Business of Blogging is a series on YBC where we discuss the ins and outs of making money from your blog. This series just scratches the surface. If you’re interested in a more in-depth blog consult, we now offer them at various retreats and online via skype.
If you’ve been a YBCer for a while, you know that this summer has brought a lot of stress for me and recently resulted in me finally just taking a week off to reboot. It’s helped so much, and I feel a lot better, but I still have lots of room for improvement. As I navigate all of this, I wanted to share a few of the things we have been dealing with over at YBC HQ and what we’re doing about it in the off-chance that it happens to you.
Blog Copycats and Content Plagiarism
Recently, it’s come to my attention that there is a copycat blogger producing the exact same content as YBC. And I don’t mean just taking the general idea (because, let’s be real, it’s yoga - of course people will write about ways to use a yoga strap), but taking the idea and then copying the exact same photos, poses, font text over the photos and points I make, in the exact order. And not just a post here or there, but whole series (complete with the same titles as YBC series), photo editing and more.
Shortly after this discovery, we found out a prominent person in the health and wellness industry had taken a photo of my face, from the YBC website, pasted an inspirational quote over it, and put it on their facebook fan page, and got over 20,000 likes and shares. Without any credit to the fact that it was my face, and our photo.
Then, we discovered that someone had illegally downloaded nearly all of the YBC YouTube videos (side note: please don’t do that, that’s not only illegal, but if you’d like to purchase YBC vids, they’re available for instant download here). Anyway, this person didn’t stop there - they created their own YBC copycat YouTube channel and began monetizing it!
Now a part of me felt embarrassed by the fact that I felt so upset by these three individual cases. I mean, in the world of yoga should we not be kind and giving? Isn't the spirit of the yoga community one of inclusion and sharing? Yes, yes and yes. But at the end of the day, I feel that this is my livelihood. This is how I pay my bills. So for someone to take content that I have worked so hard to create, or to use my image to gain more followers and potentially monetize off of that, just makes me angry. I can't help it. So I got a lawyer involved because I had a lot of questions.
First of all, did I have any right to the content I create on YBC or is it just free for the taking (and copying)? Can someone take my photo, add text on top and then is that considered an entirely new image or is that original image still mine? Or do I have any rights because it’s actually me - my own face - in the photo?! And lastly, what can I do about someone downloading our videos and uploading them as their own?
Blog Copycat and Plagiarism Solution
The bottom line is that social media and blogging is all relatively new so there is a lot of grey area. However, if someone is copying your content, you have a couple options.
Write an email kindly pointing out what’s going on and ask them to either give you credit, or take the content down. This is what we did for Facebook person who had used my photo. It took a full day, but he did eventually take the photo down and apologize.
Collect evidence, and get a copyright lawyer involved. Your lawyer can send a cease and desist, and if that doesn’t work, you can file suit. This is what we will be doing for the copycat blogger.
If your content has been copied from YouTube, you can file a copyright claim through YouTube. They will look into your claim and determine whether there has been copyright infringement. If they review the claim and deem your claim holds merit, they will remove the content. I believe this also affects the post capabilities of the copycat YouTuber's account. This is what we did for the YouTube person. It took about 48 hours, but eventually the entire channel was shut down.
Sigh. So it's been quite a headache to deal with all of this, but I'm really grateful to have an incredible team of people who can help out with it all and it's nice to feel like we're in this together. Now I know it’s common sense not to copy someone’s work, but I need to write the next paragraph for my own sanity.
Instead of copying someone’s blog work and passing it off as your own, dig deep. I firmly believe everyone brings something to the table. So what are your strengths? What are your ideas? Being inspired by a particular topic is one thing. Take that idea and run with it, but find a way to make it your own. Put a spin on it with your own unique touch. Because hear this: What makes a great blog is someone who focuses on their strengths and shares something great with the world. Are you funny? Are you witty? Are you an excellent creative writer? Whatever your strength (and I promise, you have one!), find it and use it to create the best blog ever - featuring your own incredible content.
This does not mean bloggers shouldn’t be inspired by other blogs out there - they totally should. But if you find yourself designing the same content you’re reading on other blogs within your niche, I suggest making a change because it's just not sustainable and eventually you'll be called out (and how awful would that be?!). Here are a couple options if you or someone you know is finding themselves drawn to writing about the same content shown on other blogs within the same niche:
Cite the blog within your post. Let’s say you’re a yoga blogger wanting to write a post on things to consider before choosing a teacher training because you read ours and it sparked some other thoughts you would add. Write your post, and in the beginning say something like, ‘The other day I read this post over on YBC (link to the post) and I thought of a bunch of other points I’d add if I were making a list of my own.’ By acknowledging the other blogger, you’re giving a nod to their work (and essentially letting yourself off the hook on the whole plagiarism front), and by adding your own educational thoughts, you’re adding to the online yoga blog community in the spirit of sharing. But regurgitating the exact same content doesn’t do anything and may blow up in your face should anyone call you out on it publicly, or if the other blogger decides to get a copyright lawyer involved.
Read blogs about topics outside your niche. If you’re a food blogger, read a style blog just for a fresh perspective and a look into what others are writing about. Take an idea from that blog and apply it to your niche. For example- if the style blog does a post called “summer boho trends happening now,” take that idea but apply it to food and call it “summer food trends I can get behind.” This is putting your own spin on it. The key is to look outside of your own niche for a fresh perspective.
Take a break from your blog. If you’re constantly having writer’s block or finding yourself only wanting to write about the things you’re reading on similar blogs, consider taking a break from your blog to get out and do the things you love. Spend time with friends, take a day trip, go outside for a hike, pick up a new book or an old favorite, grab your journal and jot down your thoughts, listen to some new music. I find that whenever I get away from the idea of needing to write the blog post, new ideas and inspiration just manifest.
Sign up for a YBC Blog Consult. I am one of those people who is always thinking and I take a lot of pride in being able to drum up ideas for content regardless of the blog's subject. Feel free to take the entire business of blogging workshop, or if you are just in need of one aspect of it (social media strategy, content design, marketing, etc), just let us know and we'll be happy to give you a quote.
Let’s talk: Has your work ever been copied? What have you done about it? What do you do when you’re in need of inspiration? What would you say to someone who is experiencing writer’s block and only finding themselves able to write about the content they read on similar blogs?
PS Don't forget, we now have a yoga app available for download! Take YBC vids with you everywhere for a practice on the go! And please don't forget to review it on iTunes or Google play. Thanks so much for the support!
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