Now generally I take a pretty chilled approach to running my business, but if there’s one thing that really gets my goat it’s copycats.
Copycats are the types who trawl your site for ‘inspiration’, but more often than not, rip off your ideas, steal your content, and regurgitate your creativity as their own.
Over the years, I’ve been copycatted more times than I care to remember.
I know I should be flattered when I read a fellow copywriter’s website and find the copy horribly familiar. I know I shouldn’t let it get to me when a competitor shares my content without credit. And when someone ‘borrows’ my workshop presentation to launch their own copycat course, I should laugh, right?
Well, I do try but the truth is, it seriously shits me.
And I know, from following talking to other small business types, that copycats pisses you off too. So I thought I’d share my top tips for not letting your copycats get the better of you.
Copycat tip one: Learn acceptance
The truth is that copycatting is just part of running a business. While you can, of course, trademark and claim copyright, this probably won’t protect you unless you’re willing to file an expensive lawsuit.
The old adage goes that ‘pioneers get arrows in their backs’, so accept the copycatting and develop a thick(er) skin.
If you are completely sure that your content has been ripped off, then feel free to call out your copycat. Just be polite, succinct and honest, and you’ll be okay.
After I confronted one copycat, they apologised and said that while they had used my content for inspiration they hadn’t realised how close it was to the original. They promised to change it.
Even if the copycat does deny their copycatting antics, at least they’ll know you’re on to them.
Copycat tip three: Don’t go public
While it may be tempting to call out the copycatter on your site or via social media, I wouldn’t advise it. While it feels good nice when your fans jump to your defense – you may find you quickly move from being the victim to the aggressor.
Slagging off a competitor is never a good look, so take the moral high ground whenever possible.
Copycat tip four: Take legal action
Obviously, only take this step if you can completely prove the copycatting and only if it’s going to seriously impact your business.
Consult a copyright or intellectual property theft lawyer and find out where you stand. Often a simple legal letter can have a big impact.
(Please note: There’s no point getting lawyers involved simply because someone reshares your meme without a link back.)
Copycat tip five: Embrace your awesomeness
In the words of Mr. Wilde: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Remember, if you’re able to create stuff worth copying then you’ve probably got lots more great ideas stewing in your mindpot.
Let the copied idea go, and move onto your next project.
Copycat tip six: Thank your copycat
The truth is that in business, you always need to stay one step ahead of the competition. You can’t get complacent, and you must keep innovating. It’s vital to stay close to your customers, understand their needs, solve their problems and keep on delivering awesome ‘stuff’.
If you take a grateful approach, then instead of letting copycats get on your nerves, you’ll be thanking them for keeping you on your toes.
Over to you
Have been copycatted? Did it drive you crazy or did you find a way to deal with it? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comment box below. Oh, and if you like the post, please share it.
Did you like this post?
You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.
Want to have a chat?
If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please contact me.
This article first appeared in Roar Magazine.