Just what is a creative copycat? There isn’t a hard and fast definition on Wikipedia, say. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know a creative copycat when she runs into one. A creative copycat is someone, another maker or creative, that seems to be following you and what you do – and executing on your designs – with an ever so slight variation, in some cases.
A creative copycat watches for your work in progress images on social media and gobbles them up. I am sharing just 7 ways to conquer a creative copycat, plus a bonus tip at the very end. These tips are by no means official, proven methods. These tips are, however, how I have chosen to deal with the creative copycat in my life.
Here’s how it starts. You see an image on social media, or worse, a friend presents it to you and it looks a lot like what you just posted. You start to get self conscious, your cheeks get read and your throat runs dry. You start asking yourself, “am I really seeing this?”, “is this really happening?” You immediately scroll through their feed, you turn on notifications in their Instagram profile so you know immediately when they’ll post / share / list something, hoping it’s nothing similar to what you’ve done. But they are, aren’t they? You realize very quickly that you don’t know who’s copying who, self doubt creeps in, and you begin to lose all creative mojo.
If this hasn’t happened to you, great. You’ll be prepared for when it does. If you’ve already had this happen to you, let me be the first to say that I am sorry. Truly. There is nothing like creating something, pouring your heart and soul, sweat and tears into something, for hours, days, weeks even, only to have someone swoop in and create a facsimile in what seems to you, like moments.
Stop following them.
I know it’s such a temptation to see what your creative copycat is up to. You want to confirm that you’re not seeing things. I am here to tell you that the more you spy on your creative copycat, the more your joy will be stolen. You’ll be brought right back to that place of feeling robbed and violated. Living in that space of negativity will not bring about your best work…well, maybe.Living in that space of negativity will not bring about your best work...well, maybe.Click To Tweet More of this later.
Do not, for the love of chocolate chip cookies, confront them.
Look, I’m from the ‘hood, in Brooklyn. I know all about taking off my earrings and getting into it. However, as much as you feel you need to express your feelings, and express how you feel, how your creative copycat has made you feel, don’t. All you’re doing is setting yourself up for disappointment. Who knows what response you’ll get, if any at all. This will only make you angrier. If you really need to, type up an email expressing everything you feel and sit on it a couple days. Then delete the e-mail. You’ll have gotten your feelings out and you will feel better. Trust me. I do this when I deal with internet trolls.
Jump into your favorite Facebook Groups and help others.
There’s nothing like sharing your expertise with others when you’re feeling low. You’ll build up your self-esteem again. The feelings of living in the Twilight Zone will dissipate as you pay it forward and freely give constructive, positive feedback. You’ll start to remember why you started this whole “making” path in the first place. So get back to your roots.
Try a different medium.
If you’re thing is watercolor, try your hand at making a pair of earrings. Try anything that you need to learn and gain mastery in. Try your hand at something that doesn’t come easily to you. This does a couple of things, for one, you are stretching your creative muscles and that’s always a positive. Secondly, you remove yourself from your art for a while. I don’t know about you, but when I am working on a puzzle or crossword, I find that I can get the pieces I need, or find a few more words after I’ve walked away. Same sentiment here. Just work on something else for a while, you need the positive distraction. Besides, if you’re not sharing new stuff, they can’t copy. So there *sticks out tongue*.
Chat with a trusted maker friend about it.
Do you have a trusted maker friend? A biz bestie? If not, I will happily volunteer. My point here is, you need a cheerleader in this situation. Getting copied makes you feel low – as much as people say it’s the highest form of flattery, right? You need someone who’s in the trenches with you, who can look at your creative copycat’s stuff and say, “honey, they don’t hold a candle!” As much as you know that, deep in your heart, sometimes you need someone who knows the creative space to say “Hey, I see you and you’re great!”
Keep it off of social media.
Yes, even if you are vaguebooking about it. Don’t. All this does is get people to asking what it is you mean, and really, you’re better than that. Don’t know what vaguebooking is? Here’s an example. Say you post this on your Facebook personal account, or worse, your Fanpage: “I am SO done with it. Just DONE!” Now, one of two things will happen, your Mom will respond with “tell me what happened” and so will all of your friends because you’ve asked them to like your page and turn on notifications (just me?), or your customers will unfollow immediately, because no one likes drama, especially the kind that comes with a page that used to be about beautiful handcrafted pieces of art. So, when you feel like sharing and think, “well if I don’t name names, it should be ok”, DON’T. Walk away and see #4.
Pray it all away.
Now when I say pray it all away, I am not for a moment naive to think that we can pray anything away. You need to put in work. Granted, if you’ve worked through this list, you have put in the work. Praying is the cherry on the cake. Hand it all over and just make your peace with it.
A bonus tip for dealing with a creative copycat.
Now maybe, just maybe you’re the type that can find a silver lining in all of this, if you are in a creative copycat situation. For me, that’s how the Making Moves series came about, and my Be Original Hoop came to be. I was so upset, and frustrated, and refused to let my creative copycat get the best of me. Instead, I chose to reinvest my feelings into my work both with writing and my embroidery. I am pretty proud of both. If you can do that, bonus points!
There are more than 7.2 billion people in this world. Everything that can be done, has been done. However, it’s YOU that hasn’t been done before. It’s YOUR spin on things that your customers, target market and followers want to see.It's YOUR spin on things that your customers, target market and followers want to see.Click To Tweet
Keep bringing them that, and your creative copycat can take a flying leap.
Have any tips to help with makers dealing with creative copycats? I would LOVE to read them.
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