What to Do if Someone Steals Your Designs

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A common concern that many of the makers I work with experience is being worried that someone will see their product online and steal their design.

You have this incredible product to sell, and you worked really hard to make it amazing and unique! So I understand why you might hesitate before you start to sell it and think “I need to do something to make sure no one steals this great design!”

Maybe you’re already selling your products, but you’re afraid that if you post videos that show part of the creative process that someone will decide to make it themselves instead of buying your product.

Or maybe you’ve actually had someone steal your design and you don’t know what to do.

Today I’m going to help you sort through all these worries, so that you can focus more of your energy on creating and selling your awesome products!

Let’s dive in and get started!

You can watch the video or read the written version below.

The Fear Of Copycats

I understand why you might fret about someone copying your product, and I get it – whether you are already selling your product or you are ready to set up a handmade shop, the last thing you want is for someone to copy your design.

But what I also see when I work with makers is how fear can keep them from getting started and setting up their shop.

What I want to talk about in this post is sorting out your concerns and overcoming them; how you can create a mindset that prevents fear from overtaking creativity.

So, let’s talk about your fears and your worries and how you might handle them when they happen.

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Fear #1: I’m Afraid to Open a Handmade Shop Because I’m Too Scared Someone Might Steal My Products Or Designs

The first fear I hear from people is:

“Deb I’m afraid to open a shop because I’m too scared someone might steal my product or design!”

An easy trap to fall into is delaying opening a shop or launching a new product collection because you’re afraid of putting your products out there.

This often happens when you focus on all the “what-ifs,” and since you don’t know how you would handle them you get kind of frozen and can’t move forward.

Even though the fear of someone stealing your design is a reasonable fear to have, it can also become a barrier or an excuse not to get started, because you’re scared.

Yes, there are people who might have bad intentions, and design copying exists, but is that enough of a reason not to sell your handmade products?

You need to remember that all makers out there are at risk for this, and they still choose to sell their products and have incredibly successful businesses!

What often happens is that we suffer in imagination more than in reality—as in you’re more likely to suffer mentally from the fear of designs being copied than the likelihood of your designs actually being copied.

In the end you are better off spending your energy on creating and launching your business vs on worrying.

Watermarks

Something I often see makers do to protect their designs is add watermarks to their images, so let’s talk about this for a little bit.

You may have read online or completed a course that encouraged you to add these watermarks, but think twice about doing it!

Unfortunately, watermarks can cause more harm than good, as they can actually discourage people from buying your product.

When someone sees a big watermark on the photo, it’s not professional looking. It’s definitely not going to help you make sales.

It doesn’t actually prevent people from stealing the image or the idea for the product, but it may discourage customers from purchasing your products….

The reality here is that if someone really has a bad intention and wants to steal your design they’re going to do it whether there is a watermark or not, because they can remove the watermark with Photoshop.

Although it may make you feel less worried to put watermarks on your photos, in my opinion watermarks are more detrimental to you than helpful in preventing anything.

It’s more of a feel good for you to have them there than an actual deterrent.

Fear #2: I’m Afraid to Show Too Much of My Process on My Videos/Instagram

Another thing you might be thinking is:

“What if I share too much in my videos or in my blog or in my behind the scenes to promote my products – is that giving too much away of my process? Will other people start copying me or DIY people start doing instead of buying?”

Makers worry about two things: that someone will watch how to make their product and copy them, or that a potential buyer will watch the video and decide to do it themselves.

Worry #1 – Someone Will Copy My Process

Let’s talk first about worrying that someone will copy your process.

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When you address this worry it involves somewhat of a shift in mindset.

Part of this shift in mindset is accepting that yes, people do look at what others are making and take inspiration from it. It’s actually the beauty of creativity: all of us in the creative world look at what others are doing and get inspiration and ideas from it.

When we all share what we’re doing, we spark innovation in the creative community, and we all become better because of it.

So what I encourage makers to do is to celebrate the beauty in that process instead of focusing on the worry of it.

If someone is determined to copy your product they will do it regardless. If you stop posting videos you may have lower sales, but if you make videos it’s not all that common for someone to copy your product.

It’s important to remember that it actually takes a lot of energy and work to copy someone else’s product. Watching a behind the scenes or process video doesn’t really make it easy, it would still be quite hard to copy your product.

On the other hand, it helps YOU increase your brand’s perceived value . . and therefore sales… so by the time everyone is copying you are leading the way!

Worry #2 – If someone sees my video they will make it themselves instead of buying my product

Now you’re probably thinking:

“but what about the do-it-yourself-ers that will use my video to make the product instead of buy it?”

I think that many people lose sight of one key fact about do-it-yourselfers who watch product-making videos. They are looking at the videos because they want to make it and are trying to figure out how—not because they were considering buying it!

The fact is, they were never going to buy your product in the first place. You haven’t lost a sale; the crafters and do-it-yourselfers are not your ideal customers because they like to make things, not buy them.

You can take it as a compliment that they see you as the best guide, or that they want their products to be as nice as yours.

But worrying about it or being angry will only suck away your creative energy; they won’t buy your products whether you post videos or not.

So as you can see both of these worries involve shifting your mindset to focus on the positive energy of innovation and how it helps us all become better makers and have better ideas.

Plus you can put all that energy you were spending on worry into starting or growing your business!

Too Much Worry Can Suck Focus Away From Creativity and Joy

I want to talk a little bit more about the negative impact that worry can have on your business.

We’re all going to worry a little, I get it—we’re human and when you invest so much time and energy in your business it’s natural that you worry about things that may have negative consequences.

What I want you to focus on is not getting consumed by worry. Negative thoughts can affect productivity; you’re spending time worrying that you could spend creating and working on your business.

Remember that people do look and take inspiration from what others make, we’re all human and it’s how creativity works. You have to share what you’re doing with the world, it‘s how we innovate and get better ideas

Encourage yourself to focus on creating and celebrating your small businesses “wins” no matter how big or small.

To help you get your mind focused and back on track I have a free gift for you—click the link below the video to download my Makers Roadmap tool. It will help you come up with a concrete plan and stick to it so you don’t get “stuck” or sidetracked.

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But Seriously—What If Someone Is Stealing My Stuff?

Now some of you might be thinking “OK Deb but seriously, WHAT IF someone is really stealing my stuff?”

Well, what you do will depend on where you live and where that person lives. You might want a start with a “friendly” takedown request – but if it doesn’t cut it, you should be able to take legal action.

The first step is determining if this is indeed copyright infringement or falls under fair use. If it is infringement, the process varies a little based on where in the world you are located but is very similar in most places:

If you are a US-based seller, first decide if it’s legally considered copying or is ok under the law by answering these Four Questions To Determine If Your Design or Content Has Been Stolen.

If you determine it is copying, these articles will help you navigate How To Send A DMCA Takedown Notice and How To Legally Deal With Copycats (+ Avoid The Rage Spiral).

The process is very similar if you are based in the European Union or (like I am) you are based in Australia.

It usually looks like this:

You need to locate where the website with the infringing material is hosted (which you can easily do online) and send a takedown notice to that Internet Service Provider.

If the copycat is selling on an online platform, in many cases you can actually also contact that platform and say “hey this shop is selling my design and this is not cool” and they can investigate for you and close the shop if needed.

Just look up “infringement” on your platform; Amazon, Etsy, and Shopify all have property infringement reports that you can file.

NOW – I wanted to quickly cover this to put your WHAT IF mind at ease… but don’t start thinking about that until it happens though, if you do you’re 10 million steps ahead of something that might never happen!

Just know that there are options and IF it happens. In the meantime, spend your energy on creating your incredible products and running your business!

Put Your Worries Aside And Enjoy Your Creative Process!

I hope I have addressed some of your worries today, so that you can worry less and get more excited about your business!

I’m not saying to just give up and let it go in every circumstance, I’m just saying it’s not worth not starting a shop because of that worry, or not keeping your shop open because of that fear.

Think of this beautiful quote by Christine Betts: “Your art is your gift to the world. You can give anyone a gift and it’s up to them how they treat it, but once it’s given, it’s not yours anymore.”

Your product is much more than the picture or video on the computer. Customers will connect with your product, your branding, your vision, and YOU!

If you would like help with getting your business started, increasing traffic, and more, check out all the step by step courses we’ve created for you over at Tizzit.co.

We make starting and running a handmade business easier for you by walking you through each step in the process and providing personal support for any roadblocks that come up along the way.

Thank you for reading, I hope you all have a worry-free day! Until next time, au revoir!

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