I like to get a feel for who’s following along and joining my tribe, so when I check out my email list stats I tend to also visit to the sites of those following me. Anyone who has a firstname.lastname@example.org email I tend to check out.
Doing this gives me an idea of the industries my followers are in, and as a website designer and web design blogger, I can take a peek at the state of the websites of those who are consuming my content.
Seeing as I share so much of the behind the scenes of my business and how I run my web design studio, it’s not surprising to see that there’s lots of other web designers following along too, even though they’re unlikely to hire me to design their site anytime soon. I also enjoy following along with others in my industry, so this is really nothing unusual.
A couple months ago I took a peek at a site of a subscriber and my heart stopped …
I did a double take.
It felt like reading my own home page.
“No!” I thought, and then proceeded to the services page.
“Wow … she really did, she pretty much copied my entire services page …”
A range of thoughts followed.
“Arghh, I spent foreverrrrr writing that!”
“You’ve got to be joking.”
“Well honestly, we have two different price ranges and our work is really different. There won’t be any clients considering hiring both of us, so it’s not going to affect my business.”
I blew it off, this copycat was new in business and hadn’t yet nailed down her own message and voice, so she took a shortcut and copied the text off my site, with a few words and sentences changed here and there.
I decided as this wasn’t a threat to my business and I wanted to allocate exactly 0 minutes of my day to getting into fights on the internet, I would let it go.
I then continued with my practice of checking out subscribers sites and wouldn’t you know it, just about a month later, it happened again.
“Your business, your site goals and get on the same page style-wise.”
“I’ll make sure your new site ticks all the boxes on design, function and SEO.”
“On the last day of your design period, I’ll give you a Squarespace lesson so that you feel confident updating and editing your own site in the future.”
… Coincidence? I think not.
I was still pretty stuck for what to do and then Kerstin Martin’s email landed in my inbox.
Kerstin is a Squarespace designer who has also landed the coveted spot on the first page of Google for ‘Squarespace website designer’ and she seems to be running into the same issue. Her email explained her experience with finding out her website copy has been copied, and she shared her feelings with her email list.
After a chat with Kerstin, she let me know that another handful of designers, which she didn’t even know about, came out of the woodwork too after her email admitting that they too had copied her site, we’re sorry, and were taking the copied content down.
She encouraged me to do the same.
So here we are.
To state the obvious, I am not copying Kerstin’s email and pasting it here, and I’m giving Kerstin full credit where credit is due.
She gave me the idea for how to handle the stuation, and this is my unique version of it.
I share oddles of free content on my blog. I share my design work, the behind the scenes of how my business runs, I detail my web design process, why I make certain decisions in my business, and hell I even have my Welcome package as an example for download.
I share freely because I want you to also go build your own fab business.
My business has been a freaking blessing in my life.
I am grateful for it every. single. day.
It allows me a lifestyle that most people spend their entire life dreaming of.
And to be honest, I’m pretty disgusted by the struggles women face in the workplace (read Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg by the way).
While I think traditional business needs to step right on up to the plate and ensure their workplace is not completely screwing women over, I know that reform in business is going to take a couple hundred years.
(Dissapointing, I know.)
So for this reason, and many others, I cannot tell you how much I fully support women starting their own businesses and creating a lifestyle they love, that actually works for them and their family.
And many of you have done just that, I know because you’ve emailed me to tell me about it. And I can say it honestly puts such a smile on my face when emails land in my inbox saying that I’m an inspiration and that I gave someone the confidence and encouragement they needed to start their own business.
But what I do have to say is this.
I’m all for you starting your own business, even if it’s in Squarespace website design and therefore could be considered my competition, but I’m really not okay with it when you copy my work.
One, yeah, it’s a prettyyy darn annoying because I spent a lot of time and money on education to build a business that is uniquely me, and it doesn’t feel nice to see someone to take my hard work, copy and paste, swap out a couple sentences and slap it on their website.
Two, hacking together copied messages from around the internet is not a coherent strategy, it doesn’t fit you, and it’s not a stable foundation to build your business upon.
I want you to succeed in business, and I’m here to deliver the message:
You need to be different and develop a voice and message of your own to succeed.
Copying the text from my website on to yours is not a solid strategy.
So, in the spirit of sharing of my knowledge freely, here’s two major steps I took to build my business foundation and message and write the copy on my site to what it is now.
If you choose to take the same route, I’m sure that if you’re focused on building a business that is uniquely you, it’ll turn out differently than mine.
B-School is great for you if you’re just trying to figure out how to start to build a business and differentiate yourself from the crowd. If you’re aware that your business needs a solid foundation and you have no idea how to build one, B-School is one solution.
(I’m by no means saying it’s the only solution, if something else works for you, I’m all for it.)
Marie is an entrepreneurial legend and gives you a clear step-by-step road map for building your own business.
I realized next that while I had an idea in my head of what my message was after taking B-School, I was stopped in my tracks when it came to spreading that message and communicating it to others.
I considered hiring a copywriter, but then realized that because I write copy equally as often as I design websites, this was a skill that was going to be vital to my business long term.
I chose to take Ashlyn Carter’s Copywriting for Creatives and eventually wrote my website copy to what it is now.
That’s what I did to write the copy on my site. I took a course on building a business, followed up by a course on communicating my message.
Yes, that’s a longer, more expensive strategy than copying and pasting off another Squarespace designers website.
However, that strategy is one that will actually get you to where you want to be, the bosslady owner of a thriving business that is uniquely you.
So gal, I wish you the very best of luck!
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