The Ugly Side of Self-Promotion

I have been thinking long and hard about this post, but I want to speak out about something that has troubled me about the online community in regards to direct sales. When you are a blogger and/or a LuLaRoe Retailer like me, for example, you put yourself out there for potential scrutiny. Unfortunately, that is the society we live in. But some follow our social media accounts or blogs for inspiration, and that is what we are hoping to provide our followers. We bloggers and/or Retailers (insert any direct sales rep, really) knowingly put ourselves out there in hopes of a greater connection with our potential and current customers, building excitement and trust in the product we are selling.

But what about others using our photos and not giving us credit?

I blog here (obviously. Hi. That’s what you’re reading right now), and I cannot tell you how many private messages I get weekly from my LuLaRoe customers, letting me know that another Retailer is using my picture. I have even been cut out to look like an action figure in one Retailer’s post! I totally wish I still had the picture!

First of all, I would like to say this practice is in poor taste and to your DETRIMENT as an expert in your product. If you are only (or even mostly) sharing pictures of others in the clothing you sell, for example, your clients are most likely not going to trust you as much. They want to see it on you. They want to read your excitement in a social media post and see you market yourself. As my social media buddy Tracy said so eloquently, CREATE YOUR OWN CONTENT. Your customers will thank you for it!

Photo Aug 01, 11 36 13 AM

I took this picture back in August 2016. I humbled myself in front of my neighbors, and at the risk of looking like a self-absorbed idiot, I took a picture (with my tripod) in my new LuLaRoe Carly dress. My neighbor at the time actually saw me taking it and struck up a conversation with me about photography. It was not as awkward as it sounds. Ha ha.

I put this picture on my blog and on my social media accounts to show my potential customers how I style the Carly dress. I knowingly put it out there, and I have no problem with others seeing the picture, especially LuLaRoe customers who are looking for style inspiration. If I can help someone feel more confident in the Carly, then that makes me happy.

However.

Photo Jun 19, 11 03 26 PM.png

A sweet customer of mine noticed another Retailer using my picture and took a screenshot to show me how another said Retailer 1. put me up for scrutiny in a “this or that” post (I totally disagree with this practice because I think comparing two different styles is like comparing apples to oranges and perpetuates a “catty” culture of woman vs. woman, but that is just me…) and 2. put her name on my photo. I am actually showing you the revised version where she replaced “giveaway” with her name.

I felt like doing this to all of my pictures after this happened.

Photo Jun 20, 2 39 49 PM

So many things wrong here. And in speaking with the Retailer privately, I came to understand that she thought since it came from Pinterest, it was fair game. Technically, I did not watermark the photo, but I thought about how hard I work to promote my business by taking my own photographs…and I was upset. Though I am not a lawyer or well-versed in copyright law, my understanding is that the person who took the picture is the owner of the photo, even without a watermark. (Psst…if you are a lawyer or well-versed in copyright law, comment away…) Also, from a teacher’s perspective…we are teaching our young minds how detrimental it is to plagiarize, to take someone’s idea and pass it off as our own. We then need to most definitely follow the rules we expect our youth to follow.

In reality, the purpose behind this blog post was for you to think about what you post, to respect the work of another by giving credit where credit is due. LuLaRoe is very generous in providing us with stock photos, so if you’re not a fan of taking your own pictures, please use the stock photos. I know if my picture is used by another party, I would expect a tag on social media. You are welcome to use my picture at any time as long as you are providing me the credit I deserve. But in reality, take the time to create your own content so your customers get behind you and believe in what you are providing for them.

 

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9 Comments

  1. Vicky June 23, 2017 / 3:10 am

    Great points, not only about direct sales, but about credit in the information age. So many students would have seen this use of an image as “ok,” as they have not been taught (beaten over the head with rules) about nuances of plagiarism/theft. Also, I’d love to see you as an action figure.

    • rockstyleteach June 23, 2017 / 3:34 am

      Yes, thank you! All great points you’ve made. And I never took a screenshot of the action figure, unfortunately.

  2. kristinrunyon June 23, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    As teachers, we (the royal we) do this all the time. We find a teaching activity online and use it, with or without our own changes, and rarely attribute the source. My favorite demo lesson (“My Papa’s Walz”) come from a Google Search. And I never thought about it until a couple years ago when Kylene Beers started posting about it after the popularity of Notice and Note. She was finding her materials being sold by others on Teachers Pay Teachers and said that it was too difficult each person individually, which shows just how many people were doing it. She has asked 1) that people attribute the activity to her and Robert Probst and 2) that they post it online but not profit from it.

    And then, I’ve run into the opposite situation when I have purchased copyrighted material from a teacher resource company only to find out that other teachers have posted the ANSWER KEY online in a blog or Quizlet for their students to use, which means my students can just Google the answers.

    I don’t think most of these people are being malicious, they just don’t think. The Internet has made everything easy, and it always seems that the legality issues have to catch up.

    • rockstyleteach June 23, 2017 / 2:17 pm

      I’m sorry that happened, Kristin. It’s upsetting to think of someone else profiting off our hard work.

  3. rockstyleteach June 23, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    If I can wear my business owner hat for a minute, I just cannot understand why another would think it would be acceptable to watermark a photo taken by another person. That, to me, is where this scenario crossed the line beyond “not thinking.”

  4. Melissa Urbina June 26, 2017 / 1:49 pm

    I’m so glad you finally wrote this post!!! I’ve been following you for a while and have seen your pictures everywhere and rarely (never) with credit. I’m a consultant myself now and I can fully appreciate how much time and effort goes into taking those pictures!! But it was one of the biggest reasons I started following you after I found your blog. I’ve gotten positive feedback on doing my own pictures from my own customers and can’t fathom how other consultants can knowingly steal someone else’s work when they know how hard it is to produce it themselves and miss out on the opportunity for their customers to connect with them.

    Anyways. As cheesy as it sounds you really are an inspiration to me and I’m sorry you have to deal with crap like that.

  5. rockstyleteach June 26, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    Thanks so much, Melissa! I am so glad to hear you are taking your own pics and am sure your customers are thanking you for it! πŸ™‚ Best of luck in your new adventure!

  6. Crystal Stephens June 26, 2017 / 2:59 pm

    Yes yes yes I have had multiple people – friends and customers -message me with the same thing- people using my picture with their name on it- or doing a giveaway over a photo of mine and I’m like what?!?! I work so hard and many hours to create my own brand.. just because you can google a photo doesn’t mean you can use it πŸ˜¬πŸ™„ thanks for sharing xo

    • rockstyleteach June 26, 2017 / 3:39 pm

      Agree with everything you said about creating your own brand!! Thanks for reading!!

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