I have been looking at sites where you can either post jobs for independent contractors, or you can offer your abilities and skills as a free lancer by bidding on the jobs offered. I think the idea behind it is good, as it connects freelancers from any field with potential customers, but of course there are many variables as to whether it’d work for you or not, including costs and/or wages. Needless to say, most people want quick jobs done as cheaply as possible and don’t consider the level of skill that certain jobs require, but there is also more serious offers with decent money involved. In any case, what I really want to share with you is what I see in those types of sites that I consider not only unethical but also counterproductive as far as marketing is concerned.
I often find job descriptions that say something like, “Look at our competitors and design a web site like theirs,” or “Copy a competitor’s look to design ours,” or better yet, “Copy a blog but change it enough so that it looks like you wrote it,” and “Grab some of our competitor’s photos, twist them a little, and use them for our web site.” It never stops to amaze me how people try to market their products or services by being so completely unoriginal!
Copying someone else’s web site style obviously speaks of a lack of creativity and clarity of purpose (i.e., brand), but to copy someone else’s blog or pictures to use on your site is definitely something that can get you in trouble! Haven’t these people heard about copyright laws? Regardless, many web designers/writers will bid for those types of jobs. After all, they are independent contractors and it’s not their responsibility to build someone else’s brand or reputation, so why not grab a buck or two for an easy, albeit unethical, job?
I’ve mentioned before how important I think it is to find your own style of doing and saying things. I think it keeps you growing as a designer, artist, or creative type in any other field, as well as a person. I believe that the more positive, conscious energy and care you put into what you do, it will eventually pay off in the form of recognition, more customers, new clients, or good possibilities and ventures coming your way. Likewise, trying to find the easiest, quickest, and cheapest solutions will either give you a bad reputation or simply keep you stagnant where you are. And that is true for any type of business.
It is clearly a matter of choice, and like everyone else, you have to make that same type of choice throughout your life: To be yourself or to be like everyone else; to find your true passion or to do what’s expected of you; to stick to your principles or to follow the money; and so on. An easy choice for some, but a tough one for most people, it seems, given the state of imbalance and excessive greed our world is suffering from.
Anyway, I think that being a copycat (or hiring one) can save you time and money, but I personally prefer a marketing strategy that helps you stand on your own and makes you memorable for who you are and what you have to offer. After all, those businesses that inspire imitators didn’t become successful by copying others, but by creating their own unique identity and sticking to it. That’s more my style…