friday’s confession: I was copied.



Last week, I received a facebook message from a fellow coach. She had recently come across a blog that had stolen some of her work. A quick google search led her to realize that my work had also been stolen.

13 blog posts of mine to be exact. Copied and pasted into someone else’s blog. Signed “xo, tami” as if they were her words.

It is an awful feeling to see the words you’ve written under someone else’s name.

It is an awful feeling to read a post that you worked so hard on published on someone else’s website.

It is an awful feeling to realize that someone else – someone who claims to be a coach nonetheless – has claimed your stories as her own.

At first I felt violated. Then I got mad. Then I got sad.

Sad that someone thought it was okay to steal the words of so many creative, smart women. Sad that someone who could do this coached clients who trusted her with their dreams. Sad that someone would build an entire brand around not only other people’s ideas, but their exact words while simultaneously promising to help people live more authentic lives.

This woman took the stories of my life. The stories of the lessons I learned, that I worked hard to craft so as to share those lessons with all of you. With vulnerability. And joy. And everything in between.

Stolen with a two strokes of the keyboard.

And the saddest truth of all is that things like this happen all the time. Nearly every successful creative entrepreneur I know has been copied in one way or another. It happens to artists, writers, and designers. And unfortunately, the more we put our work out in a public arena, the more susceptible we are.

If you’ve thought about copying:

Just. Don’t. Do. It.

You will be found out. This is a very very VERY small world and while it may seem like no one will ever know, they will. And it will come back to bite you. So just don’t do it.

And for the rest of you – for those of you who would never copy but have thought “Oh, if only I could {write/paint/draw/photograph} like {Alex Franzen/Kelly Rae Roberts/Emily McDowell/Susannah Conway}, my time will come” – know this:

Yes. All of these women create beauty with their art. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create beauty too. It won’t be the same as the beautiful photographs Susannah takes. Or the beautiful girlies Kelly Rae paints. Or the beautiful things that Emily draws. Or the beautiful words that Alexandra writes.

You have your own kind of beauty. That which is only yours to create. And the only way you’ll find it is to start creating.

Start writing. Start painting. Start drawing. Start taking pictures.

Today. Right now. This very second.

And then keep doing it. Every single day.

Make it your obsession. Fill your notebook with scribbles. Take Facebook off your phone and just use the camera to capture what you see. Commit to making 100 paintings in 100 days. Draw all the time.

Because it’s the thing that fills you up. Because you can’t not do it.

And then keep at it still. Keep going. One day, you’ll look back and realize that you’ve created a body of work. Your own body of work.

A body of work that is exclusively yours, beautiful in its own right.

You can do this. I promise.

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27 thoughts on “friday’s confession: I was copied.

  1. I feel for you. Just know you’re not alone and keep doing what you do. I truly believe the good guys always win. The battles with the bad guys can be ugly, though. Hang in there. And, keep being you!

  2. I wonder if “Tami” is indeed a coach or if this is a scam artist who is posing as a coach with legitimate content (yours!) and seeking compensation somehow after proving some validity through the Tami blog persona.

    1. Elaine, I wondered the same thing, but some internet sleuthing leads me to believe that she is indeed a real person.

  3. Happened to me a couple of years ago; a woman came to my workshop a handful of times, and then, a few months later, started offering her own writing practice workshops for women (including ever-so-slightly-edited versions of my description/copy). Hard not to just be pissed, but after lots of venting and sending virtual stink-bombs in her general direction, I came to a similar-ish place of just feeling sad for her. I also tried to look at the whole thing as good practice in leading with the compassion I’m always preach. (grrrr; sometimes that exercise is easier than others, huh?) 😉

    sending x’s and o’s your way baybeee.

    1. Thanks Deb! x’s and o’s right back atcha!

      Yes, sometimes it’s tough to take the high road, eh? It’s also a call for me to keep creating more and better and different things. But that doesn’t change the suckness of how it feels to be ripped off. Bleh.

      On another note – so proud of you right now Beautiful. Can’t WAIT to see what you’re about to unleash in this world!

  4. There is a LOT of theft going on – words AND images too. Not to be alarmist or a negative nancy, but this is probably only the beginning.

    Luckily it is a SMALL world, like you note, and hopefully they’ll be caught out eventually.

    And wouldn’t their website look odd anyhow, with so much writing in different styles?

    1. Sandra, I think you’re right. And I think it’s part of the double edged sword-ness of the internet.

      And yes, her site looked very odd with the mad combination of copied posts from so many different writers. It amazed me that she didn’t alter the styles AT ALL but of course, that would require effort and thoughtfulness.

  5. Oh, sweetness. :( I remember when I was 22 or 23, I worked at Olive Garden, and would tell people about how I was saving money to a) go to the UK for grad school, b) move out of Atlanta, and c) save enough money to self publish my big book of poetry. I carried with me everyday a stack of little chapter books with the best of my poetry, and people would often give me $10 and up per book to help support my dream. I entered a poetry competition worth $10,000 (and that was in 1998 or 99). When the winners were announced, you would never believe … I won, but I didn’t. It was my poem, but not my name attributed to the poem. I couldn’t prove beyond my little chap books that the writing was of course mine, I imagine the interent computer age would have made that way easier. So I def know where you are coming from, and how this feels. So I hug you. And I applaud the eloquence of this post and your courage to take it on.

    One thing I might add, for people who want to create and have gurs/mentors, that it helps to avoid inspiration from people in sim fields. Or to not only take FB off their phone, but to also limit their exposure to artists/coaches etc in sim fields. I cannot tell you how often I feel my Muse is working with others in sim fields by virtue of sim turns of phrase or sim ideas shared, and how downtrodden I feel when I don’t feel that I can share my take on the same, as the one who pushes the content out there first should be the one to run with it. So avoid blogs and such bc the seed from another’s inspiration toolkit might very well find itself emerging in our own words and art. Not sure if that makes sense.

    Much love to you, Tiff

    1. Ugh, girl. That must have been TERRIBLE.

      And yes, I completely agree with staying away from other people work when you are trying to connect with your own must. I’m actually working up another post about that very thing since it’s easy to suffer from inspiration overload these days!

      Thank you, Doll. Love right back!

  6. A friend of mine posted a link to this on FB. SO GLAD SHE DID. It meant the world to me, after having my work stolen many, many times, to know that someone on the internet ‘gets’ why this is so crappy. Thank you for this beautiful post and message.

    1. Thank you Cynthia! I hate that this has happened to so many people online, but I suppose it’s part of the reality of sharing our work so publicly!

  7. You are handling this so well! I would be a mess! Afraid it was diluting my brand, afraid people would think I was the copy cat. Meanwhile, you have turned it into a beautiful lesson.

    I have been hearing so much about copying blog content from coaches recently (since nobody is naming names, I hope your person was the same as Nisha Moodley’s because it just seems like every coach I know found out they were being copied this week). I could never imagine the reasoning behind copying somebody’s EXACT words or theories (subject matter and design are trickier) and I can’t image how anyone thinks that is going to turn out in their favor .

    1. Thank you Stephannie – it was definitely a shock to my system, and honestly, if I wasn’t consumed with double baby care, I’d have likely gotten MUCH more fired up than I did!

      And yes, my person was the same person who took posts from Nisha, among other friends of mine. It’s sad, but hopefully, there’s a bigger lesson here. And hopefully, the person who did this has learned that this is *not* the way to create a business.

  8. I literally feel you. Same thing happened to me – not only once but twice – this week. One by a former client. It’s the most violating feeling in the world. But I knew there would come a time when this would happen – it’s part of being a leader online. I’ve heard many people say that you know you’ve made it when you have a copy cat! That’s awesome – and I have an amazing intellectual property attorney who helped me to respond to the situation with grace and integrity, let the person know that we know. And please respect all my hard work or else I’m within my right to submit a DMCA notice. At the end of the day, copy cats ALWAYS get found out.

    1. Racheal, yikes! twice? That’s terrible! And yes, it has unfortunately happened to so many people. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down…

  9. So sorry to hear this! It happened to me several years ago in my previous company when THE HOTEL NEXT DOOR copied and pasted the exact text on several pages of my hotel’s website onto their own site. I was so angry, but the situation was also so ridiculous…they were right next door to us! Like geographically speaking. They didn’t think I ever checked out their website?

    Anyway, in the case of this Tami…did anyone email her to say “Hi there, I’m concerned about duplicate content online…could you please remove the blog post that you copied from my site?” or I don’t know…something like that? Or maybe let her know that Google penalizes duplicate content? Or even simply “Please remove this blog post that you copied from my website”? I’m so curious to know what she’d say.

    1. That is unbelievable! I cannot imagine that they wouldn’t think they’d be caught!

      In this case, I never reached out to her, but various other people who were copied did. As far as I know, no one received a response other than the content being removed. But, I’m sure she’s listening and hopefully has taken what I wrote (and all of these great comments) to heart! I’ve thought about reaching out to her to ask “whhhyyy?” but think my energy is better spent moving ahead.

  10. Totally gross. I’ve had a copy cat and all I can say is that people eventually start to notice. My copy cat believes that she’s doing great in business but I’ve heard from many well-respected people in my industry (off the record) that they think she’s weedy and an idea leech. Copy cats will always get their just desserts. If you can take legal recourse for blatantly stolen copy or blog posts, go for it. Otherwise, we all just have to keep on doing our Great Work and not get sidelined by the douchebags trying to take the easy route. Thanks for this post Tiffany.

    1. Ugh, I hate that you’ve had to deal with this too! And you’re right, people DO notice, and the key is to just keep doing our work. Keep it up, Heather, and thank you.

  11. I don’t know is the phrase “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is of any comfort. I guess it’s not quite the right saying since your words were outright hijacked. My point is that this blog thief found your words, thoughts and ideas so inspiring that she had to share them. Granted plagiarism is never fun, it speaks volumes to YOUR words and work. You touch people. And maybe sometimes you touch someone who needs your help more than others. Hopefully, she will see what you’ve written above and change her word stealing ways! I was moved enough to write this…and I’m pretty lazy! Lol. You rock, Tiffany!

    1. Oh, Caroline, you’re so sweet – thank you! And yes, the silver lining of the whole experience was that I saw that I have created quite a body of work here.

      And NO WAY are you lazy, lady. Just busy. And someone who likes to sleep in 😉

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