Yep, let’s talk about THAT nasty word: plagiarise.
To be honest, I find it crazy the topic needs discussing, but the sad fact is…it does!
And I get it. Well, kinda.
Sentences are hard, writing is boring (well, not for me) and words can be tricky.
I mean, I get paid to write, so I know there are plenty of people out there with writer’s block.
But, plagiarism, AKA stealing, copying and being too damn lazy to write original content, IS NEVER COOL!
Be Original – Don’t Copy
Now, I do acknowledge there are no new ideas. I mean, almost everything has been done before, right?
And it’s totally okay to glean inspiration off someone you admire. When you think about it, how many historical musicians and artists have inspired artists of today?
But what is NEVER cool, okay or acceptable, is to take someone else’s content from their website, email campaign or social media and pass it off as your own.
And here’s why.
Don’t Plagiarise! Pay For It Yourself
Now, if this awesome content has inspired you SO much that you want to ‘copy and paste’ and hope no one notices… DON’T DO IT!
The owner of that website, email or social media post is either an excellent writer themselves (I take my virtual hat off to them) OR they’ve paid a professional copywriter to write it for them.
It probably cost them a bundle too.
And if you go and take those words…well, it’s stealing!
So either do your own research, learn how to write better (check out these tips for a start) OR pay a professional copywriter to write it for you.
You’ll Get Caught & Look Like A WANG!
You’ll get caught *wags my finger*
Oh yes, you will!
And then how will you feel?
Like a total WANG!
There are websites out there specifically designed to sniff out plagiarised content so there’s no hiding your thievery.
And people aren’t silly. If they’ve followed you for a while, they’ll know it’s not your words they’re reading.
Because they’re not your words. Or your voice or personality.
You’ll sound like a stranger.
Why? Because they’re NOT YOUR WORDS!
Your readers will be left scratching their heads and wondering who the heck this imposter is!
If you think someone has ripped off your awesome copy, head over and have a look at these websites.
These sites will catch you a word thief!
Credit the Author or Artist
Now, anyone who’s written an assignment understands it’s a big fat NO-NO to copy information verbatim.
In other words, a direct copy and paste.
Word for word.
However, let’s say you’ve found an awesome inspirational quote and you want to use it.
That’s cool! And you can use it. But there’s a certain etiquette when it comes to using another person’s words.
For example, Nelson Mandela was an inspirational human and incidentally, is in my Top 5 Fantasy Dinner Guests List.
He’ll sit right between John Lennon and Richie Valens, thank you very much and pass the wine please.
Anyway, I’m waffling.
I love this quote:
“A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”
― Nelson Mandela
It’s totally fine to use the above quote in your copy. In fact, I’m going to use it in mine! Oh wait, I just did! But the important thing is, I didn’t plagiarise his words.
And here’s how.
The polite and non-plagiarising way to use these words are:
- Use inverted commas so the reader knows you’re quoting someone else’s words.
- Credit the author or artist when you use it.
Don’t Pinch Photos Either
These rules aren’t just for copy on a website either. They also apply to photographs. As a photographer myself, I know plenty of artists whose photographs were used without permission or without crediting the photographer.
Or even worse, both.
It’s so easy to add a by-line to an image with a link to the photographer’s website.
In fact, it’s just damn bad manners NOT to acknowledge the artist.
So puhlease! Don’t plagiarise.
- Get permission.
- Credit the artist.
- Show them some appreciation with a back link.
Always remember your online manners.
Google Don’t Like Duplicate Content Girlfriend!
It’s true, Google likes to share original and unique content with its readers. So, if you’re copying content word for word, well, Google is gonna frown upon you and your unoriginal content.
‘Cause it’s already been done before.
But what if you want to share someone’s awesome content?
Well, just make sure you use an excerpt of the content and always add a link back to the original source.
Learn To Paraphrase Not Plagiarise
Paraphrasing is done all the time. Every day people retell a story, a snippet of news or a juicy piece of gossip. They simply tell it in their own words.
Let’s say an email arrives in your inbox with an awesome Christmas promotion and you say to yourself:
“Self, this is an amazing promotion! I’m gonna do one just like it!”.
Now, you can draw inspiration from that amazing promotion, make it a little different, put your own spin on the offer, mix it up and create a new promo.
What you cannot do is the exact same promotion using the exact same words from the email.
Well first, it’s just plain lazy.
Secondly, someone else put a lot of work into that promotion and now you’re just gonna steal it?
And third, when people notice what you did, you’re gonna look so unprofessional and like a big cheating wang.
And when word gets out, you’ll lose your credibility and integrity.
And those are so hard to get back!
So yes, draw inspiration from others in your industry but DO NOT plagiarise. Put in some effort and paraphrase, add your own copy, mix it up and put your own spin on it.
Of course, I know you won’t plagiarise.
Because you’re not a big WANG, are you?
And if you ever need help finding your words, drop me a line here.
About Alison Writely
Alison is a kick-arse copywriter who helps creative people polish words into gold nuggets. A lover of words, wine, weird dancing, and dogs (particularly those with names like Kevin), Alison’s writing has featured in the Courier Mail, Q-Weekend, The Sunday Mail, Local Government Association Queensland, and newspaper publications throughout Australia.
Well known for breathing life and personality into copywriting, Alison is the ‘go to’ person for creative entrepreneurs everywhere.