More and more these days I've noticed people copying my work. For instance, I've seen almost exact replicas of my sculptures for sale online. I've come across LinkedIn summaries that were virtually word for word the same as mine. The same with articles and even strategies I've created for clients.
It's really frustrating when I've taken the time to create something unique and someone else has taken my ideas and called them their own.
So is copying a form of flattery or should we call the person out? And how can you protect yourself from people copying you?
Think of it as a compliment
You've heard it before: 'You should consider it a compliment when someone copies you'. I get this sentiment, but I don't necessarily agree with it. Sure you can get inspiration, but I think it's pretty rude to blatantly copy someone else's idea or work.
Be the real deal
We all have experiences, expertise and passion we have developed over the years that makes us original. I don't think anyone can copy the heart and soul of your personal or business brand. For me, I'm constantly innovating and re-strategising; growing and expanding my ideas; and trying new things. No one can copy that.
Focus your energy on you
When you first see that someone has copied you the first thing you probably want to do is react and post a "please explain" comment on social media. However, it's better to hold back as it could potentially lead to an angry interaction. If they are a copycat, it will be pretty hard to appeal to their good nature! So pick your battles.
Do everything you can to protect your ideas and work. If you are having a conversation with anyone about an idea or sensitive business information have them sign a Non-disclosure Agreement. Get trademarks and add copyright symbols to all of your work. If you are outsourcing any writing use Copyscape to check for online plagiarism before you publish (as you are responsible). Obtain permission to reproduce photographs and articles and clearly note the copyright owner.
There is so much content available to us now; millions of images, online articles, new interesting designs. That coupled with increased competition and the social media "comparison" game can lead to an easy environment to take other's work and ideas.
Find muses and inspiration from other people's work and businesses, but don't steal from them.
Be original, be your amazing self.
About the author
Catriona Pollard is the author of From Unknown To Expert, a step by step framework designed to help entrepreneurs develop effective PR and social media strategies to become recognised as influencers in their field. www.unknowntoexpert.com
Catriona is also the director of CP Communications, which merges traditional PR tactics with cutting-edge social media strategies that engage consumers as well as business. www.cpcommunications.com.au