How to be Original (and not a copycat!)

Have you ever copied someone? (Spoiler alert: we allhave!)

Some times when you are really inspired by someone and/or are still trying to find your own voice and style it can lead you down a path that isn't actually YOU- but a second rate version of THEM. Perhaps you've started a particular blog feature because everyone else seemed to be doing it? Maybe you've copied some one else's website design because you thought theirs looked awesome? 

Well don't fret, it happens. (When I first started a few years ago I totally was a little overly inspired by the gals over at A Beautiful Mess ... I tried to do recipes and DIYS and even had the same tabs that they had on their old blog design! I knew it wasn't authentically me, but I admired them so much that I WANTED it to be me! Thankfully I eventually got really honest with myself, who I was and what I wanted and was able to jump that hurdle.)

So don't make the copycat mistake like I have! (You can read more about that right here.

Learning WHO you are as a blogger and/or business owner takes time to develop, and ripping off your creative hero just a tad is a pretty normal thing to do while you're trying to get your footing! However, it can become really easy to get stuck in that rut and it's really important to learn how to overcome it. After all, you don't want to be a second rate version of some one else when you can be the BEST, most uniquely awesome version of yourself right?!

[bctt tweet="You don't want to be a second rate version of some one else when you can be the BEST, most uniquely awesome version of yourself right?!"]

So. HOW can you determine if you are doing things for the right reasons and HOW can you make sure that you are staying true to YOU by being original? First, ask yourself these questions. Are you doing particular things because ...

  • Everyone else seems to be doing it? (FYI, I'm pretty sure that you wouldn't jump off a cliff just because everyone else was doing it!)
  • You are a tad green with envy at some one's success? (I mean let's be honest, you just wanna be successful TOO right?! That's perfectly normal.)
  • You can't think of anything else to post and really like some one else's idea?
  • You just want to make money? (Hot tip: NEVER start a blog or business just for the sole purpose of making money!)
  • You don't really know what you're doing and/or aren't sure what your "thing" is yet?
  • You're really inspired by something some one else did and want to do something similar yourself? (This can be okay but it's also where you need to be very careful!)
  • If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, then it might be time to reevaluate! (I recently wrote this post on how to define your blog's purpose if you are feeling lost on what your "thing" might be.)

So now it's time to overcome the copycat hurdle (which was great for a little while as you were learning but now it's time to break free from the copycat nest!!!) How can you grow into your own personal style WITHOUT being a copycat? I learned some valuable questions to ask yourself in the Blog Life e-course, and some of these questions included:

- What specifically do you love about the thing you are trying to "not" copy? When you see something that you like or that inspires you, what specifically is it that you love about it? The topic? The writing style? The design style? The photos? If you can figure out WHAT it is specifically, then you'll be able to pinpoint the exact source of inspiration and how it might apply to your own blog or business! Some times you might see a kick-butt creative idea that you go absolutely nuts for, but you won't really know WHY. And if you don't know WHY, it might not even be relevant to your brand at ALL. See? Makes total sense.

- How can you make this super awesome idea work for your brand? Okay, so you've been really inspired by an idea and you've identified WHAT it is specifically and you know that it would be a great fit for your brand. Now what? Time to make it YOURS, baby! But NOT by being a copycat. You need to put this idea through your own personal filter, no matter how big or how small it is. Sit down with a cup of coffee and brainstorm how you can execute it differently, put your own unique spin on it, customize the details to fit your brand and ideal reader and add a little something that is purely YOU. This idea should play to YOUR strengths, not theirs.

- What do you NOT really like about it? Since you've identified exactly WHAT you like about the thing that inspires you, what do you NOT like about it? This thinking process doesn't need to be mean-spirited and nasty (because no one likes a big 'ol meany!) but it's important to learn from the things that you DON'T like as well. You can learn to identify all sorts of things that you don't like; topics, design choices that are 'meh', subjects that you'd rather not cover, mistakes you'd rather not make, etc. Do this in a non-judgy way, of course!

If you've been a copycat (meow!) and have fallen into a bad business or blogging mistake, don't worry! You CAN change your route, and if you want to be truly awesome and original, you will. Remember, almost all of us start off by emulating someone that we admire. The key is to be able to acknowledge this and to not get stuck on that path for very long!

So if you feel a twinge of, "What I'm doing isn't really ME," or "I'd be kind of embarrassed if the person I was copying saw my site," then the time has come to break free onto YOUR path!

Doooo it.

Do it NOW.

Yes I'm being bossy. #sorrynotsorry