Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer
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30-something Jersey gal working as a freelance writer. Starbucks addict, beach-lover, kitty mother.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
Thought this was interesting, because many of us look to the work of others to see how we should do something similar for ourselves...
The Fine Art of Swiping
By Beth Ann Erickson
Copywriters write advertising materials. Often, to get their creative juices flowing, they’ll review successful ads and “swipe” it.
Article writers will often engage in a similar activity. They’ll read everything they can on a subject, then apply their personal twist on the information while they form it into an article.
Either way, every author needs to be very wary of not crossing that fine line between “swiping” and plagiarism.
Here’s a perfect illustration. I recently spoke with a potential client. Very important project… one that could easily net him at least 20k per month.
He led me to his web page and I started laughing. “You so totally stole (writer’s name omitted) sales page,” I said.
“I swiped it,” he replied.
“I see that,” I answered. “That’s one heck of a swipe.”
And his version wasn’t pretty.
First, let’s talk a bit about swiping.
It’s fairly routine for copywriters to turn to successful sales pitches and model new ones after them. After all, if a particular website generated a huge profit in one field, the general sales structure will often work again.
However, what this guy had done was copy and paste the entire web page into a document and simply changed the product name, revised a couple bullets, and slipped his name at the end.
That, my friend, wasn’t a swipe. It’s called plagiarism.
Worse yet, it resulted in a really bad sales pitch.