I am going to say something that will surprise nobody: Written content is so important to building relationships and building your business.
One of the best things about it is that it can do a great job to establish you as the authority in your space. The more you share your ideas with consumers, the better you build that loyalty base that is so important when generating leads and conversions.
The problem with this, is there is a tempting way that lots of people turn to to get quick credibility and it often ends up TANKING your perceived authority and risking everything. And it happens more than you’d think. Unless you’re like me, and your job is nothing but copy and content, and then you see it CONSTANTLY.
Resist the Temptation
You guys- we learned in school that plagiarism is a bad idea. We knew it then, and some kids took the chance, inevitably got caught, then and paid a price. Some people never learned… and the stakes are a lot higher when you run a business. Here is another statement that will surprise nobody- Plagiarism is wrong!
So why is it such a common problem in the marketing space?
One big reason is that content is hard to generate. You have to put in the work. Sometimes lots of research, often lots of mistakes, re-setting, and trying again. And- especially in the beginning- people just don’t have that kind of time. And they don’t have the money to pay for a marketing team to do it for them.
It starts off pretty innocently. Maybe you’re scrolling through social media, maybe you’re checking out blogs and articles other people have posted, and something just sticks with you. It embraces your message in a way you hadn’t thought of before. Or in a way you have thought of, but couldn’t put into words. So you copy it. Y’all- that’s not what the copy part of copywriting means and you know it.
Sometimes, you don’t even realize you’re doing it. You are following somebody and taking in all their content and it rubs off on you. And you end up recreating similar graphics, using the same language, or even snatching a phrase or two. Now sometimes you are walking a fine line between whether what you are doing is actually illegal or not.. But let’s just go ahead and establish that THIS IS WRONG.
Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Taking somebody else’s great idea and passing it off as your own is so tempting. If an idea resonates with you and you feel like you have to share it- Make sure you give the original creator some credit. It’s not hard to do. And sometimes it can be just as powerful for your reader to know that you are staying updated on the latest and greatest of what’s out there.
Look- I have been there. I have read other people’s content and thought MAN! They NAILED it! And so this is what I do to make sure I am staying true to myself and not stealing their content:
First- If I find something I love and don’t think I can rewrite it with a different perspective, but know that my readers need to see it. I give the original writer credit. If I have an idea I am trying to follow through on and strengthen, and I find gold-I just keep going. Lets just establish now that one article, one blog, one infographic, one quote is not enough research to establish a concrete point of view. That’s somebody else’s idea. You gotta DO THE WORK!
Practice Makes Perfect!
We have this amazing thing called the INTERNET which offers hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of representations of any given concept. So I keep reading. I keep researching. I do something that I first heard about on a Heart and Hustle Podcast episode that always made so much sense, and I modified it to work for me- I aim for reading twenty pieces of content focused on the same subject- Though there really is no magic number…. Sometimes I read 12 pieces, sometimes, I read 35. If there are only a few pieces of content on any given idea. I table it and modify the direction I am going. Then I completely shut down the computer and walk away.
Later on- Usually at night just as I am getting ready to go to bed ( my personal magic brainstorm time), I sit down and write out all my ideas about whatever I had researched. More often than not, I end up taking my thoughts in a direction I didn’t even realize I was going until it gets fleshed out here.
The next day I go back to whatever I wrote down the night before and I start again. Separating yourself from direct content helps your brain process it in new and interesting ways. And if i really get drawn to a piece of content again and again, I quote it in my writing and let my readers know where I found it. I am giving credit to the original genius who produced it and encourage readers to take the journey with me.
Now my readers will trust that I can help them find more resources- I mean there really IS room for everybody at the table- And, I am establishing myself as somebody who has put in the work and built expertise. Nobody was put on this planet as an expert at anything. And -as the common adage goes- If you aren’t growing, you’re dying- So there is no shame in saying “HEY!!! I found this really great idea that made me grow! Let me share it with you!!”- Your readers will connect to that sentiment and come back for more.
Establishing Authenticity > Being the Ultimate Authority
Let me give you an example of this. Gary Vee is absolutely a go-to person I hear quoted over and over again. He has so many amazing ideas and is well known. Nobody would think of taking his content and trying to pass it off as their own, HOWEVER they quote him and credit him all the time. Thats legit. AND once somebody says the name “ Gary Vee” my ears perk up and I feel connected to that person for a common trust that we both have in Gary.
I actually was going to turn down working with a client because I wasn’t sure we had enough common ground. In our discovery call they mentioned Gary Vee in passing and we got to chatting more philosophically about life and balance and I ended up taking him up on the project. To date he was one of the funniest, most decent, solid clients I have had, and I enjoyed that project so much. I have referred people to his business, and all it took was him saying something that he fully admitted was not his own idea, but something that resonated with him.
You can totally do that digitally. On social media, on your blog, on your website, on your podcasts…. Wherever you do content- Share that bomb idea that your readers need to see. JUST GIVE THE EXPERTS CREDIT!!