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!
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.
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.
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.