Nobody likes a copycat, my free unsolicited advice.

Monday, September 20, 2010

It is logical to emulate those amongst us who are successful. On Etsy, there are many talented artisans with unique product niches and that is a big part of what makes it such an exceptional community. And, there are also those who seek nothing more than to copy the designs of others.

Innovation is the key difference between the two groups. If you are original and true to your craft, you will strive to create a product that distinguishes itself from the masses. This process often takes time, money and an inordinate amount of passion. Many folks have time and money, but they lack passion and so they attempt to share the accomplishments of others.

This is not to say, if you can improve upon a product, that you shouldn’t. By all means, that is progress and synonymous with evolution. I certainly did not invent the diaper bag and I absolutely wasn’t the first person to offer customization. I do create all of my own patterns and as a mother of four, I take great pride in developing products which are stylish and functional.

Equally important, I also author my own product descriptions. Writing is not a skill that comes naturally to all. Working as a journalist for our local newspaper, I acquired years of experience and authored hundreds of business profiles and can assure you, writing is as much an art form as crafting. So, you can understand why I get peeved when someone copies my descriptions and/or shop policies verbatim. This folks is plagiarism and unless you give the author credit in your description, it is a form of stealing. Instead of paraphrasing someone’s descriptions, instead try and learn from them and use your own words to highlight the features of *ahem* your own product.

The bottom line, if you lack a passion for your product, you are not going to be successful. Entrepreneurship is neither free nor easy. You have to be willing to invest in your company and work hard --- really hard. At the end of the day, I am still energized and could happily work another 12 hours --- because I love what I do!

My advice to the burgeoning Etsy opportunist: make something you benefit from and use every day.

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