes everything and judges nothing – not my words but that of gary Douglas founder of access consciousness!!I often wonder if there is any original content Dr Dain Heer spout Be YOu change the world _ yes I am choosing that. The fact that he got it from Ghandi as you said who the hell cares. for me my target is to change lives. I got over not being acknowleged as contribution – i get that especially in a small place like south africa there is this perception amongst the most “conscious” healers and life coaches that acknowleging someone seems to them to make the somehow less than or weak. what a crock of shit !
So thank you for reminding me to get over it and choose to go no matter who follows or doesnt, who copies and who snubs me or judges me. Therein lies the gift to be your ow bright shining star no mater who says or does what!
Love what you are creating – if i do quote you, i will be sure t show my gratitude and give you a shout out :-0
ease and gratitudesj
wow. This really hits home. I have a successful ebook and inadvertantly a page I had cut and pasted to used for reference got left in the final copy. I actually sent a copy to the person whose work I had planned to use. Of course, he FOUND the page and blew up at me! He threatened all kinds of nasty stuff, even though I, a first time writer and single mom of three with a full time job had made an honest mistake. Of course I would not send a copy of a book to someone’s work I had intentonally stolen! So that guy as far as I know still hates me (and he’s a big deal on the internet).
It happened one other time when I turned in an article for a big online newsletter and the original author saw her stuff. I accidentally sent in a rough draft instead of the finished copy then didn’t catch it in time before publication. Yes, it happens, but sometimes it’s not intentional, and I hope other writers realized that sometimes mistakes get made. Especially when some of us don’t have a proofreader to catch those ‘bleary-eyed, up-at-four-thirty-am’ mistakes that can be made. Now I am paranoid about it. I use one of those online companies to check my stuff, because I know occasionally I still need to be sure I have put down my own original words and not missed a thing.
Thank goodness I am not the only one who sometimes makes unintentional mistakes.
On the other hand, I can say my articles, blogs and chapters as well as even the title have been copied word for word, without any credit so often it really angers me. AND someone even copied as close as possible my website URL and my LLC company name, as well as the actual business. So THEY get the benefit of MY traffic too. I guess I will have to pull out the big guns and get copyrighted and then go after this person, which, sigh, I hate to do.
Thanks for the great blog!
CatEbeling whoa, great stories!
MaryJSchiller1 totally. YO can copy once or twice, but you won’t have the creativity to keep going in your business.
mogc yes, love this!
You know what they say about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery…from where I stand, I can’t imagine anyone thinking I was awesome enough to copy from. Some people really love my blog, but I’ll never be the next media darling or anything close, so I’ve never come up against anything like that before. I imagine it’s frustrating when people take credit for your hard work, but I think my first reaction (before I got pissed) would be “Someone copied ME? They liked what I was doing that much? Wow.” Because I am no where near that level. And I understand that life coaching is a very competitive field where people are actively competing for clients.
On the other hand, if someone falsely accused me of copying, I’d be devastated. I’d feel like my very integrity was being called into question, and that’s something I care strongly about. It would upset me so much more than anyone copying my stuff. I’m sorry that happened to you. I can only imagine how much it sucked. 🙁
barelylucid5 It is always flattering when people copy me, that’s for sure!! I’m cool enough to get copied… that’s kind of cool.
And yeah, it felt pretty shitty to have someone say that, but as long as I know why what I am creating is different than what else else has created, I can sleep at night.
The line between inspiration and copying is INCREDIBLY blurred, especially in this industry.
barelylucid5 I’ll also add that coaching is;t competitive… nothing is competitive when you know what makes you different. I have a hard time actually telling people who my competition is, because I have ZERO idea!
[…] If you follow us on Twitter, you may have seen our tweet about what to do if you find that someone put up a similar blog post to one you were mulling over or drafting. Some people said they would publish anyway, while others said they would delete their own post for fear of being seen as a copycat. Needless to say, we were thrilled to see a post on The Uncaged Life that addresses this very topic: Copy Me. Go Ahead. Seriously. […]
Yes yes yes.
I see people get really flustered about copycatting. But to be honest – I know that I’ve done it to my mentors, and so when I see people do it to me, I know it’s NOT because they are evil fuck-tards, but because most of the time, they don’t even realise they are doing it.
DeniseDuffield-Thomas TOTALLY Denise! I’ve done it too! I think we’re all just trying to find our way when we start out, and we get influenced by all kinds of things unconsciously. Other than when a girl literally cut and pasted my sales page, I try to be kind!