I get this question all the time in regards to using Pinterest to promote my business:
“Aren’t you worried that somebody is going to steal your work?”
The short answer: no.
For one thing, I’m definitely not at a greater risk for being copied on Pinterest than any other social media platform, such as Instagram or Facebook. And if I’m planning to use the benefits of social media marketing, then I will need to acknowledge and be comfortable with the potential risks.
No Views, No Credit:
If nobody can see your unique idea, then it doesn’t really matter much, does it? That sounds kind of harsh, but in the end, if you’re trying to create a business then you need to show people what you can do (I’m not talking make something for someone and getting paid in “exposure”—don’t do that!). So show the world what you’re creating and let your business grow! If nobody knows that you are running a calligraphy, wedding planning or financial coaching business, then you aren’t really running much of a business, now are you?
That doesn’t mean plaster all of your ideas for current or future projects on a billboard outside of your house! Be wise! Plan accordingly, expose your followers and ideal customers to your work and share when you are ready—I am in favor of creating some hype around bigger projects to help your audience cement the idea in their minds as yours. My friends, followers and ideal clients know if something is a copy of my original work, and they often call others out for coping me. I don’t even have to say anything!
All Forms Of Marketing Hold This Risk/Reward:
The thing is, if you are sharing images of your work on social media, a website, on a poster, or to any other pair of eyes on the planet, you are now at risk of being copied. Human nature involves some sort of mimicking in everything that we see—that is why social “norms” or slang develop in different parts of the world. If you need more proof, spend about 10 minutes with my toddler this week and watch him pretend to talk on the phone, drive his toy cars around and generally mimic everything you do. It’s human nature and it usually isn’t malicious or even intentional.
But Pinterest users are usually there to BUY. While many users are going there for inspiration for their own projects, that is not the majority. And by hiding from these “abusers” of the platform, you could miss out on some fantastic ideal-client exposure! That’s free, by the way!
Developing a Brand:
Now, before you go hide all of your artwork in a cave for the rest of eternity, remember that with each exposure of your artwork, you will further develop your BRAND and personal aesthetic in the eyes of your viewers—which is actually a very good thing for your as a business. Who’s going to hire you just because of your pretty face? Not many people (if any)! Most people want to see examples. And if you have a consistent style or a unique flair that you show off in your artwork, then it will slowly become an irreplaceable part of who you are.
Unfortunately, this type of brand development takes time. Studies show that it takes a viewer SEVEN (7) views to recognize or develop a memory of a brand. Pinterest’s Rich Pin feature is IDEAL for this. People can organically find your work, notice your picture or logo next to the image and even if they don’t save that image, they have been exposed to you and your brand once. The more your ideal clients stumble upon your work (and if you are using your captions wisely, then they totally will!) the more that your brand becomes one that they remember and resonate with. Once they officially recognize your brand, it’s there! And after that, people are even able to recognize a copy-cat when they see one. I know that you have seen this yourself! You’re scrolling along and suddenly see something that looks an awful lot like the work from an established brand or someone that you admire. You haven’t been fooled!
Those Who Steal Are Hurting Themselves:
Going back to the example that I shared in the last paragraph—when you see someone copy another artist or creator and sell the work as their own, you immediately get a gross feeling in your heart, don’t you? And you loose a lot of respect for that person! Which hurts them, even if you only keep scrolling and say nothing. Even if that person is successful in their business, you probably won’t purchase from them or recommend their services to any of your friends, right? That means that they just lost the respect of a friend/follower and potential customers as well.
It Takes Courage:
I say all of this to you knowing how much I struggle with the same questions that you have. What someone starts to make a ton of money off of my idea? Should I just keep it to myself? What if someone who is more established than I am copies my idea and I look like the fraud???
It is so so hard. Not only to share your creation with the world and have others give it a “like” or continue scrolling, but allowing something that you love to be exposed and potentially copied is hard. I have one design idea that I loved and I held it dear to my heart for a long time—but the time came when I needed to share it before someone else created something similar. It took courage, but this is a business, and it’s a risk that I am willing to take in order to help my business grow! Without the clients, this is just a really expensive hobby, so those risks need to be taken :)
Pin wisely, activate rich pins and make sure that all of your content goes back to an applicable page. Other than that, I wouldn’t worry too much about other people :) Most people are on Pinterest to buy, and if they feel like they have to copy you to get a leg up in the world, they probably aren’t going too far in business (if anywhere).