Dream Smarter Podcast Ep33 - The Curse Of Copying


Dream Smarter Podcast Ep33 – The Curse Of Copying

Below are the show notes/summary for this episode. Please listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify for the full show! Xo, Alex


If you follow us on social media, you probably have seen lots of little mini versions of High Moon Studio all over the internet. Many people copy our stuff, whether it be our client work or just our approach, our branding, our photography, anything. We’ve just had many people trying to duplicate our stuff or just being heavily inspired by our stuff. It’s something that’s been happening for a long time. We’ve even had people rip off our name. But luckily, I have a great attorney by my side who can help me with these things; shout out to Chandler J law. If you need a lawyer for your biz, check out her stuff, she has amazing stuff.

But this week, I’m just going to get very real at the beginning of this episode right now. I’ve cried every single day this week. I have spent most of my time in bed, which is not like me. I haven’t felt good. I’ll feel good for maybe two hours a day. And then I’m back to feeling depressed. I don’t feel very good now recording these even, but I’m doing it anyway because I know this conversation needs to start. It’s just really hard for me because it’s not just a bunch of little minions on the internet trying to copy their own studio. And I’m going to get into why this is happening in a second here. But it is people close to me. People who I thought were very good friends or used to be good friends or just people that I trusted.

And it’s not just our branding and the look; it’s a bunch of little things that come together that feel very similar to what we’re doing. And it’s frustrating for me, especially when it is people close to me, and I tell them things in confidence. And then, all of a sudden, it’s no longer yours. I think it’s an accident many times, and I know I’ve never done this before. It’s in your brain, you’ve heard it before, or you didn’t hear it for a long time. And then you think it’s your idea. And then you roll with it. I totally can understand. But not when it’s thing after thing after thing.

And it’s making me extremely mentally ill, no joke. I am an open book, and I want to help people. I want to share good things with people, but that comes at the expense of what’s happening right now. It’s frustrating to see people take advantage of it. When in reality, I’m just trying to help them.

I have been somebody who hasn’t been very good at setting boundaries in my life. I bless my parents, but we all have our issues. I was taught to let it go. Let them deal with the person or deal with the situation, and smile your way through it. Kill them with kindness. It’s going to be okay. You can get through it and then just cut them off after. Basically, back out shyly, don’t stand up for yourself. Just do what you’re supposed to do and get it done.

That is not something that is serving me anymore. So, I’ve recently been learning how to set a lot of boundaries in my life. I’ve been setting boundaries on so many levels, even with myself.

It’s very, very hard when you’re not used to doing that, especially when some people put you in a situation where you then have to set a boundary. I blew up because this week Chandler sent me this text, and she was, Oh my God, I’m so happy. I wanted to text you and let you know; your trademark is officially registered.

This is such a big step for High Moon Studio. And while I should have been excited, I was not excited at all. I guess that protects me a little bit, but people still are stealing.

I just have been feeling when I put anything out into the world, and it’s being taken from me. And that’s frustrating as an artist because of the amount of time and energy and everything that I do to develop my ideas. I’m sure a lot of us listening here have had somebody copy you, and you’ve had to message them. I’m sick of defending myself. I will stick up for myself, but I’m not going to get in a fight when I know when I’m right. Regardless of how they feel and regardless of how I feel, it’s how we feel.

So even if the other person doesn’t think that they’re doing anything wrong, if my team and I also believe they’re copying, that’s our feelings. And that’s our boundary by saying, listen, we see this. We’re not okay with it. Can we not do this anymore? It has nothing to do with how bad of a person you are. And I think some people take it so personally.

And then they get defensive, and then they gaslight. It isn’t very pleasant, honestly, because then I have to question myself. Should I not have brought it up? When in reality, yes, I should bring it up. And these are the things that you deal with in your head. It’s this roller coaster of emotions that I’ve been dealing with, and this is why I’ve been in bed, staring at the wall, numb because I’m just over this.

It’s hard every time to say no, to be honest. And it just sucks. And it hurts my heart because I don’t want to make other people feel bad. And then when they come back, and they’re just not approaching the situation the way that you hoped, and they do not hear you at all, it just really sucks. So, I’ve just been dealing with a lot of that on so many levels.

I had to blow up. I felt I was getting punched in the face, over and over and over and over and over again. And it came to a point where it was, all right, stand up for yourself.

And that’s what I did on many levels. And I had to do it, and it may have felt a little aggressive, but I don’t care. At this point, this is how I feel, and it needs to be said. And if you’ve been in any of my courses before, you would know that the number one thing that I teach to my students, whether it’s a $50 course or a free course, is to be unique, to be yourself, to find your own point of view and to lead through that lens. That’s what makes people special. If you look at anyone or any business that is well off or successful, it’s because they’re unique and they have their own point of view.

You could not name any cult brand or famous brand that didn’t have their own personality. That’s why they’re special because they’re different from one another. So that’s what I push for my students. And that’s why High Moon Studio is successful.

I tried to be other people when I started this business. I tried to copy successful people, and it did not work. And then I was tired of trying that hard because it’s really hard to come up with your own ideas. But it’s also really hard to be inauthentic and not be yourself. It’s exhausting. And then some people are like, why is this so hard for me? Because you’re not living in ease. You’re not working from ease. You’re trying to be somebody you’re not because you’re scared to be yourself 100% and come up with 100% your own ideas.

I always push myself, my students, and my employees to look at what everybody else is doing. And then say, how do I not do that? I’ll look at trends, and if they’re trending already, I’m over it. I’m like, okay, so we’re not going to do that. We’re going to do something else. And if we are going to do that, we’re going to spin it and make it something different. Spin it into the next version of that trend, almost as if it’s a strain of the trend if that makes sense.

So, whenever I’m reaching out to someone, I’ll say it nicely. Hey, I noticed XYZ, and it looks like our stuff. I’m doing it to help. And I would expect someone to do the same thing to me because it’s not going to serve you. It doesn’t serve anyone to be other people. So, by you copying X, Y, and Z of High Moon Studios, first of all, people notice, and especially now. You have no idea how many DMs I get like, Oh, this person’s doing this now. Isn’t that weird for you? Or did you see this post? Or did you see this photo? It looked yours, or did you see this website? It’s just really frustrating. But when I reach out to those people, I’m doing it nicely, and I’m doing it to help them because I want to push them to be their own person because that’s what makes them special.

And I’m not that cool. Go and be yourself; seriously, go and be yourself. You’re just as cool as me. And I don’t like being put on a pedestal. I don’t feel I’m above other people. I think it’s when you see somebody succeeding, it’s because they’re their 100% authentic self, and it’s magnetizing. And then they’re coming up with things out of that point of view. So, whenever we come up with a service, a product, a method or, what we’re going to have on our website, it all comes from our experiences along the journey. And listening to you guys, as the people who are interacting with the business and all of that, comes from this very authentic place. I’m not pulling it from something other people are doing.

I’m pulling it from the fact that this will truly help my audience. This would give so much value to them, or our clients say this, so we should probably start doing this in our process. We are creating things from the soul of High Moon Studio. It’s the heart ul of High Moon Studio. And then when we do that, and we see other people try and take those concepts or ideas. I mean, I understand we don’t necessarily own them, but would you have done that if you had no idea who High Moon Studio is?

You have to think about things in that way. And there’s a huge difference between being inspired by versus copying. Because again, when I scroll through Pinterest, I’ll see a newspaper layout or something. I’ll be, Oh, that’s super cool. That would be a cool layout for the blog where I’m taking something that exists in a different medium, and I’m not even copying it exactly. It’s just inspiration for what we could do on our blog site to make it look cool.

I have copied in the past, don’t get me wrong. I do think that copying is a part of the journey, but not when you’re selling it; you can’t sell it. You can’t just make a client project and copy people or create your brand and copy people. I used to learn design because I used to copy. This is why I think it is an integral part of the process because it allows you to gain confidence in your skills. You can see something online, and you can be like, wow, I love that. And then if you duplicate it and figure out how through videos and tutorials, and it gives you this confidence of, I can do that. I can do that, which is dope.

You home in on your skills and learn how to design. That’s how you learn how to design, and you learn the potential of design. I do this even with websites. So, I’m learning web-flow right now. I’m going to web-flow, and I’m finding tutorials on cool animations that I think are cool. And I’m duplicating them in my designs. They’re different. They’re not the same because I’m not to the point where I need to duplicate them anymore exactly. I spin them into my own, but that’s literally how I learn. I say, what’s the dopest that I could do on this program? I’m going to do all the tutorials on how to do these things. So, I can know that it’s possible that I can do this.

And then once I do that, I’m going to keep doing it over and over and over again until I have learned the skill and can do it without a video or a tutorial. And once you do that and get to that place, which takes time, then there’s this endless possibility. Now I can create some cool here.

Eventually, I can do my own designs, but I wasn’t charging anything for that. That’s why I think it’s important for designers to charge what they want. But I don’t quite understand people who start designing immediately and start charging thousands of dollars. When I started, I did things for free for a long time. And then I did things for $200 and then $300, full-on websites. But you have to remember that I was getting templates and then tweaking the templates at that point. So, the more I would tweak the templates, as I was going and learning and learning and learning, the more I would charge. And then eventually, I was doing completely custom stuff. And obviously, I charge more then, and then the more custom and custom and custom we get, the more we’re charging.

It makes sense. So, I think copying is a part of the process, but it’s not something that you should be showcasing as looking at what I can do because that’s not your work. You are duplicating it. Realistically, anybody can go and do that. What true artists do is they get past that phase, and then they start creating things out of their imagination, their brain. They don’t copy. They’re not heavily inspired. Of course, I’m inspired by other websites, but I’m not going to copy them.

So, it’s just one of those things where you need to say, am I past the phase of copying? And if you’re not past the copying phase, you need to stop charging people or start not copying people because copying is a curse.

That’s the whole title of this podcast. It’s a curse. It will hurt you. It will haunt you. And it might seem a good idea at the time, but it will come back. It will come back to bite you. No matter if you feel it was just inspired, I wasn’t coping. I was getting inspiration from in your heart if it’s 100% yours or not, and do everything you can to make it a hundred percent yours. We’re not perfect. There are always going to be mistakes here or there. Because our brains are flooded with all of this visual information every single day, but try to be perfect. Try not to copy, make it intentional, not to copy.

And it does take more time to get those ideas out in the inspiration now and all of that stuff. But that’s where you truly find yourself as an artist. And that’s when things start happening. So, if you find that you’re copying others because we’ve all been there, be honest with yourself. Just be honest and say, well, maybe I am too inspired by other people and then figure out what you need as an artist, how you can feed your creativity to, not do that. And it’s different for everyone. Maybe you need to not be on Pinterest. Maybe you need to go to nature and take a sketchbook and start there. You’ve just got to be honest with yourself and be like, okay, I need to push my own creativity, and I need to figure out what my own style is because I’m not there yet.

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